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Certainty

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  • Wieland Willker
    Pete Williams just gave a review of Ehrman s Misquoting Jesus on his blog http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/ in which he writes: Ehrman is
    Message 1 of 8 , Dec 31, 2005
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      Pete Williams just gave a review of Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" on his blog
      http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/
      in which he writes:
      "Ehrman is strangely certain about the correct explanation of the variants
      in almost every case."

      This I have noticed, too.
      There's something more general about it and also affects the points raised
      by Jim Leonard. There is a danger in our research that people tend to get
      more certain the more often they repeat their arguments. We must always keep
      in mind that we know VERY LITTLE about the earliest times. Very little.
      Probably we will never "solve" the Synoptic Problem. Probably we will never
      all agree about the "original" text. Probably we will never clear up the
      history of the text in the earliest times.
      I think we should make clear to the public what we KNOW and what we just
      speculate about. To make the impression that we know almost everything is
      dangerous. Note for example what Ehrman writes in the 4th edition of
      "Metzger" about the Alexandrian text. All pure speculation. This is not good
      for an intro textbook.

      Best wishes
      Wieland
      <><
      ------------------------------------------------
      Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
      mailto:willker@...-bremen.de
      http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
      Textcritical commentary:
      http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/index.html
    • xt7rt
      ... his blog ... variants ... The first time I read Metzger s commentary I thought it strange that the comments were along the lines of this is what happened
      Message 2 of 8 , Dec 31, 2005
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        --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Wieland Willker"
        <willker@c...> wrote:
        >
        > Pete Williams just gave a review of Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" on
        his blog
        > http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/
        > in which he writes:
        > "Ehrman is strangely certain about the correct explanation of the
        variants
        > in almost every case."


        The first time I read Metzger's commentary I thought it strange that
        the comments were along the lines of "this is what happened" instead
        of "this is probably what happened". Isn't Metzger and, perhaps,
        everybody in the field guilty of this faux certainty?


        > This I have noticed, too.
        > There's something more general about it and also affects the
        points raised
        > by Jim Leonard. There is a danger in our research that people tend
        to get
        > more certain the more often they repeat their arguments. We must
        always keep
        > in mind that we know VERY LITTLE about the earliest times. Very
        little.
        > Probably we will never "solve" the Synoptic Problem. Probably we
        will never
        > all agree about the "original" text. Probably we will never clear
        up the
        > history of the text in the earliest times.
        > I think we should make clear to the public what we KNOW and what
        we just
        > speculate about. To make the impression that we know almost
        everything is
        > dangerous. Note for example what Ehrman writes in the 4th edition
        of
        > "Metzger" about the Alexandrian text. All pure speculation. This
        is not good
        > for an intro textbook.
        >
        > Best wishes
        > Wieland
        > <><
        > ------------------------------------------------
        > Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
        > mailto:willker@c...
        > http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
        > Textcritical commentary:
        > http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/index.html
        >
      • Dr P.J. Williams
        ... Arguably, however, Metzger has more reason for certainty than Ehrman, since he holds that some of our main witnesses (e.g. Aleph and B) stray less often
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 2, 2006
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          > --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Wieland Willker"
          > wrote:
          > >
          > > Pete Williams just gave a review of Ehrman's "Misquoting
          > Jesus" on
          > his blog
          > > http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/
          > > in which he writes:
          > > "Ehrman is strangely certain about the correct explanation of the
          > variants
          > > in almost every case."
          >
          >
          > The first time I read Metzger's commentary I thought it strange that
          > the comments were along the lines of "this is what happened"
          > instead
          > of "this is probably what happened". Isn't Metzger and,
          > perhaps,
          > everybody in the field guilty of this faux certainty?
          >

          Arguably, however, Metzger has more reason for certainty than Ehrman,
          since he holds that some of our main witnesses (e.g. Aleph and B) stray
          less often than Ehrman seems to suggest. Obviously someone who thinks
          there has been significant tendentious theological activity involved in
          the production of all traditions known to us ought to believe that the
          modern text-critic has more work to do than someone who thinks that we
          have witnesses which were not to any great degree subject to such
          activity.

