There are more ancient manuscripts of the New Testament than any other ancient text. There are 5,700 handwritten Greek copies of the New Testament with another ten to fifteen thousand manuscripts in other languages including Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian. In addition to that there are approximately 10,000 more written in Latin. While some of these manuscripts are certain books or compilation of books from the New Testament there are 60 full Greek New Testament manuscripts.
However, if all of these manuscripts were lost we could still reconstruct an accurate New Testament from the writings of the Church fathers. According to Dr. Daniel Wallace, who is a renowned expert of New Testament criticism the world over, there are more than one million quotations of the New Testament in the early church fathers’ writings dating from the 1st century all the way until the 13th century.
Therefore, there is an overwhelming amount of documentation to sufficiently render a New Testament that accurately reflects the original versions. This is an amazing collection of historical documents which is not found with any other ancient texts. All of which have been well preserved.
Dr. Wallace relayed to Lee Strobel in an interview that, “The quantity and quality of the New Testament manuscripts are unequalled in the ancient Greco-Roman world. The average Greek author has fewer than twenty copies of his works still in existence, and they come from no sooner than five hundred to a thousand years later. If you stacked the copies of his works on top of each other, they would be about four feet tall. Stack up copies of the New Testament and they would reach more than a mile high—and, again, that doesn’t include quotations from the church fathers.”
In comparison, the Illiad and Odyssey together have less than 2,400 copies surviving. These books are the second most abundant to the New Testament while not coming close to the number of manuscripts still in existence. Dr. Wallace commented “At bottom, textual criticism for virtually all other ancient literature relies on creative conjectures, or imaginative guesses, at reconstruction the wording of the original. Not so with the New Testament.”
Furthermore, fragments of papyrus have surfaced dating back to within at least one hundred years of the original manuscripts and match up succinctly with the later handwritten manuscripts. There are at least 117 of such documents and some of the “fragments” are quiet long, as one is nearly the complete Gospel of John.
Thus we have a very good historical record of the events of the life of Jesus that far surpasses any other historical records of antiquity.