Bible


That’s an easy answer: p52 (a fragment of John 18).  Perhaps not.  P52 is typically dated to A.D. 125-175. There is a fragment of Matthew 21, p104, that is dated to A.D. 100-200.  The mean age of both manuscripts is A.D. 150, but if p104 is as early as its terminus a quo, then p104 may be the earliest NT manuscript.

P52

P52

 

P104

P104

Of course, there is still the possibility that we have a fragment of Mark’s gospel dated to before A.D. 90. The court is still out on this one since the research on this fragment has yet to be published. If it turns out to be a valid date, it would be the first NT fragment from the first century to be discovered – an exciting prospect indeed!

Open LoopSome believe the Biblical stories were myths or exaggerations.  At worst, everything is an invention.  At best, just the miracle claims were invented.  When you examine the Gospels, however, you find plenty of evidence that the authors were being faithful to what really happened, even when it was embarrassing.  Examples abound, including Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus calling Peter “Satan,” the disciples not understanding Jesus’ predictions of His resurrection, etc.  This is called the principle of embarrassment, and is one of the key principles historians use to judge the historicity of a report.

While reading Matthew the other day, another example of this principle stood out to me in a way it had not before.  We are told by Matthew that the chief priests went to Pilate “the next day” after Jesus had been crucified and buried to ask for guards to be posted at the tomb (Mt 27:62-63).  Why?  Because Jesus had predicted that He would rise from the dead, and they feared that the disciples might come and steal his body from the tomb and then claim Jesus’ prediction had come true (Mt 27:64).  (more…)

Telephone GameAre the words in the Bibles we read today the same words that the apostles and prophets wrote back then?  Many people assume that the words have been dramatically changed over the centuries, comparing the transmission of Scripture to the Telephone Game.  Daniel Wallace answers this challenge, showing how different the two really are: (more…)

jesus-is-truthPostmodern Christians who dismiss the veracity of propositional truth like to cite John 14:26 where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  “Jesus is the truth,” they say, “not doctrinal statements.  Jesus is the only truth that matters.”

This way of interpreting Jesus’ statement presumes that Jesus is saying He is identical to the truth, such that to speak of the truth is to speak of Jesus.  Linguists call this the “is of identity.”  An example of this use of “is” would be the statement, “Barack Obama is the president of the United States.”  There is an identity relationship between the man Barack Obama and the office of the president of the United States.  Clearly that’s not the kind of “is” Jesus is referring to.  When Jesus says he is the truth, he is not making an identity statement such that “Jesus = the truth,” otherwise, “to say that ‘2+2=4’ is true is to say that ‘2+2=4’ is Jesus. In other words, Jesus is claiming to be a mathematical statement.”[1]

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Holy Spirith - The GhostAs anyone familiar with the KJV will notice, when speaking of the Spirit, the translators were not always consistent. The translators translated pneuma as “Spirit,” but translated pneuma hagios as “Holy Ghost.” Here are some examples where the difference can be seen within the same verse:

• Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
• John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
• John 7:39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
• Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
• 1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

I was tempted to conclude that, for some stylistic reason or due to cultural conventions, the translators preferred to translate pneuma by itself as “Spirit,” but pneuma hagios as “Holy Ghost.” But I have discovered that they did not always translate pneuma hagios (or its Hebrew equivalent) as “Holy Ghost.” Consider these passages:

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Christian apologists have long pointed out that when it comes to textual reliability, the NT is in a league of its own compared to all other ancient texts.  According to NT manuscript expert Daniel Wallace, there are 1000x more copies of the NT than the average ancient Greek text.  If we stacked the NT manuscripts on top of each other, they would reach more than a mile high.  Not only are there more manuscripts for the NT than any other ancient text, but the gap between the original text and our first copies is smaller for the NT than other ancient texts.  There are 3x as many NT manuscripts within 200 years of the original text than the average Greco-Roman text has in 2000 years.

Unfortunately, many of the statistics appearing in apologetics literature are outdated.  Additional manuscripts of both the NT and other ancient texts continue to be discovered.  Clay Jones wrote an article for the Christian Research Institute in 2012 providing the latest stats.  The article was recently posted on the CRI website.  Check it out and see how the NT compares to other ancient Greek texts.

Visual History of KJVWhen the KJV turned 400 years old in 2011, there were a number of books published to celebrate and explore this historic, influential translation. One of those books was A Visual History of the King James Bible: The Dramatic Story of the World’s Best-Known Translation by Donald L. Brake.  I picked it up earlier this year via a scratch and dent special through CBD, and I’m glad I did.  It is chocked-full of interesting (and not-so-interesting) information about the history of the KJV.

Brake covers everything from the impetus for the translation to its modern form.  He begins with a brief overview of the history of the English language and the first English translations of Scripture.  Politics and religious factions caused a tug-of-war when it came to the production and acceptance of new translations.  No English translation gained universal acceptance. While the KJV did not immediately gain the adoration of all English speakers, within 30 years it had supplanted most other prior translations, and only continued to gain more and more market share until it became the standard translation in the English speaking world with no serious challengers until the late 19th century.

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