JW:The New Testament has been preserved in more than 5,800 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Ethiopic and Armenian. There are approximately 300,000 textual variants among the manuscripts, most of them being the changes of word order and other comparative trivialities. Thus, for over 250 years, New Testament scholars have argued that no textual variant affects any doctrine. Professor D. A. Carson states: "nothing we believe to be doctrinally true, and nothing we are commanded to do, is in any way jeopardized by the variants. This is true for any textual tradition. The interpretation of individual passages may well be called in question; but never is a doctrine affected."
Christian Bible Scholarship (CBS) generally has a son of mantra that there is no textual variant that is critical to Christian belief and that for all non-practical purposes, the text as a holy can be reliably reconstructed. Skeptical Textual Criticism (STC) normally just follows CBS into the Galilly of individual variation such as:
- The Ending of Mark = Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid For. Confirmation 16:8 Original
The Beginning of Mark = Son Control-Mark's 2nd Amendment. Is 1:1 "son of God" added?
"Mark's" angry Jesus (1:41) = (Really need a dedicated thread here indicating "angry" is likely original as CBS is now pricking against the goads of Ehrman's case for "angry").
Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 11)
7. Such, then, are the first principles of the Gospel: that there is one God, the Maker of this universe; He who was also announced by the prophets, and who by Moses set forth the dispensation of the law,— [principles] which proclaim the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and ignore any other God or Father except Him. So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavours to establish his own peculiar doctrine. For the Ebionites, who use Matthew's Gospel only, are confuted out of this very same, making false suppositions with regard to the Lord. But Marcion, mutilating that according to Luke, is proved to be a blasphemer of the only existing God, from those [passages] which he still retains. Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the Gospel by Mark, if they read it with a love of truth, may have their errors rectified. Those, moreover, who follow Valentinus, making copious use of that according to John, to illustrate their conjunctions, shall be proved to be totally in error by means of this very Gospel, as I have shown in the first book. Since, then, our opponents do bear testimony to us, and make use of these [documents], our proof derived from them is firm and true.
|GMark||c. 100||Gnostic||Irenaeus confesses that those who only use GMark are Gnostics (Separationists) based on what GMark says (at the time). He likewise confesses that to get to an orthodox understanding you have to "interpret".|
|Secret Mark||after GMark (so to speak)||Gnostic (more)||Might be modern or it just might be 2nd century. Should it at least be considered in Textual Criticism?|
|GMatthew||c. 110||Jewish||Ebionites use and the evidence indicates it had no virgin birth. What are more Jewish readings it might have had?|
|GMatthew orthodox||c. 115||orthodox||editing of Jewish Gospel helps explain contradictory attitude towards Peter|
|MarcionLuke||c. 120||Gnostic||It looks like Marcion had original "Luke". At a minimum should the Marcionite readings be included in Textual Criticism. Say yeeees.|
|GLuke orthodox||c. 130||orthodox||The later orthodox "Luke" solves the problem of how "Luke" can be much earlier than Acts. It wasn't, only MarcionLuke was. GLuke orthodox also has multiple evidence of being heavily edited.|
|GJohn Gnostic||c. 140||Gnostic||Again, Irenaeus confesses that based only on a use of GJohn the Valentinians are Gnostic. GJohn, like GLuke, not only shows heavy signs of editing, but heavy evidence of a Gnostic original. Should Gnostic verses orthodox readings be considered in Textual Criticism?|
|GJohn||c. 150||orthodox||Justin, the lead orthodox of his time, does not use GJohn because in his time it is Gnostic, orthodox GJohn has not yet been written|
The above provides a significant reason for why there is so little extant from the early centuries of The Christian Bible. CBS did not want it (because of the earlier Gnostic readings). Note that the discoveries of early text are accidental. Fragments are discovered because CBS did not want to preserve them, not because they did. The brave and truthful early Manuscripts such as Sinaiticus & Vaticanus c. 4th century are thoroughly orthodox, created well after the Lucian Recension.
Skeptical Textual Criticism