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Old 01-02-2001, 11:21 AM   #21
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penatis: Nomad has no problem believing fourth century MSS containing the words of an anonymous writer (who copied another anonymous writer) who told of events (earthquake and resurrection of many) that no one else knows of.

Hmm... and you think I am relying on 4th Century MSS because?

It is not a matter of “think.” I KNOW Nomad is relying on the fourth century MSS because they are the earliest extant documents attesting to the earthquake and resurrection.


quote:

penatis: The MSS that Nomad trusts contain numerous omissions, additions, and errors.

So? Tell me one that is important please.

Let me explain it in clear terms: If all extant NT MSS are copies of copies of copies and they all contain variant readings, obscure words, omissions, additions, and errors, then no one (I include Nomad here) can be sure of what the earliest writers wrote and, more importantly, what they thought. Anyone who believes he knows precisely what the early Christians thought and wrote is deluded.

quote:

penatis: All things considered, Why would anyone consider these MSS good evidence? Does blind faith have anything to do with it?

Nope. It is called textual criticism, and anyone that wants to claim that we do not have an embarrassingly HUGE amoung of MSS to work from with the NT does not know what he is talking about.

1. Textual criticism would not be necessary if just one original NT had been produced and preserved. (I should point out that textual reliability is no guarantee of historical reliability.)
2. What is embarrassing is the fact that no portion of any original work of any NT writer is extant; it is all the more embarrassing since this collection of religious works is supposed to have been inspired by an omnipotent god. (It appears the whole NT, like the OT, was inspired, written, collected, and canonized by humans. And, even today, humans have not been able to define precisely what the NT, or the OT, is.)
3. Facts: No papyrus fragment of any NT work dates earlier than the second century. (The earliest is P52, a fragment the size of a credit card, dating to circa 130-150 CE). No significant fragmentary portion of any NT work dates earlier than the third century. No “NT” dates earlier than the fourth century and no NT dates earlier than the seventh century. (The fourth and fifth century codices do not contain precisely the same books as those contained in modern bibles.)
4. The “huge amoung [sic] of MSS to work from with the NT” Nomad alludes to comes from mostly fragmentary texts dating after the fourth century.
5. All papyrus and parchment texts contain obscure words, omissions, additions, variant readings, and errors.

Show us your scholars please penatis, and tell us verbatum what they have to say.

I will begin with a statement made by Bruce M. Metzger: “...the textual critic of the New Testament is embarrassed by the wealth of his material.” This statement is from a well-known book and it comes after Metzger spent several paragraphs comparing the number of MSS attesting to ancient classics to the number (over 5000) of MSS attesting to the NT.
This is very impressive indeed. Right? Well, actually, no. In a footnote, Metzger states, “Lest, however, the wrong impression be conveyed from the statistics given above regarding the number of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, it should be pointed out that most of the papyri are relatively fragmentary and that only about fifty manuscripts (of which codex Sinaiticus is the only uncial manuscript) contain the entire New Testament.” See The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, P. 34 [Bruce M. Metzger is Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton Theological Seminary.]

“There is, furthermore, empirical evidence that major disruptions have in fact taken place in the transmission of the text of the New Testament. As was pointed out earlier...more than once we find Church Fathers making reference to variant readings that were once widely known but are today found in only a few witnesses or even in no extant manuscript. Such a situation rules out any attempt to settle questions of text by statistical means. The upshot of all this is that, though one can be grateful to Hodges and Farstad for preparing an edition of the Majority text, which represents more precisely than does the Textus Receptus what was the prevailing form of the Greek text in the Byzantine period, their edition is far from reproducing the original text of the New Testament.” Ibid, P. 292.

“Very few [NT] manuscripts were dated by their scribes, and the exceptions tend to be late. Fortunately, secular documents of various sorts carrying dates have survived, enabling paleographers to compare handwriting and ascertain within broad limits the date of a biblical manuscript.” See The Oxford Companion to the Bible, P. 488. [Article on Greek New Testament by Bruce M. Metzger]

“Interpreters of the NT are faced with a discomforting reality that many of them would like to ignore. In many instances, we don’t know what the authors of the NT actually wrote. It often proves difficult enough to establish what the words of the NT mean; the fact that in some instances we don’t know what the words actually were does more than a little to exacerbate the problem. I say that many interpreters would like to ignore this reality; but perhaps that isn’t strong enough. In point of fact, many interpreters, possibly most, do ignore it, pretending that the textual basis of the Christian scriptures is secure, when unhappily, it is not.” See Text and Tradition: The Role of New Testament Manuscripts in Early Christian Studies; Lecture One: Text and Interpretation: The Exegetical Significance of the “Original” Text. [This lecture was delivered by Bart D. Ehrman at Duke Divinity School in 1997. Ehrman is Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill]

“It is difficult to know what the authors of the Greek New Testament wrote, in many instances, because all of [the] surviving copies differ from one another, sometimes significantly. The severity of the problem was not recognized throughout the Middle Ages or even, for the most part, during the Renaissance. Indeed, biblical scholars were not forcefully confronted with the uncertainty of their texts until the early eighteenth century.” Ibid.

“No one knows for sure how many differences there are among our surviving witnesses, simply because no one has yet been able to count them all. The best estimates put the number at around 300,000, but perhaps it’s better to put this figure in comparative terms. There are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the NT.” Ibid.

“The original manuscripts of the books of the New Testament have disappeared. The earliest fragment of any part of the New Testament is a scrap from a papyrus codex of the Gospel of John. It has variously been dated from 125 to 160 C.E., roughly one hundred years after the death of Jesus. More substantial pieces of papyrus manuscripts have survived from the end of the second century, but the earliest surviving copies of complete gospels come from the third century. And we have no copies of the complete Christian Bible that can be dated earlier than the fourth century...no two copies of the books of the New Testament are exactly alike, since they were all handmade. It has been estimated that there are over seventy thousand meaningful variants in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament itself...It is unlikely, of course, that any surviving ancient manuscript is identical with the autographs--the originals--of the books, or portions of the books, that it contains. Translators and interpreters are thus twice removed from those originals.” See Robert W. Funk’s Honest to Jesus, pp. 94-95. [Funk is a Guggenheim Fellow and former senior Fulbright Scholar. He has served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is currently director of the Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, CA.]

“None of the small errors and tiny differences or wording in the [NT] texts, it is [said], affects any major item of Christian belief. This optimism may be misplaced. We have two early papyri which overlap across seventy years of John’s Gospel, and even if the plain errors of their copyists are excluded, they differ at no less than seventy small places. Unlike Catullus’s love-poems or Juvenal’s satires, the Christian scriptures were a battlefield for textual alteration and rewriting in the first hundred years of their life.” See Robin Lane Fox’s The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, P. 139. [Fox is a fellow of New College, Oxford, and a University Reader in Ancient History]



 
Old 01-02-2001, 03:00 PM   #22
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Nomad: First, did Matthew use other sources in creating his Gospel as penatis claims? Well, yes, it is generally agreed that he did do this, and that Mark (or Mark's source) was one of those prior sources. Did he copy everything verbatum? Of course not.

penatis: Anyone who takes the time to compare Matthew 27:45-56 with Mark 15:33-41 will see that “Matthew” copied “Mark” almost verbatim. That was my point. Nomad missed it.

Nomad: No. I stated it clearly that Matthew copied Mark in some parts, but not ALL parts as you had stated. I corrected you, and you have narrowed your claim now, so the point is settled.

Nomad is incorrect.
Here is what I actually said in my opening post: “The anonymous writer [Matthew] does not say from whom or where he got his information; however, scholarly opinion, with rare exception, holds that the writer copied, almost verbatim, the above passage from the narrative of another anonymous writer.” [Emphasis mine.]

I DID NOT state that “Matthew” copied EVERYTHING or ALL “Mark” wrote. It is anybody's guess as to where Nomad got that idea.

Also, why didn't Nomad address my point?
 
Old 01-02-2001, 04:45 PM   #23
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basing an entire belief system on ancient testimony seems rather tenuous. Lets look at some other ancient testimony, Marco Polo, not nearly so long ago, claims to have been in China, yet no Chinese writings confirm any visits by this westerner, Travellers to India report very fast running men with one leg & heads in their chests, The Bible has Giants all over the place, Hindus spent tens of thousands of lines of poetry bearing witness to battles in the sky between flying machines with great weapons. Either these people lived in times much stranger than our own or they had very rich fantasy lives.
 
