Finally! Now We Know. The “First-Century Copy” of Mark

I have posted on and off over the past six or seven years about an allegedly first-century copy of the Gospel of Mark that some scholars claimed we had now in our possession.  This would be by far the earliest manuscript we have of any part of the New Testament, a matter of real importance and interest.  But it turns out NOT to be that, and it has involved a real academic farce.

Those of you who have followed this charade ...

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When Were Matthew and Mark First Seen as Scripture: Guest Post on Papias by Stephen Carlson

Conservative Christian scholars often claim that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were recognized as “Scripture” already by the early second century, and for evidence they appeal to the words spoken of that mysterious church father “Papias” (writing in 120 CE? 140 CE?).   But when Papias mentioned Matthew and Mark, was he speaking about the books that we now know about?  And if so did he see them as Scripture?

Here is the final guest post by Stephen Carlson on Papias, ...

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When You Feel Like You’re Talking to a Wall

I wrote this post a while ago, and now that I reread it, I think I might be kicking a dead horse.  (Something, in case you wonder, I’ve never actually done.)   But, well, I suppose it’s sometimes OK to leave written twhat has been written, so to say.  So here ‘tis.

 

There are times when I debate a committed evangelical or fundamentalist Christian on whether the Bible is reliable or not, and I feel like I’m talking to a Martian.  Or ...

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Was Jesus Perfect? Then How Was He Human?? Guest Post: Jeffrey Siker

Another guest post by Jeffrey Siker, raising a very hard question with some peculiar answers and a provocative suggestion.

Jesus and Sinlessness: Metaphor and Ontology, Blog 3

In the two previous posts I have shown how the tradition developed that Jesus was sinless, namely, retrospectively in light of resurrection faith.  If Jesus was raised to divine stature at the right hand of God, then surely he must have been God’s divine Son throughout his public ministry (even if hidden by a messianic ...

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Were Miracle Stories Originally in the Gospels?

Looking through old posts on the blog, I came across this very interesting and important question from seven years ago.  It’s a question I continue to get on occasion, so I thought we all might profit by thinking about it again.  (And now, older and wiser, I would answer almost exactly the same way!)

QUESTION:

I have looked up the content of all the papyri I’m aware of (off of links on wikipedia, so who knows if they’re accurate).

It is my understanding ...

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Being Willing to Accept the Truth

Here I’d like to add just a couple of more reflections on whether critical scholars *have* to claim there are contradictions in the Bible because of their beliefs.  As I tried to state as strongly as I could in my previous post, I think the answer is absolutely not.

To begin with, let me stress that I started learning about serious contradictions when I was in a Christian theological seminary taking biblical studies courses with committed Christian teachers who were devoted ...

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Contradictions in the Gospels – Rev Matthew Firth’s Final Response

Thanks for such an interesting debate, Bart. Here goes with my final response:

In my view, a genuine contradiction between two texts occurs when those texts carry mutually exclusive accounts, i.e. accounts where, if one account is correct, the other cannot be. In the examples you have cited, you have failed to show that the so-called contradictory accounts are genuinely mutually exclusive. You have therefore failed to provide any examples of genuine contradictions.

Sure, the examples you’ve cited are, on the face ...

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Contradictions and Contradictions: Final Response to Matt Firth

Matt: thanks for your additional comments.   I’ve given my replies below.  At the outset I should say that I’m not sure I understand what a “genuine contradiction” would look like for you.    If you have two authors who at least appear to contradict each other, surely the best explanation will not be one that:

  • Suggests an author / speaker really doesn’t mean what he says but means something else.
  • Suggests an option that has never ever ...
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Contradictions in the Gospels – Rev Matthew Firth’s Second Response

Thanks very much, Bart, for these interesting responses. I will get straight into explaining why I still don’t think you have shown that the examples you have offered are genuine contradictions.

In the case of Luke 24 you say that the grammar of the Greek indicates that ‘Luke is extremely careful to date the entire sequence of chapter 24, at the beginning of each major paragraph. It all happens on the day of the resurrection.’ But we know from Acts, Luke’s ...

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Are These Really Contradictions? My Response to Matt Firth

Thanks Matt for your thoughtful comments on the four contradictions I discussed in my opening post.  I agree – this form of debate is much better than the oral back and forths I’m used to on a stage in front of an audience, where it’s so easy to say something unwittingly that is completely stupid or wrong.  With this format I’m able to think about it a bit before saying something completely stupid!

I appreciate your attempts to reconcile the contradictions.   ...

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