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Mythicists and the Virgin Birth: Readers’ Mailbag May 6, 2017

I’ve been devoting the blog to some autobiography recently, so in this Readers Mailbag I’ll make a shift to a couple of academic questions, one about Mythicist claims on the virgin birth and the other about the usefulness of ancient translations of the New Testament for establishing the original text.   QUESTION: I often read mythicists argue that Jesus was a mythological figure because he (allegedly) has many parallels in pagan gods. One of the parallels, of course, is him being born to a virgin. My question is: do mythicists realize that the concept of the virgin birth is a much later development?   RESPONSE: I have spent time with Mythicist groups, and have always enjoyed myself, finding the people friendly, eager to talk, cordial, and interesting.  But the general lack of basic knowledge about the Bible is shocking, even among the most outspoken among them.  What is shocking is not that they don’t know much about, say, the New Testament – that’s true of most people on the planet  -- but that they have [...]

The Versional Evidence for the New Testament

When scholars try to establish what an ancient author wrote, they can do so only on the basis of the surviving evidence.  That seems, well, rather obvious, but the reality is that most people have never thought about that.   It just seems that if you pick up a copy of Plato, or Euripides, or Cicero, that you’re simply reading what they wrote.  But it’s not that simple.  In none of these cases, or in any other case for any other book from the ancient world, do we actually have the person’s actual writing.  All we have are later copies, and invariably these copies are filled with scribal mistakes.  Scholars who are “textual critics” try to reconstruct the text that the author produced, to the best of their ability. I have been talking about the challenges of doing that with the New Testament.  In many, many ways we are much better situated with the New Testament than with any other ancient book (or set of books) from the ancient world.  We have WAY more evidence – [...]

2020-04-03T13:31:05-04:00July 20th, 2015|New Testament Manuscripts|
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