Old 01-02-2001, 05:12 PM   #24
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[b]Nomad: If he had, then we would hardly need GMatthew at all since GMark would already say all that needed to be said. So I think we should drop the simplistic notion that Matthew was simply relying exclusively on Mark for his claims.[b]

It is not a “simplistic notion.” Since Matthew 27:45-56 is an almost verbatim copy of Mark 15:33-41, it is perfectly reasonable to believe “Matthew” “relied exclusively on Mark for his claims.”

Nomad: No, the key verbatum passage is actually a quotation from Psalm 22:1, and is very likely something Jesus said while on the cross. Mark and Matthew both wrote their accounts of the same event, so it would make sense that they would say much the same thing, especially if they are relying upon the same set of witness accounts (namely the women at the cross).

Psalm 22:1 is irrelevant to this discussion. Again, my point is this: “Matthew” copied, “Mark” in the above passage. Since this is the case, “Matthew” would have no need of witnesses.




Nomad: Second, who were Mark's witnesses, and who were Matthew's?

penatis: No one knows where “Mark” got his information.

Nomad: Yes we do. It is commonly accepted that most of his information came from Peter, as well as the witnesses that lived within his community. Remember that Mark was written within the lifetime of many of the witnesses, including some of the disciples themselves.

It bears repeating: The writer of “Mark” is anonymous. No one knows with any degree of certainty when or where the original narrative was composed. With respect to “Peter,“ the anonymous writer never appeals to the authority of a Galilean fisherman who, according to tradition, became a disciple of Jesus. Even if the writer got some of his information from a disciple's anecdotal accounts (as per Justin Martyr), how does that confirm the historicity of the narrative? If we are to believe this religious propagandist, why not believe all of them?

Nomad: On the other hand, we do have a number of identifiable individuals listed in each of the Gospels, and it is a pretty safe bet that at least some of these witnesses were still alive at the time the Gospels were written.

penatis: 1. The fact is, “Mark” mentions a few names. No one knows his sources.

Nomad: Do you read my posts? When Mark is naming individuals, he is GIVING his sources. This is not hard stuff penatis.

(I have read Nomad’s posts.) The fact is, “Mark” does not give a clue as to where he got his information. Any reader can check this out for him/herself.


penatis: 2. When a person uses the phrase “it is a pretty safe bet,” he doesn’t have any evidence. This is pure speculation.

Nomad: No, this is a standard qualifier placed by any prudent and truthful writer that knows enough to not make bold assertions and claim that he KNOWS them to be facts rather than the best information we have available to us today.

Baloney! Why doesn't Nomad present evidence?


 
Old 01-02-2001, 06:45 PM   #25
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penatis: 3. No one knows when the anonymous stories were written, much less who could have been alive at the time they were put down on papyrus.

Nomad: Actually, Mark has been reliably dated to pre-68AD since the fragment 7Q5 was found among the Qumran documents, and is known to be a portion of Mark 6:52-53.

Nomad is incorrect. A tiny scrap of papyrus (7Q5) found in Cave VII at Qumran containing seventeen Greek letters has not been definitively identified as any portion of “Mark.” Jose O’Callaghan’s hypothesis has convinced only himself and a few others. See Bruce M. Metzger’s discussion of the problematic papyrus scrap in The Text of the New Testament [1992], pp. 264-265.



penatis: No extant MSS containing Matthew 27:45-56/Mark 15:33-41 date earlier than the fourth century. To my knowledge, Codex Sinaiticus is the earliest.

Nomad: Then you need to do more research. The Paris Codex contains extant copies of all 4 Gospels plus the book of Acts and has been reliably dated to no later than early 3rd Century AD. Some papyrologists are beginning to think that it can be dated even earlier than that.

