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Interpolations and Textual Corruptions: The Blurry Lines

After the past two posts, I am now in a position to answer the question that led to this brief hiatus in my discussion of the afterlife, involving the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke.  To refresh your memory, here is the question:

 

QUESTION:

If, in your suspicion, the original Gospel of Luke began at 3:1 and the infancy narrative found in 1:5-2:52 is a later addition, do you think that should be indicated in NT reconstructions and translations in a way similar to how Mark 16:9-20 is often bracketed?

 

RESPONSE:

Different scholars will have different opinions on this question, in no small measure because the majority of scholars (I would imagine) are reluctant to say that Luke 1-2 were originally lacking from the Gospel.   But suppose the majority were convinced?   Would they say that brackets should be placed around the story, as happens, typically, with passages otherwise recognized as probably not belonging in the New Testament, such as the ending of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16:9-20) or the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) or the passage that affirms the doctrine of the Trinity in 1 John, called the “Johannine comma” (1 John 5:7-8)?

I think the answer is almost certainly “no,” and for a technical but important reason that involves the difference between two widely recognized phenomena whose technical names are “textual corruption” and “interpolation.”

These are two different phenomena, and even though the boundaries between them can be blurred and blurry at times, it is important (in most scholars’ views) to keep them distinct in one’s mind.

A textual corruption is …

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A Resurrection for Tortured Jews (2 Maccabees)
Is There Evidence that Luke Originally Did Not Have the Story of Jesus Birth?

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Comments

  1. Silver  August 15, 2017

    Please can you give an example in the NT where a majority of scholars believe that ALL our surviving manuscripts have the wrong wording? Have you written something elsewhere which I can read to see how such a determination was arrived at?

  2. Lev
    Lev  August 15, 2017

    Hi Bart,

    I appreciate the distinction you make of corruptions vs interpolations based on manuscript evidence. However, would external evidence make any difference to the classification of a contested text?

    For example, say a reliable document was found that explained how the Roman church in the early 2nd century “discovered” the tradition of the virgin birth of Jesus, and had it added into the gospels of Matthew and Luke in the 120s.

    Would such external evidence add weight to those texts being classified as corruptions, rather than interpolations, on the basis they would qualify as “A textual corruption is the alteration of a text made by a scribe after the book was put into circulation in its “final” form by an author or an editor”?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Yes, such a discovery would lend credibility to the argument that the passage was in fact an interpolation.

      • Lev
        Lev  August 17, 2017

        I may have found a document that does say this – I’ve emailed you about it if you’re interested in following it up.

  3. Robert  August 15, 2017

    The origin of Marcion’s version of the gospel of Luke is the real question here. Even if one accepts the proto-orthodox accusation that Marcion deleted sections of the gospel, one must wonder how he ever expected to get away with such editorial hubris and still maintain a strong following. Perhaps there were already some who knew of an earlier version of Luke’s gospel. Pure speculation, of course, but one has to wonder.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Part of it (not all of it) is that there simply weren’t thousands (millions) of copies of Luke floating around in printed versions that anyone could consult at the time. All manuscripts had differences in them, and he argued that the surviving manuscripts were simply wrong to include what we now think of as chs. 1-2.

  4. twiskus  August 15, 2017

    Would the case of Josephus’ writing indicating the divinity of Jesus be a solid example of an interpolation? The rule of interpolation would indicate that all copies we have available of his passage read the same (advancing what the Christians were saying about Jesus), but to scholars not make much sense based on what else we know about Josephus, therefore leading to the conclusion it is an interpolation, correct?

  5. godspell  August 15, 2017

    A much more contemporary example:

    One of my favorite novels is The Plague Dogs, by Richard Adams, author of the somewhat better known Watership Down. This one’s about two dogs (who, as in Adams’ earlier novel about rabbits, are fully sentient animals with their own language) fleeing a medical laboratory, and having a rather harrowing adventure in the English lake country. They are being pursued by the authorities, because the lab had samples of bubonic plague, and it’s considered possible they are plague carriers, though in fact they are not.

    So in Adams’ original manuscript, the dogs, harassed and persecuted on all sides, are last seen swimming out to sea, almost certainly to drown.

