I have been discussing views in the early church that asserted (or were claimed to assert) that Christ was not a divine being by nature, but was only “adopted” to be the Son of God, for example at his resurrection or, more commonly, at his baptism. Some such views were allegedly held by the Jewish-Christian Ebionites and by the Roman-gentile Theodotians. Whether these Christians actually held to such views is a bit difficult to say, since we don’t have any writings from their hands. But it is clear that they were *thought* to hold these views, and for my study of the changes made in the texts of the Bible by Christian scribes, that is all that matters. Scribes sometimes changed the text in light of “aberrant” views thought to be held by others. (Whether these others actually held such views or not.)
We have seen instances in previous posts of changes made in order to oppose “docetic” Christologies, which had just the opposite problem (in the eyes of the proto-orthodox): these held that Christ was so divine that he could not be human. Adoptionists on the other hand maintained that Christ was so human that he could not be divine. Scribes changed their texts of scripture sometimes in order to counter such views as well. Sometimes the same scribe might make not only anti-docetic changes (by stressing that Jesus was human) but also anti-adoptionist changes (by stressing that he was divine). The scribal alterations of the text are a very convoluted business!
In my book Orthodox Corruption of Scripture I devote an entire chapter to anti-adoptionistic changes of the text. In the following few posts I will discuss a couple of key instances.
One of the most intriguing textual changes in the Gospels occurs in…
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