When I finished my dissertation on a technical area within textual criticism – it was an analysis of the quotations of the Gospels in the writings of the fourth-century church father Didymus the Blind, in an attempt to demonstrate what the manuscripts at his disposal in Alexandria Egypt must have been like – I very much wanted to continue to work in the field of textual criticism, but I wanted to do some research that had some broader applicability and wider interest to scholars who were not purely technicians in this one rather arcane subdiscipline within New Testament studies.
I had always been especially interested in the detective work involved in solving textual problems in the New Testament. Where there are important passages that have important variants among the various manuscripts, how do you decide which variants are “original”? I’ve always loved that kind of problem, maybe because I’ve always been such an inveterate debater, and arguing for a plausible solution to a textual conundrum involves, virtually every time, mounting a convincing argument in the face of other options taken by other scholars.
What I realized in thinking about the next project was that a number of the textual variations that I found to be really important involved issues connected to understandings of Christology – the Christian understandings of who Christ was. I’ve mentioned one such variant at length on the blog, the so-called “bloody sweat” in Luke’s Gospel, where Jesus is portrayed as very human indeed, in two verses that were (in my judgment) probably not originally in the Gospel, but were added by later scribes.
After some intensive thought, I realized there were other variants that were also concerned with showing who Christ really was. And I started wondering: how many such variants *are* there exactly? I had no idea. And neither had anyone else. So I decided to try to find out. This was the beginning of my work that eventuated in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.
How does one go about acquiring such information? You can’t…
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