Much is said these days about the preservation of Scripture logically flowing from the inspiration of Scripture. To be honest, I would not take much time to debate that particular viewpoint, and would assent to it. After all, what good is an inspired Bible that will not be preserved for all generations?
On the other hand, preservation is seen by many to be an issue of textual families (Antiochian/Byzantine) and compiled texts such as the Textus Receptus and the King James Version.
It is the latter that came to mind when I read the following:
“..God provided for its inscripturation, so that His revelation now comes to us, not in the form of deeds and events, but as a description of these. In order to guard against volatilization, corruption, and falsification, He gave it permanent form in writing.”
Berkhof, Louis Systematic Theology pg 141; Grand Rapids, MI; Eerdmans
Note what Berkhof said; not that the revelation would be preserved in a certain textual family, or version, but that the revelation would be preserved in words. In other words, a written record of Divine revelation would suffice to preserve the revelation. Spoken words, and the spoken interpretations of the deeds seen, and revelations experienced are easily corrupted. Just imagine playing the gossip game in which a message is whispered from person to person only to mangle the message terribly by the end of the game. Such is the nature of the spoken word. The written word is different. It is difficult to modify and change a written account after it has gone through multiple copies that are identical.
What is the relevance of this to the issue of preservation today? The significance is that we have the written record of revelation today. The various manuscripts that are in existence today are manifold. They also agree much more than they disagree, and where they do disagree the disagreement does not change a single important doctrine. Neither do the disagreements between manuscripts change Biblical morality. Thus it is that we contend that “ the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth … containeth the Word of God, nay, is the Word of God.” (The King James Version Translators Preface to The Reader)
Oh, I know we can get into a “jots and tittles” discussion. Honestly, that is a topic for another time. What is necessary for us to see is that we have Divine revelation preserved for us in many translations, and not in a lone English translation that is neither understood by people who can’t read English nor by many who do.
God gave us His revelation in verbal form, and we have it with us still today. That is what we must remember to be the important issue.