    Adams’ young daughters read the manuscript, and hated the ending. Watership Down had grown from stories he’d told him about rabbits trying to found a new warren, and their opinion meant much to him.

    He came to agree that his original ending was too harsh, too abrupt, and too much for his readership to accept–so before the book got to stores, he wrote a new ending–but he did not rewrite anything that came before.

    The dogs still swim out to sea, the chapter still ends the same way it did when it was the final chapter in the book, but we find out what happened to them. I won’t give it away. I consider it one of the most brilliant ‘interpolations’ in modern literature, just a marvelous conceit, that breaks the third wall, lets we the readers intercede, as we so often yearn to do. John Gay would have approved.

    That’s how it was published, and there may for all I know be a few copies printed in advance that only have the original ending (the animated film based on the novel has the original ending).

    So if you were doing some scholarly edition of this book, far in the future, perhaps as a way of illustrating 20th century views on animal rights and the ethics of laboratory experiments on animals, would you publish it with brackets around the chapters Adams added at the urging of his girls? I really don’t think that would be at all appropriate. You would certainly tell people how these additional chapters came to be written, it has certainly never been any secret that they were not originally in the book.

    However, if the edition was published far in the future, it’s possible that this information would have been lost in the fog of time.

    Did Luke change his mind? Did he begin as an adoptionist, following Mark’s lead, then become attracted to different ideas in this very diverse religious community? And instead of entirely rewriting his gospel, simply added chapters that would change the tenor and meaning of the book in many important ways, without necessarily altering the previously written text?

    Or did somebody else do it?

    Brackets won’t tell us any of that.

  6. John Uzoigwe  August 15, 2017

    In the Gospel of Mathew chp13 the scriptures says that the hometown people of Jesus were offended by his strange teachings saying, “…is this not the carpenter’s son and his mother Mary…” Dr Bart, Is this not an indication that the outrageous infant narratives of Jesus was not known to his own people (who i suppose to have strong believe in him as special son of God and not be surprised by his teachings since they would have been used to it) But this narratives in the gospel mathew 13 shows that Jesus was not accorded any form of uniqueness until he probably began his ministry.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Yes, the point of the passage (well, one of its points) is that Jesus’ townspeople did not understand who he really was (and therefore how he came into the world)

  7. jhague  August 15, 2017

    So not even a footnote to let the read know that it is a possible interpolation? Would this cause there be too many footnotes in the Bible?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      If every proposed interpolation were footnoted, then yes — it would be a *lot*.

  8. cheito
    cheito  August 15, 2017

    DR Ehrman:

    Your Comment:

    Different scholars will have different opinions on this question, in no small measure because the majority of scholars (I would imagine) are reluctant to say that Luke 1-2 were originally lacking from the Gospel.

    My Questions:

    If Luke chapters 1 and 2 were not part of the original Gospel, do you think Luke 1:1-4 was also not part of the original Gospel?

    In Luke 1:1-4, the author identifies the person to whom he’s writing the book, ( i.e., Theophilus.)

    If Luke 1:1-4 was not originally part of Luke’s Gospel, how would we know who the author of Luke is composing the book for?

    Also in the beginning of acts, the author reminds Theophilus of the previous account written to him, (presumably the Gospel of Luke), therefore wouldn’t Luke 1:1-4 most likely had to be part of Luke’s original Gospel?

    DR Ehrman, do you think that instead of Luke beginning at 3:1, it actually began at Luke 1:1-4 and then skipped to Luke 3:1; and that Luke chapter 1:5 through Luke chapter 2:52 was added?

    Personally I suspect that the genealogy of Jesus, (Luke 3:23-28) was added at some point after Theophilus’ died and before it was handed over to the early church fathers and circulated. I suspect The original Gospel was from Luke chapter 1 through Luke chapter 3:22, and then it continues in Luke 4:1.

    The reason for my suspicion is that the genealogy of Jesus doesn’t make sense if the narrative of Luke’s virgin birth is original. If Jesus was conceived in Miriam’s womb by a supernatural act of God’s spirit, then tracing Jesus bloodline through Joseph doesn’t make any sense.

    I’m not saying that I believe Jesus was born of a virgin as Luke records, I’m saying that either the genealogy of Jesus in Luke is original, or the story of the virgin birth is original. Both reports, in my estimation, can’t be original. However, although I’m not sure if I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, I do favor the virgin birth story in the Gospel of Luke.

