Category Archives: Textual Criticism

Sabbatum Excerpt: Daniel Wallace Thanking Bart Ehrman for Wake-up Call


The excerpt is taken from a journal review by Daniel B. Wallace on Dr. Bart D. Ehrman’s : Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why.


 

Letting the public in on scholarly secrets about the text of the Bible is not new. Edward Gibbon, in his six-volume bestseller, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, noted that the Comma Johanneum, or Trinitarian formula of 1 John 5.7–8, was not authentic. This scandalized the British public of the eighteenth century, for their only Bible was the Authorized Version, which contained the formula. “Others had done [this] before him, but only in academic and learned circles. Gibbon did so before the general public, in language designed to offend.” Yet by the time the Revised Version appeared in 1885, no trace of the Comma was to be found in it. Today the text is not printed in modern translations, and it hardly raises an eyebrow.

Ehrman has followed in Gibbon’s train by exposing the public to the inauthenticity of Mark 16.9-20 and John 7.53-8.11. The problem here, though, is a bit different. Strong emotional baggage is especially attached to the latter text. For years, it was my favorite passage that was not in the Bible. I would even preach on it as true historical narrative, even after I rejected its literary/canonical authenticity. And we all know of preachers who can’t quite give it up, even though they, too, have doubts about it. But there are two problems with this approach. First, in terms of popularity between these two texts, John 8 is the overwhelming favorite, yet its external credentials are significantly worse than Mark 16’s. The same preacher who declares the Markan passage to be inauthentic extols the virtues of John 8. This inconsistency is appalling. Something is amiss in our theological seminaries when one’s feelings are allowed to be the arbiter of textual problems. Second, the pericope adulterae is most likely not even historically true. It was probably a story conflated from two different accounts. Thus, the excuse that one can proclaim it because the story really happened is apparently not valid.

In retrospect, keeping these two pericopae in our Bibles rather than relegating them to the footnotes seems to have been a bomb just waiting to explode. All Ehrman did was to light the fuse. One lesson we must learn from Misquoting Jesus is that those in ministry need to close the gap between the church and the academy. We have to educate believers. Instead of trying to isolate laypeople from critical scholarship, we need to insulate them. They need to be ready for the barrage, because it is coming. The intentional dumbing down of the church for the sake of filling more pews will ultimately lead to defection from Christ. Ehrman is to be thanked for giving us a wake-up call.


Source: The Gospel According to Bart

 

Advertisements

Friday Phraseology: Codex


Codex: The “book” form (as opposed to a scroll) of an ancient manuscript of either papyrus or vellum. The codex was first used by the Romans for business and legal transactions but was also utilized by the early church as they collected and bound

complete-madrid-codex


 

Arthur G. Patzia;Anthony J. Petrotta. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies (p. 26). Kindle Edition.

Exegetical and Theological Issues: Mark 4:10-12


10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.” (Mark 4:10-12 NASB95)

This text sits awkwardly in its present context. The previous context is about Jesus teaching the crowd in a boat (4:1-2). Without further explanation, Mark shifts the narrative that takes place in private with those around his Twelve disciples (4:10-12), a small group of disciples. Another textual issue that occurs in the passage is the use of plural form of parables, whereas Jesus completes one parable (4:3-9). The placement of the discourse between Jesus and “those around him” also interrupts the sequence of parable. Jesus was still on the boat in the sea (4:1-2), but he and “those around him” appear to be in a private (4:10-12) and the clarification of the parable occurs again in the boat in the sea (4:35-36). At this point, Jesus is again in the public setting with his disciples in the boat. With few exceptions, some scholars believed this passage to be a latter insertion. But this inconsistency is more likely due to tradition, so he decided to leave the setting the way it is now.

Many ascribed the Markan redaction to traditional material. One cannot avoid the questions no matter whether Mark inserted his independent tradition unit or borrowed from the tradition within the parable collection. If he borrowed it from Pre-Markan tradition, where did he find it and what qualified him to apply this text there (4:10-12)? His form, materials within his redaction, and context show that he found it in tradition. Yet there are some questions to be asked. Why did Mark quote Isaiah 6 here? Is the text is about double predestination that only elect or insiders are foreordained to hear the message while outsiders’ ears divinely closed? Some people think that v. 7:17 supports it. But what do we do with 12:12 when outsiders also knew that the parable was about them? As Robert A. Guelich asserts that the text is not about the “double predestination” but about the hardness of heart of those who constantly rejected Jesus and his message.[1]


[1] Guelich, Robert A. Mark 1–8:26. Vol. 34A. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998.

Biblical Nuggets: Comma Johanneum


Comma Johanneum: A textual variant in 1 John that should be excluded from the text (Gk komma, “a piece, that which is cut off”). The disputed textual variant occurs in 1 John 5:7-8 (“There are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that testify on earth“) and was inserted by Erasmus into his Greek text. It was subsequently included in the King James Version. The words in italics above are not authentic and should be “cut off,” that is, not be included in the NT.[1]

___________________________

[1] Arthur G. Patzia; Anthony J. Petrotta. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies (pp. 26-27). Kindle Edition.

 

Jesus’ Wife Fragment Turned to be FAKE


I wonder if all those media who reported as loudly and as widely as they could have on Jesus’s Wife fragment take time to do again about the fragment now proved to be fake. For last two weeks, where not this so-called Jesus’ Wife fragment was talked and what not being said! Some people did not take a minute to think before they undoubtedly received this Sahidic Coptic fragment as an authentic fragment. And their verdict? “Ah, the historical Jesus is a married man.” Then comes this news that this papyrus is a FAKE!

I am pretty sure by now that the hoopla surrounding this fake fragment is sniffing for some. At the same time, some might be wondering how to come up with new fabricated story to disprove Christian belief that for all its history believed Jesus never married. From the beginning of this saga, most prominent scholarships on Coptic had doubted its authenticity for some critical reasons. This is what Daniel B. Wallace and Dr. James White had to say on this issue.

“News flash: Harvard Theological Review has decided not to publish Karen King¹s paper on the Coptic papyrus fragment on the grounds that the fragment is probably a fake.” This from an email Dr. Craig Evans, the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia University and Divinity College, sent to me earlier today. He said that Helmut Koester (Harvard University), Bentley Layton (Yale University), Stephen Emmel (University of Münster), and Gesine Robinson (Claremont Graduate School)–all first-rate scholars in Coptic studies–have weighed in and have found the fragment wanting. No doubt Francis Watson’s comprehensive work showing the fragment’s dependence on the Gospel of Thomas was a contributing factor for this judgment, as well as the rather odd look of the Coptic that already raised several questions as to its authenticity.

Dr. James White, the Director of Alfa & Omega Ministries, writes, “Now, that doesn’t mean the saga is over for two reasons: 1) the fragment could be rehabilitated by the release of further relevant information concerning its provenance, and 2) the MSM (main stream media) is far more interested in posting stuff that is against Christianity than corrections and retractions.”