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Date Posted:20/03/2007 9:55 AMCopy HTML

The followingtidbitsof information (that many of us don't know about) come from the course notes ofThe History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon, a non-accredited university level course offered byThe Teaching Company. The lecturer is one of my new heroes,Professor BartEhrman.So Just What Do We Have?We do not have the originalsof any of the letters of Paul, the Gospels,or the Apocalypse -indeed, of any early Christian text. What we have arecopies, the vast majority of them producedcenturies after the originalsfrom copies that were also centuries removed from the originals and that had themselves beenmade from earlier copies.Dating back to AD 125-140, the earliest manuscript in existence is written on papyrus in codex form (like a book); it is called P52 because it is the 52ndpapyrus that has been catalogued.(Of note is that this is atwo-sided piece only about the size of acredit card.)Wedon't have complete booksof the New Testament (NT) on any surviving manuscripts until about theend of the 3rd century.We don't have complete copies of the NT until the 4thcentury.300 years after the books themselves were written.Of the thousands of copies of the NT that now thatsurvive,most are from the Middle Ages, andno two are exactly alikein all their wording (with the exception of the smallest surviving fragments).Today we have well over 5,000 manuscripts available.As a result we don't know how many variant readings survive; no one has been able to count them all. Perhaps it is easiest to put the number in comparative terms.We know of more variants in our manuscripts than there are words in the NT.Changes and VariationsSome variants in the manuscripts appear to have been made by accident: others,intentionally(by scribes wanting to modify the texts).Accidental changes would include such relatively innocent differences as changes in spelling, the omission of a word or line, or the accidental rearrangement of words.Intentional changes would include places where scribesmodified the textbecause they thought it contained an error or a reading that was problematic.Some of the variants - especially the intentional ones - aresignificantfor understanding the meaning of the text. For example: The woman caught in adultery (John 8); the last 12 verses of Mark; Jesus' prayer for his executioners in Luke; Jesus' reaction to the leper (some texts read 'angry' and others 'compassionate') in Mark 1.
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:20/03/2007 10:48 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Hi

First up, long time, no hear and hoping all is well with you and yours in the "Middle Kingdom". To the point: Bart Ehrman is actually one of my 'heroes' too; he's one of the most prolific of NT textual critics currently publishing today. In fact my own graduate level studies had an emphasis in NT textual criticism, and Erhman proved to be one of my major scholarly sources.

Anyway, yours was a rather interesting post. It left me wondering; however, whether you believe (a) that the impression that you sought to make on this subject is factually representative of the bulk of Erhman's published work? And, (2)whether you believe that the impression that you sought to make is actually the one supported by the bulk of NT text critics (from liberal through to Evangelical)?

I'd much appreciate hearing your views.

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:24/03/2007 11:46 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1

It left me wondering; however, whether you believe (a) that theimpressionthat you sought to make on this subject isfactually representativeof the bulk of Erhman's published work?

I cannot speak for all his published works as I haven't read them all.  However, the points I listed above were taken verbatim from the course notes he wrote.  I also heard the MP3 files of the lectures he delivered and they were pretty much the same.  He only last year published a book entitled, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why.  This book, written for a more popular readership, definitely raises issues for those who would assert a reliable modern Bible.

(2)whether you believe that the impression that you sought to make is actually the one supported by the bulk of NT text critics (from liberal through to Evangelical)?

Well, I expect the points you may take issue with would be in the latter section of my post, under the heading Changes and Variations.  The former section would be pretty much unchallenged by most scholars right?  Is that correct? 

I would expect that most Evangelical scholars would not support Ehrman's thesis mainly from an ideological or 'faith' basis.  As an Evangelical I was assured that the NT we have today was almost identical (if not identical) to the original writings (language aside of course).  I read the writings of many Evangelical scholars and never came across anyting that would infer the unreliability of the NT.  So it would be foolish to assume that Ehrman's ideas would be go unchallenged.  As far as Ehrman's lectures, he gave the impression that most of what he asserted was generally held to be 'likely' by most scholars. 

Perhaps you would like to track down his lectures and books?  I thoroughly enjoy his material.

I hope that answers your questions.

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:25/03/2007 10:42 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Troy,
me) It left me wondering; however, whether you believe (a) that the impression that you sought to make on this subject is factually representative of the bulk of Erhman's published work?

I cannot speak for all his published works as I haven't read them all. However, the points I listed above were taken verbatim from the course notes he wrote. I also heard the MP3 files of the lectures he delivered and they were pretty much the same. He only last year published a book entitled, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. This book, written for a more popular readership, definitely raises issues for those who would assert a reliable modern Bible.

Sure. I've read most of Erhman's published scholarly works, but I must admit that I haven't read any of his more popular offerings.
me) (2)whether you believe that the impression that you sought to make is actually the one supported by the bulk of NT text critics (from liberal through to Evangelical)?

Well, I expect the points you may take issue with would be in the latter section of my post, under the heading Changes and Variations. The former section would be pretty much unchallenged by most scholars right? Is that correct?

Nope. 'Most' NT scholars who've published on NT textual criticism marvel at the relative 'purity' of the text (and irrespective of their individual ideological persuasions). After all, the massive number of variations that you've hinted at are variations that can be readily identified as such: alternative spellings, differing order of syntax, a change of a verb here or there; in short, 'differences' which have nil (or close to nil) effect on the actual meanings of the texts in question.

I would expect that most Evangelical scholars would not support Ehrman's thesis mainly from an ideological or 'faith' basis.

Here's the rub. Ehrman's own dogmatic statements with respect to the validity of Christian Scripture go beyond what can be correctly assumed from the text critical data itself. In short, he's just as guilty of faith-based presumption as are the more fundamentalist sorts.

As an Evangelical I was assured that the NT we have today was almost identical (if not identical) to the original writings (language aside of course).

Bye-and-large it is (noting, of course, that some elements of the Church have different canonical lists). The textual differences that impact on any specific Christian teaching relate to less than 2% of the text. In short, the reliability of the NT text has been long established, from Tregelles to today.

I read the writings of many Evangelical scholars and never came across anyting that would infer the unreliability of the NT. So it would be foolish to assume that Ehrman's ideas would be go unchallenged. As far as Ehrman's lectures, he gave the impression that most of what he asserted was generally held to be 'likely' by most scholars.

The text of the NT is anything but 'unreliable', my friend (from a strictly text critical POV). Further, the only ideas of Erhman's that are regularly challenged by other scholars, are those which go beyond where the data can be said to lead. Understand this: Dr Bart Erhman is equally as tendentious in his 'agenda' as any Evangelical. Further, most scholars have only a brief understanding of the issues involved in text critical work. It is a small field plowed by a very small number of specialists. And when it comes to those specialists, there most certainly is a scholarly consensus. But that consensus leads in an entirely different direction to where you are apparently headed

Perhaps you would like to track down his lectures and books? I thoroughly enjoy his material.

Well, I've heard hours of Dr Erhman's taped lectures, and as I've said, I've studied most of his books. And I, like you, thoroughly enjoy his material.

I hope that answers your questions.

It has. Hopefully my responses will cause you to ask a few more questions, yourself.

Keep well,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:25/03/2007 9:30 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1

Nope. 'Most' NT scholars who've published on NT textual criticism marvel at the relative 'purity' of the text (and irrespective of their individual ideological persuasions).

I hear you but well, Erhman doesn't marvel so.  I am not an authority on the issue and can only rely on other, more athoritative 'experts'.

After all, the massive number of variations that you've hinted at are variations that can be readily identified as such: alternative spellings, differing order of syntax, a change of a verb here or there; in short, 'differences' which have nil (or close to nil) effect on the actual meanings of the texts in question.

I am well aware of that.  Perhaps I should have made that more clear in the post.  I apologise if it appeared to the contrary.  The final point I listed are exceptions...significant though, so these shouldn't be dismissed.

Here's the rub. Ehrman's own dogmatic statements with respect to the validity of Christian Scripture go beyond what can be correctly assumed from the text critical data itself. In short, he's just as guilty of faith-based presumption as are the more fundamentalist sorts.

Of course man.  We all have our own biases.  He was a former Evangelical who studied at Moody before bcoming an Agnostic.

Bye-and-large it is (noting, of course, that some elements of the Church have different canonical lists). The textual differences that impact on any specific Christian teaching relate to less than 2% of the text. In short, the reliability of the NT text has been long established, from Tregelles to today.

2%?  Well when dealing with an inspired text which delivers info concerning an eternal destiny, I guess 2% matters.  I am reading Ehrman on this issue these days.  I'll keep you posted on what he asserts.

In short, the reliability of the NT text has been long established, from Tregelles to today.

That's a matter of 'spin' really though.  One man's 'reliable' is another man's 'not so'.  From what I read on Atheist and more Liberal websites, the reliability of the NT is not so air tight.  But I mean it when I say it is a matter of 'spin'.  I can see how and why you feel secure in your position.

when it comes to those specialists, there most certainly is a scholarly consensus. But that consensus leads in an entirely different direction to where you are apparently headed

Well, where Ehramn is leading me.   Perhaps you would like to read his stuff on the matter.  But you haven't really said how and which of the points i made are specifically incorrect.

Hopefully my responses will cause you to ask a few more questions, yourself.

Definitely.  The matter is (and was) far from closed and settled in my mind.

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:28/03/2007 11:41 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1

I was thinking about our dialogue here and wanted to add a few things. 

You wrote:

After all, the massive number of variations that you've hinted at are variations that can be readily identified as such: alternative spellings, differing order of syntax, a change of a verb here or there; in short, 'differences' which have nil (or close to nil) effect on the actual meanings of the texts in question.

As I said before, the majority of the variations are negligible to be sure.  But when one consideres that there are between 200,000 to 400,000 differences (no one is really sure) , a minority of these variations can still be a lot.  So while there is a majority of negligible variations, there is still a big enough minority of variations to be of concern.  What can we consider a lot?  1% of the variations?  That would be 2,000 to 4,000 variations of concern.  10%?  That would be 20,000 to 40,000 variations.

The textual differences that impact on any specific Christian teaching relate to less than 2% of the text. In short, the reliability of the NT text has been long established, from Tregelles to today.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, it is a matter of spin.  The real issue here is not so much about how many important verses are impacted, rather what these variations say to us about issues such as innerrancy, transmission, errors and contradictions in the text and reliability. While the variations may only effect 2% of the 'teaching related' texts, what does this say to us about how reliable the NT is as a whole? 

And the greater issue is not mistaken changes, but intentional changes.  Let me quote a passge from Ehman's book showing intentional changes to the NT. The following quote comes from, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why pp. 94-95 by Bart D. Ehrman.

 

Sometimes scribes changed their texts because they thought the text contained a factual error. This appears to be the case at the very beginning of Mark, where the author introduces his Gospel by saying, "Just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'behold I am sending a messenger before your face...Make straight the paths.'" The problem is that the beginning of the quotation is not from Isaiah at all but represents a combination of a passage from Exod. 23:20 and one from Mal. 3:1. Scribes recognised that this was a difficulty and so changed the text, making it say, "Just as is written in the prophets..." Now there is no problem with the misattribution of the quotation. But there can be little doubt concerning what Mark originally wrote: the attribution to Isaiah is found in our earliest and best manuscripts.

On occasion the "error" that a scribe attempted to correct was not factual, but interpretive. A well-known example comes in Matt. 24:36, where Jesus is predicting the end of the age and says that, "concerning that day and hour, no one knows-not the angels in heaven, nor even the Son, but only the Father." Scribes found this passage difficult: the Son of God, Jesus himself, does not know when the end will come? How could that be? Isn't he all-knowing? To resolve the problem, some scribes simply modified the text by taking out the words "nor even the Son." Now the angels may be ignorant, but the Son of God isn't.

 

Ehrman goes on to list the following reasons for inttentional chnages in the NT and cites examples of these:

  1. Factual errors
  2. Interpretive errors
  3. To circumvent possible misunderstandings
  4. Theological reasons
  5. Emphasis of a doctrine
  6. Liturgical reasons
  7. Harmonisation of similar passages
  8. Influence of oral tradition
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:29/03/2007 2:18 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Troy,

If you're really interested in getting something of a 'grip' on the status questionus of the NT viz textual criticism, then you'll need to consult far more widely than simply Bart Erhman. After all, there's something of an accepted quorum of experts in this field, all of whom have published extensively; it's the consensus as espoused by these men and women that we should place credit in. Now I don't mean to infer that Erhman is somehow deficient in his understanding of the subject, far from it! It's simply that Professor Erhman's popularity is based, in the main, on two things: 1. The fact that he often does write on a technical and 'arcane' subject for a more popular audience (rather than simply writing for other scholars). And, 2. the very fact that he is colourful in both his approach and his inferences. Who would be more entertaining to read, for the average uninformed 'couch potato'? The scholar whose work runs with the established 'flow'? Or the one who swims directly against it? Why do you think authors such as a Thiering or a Spong sell more books to the average reader o a given biblical subject than do a Vermes or a Moloney?

Anyway...

Several of the matters that you've raised as being of grave importance in your most recent post aren't quite so critical as you infer, well, at least they aren't from my own perspective. I'll single out but one for the time being as an example, and that relates to the quite misunderstood concept of 'innerrancy'. I've little doubt that words such as 'verbal' and 'plenary' spring to your mind as being crucial when dealing with this subject. But the 'fundamentalist' view on innerrancy, the view that you most likely believe to be the representative Christian position, is only a little over 150 years old. In other words, it's quite 'new', it's somewhat 'novel' in certain of its features, and it isn't as representative of what the Christian Church has properly taught or believed over her history as you might think. Further, given your comments above, I think it's just as likely that you've confused the narrower concept of 'innerrancy' with the broader concept that God has kept his Word completely intact over the last two or more millenia. But the latter idea isn't necessarily the corollary to the former idea. Personally, I reckon a pretty sound argument can be made from Scripture, for the Christian God being more a God of RECOVERY than we often credit him being

In short no-one who has any sort of professional competence in the field of NT textual criticism denies that intentional as well as unintentional scribal changes occurred over the course of the copying of the various NT texts. I just don't think such to be quite the 'big deal' that you clearly do, nor do I believe the impact of the same to be in any way quite so 'devastating' an indictment against the trustworthiness of Scripture and its teaching. Nor, might I add, do those scholars who are collectively the world's experts in this field. I've studied Erhman's scholarly work in painful detail. He's actually very careful and conservative when engaging in strictly text critical matters. But when it comes to moving beyond 'TC', and towards theological speculation, well, I've found him to be far less rigorous and convincing in both method and result.

Cheerio,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:29/03/2007 6:39 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1

Erhman's popularity is based, in the main, on two things: 1. The fact that he often does write on a technical and 'arcane' subject for a more popular audience (rather than simply writing for other scholars). And, 2. the very fact that he is colourful in both his approach and his inferences. Who would be more entertaining to read, for the average uninformed 'couch potato'? The scholar whose work runs with the established 'flow'? Or the one who swims directly against it? Why do you think authors such as a Thiering or a Spong sell more books to the average reader o a given biblical subject than do a Vermes or a Moloney?

Ha ha.  Too true.  Why anyone even reads Vermes or Maloney is beyond me.    But surely you don't want to lump Ehrman in with Barbara?

Several of the matters that you've raised as being of grave importance in your most recent post aren't quite so critical as you infer, well, at least they aren't from my own perspective.

And I think that is of crucial importance.  I intentionally posted this thread in the Revival Centre Beliefs room rather than the Xian or ex-Xian rooms.  I was trying to make a point in terms of the over-simplified stance of the RCI/RF/GRC/CAI on the Bible.  Ian, you are informed, they are not.  You know of these things, they don't.  I made the point about reliability and you were most free to respond, but you aren't the intended audience.

I'll single out but one for the time being as an example, and that relates to the quite misunderstood concept of 'innerrancy'. I've little doubt that words such as 'verbal' and 'plenary' spring to your mind as being crucial when dealing with this subject. But the 'fundamentalist' view on innerrancy, the view that you most likely believe to be the representative Christian position, is only a little over 150 years old.

I believe you.  I truky do.  Again, this is in the RCI Beliefs room.  I am not trying (at least here) to argue with you or non-RCI believers.  For that, see my blog!  As a matter of fact, my thread could lead nicely into some argument against the use of the KJV as the sole translation.

I think it's just as likely that you've confused the narrower concept of 'innerrancy' with the broader concept that God has kept his Word completely intact over the last two or more millenia. But the latter idea isn't necessarily the corollary to the former idea. Personally, I reckon a pretty sound argument can be made from Scripture, for the Christian God being more a God of RECOVERY than we often credit him being

Well, I was arguuing against innerrancy and questioning the Bible's supposed perfection (something you don't seem to hold).  So hooray, we agree...kinda.

 In short no-one who has any sort of professional competence in the field of NT textual criticism denies that intentional as well as unintentional scribal changes occurred over the course of the copying of the various NT texts. I just don't think such to be quite the 'big deal' that you clearly do, nor do I believe the impact of the same to be in any way quite so 'devastating' an indictment against the trustworthiness of Scripture and its teaching.

Alone, no.  I don't think anyone would abandon the faith based on transmission errors.  But coupled with other arguments against the faith, it is of note.

Nor, might I add, do those scholars who are collectively the world's experts in this field. I've studied Erhman's scholarly work in painful detail. He's actually very careful and conservative when engaging in strictly text critical matters. But when it comes to moving beyond 'TC', and towards theological speculation, well, I've found him to be far less rigorous and convincing in both method and result.

Again, perhaps you should read the book first.  You obviously respect the man...go on, buy it!

Ciao.

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:30/03/2007 12:29 PMCopy HTML

Who moved David to number the Hebrews... "Lord" Jehovah or Satan?

A CONTRADICTION IN SCRIPTURE?

2Sm:24:1: And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

1Chr:21:1: And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:31/03/2007 7:09 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Hey, Troy.