          Pete
        • xt7rt
          ... Willker" ... of the ... happened" ... I would have thought tendentious theological activity would be more clearly able to be perceived in
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 7, 2006
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            --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Dr P.J. Williams"
            <p.j.williams@a...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > > --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Wieland
            Willker"
            > > wrote:
            > > >
            > > > Pete Williams just gave a review of Ehrman's "Misquoting
            > > Jesus" on
            > > his blog
            > > > http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/
            > > > in which he writes:
            > > > "Ehrman is strangely certain about the correct explanation
            of the
            > > variants
            > > > in almost every case."
            > >
            > >
            > > The first time I read Metzger's commentary I thought it strange that
            > > the comments were along the lines of "this is what
            happened"
            > > instead
            > > of "this is probably what happened". Isn't Metzger and,
            > > perhaps,
            > > everybody in the field guilty of this faux certainty?
            > >
            >
            > Arguably, however, Metzger has more reason for certainty than Ehrman,
            > since he holds that some of our main witnesses (e.g. Aleph and B) stray
            > less often than Ehrman seems to suggest. Obviously someone who thinks
            > there has been significant tendentious theological activity involved in
            > the production of all traditions known to us ought to believe that the
            > modern text-critic has more work to do than someone who thinks that we
            > have witnesses which were not to any great degree subject to such
            > activity.

            I would have thought tendentious theological activity would be more
            clearly able to be perceived in hindsight than the ho-hum random
            activities of sloppy scribes. Ehrman is not trying to solve every
            textual issue, only theologically interesting ones.

            In any case, Metzger still uses his certain language where Aleph and B
            differ.
          • James M. Leonard
            In his unfortunately brief review of Orthodox Corruption, Dr. Fee mentions all so briefly the issue of Dr. Ehrman s certainties: While Ehrman will have
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 8, 2006
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              In his unfortunately brief review of Orthodox Corruption, Dr. Fee mentions all so briefly the issue of Dr. Ehrman's certainties: 

              "While Ehrman will have broadened our horizons as to a possible cause of corruption for many variants, as with Kilpatrick [regarding Atticism] his tendency to isolate one cause as primary against all others in the variants he discusses fails to persuade.  Unfortunately, Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into  probability, and probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for corruption exist."

              Jim Leonard

              Southwestern Pennsylvania

               

               


              --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "xt7rt" <xt7rt@y...> wrote:
              >
              > --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Dr P.J. Williams"
              > p.j.williams@a... wrote:
              > >
              > >
              > > > --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, &quot;Wieland
              > Willker&quot;
              > > > wrote:
              > > > >
              > > > > Pete Williams just gave a review of Ehrman's &quot;Misquoting
              > > > Jesus&quot; on
              > > > his blog
              > > > > http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/
              > > > > in which he writes:
              > > > > &quot;Ehrman is strangely certain about the correct explanation
              > of the
              > > > variants
              > > > > in almost every case.&quot;
              > > >
              > > >
              > > > The first time I read Metzger's commentary I thought it strange that
              > > > the comments were along the lines of &quot;this is what
              > happened&quot;
              > > > instead
              > > > of &quot;this is probably what happened&quot;. Isn't Metzger and,
              > > > perhaps,
              > > > everybody in the field guilty of this faux certainty?
              > > >
              > >
              > > Arguably, however, Metzger has more reason for certainty than Ehrman,
              > > since he holds that some of our main witnesses (e.g. Aleph and B) stray
              > > less often than Ehrman seems to suggest. Obviously someone who thinks
              > > there has been significant tendentious theological activity involved in
              > > the production of all traditions known to us ought to believe that the
              > > modern text-critic has more work to do than someone who thinks that we
              > > have witnesses which were not to any great degree subject to such
              > > activity.
              >
              > I would have thought tendentious theological activity would be more
              > clearly able to be perceived in hindsight than the ho-hum random
              > activities of sloppy scribes. Ehrman is not trying to solve every
              > textual issue, only theologically interesting ones.
              >
              > In any case, Metzger still uses his certain language where Aleph and B
              > differ.
              >

            • Jovial
              ((((((( Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into probability, and probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for corruption exist.
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 9, 2006
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                (((((((
                Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into  probability, and probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for corruption exist."
                ))))))
                 
                I definitely agree.  For example, on pp197-200, Bart alleges there's a verse added by Orthodox believers describing blood atonement, but the original didn't have it.  Well, even if you accepts Bart's argument on the variant, there's no proof the motivation was to bring the Gospel in line with blood atonement theology.  In fact, there's evidence against that, because there are SO MANY other verses describing blood atonement that HAVE NO VARIANTS and trace back to the oldest of manuscripts that there was no reason for someone to add verses to prove a theological point already supported by other verses who's validity is not challenged.
                 
