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Are Their Any Completely Anti-Heretical Manuscripts?


The whole thread on the “The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture” is really really great! Thanks!!
QUESTION: are the shorter version in Luke 22:19-20 and the “bloody sweat” in Luke 22:44 documented by the same manuscripts? Or do these variants appear in different manuscripts? In other words: do we have an “entirely docetic” manuscript of Luke? (incidentally, I see that both variants are in chapter 22 very close to each other). Thank you very much!!!



Ah, this is a great question.   The answer to the first question is no.   The manuscripts that contain the shorter reading in Luke 22:19-20 (that is, the form of the text in which Jesus does NOT say that the bread represents his body “given for you” and that the cup is “the new covenant in my blood poured out for you”) are not the same ones that contain the shorter reading in Luke 22:43-44 (the “bloody sweat”; in this case the manuscripts with the shorter reading do NOT have the account of Jesus’ sweating great drops of blood in deep agony, with an angel from heaven coming to minister to him).

All this can get a bit confusing, but remember my argument.  In the case of the Last Supper (22:19-20), I argued that the shorter form of the text was original, and that a scribe added the familiar words in order to oppose a “docetic” understanding of Jesus, one in which Jesus allegedly was not a real human being but only seemed to have flesh and blood.   The change stresses Jesus’ (real) broken body and (real) shed blood for the sake of others.  It is an anti-docetic variation, that was (demonstrably, I think) made during the second century when different Christian groups were arguing over whether Jesus was so much God that he was not actually a human.  For the scribe who made the change, the answer was definitely NO.  Jesus, for this scribe, WAS a human with real flesh and blood.

So too in the case of the Bloody Sweat (22:43-44), a scribe, I argued, added the passage because it so well brings out the humanity of Jesus, against those who argued that he was not a human who could experience real human emotions such as agony and grief.  The longer form of the passage (with the addition of the Bloody Sweat and the Angel) is another anti-docetic change of the text.

But different manuscripts attest the two readings.  The manuscripts with the first anti-docetic reading in 22:19-20 do NOT attest the second one in 22:43-44, and vice versa.  But why is that, and what’s going on?

This was one of the key findings of my research for The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.  The changes scribes made…

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Adoptionistic Christologies
Luke’s Last Supper and Orthodox Corruptions of Scripture



  1. gmatthews
    gmatthews  October 13, 2015

    Have you discovered any newfound changes of particular import (or even not so important) since you wrote your book? I have the 2011 edition and the cover says “updated”, but in the preface you say you were leaving the book pretty much as is. That said, I’m still curious if you (or anyone else for that matter) have discovered new “orthodox corruptions”.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 14, 2015

      None that I’ve written about. The new edition includes and extensive Afterword.

  2. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  October 14, 2015

    Once a wise man told me
    ” don’t let others ruin your faith, because I’m not “

  3. Avatar
    Damiano  October 14, 2015

    Wow that’s very fascinating: thanks so much!! I buy your argument (as usual very convincing!!) and I guess I have to buy your book as well 😉 (I can’t believe I haven’t got it yet). In fact, I would have some more questions but quickly just one: is there any reason, the anti-docetic scribe chose to humanize the docetic Jesus of Luke by turning his sweat into drops of blood? To me, this feature looks like either that of a sick human being or that of a weird (but possibly still healthy) god… Did the idiom „to sweat blood“ have the meaning of „to be scared to death“ (well, literally…) back then as today? [but I think our idiom originates in that very same verse of Luke, doesn’t it?] And/Or did some sort of hyppocratic-galenic phantasy cross the proto-orthodox mind of our zealous scribe? Thanks a lot!!!!

    • Bart
      Bart  October 15, 2015

      Yes, our term “sweating blood” comes from this passage.

  4. Avatar
    Mhamed Errifi  October 15, 2015

    hello bart

    I have notIced that you are accusing one scribe to make those changes why it cant be the work of group of people who wanted to change the text . in my opinion one scribe goes ahead and make that change would be risky unless he had some backing . he must have had free pass to change the text

  5. Avatar
    JoeWallack  October 15, 2015

    “Most scholars who did not see any consistent theological biases of the manuscripts concluded, understandably, that theological debates had not affected the scribes who copied the texts either much or at all. I can see *why* so many scholars thought so. But I concluded they were wrong. The early Christological debates did indeed affect the scribes. But not in the way scholars were looking for. The effects of the Christological debates on scribes were random and sporadic.”

    Scribes and manuscripts did not have authority in the second century. Bishops did. There is a Bishop in the second century who always (at least in what’s extant) seems to be on the orthodox side regarding Textual Criticism controversies. Irenaeus of Lyons (yes, “Lyons”). Generally, this early in Textual Criticism, the Patristic witness often goes against the orthodox reading. But, for example, Irenaeus is the first witness to the LE (I refrain from “clear” because it’s only in Latin). But either way, through original Irenaeus or edited Irenaeus, he is the first extant. Note that one of Irenaeus’ big issues is competition for Jesus that is only using one Gospel. So a lone key edit in that one Gospel, like the ones you have demonstrated here, could make a big difference to Irenaeus.

    I’ll be creating a related Thread at http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=3&sid=ab51875bf699b412c6506f331631dc60 exploring the relationship between extant Irenaeus and the orthodox positions of controversial Textual Criticism. My question to you is have you ever considered this issue, that specifically Irenaeus, in the authority of western Bishop, championed/selected/created, edited orthodox positions that came to dominate?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 15, 2015

      Yes, I deal with Irenaeus extensively in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.

  6. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  October 18, 2015

    Great Question and great answer!

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