Page 1 of 26 12311 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 505

Thread: He never ...

  1. #1
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default He never ...

    Scripture: Matthew 21:42
    “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner” KJV

    He never wrote a book --- yet libraries can not hold all the books about him

    He never wrote a song --- yet more songs are written about him than anyone

    He never founded a college --- yet he has more students than all the schools

    He never practiced psychiatry --- yet healed more broken hearts than doctors

    He never boasted for notoriety --- yet abounds more than all philosophers

    He never asked to die --- yet the grave could not hold him

    He never joined the religious leaders of the time --- yet angels acknowledge him

    He never joined the religious leaders of the time --- yet demons fear his name

    He never went to medical school --- yet he healed multitudes

    He never traveled far --- yet is known throughout the entire universe










    There's one thing for which you should be abundantly thankful
    Only you and God have all the facts about yourself ♥

  2. #2
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default Eyewitnesses to History ...

    is it possible to be an intelligent, critically thinking person and still believe that the four gospels were written by the people whose names have been attached to them? it's important to acknowledge that strictly speaking, the gospels are anonymous, but the uniform testimony of the early church was that Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector and one of the 12 disciples, was the author of the first gospel in the New Testament; that, John Mark, a companion of Peter, was the author of the gospel we call Mark; and that Luke, known as Paul's "beloved physician" wrote the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, there are no known competitor's for these 3 gospels, apparently, it was just not in dispute, but would anyone have had a motivation to lie by claiming these people wrote these gospels, when they really didn't? Remember that these were unlikely characters, Mark and Luke weren't even among the 12 disciples, Matthew was, but as a former hated tax collector, he would have been the most infamous character next to Judas Escariot, who betrayed Jesus, contrast this with what happened when the fanciful apocryphal gospels were written much later, people chose the names of well known and exemplary figures to be their fictitious authors, Philip, Peter, Mary, James, those names carried alot more weight than the names of Matthew, Mark and Luke, there would not have been any reason to attribute authorship to these three less respected people if it weren't true, what about John? he was extremely prominent, in fact, he wasn't just one of the 12 disciples, but one of Jesus' inner 3, along with James and Peter, John is the only gospel about which there is some question about authorship, the name of the author isn't in doubt, it's certainly John, the question is whether it was John the apostle or a different John, the testimony of a Christian writer named Papias, dated about AD 125, refers to John the apostle and John the elder, and it's not clear from the context whether he's talking about one person from 2 perspectives or two different people, but granted that one exception, the rest of the early testimony is unanimous that it was John the apostle, son of Zebedee, who wrote the gospel, what specific evidence is there that these men are the authors of the gospels? the oldest and most significant testimony comes from Papias, who specifically affirmed that Mark had carefully and accurately recorded Peter's eyewitness observations, in fact, he said that Mark "made no mistake" and did not include "any false statement", then Irenaeus, writing about AD 180, confirmed the traditional authorship, these are Irenaeus' words ... Matthew published his own Gospel among the Hebrews in their own tongue, when Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel in Rome and founding the church there, after their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the substance of Peter's preaching, Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in a book of the Gospel preached by his teacher, then John, the disciple, himself produced his Gospel while he was living in Ephesus in Asia ... if we can have confidence that the gospels were written by the disciples Matthew and John, by Mark, the companion of the disciple Peter, and by Luke, the historian, companion of Paul, and sort of a first century journalist, we can be assured that the events they record are based on either direct or indirect eyewitness testimony ... Craig L Blomberg PH.D.

