Saturday, April 03, 2010

The New Testament Text, Councils, And Conspiracies

At times like the Easter season, apologetic issues receive more attention than they normally do. A couple of common objections to Christianity came up on two radio programs I recently heard.

One came up during an interview with Lee Strobel on a local Christian radio station. The interview was about the evidence for Jesus' resurrection. An agnostic called in, and one of his objections was that there are "hundreds" of years between Jesus and the earliest documents written about Him or the earliest extant copies. Even critics who are more knowledgeable of the subject often object that our copies of the New Testament, even the manuscripts we have from the second century, aren't early enough or are unreliable for some other reason. Last year, I did a three-post series summarizing some of the evidence for the reliability of the textual transmission of the New Testament: here, here, and here.

A caller to Michael Medved's program yesterday raised the common objection that a Christian belief originated at the council of Nicaea. Much of what the caller said was incoherent. She spent a lot of her time arguing that Jesus didn't exist. Apparently, she was suggesting that Christians derived their idea of a historical Jesus from Nicaea. Or maybe she had something else in mind. Other critics claim that the New Testament canon was first delineated at Nicaea, for example. A lot of things get attributed to that council, and other councils are sometimes mentioned. Usually it's a council in the fourth century that supposedly settled the canon, changed the text of the New Testament, etc. Here's a post from last year on the relationship between the New Testament and early councils.

And here's a thread about the implausibility of theories involving widespread corruption among the early Christians (widespread textual changes, widespread suppression of opponents, etc.). Read the comments section of the thread, since there's a lot of relevant material there as well.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You know, Dozie, its quite odd that you would say that since most Evangelical apologists don't concern themselves at all with Romanism whereas the vast majority of Roman Catholic apologists are focused mostly (if not entirely) on defending Roman Catholicism from Protestant beliefs or converting Protestants.

  3. Dozie,

    As usual, you make little effort to be coherent or to argue for your position, and we’re left trying to figure out what you mean and why we’re supposed to agree with your unsupported opinion. You’ve been doing that for years. Your comments aren’t much different than the unsupported one- or two-sentence assertions we get from anonymous atheists who occasionally post here. If you put up another post of that nature, you’ll be banned. You can claim that you have no interest in posting here, but the fact that you’ve been following our posts and commenting on them for years suggests otherwise. You’re wasting our time. Either improve the quality of your posts or don’t post at all.

    My post above isn’t directly about Catholicism. Though Catholicism is indirectly relevant, so are a lot of other subjects. You brought Catholicism into the discussion more than I did. The readers can compare my work on many issues that aren’t directly about Catholicism to the emphasis you place on Catholicism in your posts. I’ve written many hundreds of pages of material on intelligent design, the infancy narratives, the resurrection, ethics, politics, and other issues that aren’t primarily about Catholicism. Where can we find a comparable diversity of material that you’ve produced? We don’t even know who you are, and most of your posts are maybe two or three sentences long, if even that.

    Besides, as Saint and Sinner pointed out, your criticism wouldn’t make sense even if Catholicism was the focus of everything or almost everything I had written to this point. Focusing on one topic isn’t necessarily wrong. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. You’ve presented no argument that it is wrong (or that it even exists) in this context.

    If you’re a Christian, you ought to be more concerned with answering objections to the resurrection, as I’ve done above, than you are with abusing such discussions by using them as another opportunity to criticize Protestantism. I think my priorities make more sense than yours.