Text Criticism –dueling books

Text Criticism” is an academic discipline devoted to the study of ancient writings. Text criticism is best known as the study of handwritten manuscripts from before the age of printing. In particular, the most studied and most controversial work in the world of text criticism is the New Testament.

Text criticism got its start when translators noticed differences between manuscripts. Translators would compare manuscripts and find instances where they would have to choose between manuscripts for passages with differences.

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Josephus on James the Just

Josephus was a Jew who became a leader in the Jewish rebellion of AD 69. He was captured and ended up working for the Romans as a slave translator during the siege of Jerusalem. After being defeated and humiliated by initial Jewish victories, the Romans had called old General Vespasian out of retirement to lead the army that crushed Judea. While the siege of Jerusalem was going on, word came from Rome that the Praetorian Guard had arranged a new vacancy in Rome (Emperor Vitellius had been murdered after 8 months of rule), and they wanted Vespasian to come to Rome and become Emperor. Vespasian left his son Titus in charge. Titus befriended Josephus.

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First Thessalonians

I am writing to oppose an anti-Christian tall tale that says the New Testament is full of Pagan ideas. There are several logical arguments against this popular anti-Christian slander. I want to concentrate here on just one source of good information. This post is to consider some of the evidence provided by St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians.

Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians is my choice for this exercise because it has been overlooked but it sheds a lot of light that should be helpful in considering anti-Christian allegations. Thessalonians I is commonly acknowledged among historians, even anti-Christian historians, to be a genuine writing of Paul, and, crucial to my argument, the consensus among both Christian and anti-Christian scholars is that it may be dated from 51 or 52 AD. This provides a fatal flaw in theories about the “evolution” of Christian thinking over time.

Matters such as the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity are commonly alleged by anti-Christians to have developed over three or four generations, incorporating ideas from Pagan culture in the process. Nope.

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Sacred Names

Nomen Sacrum” is the term used for certain abbreviations that are found in ancient manuscripts of the New Testament books. These abbreviations for the “sacred names” are well known by church historians, theologians and text critics but not much known outside of those circles. I thought that Christian Ratburghers would be interested in the way the earliest Christian scribes abbreviated the names for God and Jesus.

This post is a follow-up to my post last month, which was a book review of The Earliest Christian Artifacts, by Larry Hurtado.   That book was a historian reporting on what he found when he spent some time speaking with the papyrologists who study the earliest New Testament manuscripts, and what he saw when he examined these precious fragments of early Christian culture.

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Papyrus Manuscripts

You learned in school how the Egyptians took the pith from papyrus sedges and used it to make a writing product like paper. We study ancient Egyptian society because they were literate and left a lot of written records. Also, their dry climate preserves papyrus, so that Egypt has yielded a lot of ancient writings. This makes Egypt a favorite field of archaeological study.

Some of the most-studied artifacts of the ancient world are papyrus copies of New Testament books. Scholars study, debate, quarrel, and publish frequently regarding these precious bits of early Christian culture.

        Christian “book culture”

There are some interesting things that can be learned about the early Christians from their manuscripts. This is to pass along a few things I have learned that may be of use to some of you.

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The Party that Boos God

Y’all remember the 2012 Democrat Convention, where the delegates booed God.   Well, they are still at it.   They passed a resolution at the DNC summer meeting.   It celebrates the unreligious and includes a swipe at religious people.

Here is the resolution:... [Read More]

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The Fullness of Time and Diaspora

A few weeks ago, in my “New religiongeschichtliche Schule” post, Hypatia made an observation that prompted this post. She observed that many people think that Jesus appeared at the time he did because God had devised a world in which the Gospel could spread rapidly and far and wide:

Christianity could not have arisen except out of the Jewish scriptures.  Nor, I learned in  my Bible class, could it have spread across the globe if it hadn’t arisen within the far-flung empire of Rome.  That period was “ the fullness of time”.

I absolutely agree with this thinking, and want to make a few observations on point.

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An unwanted conversation

Spiritual Question 2

Does God exist ?

Possible answers:

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Maybe
  4. Lots of gods exist; which one do you mean?
  5. I am God.
  6. We are all gods.
  7. Some of us will become gods.

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You shall have no other gods

The world takes offense at God.   The Pagans hated the idea that their gods have no real power.   The Muslims and the Mormons are counterfeits of God.   Buddhists say that “God” is not a real person, but a spiritual amalgam.   Atheists are angry at the God they don’t believe in.

Communists, being Atheists, are angry at God.   So the latest outrage from China comes as no surprise.   The First Commandment is outlawed.   It started recently in just one church that we know of, but the Party statements indicate that this is a nationwide China policy:... [Read More]

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