The “Paris Codex” is a Mayan document [See Encyclopedia Britannica]. Perhaps Nomad is alluding to the Codex Ephraemi, a FIFTH century codex located at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. This document contains most of what is included in the modern NT, but most scholars consider it “unimportant” because of its textual problems. See The Text of the New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger, pp.48-49.
My point still stands: No extant MSS containing Matthew 27:45-56/Mark 15:33-41 date earlier than the fourth century. To my knowledge, Codex Sinaiticus is the earliest.

penatis: First, Nomad speculates that he knows of witnesses to the resurrection of saints. In point of fact, there were none that anyone knows of. Second, Nomad “knows” of people who “knew and met” these unknown witnesses while they were still alive. Perhaps, Nomad can provide the names of those who he “knows” witnessed the resurrection of saints. Next, perhaps he can demonstrate how he knows anything about anyone who knew these witnesses.

Nomad: Now I know you do not read my posts. I said that the Gospel writers rarely say "Mary M said this, and Suzy Q said that..." and this proves nothing. The living witnesses within the communities Matthew and Mark wrote for knew the people in the stories and did not need such hand holding.

(I read Nomad’s posts.) Nomad speculates that he knows that which he speculates about. He presumes too much about the anonymous writers and the milieu in which they wrote.

Nomad: You are simply projecting a modern prejudice for modern biographical writing techniqes. Until 200 years ago such techniques were wholly unknown, so this complaint proves nothing.

Nomad has a problem with people who wish to ascertain, as objectively as possible, what actually occurred in the past. Is it “prejudice” to scrutinize ALL ancient writing with a critical eye, using all available evidence, common sense, and logic? Of course not! The problem, as I see it, is that Nomad wishes to use one standard [HIS] by which to judge the historical validity of the NT and a totally different standard [common sense, logic, evidence, etc.] by which to judge the historical validity of all religious/historical literary works that have no bearing on the NT. Unfortunately, he does not seem to recognize the fact that he is using a double standard.

 
Old 01-02-2001, 07:14 PM   #26
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There isn't much to reply to in your post SingleDad, since I believe one of your statements summarizes your opinions, and demonstrates that your mind is quite closed in questions about the authenticity of the Bible. So, I'll cover that off, and hopefully get to penatis later tonight or tomorrow when I have more time.

Quote:
Originally posted by SingleDad:

Nomad: The empty tomb is attested to by all four Gospel writers. Is this example sufficient evidence for you to believe it is probably true or not?

No. I might be reading four works of fiction. There might be a single primary work ("Mark") and then the others were derived from it with additional embellishments. There are a lot of possibilities here, not just it's absolutely true or they were despicable liars.
You still haven't told me what it would take for you to believe these accounts. Of course they could be fiction, but they could also be true. If we establish a high level of probability that two or more of them are independent traditions with eyewitness testimony standing behind them (including from the authors themselves), is that reliable in your view? If not, what else do you want? Are your standards of evidence so high as to insure that they can never be met no matter what?

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Besides, an empty tomb does not a resurrection make.
And I wasn't talking about the resurrection. I was talking about an empty tomb. A very physical and natural thing.

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It is unfair to characterize a disagreement with a knee jerk reaction. I have seen quite a lot of scholarly work on the historical analysis of the bible, and I have come to a layman's conclusion based on that study. Certainly extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I see tremendous problems with the gospels even as ordinary evidence, much less extraordinary.
And the problem of course, is that you have chosen to remain sceptical of even the most ordinary of claims (i.e. an empty tomb), and for no more reason than that you don't appear to want to believe it happened. You have even confused it with the claim of the Resurrection itself.

If that is not a "knee jerk" reaction, what do you call it?

Nomad
 
Old 01-02-2001, 10:20 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by penatis:

It is not a matter of “think.” I KNOW Nomad is relying on the fourth century MSS because they are the earliest extant documents attesting to the earthquake and resurrection.
Sorry, but not good enough. I already told you that we have extant copies of some of the Gospels dating back to the 2nd Century, and requiring the complete codex of the full NT Canon is not required in order to do this. BTW, you probably know that we also have Latin, Coptic and Syriac copies of the Gospels that date back before the 4th Century, and as ancient documents these are perfectly acceptable.

Oh, and don't forget all those commentaries from Origen and other early Fathers. They quote verbatum from much of the Gospels as well, including the Passion Narratives. So try not to be so naive and limited in your choice of sources please.

