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How Biblical Discrepancies Can Be Theologically Liberating for a Christian

I have been trying to show that the portrayal of Jesus going to his death in Mark’s Gospel is radically different from the portrayal in Luke’s Gospel.  I’ve been making this comparison for a purpose, in order to show as clearly as I can that reading the Bible historically – seeing its discrepancies – does not compromise its value.  On the contrary, as I came to see as a committed Christian who was no longer a conservative evangelical, this way of reading the Bible *increases* its value.

A person can still revere the Bible while thinking there are contradictions and discrepancies in it, not only in small things but in large things.  But one has to understand it in a non-fundamentalist way to do so.   The point of finding discrepancies is *not* so you can go away saying that the Bible is worthless (“bunch of contradictions”) but, on the contrary, so you can recognize the vast depths of its theological meaning, as seen precisely *in* the (big) differences you find in it.

Here is how I describe the importance of recognizing the differences in the Bible, in relation to the Passion narratives of Mark and Luke, in my book Jesus Interrupted.


The Pay-off

The problem comes when readers take these two accounts (Mark and Luke on Jesus’ death) and smash them together into one BIG account, in which Jesus says, does, and experiences everything narrated in them both.  When that is done, the messages of both Mark and Luke get completely lost and glossed over.  Jesus is no longer …

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Why Even Bother Being a Liberal Christian?
How Did Judas Iscariot Die? Readers’ Mailbag June 18, 2017



  1. Silver  June 19, 2017

    I am currently listening to your colleague Jodi Magness’ Great Courses lecture series ‘Jesus and his Jewish Influences’. It appears that in her input on Josephus she casts doubt on his credibility, specifically instancing his account of Masada. If his reliability is questionable this causes concern about other areas of his narrative e.g. the dating of Quirinius’ census – an issue which I know apologists have tried to query in order to justify Luke’s Nativity story.
    Please have you any comments?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 20, 2017

      YEs, as with every historical source, one needs to evaluate each and every statement that Josephus makes. But every instance has its own issues. With Quirinius, we have inscriptional evidence that appears to confirm his statements.

      • brandon284  August 18, 2017

        When did Quirinius date the census in comparison to Luke? And how big was this census?

        • Bart
          Bart  August 20, 2017

          Quirinius became governor of Syria in 6 CE; King Herod died in 4 BCE. The census under Quirinius was just for the province of Syria, not for the entire empire.

          • brandon284  August 21, 2017

            Thank you. It’s fantastic to have easy access to an expert on Biblical matters on a site such as this. I do have another question that is a bit of a departure from this thread: What is the earliest evidence we have of Hebrew writings?

          • Bart
            Bart  August 22, 2017

            Do you mean for the Hebrew Bible? The oldest copies are among the Dead Sea Scrolls, over a thousand years prior to our first completely Hebrew manuscript (codex Leningradensis, produced around 1000 CE)

          • brandon284  August 22, 2017

            What is our earliest evidence for Hebrew as a written language? I’ve been to apologetic seminars where they say it’s long been said by atheists that the Hebrew Bible can’t be trusted because the Hebrews didn’t have a written language until well after the stories in the OT would’ve taken place. The evidence that the Hebrews had a written language in close proximity to the Biblical stories is based on pottery evidence and things of that nature. I’m sure these are topics you are very familiar with and I’d appreciate your take.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 24, 2017

            It’s a good question, and I don’t know the answer. I’ll ask my colleague Joseph Lam, who is a Hebrew philologist, and let you know.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 25, 2017

            See today’s post!

  2. RonaldTaska  June 19, 2017

    On to the theodicy problem: For me, the contradictions in the Gospels were a bigger factor than the theodicy problem although the theodicy problem is a HUGE one. With regard to the theodicy probIem, I somehow rationalized that God knew what He was doing better than I knew and that in heaven all would work out better than it had on earth. The Gospel contradictions, in contrast, meant that the Gospels just could not be trusted and that is, for me, even a bigger problem. It meant that the Gospels were made up stories not actual historical events. That changed everything….

    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017


      While generally acknowledging your points, may I suggest something of a third paradigm – that while a given text – or even several texts may be suspect – when one finds clear, repeated, formal statements, e.g. Jesus of Nazareth a MAN attested by God (Acts2:22) – and 10 more texts that formally state that Jesus is a MAN (vs an impersonal human nature actuated by a deity….) then it seems we can comfortably rely on the fact that in THEIR mind Jesus was ontologically a man distinct from God… Which is exactly what Paul says in 1Tim 2:5 – there is one God AND (someone other than the one God), the man Christ Jesus.

      Now as to reconciling and relating to God Himself …frankly I think that is an entirely distinct issue. God met me – and dragged me to Christ (a few months later) – without a single bit of Biblical knowledge (I was raised atheist). The Bible did not come into my life for some months later – though I did, unfortunately, kow-tow to the evangelical memes re the Bible (along with the neo-fascist right-wing memes endemic in evangelicalism) – till relatively recently.

  3. alexius105  June 19, 2017

    Yes. But such contradictions don’t point to a real Jesus. They show Jesus was whoever the gospel author wanted him to be. This is, of course, bad for making dogmas, but denominations still produce them even though they are based on contradictions.
    And theology is about dogmas. It’s about things you must believe in order to get into heaven. They are of most importance. That is why I think contradictions can be a good tool to show people they are following a construct, word, not The Word.

    • godspell  June 20, 2017

      Since we find innumerable contradictions in accounts relating to 100% historical persons, they certainly don’t point away from a historical Jesus.

      If people want to discuss whether Jesus was historical or not, they should study some actual history. Most people never have, and they don’t know how the study of history works.

      Theology is about more than dogmas, incidentally. You might want to study that as well, if you want to critique it intelligently, as Bart has done.

    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017

      Totally agreed.

      In fact to begin to break the Dominionist hegemony we need to break the fallacy of certitude. Recognizing errors in the Bible is key. I am on a game plan for this action – along with many others – by introducing the timing of Jesus cleansing of the temple in Mt and Mk – esp. relative to the cursing of the fig tree… ETC.

  4. dougckatyBE  June 19, 2017

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Bart. It’s one I can relate to in many ways. But…when you say “They were all authoritative in the sense that they showed me legitimate ways to think theologically” my discomfort level rises. It is getting harder and harder for me to take seriously the ‘theology’ of any pre-scientific culture, especially as represented in texts generated by decidedly self-serving elements of the ‘orthodox’ (or soon to be orthodox) religion of the times. The ‘Theo’ behind any theology I am likely to be convinced by these days is going to have to be a lot more universal than just the history of one rather small group of people living in a rather small area the the east end of the Mediterranean Sea over a rather small time span, compared to the ‘Big Picture’ history we are now aware of. But I will continue to be ‘tuned in’ to you and appreciate your work as a good way to better understand the people in that culture and their spiritual descendants that are such a significant and influential part of our culture and political systems today.

    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017

      I like your direction – what is the deal with slaughtering animals….

      OK – one could argue that was the level the Creator needed to meet them at.

      The real issue then becomes – really for each of us – who is this Creator? How can we know? How can we “reconcile”/relate to this Creator….

      For those who find discomfort in such a consideration outside their Nelson Bros ASV – I remind them that there are 400+ denominations all claiming to use the same book… so what good is that???

  5. godspell  June 19, 2017

    “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

    But then there’s another truth, and another, and yet another., and none of them agree.


    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017

      You should have a happy face!

      Jesus was clear – HE is the truth.

      See Him – not all the apologists smoke and mirrors (even a little of Bart’s smoke and mirrors…:-) ).

  6. Epikouros  June 19, 2017

    It’s been interesting to read your posts on this topic, especially since your experience was so different from mine. By the time I was 16 or so, I stopped believing that the Bible was factual. At that point, it all fell apart for me. If I didn’t believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead, what was the point of calling myself Christian? I recognized that many people got spiritual insight from the Bible, but why was it any more useful than reading, say, _The Iliad_? I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, which are very informative (and clearly heartfelt). But I still remain somewhat mystified. If you don’t really believe the stories in the New Testament actually happened, why go to church on Sunday and contort yourself into seeing them as somehow metaphorically true? For me, it would be like worshiping at the shrine of _War and Peace_. I’ve read that book multiple times, and love it. Natasha and Pierre are “real” to my imagination, but I know they never actually existed. Why pretend otherwise? I can enjoy the book (and learn from it) as a work of fiction, but why try to make it something it’s not?

    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017

      You need to get to know Bart better…:-)

  7. bradseggie  June 19, 2017

    When you realized that the Gospels were not historically accurate, what did you think had happened historically? Did you conclude it was unknowable and unimportant?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 20, 2017

      No, I thought we could figure it out, and that it did indeed matter — for those of us interested in history (as I deeply am). But that’s not hte same thing as saying that it mattered theologically.

  8. bradseggie  June 19, 2017

    When MLK was shot, Jesse Jackson said he was the last to cradle MLK’s head as Dr. King lay dying on a Memphis motel balcony. The morning after, Jackson appeared on TV wearing the same bloody turtleneck he’d worn the day before. It was stained, he said, with MLK’s blood. King’s associates have long disputed this account.

    Would you say that Jesse Jackson’s statement, though not literally true, was true in the sense that it conveys truth (eg, that Jackson is the moral successor to King)? Does it not matter whether it is historically true?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 20, 2017

      I would say that it is important to know the history for knowing what actually happened, and to know what the claim means metaphorically as well. Both matter.

      • antoinelamond
        antoinelamond  July 6, 2017

        Definitely agree with this. . . .