    Note; I believe Jesus was was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, as Paul states in Romans 1:3, and I believe that His resurrection from the dead was the proof that He, Jesus, was the son of God, as Paul records in Romans 1:4. (Again, I’m not certain that Jesus was born of a virgin. Paul doesn’t mention anything about Jesus being born of a virgin. Paul simply states that Jesus was born of a descendant of David. Period. I think, most likely, Jesus was born like all of us are born; through a father and mother. However, this doesn’t change my faith in that He existed before he was born. God testifies in Jeremiah 1:5, that He knew Jeremiah before He formed him in the womb. And John the Baptist, declares in John 1:5, that Jesus had a higher rank than him, because He, Jesus, existed before him. Also in one of the undisputed letters of Paul, Philippians 2:6 Paul states that Jesus existed in the form of God. (Of course Paul means before Jesus was born of a descendant of David, He existed in the form of God)

    More related questions:

    If the Gospel of Luke was written specifically for Theophilus, as recorded in Luke 1:3, How long did Theophilus have possession of the book?

    Did Theophilus himself, in his will, requested the Gospel be donated to the church authorities after he died?

    How did the Gospel of Luke get into the hands of the early church fathers?

    Was the the Gospel of Luke copied before being handed over to the early church authorities?

    Could the Gospel of Luke have been copied and changed before being circulated?

    _______________________

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      No, my sense is that 1:1-4 was the original preface, whether or not the rest of ch. 1 and ch. 2 were original

  9. CharlesM  August 15, 2017

    Good read, thank you. 🙂

  10. RonaldTaska  August 15, 2017

    I did not know the difference between corruptions and interpolations. Thanks for explaining it.

  11. RonaldTaska  August 15, 2017

    So, your opinion is that the first two chapters of LUKE were added very soon during the initial editing of the book and, hence, this was not a “corruption”?.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      It was added, I think, before the text had reached the state that came to be copied in they ancestors of all the copies we now have, so yes, very early in the game.

  12. wannes  August 15, 2017

    Is there any internal evidence in chapters 1-2 (e.g. stylistic, grammatical, vocabulary) that suggests that these chapters might be written by someone else?

    And a second question: if the chapters are interpolations, could one then not expect that the author/editor adapted the transition to be more smooth/logical?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      The style is much more like that of the Greek Old Testament than the rest of Luke.

  13. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  August 15, 2017

    I’m sitting here with Orthodox Corruption flipping through the pages and thinking about how you said it doesn’t even include interpolations. It’s not as if this book is a pamphlet. It’s over 350 pages long, so I don’t see how it can be said that 97% of the NT is preserved. Where is that percentage coming from?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Someone made the number up, out of thin air. And note, I was only dealing with variations that had been (or could have been) made in light of just one particular theological controversy. There are scads more variations than the ones I dealt with.

    • Tony  August 17, 2017

      Your comment: “I don’t think Paul represented the earliest theological view for Jesus even though his letters are before the gospels.”

      What source are you referring to?

      • Jim Cherry  August 20, 2017

        I assume Bart is referring to the earliest phase of Christianity, of “Jesus before the Gospels” the variety of oral traditions that became the diversity of early Christianity, such as Ebionites, etc.

  14. Seeker1952  August 15, 2017

    Could something that looks like an interpolation sometimes actually be the result of the original author “cutting and pasting” together material from multiple sources? For example, maybe the source for the birth narrative was different from the source of the subsequent material, thus creating a “seam” between the two.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Yes, that’s possible too. That’s why one has to make an argument that a passage was not an original part of the author’s work, but a *later* addition to it.

  15. Seeker1952  August 15, 2017

    I wonder if there was ever a “first edition” of a gospel that’s close to what we mean by first edition. Maybe a gospel came out in installments. Maybe when the author put together all the installments he edited that material, eg, to correct mistakes, clarify things, make the narrative flow better etc. Maybe an individual gospel had multiple and near-simultaneous authors. One author finished his work and then another, based on a prior agreement, put it into the final form and/or made significant changes. Maybe the first “published” copy of a gospel contained mistakes corrected by the first copyist and the author somehow ratified those changes. Maybe the original author himself published multiple editions and, in the author’s view, the later editions were better and more accurate.

    • Seeker1952  August 15, 2017

      Or for example, maybe a later author added the birth narrative but saw himself more as “assembling” a new gospel from disparate sources than as revising the original gospel. So which is the “original” gospel?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Yup, could be!

  16. Hume  August 15, 2017

    I’m currently in Jerusalem, and just had a tour through the Old City and Mount of Olives! Any recommendations Bart?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      One very strong recommendation: enjoy! It’s an amazing place, on lots of levels and for all sorts of reasons.

      • Judith  August 17, 2017

        What a dream of a trip that would be, Dr. Ehrman, to go there with a group headed up by you.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 18, 2017

          Yes, we had a lovely trip there (Sarah and I) with a group mainly of UNC alumni three or four years ago. My first was back in 1993.

  17. anthonygale  August 15, 2017

    If Luke or an editor added the first two chapters at a later date, that raises the question: why did they do that? Why add a birth narrative later if you didn’t think it important to include one in the first place? Addressing questions that arose? Acquiring more material over time, either oral or written, and wanting to include it? In some cases, perhaps even to counter competing traditions? I know that the majority opinion is that Matthew and Luke didn’t know each other, but they tell so many of the same types of stories that differ in significant detail. For example: birth narratives, genealogies, and the death of Judas (if you include Acts). Do you think there was some element of knowing what other people were saying and reacting to it? I am asking broadly regarding this topic, not just in regards to Luke and Matthew.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Yup, possibly for one or all of those reasons! But as to the broad similarities: my sense is that if you write about someone’s life, it makes sense to have something on his birth, lineage, great deeds, best sayings, and death. And it is indeed important to note that many of the details of one are often not found in the other (e.g., the wise men, the Sermon on the Mount and, yes, the death of Judas!)

      • SidDhartha1953  August 17, 2017

        It makes sense, but half the canonical gospels don’t do it. John’s reason for not including a birth narrative is clear. Did Mark likely skip over that because he didn’t want to make a big deal about Jesus being born in Nazareth and it didn’t occur to him to concoct a Bethlehem birth? Is there any speculation that Mark was composed at a time when the Baptist movement was competing with the Jesus movement, so he focuses on how Jesus is the rightful heir to John’s prophetic ministry?

        • Bart
          Bart  August 18, 2017

          We don’t now why Mark left out a birth narrative. Possibly he had never heard one.

          • anthonygale  August 19, 2017

            I wonder if Mark even thought a birth narrative was important. Perhaps it isnt there because he didnt care. Then again, some people think his ending was truncated so maybe they cut the beginning to. That makes me wonder, since we have several books in fragments, what would the early church fathers have done if they had a fragmented book? Publish it as is? Cut off the rough edges? Patch it up? Is that even an issue that came up? Could a justification for an addition to a gospel be the “discovery” of a missing fragment?

          • Bart
            Bart  August 20, 2017

            We have copies of fragments (that is, the copyist had only a fragment of the book, and copied it) from Christian antiquity.

  18. JoeWallack  August 15, 2017

    “BUT: back to the question. Suppose Luke 1-2 is an interpolation. Should they be bracketed, like Mark 16:9-20, John 7:53-8:11; or 1 John 5:7-8? My view is decidedly NO. These other passages are textual corruptions: there are manuscripts that lack the passages. Not so with Luke 1-2. Brackets, in my opinion, should indicate passages that are highly dubious based on a study of the manuscripts, i.e., textual corruptions, not passages that scholars have argued are interpolations.”

    The Difficult Reading Principle tells us that there is an inverse relationship between Manuscript support and level of difficulty. I currently rate Mark 1:41 “angry” as the most difficult reading which only has one Greek Manuscript for support. I would rate the absence of Luke 1 and 2 exponentially more difficult (quantity = 2 chapters & quality = virgin birth) so it is a short Puttristic to no Manuscript support. Marcion lacking 1 & 2 is weightier external evidence than Bezae and some early Latin for “angry” as Marcion represents an entire Textual tradition. Marcion is also supported by the base for Marcion and GLuke, GMark, which not only lacked a birth/genealogy but has Jesus appear out of nowhere like a Higher Plane Drifter. In addition to Marcion you also have support from Tatian whose Diatessaron lacked genealogies. The missing portions of the papyri are also suspicious. Regarding the Internal evidence you have likewise torn GLuke apart so to speak noting that GLuke post Chapter 2 seems largely unaware of Chapters 1 and 2. Seems strange/bizarre/macabre that an original author would add two entire chapters but than be afraid to make any other edit in the remaining 22 Chapters and Acts. All this being said the evidence for omission of Chapters 1 and 2 is comparable to the evidence for “angry” for 1:41. At the very least, the critical apparatus should note a textual variant here, and you are just the guy to do it.

