Re: [textualcriticism] Re: Initial and Archetype (A few questions to Dr. Ehrman from a layman)
- Jay:"We know that the original manuscripts of the Gospels did not have their author's names attached to them. . . . Christians started attaching names to the various books that were originally anonymous. - Bart D. Ehrman.More Ehrman:1.) "The titles of the Gospels were not put there by their authors - as should be clear after just a moment's reflection. Suppose a disciple named Matthew actually did write a book about Jesus' words and deeds. Would he have called it 'The Gospel According to Matthew?' Of course not. He might have called it 'The Gospel of Jesus Christ" or "The life and death of our Savior" or something similar. But id someone calls it the Gospel according to Matthew, then it's obviously someone else trying to explain, at the outset, whose version of the story this one is. And in fact we know that the original manuscripts of the Gospels did not have their authors' names attached to them."2.) "Why then do we call the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Because sometime in the second century, when proto-orthodox Christians recognized the need for apostolic authority, they attributed these books to apostles (Matthew and John) and close companions of apostles (Mark, the secretary of Peter; and Luke the traveling companion of Paul)."3.) "Scholars continue to call these Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as a matter of convenience; they have to be called something, and it doesn't make much sense to call them George, Jim, Fred, and Sam."End Quote.
It is near impossible to prove absolutely who penned the Gospels; therefore I take three approaches that help me to sleep well at night:
1.) The best explanation approach;
- That the named writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are are the the best explanation for evidence that is not absolute, but beyond reasonable doubt.
2.) the cumulative case approach and
- No one argument is going to get me to the point of accepting these as the writers, but when every piece is put together the cumulative case is beyond reasonable doubt for me.
3.) the minimalistic acceptance of God inspired.
First, Ehrman is correct as to what he said in paragraph one about an author not putting his name in the title. Historically, it would have been common to put the writer's name in the beginning, with a small description of its contents. So, Ehrman is totally speculating when he writes: "in fact we know that the original manuscripts of the Gospels did not have their authors' names attached to them." His exaggeration comes in two forms, he uses the word "fact" as though that seals the end of the discussion and he makes those comments; when the real fact is we do not have the originals that could have titles sown to the edges of the document. Regardless, the truth is we do not know factually one way or another.The actual titles give us a pebble to place on our side of the scale for Matthew Mark, Luke and John being the writers. As Ehrman suggests, there had to be a name picked. But let us consider how many congregations existed in the second century, over 20,000 miles of territory. So, since each of these Gospels were given names in different times and in hundreds of places, what can we conclude. While there are differences, ask Ehrman what remains the same. While the overall title for Matthew is different in wording, it is still attributed to Matthew. That is what remains the same. The holds true for the other three Gospels as well. This holds true all throughout the Roman Empire.What are the statistical odds of all of these different regions coming up with the same writer for each of these Gospels? Why does not one call the shortest Gospel Matthew, and another congregation call the text with the genealogy Mark, or another congregation call the one to Theophilus John? Moreover, why are none called by any of the other apostle's names? Let us add in another factor to take these odds to an even greater extent. There were no telephones, fax machines, email, overnight mail. It took months to cross the empire; and we are talking about all regions. Now, more difficulty. There were no district Christian offices of Christianity to cause this unity.So, let us run with Ehrman's theory, not fact. So, we are to believe that every congregation, every region decided to go with the apostolic approach. Then, we are to understand that each of these congregations throughout 20,000 miles of several regions decided to actually place the same four names on the exact same Gospel, with no exceptions. Unlikely in the extreme.A better suggestion is that this oral world passed on oral traditions in the beginning and up through the second century with the gospels being named by these traditions in the second century. In fact, Papias of Hierapolis adds weight to this in the latter part of the first century. In the middle of the second century Irenaeus adds more pebbles to our side of the scales of inferential evidence by way of Polycarp. This being separated by decades and hundreds of miles.So, in the end, the pattern is far to consistent to have this random picking by congregations across the empire, just slapping on apostolic names at random for some form of authority.Edward Andrews----- Original Message -----From: Jay RogersSent: Tuesday, March 03, 2009 2:27 PMSubject: [textualcriticism] Re: Initial and Archetype (A few questions to Dr. Ehrman from a layman)
- I am quite satisfied that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John based on the inferential information available and common sense.
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
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"
--- 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
> 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
> 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?
> historical logic? If professional scribes of later times made lots
> mistakes, are we to think that the non-professionals of the
> some how were so highly accurate that they never changed anything --
> decades (in some cases centuries) before our earliest copies?
> * On evangelicals vs. Ehrman. I should point out that my
> not at all on the fringe: they appear to be the view of the most
> publishing scholars in the world (Parker, Epp, the Muenster
> 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
> 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
> The vast majority of evangelical scholars do not agree with Ehrman
> 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
> 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
> 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
> And the 16 percent is compared against a very important benchmark:
> 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
> passage/material, their agreement is around 70 percent. When they
> quoting from the same event in the life of Christ, oddly enough,
> with each other closer to 15 to 20 percent. This huge gap is
> 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,
> gospel and then secretly put it in circulation. I think first
> contemporaries knew that he wrote this gospel. As it was being
> 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
> Eddie Mishoe
- 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/Schneemelcher´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 email@example.com, "Jay Rogers" <jrogers@...> wrote:
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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?