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RE: [textualcriticism] Re: Initial and Archetype (A few questions to Dr. Ehrman from a layman)

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  • Bart Ehrman
    This is getting way off topic. But to say that it is unprecedented for the author of a (Gospel) narrative to identify himself is really quite wrong.
    Message 1 of 33 , Mar 4, 2009
          This is getting way off topic.  But to say that it is unprecedented for the author of a (Gospel) narrative  to identify himself is really quite wrong.  Possibly you haven't read much ancient literature outside of the New Testament?  I'd suggest, for starters, the Protevangelium Jacobi, the Gospel of Peter, and the Gospel of Nicodemus.
          By definition (is this really a speculation?  I thought it was a truism), a writing whose author does not identify him/herself is anonymous.  PEgerton 2 is anonymous.  Maybe at one time it had an author's name attached, but the fragments we have do not have a name attached, and so it is anonymous.  THe authors of the Gospels of the New Testament (unlike other Gospels outside the New Testament, and unlike other books in the New Testament) do not indicate their identity.  These books are therefore anonymous.  If you want to identify the authors with one person or another, that's fine -- and you may have historical grounds.  But in doing so you are attributing a book to someone, not indicating what the book itself says about its author.
          In terms of speculation, I do indeed speculate a lot.  For example, about John, my speculation is that it was written about 60 years after the death of Jesus (although speculation, in this sense, is not the same as an unsubstantiated opinion or a guess).  What I'm pretty sure about, whether you want to call this speculation or not, is that it was written by a highly educated Greek-speaking Christian trained in rhetorical composition living outside of Palestine and that he was probably not, therefore, a lower-class Aramaic speaking peasant (fisherman) from rural Galilee.  But as to whether this author identified himself as John or as anyone else, I don't believe any speculation is involved.
          Back to something related to textual criticism, though: do you really think the Gospels were originally written in scroll form?
      -- Bart Ehrman
      Bart D. Ehrman
      James A. Gray Professor
      Department of Religious Studies
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

      From: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com [mailto:textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Eddie Mishoe
      Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:26 AM
      To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Re: Initial and Archetype (A few questions to Dr. Ehrman from a layman)


      Just a note. It was not uncommon practice for ancient scrolls to contain a "tab" (piece of paper) in them identifying the author. One reason for this is it was not in keeping with the narrative (gospel) genre to start off like an epistle with your name and the recipients. To begin the Gospel of Matthew, for example, with "Matthew, an apostle, to..." would be unprecedented. Such an introduction was for epistles, not gospels.

      Dr. Ehrman is speculating like the rest of us. (It is my sheer speculation to assume that Matthew's entourage distributed copies of his gospel to strategic locations. The recipients would have known who wrote it.)

      Eddie Mishoe

      --- On Tue, 3/3/09, Jay Rogers <jrogers@forerunner. com> wrote:
      From: Jay Rogers <jrogers@forerunner. com>
      Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: Initial and Archetype (A few questions to Dr. Ehrman from a layman)
      To: textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com
      Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2009, 2:27 PM

      A few questions to Dr. Ehrman from a layman concerning the following

      > * Unrelated, more or less, to this list: it is not "speculative" to
      > say that the NT Gospels were written anonymously; so far as I know,
      it is a
      > *fact* that they were written anonymously (none of them tells us
      his name:

      I post these questions understanding that you have written and spoken
      on these issues exhaustively. If these questions are too austere for
      you, I won't be offended if you ignore them.

      Why is it a "fact" that the autographs of the NT Gospels were

      Is there a single early manuscript or fragment that we know
      conclusively to be untitled or anonymous lacking either a
      superscription or subscription?

      If we do not have autographs, why would we assume that the autograph
      did not have a title and an author?

      Why would an early Christian church leader (presumably a Jew) write a
      document with purported authority that did not include this

      External vs. internal evidence aside, isn't it unusual for any author
      to identify himself by anything other than the traditional "title"
      and "author."

