Monday, October 02, 2017

By God's singular care and providence

This is a sequel to my previous post:

Here's how another noted scholar responded to my question:

A huge majority of differences between the MSS we have are tiny and make no difference to the sense. Others are obvious mistakes that can be easily recognized. I would doubt there was ever a MS that was 100% correct, but so what? Most (or even all) of the published versions of my books contain some typos that no one picked up in the proof-reading, but I have rarely found one that would seriously mislead a reader. (If I had accidentally omitted "one" from that sentence, you would easily supply it.) 

There are some verses of the NT where I think it is impossible to be sure of the original text. That doesn't really bother me. There are also verses where we can be pretty certain of the original text but where it is impossible to be sure what it means! So I do wonder whether Ehrman's argument is actually directed at Christians who think it important to be absolutely certain of the original words in every case. That is certainly not possible, but I don't think we need such a degree of certainty. 

I think it is intrinsically very likely that at least in the case of the major books, many copies were made independently from the original "autograph" or from a copy of it. Suppose Mark's Gospel was written in Rome. The church there would probably have several copies made to send to other churches. But then also Christians visiting Rome over the next few years would get copies made to take back to their own churches. 

As you probably know, many works of classical antiquity have only survived in copies much later than the early NT MSS. I don't notice classical scholars regarding it as a big problem.

1 comment:

  1. As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm not sure Ehrman actually views it as a huge problem either. At least when you push back on him.

    Go to minute 45: