Sorting by


The Best Manuscripts and Social Justice: Readers’ Mailbag October 23, 2016

Question: When you say earliest and “best” manuscripts, what do you mean by “best”?   Response: This question was asked in response to my statement, with respect to the famous story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8 (where Jesus says, “Let the one without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her), that we know it was not originally in the Gospel of John in part because it is not to be found in the “oldest and best manuscripts.”  And so the question is, “how do we know what the best manuscripts are?” It’s a great question and one that has, as you might imagine, occupied textual scholars for a very, very long time.  In fact, for as long as there have *been* textual scholars (i.e., hundreds of years!)   The problem, in a nutshell, is this.  If we have hundreds, or thousands, of manuscripts (centuries ago we knew of hundreds, now we know of thousands), how do we know which ones are more likely to preserve the “original” [...]

Weekly Readers’ Mailbag: January 8, 2016

It is the Weekly Readers’ Mailbag time.  Today I take on three very interesting and unusually diverse questions:  where we got chapters and verses from in the New Testament; how we know that earliest Christians (before Paul) understood Jesus’ death to be a sacrifice for sins; and whether I get upset that my work is used by Muslims in order to discount Christianity.  These are hot topics!   QUESTION:  When did scribes start dividing NT manuscripts into chapters and verses? As I understand it, early manuscripts did not even have punctuation marks.  A related question is: did early Christians always read these texts/books, either by themselves or to a congregation, from beginning to end in one sitting?  I imagine it would be very difficult to find specific passages without chapters and verses. RESPONSE:  Ah, this is an important question, and one many people have never raised; moreover, those who have raised it often have no way of knowing how to answer it.   As to chapters and verses, here is what I have to say on [...]

Go to Top