      --- In textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com, "Bart Ehrman" <behrman@... >
      > Several comments.
      > * On "original" and "archetype." Is it only evangelical
      > who think that the archetype is original? If so, why would a
      > persuasion lead to a historical conclusion? But moreover, I don't
      > understand what evidence is, or could be, cited to show that we
      must have
      > the originals. The very earliest copies we have are notoriously
      > error-prone. Are we to think that the copies made earlier than our
      > copies were error-free? Surely the surviving early copies were
      copied from
      > earlier copies which, like them, were filled with mistakes. So on
      > grounds would one argue that the original was never changed? Or
      that if it
      > was changed, only later (not earlier) manuscripts attest it?
      What's the
      > historical logic? If professional scribes of later times made lots
      > mistakes, are we to think that the non-professionals of the
      earliest stages
      > some how were so highly accurate that they never changed anything --
      in the
      > decades (in some cases centuries) before our earliest copies?
      > * On evangelicals vs. Ehrman. I should point out that my
      views are
      > not at all on the fringe: they appear to be the view of the most
      > publishing scholars in the world (Parker, Epp, the Muenster
      crowd). That
      > doesn't make them right, but it also means that these are not some
      > views of one critic. I, in fact, am more inclined to talk about a
      > concept of an original than most.
      > * Unrelated, more or less, to this list: it is
      not "speculative" to
      > say that the NT Gospels were written anonymously; so far as I know,
      it is a
      > *fact* that they were written anonymously (none of them tells us
      his name:
      > that's what an anonymous writing *is* -- a book whose author doesn't
      > disclose his or her name). Whether or not we know their names from
      > sources or on other grounds is a different question.
      > Best to all,
      > -- Bart Ehrman
      > Bart D. Ehrman
      > James A. Gray Professor
      > Department of Religious Studies
      > University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      > _____
      > From: textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com
      > [mailto:textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of Eddie Mishoe
      > Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 8:19 AM
      > To: textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com
      > Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Initial and Archetype
      > Bob:
      > The vast majority of evangelical scholars do not agree with Ehrman
      on his
      > assumptions about the differences between the Original and
      > Add to this the pioneering work by Dr. Thomas showing no literary
      > interdependence among the synopitc gospel writers, where he
      > "Based on observational facts regarding all fifty-eight sections of
      > triple-tradition, this study has found that only sixteen percent of
      > words in those sections
      > are identical in all three Gospels. That is far fewer than would
      have been
      > identical if the writers had engaged in copying from one another or
      > functioned as copyists
      > of each other's Gospels. That in itself is sufficient to conclude
      that they
      > worked independently of each other's writings."
      > Only 16 percent agreement! And yet, some still hold today some form
      > literary interdependence. Read his article; he actually lists all
      > 'triple-traditions' (places where Matt, Mark, and Luke have the
      same event).
      > And the 16 percent is compared against a very important benchmark:
      > quotations.
      > When two Gospel writers quote the same LXX passage, they agree
      closer to 70
      > percent. SO, in places where we know the gospel writes are quoting
      the same
      > passage/material, their agreement is around 70 percent. When they
      > quoting from the same event in the life of Christ, oddly enough,
      they agree
      > with each other closer to 15 to 20 percent. This huge gap is
      difficult to
      > explain.
      > Thomas has shown mathematically that the gospel writers were not
      > plagiarizing each others' work, but I still think they were using
      > sources. Even though they don't use the same wording in common
      > the order of pericopes seems to imply common sources from which each
      > slightly departed. This data also, as far as I can tell, does away
      > Marcan priority, or anyone's priority. There is just no measurable
      > dependence on each other.
      > Finally, I think it is overly speculative to say that the gospels
      > anonymous. I find it near impossible that Matthew, for example,
      wrote this
      > gospel and then secretly put it in circulation. I think first
      > contemporaries knew that he wrote this gospel. As it was being
      delivered, I
      > suspect the deliverers were bringing these gospels to important
      > hubs with the statement that "This account of Jesus was written by
      > Would not someone first ask who wrote this when being handed an
      > scroll of such import. I keep arguing that people were the same
      then and
      > now.
      > Eddie Mishoe
      > Pastor

    • tvanlopik
      Further investigation of quotations of and allusions to the NT text in 1Clem as provided in the Codex Alexandrinus (A) is welcome. But is to optimistic to
      Message 33 of 33 , Mar 21, 2009
        Further investigation of quotations of and allusions to the NT text in 1Clem as provided in the Codex Alexandrinus (A) is welcome. But is to optimistic to consider the job can be finished quickly. Of course it is possible to compare the parallels of the NT text of A with the text in 1Clem as is provided in the text and apparatus of Funk/Bihlmeyer/SchneemelcherĀ“s Die Apostolischen Vaeter, 1970. On pp. 154-157 the quotions and allusions are indexed. But there is more.

        The question is to investigate the assimilation or harmonization in A of the text of Clemens with the NT text in the mind of the scribe. Otherwise: are the NT quotations of 1Clem in A from 95 AD or perhaps changed by the scribe(s) of A in the 5th century.

        First of all we need to know more about the scribes of A. According to Kenyon there are five: two of the OT and three of the NT. According to Milne and Skeat: two of the OT and one of the NT. 1Clem and 2Clem are written by the scribe of the second part of the OT. (Kenyon/Adams, Der text der griechischen Bibel, 1961, pp. 41, 64; Kenyon/Adams, Our Bible an the ancient manuscripts, 1958, pp. 121, 199)

        Determination of the harmonizing or assimilating activities in A, especially by the scribe of 1Clem, will be served by comparison of the NT quotations in 2Clem (145 AD), but also the quotations in the NT of OT texts (LXX) as provided in A should be involved in the investigation. Already a lot is done in the field of NT quotations of the LXX text in general. E.g., see: Michel, Der Brief an die Hebraeer, 1975 (Meyer's Komm.), pp. 151-158.(By the way on A: pp. 156-157, bibliography on pp. 157-158.)