                At the core of this argument is that a missing verse from an early reading supports the likelyhood, because, as said on page 218, "it is difficult to explain, an excision."  I disagree.  I've transcribed several manuscripts and accidentally skipped over a few words, few lines, etc before.  It's an EASY mistake to make - one of the easiest to make at all.
                 
                The ideal that the shorter text is likely to be the more original just sets us up for EXPECTING corruption all over the place.  In reality, if you put 40 people in a room and ask them to copy a text and watch and observe for an hour, you'll find different people dropped different words, phrases or sentences.  Personally I think we should approach TC from a standpoint that makes no assumption as to whether the shorter or longer version of a text is more original.  We should look at all things in combination and decide, not make a blanket assumption. 
                 
                Or for another example, Why add "Son of God" to Mark 1:1 (which he discussed on page 72) when you could add something more forceful?  "Son of God" could be interpreted multiple ways.  If someone was trying to ADD something to the scriptures to prove our Messiah was Divine, surely they would have added something clearer than a phrase used in Job and Genesis 6 to refer to non-Divine beings!  The likelyhood someone did that due to theological motivation just doesn't seem logical to me.  I would suspect that if someone was theologically motivated, they would have called Him "God in the flesh" somewhere or used some term more forceful than "Son of God".
                 
                I think most of the variants Bart mentioned in his book were innocent variants.  I found the biggest problem with the book's approach was that when discussing a variant, the book failed to establish whether the variant in question was out of the ordinary in comparison with the number and nature of other variants.  We have a LOT of them, and most are NOT theologically significant.  So if there's one that IS theologically significant out of hundreds more that are not, I don't think we can make the immediate assumption it was theologically motivated.  We need some additional evidence before supporting that allegation in my assessment. 
                 
                I think if the only evidence one can dig up that the Scriptures were corrupted by Orthodox thinking is that some manuscripts omit verses who's content is found elsewhere, it's actually pretty good evidence that no significant corruption occurred.
                 
                Well, that's my 2 shekels.
                 
                J Viel
                LaVergne, TN
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                ----- Original Message -----
                Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 5:12 AM
                Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: Certainty

                In his unfortunately brief review of Orthodox Corruption, Dr. Fee mentions all so briefly the issue of Dr. Ehrman's certainties: 

                "While Ehrman will have broadened our horizons as to a possible cause of corruption for many variants, as with Kilpatrick [regarding Atticism] his tendency to isolate one cause as primary against all others in the variants he discusses fails to persuade.  Unfortunately, Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into  probability, and probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for corruption exist."

                Jim Leonard

                Southwestern Pennsylvania

              • xt7rt
                ... probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for corruption exist. ... It seems to me we need to distinguish between how a variant gets
                Message 7 of 8 , Jan 9, 2006
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                  --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Jovial" <jovial@c...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  > (((((((
                  > Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into probability, and
                  probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for
                  corruption exist."
                  > ))))))
                  >
                  > I definitely agree. For example, on pp197-200, Bart alleges
                  >there's a verse added by Orthodox believers describing blood
                  >atonement, but the original didn't have it. Well, even if you
                  >accepts Bart's argument on the variant, there's no proof the
                  >motivation was to bring the Gospel in line with blood atonement
                  >theology. In fact, there's evidence against that, because there
                  >are SO MANY other verses describing blood atonement that HAVE NO
                  >VARIANTS and trace back to the oldest of manuscripts that there was
                  >no reason for someone to add verses to prove a theological point
                  >already supported by other verses who's validity is not challenged.
                  > At the core of this argument is that a missing verse from an early
                  >reading supports the likelyhood, because, as said on page 218, "it
                  >is difficult to explain, an excision." I disagree. I've
                  >transcribed several manuscripts and accidentally skipped over a few
                  >words, few lines, etc before. It's an EASY mistake to make - one
                  >of the easiest to make at all.
                  >
                  >
                  > The ideal that the shorter text is likely to be the more original
                  >just sets us up for EXPECTING corruption all over the place. In
                  >reality, if you put 40 people in a room and ask them to copy a text
                  >and watch and observe for an hour, you'll find different people
                  >dropped different words, phrases or sentences. Personally I think
                  >we should approach TC from a standpoint that makes no assumption as
                  >to whether the shorter or longer version of a text is more
                  >original. We should look at all things in combination and decide,
                  >not make a blanket assumption.
                  >
                  > Or for another example, Why add "Son of God" to Mark 1:1 (which
                  >he discussed on page 72) when you could add something more
                  >forceful? "Son of God" could be interpreted multiple ways.

