Readers’ Mailbag November 13, 2015

It is time for the weekly Readers’ Mailbag.  I am keeping a list of questions readers have asked, and I add to it all the time.  If you have a question you are eager to hear me answer in a couple of paragraphs or so, simply ask!  One convenient way to do so is simply to make a comment/question on this post.  Here are three questions for today.

 

QUESTIONThe Wikipedia entry on the gospel of the Nasorenes mentions your work ...

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Other Christians Who Denied that Christ was Divine by Nature

In my previous post I discussed on group of early Christian “adoptionists” – that is, followers of Christ who maintained that he was not really a divine being (by nature) but was a human who had been “adopted” by God (at his baptism) to be his Son.  To be sure, from that point on he was in some sense divine; but he was not born of a virgin and he did not pre-exist his appearance in the world.  The group ...

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Was Christ God? The View of Jewish-Christian Ebionites

We know of several groups and individuals from the first three centuries of Christianity who were known, or at least thought, to support an “adoptionistic” Christology, one that said that Christ was not by nature a divine being but was, instead, a fully and completely human being, one who had been “adopted” by God to be his son (and therefore divine for *that* reason).  He was the Son of God, then, by adoption or election, not by nature.  He did ...

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45

Adoptionistic Christologies

For some posts now I have been talking about “docetic” Christologies in the early church – views of Christ that said he was so much divine that he was not really a human – and about how these influenced proto-orthodox scribes who changed their texts of scripture in order to show that, by contrast, Christ really was a flesh and blood human being.   I would now like to shift to the other end of the theological spectrum to discuss Christological ...

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Are Their Any Completely Anti-Heretical Manuscripts?

READER COMMENT/QUESTION:

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!!!

 

RESPONSE:

Ah, this ...

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9

Luke’s Last Supper and Orthodox Corruptions of Scripture

I can now wrap up my discussion of the textual problem of Luke 22:19-20 and the intriguing question of what Jesus said at his Last Supper (according to Luke).  I have argued so far that the longer (more familiar) form of the text, found in most surviving manuscripts, is actually a change made by scribes, not what Luke originally wrote (this is where Jesus indicates that the bread is his body given for others and that the cup is the ...

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26

Early Christian Docetism

I can now, at long last, start talking about the kinds of textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament that I covered in my 1993 book, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (I did a second edition, updating the discussion with a new Afterword in 2011).   From the surviving documents of the period, there appear to have been five major competing Christologies (= understandings of who Christ was) throughout the Christian church, and I will devote a post ...

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26

How Can You Know A Scribe’s Intentions?

My next step in this thread about my  book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture will be to discuss the various Christological views known from the second century (Docetic Christologies, adoptionic Christologies, separationist Christologies; and Modalistic Christologies), and then I will try to show how textual changes made by scribes in the period reflect opposition to this, that or the other Christology, in support of the “Proto-orthodox” Christology that came to dominate the early Christian tradition.

Before doing that, I need to ...

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15

How Consistent are Orthodox Corruptions of Scripture?

The goal of my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture was to show all the places that I could find of where early Christian scribes modified their texts of the New Testament in order to make them more amenable to their own (the scribes’ own) polemical purposes, particularly with respect to the Christological debates they were involved with.  I will describe these second and third century debates in subsequent posts.  (Recall: there are very good reasons for thinking that the ...

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20

How Do You Research Orthodox Corruptions?

When I finished my dissertation on a technical area within textual criticism – it was an analysis of the quotations of the Gospels in the writings of the fourth-century church father Didymus the Blind, in an attempt to demonstrate what the manuscripts at his disposal in Alexandria Egypt must have been like – I very much wanted to continue to work in the field of textual criticism, but I wanted to do some research that had some broader applicability and ...

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