    http://skepticaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/

  19. Tony  August 15, 2017

    I’m not sure how the biblical mistranslation of the word Stauros or the verb Stauroo should be academically labelled. The closest I get is “homonym” – but I’m open to correction. The word Stauros means upright pole or stake. It does not mean cross or crucify as consistently stated in the NT.

    The first to mention stauros is Paul. Paul and his followers would have been amazed to discover that Paul’s Jesus was killed by the Romans, on a cross in Jerusalem – twenty years earlier! Paul, of course, says no such thing. Nevertheless, the NT translates Paul’s stauros into cross and crucify. The gospel influenced reader will naturally assume Paul wrote about the Roman cross as per the gospels.

    Even the Gospels get it wrong. The Romans had upright poles at designated execution grounds. The convict carried the cross beam only, which was put on top of the upright pole (this results in a T). More likely, the convict was nailed directly to the pole.

    The cross decorating Christian churches is a Pagan symbol introduced at the time of Constantine or later.

    http://tyndalearchive.com/scriptures/www.innvista.com/scriptures/compare/heathenb.htm

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      What makes you think that that is the meaning of stauros?

      • Tony  August 17, 2017

        What makes you think it is not?

        My point is that Paul’s use of stauros or xylon does not refer to a Roman execution on “a cross”. Paul’s Christ is hanged from a tree in Gal 3:13, and that’s not an analogy for having been hanged on a cross in Jerusalem.

        Even Luke, reading Galatians, got confused: Acts 5:30 and 13:29.

        The Vulgate introduced cruz for stauros – and it stuck!

        • Bart
          Bart  August 18, 2017

          One reason for thinking not is that ancient authors such as Justin Martyr — who certainly knew what Roman crucifixion was all about! (he lived in Rome) — describe the stauros as being in the shape of the mast of a ship or of a person standing with outstretched arms, that is, in the shape of a capital T. I don’t know what the counter evidence is.

          • Tony  August 18, 2017

            The word stauros could describe several applications and Justin’s description is consistent with the Roman method. My original comment was: “The Romans had upright poles at designated execution grounds. The convict carried the cross beam only, which was put on top of the upright pole (this results in a T).”

            We differ on the notion that Paul’s use of the word stauros has the same meaning as in the gospels. Paul never writes a word about a Roman crucifixion in Jerusalem. Paul’s celestial Jesus was hanged from a tree, but not on earth…

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  August 17, 2017

      I don’t think Paul represented the earliest theological view for Jesus even though his letters are before the gospels.

      • Tony  August 19, 2017

        Your comment: “Paul was aware of contrasting teachings that contradicted his own because he warned the Galatians about it. After reading Steve Mason’s (a Josephan scholar) book, I think the James passage is authentic. Carrier includes the passage in his book, but the translation he uses is different than how Mason translates the passage. (Where did Carrier get that particular translation?) According to Mason, the passage indicates there was a previous reference to Jesus and that’s true although that one is controversial among scholars.”-*
        ————————————————————————————————-
        Paul’s religion was based on individual visions and scripture interpretation – not on anybody who lived and died on earth. As we know, visions and scripture interpretations are inconsistent. There appears to have been roaming Jesus preachers with conflicting views in Paul’s time. No big surprise – we still have them.

        Carrier references Mason, but in relationship to the dating of Luke-Acts. Mason, like others, finds that Luke knows of Josephus’ work. That means Luke dates post mid-90’s. I assume Mason, like others, identifies the TF as an interpolation, likely by Eusebius.
        Origen (~185-254), never quotes the James passage, and Origen would have – it establishes that the referenced Jesus was, in fact the one “who was called Christ”. The first to quote the James passage is Eusebius. It looks like “who was called Christ” is the result of a Christian scribe’s marginal note accidentally incorporated into the text, sometime in the late third century.

