Friday, April 25, 2014

Was the Bible lost in translation?

This is a popular position, but the evidence is against it. See here. 


Papalinton said...

I note the list is compiled from three archetypal historians with a deep interest and personal investment in the apparent reliability of the bible narrative.

It would be interesting how Professor Erhman, Burton L Mack, or a Rudolph Bultmann would rate it.

planks length said...

I've seen that chart before. Utterly amazing. No other ancient manuscript is even in the same league as the New Testament, as regards closeness to the autograph and reliability of transmission. It stands completely alone. And the chart doesn't even deal with contemporary references to the various works. For instance, we have the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna from the early 2nd Century A.D. that corroborate the New Testament at multiple points.

I had once thought that The Epic of Gilgamesh could give the NT a run for its money (as far as antiquity of surviving copies), but after learning a bit more, it seems that even there, our oldest (and quite fragmentary) copies date to many centuries after the original composition.

im-skeptical said...


Perhaps you should read some of the material by the scholars that Linton refers to. It's definitely not the open-and-shut case you make it out to be.

Victor Reppert said...

Do these scholars say what, if anything, is wrong with the chart?

im-skeptical said...

I don't know that they discuss this chart at all, but I think they would take issue with the claim that there are 5600 surviving copies of the NT from the second century. At best, there are some fragments. Of the early manuscripts that are available (mostly from the 4th century on), there are numerous differences, including copying errors, text modifications, and text insertions.

Dan Gillson said...

I've never heard that the original Bible was lost in the translation. What I've heard, and what's true, is that copyists would take certain liberties, such as adding phrases to the text (e.g., the Johannine comma) or revising certain portions of a text so that the text would be in line with the theology of the community (For instance, I have a note in my Nestle-Aland edition of the Bible which says that a few manuscripts support an more gnostic reading of Matthew 11:27: No one knows the Father except the Son, nor does anyone know the Son except the Father.)

planks length said...


I've already read those scholars. They are wrong on so many points that it would take several book-length postings to list all their errors. (Just listen to Fr. Robert Barron's skewering of them on his you-tube videos. That should suffice to deep six their credibility for all time.) Not worth the paper they're printed on. Horribly biased, with all sorts of going-in assumptions that beg the question from start to finish. They are a classic case of the kind of faux "scholarship" that C.S. Lewis warned us about in The Great Divorce.

I'm not at all surprised you'd be taken in by them. "Skeptical" you ain't!

im-skeptical said...


So you believe what this Matt Slick character says?

Here's an interesting interview with a Catholic apologist that includes some discussion of variations of biblical text:

Here he discusses how Christians are being bullied by the gay community (on the Daily Show):

And here are the views of his daughter:

planks length said...

"he discusses how Christians are being bullied by the gay community"

But they are. We've gone over this already in the conversation about photographers and bakers and the statist violations of their free speech rights. I ask you again, do you believe it is right to compel a person to speak contrary to his beliefs under threat of legal punishment? Would you like it if the state were to force you to choose between renouncing your atheism or losing your livelihood (plus pay fines to believers for your refusal to go along)?

BenYachov said...


Your citing Bob Sungenis?

Bob Sungenis is not a Scholar he is a kook.

He has a PhD from a known diploma mill. He sunk his career in apologetics going beyond Young Earth Creationism to Geocentracism. Then there was the holocaust denial and attacking Jewish Converts to Catholicism and accusing them of subverting the Church. Plagiarizing white supremacist material to smear the Talmud wasn't nice either.

His latest was to deceive several individuals in appearing in the trailer to a film he is doing advocating Geocentracism. Including Lawrence Krauss.


If you would cite apologists like Hahn, Keating, Shea, Akin I might take you more seriously.

im-skeptical said...


Did you listen to the interview? He makes Slick look like an ignorant fool. At any rate, Sungenis does have a bachelor's degree from George Washington University and a masters from Westminster Theological Seminary. And he obviously knows more about the bible than Slick.

planks length said...


Hey, no one here is required to either defend or attack Slick. That's his problem - he speaks for himself, not for either Ben or me.

Besides, as I pointed out above, I've seen that chart before - many times in fact. It didn't originate with Slick. (He probably should have footnoted it.) So, to answer your question "So you believe what this Matt Slick character says?", my answer would be I have confidence that the chart (which is not Slick's) is essentially correct. Far more importantly, its implications speak volumes in favor of the textual reliability of the New Testament.