In the last couple of posts I have talked about the basic thesis that lay behind my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. After doing my dissertation I became interested in seeing how theological disputes in early Christianity may have affected the scribes who were copying the texts that later came to be collected into the canon of the New Testament. Rarely had a study of this sort been pursued before, and never thoroughly and rigorously.
Here let me provide a bit more background. First, for reasons I have stated earlier in this very-long thread, there is a broad consensus among textual scholars that the vast majority of textual variants found in all of our manuscripts down to the invention of printing (and beyond!) were probably generated in the first 200 years of copying. This has to do with the phenomenon that I have earlier called “the tenacity of the tradition.”
If you recall, this is the phenomenon that later scribes appear not to introduced new readings into the tradition (at least not very often at *all*, except by simple mistakes); invariably, if they changed the text it was a change that had already been made before, and most of the time it was probably because they were familiar with the alternative form of the text from having read it someplace.
In my earlier discussion of the phenomenon, I tried to show why, in my judgment, the “tenacity” of the tradition does not, decidedly does NOT, show that we necessarily have the original text in every place, at least *somewhere* in the textual tradition. That is frequently argued by conservative Christian scholars, but I showed why the evidence does not support that conclusion. What it does support is this: even if we have textual variants found only in later manuscripts (for example, from the seventh to the twelfth century), these variants in all likelihood originated earlier — most likely during the first couple of centuries of textual reproduction.
The evidence for that is…
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