What Did the Angels Tell the Shepherds? It Depends. Mailbag Sept. 10, 2017

I will be dealing with an interesting question in this week’ Readers’ Mailbag, having to do with the translation of the New Testament from Greek into English.  It involves a problem with a familiar verse (recited every Christmas!) that has a textual problem: different manuscripts have different readings – involving a single letter! – that affect the translation.

 

QUESTION:

A lot of different hymns and liturgies and suchlike make reference to or paraphrase the Gloria, which in turn is based on Luke ...

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Speaking in Tongues and Virgin Births: Readers’ Mailbag September 3, 2017

I will deal with two questions in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag.  The first has to do with why some conservative Christian theologians insist that the “gifts of the Spirit” (such as speaking in tongues and doing miracles) are no longer available to believers today (doesn’t the Bible indicate that they are?), and the second about whether the Gospel of Matthew mistranslates or misunderstands the passage of Scripture that allegedly indicated that the messiah would be born of a woman who ...

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Could Moses Write Hebrew?

As you may have noticed, on a number of occasions I get asked questions that I simply can’t answer.   I received one such question this week, about the history of the Hebrew language.  Here is how the questioner phrased it:

What is our earliest evidence for Hebrew as a written language? I’ve been to apologetic seminars where they say it’s long been said by atheists that the Hebrew Bible can’t be trusted because the Hebrews didn’t have ...

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Do Later Manuscript Discoveries Ever Support Proposed Interpolations?

It is fine, I think, for a post on the blog every now and then to get technical and into the nitty-gritty of scholarship.  And so I have no qualms about the following.

Yesterday I posted a response to a question about “textual emendation” by Jan Krans, a New Testament textual expert who teaches in the Netherlands.  The same blog reader had a second question that I have also directed to Jan, and here I give both the question and the ...

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Are There Passages Where *Every* NT Manuscript Gives the “Wrong” Reading?

In this post I deal with an interesting question that a reader has asked me, with reference to the post I made last week where I explained a complicated situation that appears sometimes to have occurred in our surviving manuscripts of the New Testament, when every single manuscript we have may have the “wrong” reading – that is, when every one of the manuscripts appears to an alteration from what the author original wrote.  Here is what I said.

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Was John the Son of Zebedee Capable of Writing a Gospel?

I deal with an interesting question in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag: is it plausible that the apostle John could compose a Gospel in Greek?  If you have a question you would like me to address, ask away, and I will add it to my long list!

 

QUESTION:

You mention in your book Forgeries and Counter Forgeries that John most likely did not write the Gospel attributed to him as he almost certainly could not write in Greek. I seem to remember you ...

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Interpolations and Textual Corruptions: The Blurry Lines

After the past two posts, I am now in a position to answer the question that led to this brief hiatus in my discussion of the afterlife, involving the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke.  To refresh your memory, here is the question:

 

QUESTION:

If, in your suspicion, the original Gospel of Luke began at 3:1 and the infancy narrative found in 1:5-2:52 is a later addition, do you think that should be indicated in NT reconstructions and translations in ...

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Did Luke’s Gospel Originally Have The Birth Story? Readers Mailbag and a Blast from the Past

QUESTION:  If, in your suspicion, the original Gospel of Luke began at 3:1 and the infancy narrative found in 1:5-2:52 is a later addition, do you think that should be indicated in NT reconstructions and translations in a way similar to how Mark 16:9-20 is often bracketed?

RESPONSE:  This is a great question.  I could answer it just yes or no, but I’m afraid that wouldn’t make much sense to many readers.  The question itself seems simple but ...

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How Women Came to Be Silenced in Early Christianity: A Blast From the Past

Time for a blast from the blog’s past.  Here is a question I get asked about a lot by my students: Why did women come to silenced, their voices muted, in the early Christian tradition — especially if, as the evidence suggests, women were even more attracted to this new faith than men in the early years? When I dealt with that issue exactly four years ago on the blog, this is what I said (it came at the end ...

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Did Paul Think Jesus’ Body Remained in the Grave? Mailbag July 14, 2017

 

I will address two very different questions in this edition of the Readers’ Mailbag.  If you have a question you would like me to address, ask away, and I’ll add it to the list.

 

QUESTION:

I just finished reading scholar Gregory Riley’s Resurrection Reconsidered. He presents the position that people in the Greco-Roman world had a very different perception about spirits (ghosts) than we do today. Riley states that people living in the first century Roman Empire believed that dead people frequently ...

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