                  It seems to me we need to distinguish between how a variant gets
                  into the textual stream and how a variant gets a foothold in the
                  textual stream. "Son of God" (if not original) probably got into the
                  manuscripts before the divine/not divine argument even came to be
                  expressed in such stark terms. It only takes one scribe with unknown
                  motivations to make a change. However once the variant exists, THEN
                  the world has two choices, with or without the variant. And much of
                  the world would have chosen theologically, rather than on text
                  critical principles. Then there is the theological motivation that
                  Son of God is at least more forceful than saying nothing at all.

                  It's a bit like the pierced/like a lion variant in the old
                  testament. It probably didn't come about purposely, but I suspect
                  the Jews had a theological pre-disposition to avoid the pro-
                  Christian pierced option.

                  Won't anybody comment on Ehrman an the western non-interpolations?
                  That seems to be his most interesting case.
                  > If
                  >someone was trying to ADD something to the scriptures to prove our
                  >Messiah was Divine, surely they would have added something clearer
                  >than a phrase used in Job and Genesis 6 to refer to non-Divine
                  >beings! The likelyhood someone did that due to theological
                  >motivation just doesn't seem logical to me. I would suspect that
                  >if someone was theologically motivated, they would have called
                  >Him "God in the flesh" somewhere or used some term more forceful
                  >than "Son of God".

                  >>
                  > I think most of the variants Bart mentioned in his book were
                  innocent variants. I found the biggest problem with the book's
                  approach was that when discussing a variant, the book failed to
                  establish whether the variant in question was out of the ordinary in
                  comparison with the number and nature of other variants. We have a
                  LOT of them, and most are NOT theologically significant. So if
                  there's one that IS theologically significant out of hundreds more
                  that are not, I don't think we can make the immediate assumption it
                  was theologically motivated. We need some additional evidence
                  before supporting that allegation in my assessment.
                  >
                  > I think if the only evidence one can dig up that the Scriptures
                  were corrupted by Orthodox thinking is that some manuscripts omit
                  verses who's content is found elsewhere, it's actually pretty good
                  evidence that no significant corruption occurred.
                  >
                  > Well, that's my 2 shekels.
                  >
                  > J Viel
                  > LaVergne, TN
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > ----- Original Message -----
                  > From: James M. Leonard
                  > To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
                  > Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 5:12 AM
                  > Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: Certainty
                  >
                  >
                  > In his unfortunately brief review of Orthodox Corruption, Dr.
                  Fee mentions all so briefly the issue of Dr. Ehrman's certainties:
                  >
                  > "While Ehrman will have broadened our horizons as to a possible
                  cause of corruption for many variants, as with Kilpatrick [regarding
                  Atticism] his tendency to isolate one cause as primary against all
                  others in the variants he discusses fails to persuade.
                  Unfortunately, Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into
                  probability, and probability into certainty, where other equally
                  viable reasons for corruption exist."
                  >
                  > Jim Leonard
                  >
                  > Southwestern Pennsylvania
                  >
                • Jovial
                  Very true, and I can see that as being more likely, simply because people figure what s the harm if a particular reading is in another passage of scripture
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jan 9, 2006
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                    Very true, and I can see that as being more likely, simply because people figure "what's the harm" if a particular reading is in another passage of scripture anyway.
                     
