Small Differences that Make a Difference

Here is something different on the significance of textual variants for understanding the Greek New Testament.   Most of the hundreds of thousands of variations are completely insignificant in the big overall scheme of things (e.g., misspelled words and slips of the pen); others involve enormous differences that matter a lot (the story of the woman taken in adultery).  Lots of others are between the two, small differences that are interesting for how they might change the meaning of a passage ...

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Do We KNOW the Original Words of the NT?

A final post on the conservative evangelical critics of my book Misquoting Jesus.   One of the most common views they express is that we are virtually certain about what the authors of the New Testament wrote.  We have thousands of manuscripts, and are better informed about the text of the New Testament than for any other book from the ancient world.

By way of response, to begin with, I completely agree (of course!) that we have thousands of New Testament manuscripts ...

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Do the Differences in Our Manuscripts Matter?

The final two arguments that conservative critics of Misquoting Jesus have made, time and time again, are that (a) none of the variations in our manuscripts is particularly significant and (b) at the end of the day, we really do know what the original words of the New Testament were – far better than for any other book from the ancient world.  These are two points that my old friend and debate opponent Dan Wallace makes emphatically every time he ...

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Conservative Reactions to Misquoting Jesus

I don’t think I was prepared for the reaction that my book Misquoting Jesus elicited, especially among conservative evangelical Christians.  I was suddenly transformed from being a competent scholar with whom others might disagree here or there to being a Major Public Enemy.

Conservative scholars said all sorts of bizarre things about me in the wake of the book.  My long-time acquaintance and occasional debate opponent, Craig Evans, wrote, in a book, that I had become an agnostic as soon as ...

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What Is the Original Text of the Gospels?

QUESTION:

When it comes to the gospels, how do we define the ‘original text’? Do we define it as the original manuscript that was first penned by the author, or do we define it as the gospels in their most settled canonical form?

 

RESPONSE:

As it turns out, this is a complicated and endlessly fascinating question that, so far as I have been able to work out over the past twenty years of thinking about it, has no clear and obvious answer!

By way ...

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Why Do Translators Include Passages They Know Are Not Original?

Based on what I have said about the textual variant of 666 and 616 in the book of Revelation, several readers have asked a distantly related question.  Here is how one of them phrased it:

 

QUESTION:

If the biblical scholars know with certainty that Mark 16:9-20 and John 7.53-8.11 were added by later scribes, why are they still in the modern bibles, that is, why are they not *completely* removed? I know these verses were removed in the RSV but added back ...

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666 and Scribal Changes of the Text

I have received a number of queries about my post concerning the recently discovered papyrus P115 which indicates that the number of the Beast (the Antichrist) in Revelation 13 was 616 rather than 666.  Some of them I addressed in my post of yesterday.  But some readers have inquired about something slightly different: how do discoveries like this affect our translations of the New Testament?   Here is one of those questions and my respons.

 

QUESTION:

I thought the NIV Bible kept up-to-date ...

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Were All Textual Changes Made by Scribes by 300 CE? Readers’ Mailbag November 5, 2017

For today’s Readers’ Mailbag I deal with an interesting and important question about the changes that scribes made in their manuscripts.

 

QUESTION

In several of your books you mention that most modifications in the NT manuscripts happened in first 3 centuries. If I’m correct we have no manuscript from 1st century and only few from the 2nd. That means we can say almost nothing about changes during this time. This is however more than half of the “greatest modifications” historical period.

 

RESPONSE

This comment ...

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Is Luke’s Christology Consistent? A Blast from the Past

I have had several comments about the point I made that in Acts 2 Luke indicates that it was at the resurrection that God “made” Jesus both “Lord” and “Christ.”  Uh, does that fit in with Luke’s views otherwise?  Wasn’t he *born* the Lord and the Messiah, for example?  Then how could it be at his resurrection?

I dealt with the question on the blog a couple of years ago, and after some digging, found the post.  When I discussed the ...

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Did Luke Have a Doctrine of the Atonement? Mailbag September 24, 2017

For this week’s readers’ mailbag I have chosen a question about my claim that the author of Luke-Acts, unlike other writers of the New Testament, does not have a doctrine of the atonement – that Jesus’ death brought about a restored relationship with God (for Luke, it was the *resurrection* that mattered, not the crucifixion).   The questioner sets up the question with an important observation.   I suspect my answer will not be what he expected.

 

 

QUESTION:

 

I have spent a lot of ...

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