Patristic Evidence: Why Time and Place Matter

In my previous post I indicated that there are three major kinds of evidence for reconstructing the text of the New Testament: the surviving Greek manuscripts (obviously our best source of evidence), the early versions (ancient translations into such languages as Latin, Coptic, and Syriac), and the quotations of the church fathers. Moreover, I indicated that one advantage of the citations of the church fathers is that this kind of evidence can be dated and located far more easily than ...

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Church Fathers Who Quote the New Testament

QUESTION:

I am curious about the early patristic evidence for the various Gospels and other New Testament writings. As I understand these are helpful in establishing the dates for many of these works. Related to this is, when early Church Fathers quote passages from NT writings, are they usually verbatim or do they often differ from the canon that was eventually established? Perhaps my question is a bit broad, but feel free to narrow or expand as time allows.

 

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How Women Came to Be Silenced

I come now to the climax of this thread: how is it that women came to be silenced in the early Christian tradition? Of all my posts in this thread on women in early Christianity, I think this is the most important. Again, I give my reflections on it from my Introduction to the NT:

The first thing to observe is that women may have been disproportionately represented in the earliest Christian communities. This at least was a constant claim made ...

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The Non-Pauline Oppression of Women

In my previous post I argued that the view of women in 1 Timothy 2:12-15 does not coincide with Paul’s own teachings, and that it therefore is probably not something that Paul wrote.  (This is a standard view among scholars, that Paul did not write 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus; there are compelling reasons for this view, which I could go into if anyone really wants to know….)  But doesn’t Paul say something similar in his undisputed letters, in ...

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Paul, the Pastorals, and Women

Based on what I said in the previous post, Paul’s attitude toward women in the church may seem inconsistent, or at least ambivalent.  Women could participate in his churches as ministers, prophets, and even apostles.  But they were to maintain their social status as women and not appear to be like men.  This apparent ambivalence led to a very interesting historical result.  When the dispute over the role of women in the church later came to a head, both sides ...

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Early Christianity in Egypt

About two months ago, in May, I was feeling pretty burned out; I had just finished my manuscript on How Jesus Became God and my brain was reasonably fried. At that point, I had trouble imagining being able to come up with posts for the blog for a while, and so I asked if anyone had any questions they would like to have answered. And so once again I have learned my lesson: Be careful what you ask for!

Since then ...

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Was the Author of Matthew Matthew?

In my previous post I showed that the claim that Matthew, the tax-collector, was the author of the Gospel of Matthew (as we continue to call it) cannot be traced earlier than about 180 CE.  It is not found in Justin, who lived in Rome in 150 CE and who quotes the Gospel – along with Mark and Luke – without indicating who wrote them.  And the evidence of Papias (120-140 CE) is more than just ambiguous: he actually does ...

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When Was Matthew Called Matthew?

For years I agreed with those scholars who claim that we have very early “evidence” that the Gospel of Matthew was actually written by Matthew, the tax-collector who was a disciple of Jesus. I no longer think so. Let me give some of the relevant information.

The anonymity of this author – as is true for the other three NT Gospels as well, was respected by Christians for decades. When the Gospels of the New Testament are alluded to and quoted ...

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Mark as Peter’s Scribe

QUESTION:

Why are scholars almost certain that Peter did not give the general details of Jesus’ life and ministry to his companion Mark, who faithfully recorded the details in Greek, in the style found in his gospel? I know you’ve said that someone such as Peter, aside from not knowing Greek, almost certainly wouldn’t have had the ability to build the relatively sophisticated structure of Mark’s gospel, but why couldn’t Mark have “put form” on Peter’s prosaic verbal account ...

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More on Jews, Christians, and the Battle for Scripture

In yesterday’s post I indicated that my next trade book, to be written in a couple of years, would deal with the question of Jews and Christians, centered on the question of why Christians kept the Old Testament and how doing so led to controversies with Jews. The following is how I set up the issue that I will be addressing.

The second-century Christian theologian Marcion maintained that the Old Testament was the Scripture of the Jews. Christians, ...

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