My Journey to the Heart of ID

FlagellummotorThis was originally published 10/3/2013. Reposting this series in preparation for another series about Intelligent Design I will be posting soon. Part 1 of 3.
For nine days this past July, I had an inspiring experience. I hesitate to write about such things as such experiences are usually personal and subjective. It is sometimes worth the effort, however, when the experience demonstrates some important truth worth sharing with others. In this instance I don’t want to share my experience per se, rather I am hoping to convince readers to seek it for themselves. The task at hand is far more difficult than I am willing to admit. Before I can begin to reach those who might be educationally or intellectually interested in this subject I will have to cut through a tremendous amount of noise and clutter. For the subject matter at the heart of this series is… (GASP)… intelligent design. Continue reading

Distorting Textual Criticism: A Review of Misquoting Jesus, part 6

MisquotingJesusPart 6 of 6. In this final post I will consider Ehrman’s perspective on the effectiveness of written language to communicate, well, anything.

As a final observation it is relevant to see how Ehrman views the possibility of objective, propositional truth being communicated through written language. At the end of his conclusion we find Ehrman does not just dismiss the Bible as a source objective truth, but he seems to reject objective truth as being present in any form of writing. Looking at how various parts of the Bible can be interpreted in so many different ways he concludes nothing in the Bible has an obvious meaning. Every text in the Bible must be interpreted. This is not objectionable when considering the New Testament; however Ehrman applies this reasoning to every kind of book ever written: Continue reading

Distorting Textual Criticism: A Review of Misquoting Jesus, part 5

MisquotingJesusPart 5 of 6. In this post I will continue to look at specific passages Ehrman claims are mistranslated in the English bible. I will also address his assertion that these changes would alter the meaning the effected books.

The second passage Ehrman addresses in chapter 5 is from Luke 22:39-46. In the midst of his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the stress of what Jesus knew was coming takes it toll on him as he prays. “Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”[1] Ehrman acknowledges there is “balance of arguments” from a manuscript perspective regarding these verses. He even admits, “The verses are found in several other early witnesses and are, on the whole, widely distributed throughout the entire manuscript tradition.”[2] However, this does not dissuade him from his thesis that scribes for a variety of reasons have changed the New Testament. He believes these verses where a later scribal addition to respond to Docetism (Jesus only appeared to be human).[3] Continue reading

Distorting Textual Criticism: A Review of Misquoting Jesus, part 4

Part 4 of 6. In this post I will continue my critique of Misquoting Jesus by beginning to look at three specific passages Ehrman claims are mistranslated in the English bible. I will also address his assertion that these changes would alter the meaning the effected books.
MisquotingJesus

Chapter 5 starts out with a brief but informative survey of the kinds of evidence used by the majority of textual critics, described as Reasoned Eclecticism in the previous series on textual criticism. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to Ehrman’s analysis of three passages he believes are wrong in modern English translations based on the textual critical evidence. He believes the “correct” form of these passages changes the meaning of the effected books. The first passage, Mark 1:41, hinges on changing a single word in the Greek Continue reading

Distorting Textual Criticism: A Review of Misquoting Jesus, part 3

MisquotingJesusPart 3 of 6. In this post I will begin my critique of Ehrman’s views, beginning with how he views Biblical inspiration and how he applies the results of textual criticism.

To begin my critique, I will address Ehrman’s view of inspiration and inerrancy. In the introduction, he puts forward a standard for divine inspiration the Bible clearly does not meet. But is the standard he espouses reasonable? His position is that textual criticism applied to the manuscript evidence reveals “more differences between our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.”[1] Therefore, since the manuscripts have changed over time, the exact words of the originals have been lost. “If one wants to insist that God inspired the very words of scripture, what would be the point if we don’t have the very words of scripture?”[2] Since the texts were transmitted with errors in Ehrman’s view, the question is whether or not they were the ever inspired in the first place: Continue reading

Distorting Textual Criticism: A Review of Misquoting Jesus, part 2

MisquotingJesusPart 2 of 6. In this post I will continue with a synopsis of Misquoting Jesus.

Chapter 3 opens with a description of how transmission of the Bible changed when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in 312 AD. The history of the Vulgate and the first printed editions of the Greek New Testament are described, including the problems associated with limited Greek manuscript availability. Regarding the Greek New Testament produced by Erasmus, some anecdotes are presented regarding how some portions were translated from the Vulgate into Greek and the introduction of a since discarded variant reading of 1 John 5:7-8. The publication in 1707 of John Mill’s Greek New Testament describes some thirty thousand textual variants culled from approximately one hundred manuscripts available at the time.[1] From the 18th century to the present, the number of Greek manuscripts has exploded to over fifty-seven hundred. With fifty-seven times as many manuscripts, determining the number of variants has become an even more difficult problem: Continue reading

Distorting Textual Criticism: A Review of Misquoting Jesus

MisquotingJesus

(Part 1 of 6). Given the hostility Christian beliefs have always attracted it is not surprising how much interest anti-Christian writings generate. Good writers who have a remotely plausible argument about why the Christian religion is a ridiculous myth will always draw an audience. From Dan Brown to Christopher Hitchens to Richard Dawkins, there has been no shortage of hostile writing non-Christians can enjoy. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a different breed from the New Atheism and fiction writers. Unlike Dawkins or Hitchens, Ehrman, by virtue of his 30 years experience in the field of New Testament textual criticism, knows a lot about the history and writings of Christianity. This series is a critical review of his book Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. His knowledge of the New Testament and his hostility toward the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible require thoughtful analysis and response. This series is a continuation of my focus on textual criticism. Continue reading

An Introduction to Textual Criticism: Why We Can Trust the New Testament

sinaiticus-4Part 4 of 4. A four part overview of the discipline of textual criticism focusing on the Greek New Testament. Part one is an introduction and a summary of the types and amounts of manuscript evidence available for the New Testament. Part two discusses the types of differences that exist among the Greek manuscripts. While the vast majority has no impact on the text, about 1% may actually effect the translation. How these are addressed is discussed in part three. Finally in part four we discuss how all the elements of textual criticism demonstrate that the New Testament has in fact been miraculously preserved.

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An Introduction to Textual Criticism: Addressing the 1%

sinaiticus-3Part 3 of 4. A four part overview of the discipline of textual criticism focusing on the Greek New Testament. Part one is an introduction and a summary of the types and amounts of manuscript evidence available for the New Testament. Part two discusses the types of differences that exist among the Greek manuscripts. While the vast majority has no impact on the text, about 1% may actually effect the translation. How these are addressed is discussed in part three. Finally in part four we discuss how all the elements of textual criticism demonstrate that the New Testament has in fact been miraculously preserved.

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An Introduction to Textual Criticism: How the manuscripts differ

sinaiticus-2Part 2 of 4. A four part overview of the discipline of textual criticism focusing on the Greek New Testament. Part one is an introduction and a summary of the types and amounts of manuscript evidence available for the New Testament. Part two discusses the types of differences that exist among the Greek manuscripts. While the vast majority has no impact on the text, about 1% may actually effect the translation. How these are addressed is discussed in part three. Finally in part four we discuss how all the elements of textual criticism demonstrate that the New Testament has in fact been miraculously preserved.

Continue reading