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Knowing the “Original” Text — of the NT or of Isaiah. Weekly Readers’ Mailbag July 17, 2016

How can we absolutely know whether we have the original words of the New Testament?  And weren’t books of the Old Testament edited progressively over time, so that their texts were even more fluid than those of the New Testament?  These are the two questions I address in this week’s Readers’ mailbag.  If you have a question you would like me to address, let me know!   QUESTION “So that there are some places where specialists cannot agree on what the text originally said, and there are some places where we’ll probably never know.”  I’ve both heard – and read – you saying the above on multiple occasions, and I’ve always wanted to ask: if we ‘don’t have the originals, or even copies of the originals, or even copies of copies of the originals’, as you often say, then why do you say ‘there are [merely] some places where we simply don’t know what the original text said’?  If we don’t have the originals (or copies and so on), then we don’t REALLY know what [...]

The Suffering Servant of Isaiah

I've been writing up a storm on my Bible Introduction. It's a god awful amount of work, but I'm making really good (OK, disgustingly good) progress. Here's a chunk I wrote up today, when dealing with the post-exilic prophets. It's obviously (maybe too obviously for you!) just a rough draft. Brief context: at this point I am discussing Second Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55), almost universally thought by scholars to be written by a different author from chapters 1-39 (themselves written by Isaiah of Jerusalem in the 8th c. BCE). Second Isaiah was writing after the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem (including the temple) in 586 BCE, while the leaders of the people and many of the elite had been taken into exile in Babylon, in what is known as the Babylonian Captivity. ********************************************************************************************************************** No passage of Second Isaiah has intrigued readers and interpreters – especially among Christians – more than the four passages that are dedicated to describing a figure known as the “Suffering Servant.” Some scholars have called these passages “songs,” or “songs of the [...]

2020-04-03T19:34:03-04:00July 10th, 2012|Book Discussions, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

At the Beach (3): Thinking Yet More of Books

As with a lot of scholars, books seem to make up my life. Books I’ve read, books I’ve studied, books I’ve revered, books I’ve scorned (my favorite professor in graduate school used to say: “Any fool can write a big book. And many have!”). There are also the books I’ve written and books I’ve edited; books my relations have written and edited (e.g., my brother, a Latin scholar at Kent State University; and Sarah, whose books are amazing for their erudition); books my friends have written and edited. Nearly all my friends are scholars. And all of them have written books. (My one really close friend who is not a scholar is Robert Miller – and he is my editor for Oxford University Press! He happens to live in Chapel Hill, and we have been close for many years; his wife Silvia is an editor as well –at Routledge Press in NYC when I first met her, and now at UNC Press in Chapel Hill). To access the rest of this post, log in as [...]

2020-04-03T19:41:47-04:00May 29th, 2012|Reflections and Ruminations|
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