  3. #3
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default Hot News From History ...

    it's one thing to say that the gospels are rooted in direct or indirect eyewitness testimony; it's another to claim that this information was reliably preserved until it was finally written down years later, this is a major point of contention

    (from Karen Armstrong's A History of God)

    we know very little about Jesus, the first full length account of his life was St Mark's gospel, which was not written until about the year 70, some forty years after his death, by that time, historical facts had been overlaid with mythical elements which expressed the meaning Jesus had acquired for His followers, it is this meaning that St Mark primarily conveys rather than a reliable straightforward portrayal ...

    some scholars say the gospels were written so far after the events that legend developed and distorted what was finally written down, turning Jesus from merely a wise teacher into the mythological Son of God, is that a reasonable hypothesis or is there good evidence that the gospels were recorded earlier than that, before legend could totally corrupt what was ultimately recorded? there are 2 separate issues here and it's important to keep them separate, the standard scholarly dating, even in very liberal circles, is Mark in the 70's, Matthew and Luke in the 80's, John in the 90's, but that's still within the lifetimes of various eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus, including hostile eyewitnesses who would have served as a corrective if false teachings about Jesus were going around, consequently, these late dates for the gospels really aren't all that late, in fact, we can make a comparison that's very instructive, the 2 earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than 400 years after Alexander's death in 323 BC, yet historians consider them to be generally trustworthy, yes, legendary material about Alexander did develop over time but it was only in the centuries after these 2 writers, in other words, the first 500 years kept Alexander's story pretty much intact; legendary material began to emerge over the next 500 years, so whether the gospels were written 60 years or 30 years after the life of Jesus, the amount of time is negligible by comparison, it's almost a nonissue, some believe they were written sooner than the dates mentioned and that can be supported by looking at the book of Acts, which was written by Luke, Acts ends apparently unfinished, Paul is the central figure of the book and he is under house arrest in Rome, with that, the book abruptly halts, what happens to Paul? we don't find out from Acts, probably because the book was written before Paul was put to death, that means that Acts cannot be dated any later than 62 AD, having established that, we can then move backward from there, since Acts is the second of a 2 part work, we know the first part, the gospel of Luke, must've been written earlier than that, and since Luke incorporates parts of the gospel of Mark, that means that Mark is even earlier, if you allow maybe a year for each of those, you end up with Mark written no later than about 60 AD, maybe even the late 50's, if Jesus was put to death in 30 or 33 AD, we're talking about a maximum gap of 30 years or so, historically speaking, especially compared with Alexander the Great, that's like a news flash

  4. #4
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default the intention test ...

    this test seeks to determine whether it was the stated or implied intention of the writers to accurately preserve history, were these first century writers even interested in recording what actually happened? Luke clearly says he intended to write accurately about the things he investigated and found to be well supported by witnesses ...

    (the opening of Luke's gospel)

    Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught ...

    what about the other gospels? they are close to Luke in terms of genre, and it seems reasonable that Luke's historical intent would closely mirror theirs, and John? the only other statement of purpose in the gospels comes in John 20:31: "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" ... that sounds more like a theological statement than a historical one, but if you're going to be convinced enough to believe, the theology has to flow from accurate history, besides, there's an important piece of implicit evidence that can't be overlooked, consider the way the gospels are written, in a sober and responsible fashion, with accurate incidental details, with obvious care and exactitude, you don't find the outlandish flourishes and blatant mythologizing that you see in alot of other ancient writings, what does that all add up to? it seems quite apparent that the goal of the gospel writers was to attempt to record what had actually occurred

  5. #5
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default answering objections ...