Quote:
penatis: The MSS that Nomad trusts contain numerous omissions, additions, and errors.

So? Tell me one that is important please.

Let me explain it in clear terms: If all extant NT MSS are copies of copies of copies and they all contain variant readings, obscure words, omissions, additions, and errors, then no one (I include Nomad here) can be sure of what the earliest writers wrote and, more importantly, what they thought.
Translation? You don't have any examples of significant changes in the NT Canons because there aren't any. I know it's hard to accept penatis, but if you study long enough you'll get used to it eventually. You might even come to appreciate what a treasure trove we have in the Canonical Bible (the most widely translated and distributed book in all of history you know ).

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Anyone who believes he knows precisely what the early Christians thought and wrote is deluded.
Since I'm tired of listening to your mindless assertions I'm simply going to point them out when I see them (or ignore them completely if they get too numerous).

Quote:
1. Textual criticism would not be necessary if just one original NT had been produced and preserved. (I should point out that textual reliability is no guarantee of historical reliability.)
And this is a non-sequitor. Personally I doubt you would believe in the Gospels if we found perfect originals inscribed on sheets of 24 carat gold, so it is also a strawman.

Quote:
2. What is embarrassing is the fact that no portion of any original work of any NT writer is extant; it is all the more embarrassing since this collection of religious works is supposed to have been inspired by an omnipotent god. (It appears the whole NT, like the OT, was inspired, written, collected, and canonized by humans. And, even today, humans have not been able to define precisely what the NT, or the OT, is.)
And this is your second non-sequitor, together with your gratis advice to God on how He could do things better. Sadly, you don't have the job (as an omnipotent God), so we will just have to live with the choices the only one we have made.

On the other hand, maybe you can explain to us why you think Christians should require the Bible to be treated the way the Qur'an is by Muslims. After all, they DO believe that the Qur'an is perfect in every respect (at least in its original Arabic) and even put a sentence of death on Muslim that says otherwise. Christians (except for the most radical of fundamentalists) have NEVER made this error. Why should we put our faith in a mere book written by men?

Finally, I will point out one more time that you have offered nothing beyond assertions (your own and appeals to authority) to demonstrate that any significant changes, ommissions or additions in the texts. Give me at least one that would change Christian doctrine please, or drop this strawman #2.

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3. Facts: No papyrus fragment of any NT work dates earlier than the second century. (The earliest is P52, a fragment the size of a credit card, dating to circa 130-150 CE).
Not necessarily. Like all sciences, papyrology is advancing all the time, and new techniques are being developed and old ones are being improved upon. So, in addition to 7Q5 from the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have the Magdelan Papyrus (three fragments), and Barcelona Papyrus (2 more fragments) have all been dated to the first century. I will put up a post on the subject on a seperate thread, since this one is plenty crowded and confused enough as it is, but I hope you will be offering real arguments against these claims and not just assertions and appeals to scholarly opinion in your rebuttals.

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No significant fragmentary portion of any NT work dates earlier than the third century.
See above. (Or do you have a new and radical definition of the word "significant" to offer here?

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No “NT” dates earlier than the fourth century and no NT dates earlier than the seventh century. (The fourth and fifth century codices do not contain precisely the same books as those contained in modern bibles.)
You still have not established why the fact that early codices have additional books in them, or why we need to have ALL of the Canonical books in a codex for us to consider it. Finish the following sentence please:

The fact that we do not have a complete set of the Canons (as opposed to complete books of both the OT and NT) that is reliably dated to before the 4th Century is important because...

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4. The “huge amoung [sic] of MSS to work from with the NT” Nomad alludes to comes from mostly fragmentary texts dating after the fourth century.
So? Once again, we still have the commentaries from the Fathers, as well as translations in Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syric. Are you suggesting some kind of enormous conspiracy that somehow managed to radically alter the originals that got to all of these different translations, and yet managed to remain undetected to modern scholars?

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5. All papyrus and parchment texts contain obscure words, omissions, additions, variant readings, and errors.
Still waiting for an important one. Give me the best one you can find and let's see how good it is.

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Show us your scholars please penatis, and tell us verbatum what they have to say.

