Is the Bible Real
Can we trust the Bible? Is it a collection of lies, a gathering of legends gone wildly out of control - or a series of eyewitness accounts? How can we know scribes didn't flagrantly edit the texts? Check out these short clips from past Veritas Forums or read the transcripts below!
Craig Blomberg on the debate surrounding what books made it into the New Testament.
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Gary Habermas addresses the numerous variant readings in the surviving copies of the New Testament.
Craig Blomberg is professor of New Testament at Denver Theological Seminary. In this short clip, he runs us through the debate surrounding the books of the New Testament.
"If you'd like to see every known list
from the first three centuries
of Christian debate
about what books should be included in
the New Testament,
track down the fairly recent (I think
it's 2002) volume
by Lee McDonald and James Sanders,
called "The Canon Debate,"
published by Hendrickson in Peabody,
And in a series of appendices
you can see the lists.
There was discussion.
There was disagreement.
There was not instant, unanimous
concerning what went into the
But a remarkable observation is that
of the seven books that eventually
"made it in," if we use that language,
that DID have some debate
six of them were letters,
and one was the Book of Revelation.
The six letters were Hebrews,
because there was no initial name attached to
the book and so there were debates about
who wrote it;
because there seems to be a a very
different spirit in at least one key
text about the role of faith and works
as over against the Apostle Paul;
because it appears to be written in a
totally different style than 1st Peter;
Jude, 2nd John, and 3rd John 'cause
they're all short little one chapter books
so that some people could say
"Is this really that significant?"
And then the Book of Revelation, because
people already then as now were debating:
How in the world do you interpret this?
But there is no known debate -
Could there have been? Of course there could
have been! Could be lost!
But there is no record of anyone ever
disputing Matthew, Mark, Luke, John,
or the thirteen letters that have Paul's
name on them
in those early discussions of the
canonical collection of New Testament documents.
There are also other letters
(and again they are all letters)
attributed to such people as
Barnabas, though written a hundred years
too late to been from him;
one called the Shepherd of Hermas;
and a couple more that
periodically were put forward
but ultimately rejected.
But there is no known list, no known text,
from any point of view,
Christian, Pagan, half-and-half,
that proposed any other Gospel
besides the four that we have in the New
Testament." - Craig Blomberg
is an American historican and philosopher of religion. In this clip, he tells us how many variant readings of the New Testament there are (hint: a lot!), but why it doesn't really bother people in the know.
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"Let's compare the New Testament to ancient
classical manuscripts. Okay, let's begin
If I want to know what the text says, I've got to have
some good copies, because are going to be
variant readings. Let me begin with the bad news.
We have so many Greek manuscripts,
in the neighborhood of 55, maybe
more right now, maybe 58 hundred,
we have so many copies that there are
just plain a lot
of variant readings.
There are a lot of variant readings.
I'm going to surprise some of you when I say this,
and this figure is old,
but the last figure I saw,
a couple decades ago
two hundred thousand
variant readings in the New Testament text.
Two hundred thousand variant readings.
Ugh. Two hundred thousand!
How we ever going to get to the bottom
of this? How we ever going to find out
what the text says?
a little epistemic thing here, for you philosophers.
You know how we know
there's two hundred thousand variant readings?
'Cause you can count 'em.
And when you can count 'em,
you can work on 'em. See, when you can count them -
Counting them means you know where they are.
How many have ever seen
New Testaments that are put out in Greek
that are the chief
critical Greek text that you could study
in any university? If you're going to study Greek,
you get this red, plastic New Testament.
How many of you know what I'm talking about?
It's about this size. Some of you?
Does anybody know what is the bottom of
every one of those pages? When you
open up these Greek New Testaments that Greek students study,
in a private school, state university,
wherever. When you study the Greek text,
about half the page will be the Greek text
and there'll be something at the bottom.
There'll be a line. Below that line
— on every page there's something there.
Anyone know what that is?
Those who raised their hands? You know what's at the bottom of the page?
It's called 'critical apparatus.'
Every major variant reading is listed at
the bottom of the page.
So if you know Greek,
and you get to be really good at this...
The bad news is that there's two hundred
thousand variants; the good news is,
you could put your finger on 'em, you know
what they say, and you can evaluate them.
The two hundred thousand variations
Everybody knows they're there. They're usually
not aware that there are that many.
It bothers nobody,
because you can compare texts
and the New Testament is very, very wealthy
Let me give you some examples.
If you have ten copies or partial copies
of ancient historical texts
like Tacitus, Pliny,
Suetonius, if you have ten,
you are doing well. You are doing well.
If you have twenty -
There are only a
very, very, very few classical texts
with more than twenty copies.
Homer's "Iliad" in an example.
There are over six hundred copies
of Homer's "Iliad." That's fantastic!
So let's take the number one competitor to
the New Testament.
Okay? Number one competitor.
Final score. Let's make this an athletic contest.
to six hundred and fifty.
First of all, you say, for classical texts,
six hundred and fifty is fantastic -
but don't look now - you just got killed!
Well, you say, 'well come on, it's not that straight a deal,
it's not a numbers game, like a
basketball game.' No, really,
again we could pursue this in the Q&A
if you want to. But...
for the most part,
more texts make a more accurate reading." - Gary Habermas
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