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What Are Ancient “Versions” of the New Testament?

Do we know the original wording of the New Testament?  Here I continue! When scholars try to establish what an ancient author wrote, they can do so only on the basis of the surviving evidence.  That seems, well, rather obvious, but the reality is that most people have never thought about that.  It just seems that if you pick up a copy of Plato, or Euripides, or Cicero, that you’re simply reading what they wrote.  But it’s not that simple.  In none of these cases, or in any other case for any other book from the ancient world, do we actually have the person’s actual writing.  All we have are later copies, and invariably these copies are filled with scribal mistakes.  Scholars who are “textual critics” try to reconstruct the text that the author produced, to the best of their ability. I have been talking about the challenges of doing that with the New Testament.  In many, many ways we are much better situated with the New Testament than with any other ancient book (or [...]

2022-10-26T17:28:27-04:00November 5th, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts|

What Charities does the Blog Support?

  I sometimes get asked to provide specifics about the charities we support on the blog.  To date, in ten and a half years, we have raised a total of $1.8 million.  Our efforts are becoming increasingly productive: on Oct. 22 this year surpassed our entire total  disbursed funds from our banner-last-year (which came in at $360,000). Where's all the money going?  Not to me (I can assure you!) or to any of our overhead.  I get not a thin dime; and the overhead is raised in its entirety through separate fund-raising efforts and foundation donations.  Every penny from your membership fee, and from regular donations, from the book club, and from other fund-raisers, go directly to charity. I talk about the specific charities on the blog site itself, under "About the Blog."  But it's good to get the information out there in even simpler form on occasion.  And so, here it is! ****************************** All the monies collected by the blog (membership fees, direct donations, specified fund raisers) go into the Bart Ehrman Foundation, and [...]

2022-10-26T17:22:13-04:00November 3rd, 2022|Public Forum|

Trying to Make Scholarship Interesting

I've long been interested in thinking about how to make boring subjects interesting.  I've become especially attuned to the issue recently as I've begun to read a lot more scholarship in fields completely unrelated to mine.  Some scholars have a gift in being able to reach low level mortals like me.  My own field is not nearly as complicated as the hard sciences (always hard for me, at least!) but every field has its technicalities and jargon and wide range of not-widely-shared assumptions, perspectives, and history of investigation. And so I was struck when I ran across this post from some years ago, and realized that it's still the sort of thing I think about roughly every day. ****************************** The difficulty in presenting serious scholarship to a lay audience is how to make something that can be very dry and technical and detailed and, well, boring to most human beings actually interesting and lively and thought provoking.   It is obviously quite easy to make something interesting dull.  University professors are unusually skilled at doing that.   [...]

New Testament Manuscripts: Good News and Bad News

In my previous post I started talking about the different kinds of manuscripts of the New Testament we have.  I now want to give some more information about these manuscripts and how they can help us figure out what the authors of the NT originally wrote (and why they pose problems for us to that end). Below is what I say about the matter in my textbook The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. ****************************** How Can We Reconstruct the Original New Testament Manuscripts? The Good News. When trying to reconstruct what the authors of the New Testament actually wrote, based on the surviving copies, we have both good news and bad news. The good news: We have more New Testament manuscripts than for any other book from the ancient world—many, many more manuscripts than we have for the writings of Homer, Plato, Cicero, or any other important author. We have something like 5,700 manuscripts of the New Testament—from small fragments of tiny parts of a single book to complete copies [...]

2022-10-21T12:45:46-04:00November 1st, 2022|New Testament Manuscripts|
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