I will begin with a statement made by Bruce M. Metzger: “...the textual critic of the New Testament is embarrassed by the wealth of his material.” This statement is from a well-known book and it comes after Metzger spent several paragraphs comparing the number of MSS attesting to ancient classics to the number (over 5000) of MSS attesting to the NT.
This is very impressive indeed. Right? Well, actually, no.
Actually, yes it is. But let's keep going.

Quote:
In a footnote, Metzger states, “Lest, however, the wrong impression be conveyed from the statistics given above regarding the number of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, it should be pointed out that most of the papyri are relatively fragmentary and that only about fifty manuscripts (of which codex Sinaiticus is the only uncial manuscript) contain the entire New Testament.” See The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, P. 34 [Bruce M. Metzger is Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton Theological Seminary.]
And you know how many complete codices we have of any other ancient work that dates back as far as the NT right? Is it 50? 10? 100? More? Less?

See what I (and Metzger) mean? It really is an embarrassment of riches, but most non-scholars (at least the sceptical ones) don't seem to appreciate this fact for some reason.

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“There is, furthermore, empirical evidence that major disruptions have in fact taken place in the transmission of the text of the New Testament. As was pointed out earlier...more than once we find Church Fathers making reference to variant readings that were once widely known but are today found in only a few witnesses or even in no extant manuscript.
Hmm... and his examples are...?

Don't you just hate it when a scholar starts offering his opinions but doesn't back them up with hard text and examples? (And I do know that I am being hard on you here penatis, but I have seen so many sceptics rely on the same stuff over and over and over and OVER again, and still haven't seen any good examples yet. I remain hopeful that someone will come up with something though, and maybe you will be that person. I remain hopeful).

Quote:
Such a situation rules out any attempt to settle questions of text by statistical means. The upshot of all this is that, though one can be grateful to Hodges and Farstad for preparing an edition of the Majority text, which represents more precisely than does the Textus Receptus what was the prevailing form of the Greek text in the Byzantine period, their edition is far from reproducing the original text of the New Testament.” Ibid, P. 292.
No doubt you are going to tell us that you think it is a weakness that we have independent traditions and translations in the Byzantine Textus Receptus, as well as the Majority Text, the Alexandrian Text, the Coptic Text, the Syriac Text, and the Critical Text (plus, of course, the Latin Vulgate and commentaries of the Early Fathers). Funny how most people would say that more information is a good thing rather than a bad thing. The fact that we cannot establish a theoretical "perfect" text appears to vex you a great deal, but I fail to see why. Use ANY of the textual examples cited above and show me how they would damage any orthodox Christian doctrine or theology please (like the Trinity, Resurrection, belief in Heaven or Hell, the Virgin birth). The cool thing about this is it can't be done (or at least, I have yet to see it be done by anyone thus far). The REAL corruption of Biblical text comes from those that wish to change it deliberately, or throw out big sections of the text (see examples in the Jehovah's Witness New World Translation, the Mormons, and liberal theology most famously represented by the Jesus Seminar). In the case of mainline Christian Churches, we all use a Bible that looks so much like every other Christian Bible ever used by anyone anywhere anytime it isn't even funny.

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“Very few [NT] manuscripts were dated by their scribes, and the exceptions tend to be late. Fortunately, secular documents of various sorts carrying dates have survived, enabling paleographers to compare handwriting and ascertain within broad limits the date of a biblical manuscript.” See The Oxford Companion to the Bible, P. 488. [Article on Greek New Testament by Bruce M. Metzger]
Yes, and this helps to prove dates, and offer better ones, and as I said before, the techniques and methods in use are improving all the time. Many (i.e. thousands) previously undated and even largely unexamined papayrus will be dated in the future, so stay tuned.

