Is the Qur’an More Reliable than the New Testament?

I often get asked questions about the Qur’an, and I almost always do not answer them, most because I can’t answer them.   I’m not an expert on the Qur’an, and tend to talk only about things I have done serious and sustained research on.  Otherwise I’m just spreading stuff I’ve heard, and I’m no more authoritative on that than anyone else.  So what’s the point of my talking about it?

But one question that I get frequently, especially from Muslim readers, ...

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Is There a Way to Know if a Manuscript is the “Original”?

In response to the recent flurry of posts on the question of a “first-century Mark,” I have received a very interesting question: suppose there *were* a first-century Mark that was discovered (hey, it’s possible!  And we’re holding our breaths – what an amazing find it would be)..  Would there be a way of showing it was the actual original Mark, the one the author himself wrote with his own hand?

I was asked this question on the blog seven years ago, ...

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Flat-out Lies or Willful Ignorance. How Do They Get Away With It?

Sometimes it’s enough to make my blood boil.  Maybe someone can explain it to me.

If you were to interview the 7,346,235,000 occupants of this planet, you would find *no* group of people who declare themselves MORE committed to “truth” than the evangelical Christians.  Evangelical Christianity, historically, is about nothing other than the Truth.   Jesus himself said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6); and “You shall know ...

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The Hobby Lobby, Biblical Manuscripts, and Academic Scandal

Yesterday I posted the most recent developments in the scandalous “first-century Mark” affair.   Readers of the blog who are not familiar with or invested much in the study of ancient manuscripts may have shrugged their shoulders and not seen what the big deal was.  I completely get that.   But anyone involved in New Testament textual criticism, the history of the Bible, and the ethics of modern biblical scholarship would have seen that this is a very, very big deal.  A ...

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Finally! Now We Know. The “First-Century Copy” of Mark

I have posted on and off over the past six or seven years about an allegedly first-century copy of the Gospel of Mark that some scholars claimed we had now in our possession.  This would be by far the earliest manuscript we have of any part of the New Testament, a matter of real importance and interest.  But it turns out NOT to be that, and it has involved a real academic farce.

Those of you who have followed this charade ...

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How Do We know When Manuscripts Were Written? Guest Post by Brent Nongbri

Here is the second post by Brent Nongbri on his recent book God’s Library.    I mentioned in the first of his posts that the book is “ground-breaking.”  In part that’s because he challenges the widely accepted dates of a number of our earliest surviving manuscripts of the New Testament.   Here he talks about his further explorations of this problem.   The basic question: When scholars say “This manuscript dates from the fourth century” (or the second, etc.): how ...

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God’s Library Part 1: Finding Ancient Christian Manuscripts in Egypt. Guest Post by Brent Nongbri

Here is a post by Brent Nongbri, from whom we have heard before on the blog.  His recent book on early Christian manuscripts, especially those of the New Testament, is ground-breaking and insightful.  He will give us a couple of posts devoted to it.  Here’s the first.

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Bart suggested that a book I recently wrote might be of interest to readers of this blog, and he invited me to write a couple posts about it. The book is called ...

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Were Miracle Stories Originally in the Gospels?

Looking through old posts on the blog, I came across this very interesting and important question from seven years ago.  It’s a question I continue to get on occasion, so I thought we all might profit by thinking about it again.  (And now, older and wiser, I would answer almost exactly the same way!)

QUESTION:

I have looked up the content of all the papyri I’m aware of (off of links on wikipedia, so who knows if they’re accurate).

It is my understanding ...

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My Very First Post: Do Textual Variants Matter??

In three days we will hit the seventh-year anniversary of the blog.   I thought it would be fun (for me) to look at the earliest posts.  Here is the very first one, from April 3, 2012  (I’ve edited it a bit to tone down the rhetoric; I was a bit more hot-headed in those days!)   It’s about one of the most interesting and hotly disputed topics I’ve dealt with throughout my career.

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Probably more than any of my other ...

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Did Jesus Pray “Father Forgive Them” from the Cross?

I recently received an important question about a highly significant textual variant in Luke 23:34, the one and only place in the NT where Jesus prays for those responsible for his death “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”  The verse is not found in the other Gospels, and interestingly, it is also not found in some of the important manuscripts even of Luke.  And so the question: is it a verse that some scribes inserted into Luke?  ...

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