Is the Original Text of the New Testament Lost? Rethinking Our Access to the Autographs

Craig Evans

One of the standard challenges for New Testament textual criticism is whether we can work our way back to the original text.  Some scholars are notoriously skeptical in this regard.  Since we only have later copies, it is argued, we cannot be sure that the text was not substantially changed in the time period that pre-dates those copies.

Helmut Koester and Bart Ehrman are examples of this skeptical approach.  Koester has argued that the text of the New Testament in the earliest stages was notoriously unstable. Most major changes, he argues, would have taken place in the first couple centuries.

Ehrman makes a similar case. Since we don’t have the …

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Do We Have the Original Text? Some Optimism in Textual Criticism

textual criticism

Over the last few decades, the world of textual criticism has had a less than an optimistic feel about it.  While the central purpose of textual criticism has traditionally been the recovery of the “original” text (regardless of whether one is dealing with the New Testament or any ancient text), some are now suggesting that it should not necessarily be the goal of the discipline.  Bart Ehrman, commenting on the attempts to recover the original text, declares, “It is by no means self-evident that this ought to be the goal of the discipline…there may indeed be scant reason to privilege the ‘original’ text over forms of the text that developed …

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Gospel Critics and the Argument from Silence

Contradictions in the Gospels

“You can’t say everything.”  This is one of the refrains I often cite to my students as we discuss historical documents.  When ancient authors put quill to papyrus (or parchment), we need to remember that they had a limited amount of space, a limited amount of time, a limited number of goals, and often a very specific purpose for which they wrote.

Inevitably, therefore, an historical account will include some things that other historical accounts (of the same event) might omit, and they might omit some things that other historical accounts might include.

This reality is particularly important to remember when the Gospel accounts are analyzed and compared with one …

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Did Jesus Claim to be God? A Response to Bart Ehrman (Part 3)

My name is God

Note:  This is the third installment of a series of blog posts reviewing Bart Ehrman’s new book, How Jesus Became God–The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (HarperOne, 2014). For the prior post see here and here.

Not surprisingly, one of the major tenets in Ehrman’s argument is that Jesus never considered himself to be God, nor ever claimed to be God. In order to make his case, Ehrman summarizes his arguments from his book, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (Oxford, 2001), and says that Jesus just viewed himself as an apocalyptic prophet who was ushering in the Kingdom of God (basically Albert Schweitzer redivivus).

Here …

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