    however, is that what really happened? there's a competing and contradictory scenario that has been promoted by some critics, they have said that early Christians were convinced Jesus was going to return during their lifetime to consummate history, so they didn't think it was necessary to preserve any historical records about His life or teachings, after all, why bother if He's going to come and end the world at any moment? so years later when it became obvious that Jesus wasn't coming back right away, they found that they didn't have any accurate historical material to draw on in writing the gospels, nothing had been captured for historical purposes, isn't that what really happened? there are certainly sects and groups, including religious ones throughout history, for which that argument works, but not with early Christianity, why not? what's so different about Christianity? the truth is that the majority of Jesus' teachings presuppose a significant span of time before the end of the world, even if some of Jesus' followers did think He might come back fairly quickly, remember that Christianity was born out of Judaism, for eight centuries the Jews lived with the tension between the repeated pronouncements of prophets that the Day of the Lord was at hand and the continuing history of Israel, and still the followers of these prophets were recorded, valued, and preserved the words of the prophets, given that Jesus' followers looked upon Him as being even greater than a prophet, it seems very reasonable that they would have done the same thing, they say that early Christians frequently believed that the physically departed Jesus was speaking through them with messages or "prophecies" for their church, since these prophecies were considered as authoritative as Jesus' own words, when He was alive on earth, the early Christians didn't distinguish them between these newer sayings and the original words of the historical Jesus, as a result, the gospels blend these two types of material, so we don't really know what goes back to the historical Jesus and what doesn't ... the strongest argument is what we never find in the gospels, after Jesus' ascension, there were a number of controversies that threatened the early church, should believers be circumcised, how should speaking in tongues be regulated, how to keep Jew and Gentile united, what are the appropriate roles for women in ministry, whether believers could divorce non-Christian spouses, these issues could have been conveniently resolved if the early Christians had simply read back into the gospels what Jesus had told them from the world beyond, but this never happened, the continuance of these controversies demonstrates that Christians were interested in distinguishing between what happened during Jesus' lifetime and what was debated later in churches

  6. #6
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default The Ability Test ...

    even if the writers (of the Gospels) intended to reliably record history, were they able to do so? how can we be sure that the material about Jesus' life and teachings was well preserved for 30 years before it was finally written down in the gospels? won't you concede that faulty memories, wishful thinking, and the development of legend would have irreparably contaminated the Jesus tradition prior to the writing of the gospels? we have to remember that we're in a foreign land in a distant time and place and in a culture that has not yet invented computers or even the printing press, books - or actually scrolls of papyrus - were relatively rare, therefore education, learning, worship, teaching in religious communities - all this was done by word of mouth, Rabbis became famous for having the entire Old Testament committed to memory, so it would have been well within the capability of Jesus' disciples to have committed much more to memory than appears in all four gospels put together - and to have passed it along accurately, frankly, that kind of memorization seems incredible, how is that possible? it is difficult for us to imagine today, but this was an oral culture, in which there was great emphasis placed on memorization, and remember that eighty to ninety percent of Jesus' words were in poetic form, this doesn't mean stuff that rhymes, but it has meter, balanced lines, parallelism, and so forth - and this would have created a great memory help, the other thing that needs to be said is that the definition of memorization was more flexible back then, in studies of cultures with oral traditions, there was freedom to vary how much of the story was told on any given occasion, what was included, what was left out, what was paraphrased, what was explained, and so forth, one study suggested that in the ancient Middle East, anywhere form 10-40% of any given retelling of sacred tradition could vary from one occasion to the next, however, there were always fixed points that were unalterable, and the community had the right to intervene and correct the storyteller if he erred on those important aspects of the story, it's an interesting coincidence that 10-40% is pretty consistently the amount of variation among the synoptics of any given passage, it is likely that a lot of similiarities an diffrences among the synoptics can be explained by assuming that the disciples and other early Christians had committed to memory alot of what Jesus said and did, but they felt free to recount this information in various forms, always preserving the significance of Jesus' orginal teachings and deeds, you've probably plaed the game of telephone as a child, one child whispers something into another child's ear and at the end it comes out grossly distorted, is this a good analogy of for what probably happened to the oral tradition about Jesus? no, not really, here's why: when you're carefully memorizing something and taking care not to pass it along until you're sure you've got it right, you're doing something very different from playing the game of telephone, in light of the checks and balances of the first century community, you'd have to say that every third person, out loud in a very clear voice, would have to ask the first person, "do I still have it right?" and change it if he didn't, the community would be constantly monitoring what was said and intervening to make corrections along the way, that would preserve the integrity of the message

  7. #7
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default The Character Test ...