Quote:
“Interpreters of the NT are faced with a discomforting reality that many of them would like to ignore. In many instances, we don’t know what the authors of the NT actually wrote. It often proves difficult enough to establish what the words of the NT mean; the fact that in some instances we don’t know what the words actually were does more than a little to exacerbate the problem. I say that many interpreters would like to ignore this reality; but perhaps that isn’t strong enough. In point of fact, many interpreters, possibly most, do ignore it, pretending that the textual basis of the Christian scriptures is secure, when unhappily, it is not.” See Text and Tradition: The Role of New Testament Manuscripts in Early Christian Studies; Lecture One: Text and Interpretation: The Exegetical Significance of the “Original” Text. [This lecture was delivered by Bart D. Ehrman at Duke Divinity School in 1997. Ehrman is Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill]
You are aware that the "Christians" the lecturer is referring to are largely the fundamentalist inerrantist types right? Orthodox Christianity has been very comfortable with working with the Bible as is, translational and transcriptional warts and all. I still don't understand what YOUR personal problem is with it penatis.

Quote:
“It is difficult to know what the authors of the Greek New Testament wrote, in many instances, because all of [the] surviving copies differ from one another, sometimes significantly. The severity of the problem was not recognized throughout the Middle Ages or even, for the most part, during the Renaissance. Indeed, biblical scholars were not forcefully confronted with the uncertainty of their texts until the early eighteenth century.” Ibid.
And the request I am making is the same. Tell us a doctrine that is affected by any of these problems or difficulties that Christianity has had to deal with virtually since its founding? (You are aware, for example, that the Christian faith was started and existed at least for decades with only the OT Canons right?) Tell us what modern Christians believe about our central doctrines that the early Church did not.

Quote:
“No one knows for sure how many differences there are among our surviving witnesses, simply because no one has yet been able to count them all. The best estimates put the number at around 300,000, but perhaps it’s better to put this figure in comparative terms. There are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the NT.” Ibid.
Yes, that BIG IMPRESSIVE number again. 300,000 differences. And the overwhelming number are repetitions of the same spelling and translational mistakes. So, sounding like a broken record here, but I need to see an important one to talk about, so do your best and find one penatis.

Quote:
{Snip}See Robert W. Funk’s Honest to Jesus, pp. 94-95. [Funk is a Guggenheim Fellow and former senior Fulbright Scholar. He has served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is currently director of the Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, CA.]
Yes, founder of the Jesus Seminar. I've heard of him. My advice is you not go too far with this one. After all, the last time I checked, anyone that said that "God, at least a metaphysical God, is dead", is at best an agnostic, but more realistically an atheist.

His theological agenda is so obvious it has ruined whatever may be left of his credibility as an objective scholar. From my side I would have to quote Pat Robertson to reach as low.

Quote:
“None of the small errors and tiny differences or wording in the [NT] texts, it is [said], affects any major item of Christian belief. This optimism may be misplaced. We have two early papyri which overlap across seventy years of John’s Gospel, and even if the plain errors of their copyists are excluded, they differ at no less than seventy small places. Unlike Catullus’s love-poems or Juvenal’s satires, the Christian scriptures were a battlefield for textual alteration and rewriting in the first hundred years of their life.” See Robin Lane Fox’s The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, P. 139. [Fox is a fellow of New College, Oxford, and a University Reader in Ancient History]
Another atheist (and at least he believes in the empty tomb, and confesses that he cannot explain it). No doubt you don't think that gives him an agenda. On the other hand, perhaps you could humour me and offer examples of these "small" changes that really would affect orthodox Christian doctrine.

I look forward to your examples.

Nomad
 
Old 01-02-2001, 10:32 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by penatis:

Psalm 22:1 is irrelevant to this discussion. Again, my point is this: “Matthew” copied, “Mark” in the above passage. Since this is the case, “Matthew” would have no need of witnesses.
Yes he probably did, and I am here to tell you in no uncertain terms, so what? It still doesn't mean any more than if any other biographer today copied from a previous biography. The only difference today is credit would be shown in a note and bibliography. Such tools were unknown in the first Century (or any other century before the 19th) so give this tired argument a rest, or tell us why it is important.

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penatis: No one knows where “Mark” got his information.

Nomad: Yes we do. It is commonly accepted that most of his information came from Peter, as well as the witnesses that lived within his community. Remember that Mark was written within the lifetime of many of the witnesses, including some of the disciples themselves.

It bears repeating: The writer of “Mark” is anonymous.
And this is it. You have repeated the words "anonymous" writers enough times penatis. Start a thread on the subject and we'll debate it.

Thus far all you have demonstrated is that you know how to chant a mantra with all the faith of a true believer.

