Do Textual Variants Actually *Matter* For Much??

In light of my previous post, I thought I should address a question I get asked a lot. Or rather, a rhetorical question that I hear posed a lot — especially by evangelical apologists who want to insist that even though there are hundreds of thousands of differences in our manuscripts, none of them really matters for anything that’s important. (This was a perennial objection to my book Misquoting Jesus.)  Is that true?   I dealt with it many years ago ...

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Introduction to the Manuscripts of the New Testament

This now will be the next portion of my longer blog post that will serve as an Introduction to the New Testament.  The previous section was on how the 27 books came to be collected into “the” New Tesatment; this one is on how the books were copied/transmitted over the centuries.

As with the other sections, I’ve made this one pretty short, because I’m trying to be as concise as I can, with links to other blog posts throughout.  I don’t ...

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How Did We Get The 27 Books of the New Testament?

This now is a continuation of my projected longer blog post that will serve as an Introduction to the New Testament (possibly around 5000 – 6000 words or so).  In the first section I discussed the layout and structure of the New Testament; in the second I gave brief descriptions of each of the twenty-seven books.  In this one (spread out over two posts) I deal with the question of how we actually got it: how was it collected together ...

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Startling and Disturbing Development Involving Manuscripts at the Museum of the Bible

There’s been a new and rather astonishing development in the story involving the so-called “First Century Gospel of Mark.”  If you recall, a few years ago some textual scholars began to claim that we now have in our possession the oldest copy of Mark (by a long shot) ever to be discovered.  The existence of the manuscript was first announced in 2012 by Prof. Dan Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary, in a public debate he was having, as it turns ...

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Crazy Things Textual Scholars Say

This post is free and available to anyone who wants to look.  On the Bart Ehrman Blog, there are substantial posts on interesting topics like this five days of the week, going back well over seven years.  If you belonged to the blog, you could get these posts, and access to all the archives.  The membership fee is extremely low, given the value; and every penny goes to charity.  So why not join?

 

It makes sense that scholars of ...

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Did God Want Us To Have His Word?

In my previous post I said that, in my opinion, the best way to approach the “original” text of the New Testament – given the fact that we don’t actually *have* it – is to make a working assumption that we are pretty darn close, in most places, most of the time.   I openly admit, and always have, that this is an *assumption*.  But since it’s one that “works,” well, I think I’ll continue calling it a working assumption!  And ...

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Misconstruing My Words. Can We Know What the Authors of the New Testament Originally Said?

Sometimes people take what I say to an extreme that I don’t mean to convey.  That especially happens when I talk about the textual criticism of the New Testament.   As a reminder, “textual criticism” is a technical term.  It does not refer to the interpretation of texts or to the history behind the composition of texts or to the assessment of the original context of texts or anything like that.  It is used to refer specifically to the attempt to ...

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How Did We Get Chapters and Verses?

Here’s a question I get on occasion, about where the Bible’s chapters and verses came from (did the original authors write that way???).   I’ve drawn my answer from my textbook on the NT, and since the answer is so brief, I’ll attach another couple of paragraphs drawn from a nearby page in the book, dealing with another somewhat related and even more important (for many people) problem: when did scholars start to think that the differences in our manuscripts were ...

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Can We Reconstruct the Entire New Testament from Quotations of the Church Fathers?

I am making this post free to everyone, so that, if you’re not a member of the blog, you can see what you’re missing.  Every week I make five posts on everything connected to the New Testament and  Christianity of the first four centuries.  Members can read it all, for a small fee.  Every penny of the fee goes to support worthy charities. So why not join?

QUESTION:

Recently you mentioned that your early work involved analysing patristic citations of ...

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Scribes Who Changed Their Texts on Purpose

I’ve been browsing through some old posts and came upon this one from years ago, about this time.   It’s an interesting topic that people on the blog frequently ask me about:  did scribes really change the texts of the NT on purpose, and how can we know?    The answers are simply: almost certainly yes and it’s difficult!

Here’s an example I talked about back then, one of the most intriguing instances in the Gospel of Mark, where the ...

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