    this test looks at whether if was in the character of these writers to be truthful, was there any evidence of dishonesty or immorality that might taint their ability or willingness to transmit history accurately? we simply do not have any reasonable evidence to suggest they were anything but people of great integrity, we see them reporting the words and actions of a man who called them to as exacting a level of integrity as any religion has ever known, they were willing to live out their beliefs even to the point of 10 of the 11 remaining disciples being put to grisly deaths, which shows great character, in terms of honesty, in terms of truthfulness, in terms of virtue and morality, these people had a track record that should be envied

  8. #8
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default The Consistency Test ...

    here's a test that skeptics often charge the gospels with failing, after all, aren't they hopelessly contradictory with each other? aren't there irreconcilable discrepancies among the various gospel accounts? and if there are, how can anyone trust what they say? once you allow for the elements talked about earlier - of paraphrase, of abridgment, of explanatory additions, of selection, of omission - the gospels are extremely consistent with each other by ancient standards, which are the only standards by which it is fair to judge them, ironically, if the gospels had been identical to each other, word for word, this would have raised charges that the authors had conspired among themselves to coordinate their stories in advance, and that would have cast doubt on them, if the gospels were too consistent, that in itself would invalidate them as independent witnesses, people would then say we really only have one testimony that everybody else is just parroting, flashing to the words of Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School, one of history's most important legal figures and author of an influential treatise on evidence, after studying the consistency among the four gospel writers, he offered this evaluation, "There is enough of a dispcrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them; and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction." from the perspective of a classical historian, German scholar Hans Stier has concurred that agreement over basic data and divergence of details suggest credibility, because fabricated accounts tend to be fully consistent and harmonized, "Every historian," he wrote, "is especially skeptical at that moment when an extraoridinary happening is only reported in accounts which are completely free of contradictions."

  9. #9
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default Coping With Contradictions ...

    in Matthew it says a centurion himself came to ask Jesus to heal his servant, however, Luke says the centurion sent the elders to do this, now that is an obvious contradiction, isn't it? think about it this way: in our world today, we may hear a news report that says, "The president announced today that ..." when in fact the speech was written by a speechwriter and delivered by the press secretary - and with a little luck, the president might have glanced at it somewhere in between, yet nobody accuses that broadcast of being in error, in a similar way, in the ancient world it was perfectly understood and accepted that actions were often attributed to people when in fact they occurred through their subordinates or emissaries - in this case through the elders of the Jewish people, so it is possible for both Matthew and Luke to be right, what about Mark and Luke saying that Jesus sent the demons into the swine at Gerasa, while Matthew says it was in Gadara, people look at that and say it is an obvious contradiction that cannot be reconciled, it's two different places, case closed, there is one possible solution, one was a town, the other was a province, it gets more complicated than that, Gerasa, the town, wasn't anywhere near the Sea of Galilee, yet that's where the demons, after going into the swine, supposedly took the herd over the cliff to their deaths, but there have been ruins of a town that have been excavated at exactly the right point on the eastern shore of Galilee, the English form of the town's name often gets pronounced 'Khersa' but as a Hebrew word translated or transliterated into Greek, it could have come out sounding something very much like 'Gerasa', so it may very well have been in Khersa - whose spelling in Greek was rendered as Gerasa - in the province of Gadara ... what about the disprecpancies between the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke? skeptics often point to them as being hopelessly in conflict, the two most common options have been that Matthew reflects Joseph's lineage, because most of his opening chapter is told from Joseph's perspective and Joseph, as the adoptive father, would have been the legal ancestor through whom Jesus' royal lineage would have been traced, these are themes that it is important for Matthew, Luke, then, would have traced the genealogy through Mary's lineage, and since both are from the ancestry of David, once you get that far back the lines converge, the second option is that both genealogies reflect Joseph's legal lineage in order to create the necessary legalities, but one is Joseph's human lineage - the gospel of Luke - and the other is Joseph's legal lineage, with the two diverging at the points where somebody in the line did not have a direct offspring, they had to raise up legal heirs through various Old Testament practices, the problem is made greater because some names are omitted, which was perfectly acceptable by standards of the ancient world, and there are textual variants - names, being translated from one language into another, often took on different spellings and were then easily confused for the name of a different individual, even if they may not be airtight, at least these explanations provide a reasonable harmonization of the gospel accounts