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No one knows with any degree of certainty when or where the original narrative was composed.
Depends on how much certainy you want. Start the thread and show us why you believe what you do (with EVIDENCE, not assertions, and what you or your scholars happen to BELIEVE). As I said, I am not interested in your beliefs, any more than you are interested in mine.

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With respect to “Peter,“ the anonymous writer never appeals to the authority of a Galilean fisherman who, according to tradition, became a disciple of Jesus.
I feel like I have to define argument from silence to you every time I respond to your posts penatis. Let's move authorship and the question of witnesses to a new thread and see where we end up.

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Even if the writer got some of his information from a disciple's anecdotal accounts (as per Justin Martyr), how does that confirm the historicity of the narrative? If we are to believe this religious propagandist, why not believe all of them?
Indeed. Do you think we are aloud to perhaps considering each religious testimony on its own merits? Or should we always reject them out of hand based on our (non)belief as you have done here?

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penatis: 1. The fact is, “Mark” mentions a few names. No one knows his sources.
So what you are saying here is that he peppers his story with the names of real live people that would still be alive when he wrote the story to spice it up? I really do wonder where you come up with your beliefs penatis.

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Nomad: Do you read my posts? When Mark is naming individuals, he is GIVING his sources. This is not hard stuff penatis.

(I have read Nomad’s posts.) The fact is, “Mark” does not give a clue as to where he got his information.
LOL! This is worth repeating. "Mark doesn't have a clue where he got his story. Why not tell us he made it up out of whole cloth. This is either a typo, or you are really pathetic.

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penatis: 2. When a person uses the phrase “it is a pretty safe bet,” he doesn’t have any evidence. This is pure speculation.

Nomad: No, this is a standard qualifier placed by any prudent and truthful writer that knows enough to not make bold assertions and claim that he KNOWS them to be facts rather than the best information we have available to us today.

Baloney! Why doesn't Nomad present evidence?
You haven't asked me for any evidence. Thus far you have made a bunch of assertions, statements of belief, and appeals to scholarly authority. What would you like to know?

Nomad

 
Old 01-03-2001, 07:10 AM   #29
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If we establish a high level of probability that two or more of them are independent traditions with eyewitness testimony standing behind them (including from the authors themselves), is that reliable in your view?</font>
Independent and eyewitness are two very strong features of historical proof. You have to rule out fiction, and you have to rule out independent retelling of an older fiction. Frankly, there are too many literal correspondences to call the synoptic gospels independent, and they are too far removed from the time of the action to be called eyewitness.

You have set yourself an exceeding difficult task: proving the objective truth of a singular, miraculous event that occured more than two milennia ago using manuscripts copied centuries after they were written by admittedly biased propagandists. Don't blame me for how difficult the task is.

I'm totally convincible in theory. However, pratically, I would have to say that the evidence is so thin that I doubt you can construct a convincing argument out of it. Again, that's not my fault.

It's like saying, "there's no possible way for me to convince you of the truth of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, so you are the close-minded one."
 
Old 01-03-2001, 09:20 AM   #30
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SingleDad:

You have set yourself an exceeding difficult task: proving the objective truth of a singular, miraculous event that occured more than two milennia ago using manuscripts copied centuries after they were written by admittedly biased propagandists. Don't blame me for how difficult the task is.</font>
You are still not getting my question or point here SingleDad, so I will make it again.

I am not talking about miraculous events here. It doesn't matter if you believe in the one's listed in the Gospels or not so far as I am concerned. All I want to know is do you believe that the tomb was probably empty (a very obviously natural and non-miraculous claim)? If you do not, I would like to know why not.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I'm totally convincible in theory. However, pratically, I would have to say that the evidence is so thin that I doubt you can construct a convincing argument out of it. Again, that's not my fault.</font>
Whatever. I'm not asking you to believe in the miraculous accounts. In my view, I do not think that is possible, since you appear to reject the idea as being possible based on a priori assumptions. Personally, I can live with it.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It's like saying, "there's no possible way for me to convince you of the truth of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, so you are the close-minded one." </font>
If you really think proving an empty tomb is like proving pink unicorns, then we do appear to have a problem, don't we.

Nomad
 
 

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