  9. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  June 19, 2017

    For the love of knowledge, after earning my M.A. in Communication, I will probably go on to study Classical antiquity. Before Christianity in antiquity (CIA) is my passion. Me and you should start a blog together Bart! It is, not it’s, because we do not use it’s or don’t, or end a sentence with a preposition… (old Havard joke)-called mythology, because we can not prove it true? Or, is it the truth is being kept away by capitalist, and leading authorities because they think they are messengers of God.

  10. doug  June 19, 2017

    What a freeing experience it was for me to no longer have to twist the words of the Bible around to try to get them to be consistent! The fact that I’d had to *try* to make it consistent had started to bother me, in terms of an honest reading of the Bible.

    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017


      Nice statement! When I begin interacting with evangelicals – the basis is “the love of the true” – a good value regardless of theology. If you love the truth – you do not have to twist the facts!!

  11. Lev
    Lev  June 19, 2017

    “When people talk about why I lost my faith (I don’t know why *ANYONE* should care. But they seem to)”

    I can only speak for myself, but I can think of three reasons why I care about your story. The first is the human story element – you’re an exceptionally talented and persuasive scholar and communicator who I admire and respect, so I’m always keen to learn more about the human backstory to Bart Ehrman and what made you the man you are today.

    The second relates to faith. As a Christian, I had a sense of nervousness about hearing your story at first, fearing that learning whatever led you to abandon your faith would lead to a personal crisis of my own! I feared there may have been some dark biblical secret you had unlocked in your research, and if I learnt it also, my own walls would come tumbling down!

    Finally, I had a similar faith journey to you where I spent a few years as an evangelical fundamentalist before becoming a liberal Christian, so when I heard the story you hear – that when you abandoned the doctrine of inerrancy you also abandoned your faith – I was curious to learn if that was the case as I’ve known others to have gone down the road that people falsely attribute to you. I suspect this is why Christians like me care so much about your story.

    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017

      Since Bart did not answer – I can tell you the answer because he has answered in many other places. The answer is NO.

      I will let him address since it is his question – but my understanding is that theodicy is what did in his faith in the “Christian” God.

      Regardless, the real issue is what his faith was originally based on…. That is a matter I have never heard him discuss.

      • Lev
        Lev  June 22, 2017

        Hey Greg – I guess you accidentally responded to my post, rather than the person this was intended for, as I had not asked a question.

        • GregLogan  June 23, 2017


          Thanks for the follow-up.

          I was responding to your last paragraph – this statement specifically –

          that when you abandoned the doctrine of inerrancy you also abandoned your faith – I was curious to learn if that was the case as I’ve known others to have gone down the road that people falsely attribute to you

          The reality is that Bart did not abandon his faith when he abandoned his belief in the reliability of the Bible – but later because of the theodicy issue.


          • Lev
            Lev  June 27, 2017

            Yes Greg – I can see how you may have thought I was asking a question:

            “when I heard the story you hear – that when you abandoned the doctrine of inerrancy you also abandoned your faith – I was curious to learn if that was the case as I’ve known others to have gone down the road that people falsely attribute to you.”

            However, I was referring to question I posed to Bart a few months ago on this subject and I was explaining why I did so. I’m happy to say he answered back then. 🙂

  12. GregLogan  June 19, 2017


    I thought your lecture on this issue – in which you worked your way up through Mark – Jesus being silent – and then only at the end crying out Lama Sabacthnai was superb – and I saw the reality of the Jesus in Mark in such a different manner than the Jesus elsewhere – one much more similar to the one crying with tears to be saved from death in Hebrews (a strange bit for someone who is really a god in a bod…).

    Thanks for breaking this implicit mis-approach to the gospels – to see each of them as complete – and a portrayal of Jesus, etc.


  13. GregLogan  June 19, 2017


    Speaking of reading each within its own self – I find that when we consider the evolution of thought – we need only look at Paul. In his earliest text – 1, 2 Thess – he is all about the magnificent eschatology. Then what happens when Jesus does not return…. He changes focus – till finally we have a whole lot of suffering inc. famine, nakedness and death by the sword… BUT we still have the love of God (not sure how that will help when I am starving – but Paul seems to think it is important…and, maybe I am missing something… but…).


  14. DestinationReign
    DestinationReign  June 20, 2017

    As you rightly point out, the “tone” between Luke and Mark regarding Christ’s dying words is practically irreconcilable, but that is only through the lens of historicity. In reality, this subject is actually one of the most revelatory aspects of higher Truth in the Gospels. Remember, each Gospel pertains to timeline increments of the Church Age; this is one half of the bedrock Truth that brings higher revelations. The other half is the fact that the Christian Church Age has been a time of darkness in which Christ’s people have not represented Him accurately to the world, but have instead desecrated His (higher) image and repelled the world from Truth. (This again relates back to John 9:4-5.) With 30,000+ denominations all seeing and believing conflicting things, Christianity truly is Mystery Babylon.

    As I have mentioned in previous posts, Luke’s gospel pertains to the present juncture – the “end of the age” wherein Christ’s people (the Body of Christ) must awaken (or resurrect) unto Truth as we enter the “third day”/third millennium. This entails a closer and more intimate relationship with God the Father. Hence, after 2,000 years of Christian discord in which God’s people have been “alienated” from him, (Matthew and Mark) Luke’s altered “last words” are revealing these very truths. Also remember, John’s gospel represents the Millennial Kingdom Age – when Christ’s glory will be revealed with finality. So, there we see His last words – “It is finished.” Again (and again), Gospel differences reveal higher prophetic Truth.

    Returning to Luke, it is the gospel directly pertinent to the transition from darkness (2,000 years of Christian religiosity – or the “dark ages”) to light. Luke is the Gospel of awakening in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom. As such, it is the only Synoptic where we see Jesus restoring the hearing of the man whose ear was severed by the sword. This is what Christianity has done for 2,000 years – waywardly wielding the sword/Word of God and preventing a true understanding of Scripture and higher Truth. And so again, only Luke (which means “light”) features Christ restoring ears to hear. That is the point at which we are at now – through an entirely new and transcendent application of Scripture. And the differences (and contradictions) throughout the Gospels is the most significant aspect of that scriptural application.

    Remember, as it says ONLY in Luke’s Gospel pertaining to Christ dealing with His disciples at the time of the third day resurrection – “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Viewing that as only a historical declaration keeps those words dead and buried. But understanding that this is actually being fulfilled NOW brings them to life! OUR minds are now being opened to understand the Scriptures! And so, it is crucial to have an understanding of the purpose and pattern behind Gospel differences/discrepancies/contradictions.

  15. anthonygale  June 20, 2017

    When considering the example you give, I think combining Mark and Luke creates a more interesting portrayal of Jesus. People can experience conflicting emotions that are not always congruent with their thoughts. You could say that in the combined version, Jesus knows what he needs to do but has doubt and, despite his despair, can pull it together for the sake of others who need him. It portrays a Jesus that is more complex than in either account, being a stronger character than in Mark and arguably than in Luke as well. I don’t think faith is the lack of doubt, it is trusting in the face of doubt. Similarly, courage is not the absence of fear, it is doing what it necessary in the face of fear. So, one could argue that the combined story shows there is nothing wrong with doubt or fear. Even Jesus experienced them, yet he trusted God and fulfilled a great destiny.

    I agree that it is a mistake to ignore the individual accounts because, as you point out, there is value in understanding what they say, which is missed if you assume they say the same thing. But I don’t think the combined version is any less meaningful. To play devil’s advocate/apologist, one could claim that the differences between the accounts, which reflect their emphases, result from the authors omitting from their sources. I’m not saying I believe that, but considering how little is certain about the historical Jesus, I don’t see why they (some of them at least) are less likely to be historical.

  16. Alfred  June 20, 2017

    Thanks for another interesting post Bart. I was brought up as a Catholic and at each Mass there was a reading from the OT, the Gospels, and the other books of the NT. These are centrally set readings for the world-wide Church. They are chosen in part for the congruence and this is ten reinforced by the following sermon. This approach almost completely eliminates the possibility of seeing the different books as intended by their author. Of course the Church encourages personal Bible study also but the comparative approach was never something suggested to me. As it seems from your accounts that most/many Protestants also read the Bible in this way is it reasonable to think that generally speaking we’ve been doing it wrong for 1700 years? That this biblical conflation into a single new text has been the basis of Christian thought ever since the books were bundled together?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 20, 2017

      Yes, I think this kind of reading has been going on since the second century, literally.

    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017


      While that is a neat apologist trick to keep the unlearned in bondage – ultimately to buying the apologists’ books – it is completely bogus. The reason is simple – there ARE errors in the Bible – you can find them yourself – as, as Bart noted, once allow for an error – all those other errors that you have been disingenuously sweeping under the carpet for years (decades?) come eagerly to light – and finally, upon a genuine manifestation of a love of the truth – you recognize they are simply errors – you have a clean conscience (which is the end of our charge…).

      The point is simple – God is not the Bible – He can be related to WITHOUT the Bible. The Bible itself TELLS us that, e.g. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc., etc.

      OH – and please note – the other huge apologetic fallacy re “need” for an inerrant Bible – there are some 400 different denominations – some vastly different – all based on the Bible…. Hmmmm… which God is real – we still do not know EVEN WITH the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.

    • GregLogan  June 20, 2017

      Maybe that is why they have ended up with a sort of religious madness in the evangelical church – including incorporating Jesus into the essence of God as a distinct person of God….

