The goal of my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture was to show all the places that I could find of where early Christian scribes modified their texts of the New Testament in order to make them more amenable to their own (the scribes’ own) polemical purposes, particularly with respect to the Christological debates they were involved with. I will describe these second and third century debates in subsequent posts. (Recall: there are very good reasons for thinking that the vast majority of “intentional” changes in the text of the NT were made already by around the year 300 CE – so it is debates in this earlier period that really matter for understanding textual changes.)
In my previous post I indicated how I went about finding the data: I carefully combed through our most exhaustive textual apparatuses verse by verse, throughout the entire New Testament, examining every textual variant that is noted in them – many thousands indeed! – and looking to see which ones were closely, relatively closely, or distantly tied to Christological issues. I found hundreds of possible variants, and then had to narrow down the field to the ones that I thought I could plausibly argue were in fact variants that had been generated because of disagreements over Christology (as opposed to other causes.) I ended up with over a hundred instances, and my book discusses all of these, some at great length and some very briefly, depending on how significant in various ways: to the history of the textual tradition of the New Testament; to the understanding of early Christological debates; to the meaning of the passages in which they were found; etc.
Some of these variants, I ended up arguing (I will be giving examples in later posts), were created by scribes in order to “correct” a possible misreading of a text. That is, if a text was susceptible to an interpretation that a scribe found “heretical,” then sometimes (not always) he would change it to make it more plainly support the view that he had. In other variants a scribe changed a text that was relatively inoffensive theologically in order to make it more strongly support his Christological understanding.
One thing to stress is that after doing all the research, I could find *no* evidence
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