Why Do Are So Many Textual Critics Evangelicals? Readers’ Mailbag.

Here’s a good question about why so many New Testament textual critics (those who study the manuscripts of the New Testament) are evangelical Christians.

 

QUESTION:

Bart, is it fair to say that many textual critics chose their field of expertise out of a passion to find out just what did God really say? I’ve no axe to grind here, just wondering what you’ve observed working with so many in the discipline. It’s definitely something I considered ever since a street preacher pointed ...

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Why Would An Atheist Teach the Bible? Readers’ Mailbag

I often get asked why I would be interested in teaching biblical studies if I’m an atheist; sometimes the question is a bit hostile, along the lines of “What would *you* know?  You don’t even believe in it”!  Or “Why should anyone listen to you if you’re just trying to disprove the Bible?”  At other times the questions seem fairly genuine.  Recently, for example, I’ve gotten these two:

 

QUESTIONS:

Why do you bother continuing to teach any aspects of Biblical studies since ...

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A Plea for Humility in the Face of the Universe

In this week’s Readers’ Mailbag we move away from the academic study of the New Testament to much broader and more important questions of relevance to us all, involving how we relate to others and live in the world.  The question is about attitudes and responses to suffering.  The question came in a comment about an earlier post I had done.

 

QUESTION:

You said ‘My ultimate view is that even if suffering may lead us away from a belief in God, as ...

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Did the Gospel Writers Invent Barabbas? Readers’ Mailbag

One of the familiar stories from the end of the Gospels — it’s in all the Jesus movies! — comes at Jesus’ trial.  Pontius Pilate is trying to avoid executing Jesus.  As it turns out, he has an custom during the annual Passover feast (when the crowds of pilgrims in Jerusalem were enormous) of releasing one Jewish prisoner as a way to appease the crowds and keep himself in their good graces.

And so when the Jewish leaders insist on Jesus’ ...

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Are Bible Translators Consistent? Readers’ Mailbag

In today’s Reader’s Mailbag I deal with a question that involves both the differences in the manuscripts of the New Testament AND the issue of English Bible translations.  As many of you know, almost all scholars agree that passages such as the “Woman Taken in Adultery,” in John 7:53-8:11 and the last twelve verses of Mark (Jesus’ appearances to his disciples after the resurrection) were not original to the New Testament.  (If you’re not familiar with this issue, see my ...

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Would It Matter If It HAD BEEN a First-century Copy of Mark? A Surprising Answer in the Readers’ Mailbag

 

I received a lot of comments on my post about the academic fraud connected with an Oxford manuscript scholar, the Museum of the Bible, and certain enthusiastic evangelical Christians who are ironically willing to lie or distort the truth in order to prove their understanding of the truth.  One question I received several times: suppose the manuscript that started the whole thing off, the alleged “first-century copy of Mark” — which turns out to be a tiny scrap that is ...

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Did Judas Really Betray Jesus? Readers’ Mailbag

My post a few days ago about whether Paul knew that Jesus had been betrayed by Judas Iscariot — in which I concluded there really was no solid evidence one way or the other — generated several follow-up questions.  Many of them simply asked: well, did it really happen?   Here is an example, and my response.

QUESTION:

I may be showing my ignorance here but could it be that Paul doesn’t know/write about Judas’ betrayal because it never happened? Yes, ...

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Getting a PhD in New Testament Studies

I was breezing through ancient blog posts this morning and came across this one from exactly eight years ago. It involves a question I get a lot (got it last week!), from people interested in doing graduate work in the field of New Testament or early Christianity. What is it like and what does it take? Here is what I said back then, which is pretty much what I would still say today!

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I sometimes get asked what it ...

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Readers Mailbag: Does Isaiah 53 Predict the Death and Resurrection of Jesus?

I would like to get back into the practice of devoting one post a week to answering questions raised by blog members.  I have a fairly long list of good questions I haven’t been able to get to, so why not just go through them week by week?  If you have any pressing questions that are particularly intriguing or perplexing for you about the NT or early Christianity or any related topic, let me know as a comment on a ...

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How Manuscripts Matter for Knowing What an Author Wrote

In this thread I am addressing the question several readers have asked me about: if I think that the Christ poem of Philippians 2:6-10 is not something Paul himself wrote (as I have argued; see for example https://ehrmanblog.org/how-ancient-is-the-idea-of-christs-incarnation/), but has been quoted by him from some other text, why not just think a scribe inserted it into Philippians?  That is, maybe it wasn’t in the letter in the first place; why not thing a scribe stuck it in after ...

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