JulianJ wrote:P46 could conceivably be 100 years after the fact. I would not consider that particularly close, although certainly better than most other MSS. That still leaves several generations in between, lots of time considering the turbulent times, more on this later.
The fact that it is within 100 years (quite possibly that is) make this document tremendously close by most standards (i.e. textual and literary criticism) and is very close to when things actually happened. If we look back on our history of 100 years ago, we are quite certain that we have a fairly accurate picture, and that the documents coming from that time are reliable (especially when they are held up against other documents from the time). As far as several generation passing.....are you talking about a 20 year generation? That might be theoretically sound, but in praxis short generations don't work. What I mean is, although that is a lot of time to pass.....I can talk to my a good friend of mine, and he can give me a very accurate picture of what life was like almost a hundred years ago....he was alive! He's actually only 89 years old, but he fought in WWII, and is a living talking piece of history. If someone were to make up a story about the Marines taking Guadal Canal, he would jump and down and say it's a bunch of garbage....he was an Army soldier, and it was the Army boys who took Guadal Canal. I think this principle is applicable here when we look at a biblical document being so close to the actual time of it's writing.
WWII is not 100 years ago, not even WWI would qualify here. You will be hard pressed to find somebody to talk to about the turn of the previous century. Also note that P46 show the letters much in the format that we have them today, even though they are actually collections of much smaller letters. This shows tampering already at this stage.
It must also be borne in mind that society is very different today than it was then. Only 10-15% of people were literate, papyrus and parchment was relative expensive. Means of communication were quite primitive by today's standards.
Today, publishing is commonplace as is education. Paper is readily available. Surely, the difference is immediately obvious.
We know that P46 has been tampered with and we know that it is removed in time (the severity of which we will disagree on). It is simply too far removed from the events.
I have asked around regarding Kim's dating and it seems very disputed by many scholars, including Metzger (if memory serves.) It is probably more like 150, or more, years after the fact.
JulianJ wrote:I do believe that we should treat the NT texts as we treat any other text from antiquity. That, of course, also means that we should not take it at face value. When Caesar tells his ridiculous story of the elk that has no knees so it has to sleep standing up against a tree, nobody believes that it is a true story as it conflicts with our current scientific knowledge of the elk. The same must hold true for the gospels, to avoid special pleading. That means that when Jesus makes many loaves out a few, we must reject the story as failing the criterion of analogy. Saying that it was possible for him is special pleading.
I guess that this is going to be one of our greatest points of contention. The NT doesn't claim to be a scientific book. It claims to be a book about faith and love. These two things cannot be properly quantified and analyzed scientifically. They are metaphysical by their very nature. We cannot expect to be able to fit all of the things portrayed in them to be able to be fully analyzed by means of science. Can you, by means of science, tell me why I love my wife, or dog? You can probably talk about chemical receptors and pheremones, but do you really think that these things capture the essence and reality of love?? So I guess my next question is....are there some things that science in itself is not sufficient to answer?
Nothing is outside of science, only outside our understanding of it. Love and faith are facets of the human psyche, nothing more. They can be explained by science through evolutionary traits and the physical electrical/chemical pathways of the brain. There is no need to appeal to metaphysics here.
Faith is obviously a real and powerful force and when applied to the NT I have no problems with this and never gainsay or argue the point. It is when scienctific statements are made. To wit:
1) I have faith that the gospels were written independently and are inerrant.
2) The gospels were written independently and are inerrant.
I have no issues with statement number 1 since it is clearly a statement of faith and therefore represents a personal faith and hope. No problem, enjoy.
The second one is a statement of fact and, as such, is subject to scientific scrutiny. It is factually incorrect. In order to have such a statement be even remotely plausible, one must present evidence of greater quality than that which currently speaks of copying and myth-making. Until this happens, one must be humble before the facts or return to the realm of faith where factual statements hold no sway.
The gospels are about faith and love. They are also about politics, a way of life, about condemnation and death, about good and evil and many, many other things. As such they have been, and still are, used as tools for domination. I wish that christians would sometimes adhere more closely to Mathhew 6:5-6 and many do
, but it is when the bible brought to bear on society as a bludgeoning tool that the claim to faith and love no longer is valid. I am by no means saying that you fall into the category of people misusing the bible and none of this is meant as a personal attack, it is merely a general observation upon society.
If the NT was merely a statement on faith and love, I doubt we would be having this discussion.
But I ramble again...
JulianJ wrote:I must, at this point, state my distrust of the UBS commitee. I believe that they are guilty of a bias that shows through far too often. I prefer Swanson's editions since he makes no decisions regarding the text.
I am not familiar with Swanson's Editions, but I don't see how it is possible for him to not make any decisions regarding the text....that is unless he has all
of the textual differences of the text listed for each and every verse. I don't really agree with the UBS commitee either (I wouldn't say I distrust them though), and I think that in many instances they simplify their choices to "What does B and P46 say", if they find those two in agreement then they go with it.