Okay, I understand where you're going with this one now so I'll let thee be And, 'no', I don't really think Bart Erhman's in the same class as Barbara Thiering She's pretty much in a class all by herself (even Bob Funk tries to keep her at arm's length)!

Keep well,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:01/04/2007 6:26 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

I intentionally posted this thread in the Revival Centre Beliefs room rather than the Xian or ex-Xian rooms.  I was trying to make a point in terms of the over-simplified stance of the RCI/RF/GRC/CAI on the Bible.  Ian, you are informed, they are not.  You know of these things, they don't.  I made the point about reliability and you were most free to respond, but you aren't the intended audience

As a member of your potential audience I must agree that most RF'rs would not have informed themselves over these issues. They would of course be aware of them b/c of the publicity factors that SOTT1 mentions. Eg, apart from the books, which perspective gets almost all airplay on SBS and ABC TV? The RF problem re this, IMHO, is that b/c ignorance (eg experience is more important than the written Word) is often considered next to godliness we are not informed that there are (and have been in many cases for centuries) well-reasoned responses to to these types of qns.

On reflection, a cool thing about this thread is that many RF'rs will now be aware of those well-reasoned responses. (And with the internet they'll be able to inform themselves without needing to buy expensive books or spend hours listening to speakers - instead they can spend hours reading :-).

BTW I think I've listened to that same series of Ehrmann's audio teaching. It's interesting that in what I heard, he extolled the reliabilty of Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiaticus, yet John Burgon who viewed/read them (and many of the other MSS available to him) at the end of the 19th century considered them to be examples of the most corrupt in terms of textual-transmission errors (and he was excluding his views on the Pericope de Adultera and the ending of Mark's gospel).

PS I'm not KJV-only, but I thought I'd put in that last paragraph as a teaser for viewers of the thread to also check the "conservative" end of the textual criticism spectrum

 

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:01/04/2007 7:58 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : RF_on_the_edge

Good morning, RFOTE.

BTW I think I've listened to that same series of Ehrmann's audio teaching. It's interesting that in what I heard, he extolled the reliabilty of Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiaticus, yet John Burgon who viewed/read them (and many of the other MSS available to him) at the end of the 19th century considered them to be examples of the most corrupt in terms of textual-transmission errors (and he was excluding his views on the Pericope de Adultera and the ending of Mark's gospel).

The two specific uncial codices that you mentioned, (Aleph and B) actually are representative of the most reliable 'branch' of ancient Greek NT manuscripts. They're demonstrative of the most widespread pre-Lucian text type known to the early Church. In fact, the papyri (the earliest mss available) pre-date Vaticanus and Sinaiticus by up to 150 years in some cases, yet they demonstrate precisely the same text form. This is important.

Now Dean John Burgon wrote a rather influential book (at/for the time) that sought to discredit the textual labours of Westcott and Hort (the two scholars who produced the critical Greek NT that underpinned the English Revised Version). However, Burgon's arguments--whilst seemingly solid when considered superficially--have long been discredited, and then in no small part due to the finding of the older papyrus mss that I mentioned earlier.

The KJV NT was based on Erasmus' very hastily produced 'critical' Greek NT. I'd recommend that anyone interested in this subject devote some reading on the when, how, what and why behind Erasmus' work, and also on how the pericope adulterae came to be included in his text. Riveting stuff!

PS I'm not KJV-only, but I thought I'd put in that last paragraph as a teaser for viewers of the thread to also check the "conservative" end of the textual criticism spectrum

Well, to be honest, the 'conservative' end of NT textual criticism isn't supportive of the textus receptus/Majority text form at all. Conservative textual scholars favour Alexandrian priority (although supporting a far more eclectic approach to weighing the evidence--both internal and external--than that as was championed by Westcott and Hort in the 19th century), and then for very good reason. 'TR'/Majority text form advocates are an extremely small bunch, and they tend to support that text type because of philosophical/theological reasons (fundamentalism). They are, of course, KJV-only people too

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:01/04/2007 8:04 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : whodoyouthinkyouare

'Morning,

Who moved David to number the Hebrews... "Lord" Jehovah or Satan? A CONTRADICTION IN SCRIPTURE? 2Sm:24:1: And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. 1Chr:21:1: And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

A contradiction? I don't think so. I believe it was Martin Luther who pointed out so well, "the Devil remains God's devil!" Judeo-Christian Scripture doesn't support a 'dualistic' world-view: one of two equally matched opponents 'duking' it out for the world. As Job makes perfectly clear, Satan isn't a completely 'free' agent when it comes to doing his work.

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:01/04/2007 10:13 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1

OK ... Looks like I've ventured into the realms of ignorance again (esp given your comments about your post-grad field). The bulk of my comments were based on reading of Burgon's "The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel Accoding to St Mark" and "Pericope de Adultera". A narrow basis (and not taking account of the last 100 yrs of research), but as you say persuasive to someone like myself with a superficial awareness of the issues.

Can you recommend 2 or 3 sources that might enlighten me about Erasmus and provide an overview of the current state of play in textual criticism, given my ignorance of the koine Greek? (I understand a little koine grammar, can sound out words, and can read a concordance but that's it.) I understand it's generally accepted that the various text forms agree doctrinally. I assume there's be references to that too. I'd prefer reliable stuff on the 'net but might be able to get my local library to ferret out any books you suggest. Well ... if ithere's something highly recommended I probably could buy it, but I know how much good texts can cost.

I've read enough to know that there are questions about the reliabilty of Erasmus' compilation of what's become textus receptus, but thought that it's close correlation (as I understand it) with the majority text had given it some credibility. The expressions I'd heard were that these represent a "Byzantine" text form which contrasts somewhat with an "Alexandrian" text form. 

(PS Just read this a.m. some more of a translation of Godet's 1 vol commentary on Jn. I'm starting to realise that the idea of a Byzantine-Alexandrian is simplistic, so I'm looking forward to some introductory info for my edjumacation.)

I'd call myself a fundamentalist (although I'm hazy about the definition), so when I say "conservative" I mean "fundamentalist", even though they may be a minority of the "experts". Am I correct in understanding that when you use "conservative", you mean something more like the "general, collective understanding of the majority of experts "?

Maybe then, by some defintions I am KJV-only b/c of my (current?) preference for the majority text form, but I do disagree with those who I've seen suggest that the KJV is the only Engish translation with God's approval. I tend to read Green's MKJV but I regularly refer to a variety of translations based on the Nestle-Aland and UBS texts, which I presume are based on the "conservative" view you refer to.

 

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:02/04/2007 8:10 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : RF_on_the_edge

Hey again, big fella.

OK ... Looks like I've ventured into the realms of ignorance again (esp given your comments about your post-grad field). The bulk of my comments were based on reading of Burgon's "The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel Accoding to St Mark" and "Pericope de Adultera". A narrow basis (and not taking account of the last 100 yrs of research), but as you say persuasive to someone like myself with a superficial awareness of the issues.

Short answer: Burgon's very tendentious book simply isn't credible.

Can you recommend 2 or 3 sources that might enlighten me about Erasmus and provide an overview of the current state of play in textual criticism, given my ignorance of the koine Greek? (I understand a little koine grammar, can sound out words, and can read a concordance but that's it.) I understand it's generally accepted that the various text forms agree doctrinally. I assume there's be references to that too. I'd prefer reliable stuff on the 'net but might be able to get my local library to ferret out any books you suggest. Well ... if ithere's something highly recommended I probably could buy it, but I know how much good texts can cost.

I could probably recommend twenty or thirty such books! I'm not too sure what's of worth on the 'Net these days, but you could do worse than to consult Rod Decker's site (www.ntresources.com) or Mark Goodacre's (www.ntgateway.com). As for the printed stuff, I'd really recommend that you splurge and buy the following: The Journey from Texts to Translations and A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible, both by Paul Wegner. Koorong sells the first for about $35.00, and the second for about $31.00. The first is an excellent overview of all the issues we've touched on thus far (and more), the latter is an introduction to the art and science of TC (addressing both OT and NT). They're pitched at 'intelligent reader' level (i.e. 1st year university), and both are brilliant at distilling the facts and exposing the flaws.

With respect to your second point, the various text-types do agree, by-and-large, doctrinally. No fundamental Christian doctrine is adversely affected, whether one consults the 'majority text', or the 'Alexandrian text'. The difference, in the main, is that the 'majority text' is derivative of the labours of Lucian of Antioch. Lucian produced a polished recension of the Greek NT, in other words, he altered the text itself so as to 'correct' grammatical, theological and similar difficulties that he encountered in the older mss. The Alexandrian text, by contrast, preserves the much 'rougher' and more original flavour of the NT writings.

I've read enough to know that there are questions about the reliabilty of Erasmus' compilation of what's become textus receptus, but thought that it's close correlation (as I understand it) with the majority text had given it some credibility. The expressions I'd heard were that these represent a "Byzantine" text form which contrasts somewhat with an "Alexandrian" text form.

The terms 'Byzantine' and 'majority' refer to the same text type. The former indicates the place where this text form was given prominence after the ascension of Constantine (Byzantium/Constantinople). The latter simply reflects the fact that once it became the 'official' version of the Roman Empire under Constantine, the 'Byzantine' NT was copied far more frequently than the older, non-'Byzantine' mss. As for Erasmus, well he consulted only a handful of very late 'Byzantine' mss, the youngest being about 1,000 years older than the original documents. And one of the great ironies of history is that Erasmus actually introduced readings into his Greek NT that never existed in any text form prior to his labours. And these, of course, were adopted into the KJV when it was produced. Importantly, however, Erasmus' 'textus receptus' isn't identical to the 'majority' text. They differ quite substantially in a number of places.

(PS Just read this a.m. some more of a translation of Godet's 1 vol commentary on Jn. I'm starting to realise that the idea of a Byzantine-Alexandrian is simplistic, so I'm looking forward to some introductory info for my edjumacation.)

Whilst 'simplistic' to be true, such does trace the broad outlines of the matter. And 'edjumacation' is a very noble thing

I'd call myself a fundamentalist (although I'm hazy about the definition), so when I say "conservative" I mean "fundamentalist", even though they may be a minority of the "experts". Am I correct in understanding that when you use "conservative", you mean something more like the "general, collective understanding of the majority of experts "?

Personally, I wouldn't call myself a 'fundamentalist' if you threatened me with fire to do so! 'Fundamentalist' equals 'wilfully obstinate and ignorant'. 'Conservative' invokes a far more open-minded approach towards the study of questions relating to biblical matters (i.e. following where the evidence leads). As for just how many recognised 'fundamentalist' NT textual critics there are in the world, you could count them on two hands, and then without using all of your fingers!

Maybe then, by some defintions I am KJV-only b/c of my (current?) preference for the majority text form, but I do disagree with those who I've seen suggest that the KJV is the only Engish translation with God's approval. I tend to read Green's MKJV but I regularly refer to a variety of translations based on the Nestle-Aland and UBS texts, which I presume are based on the "conservative" view you refer to.

My recommendation would be that you suspend judgement on the matter until you've researched it in a little more detail. When I began my theological studies, for example, I was a 'tried-and-true' KJV-only/textus receptus supporter. My first course in Greek textual criticism shook my 'beliefs' in the matter to the very core! Intermediate and post-graduate studies in the field reinforced both my belief in and confidence towards Scripture, but they demonstrated well to me that I was completely off-track with respect to my earlier views. As Alexander Pope once quipped, "...A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep or taste not the Pieran spring: there shallow drafts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again."

Insofar as recommending a 'good' (there's that slippery adjective again!) English translation, well, I reckon you could do worse than the English Standard Version (ESV). This is my preferred 'reading' Bible.

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:06/04/2007 10:05 AMCopy HTML

Biblical Archaeology Review have an article about Bart Ehrman's' jourmey from faith to non-faith (and more).  I figured it very much suited this thread.

Click here to read the article.

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:06/04/2007 11:42 AMCopy HTML

I was going to save this until Sunday but then I started thinking - "Gee, this could be fun to discuss in church, after church at brunch - maybe Friday night during family fun time. . . ." After all, the Bible is the infallible, divinely-inspired word of God, right? The entire Christian religion is based on the resurrection of the Christ - so we know that part of the Good Book will be very accurate! The very crux of the argument for Christianity being the one true religion is that it is the only religion in which the Saviour actually rose from the dead to fulfill prophecy- so let's have a little fun:

Father Dan's Easter Quiz:

1. Who first came to the tomb on Sunday morning?
a. one woman (John 20:1)
b. two women (Matt. 28:1)
c. three women (Mark 16:1)
d. more than three women (Luke 23:55-56; 24:1,10)

2. She (they) came
a. while it was still dark (Matt. 28:1; John 20:1)
b. after the sun had risen (Mark 16:2)

3. The woman (women) came to the tomb
a. to anoint the body of Jesus with spices (Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1)
b. just to look at it (Matt. 28:1; John 20:1)

4. The women had obtained the spices
a. on Friday before sunset (Luke 23:54-56; 24:1)
a. after sunset on Saturday (Mark 16:1)

5. The first visitor(s) was/were greeted by
a. an angel (Matt. 28:2-5)
b. a young man (Mark 16:5)
c. two men (Luke 24:4)
d. no one (John 20:1-2)

6. The greeter(s)
a. was sitting on the stone outside the tomb (Matt 28:2)
b. was sitting inside the tomb (Mark 16:5)
c. were standing inside the tomb (Luke 24:3-4)

7. After finding the tomb empty, the woman/women
a. ran to tell the disciples (Matt. 28:7-8; Mark 16:10; Luke 24:9; John 20:2)
b. ran away and said nothing to anyone (Mark 16:8)

8. The risen Jesus first appeared to
a. Mary Magdalene alone (John 20:14; Mark 16:9)
b. Cleopas and another disciple (Luke 24:13,15,18)
c. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matt. 28:1,9)
d. Cephas (Peter) alone (1 Cor. 15:4-5; Luke 24:34)

9. Jesus first appeared
a. somewhere between the tomb and Jerusalem (Matt. 28:8-9)
b. Just outside the tomb (John 20:11-14)
c. in Galilee - some 80 miles (130 Km) north of Jerusalem (Mark 16:6-7)
d. on the road to Emmaus - Miles (11 Km) west of Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-15)
e. we are not told where (Mark 16:9; 1 Cor. 15:4-5)

10. The disciples were to see Jesus first
a. in Galilee (Mark 16:7; Matt. 28:7,10,16)
b. in Jerusalem (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33,36; John 20:19; Acts 1:4)

11. the disciples were told that they would meet the risen Jesus in Galilee
a. by the women, who had been told by an angel of the Lord, then by Jesus himself after the resurrection (Matt. 28:7-10; Mark 16:7)
b. by Jesus himself, before the crucifiction (Mark 26:32)

12. The risen Jesus
a. wanted to be touched (John 20:27)
b. did not want to be touched (John 20:17)
c. did not mind being touched (Matt. 28:9-10)

13. Jesus ascended to Heaven
a. the same day that he was resurrected (Mark 16:9,19; Luke 24:13,28-36,50-51)
b. forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3,9)
c. we are not told that he ascended to Heaven at all (Matt. 28:10, 16-20; John 21:25; the original Gospel of Mark ends at 16:8)

14. The disciples received the Holy Spirit
a. 50 days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3,9)
b. in the evening of the same day as the resurrection (John 20:19-22)

15. The risen Jesus
a. was recognized by those who saw him (Matt. 28:9; Mark 16:9-10)
b. was not always recognizable (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:15-16,31,36-37; John 20:14-15)

16. The risen Jesus
a. was physical (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:41-43; John 20:27)
b. was not physical (Mark 16:9,12,14; Luke 24:15-16,31,36-37; John 20:19,26; 1 Cor. 15:5-8)

17. The risen Jesus was seen by the disciples
a. presumably only once (Matt. 28:16-17)
b. first by two of them, later by all eleven (Mark 16:12-14; Luke 24:13-15,33,36-51)
c. three times (John 20:19,26; 21:1,14)
d. many times (Acts 1:3)

18. When Jesus appeared to the disciples
a. there were eleven of them (Matt. 28:16-17; Luke 24:33,36)
b. twelve of them (1 Cor. 15:5)


Hey, when has religion ever let facts or figures get in the way of a good quote. If this quiz has in any way shaken your faith, simply open the Bible and pull out sentences at random that make you feel good or (completely out of context) reaffirm any belief you want to hold.

Modern-day Easter is derived from two ancient traditions: one Judeo-Christian and the other Pagan. Both Christians and Pagans have celebrated death and resurrection themes following the Spring Equinox for millennia. Most religious historians believe that many elements of the Christian observance of Easter were derived from earlier Pagan celebrations.

The equinox occurs each year on March 20, 21 or 22. Both Neopagans and Christians continue to celebration religious rituals in the present day. Wiccans and other Neopagans usually hold their celebrations on the day or eve of the equinox. Western Christians wait until the Sunday on or after the next full moon. The Eastern Orthodox churches follow the Julian Calendar, so that their celebration is generally many weeks after that of the Western churches. Read More.

The name "Easter" originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similar "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [were] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos." 1 Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre." Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:

Aphrodite from Cyprus
Astarte, from Phoenicia
Demeter, from Mycenae
Hathor from Egypt
Ishtar from Assyria
Kali, from India
Ostara, a Norse Goddess of fertility. Read More.

But WAIT! Various early church writers, such as Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons; circa 120 to ?) Justin Martyr (Christian apologist; 100 to 165), Tertullian (Christian theologian; circa 160 to 220 +) concluded that the Pagan/Christian similarities were a Satanic attempt at "diabolical mimicry." Satan was said to have use "plagiarism by anticipation." That is, the Devil replicated the life experiences of Jesus, centuries before his birth. The reason was to confuse the public into thinking that Jesus was merely a copy of previous godmen. Read More

Whooo - thank God for that convenient way to explain everything that offends my religious belief away!

Happy Easter!
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:06/04/2007 10:51 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : whodoyouthinkyouare

Nice post.  I liked it.

Ockham's Razor is the principle proposed by William of Ockham in the fourteenth century: ``Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate', which translates as ``entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily'.  In other words, look for the simplest, most uncomplicated explanation...at least first.  All these Bible 'difficulties' (Christians call them difficulties as it is an easier term to swallow than 'contradictions' and 'errors') are easily explained when one considers the Bible is not inspired but it a collection of different authors, all with different agendas and yes...different beliefs.  Christians will jumpt through hoops with different possible scenarios to explain the difficulties, some are so ridiculous that it is comical.  But to uphold the idea of innerancy and inspiration, they have to jump and keep jumping. 

When I was a believer, I had many of these scenarios and unanswered questions regarding contradictions running through my head.  Baptism was a big one.  There are verses that say baptism is more than a symbol and even part of salvation and yet there are other teachings that make it clear salvation is by faith alone.  Once I realised that these were impossible to harmonise, that God wasn't inspiring it and that the authors simply had different points of view, the whole thing made perfect sense.  It was that simple.  The simplest, and most likely explanation is that it is a human book.  Once you accept that then the difficulties melt away.  Thanks Ockham.

So what is your background ?  Did I miss an introductory post somewhere?

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:07/04/2007 12:46 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : whodoyouthinkyouare

This is funny... very funny... for Christians and non Christians alike. Check out Jesus' reaction in episode 2 when God (Mr Deity to you) lays out the crucifix plan to Jesus!

-"As a Christian, I must say that this,...is inexcusably entertaining."

OMIGOD! NOW THIS IS FUNNY (QUALITY) STUFF! How strong is your faith? ("Faith in what?" some of you ask... Jesse!) Mr. Deity is a brilliant, loving satire of the entity we humans have long looked up to. While I happen to be an agnostic, many faithful folks and even a few God-forsaken atheists have been known to enjoy this "start up" comedy series. I've decided to take it upon myself to help share the GOOD NEWS! Link to fanblog

The number of episodes in the Mr. Deity series is now up to nine. The short films are produced, written, and star Brian Dalton, who uses them to explore the lighter side of religion. The first episodes were launched on January 17, 2007, and within a few days there had been over 200,000 downloads from YouTube, iTunes, and at his own webpage, mrdeity.com. Dalton is an ex-Mormon who came to skepticism in the late 1990s through the Skeptics Society. In time he gave up his religion, but remains utterly fascinated by religion in general, and he has written a pilot for a television series based on his character, Mr. Deity. Exchristian.net

http://mrdeity.com/

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:07/04/2007 4:06 PMCopy HTML

Just because it's Easter doesn't mean we can't Bible Bash... lol. I found the following scriptures. In context or out of context they sound pretty bloody awful. I think God probably regrets the following embarrassing posts in his Blog. He should probably edit them:

Deuteronomy 25: 11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

Deuteronomy 22: 28 If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. 29 Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

Ecclesiastes 3: 19 Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: as one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.

Numbers 31: 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. 18 But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Jeremiah 25: 27 "Then tell them, 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you.'

Hosea 1: 2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD."

Leviticus 20: 27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones; their blood shall be upon them.

Leviticus 21: 18 For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he that hath a flat nose, of anything superfluous.

Malachi 2: 3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces.

Isaiah 13: 15 Whoever is found will be thrust through, and whoever is caught will fall by the sword. 16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered, and their wives ravished.

1 Corinthians 8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

Luke 19: 27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

Psalms 137: 9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rocks.

Deuteronomy 21: 18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, 19 then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out 20 unto the elders of his city, and 21 all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die.

Proverbs 20: 30 Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

Numbers 31: 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. 18 But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.

2 Kings 6: 28 This woman said to me, "Give up your son; we will eat him today, and we will eay my son tomorrow." 29 So we cooked my son and ate him.

Matthew 19:12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; ...and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

Deuteronomy 22:5 A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your GOD.

Check out russell's teapot for the full list and accompanying posters. Some of them contain images that will haunt you forever though.. eek! Be warned! Highly recommended.
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:11/04/2007 11:07 AMCopy HTML

Well, as promised, here are some more thoughts from Bart Ehrman.  This passage comes from the concluding chapter of his book and really resonated with me.  In fact, I came to a lot of these same conclusions when I was, like him, doing graduate studies (in 1999).

            In particular, as I said at the outset, I began seeing the New Testament as a very human book.  The New Testament as we actually have it, I knew, was the product of human hands, the hands of the scribes who transmitted it.  Then I began to see that not just the scribal text but the original text itself was a very human book.  This stood very much at odds with how I had regarded the text in my late teens as a newly minted "born-again" Christian, convinced that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God and that the biblical words themselves had come to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  As I realized already in graduate school, even if God had inspired the original words, we don't have the original words.  So the doctrine of inspiration was in a sense irrelevant to the Bible as we have it, since the words God reputedly inspired had been changed, and in some cases, lost.  Moreover, I came to think that my earlier views of inspiration were not only irrelevant, they were probably wrong.  For the only reason (I came to think) for God to inspire the Bible would be so that his people would have his actual words; but if he really wanted people to have his actual words, surely he would have miraculously preserved those words, just as he had miraculously inspired them in the first place.  Given the circumstance that he didn't preserve the words, the conclusion seemed inescapable to me that he hadn't gone to the trouble of inspiring them.

            The more I reflected on these matters, the more I began to see that the authors of the New Testament were very much like the scribes who would later transmit those authors' writings.  The authors too were human beings with needs, beliefs, worldviews, opinions, loves, hates, longings, desires, situations, problems--and surely all these things affected what they wrote.  Moreover, in an even more tangible way these authors were like the later scribes.  They too were Christians who had inherited traditions about Jesus and his teachings, who had learned about the Christian message of salvation, who had come to believe in the truth of the gospel--and they too passed along the traditions in their writings.  What is striking, once one sees them for the human beings they were, with their own beliefs, worldviews, situations, and so on, is that all these authors passed along the traditions they inherited in different words.  Matthew, in fact, is not exactly like Luke; or Luke as John; or John as Paul; or Paul as James.  Just as scribes modified the words of the tradition, by sometimes putting these words "in other words," so too had the authors of the New Testament itself, telling their stories, giving their instructions, and recording their recollections by using their own words (not just the words they had heard), words they came up with to pass along their message in ways that seemed most appropriate for the audience and the time and place for which they were writing. 

         And so I began to see that since each of these authors is different, it was not appropriate to think that any one of them meant the same thing as some other author meant--any more than it is fair to say that what I mean in this book must be the same as what some other author writing about textual criticism means in his or her book.  We might mean different things.  How can you tell?  Only by reading each of us carefully and seeing what each of us has to say--not by pretending that we are both saying the same thing.  We're often saying very different things.  pp.211-212

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:12/04/2007 8:26 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

'morning, Troy.

Thought-provoking, as usual Enclosed below is a review of "Misquoting Jesus" by Craig Blomberg. I found it interesting, given that it touches on several points you've raised in this thread.

Blessings,

Ian


Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005. $24.95. x + 242 pp. ISBN 0-06-073817-0.

It is uncanny how similar Bart Ehrman's and my backgrounds are. I had pieced some bits together from his other writings, but here he takes a fifteen-page introduction to tell his story. We both grew up in mainline Protestant churches in the Midwest (he was Episcopalian; I was Lutheran). We both had a conversion experience through the ministry of Campus Life / Youth for Christ in high school. We both graduated from high school in 1973. We both went on to small, private church-related undergraduate colleges in Illinois (he to Moody Bible Institue; I to Augustana College), then to Chicagoland evangelical schools (he to Wheaton; I to Trinity), and finally to internationally known university with prestigious divinity schools for Ph.D. work (he to Princeton; I to Aberdeen) in order to pursue careers as New Testament scholars and professors. Ehrman has taught for a considerable time now at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and become a prolific author of many widely selling books; I have done likewise here at Denver Seminary. I can also tell from his writings that Bart has a wonderful but slightly sick sense of humor that I suspect is very similar to mine!

Today, nevertheless, Ehrman has distinguished himself as someone who at both the scholarly and popular levels loves to poke fun at conservative Christianity. He has rejected his evangelicalism and whether he is writing on the history of the transmission of the biblical text, focusing on all the changes that scribes made over the centuries, or on the so-called "lost gospels" and "lost Christianities," trying to rehabilitate our appreciation for Gnosticism, it is clear that he has an axe to grind. It is, however, not nearly as sharp as was the one of the late Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar and ex-Southern fundamentalist, or of living scholars like Robert Price or Gerd L?emann. At times Ehrman wields it seemingly just playfully. Thus, in his book-length work on the historical Jesus published by no less than Oxford University Press, while illustrating how words change their meaning over time, he uses the example of "dude," which once meant a cowboy (or a "pretty boy"), then became the equivalent of "man," and now is just an exclamation at the beginning of a sentence. But he inserts into his discussion how he disgusted his son by explaining that the term was also once used for camels' gonads!

Most of Misquoting Jesus is actually a very readable, accurate distillation of many of the most important facts about the nature and history of textual criticism, presented in a lively and interesting narrative that will keep scholarly and lay interest alike. In this respect, the title appears designed to attract attention and sell copies of the book rather than to represent its contents accurately! Successive chapters treat, in brief, (1) the formation of the Hebrew and Christian canons, (2) the mechanics of copying a text in the ancient world and in the early transmission of the Christian Scriptures, (3) highlights in the history of the production of increasingly critical editions of a reconstructed Greek New Testament, along with the kinds of changes, both accidental and intentional, that scribes introduced into the thousands of manuscripts still in our possession, thus necessitating those reconstructions, (4) key post-Reformation textual critics involved with the production of the most well-known reconstructions, from Simon to Westcott and Hort, (5) modern methods of textual criticism, combining external and internal evidence, with several of the more interesting examples of significant changes in the New Testament, (6) more tantalizing examples of theologically motivated changes, and (7) similar examples where the social world of the scribes led them to introduce changes in the meanings of their exemplars. A brief conclusion returns to his personal story, reiterating how, in light of the numerous changes that preclude us from saying we either have the original texts or can perfectly reconstruct them, he finds it impossible to hold to biblical inerrancy or inspiration (or even less strict forms of evangelical Christian faith) and insinuates (without ever saying so in so many worlds) that reasonable persons should come to similar conclusions.

Thus a substantial majority of this book provides information already well-known and well-accessible in other sources, such as Bruce Metzger's works on the text and transmission of the New Testament (including one that Ehrman himself recently helped to revise), but in slightly more popular form that is likely to reach a wider audience. What most distinguishes the work are the spins Ehrman puts on some of the data at numerous junctures and his propensity for focusing on the most drastic of all the changes in the history of the text, leaving the uninitiated likely to think there are numerous additional examples of various phenomena he discusses when there are not. Thus his first extended examples of textual problems in the New Testament are the woman caught in adultery and the longer ending of Mark. After demonstrating how neither of these is likely to be part of the originals of either Gospel, Ehrman concedes that "most of the changes are not of this magnitude" (p. 69). But this sounds as if there are at least a few others that are of similar size, when in fact there are no other textual variants anywhere that are even one-fourth as long as these thirteen- and twelve-verse additions.

A second supposition necessary for Ehrman's case is that the non-professional scribes that he postulates did most of the copying of New Testament documents until the fourth-century, when Constantine became the first emperor to commission new copies of the Bible, did not do nearly as careful a job as the professional scribes that he postulates did most of the post-Constantinian copying. Not only are both of these postulates unprovable (though certainly possible), the actual textual evidence of the second and third centuries, though notably sparser than for later centuries, does not demonstrate the sufficiently greater fluidity in the textual tradition that would be necessary to actually support the hypothesis that we cannot reconstruct the most likely originals with an exceedingly high probability of accuracy, even if that probability remains in the high 90s rather than at 100 %.

Ehrman's discussion of Erasmus and the famous Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7-8) is both lucid and entertaining. But, again, what is lacking is any acknowledgment that there is no other known example in all of the history of textual criticism of a similar insertion to a critical Greek text being made on the basis of only one, most likely altered, late medieval manuscript. Moroeover, Ehrman writes as if the doctrine of the Trinity stands or falls with this spurious addition, which ignores the numerous other Trinitarian references in the New Testament.

One of the most valuable and least duplicated parts of the book comes in the chapters that discuss theologically and sociologically motivated changes. Ehrman's revision to Metzger's standard textbook introduces several of these as well, though more briefly, but most primers on the discipline largely ignore them. It is very helpful to understand how Mark's probable reference to Jesus' anger in Mark 1:41 (rather than compassion) fits his overall presentation of Jesus, just as Luke's original "omission" of Jesus sweating great drops of blood in the garden in Luke 24:43-44 reflects his picture of a more "imperturbable" Christ. Ehrman's suggestion that Hebrews 2:9 originally read that Christ tasted death "apart from God" rather than "by the grace of God" seemingly founders on the sheer paucity of external evidence for the reading. But if Origen was right that the reading stood in the majority of manuscripts of his day, then perhaps it was original. No unorthodox theology results (recall the cry of dereliction in the Gospels), but one can see why the vast majority of scribes would have adopted the reading that is far better known today.

Perhaps the only example in these chapters that is altogether unconvincing, notwithstanding evangelical scholar Gordon Fee's having championed it, is the idea that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was missing from Paul's original text, simply because a few very late manuscripts have moved the verses to the end of the chapter (where they flow much more naturally), and because a few older manuscripts include marginal signs the might point to some kind of textual question (but even this could be adequately accounted for by doubts about the location of the verses). Few textual critics of any theological stripe (including Fee) elsewhere accept as probable suggestions that the originals of any New Testament book read differently from all known copies, because of the sheer number and antiquity of the copies that we have, until a passage becomes too awkward for their overall theological systems (and even then most seek some other resolution of the tension than textual emendation).

One surprising factual error occurs when Ehrman insists that Acts 4:13 means that Peter and John were illiterate (the term agrammatos?"unlettered" in this context means not educated beyond the elementary education accessible to most first-century Jewish boys). But otherwise, the most disappointing feature of the volume is Ehrman's apparent unawareness of (or else his unwillingness to discuss) the difference between inductive and deductive approaches to Scripture. The classic evangelical formulations of inspiration and inerrancy have never claimed that these are doctrines that arise from the examination of the data of the existing texts. They are theological corollaries that follow naturally from the conviction that God is the author of the texts (itself suggested by 2 Tim. 3:16, Jesus' own high view of Scripture and his conviction that the Spirit had yet more truth to inspire his followers to record). But if the texts are "God-breathed," and if God cannot err, then they must be inspired and inerrant.

Ehrman offers no supporting arguments for his claims that if God inspired the originals, he both could have and should have inerrantly preserved them in all subsequent copies. It would have been a far greater miracle to supernaturally guide every copyist and translator throughout history than to inspire one set of original authors, and in the process it probably would have violated the delicate balance between the humanity and divinity of the Bible analogous to the humanity and divinity of Christ. All that is necessary is for us to have reason to believe that we can reconstruct something remarkably close to the originals, and we have evidence for that in abundance. No central tenet of Christianity hangs on any textually uncertain passage; this observation alone means that Christian textual critics may examine the variants that do exist dispassionately and without worrying that their faith is somehow threatened in the ways that Ehrman came to believe.

So what was the biggest difference between Bart's and my religious and educational experiences? It would appear that it was our undergraduate tutelage. I went to a liberal Lutheran liberal arts college that was rapidly changing its approach to religious studies to try to conform to the secular university model, despite its Christian heritage, yet my studies demonstrated to me that it was needlessly running too fast too far. Ehrman went to Moody, which one of my profs at Augustana in the 1970s called the "control group" for a longitudinal study of the teaching of religious studies at Illinois colleges and universities in which I participated as a college senior. Only slightly tongue in cheek, he called it the one school that had not changed any of its views since the nineteenth century. Ehrman recognized the overly conservative and insufficiently accurate positions that he was at times taught there, and he too rebelled against unnecessarily narrow and dogmatic professors, only on the right side of the theological spectrum rather than on the left. Yet I can still hear my eighth grade history teacher, herself once a local Republican politician, repeating again and again, "The far left and the far right: avoid them both, like the plague!" I'd like to think I've done a slightly better job of that than Ehrman has.

Our entire family, however, can thank Bart for one wonderful illustration of the occasional problem of word-division that confronts interpreters of manuscripts that print words together without spaces?"lastnightatdinnerIsawabundanceonthetable" (p. 48). This illustration will now go down in Blomberg family lore because of certain forms of dancing our girls have invented when I showed the word cluster to them. And who knows? Perhaps Bart was thinking only of a piece of bread!

Craig L. Blomberg
Distinguished Professor of New Testament
Denver Seminary
February 2006
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:12/04/2007 11:57 AMCopy HTML

In my opinion Te Luo Yi is a closed case and all the debating, discussion and intellectual interaction will avail a mere nothing..

Te Luo Yi may say he doesn't believe in Jesus anymore but then that is a misnomer because Te Luo Yi could not have known Jesus in the first place. The Kingdom comes via revelation to the individual through the only means of repentance... How true is the statement and promise from Jesus " I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" and " we will come unto him, and make our abode with him " ... The truth is, God will accept you exactly as you are where you are without any shred of recommendation and meet with you right where you are and all it takes is your repentance that brings your willingness to submit to him. Then the process of sanctification by His capable hands can begin.

But without that revelation of Jesus, the issue of being called a christian is a non event. The Kingdom of God results in an ongoing interactive relationship which the Bible likens to sonship.

 

Lahad

 

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:12/04/2007 12:02 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1

I actually just finished the book and lent it to someone else.  It was a good read.  I still recommend you get this book SOTT, if not his edit of Metzger's, "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture", a book I would also like to read.

Ehrman has distinguished himself as someone who at both the scholarly and popular levels loves to poke fun at conservative Christianity. He has rejected his evangelicalism and whether he is writing on the history of the transmission of the biblical text, focusing on all the changes that scribes made over the centuries, or on the so-called "lost gospels" and "lost Christianities," trying to rehabilitate our appreciation for Gnosticism, it is clear that he has an axe to grind.

