How we got the New Testament: lessons from a jack chain

Rewires are a necessary evil in the electrical business. They are messy, difficult jobs that require fishing wires through walls at various stages. There are several ways to accomplish this. From simply pushing the wire down to cutting holes in the walls, there are many tricks of the trade to accomplish this.

Some walls can be particularly troublesome. Older houses seem to be full of these kinds of walls. They contain various obstacles including wooden braces, wire mesh for plaster, insulation, staples and existing wiring. It takes special care and expertise to clear these hurdles and avoid destroying the wall or loosing the wire.

One of my favorite tricks of the trade in this situation is called the “string and chain” method. It simply consists of a roll of strong kite string and a 6″ piece of jack chain. The jack chain is tied onto the string and lowered into a hole that is either existing or drilled into the top of the wall. As the chain is slowly lowered, it can be shaken slightly and it will miraculously work its way around any obstacles. I have even guided a piece of chain through a hole in the middle of a wall brace!

Once it reaches the bottom of the wall, the chain can either be pulled out of the wall by hand, or fished out with a coat hanger. The string makes this part much easier as it will wrap around the coat hanger. Then the wire is tied onto the chain and one electrician at the bottom of the wall can feed the wire to another man at the top of the wall. The wire then easily clears all the obstacles in the way.

I know what you’re thinking: What does this have to do with the Bible?!? How do we know that the New Testament that was written 2000 years ago is the same one that we hold today? How do we know is hasn’t changed through the years? How do we know legends and exaggerations weren’t inserted through the years? Let’s drop a string and chain through the walls of time back to the first century and see if we can fish the original scriptures from then until now.

There is an abundance of evidence that the New Testament was written within the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus. The best indicator of early dating is that there is no mention of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The authors of the New Testament would have surely mentioned this massively significant cultural event if it would have occurred before they penned their writings. The most logical conclusion is that this did not happen until after the New Testament was written. It is also important to note that, if the scriptures had been tampered with during this time, there would have been plenty of eyewitnesses still alive to call them out on their errors.

Early dating gives us confidence that we can attach our jack chain to an accurate account of the New Testament events. As we begin to pull the chain through history, we see that the church fathers faithfully passed what was written down through the walls of history. Peter, Paul, and John each had students who passed the writing and teachings of the New Testament down through the centuries. Much of the New Testament can be reconstructed just by quotes from these early church fathers. We can pull the New Testament from the time of Christ through these church fathers all the way to Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest complete copy of the New Testament dated to approximately 350 A.D.

In addition to this, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found in the Qumran caves in the 1940’s contain a treasure trove of manuscript copies that confirm the accuracy of the Codex Sinaiticus. Over 5800 Greek New Testament manuscript fragments have been found. Comparing the abundance of manuscripts in our possession, scholars can confidently and accurately reconstruct the original writings.

Sometimes when I was using a string and chain in a house, the wire would get hung up on some obstacle in the wall and the string would break. The wire would never make it to it’s intended destination. We don’t see this happening with the New Testament. In spite of countless obstacles throughout history, we can be confident that the New Testament we hold today is the same one penned during the time of Christ.

What is your opinion of New Testament reliability? Leave a comment.


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