      • Tony  August 19, 2017

        I went to an on-line Josephus translation. Someone named Ananus was appointed to high priest: …”and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned”

        Josephus would have explained the meaning of “Christ” to his Roman audience, but he does not because he did not write it. Two sentences later Josephus identifies Jesus, who’s brother James was unjustly executed, as the son of Damneus. This Jesus was then appointed to the just vacated high priest position:

        “Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”

        So, different Jesus. Too bad you tossed Carrier, cause he explains it well.

        • Pattycake1974
          Pattycake1974  August 28, 2017

          Mason was kind enough to answer my questions about the James passage, but they’re all pretty lengthy. If you’re interested in his replies, I can email them. My email address is patty_floyd@yahoo.com

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  August 18, 2017

      Paul was aware of contrasting teachings that contradicted his own because he warned the Galatians about it. After reading Steve Mason’s (a Josephan scholar) book, I think the James passage is authentic. Carrier includes the passage in his book, but the translation he uses is different than how Mason translates the passage. (Where did Carrier get that particular translation?) According to Mason, the passage indicates there was a previous reference to Jesus and that’s true although that one is controversial among scholars.

      Whatever stance is taken, it’s problematic either way. But considering how the gospel writers seemed to know Jesus was from Nazareth and the convoluted ways they went about explaining his place of origin, I don’t see how there wasn’t a real person there.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  August 19, 2017

      Mason gives a strong argument for the connection between Luke-Acts and Josephus. He also believes Origen knew about the James passage. On pg. 14 of Josephus and the NT he writes, “In any case, Origen himself pointedly disagrees with Josephus. He criticizes the Jewish historian for not realizing that it was the Jewish role in Jesus’ death, not that of James, that brought about the ‘annihilation’ (as he says) of the Jewish people: ‘If, therefore, he says that the destruction of Jerusalem happened because of James, would it not be more reasonable to say that this happened on account of Jesus the Christ?’ (Cels. 1.47)”

      In the James passage, Mason’s translation says “Ananus convened a council of judges and hauled before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ a man by the name of Yakob [=James] and some others.” (pg.239)

      I do remember Carrier saying that the Christ reference was an accidental insertion, but did he get that from an actual manuscript or is it speculation? (I don’t have Carrier’s book anymore. Got rid of it back in January, so I don’t remember everything he said about it.)

  20. Steefen  August 15, 2017

    Hi Sir / Professor, etc.

    Sorry to ask you this. How might your book The Triumph of Christianity differ from a book by Larry Hurtado, a New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity and Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

    His 2016 book is Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World. April DeConick of Rice University read his book. Paula Fredriksen of Hebrew Univ. read his book.

    Hurtado wrote a book Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark. I don’t recall you mentioning a Codex W. What is that?

    Wait a second, and this is scary. He wrote a book How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? That sounds familiar.

    Looking forward to your replies.
    Steefen
    All I was doing was buying some books (after 10 pm) on amazon and amazon referred some books of interest. Again, sorry, apologize …

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Yes, a number of our books are on very similar topics! We tend to be interested in similar things (we both did dissertations in textual criticism, involving the classification of Greek manuscripts). I think if you read our two treatments of the same subject, you will see that our books are very different indeed! And every reader will have her or his preferences between them!

      • Steefen  August 17, 2017

        Thank you professor in my country.

        As for Codex Washington-ianus/ensis, it’s not that big of deal?

        When I looked it up, I found something maybe you can comment on:

        “Like in Codex Bezae the Gospels follow in Western order: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark.”

        Western order? I do not recall you telling us about that. That sounds a bit interesting.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 18, 2017

          Yes, it’s a major, important manuscript. And yes, the Gospels were given in different orders in different mss.

  21. fishician  August 15, 2017

    Do you think the parables in Luke that are missing from the other Gospels go back to Jesus, or are they just inventions (interpolations?) by the sources Luke happened to draw upon that the others did not? (Just signed up for your UNC seminar next month!)

  22. DestinationReign
    DestinationReign  August 16, 2017

    Very informative and nicely explained.

