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  •  Before dealing with the various points, we need to (0+ / 0-)

    address the texts of the canonical New Testament. For these books there are thousands of manuscripts and many more again lectionaries and citations in early writers. The existence of so many manuscripts is not disputed. Some of these are better than others and some are older than others.

    Using these manuscripts and the methods of textual criticism (the same scholarly discipline used to unearth the text of Caesar's Gallic Wars or Plato's Apology) the original words of these texts can be deduced. Because of the ample manuscript resources this reconstruction is far more exact and reliable than any other text from this period (or, for that matter, for many much younger). It means that any one scribal error or deception can be corrected by using the evidence of the many others that have separate derivation.

    Evidence for this is that two teams of scholars, working separately, have converged on almost identical texts, the Nestlé-Aland and the United Bible Societies texts. These two scholarly texts for the New Testament literally differ in only a few words out of the whole canon.

    Now, we still don't know exactly who wrote the NT books. We don't know exactly when they were written (though the range of dates is fairly limited, and some of them were in the lifetimes of eyewitnesses). But we do know this: we know what the words were in the original manuscripts.

    The texts of the canon have been deduced by simple, ordinary scholarly reasoning. There is no appeal to miracles along the way. Can we be agreed that the text, the words as originally written, can be known and are in fact known to a high degree of reliability? One or a few words might be in error, but the vast majority of the words are known.

    If we cannot agree on this (and this is something that the most sceptical scholar can agree with) then there is no point in going forward. If we cannot agree on observable facts clearly no line of argument can be shared.



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:16:00 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Well, rather than try to address (0+ / 0-)

      this in my own words, here is a link to Carrier's essay on the formation of the New Testament Canon.  This is the type of writing that I have been exploring for years and has a lot of influence on my reasons for leaving Christianity and eventually the concept of a god all together.

      http://www.infidels.org/...

      It's good reading, and in his final paragraph he addresses one more example of the translation issues...

      "Scribal errors are also a problem little dealt-with by any church authority, an issue I discuss briefly in an example elsewhere. Perhaps one of my favorite examples, with which I will close, is the famous King James line "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14), which even still gets repeated in nativity plays, "peace on earth, and good will toward men," and is treated as an example of the ultimate moral nobility of Christianity. But not until recent times was it discovered that a scribe long ago had failed to record a single letter (a sigma, "s") at the end of this line. The Latin Vulgate Bible, translated late in the 4th century, copied from a correct edition and thus has also preserved the original meaning, which is now correctly reconstructed in more recent Bible translations: "peace on earth toward men of goodwill," which is not as noble--since it does not wish peace on anyone else--and it is perhaps even less noble still, since the same phrase more likely means "peace on earth toward men [who enjoy God's] goodwill," in other words peace only for those whom God likes. All from a single mistake of one letter."

      •  Simple yes or no question: (0+ / 0-)

        Do you accept the convergence of the Néstle-Aland and the United Bible Societies texts as evidence that scholars agree now on the texts of the NT canon? I'm not talking about errors, etc. in the past. Do you accept that scholars are agreed now on the text?



        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 07:25:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely not! (0+ / 0-)

          Even Bart Ehrman wrote .....

          ". . . even though the Gospels are among the best attested books from the ancient world, we are regrettably hindered in knowing what the authors of these books originally wrote. The problem is not that we are lacking manuscripts. We have thousands of manuscripts. The problem is that none of these manuscripts is the original copy produced by the author (this is true for all four Gospels—in fact, for every book of the New Testament). Moreover, most of these manuscripts were made over a thousand years after the original copies, none of them is close to the time of the originals—within, say, ten or twenty years—and all of them contain certifiable mistakes."

          Scholars are NOT agreed on the texts, and I particularly wouldn't place value on the claims of the United Bible Societies, which is fundamentally a Christian mission organization.

          So you have your sources and I have mine, and never the twain shall meet apparently.  Nice talking with you...

        •  Oh, and one more thing.. (0+ / 0-)

          Here is a link to the Jesus/Cana wedding/Dionysus question... enjoy!

          http://vridar.org/...

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