  10. #10
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default The Bias Test ...

    this test analyzes whether the gospel writers had any biases that would have coloured their work, did they have any vested interest in skewing the material they were reporting on? we can't underestimate the fact that these people loved Jesus, they were not neutral observers; they were his devoted followers, wouldn't that make it likely that they could change things to make him look good? it does create the potential for this to happen, but on the other hand, people can so honor and respect someone that it prompts them to record his life with great integrity, that's the way they would show their love for him and I think that's what happened here, besides, these disiciples had nothing to gain except criticism, ostracism, and martyrdom, they certainly had nothing to win financially, if anything, this would have provided pressure to keep quiet, to deny Jesus, to downplay him, even to forget they ever met him - yet because of their integrity, they proclaimed what they saw, even when it meant suffering and death

  11. #11
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default The Cover Up Test ...

    when people testify about events they saw, they will often try to protect themselves or others by conveniently forgetting to mention details that are embarrassing or hard to explain, as a result, this raises uncertainty about the veracity of their entire testimony, did the gospel writers include any material that might be embarrassing, or did they cover it up to make themselves look good? did they report anything that would be uncomfortable or difficult for them to explain? there's actually quite a bit along those lines, there's a large body of Jesus' teachings called the hard sayings of Jesus, some of it is very ethically demanding, if I were inventing a religion to suit my fancy, I probably wouldn't tell myself to be as perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect, or define adultery to include lust in my heart, but there are demanding statements in other religions as well, which is why the more persuasive kind of hard sayings are those that could be embarrassing for what the church wanted to teach about Jesus, for instance, Mark 6:5 says that Jesus could do few miracles in Nazareth because the people there had little faith, which seems to limit Jesus' power, Jesus said in Mark 13:32 that he didn't know the day or the hour of his return, which seems to limit his omniscience, now, ultimately theology hasn't had a problem with these statements because Paul himself, in Phillippians 2:5-8, talks about God in Christ voluntarily and consciously limiting the independent exercise of his divine attributes, but if I felt free to play fast and loose with gospel history, it would be much more convenient to just leave out that material altogether, and then I wouldn't have to go through the hassle of explaining it, Jesus' baptism is another example, you can explain why Jesus, who was without sin, allowed himself to be baptized, but why not make things easier by leaving it out altogether? on the cross Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ... it would have been in the self interest of the writers to omit that because it raises too many questions, Mark's perspective of Peter is pretty consistently unflattering, and he's the ringleader! the disciples repeatedly misunderstand Jesus, James and John want the places at Jesus' right and left hand, and he has to teach them hard lessons about servant leadership instead, they look like a bunch of self-serving, self-seeking, dull-witted people a lot of the time, now we already know that the gospel writers were selective; John's gospel ends by saying, somewhat hyperbolically, that the whole world couldn't contain all the information that could have been written about Jesus, so had they left some of this out, that in and of itself wouldn't necessarily have been seen as falsifying the story, but here's the point: if they didn't feel free to leave out stuff when it would have been convenient to do so, is it really plausible to believe that they outright added and fabricated material with no historical basis? I'd say not

  12. #12
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default The Corroboration Test ...

    when the gospels mention people, places and events, do they check out to be correct in cases which they can be independently verified? often such corroboration is invaluable in assessing whether a writer has a commitment to accuracy, they do and the longer people explore this, the more the details get confirmed, within the last hundred years, archaeology has repeatedly unearthed discoveries that have confirmed specific references in the gospels, particularly the gospel of John - ironically, the one that's supposedly so suspect! now there are still some unresolved issues, and there have been times when archaeology has created new problems, but those are a tiny minority compared with the number of examples of corroboration, in addition, we can learn through non-Christian sources a lot of facts about Jesus that corroborate key teachings and events in his life, and when you stop to think that ancient historians for the most part dealt only with political rulers, emperors, kings, military battles, official religious people, and major philosophical movements, it's remarkable how much we can learn about Jesus and his followers even though they fit none of those categories at the time these historians were writing