  23. SidDhartha1953  August 16, 2017

    Do you know of any case where an interpolation has become a corruption, i.e. a part of the text that many scholars believed was not “original,” but was not missing from any of the known mss, was found to be missing from a subsequently discovered ms?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Ah, I don’t off hand, but that would be a very interesting thing to know! I’ll see if I can find out.

  24. SidDhartha1953  August 16, 2017

    Does the NT contain any reference to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE? I just read an article (http://www.ranker.com/list/facts-about-pompeii/theodoros-karasavvas?ref=mshare&source=fbshare& ) and Pliny the Younger’s eyewitness description in a letter to Tacitus is remarkably similar to some popular conceptions of the end of the world.

  25. JamesSnappJr  August 17, 2017

    That seems like a novel redefinition of the term “interpolation.” If an interpolation is “an addition to the text that was made at some point before the final published form of the text that lies behind all our surviving manuscripts came to be put in circulation,” it could be argued that interpolations are original factors in the text — it’s just that the original text is the work of more than one author. Anyway, “interpolations” in textual criticism are secondary, as in, post-production insertions. I’m not convinced that the term should be applied to any goings-on during the text’s production. (I.e., it’s more appropriate for lower criticism than for higher criticism. Maybe “expansion” or “supplement” would be better.)

    I don’t grant that Mark 16:9-20 or John 7:53-8:11 is not part of the original text — though, if I were to adopt your definition, I would say that Mark 16:9-20 was an “interpolation,” a previously freestanding composition attached by Mark’s colleagues to conclude his otherwise unfinished narrative — attached /before/ the Gospel of Mark began to be distributed for church-use. But, setting that matter aside, inasmuch as activities such as proof-reading can be done on a text prior to the end of its production-stage and the commencement of its transmission-stage, then so can supplementation, even two chapters’ worth. So, yes, whatever one might imagine about Luke 1-2, unless one has manuscript-evidence at hand, it would be reckless to bracket it, just as (or much more so than) it would be reckless to bracket John 21.

    I add, en passant, that it may misimpress to lump together Mark 16:9-20, John 7:53-8:11, and 1 John 5:7-8 as if they are in the same class. Mark 16:9-20 is in almost all Greek MSS and has second-century support and broad patristic citation. John 7:53-8:11 is supported by 85% of the Greek MSS and — if Hugh Houghton’s observation about the Old Latin chapter-descriptions stands — evidence from the 200’s, and Maurice Robinson has argued that the PA was lost due to a quirk in an early lection-cycle. The Comma Johanneum, meanwhile, has pitiably scarce Greek support, and its Greek forms are derived from Latin ones.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2017

      Yes, absolutely right! I lump the three together simply because there really is not much debate about the three except on the margins of critical scholarship. But far less about 1 John 5:7-8 than the PA or, esp., Mark 16.

      • SidDhartha1953  August 17, 2017

        What is the PA?

        • Bart
          Bart  August 18, 2017

          The Pericope Adulterae — the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery in John 7:53-8:11.

  26. JoeWallack  August 17, 2017

    “I add, en passant, that it may misimpress to lump together Mark 16:9-20, John 7:53-8:11, and 1 John 5:7-8 as if they are in the same class. Mark 16:9-20 is in almost all Greek MSS and has second-century support and broad patristic citation. John 7:53-8:11 is supported by 85% of the Greek MSS and — if Hugh Houghton’s observation about the Old Latin chapter-descriptions stands — evidence from the 200’s, and Maurice Robinson has argued that the PA was lost due to a quirk in an early lection-cycle. The Comma Johanneum, meanwhile, has pitiably scarce Greek support, and its Greek forms are derived from Latin ones.”

    An important part of The Difficult Reading Principle is the relationship between the degree of difficulty and the likelihood of an intentional verses unintentional explanation. The more difficult the reading, the more likely the explanation (for the orthodox reading) is intentional. All of the above are prime examples. A good illustration is Mark 1:1 [son of God]. The reason for intentional addition addition [since the word is “addition”, is the addition intentional?] by the orthodox is very good. The unintentional defense that a native Greek speaker (who probably spoke nothing else) would have lost their place in the NS at the start of GMark is very bad.

    http://skepticaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/

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