        Funk/Bihlmeyer, p. XI mentions: The New Testament in the Apostlic Fathers by a Committee of the Oxford Society of Historical Theology, Oxford 1905. That work, also referred to by Vogels, Handbuch der neutestamentlichen Textkritik, 1923, p. 153, is I suppose a 'must' for the scholar who want to investigate the NT quotations of 1Clem in A.

        Teunis van Lopik
        Leidschendam, the Netherlands

        --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Jay Rogers" <jrogers@...> wrote:
        > --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "James Snapp, Jr."
        > <voxverax@> wrote:
        > >
        > > "It also seems plain to me that even a layman with a very limited
        > > knowledge of Greek . . . can compare the "majority text" of Greek NT
        > with these citations and determine how the NT of 90-115 compares to the
        > documentary evidence we have between 115 and 325."
        > >
        > > Yes; observing the text in what Burkitt called the "dark age of the
        > NT" -- the period from the writing of the NT books to the
        > production-dates of the earliest substantial MSS and substantial
        > quotations (the kind of thorough quotation one finds in a commentary, as
        > opposed to by-the-way citations) -- could yield a useful comparison of
        > the Majority Text, the "Western" Text, and the "Alexandrian" Text to the
        > earliest-perceptible text. To make the comparison more substantial you
        > might want to include more second-century witnesses.
        > >
        > > Yours in Christ,
        > >
        > > James Snapp, Jr.
        > >
        > On the question: Have the quotations of the NT in the earliest patristic
        > manuscripts been systematically compared to the earliest NT manuscripts
        > themselves?
        > The several objections are valid as anyone with even a cursory knowledge
        > of the church fathers can attest:
        > 1. That the church fathers were sometimes paraphrasing "off-the-cuff."
        > 2. That scribal errors entered into those manuscripts as well.
        > However, the existence of these variants among the church fathers seems
        > to indicate that few (if any) sought to correct their habit of
        > paraphrasing by bringing the text into line with a direct quote. Even
        > so, this could be useful if the correction was made early on.
        > In other words, the existence of a variant by a patristic witness not
        > found in any NT manuscript, in and of itself, ought to give some idea of
        > the integrity of the extant texts of the church fathers.
        > 3. The patristic manuscript evidence is not early enough.
        > Codex Alexandrinus contains 1 Clement. That is fairly early -- 5th
        > century. Who has compared the NT quotes (and allusions) in 1 Clement to
        > the actual NT text in Alexandrinus?
        > This seems the place to start. It wouldn't take too long to compare.
        > Then where to go from there?
        > 1. Compare patristic data from the same codices that also contain the
        > NT.
        > 2. Compare the earliest patristic manuscript evidence with closest
        > copies from the same time period.
        > 3. Compare the earliest patristic manuscripts with the earliest NT
        > manuscripts.
        > 4. Compare the future "critical edition" of the church fathers' quotes
        > with the most recent critical edition of the NT.
        > 5. And any combination of the above.
        > None of the above methods is without inherent problems as noted, but it
        > would give a consensus of some kind. From there several things could be
        > determined.
        > 1. How closely the church fathers agree with either the TR and the
        > "Majority Text."
        > 2. Which manuscript tradition the church fathers most reflect.
        > 3. Which individual manuscripts are supported by which quotations by
        > which church fathers.
        > 4. Which church fathers support which manuscript family tradition.
        > 5. What are some regional generalizations -- that is, would Ignatius and
        > Clement of Alexandria be more inclined toward an Alexandrian reading
        > while Clement of Rome and Justin be more inclined toward a western
        > reading, etc.
        > This last idea seems useful in tracking when and where the text families
        > branched off. I am of the persuasion (without having done any real TC
        > myself) that the western text might have a lot more integrity in light
        > of patristic quotations due to the sheer fact that the Alexandrian
        > family had a "climate advantage" to preserve older fragments and
        > manuscripts. I am just using common sense here, the data might
        > contradict me. But from what I have read, some seem to think the Western
        > tradition is bolstered by the church fathers.
        > Obviously with the paraphrased material, there is going to be great
        > discontinuity, but even with the textual variants in the patristic
        > material (original and scribal) there might be some idiosyncratic things
        > that jump out that textual critics were not aware of before.
        > Criticize these ideas please. Am I putting this in the right order of
        > priority? Has this already been done?
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