I’m getting back now, with this post, to the thread that I started a full month ago in response to a question a member of the blog had related to the field about one of my books that deals with the textual criticism of the New Testament. Just to bring us all back up to speed, I will here repeat the question and briefly summarize what I have covered so far.
Dr. Ehrman, I do not know if others would find this interesting, but I would love to know how you developed the idea for The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. How did you go about researching it? How long did it take? Is it a once in a lifetime work?
To start with, I have devoted a number of posts to unpacking what the title of my actually means. First, in several posts, I’ve explained what the term “orthodoxy” means to scholars of early Christianity, and what it doesn’t mean. To sum up as succinctly as I can (for fuller exposition and rationale, see the posts): for the purposes of my study “orthodoxy” does not refer the theological views that were “right,”, but to the views that the majority of church leaders came to agree were right.
Then I devoted several posts to the general question of what it is that textual criticism does – namely, that it tries to reconstruct what the authors of the NT actually wrote, given the circumstance that we do not have their original writings but only later copies, many thousands of copies, all of which have mistakes in them, hundreds of thousands of mistakes altogether.
When I broke off the thread to deal with a recent news item, I was in the midst of discussing the kinds of mistakes one finds in our manuscripts. Some of them are simply accidental, slips of the pen by scribes, who were possibly unskilled, or incompetent, or sleepy, or distracted, or otherwise inattentive. I pointed out that it is very difficult indeed – impossible, probably – to know for *sure* if any change is simply the result of accident, but in lots of cases we can get pretty close to absolute certainty. If a scribe leaves out a line or even a word necessary to the sense, he surely didn’t intend to do that. Or so it would seem.
In my book Orthodox Corruption, I don’t …
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