  17. Mohammed Musa  June 20, 2017

    Once conceding there are errors in the Bible, you have opened a Pandora’s Box. How do you know which parts are true if you admit some parts are false?
    “… But how do you know Jesus except as he is presented to you in the Bible? If the Bible is not God’s Word and does not present a picture of Jesus Christ that can be trusted, how do you know it is the true Christ you are following? You may be worshipping a Christ of your own imagination.” (Does Errancy Matter by James Boice, page 24).
    As the religious reformer, John Wesley, said:
    “If there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.”
    Bart, majority will ignore your advice.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 20, 2017

      Yes, that’s why scholars devote their lives to deciding what is historical and what is not. It’s not an easy matter of simply throwing everything out once you realize there are mistakes. It’s a matter of engaging in careful historical analysis, as happens with *every* source we have from antiquity. See my book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.

      • Mohammed Musa  June 21, 2017

        my major problem is that i cannot afford to buy your books (I am earning less than $1/day). I am one of those members benefiting out of your benevolence and i am very grateful for that. Until of recent the only access i have to your materials is your debates on U-Tube and book reviews about your books by your critics. is there any way that members can read your materials online?

        • Bart
          Bart  June 22, 2017

          That’s why God invented public libraries!

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  June 22, 2017

          I noticed my local library didn’t have any scholarly books available, so I had them order one for me. I’m actually reading it now.

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  June 23, 2017

          I might be able to help out with that. Just click on my name and send me an email.

          • Mohammed Musa  June 29, 2017

            Pattycake 1974,
            i tried sending my E-mail through your blog for days, unfortunately it wasn’t going. Please here is my e-mail mtmusa2000@gmail.com. Your assistance is highly appreciated. Thanks.

    • GregLogan  June 23, 2017


      While that is a neat apologist trick to keep the unlearned in bondage – ultimately to buying the apologists’ books – it is completely bogus. The reason is simple – there ARE errors in the Bible – you can find them yourself – as, as Bart noted, once allow for an error – all those other errors that you have been disingenuously sweeping under the carpet for years (decades?) come eagerly to light – and finally, upon a genuine manifestation of a love of the truth – you recognize they are simply errors – you have a clean conscience (which is the end of our charge…).

      The point is simple – God is not the Bible – He can be related to WITHOUT the Bible. The Bible itself TELLS us that, e.g. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc., etc.

      OH – and please note – the other huge apologetic fallacy re “need” for an inerrant Bible – there are some 400 different denominations – some vastly different – all based on the Bible…. Hmmmm… which God is real – we still do not know EVEN WITH the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.

  18. Mohammed Musa  June 22, 2017

    You should try and visit our libraries in Africa one day.

  19. SidDhartha1953  June 24, 2017

    The lack of “reverence” fundamentalist/literalist Christians show for the authors of the Bible is much the same, in my mind, as the way film makers dishonor authors when they release a film called *Bram Stoker’s Dracula* or *Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein* that are anything but. It’s fine to retell the story your own way, but don’t claim that it’s the story you decided to improve(sic).

    • SidDhartha1953  June 24, 2017

      Funny story about “The Seven Last Words of Christ:” my former wife and I were members of a Catholic church choir in Greenville, SC, years ago and we were rehearsing a setting of the Latin text. When we got to the section that begins “Mulier…” (Woman) the first syllable was written as a long musical phrase, so it came out “Moooooo…” That was the end of the rehearsal — we couldn’t get over the thought of Jesus making cow noises from the Cross.

  20. Calvinsx76  July 30, 2017

    In my recent animated video productions as seen below I have challenged the theories of Dr. Ehrman. The underlying question in my videos I am posing to Dr Ehrman is as follows:

    I don’t understand how Chrysostom in 385 A.D could have preached from a revised text at Antioch, whose homilies was copied in shorthand, and are still read to this day in the Greek Orthodox world, and no one noticed it was a revised text until Anthony Hort in 1881. Yet everyone noticed instantly that the RV was a different text, and they didn’t have to wait over 1400 years to realize it. e.g(Jerome changed one word in Jonah and the Churches of North Africa rioted) — Ireneus and Tertullian instantly recognized that Marcion was using a different text than the Apostolic Churches.

    So that is the first question I pose to you Dr. Ehrman? Now the last 12 verses of Mark and the Woman in Adultery are prime examples which are a subset of the larger issue I posed above. Who created these passages, Where was it created? Who were the Scribes, and what was the process that basically got this passage into the majority of independent Greek, Latin and Some Aramaic Apostolic Texts throughout the Mediterranean world without anyone every noticing. So basically who were the ones doing it?

    I hope to be able to get reasonable answers to my sincere questions.

    https://youtu.be/7gZzGqXki0E (Introduction to the Pericope de Adultery)
    Youtube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqjsB-lvDBWXDB-DYVLt-Zg

    • Bart
      Bart  July 31, 2017

      It sounds like you’re imagining that scholars say that that there was a single textual tradition throughout Christendom until the time of Chrysostom, and that then a revision of the text took place in Antioch, as evidenced in Chrysostom’s writings. Is that what you have in mind, and that you’re objecting to as being thoroughly implausible? If so, the problem would be that there are not any textual critics who have that view (although I suppose supporters of the Textus Receptus might *claim* that this is the view they are attacking).
      There is a massive scholarly literature on the early history of the text and the formation of the Byzantine/Majority text. If you want some bibliography, I’m happy to give it.

      • Calvinsx76  July 31, 2017

        Thank you for response Bart

        Well I know about the so called Alexandrian, Cesarean, Western, Byzantium, text type theories etc…; I also know about the so called Lucan,conflation, process, standardization, and other theories etc… but what I am asking is did any church father say that the text of Chrysostom was corrupt? This is what I was asking in my original question I posed to you; so to help clarify what I asking, did any church father say that the specific text of Chrysostom which he preached at Antioch was corrupt? All I am asking is about that one specific text, not the Byzantium.

        Thank you for the help in this matter

        • Bart
          Bart  August 1, 2017

          Church fathers often did talk about corruptions of the text. But (apart from Marcion) I don’t know of any church father commenting on the particular text used by one of his opponents. An interesting case is Origen’s opposition to the Valentinian Heracleon, who had written a commentary on the fourth Gospel. Origen objects strenuously to Heracleon’s interpretation, point by point; but he doesn’t appear to realize that one reason Heracleon had a different interpretation of the text was that he was actually using a different text. I demonstrated that some years ago in a couple of technical articles I published. I can give you the references if you’d like.

          Moreover, to my knowledge we don’t have a record of any church father from the period commenting on the sermons of another church father — that is, about *anything* the person said or quoted in his sermon. (So that we *couldn’t* have fathers objecting to Chrysostom’s quotations of Scripture). Do you happen to know of any?

  21. Calvinsx76  August 1, 2017

    Thank you for your response Dr Ehrman

    Now I totally agree with your statement that the church fathers were well aware of variants in the texts. Both Irenaeus and Tertullian in the second century noticed a major difference between Marcion’s shorter text of Luke and ten letters of Paul in comparison to the texts read in the Apostolic Churches throughout the Mediterranean world. You also bring up an excellent point in the case of Origen, because even though Origen could not equate that the variance in the interpretation stemmed from a different text, he still did recognize that something was different.
    Now getting back to my original question, I asked if any church father said that the specific text at Antioch publicly read to the congregations, that John Chrysostom preached on was corrupt, different, revised, or whatever you want to call it. I do want to be clear that it wasn’t so much about his sermons, but because his comments were so extensive in his sermons we are able to see the type of text that was being publicly read to the congregations at Antioch in the 4th century.
    The significance of Chrysostom’s homilies is that they were read throughout the Greek Orthodox Churches, even to this day. We know from Chrysostom writings that people came to hear him preach, bringing their short hand instruments to record his sermons. Yet as you alluded too, and I am also aware, we have no comment from any Greek, Latin or Aramaic church father that attacked his text. It took over 1400 years for likes of Professor Hug, Griesbach, and Hort to be the first to criticize Chrysostom’s text as corrupt.
    Almost the same set of circumstances is exemplified in Jerome’s Vulgate, yet something different was noticed that caused alarm. His translation of Jonah was publicly read in a Church of North Africa and the translation of one word from gourde to ivy, that the congregations heard being read, resulted in a riot as reported by Augustine, who personally wrote letters to Jerome that were sent through the churches, which communicated Augustine’s concerns with his revision.
    Now when the RV came in 1881, instantly everyone noticed that a shorter text was introduced (Just as the Apostolic Churches noticed that Marcion introduced a shorter text in the second century). While the differences in the text of Marcion, Jerome and the RV were quickly noticed and attacked, we have no historical record that the congregations and bishops throughout the Greek orthodox world criticized the text that Chrysostom’s homilies revealed.
    So Dr Ehrman, here is the dilemma we are facing. If we reject the position of the Apostolic Churches as explained by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others on the commonly received texts, then we have to explain when the text of Chrysostom was created, where it was created, by whom it was created, and how it was put into the thousands of independent Apostolic Greek Churches without anyone apparently noticing it as they did with the text of Marcion, the Vulgate and the RV. These were historical times Dr. Ehrman and well documented; we have records of the councils, synods, we know of all the fights, and the bishops that presided over the Apostolic sees going all the way back; Now According to Occam’s razor the simplest explanation is the best which would be the explanation of Ireneus, Tertullian and other the other Apostolic Churches.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 3, 2017

      My point is that we don’t have any record of any church father ever saying anything about the corrupt text of the New Testament that any other church father was citing. So why would we expect it in the case of Chrysostom. Do you know of any such discussion in any writings of the church fathers?
      It sounds like you’re implying that the text attested by Chrysostom must have been the same text attested by the earlier Christian writers. What came to be known as the Byzantine text was decidedly NOT attested by earlier writers than Chrysostom. That has been shown time and again by every analysis of the early fathers’ writings. If you’re not familiar with the studies, I’d suggest you read the volumes in the SBL series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers, starting with my study of Didymus the Blind.