  13. #13
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default The Adverse Witness Test ...

    this test asks the question, were others present who would have contradicted or corrected the gospels if they had been distorted or false? in other words, do we see examples of contemporaries of Jesus complaining that the gospels were just plain wrong? many people had reasons for wanting to discredit this movement and would have done so if they could have simply told history better, yet look at what his opponents did say, in later Jewish writings Jesus is called a sorcerer who led Israel astray - which acknowledges that he really did work marvelous wonders, although the writers dispute the source of his power, this would've been a perfect opportunity to say something like, "the Christians will tell you he worked miracles, but we're here to tell you he didn't." yet that's the one thing we never see his opponents saying, instead they implicitly acknowledge that what the gospels wrote - that Jesus performed miracles - is true, could this Christian movement have taken root right there in Jerusalem - in the very area where Jesus had done much of his ministry, had been crucified, buried and resurrected - if people who knew him were aware that the disciples were exaggerating or distorting the things that he did? we have a picture of what was initially a very vulnerable and fragile movement that was being subjected to persecution, if critics could have attacked it on the basis that it was full of falsehoods or distortions, they would have, but that's exactly what we don't see

  14. #14
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default A Faith Buttressed By Facts ...

    the next assignment is clear: figure out whether these gospels have been reliably handed down to us over the centuries, how can we be sure that the texts we're reading today bear any resemblence to what was originally written in the first century? what's more, how do we know that the gospels are telling us the full story about Jesus? it's ironic: the bible considers it praiseworthy to have a faith that does not require evidence, remember how Jesus replied to Thomas: "You believe because you can see; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." evidence can never compel or coerce faith, we cannot supplant the role of the Holy Spirit, which is often a concern of Christians when they hear discussions of this kind, there are plenty of stories of scholars in the New Testament field who have not been Christians, yet through their study of these very issues have come to faith in Christ, and there have been countless more scholars, already believers, whose faith has been made stronger, more solid, more grounded, because of the evidence

  15. #15
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default Copies of Copies of Copies ...

    we know that there are no surviving originals of the New Testament, if all we have are copies of copies of copies, how can I have any confidence that the New Testament we have today bears any resemblance whatsoever to what was originally written? this isn't an issue that's unique to the bible; it's a question we can ask of other documents that have come down to us from antiquity, but what the New Testament has in it's favor, especially when compared with other ancient writings, is the unprecedented multiplicity of copies that have survived, why is that important? the more often you have copies that agree with each other, especially if they emerge from different geographical areas, the more you can cross check them to figure out what the original document was like, the only way they'd agree would be where they went back genealogically in a family tree that represents the descent of the manuscripts, what about the age of the documents? certainly that is important as well? this is something else that favors the New Testament, we have copies commencing within a couple of generations from the writing of the originals, whereas in the case of other ancient texts, maybe five, eight or ten centuries elapsed between the original and the earliest surviving copy, in addition to Greek manuscripts, we also have translations of the gospels into other languages at a relatively early time - into Latin, Syriac and Coptic, and beyond that, we have what may be called secondary translations made a little later, like Armenian and Gothic, and alot of others - Georgian, Ethiopic, a great variety, how does that help? because even if we had no Greek manuscripts today, by piecing together the information from these translations from a relatively early date, we could actually produce the contents of the New Testament, in addition to that, even if we lost all the Greek manuscripts and the early translations, we could still reproduce the contents of the new Testament from the multiplicity of quotations in commentaries, sermons, letters and so forth from the early church fathers

  16. #16
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default A Mountain of Manuscripts ...

    when we talk about a great multiplicity of manuscripts, how does that contrast with other ancient books that are routinely accepted by scholars as being reliable? consider Tacitus, the Roman historian who wrote his Annals of Imperial Rome in about AD 116, his first 6 books exist today in only one manuscript, and it was copied about AD 850, books 11-16 are in another manuscript dating from the 11th century, books 7-10 are lost, so there is a long gap between the time that Tacitus sought his information and wrote it down and the only existing copies, with regard to the 1st century historian Josephus, we have 9 Greek manuscripts of his work The Jewish War, and these copies were written in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries, there is a Latin translation from the 4th century and medieval Russian materials from the 11th or 12th century, these numbers are suprising, there is but the thinnest thread of manuscripts connecting these ancient works to the modern world, by comparison, how many New Testament Greek manuscripts are in existence today? more than 5000 have been cataloged, is that unusual in the ancient world? what would the runner up be? the quantity of New Testament material is almost embarrassing in comparison with other works of antiquity, next to the New Testament, the greatest amount of manuscript testimony is of Homer's Illiad, which was the bible of the ancient Greeks, there are fewer than 650 Greek manuscripts of it today, some are quite fragmentary, they come down to us from the 2nd and 3rd century AD and following, when you consider that Homer composed his epic about 800 BC, you can see there's a very lengthy gap, in describing the New Testament manuscripts, the earliest fragments of papyrus, which was a writing material made from the papyrus plant that grew in the marshes of the Nile Delta in Egypt, there are now 99 fragmentary pieces of papyrus that contain one or more passages or books of the New Testament, the most significant to come to light are the Chester Beatty Biblical Papri, discovered about 1930, of these, Beatty Biblical Papyrus number 1 contains portions of the 4 gospels and the book of Acts, and it dates from the 3rd century, Papyrus number 2 contains large portions of eight letters of Paul, plus portions of Hebrews, dating to about the year 200, Papyrus number 3 has a sizable section of the book of Revelation, dating from the 3rd century, another group of important papyrus manuscripts was purchased by a Swiss bibliophile, M. Martin Bodmer, the earliest of these, dating from about 200, contains about 2/3 of the gospel of John, another papyrus, containing portions of the gospels of Luke and John, dates from the 3rd century, at this point, the gap between the writing of the biographies of Jesus and the earliest manuscripts was extremely small, but what is the oldest manuscript we possess? how close in time can we get to the original writings, which experts call "autographs"?

  17. #17
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default The Scrap That Changed History ...

    of the entire New Testament, what is the earliest portion that we possess today? that would be a fragment of the gospel of John, containing material from chapter 18, it has 5 verses - 3 on one side, 2 on the other - and it measures about 2 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/2 inches, how was it discovered? it was purchased in Egypt as early as 1920, but it sat unnoticed for years among similar fragments of papri, then in 1934 C. H. Roberts of Saint John's College, Oxford, was sorting through the papri at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England, he immediately recognized this as preserving a portion of John's gospel, he was able to date it from the style of the script, he concluded it originated between AD 100-150, lots of other prominent paleographers, like Sir Frederic Kenyon, Sir Harold Bell, Adolf Deissmann, W. H. P. Hatch, Ulrich Wilcken, and others, have agreed at least to the reign of Emperor Trajan, which was AD 98-117, that was a stunning discovery, the reason: skeptical German theologians in the last century argued strenuously that the fourth gospel was not even composed until at least the year 160 - too distant from the events of Jesus' life to be of much historical use, they were able to influence generations of scholars, who scoffed at this gospel's reliability, here we have, at a very early date, a fragment of a copy of John all the way over in a community along the Nile River in Egypt, far from Ephesus in Asia Minor, where the gospel was probably originally composed, this finding has literally rewritten popular views of history, pushing the composition of John's gospel much closer to the days when Jesus walked the earth

  18. #18
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default A Wealth of Evidence ...