He doesn't make decisions on the text because he does, more or less, exactly what you describe. He quotes B (03) as the top line and then lists out fully all the other variants, lining up the words, bolding variants and so on. It makes it possible to see all the variant readings at a quick glance. B (03) is merely used for reference, nothing more. It contains a number of variant reading that were left out of UBS4, although many of them might be in NA27 or SQE, neither of which I have.
Bruce Metzger contribute to Swanson's editions and wrote the foreword.
JulianJ wrote:I suppose we have here a disagreement as to the degree of contention. In many places, Marcionites were the majority which would make the proto-orthodox the heretics. Most of the epistles in the NT deal with christianities that were not in line with the proto-orthodox. The gospels show tampering designed to counter alternative views, e.g. docetism. Why so much energy and writing directed at something which wasn't that big of a deal?
I must say that I am completely at a loss that you view this as that big of a deal! This was obviously a very big deal to the authors of the NT text, so much so that parts of their writings were a direct polemic against the heresies of the day (cf. I John and docetism). I also don't understand what you mean by the gospels showing tampering. What would you point to specifically as tampering within the gospels?
Sure. Most obvious are the Western non-interpolations. Many scholars reject the shorter readings but they have very poor reason to do so other than tradition and christian bias. Westcott and Hort showed why they were more likely the correct readings. This has since been backed up for some of the readings by Bart Ehrman (and others) with what I consider one of the most devastating series of arguments that I have seen in a long time in a field where things are general far from devastating and closer to 'I guess.'
The Western non-interpolations, if you are not familiar with them, are mostly Lukan readings. They are represented by omissions in D (05) and most of the old latins. They were made very early, before most of the greek uncials, and are in many cases (most?) directed against various gnostic 'heresies.'
Although, I still wonder how the Gospel of Mark made it into the canon when Gospel of Peter was rejected. I consider the Gospel of Mark to be an out and out gnostic separationist work but that would be a discussion for another thread.
Other modifications would be the 'son of god' in Mark 1:1 as well as the longer ending after 16:8. I realize that they are disputed but the fact that we have two versions is obvious tampering.
Anyways, you are obviously familiar with the apparatus, which is, of course, nothing but a list of modifications, tamperings and errors.
JulianJ wrote:Not sure what you are asking for here...
Good sources on the christian variations would be Bart Ehrman's Lost Christianities and his Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. Since Bultman was mentioned ealier I guess I can also recommend a student of his student (Bultman-> Koester -> Pagels), Elaine Pagels who has written much on this topic.
These sound like good sources. I am familiar with some of Ehrman's work in Text Criticism, and he is very good in that field.
Both books are excellent but Orthodox Corruption of Scripture
is superior and, in fact, one of the most interesting books in this field that I have ever read.
JulianJ wrote:No serious scholar....Well, serious might be the wrong word here. What I am trying to say is that when doing science one must adhere to scientific principles. It is fine to read the gospels in the light of faith but that view is incompatible with science. Science says that a few loaves don't magically become many loaves. Now, faith can still comment upon the event and its meaning but science must reject it or, at least, refrain from commenting upon its veracity, although comment in terms of, say, form criticism might still be useful.
Faith is faith and science is science. Both have their places but those places are not mixed together. Faith may have value for the invidual but does not advance human knowledge, the other does just that but in turn cannot answer deeper questions as to the whys and wherefores...
This really plays back into the point I made earlier. In some respects I think that your quest for finding the Scientific truth behind the gospels is a lost cause. It's sort of like trying to quantifiy Miles Davis' Kind of Blue
with a seismograph. It is an venture in catagory mistake. If faith is faith and science is science and never the twain shall meet, then how can we then expect to discover faith by science? Do you see what I'm trying to say? I can appreciate the fact that you are looking into the historical Jesus, and that you are trying to discover what was really said and written and done, but to discount the supernatural in the gospels, is to nullify most of what the book is about....that is faith.
Well, I agree with much of this except we are not using science to discover faith. Faith is already there and is a personal statement and, as such, holds little to no interest for me in terms of studying the NT. Also, faith is not supernatural, but in
the supernatural is certainly a fact. Boy, this is getting convoluted...
I have no religious faith and no interest in acquiring any but I certainly respect people's right to possess it for themselves. Continuing this answer below because they are related...
That being said....I have no desire to enter into a theological discussion in the open forum with you (a PM would be much more practical), but the question I am most curious about now is....why does this matter to you? Or perhaps the better question would be....why does this interest you?
It matters to me because I find the fact
of christianity fascinating. The history of it. Its impact can hardly be overestimated. It has been the single most important force in the development of post-antiquity man and it still affects the world in a profound manner even to this day. Combine this with my general interest in history and languages and it becomes an irresistible topic for me.
I have very little interest in theological issues order than to the extent that I must know about it for my studies. I also have very little interest in a historical Jesus, if he ever did exist at all, because he has become so marginalized by the movement itself that he is forever buried under the christological layers of the gospels to the extent that we will never be able to excavate him.
Early christianity is a fascinating area of study and topical, even today.
Once again I rambled on. Looking back over this post, it may seem forceful at times. Reast assured that this merely displays my enthusiasm for the topic and is in no way antagonistic.