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 hears a whiff of my name.
On the matter of significance there are a couple of things to be said. The first is that some readers of my book have misunderstood my claims and have thought that I was saying something like “There are manuscripts of the New Testament that get rid of the resurrection!” or “There are manuscripts of the New Testament that deny God exists!” or “There are manuscripts of the New Testament that claim that Jesus was a Zoroastrian!” or some such thing.
That’s obviously not at all what I’ve ever said or hinted at. I have repeatedly said that among the hundreds of thousands of differences in our manuscripts, most of them are completely unimportant, immaterial, and significant for nothing more than to show that scribes in the ancient world could spell no better than students can today. What my opponents object to is that I don’t say that over, over, and over again, and then say nothing else. They’d prefer that I say nothing else.
And at the end of the day they have a different understanding of what a “significant” variant is than I do. They would all agree that …
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