    while papyrus manuscripts represent the earliest copies of the New Testament, there are also ancient copies written on parchment, which was made from skins of cattle, sheep, goats and antelope, we have what are called uncial manuscripts, which are written in all-capital Greek letters, today, we have 306 of these, several dating back as early as the 3rd century, the most important are Codex Sinaiticus, which is the only complete New Testament in uncial letters, and Codex Vaticanus, which is not quite complete, both date to about AD 350, a new style of writing, more cursive in nature, emerged in roughly AD 800, it's called miniscule, and we have 2,856 of these, then there are also lectionaries, which contain New Testament Scripture in the sequence it was to be read in the early churches at appropriate times during the year, a total of 2,403 of these have been cataloged, that puts the total of Greek manuscripts at 5,664, in addition to the Greek documents, there are thousands of other ancient New Testament manuscripts in other languages, there are 8,000-10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts, plus a total of 8,000 in Ethiopic, Slavic and Armenian, in all, there are about 24,000 manuscripts in existence, in terms of multiplicity of manuscripts and the time gap between the originals and our first copies, how does the New Testament stack up against other well-known works of antiquity? we can have great confidence in the fidelity with which this material has come down to us, especially compared with any other ancient literary work, there is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament, in no other case is the interval of time between the composition of the book and the date of the earliest manuscripts so short as in that of the New Testament

  19. #19
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default Examining The Errors ...

    with the similarities in the way the Greek letters are written and with the primitive conditions under which scribes worked, it would seem inevitable that copying errors would creep into the text, eyeglasses weren't invented until 1373 in Venice, compounded by the fact that it was difficult under any circumstances to read faded manuscripts on which some of the ink had flaked away, and there were other hazards, inattentiveness on the part of the scribes, etc., so although the scribes were scrupulously careful, errors did creep in, but there are factors counteracting that, Greek, unlike English, is an inflected language, meaning it makes a big difference in English if you say, "dog bites man" or "man bites dog", sequence matters in English, but in Greek it doesn't, one word functions as the subject of the sentence regardless of where it stands in the sequence, consequently, the meaning of the sentence isn't distorted if the words are out of what we consider to be the right order, some variations among the manuscripts exist, but generally they're inconsequential variations like that, still the number of "variants" or differences among manuscripts was troubling, estimates as high as 200,000 of them, the number sounds big, but it's a bit misleading because of the way variants are counted, if a single word is misspelled in 2000 manuscripts, that's counted as 2000 variants, how many doctrines of the church are in jeopardy because of variants? none, the variations, when they occur, tend to be minor, rather than substantive and scholars work very carefully to try to resolve them by getting back to the original meaning, the New Testament, then, has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book - a form that is 99.5% pure ...

  20. #20
    Administrator squirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    738,267
    Rep Power
    16262

    Default A High Degree of Unanimity ...

    how did the early church leaders determine which books would be considered authoratative and which would be discarded? what criteria did they use in determining which documents would be included in the New Testament? basically, the early church had 3 criteria, first, the books must have apostolic authority - that is, they must have been written either by the apostles themselves, who were eyewitnesses to what they wrote about, or by followers of apostles, so in the case of Mark and Luke, while they weren't among the 12 disicples, early tradition has it that Mark was a helper of Peter, and Luke was an associate of Paul, second, there was the criterion of conformity to what was called the rule of faith, that is, was the document congruent with the basic Christian tradition that the church recognized as normative? and third, there was the criterion of whether a document had had continuous acceptance and usage by the church at large, what's remarkable is that even though the fringes of the canon remained unsettled for a while, there was actually a high degree of unanimity concerning the greater part of the New Testament within 2 centuries, and this was true among very diverse congregations scattered over a wide area, so the 4 gospels we have in the New Testament today met those criteria, while others didn't? it was an example of "survival of the fittest", we can be confident that no other ancient books can compare with the New Testament in terms of importance for Christian history or doctrine, the other documents (the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of the Egyptians, the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Nativity of Mary) were written later than the 4 gospels, in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, even 6th century, long after Jesus, and they're generally quite banal (devoid of freshness or originality; hackneyed; trite), they carry names that are unrelated to their real authorship, on the other hand, the 4 gospels in the New Testament are readily accepted with remarkable unanimity as being authentic in the story they told

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •