One of the many objections against the reliability of the New Testament documents as a historical source has to do with sheer statistics.
We have some 24,000 copies or pieces of copies that exist both in the original Greek and in translations. Compared to any other work of antiquity, the documents that comprise the New Testament simply outnumber any other document anywhere from 4 to 1 to 100 to 1. This sheer volume of data, coupled with the process by which the documents were transmitted–hand copied, often in less than ideal conditions–has created an interesting conundrum: textual variation in the number of the hundreds of thousands.
Given that the usual stated word count of the entire New Testament canon is said to be around 139,000 words, the number of textual variants has been calculated to be as high as 600,000.
Is this really an issue? Well, it depends on who you ask.
In this presentation, Daniel B. Wallace tackles the question and takes on a spirited Q&A session.