Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Infographic: The Reliability of the New Testament Texts

Recently I stumbled across this incredible infographic on Facebook and I liked it so much, I actually did something I've never done before. I contacted the creator of the content and waited for permission before I shared it. (I know, right? That is not the way of the blogger.)

Mark Barry gives us a visual demonstration of how, in the "universe" of ancient writings, the existing New Testament manuscripts compare to other ancient texts in both quantity and distance from the originals. Kinda puts it in perspective, doesn't it?

Click on the image for full res downloadable image.*
While this is a very compelling and unique apologetic tool, the majority of Mark's work focuses on visualizing biblical content: everything from maps to genealogies, from timelines to outlines of books of the Bible. Don't get me wrong, it's great stuff, but we've all seen that in our study Bibles before. But the above infographic is unique (at least as far as I know). So my question is this:

What powerful apologetic argument needs a good visual treatment? Or, beyond apologetics, what would you like to see in an infographic that you've never seen in your study Bible before?

*This image shared with permission of Mark Barry. Visit http://visualunit.me/ for many other great infographics. Please do not republish without permission, but feel free to copy for personal use.


David A. Carlson said...

i always wonder how the number relates to the date. He can't be suggesting their are 24000 copies of the NT from 100 AD, can he? What exactly is the correlation?

Jared Totten said...


Fair question. I think the size of each "globe" is proportionate only to the number of existing copies, and then he placed the edge of the globe the proper distance from the center to represent time distance from the original.

If he were to visualize both the number of copies and distance from the original, we would probably have a picture that looked more like an arrow which narrowed down to a point as we get nearer to the "dot" of the original copies.

Maybe we could suggest he do that one as a follow up!

Steve Maxwell said...

The chart says "earliest surviving copies" a different thing than the total number of mss. As I recall there are a few small bits of papyri that date from the early 2nd century.

Jared Totten said...


That's very possible. Plus, this graph was created in 2010, and I've been hearing a lot of buzz about a document just recently discovered that may date all the way back to the late first century!

So, as you're pointing out, with more investigating, the case gets stronger, not weaker!