                     
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: xt7rt
                    Sent: Monday, January 09, 2006 5:01 AM
                    Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: Certainty

                    --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Jovial" <jovial@c...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    > (((((((
                    > Ehrman too often turns mere possibility into  probability, and
                    probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for
                    corruption exist."
                    > ))))))
                    >
                    > I definitely agree.  For example, on pp197-200, Bart alleges
                    >there's a verse added by Orthodox believers describing blood
                    >atonement, but the original didn't have it.  Well, even if you
                    >accepts Bart's argument on the variant, there's no proof the
                    >motivation was to bring the Gospel in line with blood atonement
                    >theology.  In fact, there's evidence against that, because there
                    >are SO MANY other verses describing blood atonement that HAVE NO
                    >VARIANTS and trace back to the oldest of manuscripts that there was
                    >no reason for someone to add verses to prove a theological point
                    >already supported by other verses who's validity is not challenged.
                    > At the core of this argument is that a missing verse from an early
                    >reading supports the likelyhood, because, as said on page 218, "it
                    >is difficult to explain, an excision."  I disagree.  I've
                    >transcribed several manuscripts and accidentally skipped over a few
                    >words, few lines, etc before.  It's an EASY mistake to make - one
                    >of the easiest to make at all.
                    >
                    >
                    > The ideal that the shorter text is likely to be the more original
                    >just sets us up for EXPECTING corruption all over the place.  In
                    >reality, if you put 40 people in a room and ask them to copy a text
                    >and watch and observe for an hour, you'll find different people
                    >dropped different words, phrases or sentences.  Personally I think
                    >we should approach TC from a standpoint that makes no assumption as
                    >to whether the shorter or longer version of a text is more
                    >original.  We should look at all things in combination and decide,
                    >not make a blanket assumption. 
                    >
                    > Or for another example,  Why add "Son of God" to Mark 1:1 (which
                    >he discussed on page 72) when you could add something more
                    >forceful?  "Son of God" could be interpreted multiple ways.

                    It seems to me we need to distinguish between how a variant gets
                    into the textual stream and how a variant gets a foothold in the
                    textual stream. "Son of God" (if not original) probably got into the
                    manuscripts before the divine/not divine argument even came to be
                    expressed in such stark terms. It only takes one scribe with unknown
                    motivations to make a change. However once the variant exists, THEN
                    the world has two choices, with or without the variant. And much of
                    the world would have chosen theologically, rather than on text
                    critical principles. Then there is the theological motivation that
                    Son of God is at least more forceful than saying nothing at all.

                    It's a bit like the pierced/like  a lion variant in the old
                    testament. It probably didn't come about purposely, but I suspect
                    the Jews had a theological pre-disposition to avoid the pro-
                    Christian pierced option.

                    Won't anybody comment on Ehrman an the western non-interpolations?
                    That seems to be his most interesting case.
                    > If
                    >someone was trying to ADD something to the scriptures to prove our
                    >Messiah was Divine, surely they would have added something clearer
                    >than a phrase used in Job and Genesis 6 to refer to non-Divine
                    >beings!  The likelyhood someone did that due to theological
                    >motivation just doesn't seem logical to me.  I would suspect that
                    >if someone was theologically motivated, they would have called
                    >Him "God in the flesh" somewhere or used some term more forceful
                    >than "Son of God".

                    >>
                    > I think most of the variants Bart mentioned in his book were
                    innocent variants.  I found the biggest problem with the book's
                    approach was that when discussing a variant, the book failed to
                    establish whether the variant in question was out of the ordinary in
                    comparison with the number and nature of other variants.  We have a
                    LOT of them, and most are NOT theologically significant.  So if
                    there's one that IS theologically significant out of hundreds more
                    that are not, I don't think we can make the immediate assumption it
                    was theologically motivated.  We need some additional evidence
                    before supporting that allegation in my assessment. 
                    >
                    > I think if the only evidence one can dig up that the Scriptures
                    were corrupted by Orthodox thinking is that some manuscripts omit
                    verses who's content is found elsewhere, it's actually pretty good
                    evidence that no significant corruption occurred.
                    >
                    > Well, that's my 2 shekels.
                    >
                    > J Viel
                    > LaVergne, TN
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