  22. Calvinsx76  August 4, 2017

    Dr Ehrman,
    I will address the questions you asked of me in your last response momentarily, but I have been patiently waiting for you to first document when this so called “creation” of Chrysostom’s text occurred? Can you provide me with dates, times and a location for when this project kicked off? Can you at least provide me a list, including the names of bishops, scribes, and or key figures associated with the Apostolic Greek Churches that were involved in this so called “creation”? Was a council or synod convened? Or was it band of rouge scribes that infiltrated the text at Antioch and forced the bishop of that period to comply with the new text. Because if such an “event” did occur, it is not unreasonable to assume this information would be available.
    For I can document this type of information in regards to Jerome’s Old and New Testament translation project; additional information is available regarding Thomas of Harkel translation of the Greek into Aramaic, and Lucan’s editing of the Septuagint. As I have already stated, the historical archives are silent to what you are suggesting. but what is even stranger, is that no one noticed that such an event took place until 1400 years after the fact, when Greisbach, Hug and Hort first introduced the idea that the text of Chrysostom was corrupt.
    Now Dr Ehrman, I was under the assumption that we both came to the conclusion that the Apostolic Churches, to include the bishops, writers, and congregations were well aware of such changes to the texts of the New & Old Testaments. I do want to remind you that both Ireneus and Tertullian noticed and challenged Marcions shorter text of Luke and ten letters of Paul in the second century. Let’s not forget that Gauis an orthodox father from Rome who wrote near the end of the second century named four heretics who not only altered the text, but had disciples who multiplied copies of their efforts.
    I do need to help you understand Dr Erhman, why I have such a problem with a so called “creation” of Chrysostom’s text being introduced into Antioch, and no one had a clue that the text was changed, which leads us back to your earlier assertion that “we don’t have any record of any church father ever saying anything about the corrupt text of the New Testament that any other church father was citing” and then you follow up by asking “why would we expect it in the case of Chrysostom?”
    Well Dr Ehrman, I want to present to you Augustine’s letter to Jerome written in A.D. 403 where he responds to Jerome giving him feedback on both his translation of the Old Testament book of Jonah as well as his Gospel translations from the Original Greek. In addressing his concerns with the book of Jonah, Augustine states: “A certain bishop, one of our brethren, having introduced in the church over which he presides the reading of your version, came upon a word in the book of the prophet Jonah, of which you have given a very different rendering from that which had been of old familiar to the senses and memory of all the worshipers, and had been chanted for so many generations in the church” Dr Ehrman, do you hear those words, that the worshipers had been accustomed to hearing that word gourde in Jonah for so many generations in the church, even committing it to memory “ for Augustine continues his letter to demonstrate the severity that change had upon the congregation who heard it stating “Thereupon arose such a tumult in the congregation, ESPECIALLY AMONG THE GREEKS, correcting what had been read, and denouncing the translation as FALSE. Help me understand why the Greek congregations at Antioch would not respond in a similar fashion when this so called created text of Chrysostom was introduced? Now the event in North Africa was based on one word, can you image the reaction from the Greeks who heard a new so called conflation being read at Antioch?
    Now further on in Augustine’s letter he takes occasion to comment on Jerome’s Gospels translation. Dr Ehrman, pay attention, because this part is critical and addresses your earlier question. Augustine states “At the same time we are in no small measure thankful to God for the work in which you have translated the Gospels from the Original Greek, because in almost every passage we have found nothing to object to, when we compared it with the Greek Scriptures” This testimony is striking because it demonstrates they were checking up on Jerome’s Gospel Translation comparing it against the Greek Scriptures, to make sure no funny business was going on. Note: Augustine states he found nothing to object to after he compared it against the Greek Texts he had access too. This empirical evidence goes against your previous assertion Dr Ehrman. The fathers of the Church did keep tabs on what was going on in regards to both the New and Old Testament, and the congregations weren’t idiots either.
    Furthermore Dr. Ehrman, when you state “What came to be known as the Byzantine text was decidedly NOT attested by earlier writers than Chrysostom. That has been shown time and again by every analysis of the early fathers’ writings.” It seems Dr Erhman that you have overlooked Edward Millers study who showed that portions of Scripture distinctive to the Received Text were quoted extensively by notable church leaders as early as the second century and onward.
    Kenyon says the following about Miller’s research –
    The results of his examination are stated by him is follows. Taking the Greek and Latin (not the Syriac) Fathers who died before AD 400, their quotations are found to support the TR in 2,630 instances (that is the distinctive TR readings), the WH text in 1753. Nor is this majority due solely to the writers who belong to the end of this period. On the contrary, only the earliest writers be taken, from Clement of Rome to Irenaeus and Hippolytus (AD 97 – 236), the majority in favor of the TR is proportionately even greater, 151 to 84″
    I guess you must have forgotten about this study.
    Dr Ehrman, regarding your study on Didymus the Blind; it is interesting in this age of post-modernism that I found another study of the text of Didymus, where this study concluded the text was 80% Byzantium in this sector. So much for studies
    Places in Matthew 25:6-28:20 Where Didymus Agrees with TR or A or Aleph or B:
    (1) 25:6 – Didymus has ECERCESQE – agrees with TR A Aleph B
    (2) 25:6 – Didymus has GEGONEN – agrees with TR A Aleph (disagrees with B)
    (3) 25:15 – Didymus has IDIAN DUNAMIN – agrees with TR A Aleph B
    (4) 25:16 – Didymus has EN – agrees with TR A Aleph B
    (5) 25:33 – Didymus has MEN – agrees with TR A Aleph B
    (6) 25:33 – Didymus has DEXIWN – agrees with Aleph A (disagrees with TR B)
    (7) 25:33 – Didymus has EUWNUMWN – agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph)
    (8) 25:41 – Didymus has OI – agrees with TR A (disagrees with Aleph B)
    (9) 25:41 – Didymus has POREUESQE – agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph)
    (10) 26:15 – Didymus has PARADWSW – agrees with TR A Aleph B
    (11) 26:31 – Didymus has DIASKORPISQHSETAI – agrees with TR (disagrees with A Aleph B) (Ehrman listed this as a Citation “[C]” but not as a Citation taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, and used as a base for collation.)
    (12) 26:52 – Didymus has MACAIRH – agrees with A Aleph B (disagrees with TR) (Ehrman listed this as a Citation “[C]” but not as a Citation taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, and used as a base for collation.)
    (13) 26:53 – Didymus has DOKEIS OTI OU DUNAMAI – agrees with TR A Aleph B (There is a blank space in Ehrman’s book where the letter “A” should be.)
    (14) 26:53 – Didymus has MOI – agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph)
    (15) 26:53 – Didymus has PLEIOUS – agrees with TR A (disagrees with Aleph B)
    (16) 26:53 – Didymus has DWDEKA – agrees with Aleph B (disagrees with TR A)
    (17) 26:53 – Didymus has LEGIWNWN ANGELWN – agrees with Aleph A (disagrees with TR B)
    (18) 27:40 – Didymus has EI TOU QEOU – agrees with TR A Aleph (disagrees with B) (Ehrman listed this as a Citation “[C]” but not as a Citation taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, and used as a base for collation.)
    (19) 27:40 – Didymus has QEOU – agreeing with TR B (disagreeing with Aleph A) (Ehrman listed this as a Citation “[C]” but not as a Citation taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, and used as a base for collation.)
    (20) 28:19 – Didymus has MAQHTEUSATE – agreeing with Aleph A (disagreeing with B TR)

    In these 20 units, each pair (TR+A, and Aleph+B) has the potential to score 40 agreements. Which pair scores higher: the Byzantine pair, or the Alexandrian pair?
    TR: 15. A: 17. Aleph: 12. B: 12.

    Combined total of TR and A = 32/40 = 80%
    Combined total of Aleph and B = 24/40 = 60%

    We may thus conclude that Didymus’ text of Mt. 25:6-28:20 was significantly more Byzantine than Alexandrian.


    I’ll be waiting for your response Dr Ehrman

    • Bart
      Bart  August 6, 2017

      My book was published in the mid-1980s and to my knowledge no one has challenged its data or conclusions. It has served as a model for the kinds of studies done in the thirty years since. (I was picking up on the approaches developed first by Ernst Colwell and then by Gordon Fee.) Anyone who is seriously interested in the matter. I really can’t think of a refutation to it, try as I might. The kind of simple statistic analysis of this other study you mention (who wrote it by the way, and when?) isn’t really adequate, for reasons I explain in my book. I look at every single quotation of the all four Gospels in every surviving writing of Didymus and collate them against twenty representatives of all the leading textual groups and then do several kinds of statistical analyses of the resultant data. Look and see! If you ahve objectiions to the method, I’d love to know. ANd if you approve the method, you’ll have to approve the result!

    • Bart
      Bart  August 6, 2017

      It sounds like the view you are objecting to is one that maintains that there was a single textual tradition widespread in the Christian traditoin of the first four which was then altered by a recension in Antioch, to which Chrysostom is a witness. Is that it? I don’t know anyone who has that view — it really hasn’t been around since… since I’m not sure when. Some 19th century scholars held it (kind of), but no one does today. If you want to see a more authoritative current view, about the gradual emergence of the Byzantine text, I’d suggest Klaus Wachtel’s impressive study, Der Byzantinische Text Der Katholischen Briefe: Eine Untersuchung Zur Entstehung Der Koine Des Neuen Testaments (Arbeiten Zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung). If you don’t do German, you can find it in any number of modern English discussions of textual criticism.

