Monday, March 31, 2014

Daniel Wallace reviews Blomberg's Can We Believe the Bible



planks length said...

First of all, allow me to express my gratitude to Daniel Wallace for introducing me to a new word - athetize. Love it! Will have to find ways to use it in future conversation.

The article is interesting. I find it shocking that people would get so upset about varying texts to the point that they would abandon the Faith. But trusting his data to be true, then it is an issue that deserves to be dealt with.

But heck, even St. Jerome had to deal with variant texts way back in his day. For instance, after several unsuccessful attempts, he gave up any hope of reconciling the various differences between different manuscripts of the Book of Psalms, so the Vulgate actually contains two radically different versions of that book!

The only instance I have ever personally encountered along these lines was with a friend who was seriously bothered about the ending to Mark. My response was, "Who cares if Mark was written by more than one person? The issue here is canonicity, not authorship. After all, several Old Testament books have multiple authors (Isaiah and Job come to mind). The same principle could hold for Mark as well."

Side note: I found John A.T. Robinson's case for Jude having written the majority of Second Peter to be completely convincing. His hypothesis is that the "first letter" referred to in 2 Peter is actually Jude, that Jude was a close associate of Peter, and that Peter basically added a few lines to 2 Peter and signed his name to the whole thing. There are very strong linguistic, literary, and historical arguments for this theory. A contemporary analogy would be how all cables from the US State Department are always "signed" by the Secretary of State, whether or not he/she has actually written them.

im-skeptical said...

Wallace: “In this chapter, Blomberg rightfully shows the misrepresentations of the situation by Bart Ehrman, in his book, Misquoting Jesus. For example, of the approximately 400,000 textual variants among New Testament manuscripts, many who read Misquoting Jesus get the impression that this one datum is enough to destroy the Christian faith. But the reality is that less than one percent of all variants are both meaningful and viable. And even Ehrman himself has admitted that no cardinal doctrine is jeopardized by these variants.
Blomberg critiques both what Ehrman does and doesn’t say ... when Blomberg mentioned that there are as many as 400,000 textual variants among the manuscripts, he bemoans: “It is depressing to see how many people, believers and unbelievers alike, discover a statistic like this number of variants and ask no further questions. The skeptics sit back with smug satisfaction, while believers are aghast and wonder if they should give up their faith.””

It is quite telling what is not said about Ehrman’s book. Perhaps Blomberg is the one who is trying to convey a false impression. Ehrman repeatedly stresses the point that the vast majority of the textual changes are insignificant. This is what Ehrman actually says in his book:

“To be sure, of all the hundreds of thousands of textual changes found among our manuscripts, most of them are completely insignificant, immaterial, of no real importance for anything other than showing that scribes could not spell or keep focused any better than the rest of us. It would be wrong, however, to say - as people sometimes do - that the changes in our text have no real bearing on what the texts mean or on the theological conclusions that one draws from them.”

Papalinton said...

"The issue here is canonicity, not authorship."

Canonicity? Another of those "god told me" moments?

It is interesting what the key criterion is for determining canonicity: [Bolded]

"How do we know that the 66 books in our Bible are the only inspired books? Who decided which books were truly inspired by God? The Roman Catholic Bible includes books that are not found in other Bibles (called the Apocrypha). How do we know that we as Protestants have the right books? These questions are addressed by a study of canonicity.
“Canon” is a word that comes from Greek and Hebrew words that literally means a measuring rod. So canonicity describes the standard that books had to meet to be recognized as scripture.
On the one hand, deciding which books were inspired seems like a human process. Christians gathered together at church councils in the first several centuries A.D. for the purpose of officially recognizing which books are inspired. But it’s important to remember that these councils did not determine which books were inspired. They simply recognized what God had already determined.

Oh Well! Is it any wonder theists keep intoning that science [historiography in this case] cannot answer these questions?