There is no doubt that about where he has come from.  He has a target in mind.  Perhaps that is why I like his work so much.  He challenges so much of what those in my former camp hold sacred.

It is, however, not nearly as sharp as was the one of the late Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar and ex-Southern fundamentalist, or of living scholars like Robert Price or Gerd L?emann.

I have been in email contact with Robert Price and try to read most of what he writes.  He also has a podcast.  He's a smart cookie.

A brief conclusion returns to his personal story, reiterating how, in light of the numerous changes that preclude us from saying we either have the original texts or can perfectly reconstruct them, he finds it impossible to hold to biblical inerrancy or inspiration (or even less strict forms of evangelical Christian faith) and insinuates (without ever saying so in so many worlds) that reasonable persons should come to similar conclusions.

The last portion I quoted came from the above mentioned part of the book.

Thus a substantial majority of this book provides information already well-known and well-accessible in other sources, such as Bruce Metzger's works on the text and transmission of the New Testament (including one that Ehrman himself recently helped to revise), but in slightly more popular form that is likely to reach a wider audience.

Before I ordered Misquoting Jesus I considered getting Metzger's book instead as I thought it would be more dense and less 'pop'.  I may still get it,

What most distinguishes the work are the spins Ehrman puts on some of the data at numerous junctures and his propensity for focusing on the most drastic of all the changes in the history of the text,

There's that word I used ealier on...SPIN.  I agree, it is all about how one chooses to interpret the data,

leaving the uninitiated likely to think there are numerous additional examples of various phenomena he discusses when there are not.

OK, I guess the keyword there is 'unintiated' as I didn't feel he implied there were more examples than what he showed.  To be frank, I figured that he would pull out all of them to make his point more valid. 

Thus his first extended examples of textual problems in the New Testament are the woman caught in adultery and the longer ending of Mark. After demonstrating how neither of these is likely to be part of the originals of either Gospel, Ehrman concedes that "most of the changes are not of this magnitude" (p. 69). But this sounds as if there are at least a few others that are of similar size, when in fact there are no other textual variants anywhere that are even one-fourth as long as these thirteen- and twelve-verse additions.

I don't know, I didn't quite feel that way when I read it, but I can see how others might have.  Perhpas he could have clarified a little, but then maybe this ambiguity was unintnetional and thus Ehrman didn't realise it needed a caveat.

A second supposition necessary for Ehrman's case is that the non-professional scribes that he postulates did most of the copying of New Testament documents until the fourth-century, when Constantine became the first emperor to commission new copies of the Bible, did not do nearly as careful a job as the professional scribes that he postulates did most of the post-Constantinian copying. Not only are both of these postulates unprovable (though certainly possible), the actual textual evidence of the second and third centuries, though notably sparser than for later centuries, does not demonstrate the sufficiently greater fluidity in the textual tradition that would be necessary to actually support the hypothesis that we cannot reconstruct the most likely originals with an exceedingly high probability of accuracy, even if that probability remains in the high 90s rather than at 100 %.

OK, noted.

Ehrman's discussion of Erasmus and the famous Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7-8) is both lucid and entertaining. But, again, what is lacking is any acknowledgment that there is no other known example in all of the history of textual criticism of a similar insertion to a critical Greek text being made on the basis of only one, most likely altered, late medieval manuscript. Moroeover, Ehrman writes as if the doctrine of the Trinity stands or falls with this spurious addition, which ignores the numerous other Trinitarian references in the New Testament.

Actually (and I wish I had the book with me now), I recall that he made it clear that the Johannine Comma is the only place where Trinitarianism is so blatantly summarised or presented, not the only Scriptural support for the doctrine.

Perhaps the only example in these chapters that is altogether unconvincing, notwithstanding evangelical scholar Gordon Fee's having championed it, is the idea that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was missing from Paul's original text, simply because a few very late manuscripts have moved the verses to the end of the chapter (where they flow much more naturally), and because a few older manuscripts include marginal signs the might point to some kind of textual question (but even this could be adequately accounted for by doubts about the location of the verses).

No, there was more to this argument than that.  Again, I don;t have the book here, sorry.  He footnoted Fee which stuck out to me as Gordon Fee was a Pente hero.  You know, a tongue talking, tongue defending Pente makes it on the big smoke.  Obviously his work goes well beyond that, but we were Pentes and so only noticed what we wanted to. 

One surprising factual error occurs when Ehrman insists that Acts 4:13 means that Peter and John were illiterate (the term agrammatos?"unlettered" in this context means not educated beyond the elementary education accessible to most first-century Jewish boys).

He makes this point over and over again in audio lectures.  Is this the case then?  Were they not illiterate?  His arguments on a few points hinge on this to a degree so it would be worth knowing the Greek or contextual defintion here.  Were Peter and John literate to the point of being able to construct Gospels as tradition says they did?  After all, the literary 'know how' shown in the Gospels of Mark and John go well beyond illiteracy or an 'elementary' education.

Ehrman offers no supporting arguments for his claims that if God inspired the originals, he both could have and should have inerrantly preserved them in all subsequent copies. It would have been a far greater miracle to supernaturally guide every copyist and translator throughout history than to inspire one set of original authors, and in the process it probably would have violated the delicate balance between the humanity and divinity of the Bible analogous to the humanity and divinity of Christ. All that is necessary is for us to have reason to believe that we can reconstruct something remarkably close to the originals, and we have evidence for that in abundance.

Well again, its a matter of SPIN.  But as many denomiations say in their belief statements something along the lines of,  "The Bible is inspired in its original form' which leaves room to wrangle out of difficult passages.  But it is a two way street as it becomes a moot point anyway when we don't have the originals.  We have 'fairly good' reconstructions.  So say that in the statements of faith, "We believe the Bible in ithe inspired Word of God in its fairly well reconstrcuted form."   You see my point.  Inspiration is moot.  And when one opens the can of worms regarding correct interpretation then inspiration becomes even more of a moot point. 

And SOTT, were you comfortable with this statement the reviewer made, "the delicate balance between the humanity and divinity of the Bible analogous to the humanity and divinity of Christ."?   That smacks of Bibliolatry?  The 4th member of the Trinity, the Holy Bible?

No central tenet of Christianity hangs on any textually uncertain passage; this observation alone means that Christian textual critics may examine the variants that do exist dispassionately and without worrying that their faith is somehow threatened in the ways that Ehrman came to believe.

Well, perhaps the subjegation of women for the last 2000 or so years might have been due to the spurious and contended verses in 1 Cor and the disputed Epistles of Paul to Timothy.  Is this not an important issue?. Did God allow this to occur?  And what of the ending of Mark?  Aren't we here on this board because of them (at least in part)? 

I don't think Ehrman would say one would lose his or her faith based on the issue of transmission alone, but neither is it fair to say that the issues raised present no philosophical or theological challenge to the faith.  It neither proves nor disproves the reality of the Chriistian faith, but it certainly raises some serious challenges nevertheless.

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:12/04/2007 12:16 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : Lahad

In my opinion Te Luo Yi is a closed case and all the debating, discussion and intellectual interaction will avail a mere nothing..

Just when you think you're having a good ol' chat about something of note and then...BANG!  Along comes a religious zealot to remind you of your inability to see the 'plain truth' and your eternal destiny in the pit of Hell.  Welsome to the chat Lahad.

You're assuming that SOTT's intnent is to re-win me back into the Kingdom.  I think he may even agree with you that I am well beyond that...having tasted of the heavenly yada yada yada. 

Te Luo Yi may say he doesn't believe in Jesus anymore but then that is a misnomer because Te Luo Yi could not have known Jesus in the first place.

Well there u go.  It's all over.  You have me pegged.  Reality doesn't match up with theology?  Deny reality.   You don't know shit about me or what I did or didn't believe.

The Kingdom comes via revelation to the individual through the only means of repentance... How true is the statement and promise from Jesus " I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" and " we will come unto him, and make our abode with him " ... The truth is, God will accept you exactly as you are where you are without any shred of recommendation and meet with you right where you are and all it takes is your repentance that brings your willingness to submit to him. Then the process of sanctification by His capable hands can begin.

Cue the band.  A heavy strings sound would suit this moment.  It's time for an altar call.  The sermon is over.  Do I see a hand?

But without that revelation of Jesus, the issue of being called a christian is a non event. The Kingdom of God is an ongoing interactive relationship

Cool.  Thanks.  I'll refrain from telling you what I think about you though.  It'll just sidetrack the discussion.

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:12/04/2007 12:59 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Hi, Troy.

I actually just finished the book and lent it to someone else. It was a good read. I still recommend you get this book SOTT, if not his edit of Metzger's, "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture", a book I would also like to read.

I just might at that. Further, it's likely time that I updated my references, as I have Professor Metzger's original edition of The New Testament: its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration. (this is the one that Professor Ehrman co-authored the 2nd edition of. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture was written by Ehrman alone, Dr Metzger had noting to do with it) And, fwiw, I harbour serious doubts that Dr Metzger would agree with much of what Erhman holds to be true with respect to the general reliability of the NT text. I state this quite confidently, having read his opinion on the matter in several publications

There is no doubt that about where he has come from. He has a target in mind. Perhaps that is why I like his work so much. He challenges so much of what those in my former camp hold sacred.

Sure, but to be valid, such challenges need to be based on the evidence as it stands rather than simply on supposition of what one might prefer the evidence suggests.

I have been in email contact with Robert Price and try to read most of what he writes. He also has a podcast. He's a smart cookie.

I've no doubt.

Before I ordered Misquoting Jesus I considered getting Metzger's book instead as I thought it would be more dense and less 'pop'. I may still get it.

Well Dr Metzger's book certainly is more dense, given that it's aimed at more of a scholarly audience, and you would likley benefit from reading the opinions of NT TC's surviving 'Elder Statesman'. Metzger's opinions are those of a seasoned and mature scholar, and are considerably less provocative than are Dr Ehrman's.

OK, I guess the keyword there is 'unintiated' as I didn't feel he implied there were more examples than what he showed. To be frank, I figured that he would pull out all of them to make his point more valid.

True. The ice that Professor Ehrman builds his theories on ice which tends to be a little thin in significant places (which may be why he's more vigorous in jumping up and down with popular audiences perhaps more so than he is will scholarly ones)

Actually (and I wish I had the book with me now), I recall that he made it clear that the Johannine Comma is the only place where Trinitarianism is so blatantly summarised or presented, not the only Scriptural support for the doctrine.

Well, my own weaknesses considered, I think that I could make a pretty good case for a number of equally blatant NT passages that affirm Trinitarianism.

He makes this point over and over again in audio lectures. Is this the case then? Were they not illiterate? His arguments on a few points hinge on this to a degree so it would be worth knowing the Greek or contextual defintion here. Were Peter and John literate to the point of being able to construct Gospels as tradition says they did? After all, the literary 'know how' shown in the Gospels of Mark and John go well beyond illiteracy or an 'elementary' education.

Well, the general consensus is that Peter and John were far from being the 'illiterate' simpletons that some would presumes them to be. Dr Ehrman appears to have touted for a popular audience, what is widely held to be a long-discredited hypothesis within the scholarly guild. Further, Dr Ehrman's rather idiosyncratic view of the subject doesn't, I believe, adequately take into account the reality that amenuenses were very widely used for the writing of long letters during the first century, including several of the pivotal NT letters (e.g. Tertius for Romans). John Mark served in precisely such a role for Peter when he penned the Gospel of Mark, which functioned as Peter's 'memoirs' (according to very early tradition, i.e. Papias). Further, it's important to appreciate that John was held to be the author of the gospel that bears his name during his own lifetime. A point that was never disputed by the sub-apostolic Church, or by the Gnostic elements that rose up to challenge orthodoxy at the time.

In short, Professor Ehrman's position on apostolic 'illiteracy' is, for whatever my opinion is worth, about as seaworthy as a rowboat constructed out of ricepaper.

Ok, I am tired. Can I respond to the rest later?

Please, by all means.

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:12/04/2007 1:21 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Troy,

No fair, ya big lug! You go ahead and edit your original response right while I'm in the process of replying to it, so here's my addendum

Ehrman offers no supporting arguments for his claims that if God inspired the originals, he both could have and should have inerrantly preserved them in all subsequent copies. It would have been a far greater miracle to supernaturally guide every copyist and translator throughout history than to inspire one set of original authors, and in the process it probably would have violated the delicate balance between the humanity and divinity of the Bible analogous to the humanity and divinity of Christ. All that is necessary is for us to have reason to believe that we can reconstruct something remarkably close to the originals, and we have evidence for that in abundance.

Well again, its a matter of SPIN.

Not so. It's actually a matter of substance that's worthy of consideration. And, as I've said on the matter previously, a very good case can be made for the fact that the Judeo-Christian God is a God of recovery.

But as many denomiations say in their belief statements something along the lines of, "The Bible is inspired in its original form' which leaves room to wrangle out of difficult passages.

I'd suggest that it more or less describes the situation. In any case, the above statement is somewhat loose. After all, what's implied by the expression, "as originally written"? The author's first draft? His second? The first 'published' edition? Subsequent editions?

But it is a two way street as it becomes a moot point anyway when we don't have the originals. We have 'fairly good' reconstructions. So say that in the statements of faith, "We believe the Bible in ithe inspired Word of God in its fairly well reconstrcuted form." You see my point. Inspiration is moot. And when one opens the can of worms regarding correct interpretation then inspiration becomes even more of a moot point.

Well, it's only moot if one holds to a particularly naive or otherwise defective position on the subject of biblical 'innerrancy'. Why? Two reasons: (1) people can tend to confuse the separate issues of inspiration and preservation, and (2) because such a view fails to take into account the considerable collection of mss evidence, which is geographically and theologically broad, that underpins our reconstructions of what the 'original' NT text contained.

And SOTT, were you comfortable with this statement the reviewer made, "the delicate balance between the humanity and divinity of the Bible analogous to the humanity and divinity of Christ."? That smacks of Bibliolatry? The 4th member of the Trinity, the Holy Bible?

To be honest, I have no problem with it whatsoever. First, what Blomberg was introducing is perfectly orthodox: the nature of the written Word is very much akin to the nature of the Word made flesh--human and divine. In any case, the Bible, for me, functions as a guidebook/rulebook; it's not Scripture which saves me, but God in Jesus. Of course, bibliolatry is nothing more or less than the worship of the text itself, rather than the One to whom it points. I'd suggest that there is a significant difference.

No central tenet of Christianity hangs on any textually uncertain passage; this observation alone means that Christian textual critics may examine the variants that do exist dispassionately and without worrying that their faith is somehow threatened in the ways that Ehrman came to believe.

Well, perhaps the subjegation of women for the last 2000 or so years might have been due to the spurious and contended verses in 1 Cor and the disputed Epistles of Paul to Timothy. Is this not an important issue?. Did God allow this to occur? And what of the ending of Mark? Aren't we here on this board because of them (at least in part)?

First, the role/subjugation of women within the Church isn't a central tenet of Christianity, although some would like to think of it as so. Such is, properly speaking, confined to the adiaphora. To me, the principle issues are cultural rather than theological. Further, the topic itself remains subject to an interpretation of what already appears within canonical Scripture. It's not something 'new' which would somehow challenge the validity of the canon as we have received it. And finally, acceptance or rejection of the longer ending to Mark's gospel doesn't affect any Christian doctrinal teaching (which I believe my essay on Mark 16 demonstrates rather conclusively).

I don't think Ehrman would say one would lose his or her faith based on the issue of transmission alone, but neither is it fair to say that the issues raised present no philosophical or theological challenge to the faith. It neither proves nor disproves the reality of the Chriistian faith, but it certainly raises some serious challenges nevertheless.

I'd propose that the challenges, as such, are principally philosophical (specifically, epistemological) more than they are strictly theological. There doesn't appear to be anything that Professor Ehrman raised in his book which 'shattered' Professor Blomberg's faith, and I seriously doubt that there would be much that would 'dent' my own (noting that I've studied and gained much from Ehrman's more scholarly work).

Blessings,

Ian

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:12/04/2007 2:49 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : Lahad

In my opinion Te Luo Yi is a closed case and all the debating, discussion and intellectual interaction will avail a mere nothing..

I happen to think that reasoned debate, discussion and even the exercising of 'intellectual' effort, for its own sake, is a worthwhile end in and of itself. There's nothing wrong with engagement that doesn't seek to convert the dialogue partner as the first order of business.

[Te Luo Yi] You're assuming that SOTT's intnent is to re-win me back into the Kingdom. I think he may even agree with you that I am well beyond that...

Yep...pretty much. My perspective is that TLY has consciously chosen his path, he's drawn his line in the sand, and he's prepared to accept whatever the eternal consequences prove to be. Consequently, I'm not engaging with him as a form of evangelism, I'm doing so because the subject is of professional as well as personal interest to me, and to be honest, Troy's far more capable of intelligent, informed and meaningful engagement than are some who post here, a notable example being 'GWM'

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:13/04/2007 2:51 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1

Reply to : LahadIn my opinion Te Luo Yi is a closed case and all the debating, discussion and intellectual interaction will avail a mere nothing..I happen to think that reasoned debate, discussion and even the exercising of 'intellectual' effort, for its own sake, is a worthwhile end in and of itself. There's nothing wrong with engagement thatdoesn'tseek to convert the dialogue partner as the first order of business.[Te Luo Yi]You're assuming that SOTT's intnent is to re-win me back into the Kingdom. I think he may even agree with you that I am well beyond that...Yep...pretty much. My perspective is that TLY hasconsciouslychosen his path, he's drawn his line in the sand, and he's prepared to accept whatever the eternal consequences prove to be. Consequently, I'm not engaging with him as a form of evangelism, I'm doi

Hi SOTT,  No I am not suggesting you to evangelise TLY.. no not at all.. as I said, TLY is a closed case.. But if there is the kind thought in your heart and you want to be servant to TLY then all you can do is pray and invite the Holy Spirit to come into the discussion between you and TLY and allow and leave room for the Holy Spirit to work on your behalf.

God be with you my old friend SOTT,

Lahad     

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:19/04/2007 10:45 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Good morning, Troy.

While you continue to work through Professor Blomberg's critique, I thought you might enjoy reading a few more reviews of Dr Ehrman's, "Misquoting Jesus". Today I thought I would commence with Professor Dan Wallace (in three parts):

A review of Bart D. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why1

For most students of the NT, a book on textual criticism is a real yawn. The tedious details are not the stuff of a bestseller. But since its publication on November 1, 2005, Misquoting Jesus2 has been circling higher and higher toward the Amazon peak. And since Bart Ehrman, one of North America's leading textual critics, appeared on two of NPR's programs (the Diane Rehm Show and Fresh Air with Terry Gross)?both within the space of one week?it has been in the top fifty sellers at Amazon. Within three months, more than 100,000 copies were sold. When Neely Tucker's interview of Ehrman in The Washington Post appeared on March 5 of this year the sales of Ehrman's book shot up still higher. Mr. Tucker spoke of Ehrman as a "fundamentalist scholar who peered so hard into the origins of Christianity that he lost his faith altogether."3 Nine days later, Ehrman was the guest celebrity on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Stewart said that seeing the Bible as something that was deliberately corrupted by orthodox scribes made the Bible "more interesting...almost more godly in some respects." Stewart concluded the interview by stating, "I really congratulate you. It's a helluva book!" Within 48 hours, Misquoting Jesus was perched on top of Amazon, if only for a moment. Two months later and it's still flying high, staying in the 25 or so books. It "has become one of the unlikeliest bestsellers of the year."4 Not bad for an academic tome on a "boring" topic!

Why all the hoopla? Well, for one thing, Jesus sells. But not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus that sells is the one that is palatable to postmodern man. And with a book entitled Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, a ready audience was created via the hope that there would be fresh evidence that the biblical Jesus is a figment. Ironically, almost none of the variants that Ehrman discusses involve sayings of Jesus. The book simply doesn't deliver what the title promises. Ehrman preferred Lost in Transmission, but the publisher thought such a book might be perceived by the Barnes and Noble crowd as dealing with stock car racing! Even though Ehrman did not choose his resultant title, it has been a publishing coup.

More importantly, this book sells because it appeals to the skeptic who wants reasons not to believe, who considers the Bible a book of myths. It's one thing to say that the stories in the Bible are legend; it's quite another to say that many of them were added centuries later. Although Ehrman does not quite say this, he leaves the impression that the original form of the NT was rather different from what the manuscripts now read.

According to Ehrman, this is the first book written on NT textual criticism?a discipline that has been around for nearly 300 years?for a lay audience.5 Apparently he does not count the several books written by KJV Only advocates, or the books that interact with them. It seems that Ehrman means that his is the first book on the general discipline of NT textual criticism written by a bona fide textual critic for a lay readership. This is most likely true.
Textual Criticism 101

Misquoting Jesus for the most part is simply NT textual criticism 101. There are seven chapters with an introduction and conclusion. Most of the book (chs. 1-4) is basically a popular introduction to the field, and a very good one at that. It introduces readers to the fascinating world of scribal activity, the process of canonization, and printed texts of the Greek NT. It discusses the basic method of reasoned eclecticism. All through these four chapters, various snippets?variant readings, quotations from Fathers, debates between Protestants and Catholics?are discussed, acquainting the reader with some of the challenges of the arcane field of textual criticism.

Chapter 1 ("The Beginnings of Christian Scripture") addresses why the NT books were written, how they were received, and when they were accepted as scripture.

Chapter 2 ("The Copyists of the Early Christian Writings") deals with scribal changes to the text, both intentional and unintentional. Here Ehrman mixes standard text-critical information with his own interpretation, an interpretation that is by no means shared by all textual critics, nor even most of them. In essence, he paints a very bleak picture of scribal activity6, leaving the unwary reader to assume that we have no chance of recovering the original wording of the NT.

Chapter 3 ("Texts of the New Testament") and chapter 4 ("The Quest for Origins") take us from Erasmus and the first published Greek NT to the text of Westcott and Hort. Discussed are the major scholars from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. This is the most objective material in the book and makes for fascinating reading. But even here, Ehrman injects his own viewpoint by his selection of material. For example, in discussing the role that Bengel played in the history of textual criticism (109-112), Ehrman gives this pious German conservative high praise as a scholar: he was an "extremely careful interpreter of the biblical text" (109); "Bengel studied everything intensely" (111). Ehrman speaks about Bengel's breakthroughs in textual criticism (111-12), but does not mention that he was the first important scholar to articulate the doctrine of the orthodoxy of the variants. This is a curious omission because, on the one hand, Ehrman is well aware of this fact, for in the fourth edition of The Text of the New Testament, now by Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman,7 which appeared just months before Misquoting Jesus, the authors note, "With characteristic energy and perseverance, [Bengel] procured all the editions, manuscripts, and early translations available to him. After extended study, he came to the conclusions that the variant readings were fewer in number than might have been expected and that they did not shake any article of evangelic doctrine."8 On the other hand, Ehrman instead mentions J. J. Wettstein, a contemporary of Bengel, who, at the tender age of twenty assumed that these variants "can have no weakening effect on the trustworthiness or integrity of the Scriptures,"9 but that years later, after careful study of the text, Wettstein changed his views after he "began thinking seriously about his own theological convictions."10 One is tempted to think that Ehrman may see a parallel between himself and Wettstein: like Wettstein, Ehrman started out as an evangelical when in college, but changed his views on the text and theology in his more mature years.11 But the model that Bengel supplies?a sober scholar who arrives at quite different conclusions?is quietly passed over.

What is also curiously left out was Tischendorf's motivation for his indefatigable work of discovering manuscripts and of publishing a critical edition of the Greek text with a full apparatus. Tischendorf is widely acknowledged as the most industrious NT textual critic of all time. And what motivated him was a desire to recover the earliest form of the text?a text which he believed would vindicate orthodox Christianity against the Hegelian skepticism of F. C. Baur and his followers. None of this is mentioned in Misquoting Jesus.

Besides the selectivity regarding scholars and their opinions, these four chapters involve two curious omissions. First, there is next to no discussion about the various manuscripts. It's almost as if external evidence is a nonstarter for Ehrman. Further, as much as he enlightens his lay readers about the discipline, the fact that he doesn't give them the details about which manuscripts are more trustworthy, older, etc., allows him to control the information flow. Repeatedly, I was frustrated in my perusal of the book because it spoke of various readings without giving much, if any, of the data that supported them. Even in his third chapter?"Texts of the New Testament: Editions, Manuscripts, and Differences"?there is minimal discussion of the manuscripts, and none of individual codices. In the two pages that deal specifically with the manuscripts, Ehrman speaks only about their number, nature, and variants.12

Second, Ehrman overplays the quality of the variants while underscoring their quantity. He says, "There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament."13 Elsewhere he states that the number of variants is as high as 400,000.14 That is true enough, but by itself is misleading. Anyone who teaches NT textual criticism knows that this fact is only part of the picture and that, if left dangling in front of the reader without explanation, is a distorted view. Once it is revealed that the great majority of these variants are inconsequential?involving spelling differences that cannot even be translated, articles with proper nouns, word order changes, and the like?and that only a very small minority of the variants alter the meaning of the text, the whole picture begins to come into focus. Indeed, only about 1% of the textual variants are both meaningful and viable.15 The impression Ehrman sometimes gives throughout the book?and repeats in interviews16?is that of wholesale uncertainty about the original wording,17 a view that is far more radical than he actually embraces.18

We can illustrate things this way. There are approximately 138,000 words in the Greek NT. The variants in the manuscripts, versions, and Fathers constitute almost three times this number. At first blush, that is a striking amount. But in light of the possibilities, it actually is rather trivial. For example, consider the ways in which Greek can say "Jesus loves Paul":

1. ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀγαπᾷ Παῦλον

2. ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀγαπᾷ τὸν Παῦλον

3. ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀγαπᾷ Παῦλον

4. ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀγαπᾷ τὸν Παῦλον

5. Παῦλον ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀγαπᾷ

6. τὸν Παῦλον ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀγαπᾷ

7. Παῦλον ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀγαπᾷ

8. τὸν Παῦλον ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀγαπᾷ

9. ἀγαπᾷ ᾿Ιησοῦς Παῦλον

10. ἀγαπᾷ ᾿Ιησοῦς τὸν Παῦλον

11. ἀγαπᾷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς Παῦλον

12. ἀγαπᾷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τὸν Παῦλον

13. ἀγαπᾷ Παῦλον ᾿Ιησοῦς

14. ἀγαπᾷ τὸν Παῦλον ᾿Ιησοῦς

15. ἀγαπᾷ Παῦλον ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς

16. ἀγαπᾷ τὸν Παῦλον ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς

These variations only represent a small fraction of the possibilities. If the sentence used φιλεῖ instead of ἀγαπᾷ, for example, or if it began with a conjunction such as δεv, καιv, or μέν, the potential variations would grow exponentially. Factor in synonyms (such as κύριοςfor ᾿Ιησοῦς, spelling differences, and additional words (such as Χριστός, or ἅγιος with Παῦλος and the list of potential variants that do not affect the essence of the statement increases to the hundreds. If such a simple sentence as "Jesus loves Paul" could have so many insignificant variations, a mere 400,000 variants among the NT manuscripts seems like an almost negligible amount.19

But these criticisms are minor quibbles. There is nothing really earth-shaking in the first four chapters of the book. Rather, it is in the introduction that we see Ehrman's motive, and the last three chapters reveal his agenda. In these places he is especially provocative and given to overstatement and non sequitur. The remainder of our review will focus on this material.

Ehrman's Evangelical Background

In the introduction, Ehrman speaks of his evangelical background (three years at Moody Bible Institute, two years at Wheaton College where he first learned Greek), followed by an M.Div. and Ph.D. at Princeton Seminary. It was at Princeton that Ehrman began to reject some of his evangelical upbringing, especially as he wrestled with the details of the text of the NT. He notes that the study of the NT manuscripts increasingly created doubts in his mind: "I kept reverting to my basic question: how does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don't have the words that God inerrantly inspired, but only the words copied by the scribes?sometimes correctly and sometimes (many times!) incorrectly?"20 This is an excellent question. And it is featured prominently in Misquoting Jesus, being repeated throughout the book. Unfortunately, Ehrman does not really spend much time wrestling with it directly.

While he was in the master's program, he took a course on Mark's Gospel from Professor Cullen Story. For his term paper, he wrote on the problem of Jesus speaking of David's entry into the temple "when Abiathar was the high priest" (Mark 2.26). The well-known crux is problematic for inerrancy because, according to 1 Sam 21, the time when David entered the temple was actually when Abiathar's father, Ahimelech, was priest. But Ehrman was determined to work around what looked to be the plain meaning of the text, in order to salvage inerrancy. Ehrman tells his readers, Professor Story's comment on the paper "went straight through me. He wrote, ?Maybe Mark just made a mistake.'"21 This was a decisive moment in Ehrman's spiritual journey. When he concluded that Mark may have erred, "the floodgates opened."22 He began to question the historical reliability of many other biblical texts, resulting in "a seismic change" in his understanding of the Bible. "The Bible," Ehrman notes, "began to appear to me as a very human book... This was a human book from beginning to end."23

What strikes me as most remarkable in all this is how much Ehrman tied inerrancy to the general historical reliability of the Bible. It was an all-or-nothing proposition for him. He still seems to see things in black and white terms, for he concludes his testimony with these words: "It is a radical shift from reading the Bible as an inerrant blueprint for our faith, life, and future to seeing it as a very human book... This is the shift in my own thinking that I ended up making, and to which I am now fully committed."24 There thus seems to be no middle ground in his view of the text. In short, Ehrman seems to have held to what I would call a ?domino view of doctrine.' When one falls down, they all fall down. We'll return to this issue in our conclusion.

The Orthodox Corruption Of Scripture

The heart of the book is chapters 5, 6, and 7. Here Ehrman especially discusses the results of the findings in his major work, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.25 His concluding chapter closes in on the point that he is driving at in this section: "It would be wrong...to say?as people sometimes do?that the changes in our text have no real bearing on what the texts mean or on the theological conclusions that one draws from them. We have seen, in fact, that just the opposite is the case."26

We pause to observe two fundamental theological points being stressed in Misquoting Jesus: first, as we mentioned previously, it is irrelevant to speak of the Bible's inerrancy because we no longer have the original documents; second, the variants in the manuscripts change the basic theology of the NT.

The Logical Fallacy in Denying an Inerrant Autograph

Although Ehrman does not really develop this first argument, it does deserve a response. We need to begin by making a careful distinction between verbal inspiration and inerrancy. Inspiration relates to the wording of the Bible, while inerrancy relates to the truth of a statement. American evangelicals generally believe that only the original text is inspired. This is not to say, however, that copies can't be inerrant. Indeed, statements that bear no relation to scripture can be inerrant. If I say, "I am married and have four sons, two dogs, and a cat," that's an inerrant statement. It's not inspired, nor at all related to scripture, but it is true. Similarly, whether Paul says "we have peace" or "let us have peace" in Rom 5.1, both statements are true (though each in a different sense), though only one is inspired. Keeping this distinction in mind as we consider the textual variants of the NT should clarify matters.

Regardless of what one thinks about the doctrine of inerrancy, the argument against it on the basis of the unknown autographs is logically fallacious. This is so for two reasons. First, we have the text of the NT somewhere in the manuscripts. There is no need for conjecture, except perhaps in one or two places.27 Second, the text we have in any viable variants is no more a problem for inerrancy than other problems where the text is secure. Now, to be sure, there are some challenges in the textual variants to inerrancy. This is not denied. But there are simply bigger fish to fry when it comes to issues that inerrancy faces. Thus, if conjectural emendation is unnecessary, and if no viable variant registers much of a blip on the radar called ?problems for inerrancy,' then not having the originals is a moot point for this doctrine. It's not a moot point for verbal inspiration, of course, but it is for inerrancy.28

Cardinal Doctrines Affected by Textual Variants?

Ehrman's second theological point occupies center stage in his book. It will accordingly occupy the rest of this review.

In chapters five and six, Ehrman discusses several passages that involve variants that allegedly affect core theological beliefs. He summarizes his findings in his concluding chapter as follows:

In some instances, the very meaning of the text is at stake, depending on how one resolves a textual problem: Was Jesus an angry man [Mark 1.41]? Was he completely distraught in the face of death [Heb 2.8-9]? Did he tell his disciples that they could drink poison without being harmed [Mark 16.9-20]? Did he let an adulteress off the hook with nothing but a mild warning [John 7.53-8.11]? Is the doctrine of the Trinity explicitly taught in the New Testament [1 John 5.7-8]? Is Jesus actually called "the unique God" there [John 1.18]? Does the New Testament indicate that even the Son of God himself does not know when the end will come [Matt 24.36]? The questions go on and on, and all of them are related to how one resolves difficulties in the manuscript tradition as it has come down to us.29

It is apparent that such a summary is intended to focus on the major problem passages that Ehrman has uncovered. Thus, following the well-worn rabbinic principle of a maiore ad minus30, or arguing from the greater to the lesser, we will address just these seven texts.

The Problem With Problem Passages

Three of these passages have been considered inauthentic by most NT scholars?including most evangelical NT scholars?for well over a century (Mark 16.9-20; John 7.53-8.11; and 1 John 5.7-8).31 Yet Ehrman writes as though the excision of such texts could shake up our theological convictions. Such is hardly the case. (We will suspend discussion of one of these passages, 1 John 5.7-8, until the end.)

More to follow

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:19/04/2007 10:50 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Troy,

Here's Part Two to Professor Wallace's review:


The Last Twelve Verses of Mark and the Pericope Adulterae

At the same time, Ehrman implicitly raises a valid issue. A glance at virtually any English Bible today reveals that the longer ending of Mark and the pericope adulterae are to be found in their usual places. Thus, not only do the KJV and NKJV have these passages (as would be expected), but so do the ASV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, TNIV, NASB, ESV, TEV, NAB, NJB, and NET. Yet the scholars who produced these translations, by and large, do not subscribe to the authenticity of such texts. The reasons are simple enough: they don't show up in the oldest and best manuscripts and their internal evidence is decidedly against authenticity. Why then are they still in these Bibles?

The answer to this question varies. For some, they seem to be in the Bibles because of a tradition of timidity. There are seemingly good reasons for this. The rationale is typically that no one will buy a particular version if it lacks these famous passages. And if they don't buy the version, it can't influence Christians. Some translations have included the pericope adulterae because of mandate from the papal authorities declaring the passage to be scripture. The NEB/REB include it at the end of the Gospels, rather than in its traditional location. The TNIV and NET have both passages in smaller font with brackets around them. Smaller type of course makes it harder to read from the pulpit. The NET adds a lengthy discussion about the inauthenticity of the verses. Most translations mention that these pericopae are not found in the oldest manuscripts, but such a comment is rarely noticed by readers today. How do we know this? From the shock waves produced by Ehrman's book. In radio, TV, and newspaper interviews with Ehrman, the story of the woman caught in adultery is almost always the first text brought up as inauthentic, and the mention is calculated to alarm the audience.

Letting the public in on scholarly secrets about the text of the Bible is not new. Edward Gibbon, in his six-volume bestseller, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, noted that the Comma Johanneum, or Trinitarian formula of 1 John 5.7-8, was not authentic.32 This scandalized the British public of the eighteenth century, for their only Bible was the Authorized Version, which contained the formula. "Others had done [this] before him, but only in academic and learned circles. Gibbon did so before the general public, in language designed to offend."33 Yet by the time the Revised Version appeared in 1885, no trace of the Comma was to be found in it. Today the text is not printed in modern translations, and it hardly raises an eyebrow.

Ehrman has followed in Gibbon's train by exposing the public to the inauthenticity of Mark 16.9-20 and John 7.53-8.11. The problem here, though, is a bit different. Strong emotional baggage is especially attached to the latter text. For years, it was my favorite passage that was not in the Bible. I would even preach on it as true historical narrative, even after I rejected its literary/canonical authenticity. And we all know of preachers who can't quite give it up, even though they, too, have doubts about it. But there are two problems with this approach. First, in terms of popularity between these two texts, John 8 is the overwhelming favorite, yet its external credentials are significantly worse than Mark 16's. The same preacher who declares the Markan passage to be inauthentic extols the virtues of John 8. This inconsistency is appalling. Something is amiss in our theological seminaries when one's feelings are allowed to be the arbiter of textual problems. Second, the pericope adulterae is most likely not even historically true. It was probably a story conflated from two different accounts.34 Thus, the excuse that one can proclaim it because the story really happened is apparently not valid.

In retrospect, keeping these two pericopae in our Bibles rather than relegating them to the footnotes seems to have been a bomb just waiting to explode. All Ehrman did was to light the fuse. One lesson we must learn from Misquoting Jesus is that those in ministry need to close the gap between the church and the academy. We have to educate believers. Instead of trying to isolate laypeople from critical scholarship, we need to insulate them. They need to be ready for the barrage, because it is coming.35 The intentional dumbing down of the church for the sake of filling more pews will ultimately lead to defection from Christ. Ehrman is to be thanked for giving us a wake-up call.

This is not to say that everything Ehrman has written in this book is of that ilk. But these three passages are. Again, we need to stress: these texts change no fundamental doctrine, no core belief. Evangelical scholars have athetized them for over a century without disturbing one iota of orthodoxy.

The remaining four textual problems, however, tell a different story. Ehrman appeals either to an interpretation or to evidence that most scholars consider, at best, doubtful.
Hebrews 2.8-9

Translations are roughly united in how they treat Heb 2.9b. The NET is representative: "by God's grace he would experience death on behalf of everyone." Ehrman suggests that "by God's grace"?χάριτι θεου'?is a secondary reading. Instead, he argues that "apart from God," or χωρὶς θεοῦ, is what the author originally wrote. There are but three Greek manuscripts that have this reading, all from the tenth century or later. Codex 1739, however, is one of them, and it is a copy of an early and decent manuscript. χωρὶς θεοῦ is also discussed in several fathers, one Vulgate manuscript, and some copies of the Peshitta.36 Many scholars would dismiss such paltry evidence without further ado. If they bother to treat the internal evidence at all, it is because even though it has a poor pedigree, χωρὶς θεοῦ is the harder reading and thus may require some explanation, since scribes tended to smooth out the wording of the text. As well, something needs to explain the several patristic citations. But if a reading is an unintentional change, the canon of the harder reading is invalid. The hardest reading will be a nonsense reading, something that cannot be created on purpose. Although χωρίς is apparently the harder reading,37 it can be explained as an accidental alteration. It is most likely due either to a ?scribal lapse'38 in which an inattentive copyist confused χωρίς for χάριτι, or ?a marginal gloss' in which a scribe was thinking of 1 Cor 15.27 which, like Heb 2.8, quotes Ps 8.6 in reference to God's subjection of all things to Christ.39

Without going into the details of Ehrman's defense of χωρίς, we simply wish to note four things. First, he overstates his case by assuming that his view is certainly correct. After three pages of discussion of this text in his Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, he pronounces the verdict: "The external evidence notwithstanding, Hebrews 2:9 must have originally said that Jesus died ?apart from God.'"40 He's still seeing things in black and white terms. Second, Ehrman's text-critical views are getting dangerously close to rigorous eclecticism.41 The external data seem to mean less and less to him as he seems to want to see theological corruption in the text. Third, even though he is certain about his verdict, his mentor, Bruce Metzger, is not. A year after Orthodox Corruption was published, Metzger's second edition of his Textual Commentary appeared. The UBS committee still gave the χάριτι θεοῦ reading the palm, but this time upgrading their conviction to an ?A' rating.42 Finally, even assuming that χωρὶς θεοῦ is the correct reading here, Ehrman has not made out a case that this is a variant that "affect[s] the interpretation of an entire book of the New Testament."43 He argues that "[t]he less attested reading is also more consistent with the theology of Hebrews."44 He adds that the author "repeatedly emphasizes that Jesus died a fully human, shameful death, totally removed from the realm whence he came, the realm of God. His sacrifice, as a result, was accepted as the perfect expiation for sin. Moreover, God did not intervene in his passion and did nothing to minimize his pain. Jesus died ?apart from God.'"45 If this is the view of Jesus throughout Hebrews, how does the variant that Ehrman adopts in 2.9 change that portrait? In his Orthodox Corruption, Ehrman says that "Hebrews 5:7 speaks of Jesus, in the face of death, beseeching God with loud cries and tears."46 But that this text is speaking of Jesus ?in the face of death' is not at all clear (nor does Ehrman defend this view). Further, he builds on this in his concluding chapter of Misquoting Jesus?even though he has never established the point?when he asks, "Was [Jesus] completely distraught in the face of death?"47 He goes even further in Orthodox Corruption. I am at a loss to understand how Ehrman can claim that the author of Hebrews seems to know "of passion traditions in which Jesus was terrified in the face of death"48 unless it is by connecting three dots, all of which are dubious?viz., reading χωρὶς θεοῦin Heb 2.9, seeing 5.7 as referring principally to the death of Christ and that his prayers were principally for himself,49 and then regarding the loud cries there to reflect his terrified state. Ehrman seems to be building his case on linked hypotheses, which is a poor foundation at best.
Mark 1.41

In the first chapter of Mark's Gospel, a leper approaches Jesus and asks him to heal him: "If you are willing, you can make me clean" (Mark 1.40). Jesus' response is recorded in the Nestle-Aland text as follows: καὶ... σπλαγχνισθει...Vς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο καὶ... λέγει αὐτῳ?#903; θέλω,καθαρίσθητι ("and moved with compassion, he stretched out [his] hand and touched him and said to him, ?I am willing; be cleansed"). Instead of σπλαγχνισθει...vς (?moved with compassion') a few Western witnesses50 read ὀργισθείς (?becoming angry'). Jesus' motivation for this healing apparently hangs in the balance. Even though the UBS4 gives σπλαγχνισθει...vς a B rating, an increasing number of exegetes are starting to argue for the authenticity of ὀργισθείς. In a Festschrift for Gerald Hawthorne in 2003, Ehrman made an impressive argument for its authenticity.51 Four years earlier, a doctoral dissertation by Mark Proctor was written in defense of ojrgisqeivV.52 The reading has also made its way into the TNIV, and is seriously entertained in the NET. We won't take the time to consider the arguments here. At this stage I am inclined to think it is most likely original. Either way, for the sake of argument, assuming that the ?angry' reading is authentic, what does this tell us about Jesus that we didn't know before?

Ehrman suggests that if Mark originally wrote about Jesus' anger in this passage, it changes our picture of Jesus in Mark significantly. In fact, this textual problem is his lead example in chapter 5 ("Originals That Matter"), a chapter whose central thesis is that some variants "affect the interpretation of an entire book of the New Testament."53 This thesis is overstated in general, and particularly for Mark's Gospel. In Mark 3.5 Jesus is said to be angry?wording that is indisputably in the original text of Mark. And in Mark 10.14 he is indignant at his disciples.

Ehrman, of course, knows this. In fact, he argues implicitly in the Hawthorne Festschrift that Jesus' anger in Mark 1.41 perfectly fits into the picture that Mark elsewhere paints of Jesus. He says, for example, "Mark described Jesus as angry, and, at least in this instance, scribes took offense. This comes as no surprise; apart from a fuller understanding of Mark's portrayal, Jesus' anger is difficult to understand."54 Ehrman even lays out the fundamental principle that he sees running through Mark: "Jesus is angered when anyone questions his authority or ability to heal?or his desire to heal."55 Now, for sake of argument, let's assume that not only is Ehrman's textual reconstruction correct, but his interpretation of ὀργισθείς in Mark 1.41 is correct?not only in that passage but in the totality of Mark's presentation of Jesus.56 If so, how then does an angry Jesus in 1.41 "affect the interpretation of an entire book of the New Testament"? According to Ehrman's own interpretation, ὀργισθείς only strengthens the image we see of Jesus in this Gospel by making it wholly consistent with the other texts that speak of his anger. If this reading is Exhibit A in Ehrman's fifth chapter, it seriously backfires, for it does little or nothing to alter the overall portrait of Jesus that Mark paints. Here is another instance, then, in which Ehrman's theological conclusion is more provocative than the evidence suggests...


Part Three shortly.

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:19/04/2007 10:53 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1

Troy,

Part Three for your consideration (and it's likely I'll need another 'part' or two to cover the remainder).


Matthew 24.36

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus speaks about the time of his own return. Remarkably, he confesses that he does not know exactly when that will be. In most modern translations of Matt 24.36, the text basically says, "But as for that day and hour no one knows it?neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son?except the Father alone." However, many manuscripts, including some early and important ones, lack οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός. Whether "nor the Son" is authentic or not is disputed.57 Nevertheless, Ehrman again speaks confidently on the issue.58 The importance of this textual variant for the thesis of Misquoting Jesus is difficult to assess, however. Ehrman alludes to Matt 24.36 in his conclusion, apparently to underscore his argument that textual variants alter basic doctrines.59 His initial discussion of this passage certainly leaves this impression as well.60 But if he does not mean this, then he is writing more provocatively than is necessary, misleading his readers. And if he does mean it, he has overstated his case.

What is not disputed is the wording in the parallel in Mark 13.32?"But as for that day or hour no one knows it?neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son?except the Father."61 Thus, there can be no doubt that Jesus spoke of his own prophetic ignorance in the Olivet Discourse. Consequently, what doctrinal issues are really at stake here? One simply cannot maintain that the wording in Matt 24.36 changes one's basic theological convictions about Jesus since the same sentiment is found in Mark. Not once in Misquoting Jesus does Ehrman mention Mark 13.32, even though he explicitly discusses Matt 24.36 at least six times, seemingly to the effect that this reading impacts our fundamental understanding of Jesus.62 But does the wording change our basic understanding of Matthew's view of Jesus? Even that is not the case. Even if Matt 24.36 originally lacked "nor the Son," the fact that the Father alone (εἰ μὴ ὁ πατὴρ μόνος has this knowledge certainly implies the Son's ignorance (and the "alone" is only found in Matt 24.36, not in Mark 13.32). Again, this important detail is not mentioned in Misquoting Jesus, nor even in Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.
John 1.18

In John 1.18b, Ehrman argues that "Son" instead of "God" is the authentic reading. But he goes beyond the evidence by stating that if "God" were original the verse would be calling Jesus "the unique God." The problem with such a translation, in Ehrman's words, is that "[t]he term unique God must refer to God the Father himself?otherwise he is not unique. But if the term refers to the Father, how can it be used of the Son?"63 Ehrman's sophisticated grammatical argument for this is not found in Misquoting Jesus, but is detailed in his Orthodox Corruption of Scripture:

The more common expedient for those who opt for [ὁ] μονογενὴς θεός, but who recognize that its rendering as "the unique God" is virtually impossible in a Johannine context, is to understand the adjective substantivally, and to construe the entire second half of John 1:18 as a series of appositions, so that rather than reading "the unique God who is in the bosom of the Father," the text should be rendered "the unique one, who is also God, who is in the bosom of the Father." There is something attractive about the proposal. It explains what the text might have meant to a Johannine reader and thereby allows for the text of the generally superior textual witnesses. Nonetheless, the solution is entirely implausible.

.... It is true that μονογενής can elsewhere be used as a substantive (= the unique one, as in v. 14); all adjectives can. But the proponents of this view have failed to consider that it is never used in this way when it is immediately followed by a noun that agrees with it in gender, number, and case. Indeed one must here press the syntactical point: when is an adjective ever used substantivally when it immediately precedes a noun of the same inflection? No Greek reader would construe such a construction as a string of substantives, and no Greek writer would create such an inconcinnity. To the best of my knowledge, no one has cited anything analogous outside of this passage.

The result is that taking the term μονογενὴς θεός as two substantives standing in apposition makes for a nearly impossible syntax, whereas construing their relationship as adjective-noun creates an impossible sense.64

Ehrman's argument assumes that μονογενήςcannot normally be substantival, even though it is so used in v 14?as he admits. There are many critiques that could be made of his argument, but chief among them is this: his absolutizing of the grammatical situation is incorrect. His challenge ("no one has cited anything analogous outside of this passage") is here taken up. There are, indeed, examples in which an adjective that is juxtaposed to a noun of the same grammatical concord is not functioning adjectivally but substantivally.65

John 6:70:καὶ ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν.Here διάβολος is functioning as a noun, even though it is an adjective. And εἷς, the pronominal adjective, is the subject related to διάβολος, the predicate nominative.

Rom 1.30: καταλάλους θεοστυγεῖς ὑβριστὰς ὑπερηφάνους ἀλαζόνας,ἐφευρετὰς κακῶν,γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς("slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents"?true adjectives in italics)

Gal 3:9: τῷ πιστῷ ᾿Αβραάμ("with Abraham, the believer" as the NASB has it; NRSV has "Abraham who believed"; NIV has "Abraham, the man of faith"). Regardless of how it is translated, here is an adjective wedged between an article and a noun that is functioning substantivally, in apposition to the noun.

Eph 2:20: ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ Χριστοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦ("Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone"): although ἀκρογωνιαῖος is an adjective, it seems to be functioning substantivally here (though it could possibly be a predicate adjective, I suppose, as a predicate genitive). LSJ lists this as an adjective; LN lists it as a noun. It may thus be similar to μονογενής in its development.

1 Tim 1:9: δικαίῳ νόμος οὐ κεῖται,ἀνόμοις δὲ καὶ ἀνυποτάκτοις,ἀσεβέσι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοῖς,ἀνοσίοις καὶ βεβήλοις,πατρολῴαις καὶ μητρολῴαις,ἀνδροφόνοις (law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers [adjectives in italics]): this text clearly shows that Ehrman has overstated his case, for βεβήλοις does not modify πατρολῴαις but instead is substantival, as are the five previous descriptive terms.

1 Pet 1:1:ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις ("the elect, sojourners"): This text is variously interpreted, but our point is simply that it could fit either scheme for John 1.18. It thus qualifies for texts of which Ehrman says "no one has cited anything analogous outside of this passage."

2 Pet 2:5:ἐφείσατο ἀλλὰ ὄγδοον Νῶε δικαιοσύνης κήρυκα ("did not spare [the world], but [preserved] an eighth, Noah, a preacher of righteousness"). The adjective ?eighth' stands in apposition to Noah; otherwise, if it modified Noah, the force would be ?an eighth Noah' as though there were seven other Noahs!66

In light of these examples (which are but a few of those found in the NT), we can thus respond directly the question that Ehrman poses: "when is an adjective ever used substantivally when it immediately precedes a noun of the same inflection?" His remark that "No Greek reader would construe such a construction as a string of substantives, and no Greek writer would create such an inconcinnity" is simply not borne out by the evidence. And we have only looked at a sampling of the NT. If NT authors can create such expressions, this internal argument against the reading μονογενὴς θεόςloses considerable weight.

It now becomes a matter of asking whether there are sufficient contextual clues that μονογενής is in fact functioning substantivally. Ehrman has already provided both of them: (1) in John, it is unthinkable that the Word could become the unique God in 1.18 (in which he alone, and not the Father, is claimed to have divine status) only to have that status removed repeatedly throughout the rest of the Gospel. Thus, assuming that μονογενὴς θεός is authentic, we are in fact almost driven to the sense that Ehrman regards as grammatically implausible but contextually necessary: "the unique one, himself God..." (2) that μονογενής is already used in v 14 as a substantive67 becomes the strongest contextual argument for seeing its substantival function repeated four verses later. Immediately after Ehrman admits that this adjective can be used substantivally and is so used in v 14, he makes his grammatical argument which is intended to lay the gauntlet down or to shut the coffin lid (choose your clich? on the force of the connection with v 14. But if the grammatical argument won't cut it, then the substantival use of μονογενής in v 14 should stand as an important contextual clue. Indeed, in light of the well-worn usage in biblical Greek, we would almost expect μονογενής to be used substantivally and with the implication of sonship in 1.18.

Now, as our only concern here is to wrestle with what μονογενὴς θεός would mean if it were original, rather than argue for its authenticity, there seems to be sufficient evidence to demonstrate a force such as "the unique one, himself God" as a suitable gloss for this reading. Both the internal and external evidence are on its side; the only thing holding back such a variant is the interpretation that it was a modalistic reading.68 But the basis for that is a grammatical assumption that we have demonstrated not to have weight. In conclusion, both μονογενὴς υἱός and μονογενὴς θεόςfit comfortably within orthodoxy; no seismic theological shift occurs if one were to pick one reading over the other. Although some modern translations have been persuaded by Ehrman's argument here (such as the HCSB), the argument is hardly airtight. When either variant is examined carefully, both are seen to be within the realm of orthodox teaching.

Suffice it to say that if "God" is authentic here, it is hardly necessary to translate the phrase as "the unique God," as though that might imply that Jesus alone is God. Rather, as the NET renders it (see also the NIV and NRSV), John 1.18 says, "No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known."

In other words, the idea that the variants in the NT manuscripts alter the theology of the NT is overstated at best.69 Unfortunately, as careful a scholar as Ehrman is, his treatment of major theological changes in the text of the NT tends to fall under one of two criticisms: Either his textual decisions are wrong, or his interpretation is wrong. These criticisms were made of his earlier work, Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, which Misquoting Jesus has drawn from extensively. For example, Gordon Fee said of this work that "Unfortunately, Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into probability, and probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for corruption exist."70 Yet, the conclusions that Ehrman put forth in Orthodox Corruption of Scripture are still offered in Misquoting Jesus without recognition of some of the severe criticisms of his work the first go-around.71 For a book geared toward a lay audience, one would think that he would want to have his discussion nuanced a bit more, especially with all the theological weight that he says is on the line. One almost gets the impression that he is encouraging the Chicken Littles in the Christian community to panic at data that they are simply not prepared to wrestle with. Time and time again in the book, highly charged statements are put forth that the untrained person simply cannot sift through. And that approach resembles more an alarmist mentality than what a mature, master teacher is able to offer. Regarding the evidence, suffice it to say that significant textual variants that alter core doctrines of the NT have not yet been produced.

Yet Ehrman apparently thinks they have. When discussing Wettstein's views of the NT text, Ehrman notes that "Wettstein began thinking seriously about his own theological convictions, and became attuned to the problem that the New Testament rarely, if ever, actually calls Jesus God."72 Remarkably, Ehrman seems to represent this conclusion as not only Wettstein's, but his own, too. To the extent that Wettstein was moving toward the modern critical text and away from the TR, his arguments against the deity of Christ were unfounded because Christ's deity is actually more clearly seen in the critical Greek text than in the TR.73 Although Ehrman does not discuss most of the passages that he thinks are spurious, he does do so in Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (especially 264-73). But the discussion is not really fleshed out and involves internal contradictions. In short, he doesn't make out his case. The deity of Christ is undisturbed by any viable variants.
First John 5.7-8

Finally, regarding 1 John 5.7-8, virtually no modern translation of the Bible includes the "Trinitarian formula," since scholars for centuries have recognized it as added later. Only a few very late manuscripts have the verses. One wonders why this passage is even discussed in Ehrman's book. The only reason seems to be to fuel doubts. The passage made its way into our Bibles through political pressure, appearing for the first time in 1522, even though scholars then and now knew that it was not authentic. The early church did not know of this text, yet the Council of Constantinople in AD 381 explicitly affirmed the Trinity! How could they do this without the benefit of a text that didn't get into the Greek NT for another millennium? Constantinople's statement was not written in a vacuum: the early church put into a theological formulation what they got out of the NT.

A distinction needs to be made here: just because a particular verse does not affirm a cherished doctrine does not mean that that doctrine cannot be found in the NT. In this case, anyone with an understanding of the healthy patristic debates over the Godhead knows that the early church arrived at their understanding from an examination of the data in the NT. The Trinitarian formula found in late manuscripts of 1 John 5.7 only summarized what they found; it did not inform their declarations.
Conclusion

In sum, Ehrman's latest book does not disappoint on the provocative scale. But it comes up short on genuine substance about his primary contention. I beg your indulgence as I reflect on two pastoral points here.

First is my plea to all biblical scholars to take seriously their responsibility in caring for God's people. Scholars bear a sacred duty not to alarm lay readers on issues that they have little understanding of. Indeed, even agnostic teachers bear this responsibility. Unfortunately, the average layperson will leave Misquoting Jesus with far greater doubts about the wording and teachings of the NT than any textual critic would ever entertain. A good teacher doesn't hold back on telling his students what's what, but he also knows how to package the material so they don't let emotion get in the way of reason. The irony is that Misquoting Jesus is supposed to be all about reason and evidence, but it has been creating as much panic and alarm as The Da Vinci Code. Is that really the pedagogical effect Ehrman was seeking? I have to assume that he knew what kind of a reaction he would get from this book, for he does not change the impression at all in his interviews. Being provocative, even at the risk of being misunderstood, seems to be more important to him than being honest even at the risk of being boring. But a good teacher does not create Chicken Littles.74

Second, what I tell my students every year is that it is imperative that they pursue truth rather than protect their presuppositions. And they need to have a doctrinal taxonomy that distinguishes core beliefs from peripheral beliefs. When they place more peripheral doctrines such as inerrancy and verbal inspiration at the core, then when belief in these doctrines starts to erode, it creates a domino effect: One falls down, they all fall down. For a clarification of what I mean by "core beliefs" and "more peripheral doctrines" see "My Take on Inerrancy." It strikes me that something like this may be what happened to Bart Ehrman. His testimony in Misquoting Jesus discussed inerrancy as the prime mover in his studies. But when a glib comment from one of his conservative professors at Princeton was scribbled on a term paper, to the effect that perhaps the Bible is not inerrant, Ehrman's faith began to crumble. One domino crashed into another until eventually he became ?a fairly happy agnostic.' I may be wrong about Ehrman's own spiritual journey, but I have known too many students who have gone in that direction. The irony is that those who frontload their critical investigation of the text of the Bible with bibliological presuppositions often speak of a ?slippery slope' on which all theological convictions are tied to inerrancy. Their view is that if inerrancy goes, everything else begins to erode. I would say rather that if inerrancy is elevated to the status of a prime doctrine, that's when one gets on a slippery slope. But if a student views doctrines as concentric circles, with the cardinal doctrines occupying the center, then if the more peripheral doctrines are challenged, this does not have a significant impact on the core. In other words, the evangelical community will continue to produce liberal scholars until we learn to nuance our faith commitments a bit more, until we learn to see Christ as the center of our lives and scripture as that which points to him. If our starting point is embracing propositional truths about the nature of scripture rather than personally embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord and King, we'll be on that slippery slope, and we'll take a lot of folks down with us.

I grieve for what has happened to an acquaintance of mine, a man I have known and admired?and continue to admire?for over a quarter of a century. It gives me no joy to put forth this review. But from where I sit, it seems that Bart's black and white mentality as a fundamentalist has hardly been affected as he slogged through the years and trials of life and learning, even when he came out on the other side of the theological spectrum. He still sees things without sufficient nuancing, he overstates his case, and he is entrenched in the security that his own views are right. Bart Ehrman is one of the most brilliant and creative textual critics I've ever known, and yet his biases are so strong that, at times, he cannot even acknowledge them.75 Just months before Misquoting Jesus appeared, the fourth edition of Metzger's Text of the New Testament was published. The first three editions were written solely by Metzger and bore the title The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. The fourth edition, now co-authored with Ehrman, makes such a title seem almost disingenuous. The reader of Misquoting Jesus might be tempted to think that the subtitle of Metzger's fourth edition should have been called simply Its Transmission and Corruption.76


The last part will provide the footnotes.

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:19/04/2007 10:56 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Troy,

The second last one, the footnotes:
1 Thanks are due to Darrell L. Bock, Buist M. Fanning, Michael W. Holmes, W. Hall Harris, and William F. Warren for looking at a preliminary draft of this article and offering their input.

2 San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005.

3 Neely Tucker, "The Book of Bart: In the Bestseller ?Misquoting Jesus,' Agnostic Author Bart Ehrman Picks Apart the Gospels That Made a Disbeliever Out of Him," Washington Post, March 5, 2006. Accessed at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/04/AR2006030401369.html.

4 Tucker, "The Book of Bart."

5 Misquoting, 15.

6 See especially 59-60.

7 Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (Oxford: OUP, 2005).

8 Metzger-Ehrman, Text, 158 (italics added). This stands in direct contradiction to Ehrman's assessment in his conclusion (207), quoted above.

9 Quotation from Ehrman, Misquoting, 112.

10 Ibid., 114.

11 See Misquoting, 1-15, where Ehrman chronicles his own spiritual journey.

12 In chapter 5, "Originals that Matter," Ehrman discusses the method of textual criticism. Here he devotes about three pages to external evidence (128-31), but does not mention any individual manuscripts.

13 Misquoting, 90. This is a favorite statement of his, for it shows up in his interviews, both in print and on the radio.

14 Misquoting, 89.

15 For a discussion of the nature of the textual variants, see J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: What The Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You (Grand Rapids: Kregel, May 2006). The book is due out in June 2006. The section that addresses textual criticism, comprising five chapters, is called "Politically Corrupt? The Tainting of Ancient New Testament Texts."

16 "When I talk about the hundreds and thousands of differences, it's true that a lot are insignificant. But it's also true that a lot are highly significant for interpreting the Bible" (Ehrman in an interview with Jeri Krentz, Charlotte Observer, December 17, 2005 [accessed at http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/living/religion/13428511.htm]). In the same interview, when asked, "If we don't have the original texts of the New Testament?or even copies of the copies of the copies of the originals?what do we have?" Ehrman responded, "We have copies that were made hundreds of years later?in most cases, many hundreds of years later. And these copies are all different from one another." On The Diane Rehm Show (National Public Radio), December 8, 2005, Ehrman said, "There are more differences in our manuscripts than there are words in the NT."

17 Note the following: "our manuscripts are...full of mistakes" (57); "Not only do we not have the originals, we don't have the first copies of the originals. We don't even have copies of the copies of the originals, or copies of the copies of the copies of the originals. What we have are copies made later?much later...And these copies all differ from one another, in many thousands of places... these copies differ from one another in so many places that we don't even known how many differences there are" (10); "Mistakes multiply and get repeated; sometimes they get corrected and sometimes they get compounded. And so it goes. For centuries" (57); "We could go on nearly forever talking about specific places in which the texts of the New Testament came to be changed, either accidentally or intentionally. As I have indicated, the examples are not just in the hundreds but in the thousands" (98); in discussing John Mill's textual apparatus of 1707, Ehrman declares, "To the shock and dismay of many of his readers, Mill's apparatus isolated some thirty thousand places of variation among the surviving witnesses... Mill was not exhaustive in his presentation of the data he had collected. He had, in fact, found far more than thirty thousands places of variation" (84); "Scholars differ significantly in their estimates?some say there are 200,000 variants known, some say 300,000, some say 400,000 or more! We do not know for sure because, despite impressive developments in computer technology, no one has yet been able to count them all" (89); he concludes his discussion of Mark 16.9-20 and John 7.53-8.11, the two longest textual problems of the NT by far, by saying that these two texts "represent just two out of thousands of places in which the manuscripts of the New Testament came to be changed by scribes" (68). To say that these two textual problems are representative of other textual problems is a gross overstatement: the next largest viable omission/addition problem involves just two verses. Ehrman does add that "Although most of the changes are not of this magnitude, there are lots of significant changes (and lots more insignificant ones)..." (69). Yet even that is a bit misleading. By "most of the changes" Ehrman means all other changes.

18 E.g., he opens chapter 7 with these words: "It is probably safe to say that the copying of early Christians texts was by and large a ?conservative' process. The scribes...were intent on ?conserving' the textual tradition they were passing on. Their ultimate concern was not to modify the tradition, but to preserve it for themselves and for those who would follow them. Most scribes, no doubt, tried to do a faithful job in making sure that the text they reproduced was the same text they inherited" (177). "It would be a mistake...to assume that the only changes being made were by copyists with a personal stake in the wording of the text. In fact, most of the changes found in our early Christian manuscripts have nothing to do with theology or ideology. Far and and away the [sic] most changes are the result of mistakes, pure and simple?slips of the pen, accidental omissions, inadvertent additions, misspelled words, blunders of one sort or another" (55). "To be sure, of all the hundreds of thousands of changes found among the manuscripts, most of them are completely insignificant..." (207). Such concessions seem to be wrung out of him, for these facts are contrary to his agenda. In this instance, he immediately adds that "It would be wrong, however, to say?as people sometimes do?that the changes in our text have no real bearing on what the texts mean or on the theological conclusions that one draws from them" (207-8). And he prefaces his concession by the bold statement that "The more I studied the manuscript tradition of the New Testament, the more I realized just how radically the text had been altered over the years at the hands of scribes..." (207). But this is another claim without sufficient nuancing. Yes, scribes have changed the text, but the vast majority of changes are insignificant. And the vast majority of the rest are easily detectable. One almost gets the sense that it is the honest scholar in Ehrman who is adding these concessions, and the theological liberal in Ehrman who keeps the concessions at a minimum.

19 This illustration is taken from Daniel B. Wallace, "Laying a Foundation: New Testament Textual Criticism," in Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis (a Festschrift for Harold W. Hoehner), ed. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, [forthcoming: 2006]).

One more item could be mentioned about Ehrman's lacunae on the manuscripts. Ehrman seems to be gradually moving toward an internal priority view. He argues for several readings that are hanging onto external evidence by a bare thread. This seems strange because just months before Misquoting Jesus appeared, the fourth edition of Bruce Metzger's Text of the New Testament was published, co-authored this time by Bart Ehrman. Yet in that book, both authors speak more highly of the external evidence than Ehrman does in Misquoting Jesus.

20 Misquoting, 7.

21 Ibid., 9. For a treatment of the problem in Mark 2.26, see Daniel B. Wallace, "Mark 2.26 and the Problem of Abiathar," ETS SW regional meeting, March 13, 2004, available at /page.php?page_id=3839.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid., 11.

24 Ibid., 13 (italics added).

25 The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (Oxford: OUP, 1993).

26 Ibid., 208.

27 281, n. 5 (to ch. 8), "Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then?" in Reinventing Jesus is here duplicated: "There are two places in the New Testament where conjecture has perhaps been needed. In Acts 16.12 the standard critical Greek text gives a reading that is not found in any Greek manuscripts. But even here, some members of the UBS committee rejected the conjecture, arguing that certain manuscripts had the original reading. The difference between the two readings is only one letter. (See discussion in Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2d ed. [Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994], 393-95; NET Bible "tc" note on Acts 16.12.) Also, in Revelation 21.17 the standard Greek text follows a conjecture that Westcott and Hort originally put forth, though the textual problem is not listed in either the UBS text or the Nestle-Aland text. This conjecture is a mere spelling variant that changes no meaning in the text."

28 For a discussion of this issue, see Daniel B. Wallace, "Inerrancy and the Text of the New Testament: Assessing the Logic of the Agnostic View," posted in January 2006 on http://www.4truth.net/site/apps/nl/content3.asp?c=hiKXLbPNLrF&b=784441&ct=1799301.

29 Misquoting, 208.

30 See Hermann L. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (Atheneum, NY: Temple, 1978) 94, 96 for this hermeneutical principle known as Kal Wa-homer.

31 An accessible discussion of the textual problem in these three passages can be found in the footnotes of the NET Bible on these texts.

32 Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edition DeLuxe, six volumes (Philadelphia: John D. Morris, [1900]) 3.703-5.

33 James Bentley, Secrets of Mount Sinai: The Story of the Codex Sinaiticus (London: Orbis, 1985) 29.

34 See Bart D. Ehrman, "Jesus and the Adulteress," NTS 34 (1988) 24-44.

35 Because of this need, Reinventing Jesus was written. Although written on a popular level, it is backed with serious scholarship.

36 Ehrman says the reading "occurs in only two documents of the tenth century" (Misquoting Jesus, 145), by which he means only two Greek documents, 0243 (0121b) and 1739txt. These manuscripts are closely related and probably represent a common archetype. It is also found in 424cvid (thus, apparently a later correction in an eleventh century minuscule) as well as vgms syrpmss Origengr (vr), lat MSSaccording to Origen Theodore Nestorians according to Ps-Oecumenius Theodoret 1/2; lem Ambrose MSSaccording to Jerome Vigilius Fulgentius. Ehrman does note some of the patristic evidence, underscoring an important argument, viz., "Origen tells us that this was the reading of the majority of manuscripts in his own day" (ibid.).

37 This, however, is not necessarily the case. An argument could be made that χάριτι θεοῦ is the harder reading, since the cry of dereliction from the cross, in which Jesus quoted Ps 22.1, may be reflected in the χωρὶς θεοῦ reading, while dying "by the grace of God" is not as clear.

38 So Metzger, Textual Commentary2, 595. In uncial script: caritiqu vs. cwrisqu.

39 Ibid. For similar arguments, see F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, rev ed, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990) 70-71, n. 15. The point of the marginal gloss is that in Heb 2.8 the author quotes Ps 8.6, adding that "in the subjecting of all things to him, he left nothing outside of his control." In 1 Cor 15.27, which also quotes Ps 8.6, Paul adds the qualifier that God was excluded from the ?all things' that were subjected to Christ. Metzger argues that the gloss was most likely added by a scribe "to explain that ?everything in ver. 8 does not include God; this gloss, being erroneously regarded by a later transcriber as a correction of χάριτι θεοῦ, was introduced into the text of ver. 9" (Textual Commentary, 595). For the better treatments of this problem in the exegetical literature, see Hans-Friedrich Weiss, Der Brief an die Hebr?r in MeyerK (G?tingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1991) 200-2; Bruce, Hebrews, 70-71.

Ehrman says that such is quite unlikely because of the location of the χωρίςreading in v 9 rather than as an additional note in v 8 where it belongs. But the fact that such an explanation presupposes a single errant ancestor for the few witnesses that have it is hardly a stretch. Stranger things have happened among the manuscripts. Ehrman adds that χωρίς is the less usual term in the NT, and thus scribes would tend toward the more usual, χάριτι. But in Hebrews χωρίς is almost twice as frequent as χάρις, as Ehrman notes (Orthodox Corruption), 148. Further, although it is certainly true that scribes "typically confuse unusual words for common ones" (ibid., 147), there is absolutely nothing unusual about χωρίς. It occurs 41 times in the NT, thirteen of which are in Hebrews. This brings us back to the canon of the harder reading. Ehrman argues that χωρίς is indeed the harder reading here, but in Metzger-Ehrman, Text, he (and Metzger) says, "Obviously, the category ?more difficult reading' is relative, and a point is sometimes reached when a reading must be judged to be so difficult that it can have arisen only by accident in transcription" (303). Many scholars, including Metzger, would say that that point was reached in Heb 2.9.