      • Calvinsx76  August 7, 2017

        Dr Ehrman,

        You seem to be saying, that Once upon a time, before Chrysostom preached at Antioch in 385 A.D, somewhere in an unknown place, by unknown scribes, Chrysostom’s text was created, and was then somehow introduced into the Church of Antioch by unknown people, that was not noticed for almost 1400 years after the fact. I guess I lack faith here, because I find it really hard to believe.

        Yet, you lay before the church of Antioch the charge of changing their text. Do you not afford the presumption of innocence to the Greek Orthodox Church at Antioch before being proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as you would any other accused?

        This is why I documented the case of Marcion, to demonstrate that both Ireneus and Tertullian noticed that a shorter text of Luke and ten letters of Paul were introduced that was different than the texts of the Apostolic Churches. Do you notice Dr Ehrman that we were able to document “Marcion” to establish the “who” and then the “What” which would be the introduction of the shorter biblical text? We can also establish the “When” around 140 AD and the “Where” in Rome, and then the “Why” he did it, which as Tertullian documents in his works against Marcion is that Marcion claimed that the texts of the Apostolic churches were interpolated by the defenders of Judaism, which is the reason he removed the Jewish readings from Paul’s writings.

        Yet Dr Ehrman, you have not documented who were the people involved in the so called “creation of this specific text” that was introduced at Antioch. Not to mention the “when” and “where” this supposedly took place, and the “why” these unknown people felt a need to create a different Greek Text to be used at Antioch.

        I also submitted to you Gaius testimony who was at Rome writing at the end of the second century who named four heretics who not only altered the biblical texts, but whose disciples also mutilated copies of their efforts. This was to demonstrate on a second occasion that another church father noticed a change in the biblical texts. But do you notice Dr Erhman how Gaius was able to name the people involved in the altering of the text? Yet, I am still waiting for you to provide this information.

        I also documented that the historical archives are not silent to the creation of biblical texts, for we can document the creation of Jerome’s Old & New Testament Translation in the 4th century. We are also aware of Lucan’s edition of the Septuagint, Thomas of Harkel Aramaic translation which he used a Greek Text from Alexandria, Marob Translation into the Armenian, and the Gothic Version that was done by Ulphilas. Do you see what text is not mentioned in this list? It’s the so called “created text” that you say was used at Antioch”

        In light of the testimony and documentation above Dr Ehrman, do you see how silly it sounds to assert that a so called ‘’creation” of a specific text that was used and preached on at Antioch by one of the most famous preachers Chrysostom, who is still read throughout the Greek Orthodox World, yet no one noticed that it was a different text until 1400 years after the fact by Hort, Griesbach and Hug, who weren’t even Greek Orthodox? We have already demonstrated that the fathers of the church did recognized changes to the biblical texts as far back as the second century and up to the 4th century.

        Dr Ehrman, your only retort was to assert that “we don’t have any record of any church father ever saying anything about the corrupt text of the New Testament that any other church father was citing, so why would we expect it in the case of Chrysostom”. Dr Ehrman, we already established that Ireneus and Tertullian criticized Marcion shorter text, (He was the son of a bishop from Pontus – and a member of church of Rome before he was ex-communicated – Go figure) and also Gauis, another orthodox father who named four heretics who were also altering the biblical text.

        Then I submitted Augustine’s Letter to Jerome, where he stated that when the rendering of one word was changed in Jerome translation was read before a congregation in North Africa from the book of Jonah, it resulted in a riot, and that the Greeks in the congregation was especially upset and declared the translation to be false. This change of the text did not even escape the eyes of the bishop who was reading from it. Are you suggesting that Greek Worshipers or the Bishop at Antioch wouldn’t react in the same manor when a new “So called Greek Text was created”? Augustine showed that the worshipers had heard this reading chanted for so many years which was based on the Septuagint (Greek), so when Jerome based his translation on the Hebrew, it rendered a different translation, which sparked the outcry from the Greeks.

        I notice in your last response Dr Ehrman, you did not engage Augustine’s letter to Jerome or the other empirical data I listed as testimony. Another Key point from that letter is Augustine stated that he and others vetted Jerome’s Gospel Translation (almost every passage) against the original Greek and found nothing to object to.

        We have the documentation from Jerome where he criticized Lucan’s editing of the Septuagint, because Jerome felt he should have done it from the Hebrew. Augustine also cautioned Jerome against removing the Apocrypha from his Old Testament translation, because the worshipers, who were accustomed to these texts, would notice the change and react to it. This empirical data goes directly against your assertion Dr Ehrman.

        In addition Dr. Ehrman when you stated “What came to be known as the Byzantine text was decidedly NOT attested by earlier writers than Chrysostom. That has been shown repeatedly by massive and irrefutable scholarship, I’m afraid”

        Once again it appears you are excluding scholars and studies outside of your school of thought, because you didn’t bring up Millers study (Who was Burgon’s student) which shows the opposite conclusion as I quoted in my last response. Both you and I know that Burgeon compiled 86,000 quotations from the fathers which are still available at the British museum that was the basis of Millers Study. Are you suggesting that another study was conducted on those same 86,000 quotations that Miller used in his study, which refuted his study?

        Dr Ehrman, I do recognize you as a legitimate scholar in your field of study and the point I was trying to make in reference to studies is that in this postmodern age, is that I have found other studies such as Burgon, Miller, Hoskier, Pickering, and others that come to different conclusions.
        One such commentary on modern studies is

        , J. N. Birdsall declares: “It is evident that all presuppositions concerning the Byzantine text — or texts — except texts inferiority to other types, must be doubted and investigated de novo30 (even though its claimed inferiority was based upon those false presuppositions). 30A. Wikgren, “Chicago Studies in the Greek Lectionary of the New Testament,” Biblical and Patristic Studies in Memory ofRobert Pierce Casey, ed. J.N. Birdsall and R.W. Thomson (New York: Herder, 1963), pp. 96-121.

        We also have the study of Sturz: Two books spanning almost a century which support (to one degree or another) the “Traditional” or “Byzantine” Text Type:
        The Traditional Text of The Holy Gospels, John Burgon; 1896.
        The Byzantine Text-Type & New Testament Textual Criticism, Harry Sturz; 1984.
        Both are available on the Web. Do a Google.
        Burgon has written several other books (Most notable: The Revision Revised ) which are available on the Web.”Oldest is the best” only if it is the original. The “best” mss IMO most assuredly came out of the apostolic churches.

        Sturz book is in two parts 1) the Wescott and Hort theories and their rebuttal and 2) The second part is largely a study of the payrii (especially p66) which support both Byzantine longer “conflated” readings and Alexandrian readings thereby largely disproving the Wescot and Hort theory that (1) oldest is best; (2) shortest reading is best and (3) most difficult reading is best.

        There are several pages of comparison charts and a huge bibliography.

        At very least it seems highly probable that these two major families of texts existed around AD120 rather than the Byzantine Text being a late 4th century development of “smoothing” and “conflation”.HankD #61HankD, Oct 25, 2007

        Now Dr Ehrman, If your theory is true, we run into the problem that Hort identified.

        Hort’s “theoretical presumption” (Introduction, 45) that a majority of existing documents should reflect on the basis of transmissional principles a majority of predecessor documents at each stage of transmission, moving back toward the autograph

        I would add the texts of the Apostolic Churches, not those thrown out in the deserts or left on monastery shelves for centuries. Unless you can document a synod or decree from a bishop to revise the texts of the Greek Apostolic Churches, I would accept Hort’s maximum.

        I’ll be waiting for your response Dr Ehrman

        • Bart
          Bart  August 9, 2017

          I”m afraid you’re attacking a position that no one holds. If you would like to tell me which books you’ve read on the topic, I’d be happy to make some suggestions. (Do you understand why Miller/Burgon cannot be used any more, for example?)

          • Calvinsx76  August 9, 2017

            Dr Ehrman,
            let’s analyze the opening statement in your last response; for you said “I’m afraid your attacking a position that no one holds” hmmmm…What ever do you mean Dr. Ehrman?

            Would you have me believe, that the New Testament Text at Antioch in 385 A.D, that Chrysostom preached from, is basically the same New Testament text (with minor scribal variations ) read in 285 AD in Antioch by Bishop Cyril 1, and also basically the same New Testament Text (with minor scribal variations) read in 185 A.D in Antioch by Bishop Maximus 1, and also basically the same New Testament Text (with minor scribal variations) read in 85 AD in Antioch by Bishop Ignatius the Martyr? Its a Yes or No Question.

            If the answer is No then please tell me which Bishop of Antioch introduced the “Revised”, ‘Created”, “Conflated”, “Standardized” or “began the Text by Process” as suggested by Kenyon at the Church of Antioch?

            As you can see, I listed the historical bishops of Antioch going all the way back to Ignatius in the first century for your reference.

            Ignatius (c. 70–c. 107
            Heron (107–127)
            Cornelius (127–154)
            Eros of Antioch (154–169)
            Theophilus (c. 169–c. 182)
            Maximus I of Antioch (182–191)
            Serapion (191–211)
            Asclepiades the Confessor (211–220)
            Philetus (220–231)
            Zebinnus (231–237)
            Babylas the Martyr (237–c. 250),
            Fabius (253–256)
            Demetrius (256–260),
            Paul of Samosata (260–268)
            Domnus I (268/9–273/4)
            Timaeus (273/4–282)
            Cyril I (283–303)
            Tyrannion (304–314)
            Vitalius (314–320)
            Philogonius (320–323)
            Eustathius (324–330),
            Paulinus I (330, six months),
            Eulalius (331–332)
            Euphronius (332–333)
            Flacillus or Facellius (333–342)
            Stephanus I of Antioch (342–344),
            Leontius the Eunuch (344–358)
            Eudoxius (358–359)
            Anianus (359)
            Meletius (360—361),

            Now Dr Ehrman, as an expert on studies in the field, and a teaching professor, please explain the “Who”, “When” “How” and “Why” it was introduced into the church of Antioch that Chrysostom read in 385 A.D. If you can give a simple and exact answer to these four questions, I would be more than happy to give a donation to your blog.

            Note: I will be following up on your other questions from your last reply in a separate response.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 10, 2017

            I mean that the view that there was a thorough redaction of the NT text in fourth-century Antioch, as evidenced in the writings of Chrysostom, is not, to my knowledge, a view held by any textual critic today. I certainly don’t hold that view, and never have. And so I’m asking you to indicate who, based on your reading, does hold to the view, so that I can address the issue. So … who does?

  23. Calvinsx76  August 11, 2017

    Dr Ehrman, finally we have progress on this matter. So under your own admission the text at Antioch in the 4th Century as evidenced in the writings of Chrysostom was redacted , but the redaction wasn’t finalized according to your theory.

    All I have ever asked is if the text at Antioch in 385 A.D. that Chrysostom preached from was changed/redacted/revised/conflated/ a text in Flux, or whatever else you want to call it? So when I asked you in my previous post is the New Testament Text at Antioch in 385 A.D, that Chrysostom preached from , basically the same New Testament text (with minor scribal variations ) read in 285 AD in Antioch by Bishop Cyril 1, and also basically the same New Testament Text (with minor scribal variations) read in 185 A.D in Antioch by Bishop Maximus 1, and was also basically the same New Testament Text (with minor scribal variations) read in 85 AD in Antioch by Bishop Ignatius the Martyr? The answer according to your theory is No.

    Now, if your operating under the assertion that the Text at Antioch in 385 A.D that Chrysostom preach from was redacted (regardless if the process came to fruition), please tell me under which bishop it was introduced into the church of Antioch before 385 A.D, and was not noticed until Griesbach, Hug and Hort.

    Now if I wanted to explore the throughouness of this so called “redaction” of the Text at Antioch in 385 A.D that Chrysostom preached from , then I would have referred back to Dr Gordon Fee citation who says “These fathers (Chrysostom et al) had a NT only about ninety per cent along the way to a full Byzantine text of the Middle Ages”

    Dr Erhman, 90% seems kind of thorough, don’t you agree, like most of the work has already been done. Its like if I had 100 dollars in my pocket, and I spent 90 of it, there is not much more that I can buy. Dr Fee’s statement demonstrated that there was a major change to the New Testament Text at Antioch in the 4th Century that Chrysostom was preaching from, yet still no one noticed until 1400 years after the fact.

    So Dr Ehrman, I am asking you again, under which bishop, did this so called “Non thorough redacted text was introduced into Antioch?

    Now Interesting enough , Dr Gordon fee continues his quote with the following statement: CHRYSOSTOM TEXT is still closer to the ‘majority text’ than it is to ANY TEXT OF THE SECOND OR THIRD CENTURY.” Dr Ehrman, according to Dr Fee’s theory, not only did Chrysostom Text not exist prior to the fourth century, but Dr Fee is confining the redaction to the fourth century.

    So Dr Ehrman, what bishop in the fourth century was this “Not Thorough redaction that was 90% Byzantium” done under? Was this done under and Arian Bishop or a Bishop of the Athanasius party at Antioch in the fourth century.

    Could have it been Eustathius a bishop at Antioch in 324, a steadfast opponent of Arianism; who was disposed in 327 A.D and Banished in 329 A.D? Was the introduction of this so called “Non Thorough Redacted Text” the real reason why he was disposed.

    Dr Ehrman, I also find D.A Carsons statement quite fascination: “Errors were not added one per generation, generation by generation, but wholesale, as it were.” Wow, and still nobody noticed whole sale changes to the New Testament Text! Dr Ehrman, we have already established that the fathers of the apostolic churches noticed minor and major changes to the Biblical Texts going from the 2nd century to the Fourth Century, as I documented earlier in the case of Marcions shorter text, and Gauis testimony, and Jeromes Old/New Testament Translations. Dr Ehrman, you even established this point in your study of Origin. Augustine even got into it with the Donatists over “Without Cause”, and I’m pretty sure you would agree with Augustine on this point, not other points, but for sure this one.

    Do you see why I find it hard to believe in these so called redaction theories? My faith is still lacking Dr Ehrman. Even the Bishop of Alexandria (Athanasius the Great) debating Asterius (who died in 341 and was an Arian), did not attack his use of a Byzantium type text. Does this not make you wonder Dr Ehrman why Athanasius, who obviously had access to the official text at the church of Alexandria being its bishop, didn’t seem to find any problem with the text of Asterius “Inquiring minds need to know”

    I’ll be waiting for your response Dr Ehrman

    • Bart
      Bart  August 13, 2017

      I don’t think any bishop introduced the text into Antioch. You don’t seem to understand my view. But could you simply answer my question: you are attacking a view that so far as I know no one holds. So could you tell me who, in your judgment, holds it? And where (in what book) does this scholar argue it? What I”m trying to say is that you are simply making an argument against a view that doesn’t exist, and I don’t see the point of that. So please answer my question; otherwise we have no common ground for a discussion. (BTW: there is no doubt about Athanasius’s textual affinities; and you have the wrong Asterius.)

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  August 13, 2017

        Most of this convo is over my head, but I watched Calvinsx76’s animated video that featured you, James White, and Dan Wallace as being taken to task over the woman who committed adultery story. What I got out of the video was that the story is not a later addition because Jerome, Augustine of Hippo, and Ambrose of Milan not only wrote about it but were aware that the text was being omitted as it was considered controversial. According to the video, none of you have addressed it.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 14, 2017

          I’m not sure why he would be so animated about it. It is common knowledge that the passage was known to the Latin tradition by the fifth century.

          • Pattycake1974
            Pattycake1974  August 14, 2017

            I can’t tell if you’re making a joke or being serious. The videos are animated, as in, they’re cartoons that feature you, Wallace, and White as characters. They’re pretty high tech. I was amazed.
            They’re refutations to certain claims like the ending in Mark and the woman who committed adultery.

            Want to see what you look like as a cartoon?


          • Pattycake1974
            Pattycake1974  August 14, 2017

            I’m adding on to my first reply–

            I haven’t watched them all, but I think this one deserves a blog post! (The alien book got a post after all)

            Calvin–how long did it take you to create this (see below) video? Has White or Wallace responded to any of them?


          • Calvinsx76  August 14, 2017

            Dr Ehrman,
            that was a great play on words – See, we can have fun with this discussion. Dr Ehrman, I do think we may have overlooked a few things in regards to the PA. First Jerome trained under Gregory Nazian at Constantinople (he may have seen a few Greek Texts over there); secondly he reports that he found this passage (empirically verification) in many Greek and Latin texts. Thirdly, this passage was included in the Gospel of John in his Vulgate, which he stated that his translation was based on a comparison of early Greek manuscripts. He began this translation around 383, which mean his texts are fourth century or earlier. Fourthly Augustine and others in North Africa personally reviewed almost every passage from his Gospel Translation based on the Greek Texts Augustine had available to him, and Augustine found nothing to object too. Augustine and Ambrose who comment on the PA never said that this passage was added to the New Testament, but on the contrary, Augustine and Nikon say that it was taken out. Funny as it may be, when we look at some of the Armenian Texts, Nikon was right. Even today we have over 1400 Greek Texts that have this passage, while around 268 does not. hmmm, that kind of coincides with Augustine’s statements. But Dr Ehrman, even in light of this empirical data, the biggest issue is how did this passage find it’s way into many Greek and Latin Manuscripts prior to the 4th century? Let’s be honest, how do you physically walk into these Apostolic Churches, which were underground at the time (remember Diocletian was having a hard time finding these texts & remember the donatists ) and go in and start changing the texts without being noticed? Do you wonder why I liken these theories to Peter Pan and Fairy Tales, because in Peter Pan, Kids just need a little pixie dust, and they can fly out their windows to Never Never Land, but in reality, this doesn’t work. The same thing is said for these interpolation theories in regards to the PA. Think about it, how do we get into North Africa, Milan, Spain (Pacian), (Alexandria with Didamus), (Jerome in Rome) – these are large Geographical areas, not to mention the Greek Texts that Jerome and Augustine had access too. You didn’t have email, or British Airways – how did they even know where the churches were prior to 300. Are you really suggesting the Greek Churches had no problem accepting this so called western interpolation into their Greek Texts?

          • Bart
            Bart  August 15, 2017

            It’s not clear to me that you understand how the texts of the New Testament were copied and circulated during the first four hundred years. What scholarship have you read on the broader questions of the nature of early transmission? And have you read any analyses of the quotations of the New Testament in the writings of the church fathers up to the year 400, to see what this kind of study can reveal about the state of the text.

      • Calvinsx76  August 14, 2017

        Dr Ehrman,

        Allow me a few moments to help clarify for you what positions I am truly challenging yourself and others on that fall within this school of thought; the purpose of this is to give you a better understanding of where I am coming from. First, I am a member of the Anglian Communion and a proud member of Episcopal church USA.

        The underlying issue that my questions are stemming from is this idea that these so called earlier texts of New Testament (i.e. Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, P75, P66, and about 40 or so others) are closer representatives to the texts used by the Independent Greek Apostolic churches prior to the 4th century; and that these so called later texts (which I refer as the textual traditions of the Apostolic Greek, Latin, Aramaic Churches) are referred to as “secondary” in origin.

        Now, when I cast yourself, White and Wallace in my animations, it is to represent the broad range of theories surrounding this idea, that the texts of the Apostolic Churches are secondary in origin. Now, I do recognize you as the real legitimate scholar in this group, and the person with the real Doctorate Degree. Plus, I figured since you were willing to debate Mr. White, I should have an equal if not better of a chance for you to accept my invitation to discuss these issues.

        When I initiated our dialogue, I wanted to begin with discussing the Text at Antioch that Chrysostom preached from in 385 A.D. because Antioch is the oldest surviving Apostolic Greek Church, and this is basically the first time in history we can begin to see the official Text at Antioch being read to the congregations by a member of the Church. Remember, Christianity has just recently become legal, and the Arians have recently been defeated. So the natural assumption is that this text would be basically the same text (barring copyist mistakes/scribal variations) that was received and read by Ignatius of Antioch in 85 A.D).

        Now, you have your particular theories on this “so called creation” for what I term the commonly received texts of the Apostolic Churches (Which I am not opposed for you to clarify for me); Hort promoted his conflation theories to explain this “so called Creation”, Kenyon had his process theories, Gordon fee has his theories, D.A Carson has his, and White and Wallace has theirs.

        One of major positions I challenge you and others in this camp on (or school of thought) is did this so called “creation” really happen? Our discussion thus far has been focused on primarily this issue. Let’s be honest Dr. Ehrman, the Achilles heel of this so called “creation theory” is that this camp hasn’t been able to demonstrate it, since the theory made its introduction with Hort in 1881, that what you refer to as the “Byzantine Text” is of secondary origin and was historically created. I kind of refer to these theories as the Immaculate conception theory of the text of Chrysostom, the last 12 verses of Mark, the PA and many other verses.

        For Kurt and Barbara Aland (I’m pretty sure you know who they are Dr Ehrman) are honest enough to admit that they don’t know how it created. For this is what they are saying when they state: “ (…) no adequate history has yet been written of the Byzantine text (…) But this is a task we may well leave to a future generation, or to specialists particularly interested in it today, and consider our own generation fortunate if we can succeed in tracing the history of manuscripts with non-Byzantine texts, and that in its general outlines. Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes, Second ed. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995). 142.

        J.N. Birdsall, isn’t saying anything different from the Aland’s after referring to the work of Lake, Lagrange, Colwell and Streeter and actually says “It is evident that all presuppositions concerning the Byzantine Text or texts, except its inferiority to other types, must be doubted and investigated de novo” J.N. Birdsall, “The Text of the Gospels in Photius,” Journal of Theological Studies, VII (1956), p. 43

        Come on Dr Ehrman, Birdsail is basically saying these theories have no weight to them, but at the same time saying we are not letting go of our conclusions. What Scientist whose hypothesis continues to fail, would still maintain the hypothesis? This is what Burgon meant when he said “They assume everything, they prove nothing.

        So when D.A Carson says “Errors were not added one per generation, generation by generation, but wholesale as it were” I am inclined to ask Caron to, please document when these so called “Errors were added” and “Who” added them and “What Apostolic Church texts did they add it too, and why didn’t anyone notice these whole sale changes that were taking place?

        Or when Dr Gordon fee states “Chrysostom Text is still closer to the ‘majority text’ than it is to any text of the Second or Third Century” Does Dr Fee expect us to believe that he has a full New Testament Text that was used in the second and third century at the Church of Antioch? And I also ask Dr Fee to explain to us who were the people involved in creating this new type of Text and how did they introduce it into the Church of Antioch? Everyone said Chrysostom had great sermons, but no one noticed that his text was different until Griesbach, Hort and Hug, 1400 years after the fact.

        Dr Ehrman, you have to admit I found some pretty interesting quotes.
        These so called creation theories are further complicated when we start discussing the last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark and the Woman in Adultery. When Jerome makes the emprical observation that the PA was found in many Greek and Latin manuscripts, you run into the problem of demonstrating how this passage was added into thousands of Greek, Latin and some Aramaic Texts throughout the Mediterrain prior to Jerome’s Vulgate. By the way, I do thank you for adding in the footnote to Metzgers book saying that Didamus of Alexandria appears to quote it.

        I on the other hand, can provide independent witness testimony from the ancient world on why the PA was taken out. i.e (Augustine, Nikon) –
        So Dr Ehrman, this is where I am comming from – I’ll be waiting for your response

        • Bart
          Bart  August 15, 2017

          I think we would have a better conversation if you would keep your posts short and to the point. I asked you which scholars hold the view you’re attacking, and you’ve cited a number of scholars, none of whom have the view you’re attacking (that there was a conscientious revision of the text that first appeared in Antioch in the fourth century). I’m not sure if you genuinely don’t realize that or not. And it’s not clear to me whether you’ve actually read the books or articles of the scholars you mention. It *sounds* to me, given the way you mention them, that you’ve read *that* they’ve held the views you summarize (that is, that you’ve gotten this information by reading what someone else has said about them ,instead of reading their scholarship itself). Is that the case? Maybe it would help if you would tell me what you’ve actually read for yourself (not summaries of what scholars have said, but what scholarship you’ve actually read), and then I could make some suggestions. If what you’re arguing is that the Byzantine text was actually the original form of the text, then we can talk about that, certainly, since it’s a view that no bona fide textual critic holds, for massively impressive reasons. (And by the way, I don’t know if you *mean* to be insulting, but are you genuinely wondering if I know who Kurt and Barbara Aland are???)

          • Pattycake1974
            Pattycake1974  August 15, 2017

            I probably shouldn’t have gotten involved in this conversation.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 17, 2017

            Ah, but I wasn’t responding to *you*!

  24. Calvinsx76  August 16, 2017

    Thank you for your response Dr Ehrman,

    Well help me understand your views Dr Ehrman, because I am a little confused, not only have I read several of your published works and watched many of your debates, but you have written an excellent Article titled “Do Most Manuscripts Have the Original Text” which is published on your blog that clearly outlines the issues that I have been challenging, Using your Article as reference, let me help clarify for you what positions I have been challenging you on in my posts.

    First, I would like to commend this Article for truley identifying the key issues in the debate:

    Here I have listed several points from your Article – that you identify as the problem
    ⦁ Now in addressing the problem, you identified that of the thousands of New Testament Texts in the Greek that we have available, we have 94% of these manuscripts that are from the 9th century and later, and you also identify a goups of fragments and texts that are dated between 2nd & 4th century.
    ⦁ After grouping these manuscripts you state that ” its the late medieval manuscripts that cohere together, whereas early manuscripts tend to be different, and cohere better with each other than with the later manuscripts.
    ⦁ You then ask an a couple of excellect questions “So which manuscripts contain the original text…the 992 majority or the 8 early? Thats the problem”… If they’re earlier, aren’t they more likely the original?”

    So Dr Ehrman, in my previous post I made the same basic observations when I stated “The underlying issue that my questions are stemming from is this idea that these so called earlier texts of New Testament (i.e. Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, P75, P66, and about 40 or so others) are closer representatives to the texts used by the Independent Greek Apostolic churches prior to the 4th century; and that these so called later texts (which I refer as the textual traditions of the Apostolic Greek, Latin, Churches) are referred to as “secondary” in origin”
    In my response above its clear that I’m challenging your assertion that the “earliest texts are more likely to be the originals”

    In addition, Dr Ehrman, in this same article your raise a question against the Majority Text Position that they “still have to explain why the earliest surviving manuscripts have a TEXT DIFFERENT from the majority text” Why does the DIFFERENT TEXT show up early, and consistently early rather than consistently later?

    It is from this statement in your article that I have continually asked why didn’t anyone notice that a different text was being introduced into the Apostolic Churches, when from the 2nd Century to the 4th Century, changes to the biblical texts were noticed both minor and major. (e.g, Marcion text, Gauis Testimony, Jerome’s Vulgate, Lucans Septuigent)

    So Dr Ehrman, when your asserting that there was a change of the text away from the original, all I have been trying to ask is how was the text created? How did it come into being? Who was involved, what was the process, when and where did it happen, and why did it take over 1400 years for anyone to notice?

    I thought as in expert in this field, you could demonstrate the “Who”, “What”, Where, When, Why and How a specific text at Antioch in 385 A.D preached on by Chrysostom, in which the the non thoroughly redacted text in an non consious way moved away from the original. This is why I quoted Fee (I did personally read his response to Hodges) who stated “CHRYSOSTOM TEXT is still closer to the ‘majority text’ than it is to ANY TEXT OF THE SECOND OR THIRD CENTURY.” This is a very simple question that you seem fain to answer Dr Ehrman.

    Now I agree with you position that there are many fundamentalists who hold the Majority Text Position that use conservative religious presuppositions as an argument; this is a phony argument and cannot be used outside their inner circles, cause your right, its not historical.

    I also agree that simply because the majority of texts supports a common text, it still doesn’t mean it’s the original, for these earlier texts could have been the majority in their day.

    By the way, I wasn’t trying to be insulting regarding my question of knowing Barbara and Aland (I meant to ask if you ever met them?)

    But Dr Ehrman, you have to be historical as well. The quotes by Aland and Birdsall appear to say, they have no idea how the Byzantine text came into being; other than, they don’t like it. You haven’t historically proved that the Apostolic Churches Text did change.

    This is why I challenge you with Jerome’s empirical observation that he found the PA in many Greek and Latin manuscripts, to demonstrate the absurdity of these so called interpolation theories. This is why I used your quote in my introduction to the PA, making the point that even children can realize how silly this sounds

    Now, in my videos, I have challenged these so called earlier texts Dr Ehrman; because they are not what your making them appear to be; You cannot prove that the Texts of Vaticanus and Sinaticus came from the official Greek Apostolic Churches, because the origins and history of these texts are unknown. Please establish the legal chain of custody for these texts back to any Apostolic Greek Church in which they were read. You cannot account for the time from their so called 4th century orgin to when Vaticanus was first categlouged at the Vatican or how Sinaticus showed up at St. Catherines. We don’t know who authored these texts or who had access to them. All we know is that these texts were not the type of texts copied by the official Greek Churches, especially the church of Alexandria which still exists Dr Ehrman.

    Ireneus, Tertullian and the Apostolic Churches used these same line of aruments against Marcions text, whose text was earlier, who said his text was the official writings of Paul. yet Ireneus and Tertullian documented in their writings the objective criteria for what constituted the original text, demonstrating that the apostolic churches can establish a legal chain of custody for their texts, and that the official churches of Paul basically witness against Marcions shorter, yet not better text, therfore ruling out Marcions Text. This is the same criteria we use against these apocrophal texts (Sinaticus, Vaticanus, PS75, PS66 and others) you assert to be closer representations to the original. Dr Hill properly identifed this as Burgeons true argument.

    I’ll be waiting for your response Dr Ehrman

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      The problem is that you’re imagining that we (every modern textual critic who is not a fundamentalist Christian) are saying that there was *one* text for the first four centuries and then a *different* text starting with Chrysostom. That seems completely implausible to you. But it’s not at all what any of us is saying.

  25. Calvinsx76  August 18, 2017

    But Dr Ehrman, you do not even know who wrote the four Gospels, yet almost all the Apostolic Churches came up with the same four Gospels in Greek , Aramaic, Coptic, Vetus Latin, and other ancient languages, and almost all these Apostolic Churches name the same authors that we have today. How was this amazing feat accomplished if you reject the way the Apostolic Churches said it was done (e.g. Irenaeus, Tertullian)

    Maybe, a well educated Greek scribe, who didn’t write in Attic, but used Koine Greek with smatterings of Aramaic jumped onto his magic carpet, used an internet translator to get it into Aramaic, Coptic, Vetus Latin, and other ancient languages while using a Jedi mind trick to convince the independent Apostolic Churches throughout the Mediterranean to accept these 4 while rejecting all the other so called Gospels (E.g, Gospel of Truth, Thomas, Peter, etc..)

    So please bring forth your Ancient witnesses that explain how we got the books of the New Testament.

    Because if you reject what the Apostolic Churches said was untrue, I’m sure there were well educated Greeks, Jews, Romans, Syrians and others, who would have written tomes disproving what the Apostolic Churches said.

    Or are you maintaining that all these people, could only speak Aramaic, and could not read or write?

    My two animations below cover the testimony of the Apostolic Churches from the writings of Irenaeus and Tertullian, on how we got the books of the New Testament and the system used to safeguard the text down through the ages. You wanted to know the scholars I read on the transmission of the New Testament Text, well here they are.

    Video 1: https://youtu.be/3M3nD3FONaw
    Video 2: https://youtu.be/gEfXQzZKQqI

    I’ll be waiting for your response Dr Ehrman

    • Bart
      Bart  August 20, 2017

      I’m not sure what you mean by “apostolic” churches. As opposed to what churches?

      I deal with this question a good bit in a number of my writings, for example Jesus Before the Gospels, and Lost Christianities. Also you will find a number of posts dealing briefly with it from Nov. 14-28, 2014 (just look them up in the archives.)

  26. Calvinsx76  August 22, 2017

    Dr Ehrman, in your last response you stated “I’m not sure what you mean by “apostolic” churches. As opposed to what churches?”

    Well Dr Ehrman, I am glad you asked this question, for such a question can only be answered by one in a position to speak to the criteria and distinction, therefore I defer to Tertullian who in his prescription against the heretics provides the answer to your question when he states”

    “But if there be any heresies which are bold enough to plant themselves in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles… let them unfold the roll of their bishops running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs ]bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,— a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles.

    For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed… let all the heresies when challenged to these two tests by our apostolic church, offer their proof of how they deem themselves to be apostolic.

    Dr Erhman, further on in this same treatise Tertullian challenges these groups to “run over to the apostolic churches; in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read” naming the Apostolic Church of Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonians, Ephesus, and Rome.
    Now Dr Ehrman, when we investigate the texts reads in these Apostolic Churches, which can legally trace back to the Apostles, in almost all cases, we only find these four gospels. What’s even more amazing is in almost all these Apostolic Churches (Independent Witnesses) throughout the Mediterranean, they basically name the same authors for these four texts, for texts that that didn’t have the author’s name of it.

    But when I go to these “Other churches’ which Irenaeus & Tertullian demonstrates cannot establish a legal chain of custody to the apostles” like the Valentians, I find the Gospel of Truth. Now if on the following Sunday, I decide to go to the church of the Marcionites, I’ll only find a redacted text of Luke and ten letters of Paul, that is shorter, but not necessarily better. You even brought up in your blog posts, the gospel of Basilides, so I presume if I went to his congregation, this is the Gospel that I would hear. Do you see the problem Dr Ehrman, all these groups who claim there texts are from the apostles disagree among each other, yet the independent Apostolic churches known to the apostles that can legally establish a chain of custody back to the apostles themselves, basically came up with the same four gospels, naming the same authors – this would be conclusive testimony in any normal court of law.

    Dr Ehrman, pay attention to these next several points; Now when Marcion rejected John’s Apocalypse, Tertullian quickly challenged his assertion by stating “We he have St Johns foster churches, and the order of the bishops thereof, when traced up to their origin, will yet rest on John as their author” Do you see Dr Ehrman how objective that statement is; for Tertullian is not expressing his opinion, but establishes the legal chain of custody for the text of Revelation by appealing to the historical independent Apostolic Foster Churches of St John as testimony.

    A couple of hundred year later, Pope Boniface of Rome, also spoke out against Revelation, but the council of carthage in 419 issued in its cannon 24 a declaration against Bonifice, stating that these texts were ‘RECEIVED’ by the fathers to be read in the churches”….Dr Ehrman, what you seem to not understand, is that for a text of the New Testament to be canonical, it had to be commonly received among the apostolic churches – this is what “Apostolic” and “Catholic” means in the creed (Doesn’t mean Rome)

    Dr Ehrman In contrast, Tertullian demonstrates the opposite for Marcions Gospel by stating “whereas Marcion gospel is not known to most people, and to none whatever is it known without being at the same time condemned. Good bad or indifferent, Marcions biblical text was not commonly received among the official Apostolic Churches of Paul, and it was this criteria that ruled out his biblical text and shorter readings.

    Tertullian then turns back to prove the Gospel Texts which Marcion rejected, as the official writings that have come down from the Apostles when he states “The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to the other gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage— I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew— while that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s whose interpreter Mark was. For even Luke’s form of the Gospel men usually ascribe to Paul” Once again Tertullian appeals to the textual tradition which has come down from the apostles and is guarded by the successions of bishops in the churches, not his own opinion.

    Irenaeus uses these same arguments in defending these same four gospels, who also names these four authors when he states “The tradition of the apostles, made clear in all the world can be clearly seen in every church by those who wish to behold the truth. We can enumerate those who were established by the apostles as bishops in the churches, and their successors down to our time…Not only does Ireneus establish that this was the independent testimony of the Apostolic Churches throughout the Mediterranean, not his opinion, but he establishes the legal chain of custody for these churches and texts back to the apostles.

    I just don’t see how your theories overcome the objective historical evidence of the independent apostolic churches to include the Greek, Aramaic, Coptic, Vetus Latin throughout the Mediterranean and middle east.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 22, 2017

      Please make your posts shorter. Hardly anyone will be reading posts of this length.

      I wasn’t asking for information about Irenaeus and Tertullian. You do know what I do for a living don’t you? 🙂 I’ve been teaching, researching, and writing about Irenaeus and Tertullian for thirty years. I was simply wondering if you have an unreconstructed proto-orthodox understanding of the term “apostolic churches.” As you probably know, the term is normally seen as highly problematic these days. If you don’t know about that scholarly discussion, I’d be happy to provide some bibliography.

  27. Calvinsx76  August 24, 2017

    Dr Ehrman, I agree, your years of studying these fathers have familiarized yourself with their writings, but we still have to deal with their historic arguments, for when you reject their testimony, how else do you explain that most of the Apostolic churches throughout the Mediterranean world came up with the same four Gospels, naming the same authors, and the fourteen letters of Paul, Acts, 1 John, and I Peter except they go back to the Apostles as Ireneus, Tertullian and the Apostolic Churches said they did?

    Not only is the term problematic, but so is the argument, for both the evangelicals and modern textual critics, which I would interpret as they don’t like it, but that type of argument I would call problematic, because instead of dealing with the historical source data, modern textual critics go to theories which originated in the 18th century in Germany, and evangelicals go to their theories of last week.

    Now I do appreciate your time and effort Dr Ehrman in responding to me over these last few weeks; so I shall be making a donation to your blog. I had wanted to see if you were able to refute the central arguments in my videos. I hope you don’t mind, but I feel you failed to do that.

    I love the Postmodernism of Academia

    • Bart
      Bart  August 25, 2017

      I think if you read the scholarship you’ll see that it is not simply a matter of willfully rejecting whatever historical sources happen to say because the scholar doesn’t like it!

      I’m not sure what you mean about postmodernism. The scholars that I’ve been referring to are anything *but* postmodernists!!

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