40 Orthodox Corruption, 149 (italics added).

41 By this, I do not mean merely his adoption of χωρὶς θεοῦ here. (After all, G?ther Zuntz, highly regarded as a brilliant and sober-minded reasoned eclectic, also considered χωρὶς θεοῦ as authentic [The Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition upon the Corpus Paulinum [Schweich Lectures, 1946; London: OUP, 1953) 34-35].) Rather, I am referring to Ehrman's overall agenda of exploiting the apparatus for orthodox corruptions, regardless of the evidence for alternative readings. With this agenda, Ehrman seems driven to argue for certain readings that have little external support.

42 The preface to this edition was written on September 30, 1993. Metzger is acknowledged in Orthodox Corruption as having ?read parts of the manuscript' (vii), a book completed in February 1993 (ibid., viii). If Metzger read the section on Heb 2.9, he still disagreed strongly with Ehrman. Alternatively he was not shown this portion of the manuscript. If the latter, one has to wonder why Ehrman would not want to get Metzger's input since he already knew, from the first edition of Textual Commentary, that Metzger did not see the cwrivV reading as likely (there it is given a ?B' rating).

43 Misquoting, 132 (italics added).

44 Orthodox Corruption, 148.

45 Ibid., 149.

46 Ibid.

47 Misquoting Jesus, 208.

48 Orthodox Corruption, 144 (italics added).

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:19/04/2007 10:58 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

Troy,

And finally....the last of the footnotes!


49 The context of Heb 5, however, speaks of Christ as high priest; v 6 sets the stage by linking Christ's priesthood to that of Melchizedek; v 7 connects his prayers with "the days of his flesh," not just with his passion. It is thus not unreasonable to see his prayers as prayers for his people. All this suggests that more than the passion is in view in Heb 5.7. The one datum in this text that may connect the prayers with the passion is that the one to whom Christ prayed was "able to save him from death." But if the prayers are restricted to Christ's ordeal on the cross, then the χωρίς reading in Heb 2.9 seems to be refuted, for in 5.7 the Lord "was heard [εἰσακουσθει...vς] because of his devotion." How could he be heard if he died apart from God? The interpretive issues in Heb 5.7 are somewhat complex, yielding no facile answers. See William L. Lane, Hebrews 1-8, WBC (Dallas: Word, 1991) 119-20.

50 D ita d ff2 r1 Diatessaron.

51 Bart D. Ehrman, "A Leper in the Hands of an Angry Jesus," in New Testament Greek and Exegesis: Essays in Honor of Gerald F. Hawthorne (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) 77-98.

52 Mark A. Proctor, "The ?Western' Text of Mark 1:41: A Case for the Angry Jesus" (Ph.D. diss., Baylor University, 1999). Even though Ehrman's article appeared four years after Proctor's dissertation, Ehrman did not mention Proctor's work.

53 Misquoting, 132 (italics added).

54 Ehrman, "A Leper in the Hands of an Angry Jesus," 95.

55 Ibid., 94. See also 87: "Jesus gets angry on several occasions in Mark's Gospel; what is most interesting to note is that each account involves Jesus' ability to perform miraculous deeds of healing."

56 There are a few weak links in his overall argument, however. First, he does not make out the best case that every instance in which Jesus is angry is in a healing account. Is the pericope about Jesus laying hands on children really a healing story (10.13-16)? It is unclear what disease these children are being ?healed' of. His suggestion that the laying on of hands indicates healing or at least the transmission of divine power here is lame ("A Leper in the Hands of an Angry Jesus," 88). Further, it proves too much, for 10.16 says that Jesus "took the children in his arms and placed his hands on them and blessed them." To not see a compassionate and gentle Jesus in such a text is almost incomprehensible. So, if this is a healing narrative, it also implies Jesus' compassion in the very act of healing?a motive that Ehrman says never occurs in healing narratives in Mark.

Second, he claims that Jesus' healing of Peter's mother-in-law in Mark 1.30-31 is not a compassionate act: "More than one wry observer has noted...that after he does so she gets up to feed them supper" (ibid., 91, n. 16). But surely Ehrman's statement?repeated in Misquoting Jesus (138)?is simply a politically correct comment that is meant to suggest that for Jesus to restore the woman to a subservient role cannot be due to his compassion. Is not the point rather that the woman was fully healed, her strength completely recovered, even to the point that she could return to her normal duties and Jesus and his disciples? As such, it seems to function similarly to the raising of the synagogue ruler's daughter, for as soon as her life was restored Mark tells us that "the girl got up at once and began to walk around" (Mark 5.42).

Third, in more than one healing narrative in the synoptic Gospels?including the healing of Peter's mother-in-law?we see strong hints of compassion on Jesus' part when he grabs the person's hand. In Matt 9.25; Mark 1.31; 5.41; 9.27; and Luke 8.54 the expression each time is κρατήσας/ἐκράτησεν τῆς χειρός. kratevw with a genitive direct object, rather than an accusative direct object, is used in these texts. In the Gospels when this verb takes an accusative direct object, it has the force of seizing, clinging to, holding firmly (cf. Matt 14.3; 21.46; 22.6; 26.57; 28.9; Mark 6.17; 7.3, 4, 8; but when it takes a genitive direct object, it implies a gentle touch more than a firm grip, and is used only in healing contexts (note the translation in the NET of κρατήσας/ἐκράτησεν τῆς χειρός in Matt 9.25; Mark 1.31; 5.41; 9.27; and Luke 8.54). What is to be noted in these texts is not only that there is no difference between Mark on the one hand and Matthew and Luke on the other, but that Mark actually has more instances of this idiom than Matthew and Luke combined. How does this ?gently taking her/him by the hand' not speak of compassion?

Fourth, to not see Jesus' compassion in texts that don't use σπλαγχνίζομαι or the like, as Ehrman is wont to do, borders on the lexical-conceptual equation fallacy in which a concept cannot be seen in a given text unless the word for such a concept is there. To take a simple example, consider the word for ?fellowship' in the Greek NT, κοινωνία. The word occurs less than twenty times, but no one would claim that the concept of fellowship occurs so infrequently. Ehrman, of course, knows this and tries to argue that both the words for compassion and the concept are not to be seen in Mark's healing stories. But he leaves the impression that since he has established this point lexically by athetizing σπλαγχνισθείς in Mark 1.41, the concept is easy to dispense with.

Fifth, Ehrman's dismissal of all alternative interpretations to his understanding of why and at whom Jesus was angry in Mark 1.41 is too cavalier. His certitude that "even the commentators who realize that the text originally indicated that Jesus became angry are embarrassed by the idea and try to explain it away, so that the text no longer means what it says" ("A Leper in the Hands of an Angry Jesus," 86) implies that his interpretation surely must be right. (Although Ehrman makes quick work of various views, he does not interact at all with Proctor's view, apparently because he was unaware of Proctor's dissertation when he wrote his piece for the Hawthorne Festschrift. Proctor essentially argues that the healing of the leper is a double healing, which also implicitly involves an exorcism ["A Case for the Angry Jesus," 312-16]. Proctor summarizes his argument as follows: "Given (1) popular first-century views regarding the link between demons and disease, (2) the exorcistic language of v 43, (3) the behavior of demoniacs and those associated with them elsewhere in the Gospel, and (4) Luke's treatment of Mark 1:29-31, this seems to be a relatively safe assumption even though Mark makes [sic] does not explicitly describe the man as a demoniac" [325-26, n. 6].) Not only does Ehrman charge exegetes with misunderstanding Mark's ὀργισθείς, he also says that Matthew and Luke don't understand: "[A]nyone not intimately familiar with Mark's Gospel on its own terms... may not have understand why Jesus became angry. Matthew certainly did not; neither did Luke" (ibid., 98). Is it not perhaps a bit too brash to claim that the reason Matthew and Luke dropped ojrgisqeivV was because they were ignorant of Mark's purposes? After all, were they not also ?intimately familiar with Mark's Gospel'? Are there not any other plausible reasons for their omission?

Along these lines, it should be noted that not all interpretations are created equal, but the irony here is that Ehrman seems to want to have his cake and eat it too. In the concluding chapter of Misquoting Jesus he says "meaning is not inherent and texts do not speak for themselves. If texts could speak for themselves, then everyone honestly and openly reading a text would agree on what the text says" (216). He adds, "The only way to make sense of a text is to read it, and the only way to read it is by putting it in other words, and the only way to put it in other words is by having other words to put it into, and the only way you have other words to put it into is that you have a life, and the only way to have a life is by being filled with desires, longings, needs, wants, beliefs, perspectives, worldviews, opinions, likes, dislikes?and all the other things that make human beings human. And so to read a text, necessarily, is to change a text" (217). I may be misunderstanding him here, but this sounds as though Ehrman cannot claim his own interpretation as superior to others since all interpretation changes a text, and if each interpretation changes the text then how is interpretation of a text more valid than other interpretations? If I have misunderstood his meaning, my basic point still stands: his dismissal of other interpretations is too cavalier.

57 See the discussion in the NET Bible's note on this verse.

58 Orthodox Corruption, 92: "not only is the phrase οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός found in our earliest and best manuscripts of Matthew, it is also necessary on internal grounds."

59 Misquoting Jesus, 208 (quoted earlier).

60 Ibid., 95: "Scribes found this passage difficult: the Son of God, Jesus himself, does not know when the end will come? How could that be? Isn't he all-knowing? To resolve the problem, some scribes simply modified the text by taking out the words ?nor even the Son.' Now the angels may be ignorant, but the Son of God isn't."

61 Codex X, one Vulgate manuscript, and a few other unnamed witnesses (according to the apparatus of Nestle-Aland27) drop the phrase here.

62 Misquoting Jesus, 95, 110, 204, 209, 223 n. 19, 224 n. 16.

63 Misquoting, 162.

64 Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, 81.

65 Another criticism is that Ehrman has too hastily asserted that μονογενής cannot have the implied force of "unique son" as in "the unique Son, who is God" (ibid., 80-81):

The difficulty with this view is that there is nothing about the word μονογενής itself that suggests it. Outside of the New Testament the term simply means "one of a kind" or "unique," and does so with reference any range of animate or inanimate objects. Therefore, recourse must be made to its usage within the New Testament. Here proponents of the view argue that in situ the word implies "sonship," for it always occurs (in the New Testament) either in explicit conjunction with υἱός or in a context where a υἱός is named and then described as μονογενής (Luke 9:38, John 1:14, Heb 11:17). Nonetheless, as suggestive as the argument may appear, it contains the seeds of its own refutation: if the word μονογενής is understood to mean "a unique son," one wonders why it is typically put in attribution to υἱός, an attribution that then creates an unusual kind of redundancy ("the unique-son son"). Given the fact that neither the etymology of the word nor its general usage suggests any such meaning, this solution seems to involve a case of special pleading.

The problem with this assertion is threefold: (1) If in the three texts listed above μονογενής does, in fact, have both a substantival force and involves the implication of sonship, then to argue that this could be the case in John 1.18 is not an instance of special pleading because there is already clear testimony within the NT of this force. (2) Ehrman's argument rests on going outside of biblical Greek for the normative meaning of a term that seemed to have special nuances within the Bible. But since in the NT (Heb 11.17)?as well as patristic Greek (see n. 62) and the LXX (cf. Judg 11.34 where the adjective is used prior to the noun that speaks of Jephthah's daughter; Tobit 3.15 is similar; cf. also Tobit 8.17)?μονογενής often both bears the connotation of ?son' (or child) and is used absolutely (i.e., substantivally), to argue for a secular force within the Bible looks like special pleading. (3) To argue that an implied lexical force becomes "an unusual kind of redundancy" when the implication is brought out explicitly in the text requires much more nuancing before it can be applied as any kind of normative principle: on its face, and in application to the case in hand, it strikes me as almost wildly untrue. In grammar and lexeme, the NT is filled with examples in which the ebb and flow of implicit and explicit meaning intertwine with one another. To take but one example from the grammatical side: εἰσέρχομαι εἰςis a generally hellenistic expression in which the increased redundancy (by the doubling of the preposition) gets the point across. It is found over 80 times in the NT, yet it does not mean "come-into into"! Yet, it means the same thing as ἔρχομαι εἰς, a phrase that occurs over 70 times in the NT. English examples readily come to mind as well: In colloquial speech, we often hear "foot pedal" (is there any other kind of pedal besides one for the feet?).

66 Added to my examples are those that a doctoral student at Dallas Seminary, Stratton Ladewig, has culled from elsewhere in the NT: Luke 14.13; 18.11; Acts 2.5. As well, he has found several inexact parallels. See his Th.M. thesis, "An Examination of the Orthodoxy of the Variants in Light of Bart Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture," Dallas Seminary, 2000.

67 A quick look at Lampe's Patristic Greek Lexicon also reveals that the substantival function of this adjective was commonplace: 881, def. 7, the term is used absolutely in a host of patristic writers.

68 Ehrman is not altogether clear in his argument that monogenh;V qeov" was an anti-adoptionistic reading. If his construal of the meaning of the text is correct, it looks more modalistic than orthodox. Yet, since its pedigree is solidly Alexandrian, it would seem to go back to an archetype that antedated the roots of the Sabellian heresy. In other words, the motivations for the reading, assuming Ehrman's interpretation, are muddied at best.

69 For the case that the NT speaks clearly of Christ's deity, see Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, Reinventing Jesus.

70 Gordon D. Fee, review of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture in Critical Review of Books in Religion 8 (1995) 204.

71 See J. K. Elliott, review of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, by Bart D. Ehrman, in NovT 36.4 (1994): 405-06; Michael W. Holmes, review of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, by Bart D. Ehrman, in RelSRev 20.3 (1994): 237; Gordon D. Fee, review of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, by Bart D. Ehrman, in CRBR 8 (1995): 203-06; Bruce M. Metzger, review of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, by Bart D. Ehrman, in PSB 15.2 (1994): 210-12; David C. Parker, review of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, by Bart D. Ehrman, in JTS 45.2 (1994): 704-08; J. N. Birdsall, Review of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, by Bart D. Ehrman, in Theology 97.780 (1994): 460-62; Ivo Tamm, Theologisch-christologische Varianten in der fr?en ?erlieferung des Neuen Testaments? (Magisterschrift, Westf?ische Wilhelms-Universit? M?ster, n.d.); Stratton Ladewig, "An Examination of the Orthodoxy of the Variants in Light of Bart Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Seminary, 2000).

72 Misquoting Jesus, 114 (italics added).

73 See, e.g., D. A. Carson, King James Version Debate [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979], 64).

74 Although Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus may well be the first lay introduction to New Testament textual criticism, in the spring of 2006 a second book that deals with these issues (and some others) is to be released. See Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, Reinventing Jesus, for a more balanced treatment of the data.

75 I am reminded of Martin Hengel's insight about the parallel dangers from "an uncritical, sterile apologetic fundamentalism" and "from no less sterile ?critical ignorance'" of radical liberalism. At bottom, the approaches are the same; the only differences are the presuppositions (Martin Hengel, Studies in Early Christology [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1995], 57-58). I am not saying that Ehrman is there, but he no longer seems to be the true liberal that he once aspired to be.

76 It should be noted that Misquoting Jesus is dedicated to Bruce Metzger, whom Ehrman describes as "the world's leading expert in the field [of NT textual criticism]" (Misquoting, 7). Yet Metzger would fundamentally disagree with Ehrman's thesis in this book.
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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:22/04/2007 10:57 PMCopy HTML

Thanks SOTT.  I appreciated you posting all that.  Truly.  Next time, if you like, you can just post a link.  I promise to (at least try) read it all if you just post a link.  I am not one of these people who doesn't read what people have to say in the discussions I enter into on forums, etc.

As you can imagine, there is WAY too much there for me to reply to and most of it is outside of my experitse (yours too I would guess) to even begin to reply.  We mere mortals huh?  Still, it's a fascinating subject.

I was talking with a collegue of mine today about this book and your replies to my posts here.  I said to her that while I think Ehrman's book was a good read, I can't imagine anyone abandoning the faith based on the issues he raises.  LIke Prof. Wallace said, it raises challenegs to Innerancy but Innerancy has larger challenges to face.  I have to agree.  As I said to my collegue, the book was good and made some good points, but it isn't a wave that Atheists are gonna ride for long, if at all.

Atheists and Xians who read this book and read the rebuttals that have already (and will) come will most likely remain firm in their convictions either way.

I did want to post some stuff regarding the comments made by you and Lahad regarding my eternal destiny etc, but I will do that in another thread.

Te Luo Yi

 

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Re:You Can Trust the Bible...because it's really, really old

Date Posted:23/04/2007 8:02 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : Te Luo Yi

'morning, Te.

Thanks SOTT. I appreciated you posting all that. Truly. Next time, if you like, you can just post a link. I promise to (at least try) read it all if you just post a link. I am not one of these people who doesn't read what people have to say in the discussions I enter into on forums, etc.

Sure, I considered posting a link but I concluded that others reading this thread might not be as fastidious as you, and wouldn't follow through to where it led.

As you can imagine, there is WAY too much there for me to reply to and most of it is outside of my experitse (yours too I would guess) to even begin to reply. We mere mortals huh? Still, it's a fascinating subject.

It certainly is fascinating, and it's also a matter of scholarship. That's why there are so many very informed TC experts who (violently) disagree with Professor Ehrman's conclusions, and have published accordingly. And I've still got another five or six book reviews of "Misquoting Jesus", written by acknowledged experts, primed, and ready to go!

I was talking with a collegue of mine today about this book and your replies to my posts here. I said to her that while I think Ehrman's book was a good read, I can't imagine anyone abandoning the faith based on the issues he raises. LIke Prof. Wallace said, it raises challenegs to Innerancy but Innerancy has larger challenges to face. I have to agree. As I said to my collegue, the book was good and made some good points, but it isn't a wave that Atheists are gonna ride for long, if at all.

Agreed.

Atheists and Xians who read this book and read the rebuttals that have already (and will) come will most likely remain firm in their convictions either way.

Again, I tend to agree.

I did want to post some stuff regarding the comments made by you and Lahad regarding my eternal destiny etc, but I will do that in another thread.

Sure, I might stop in and have a "looksie"

Keep well,

Ian
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