Skeptical Textual Criticism

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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JoeWallack
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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by JoeWallack » Wed May 31, 2017 8:03 am

Textual Healing

JW:
New Testament
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.[87][88] 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."[87][89]
JW:
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 above though are just variation on a Micro level. STC also needs to consider Textual Variation at a Marcro level. Useful (mis)information provided by Irenaeus of Lyons (yes, "Lyons"):
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.

Identification Date Style Commentary
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.


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Galatians 1:19 Brother of the Lord

Post by JoeWallack » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:48 pm

James Gang


JW:
The purpose of this exercise is to consider if Paul builds a rhetorical argument in general that physical is bad and spiritual is good or at least that spiritual is superior. If the conclusion here is that Paul in general is making an argument that the spiritual is superior to the physical then this may be evidence that Paul's intent in 1:19 is to identify James as the physical brother of Jesus in order to discredit James or at least to make James' witness inferior to Paul's.

Galatians 1

Verse Physical Spiritual Contrast Superiority of Spiritual Commentary
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead), Yes Yes Yes Yes (Implication) Sets the tomb of superiority of spiritual over physical with double negative and positive
2 and all the brethren that are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Yes Yes No No Use of physical term (brother) with spiritual meaning. Others are physically and spiritually with him.
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, - - - - Continuation of doublets
4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father: Yes Yes Yes Yes Maximum contrast with physical world evil and spiritual world good
5 to whom [be] the glory for ever and ever. Amen. - - - - Always a doublet
6 I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; No Yes Yes - Contrast is between the spiritual previously identified by Paul and an unidentified competition
7 which is not another [gospel] only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Yes Yes Yes Yes The wording implies that Paul has physical competition and this competition asserts based on a physical connection to Jesus.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. Yes Yes No No The point is that it does not matter who says it or what they say. Evidence is not important. Faith is. Faith in what was originally preached by Paul.
9 As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema. - - - - -
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. - - - - -
11 For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. - - - - -
12 For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through revelation of Jesus Christ. - - - - -
13 For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews` religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and made havoc of it: - - - - -
14 and I advanced in the Jews` religion beyond many of mine own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. - - - - -
15 But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, [even] from my mother`s womb, and called me through his grace, - - - - -
16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood: - - - - -
17 neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus. - - - - -
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days. - - - - -
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord`s brother. - - - - -
20 Now touching the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. - - - - -
21 Then I came unto the regions of Syria and Cilicia. - - - - -
22 And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: - - - - -
23 but they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc; - - - - -
24 and they glorified God in me. - - - - -

I'm pausing completion of the Table for now to consider the related question of who "lord" refers to in verse 19. The overall implication of the Chapter is clear that it refers to Jesus because:
  • 1) Jesus is already introduced as "lord" in verse 3.

    2) The only other main candidate, God, is introduced as "the father" in verse 1.

    3) The two candidates are distinguished with these titles in verse 3.

    4) There are no exceptions to the above use in the Chapter.
So it does look like Paul is identifying James as the "brother" of Jesus. The question remains whether "brother" refers to the physical or the spiritual. Presumably Paul considers being the spiritual brother of Jesus a positive. But what would Paul consider being the physical brother of Jesus in absolute terms and what would Paul consider being the physical brother of Jesus in relative (so to speak) terms (compared to someone who is a spiritual brother)? Whether Paul considered a physical brother of Jesus a positive (or negative) in absolute terms would be evidenced by what other descriptions Paul gives of that person.

[generally]There is something for everyone to dislike here. Skeptics don't like that 1:19 is evidence of HJ and Believers don't like that it is evidence that Paul discredited James because he was the physical brother of Jesus.[/generally]



Joseph

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Re: Galatians 1:19 Brother of the Lord

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Aug 25, 2018 1:18 pm

JoeWallack wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:48 pm
There is something for everyone to dislike here. Skeptics don't like that 1:19 is evidence of HJ and Believers don't like that it is evidence that Paul discredited James because he was the physical brother of Jesus.
Right in your comfort zone, then. Hated equally by everybody. :D
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΕΘΕΙΑ

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Did GMark Originally Start At 1:4 With JtB?

Post by JoeWallack » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:03 am

JW:
There are a number of reasons (primarily Internal) to suspect that GMark originally started with 1:4:

John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins.

As Skeptical Textual Criticism now fulfills its destiny and takes the lead in Textual Criticism one part of External evidence that is increasingly being considered is GMatthew/GLuke as possible witness to blocks of GMark that are not original. For starters let's consider the change in quantity of parallels before 1:4 and starting at 1:4:

Location GMark GMatthew GLuke Commentary
Before - 2:23 and came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene. 3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the highpriesthood of Annas and Caiaphas 1. Note that there are no parallels between the Befores of GMatthew and GLuke which is suggestive of addition to GMark all by itself.
2. GMatthew is the more important evidence of the two since it was written before GLuke and for all we know the only existing Gospel narrative at the time was GMark.
3. GMatthew's Before shows supposed prophecy fulfillment which would seem unusual if its source had supposed prophecy fulfillment in the previous verse.
4. GLuke tries to give a historical sounding Time Marker.
5. An important objection to where this Post is going is that GLuke does parallel with GMark pre-1:4 right after Luke 3:1. The main difference being the GMark prophecy sequence is prophecy first and fulfillment second while GLuke is fulfillment first and prophecy second. But is this parallel original GLuke or just orthodox GLuke?
After John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins. And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, And he came into all the region round about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins; The Afters parallel very well in quantity and quality. Note that the main thing we are looking for here is the change in parallels at the location in question and here we have the maximum change.


Joseph

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Marcion & Ebionites Evidence that GMark Started at 1:4

Post by JoeWallack » Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:03 am

JW:

Beginning of Gospels:

Mark Ebionites Marcion Commentary
1:4 John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins. 3:1 And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, http://www.marcionite-scripture.info/Gospel1.html In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Jesus descended [out of heaven] into Capernaum, 1. The Ebionite Gospel, which as far as we know, may have the earliest extant evidence, supports 1:4 as the beginning of GMark.
2. The hypothetical reconstructions of Marcion generally do not show JtB at the beginning but the generally agreed later text of Marcion implies that JtB was previously mentioned somewhere in Marcion with the beginning a good guess.
3. Note that the beginnings of JtB and Jesus in all three parallel as to prior location as JtB first and Jesus second come from parts unknown (so to speak) like Clint Eastwood as a Higher Plain Drifter.


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Re: Skeptical Textual Criticism

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:00 am

The Marcionite 'evidence' is at best a loose paraphrase of what the gospel said or implied. No one knows the exact wording.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Skeptical Textual Criticism - Acts 8:37

Post by JoeWallack » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:35 am

JW:
Time to test drive Skeptical Textual Criticism (STC). Since the Who axed Acts 8:37? has received a lot of action let's use that as an example:

8:37
[And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.]
The most valuable criterion by far for STC is The Difficult Reading Principle (DRP). The DRP is normally included in the Internal evidence category but actually consists of two criteria, one of which is Internal and the other which is really External:
  • Intrinsic = The evidence from the rest of the writing that the text in question is from. Based on the rest of the writing which candidate for originality is more likely. This is Internal evidence.

    Transcriptional = The evidence from subsequent related writings such as copies and references. Based on subsequent Christianity which candidate would be preferred. This is External evidence but is a modifier of all other External evidence. The greater the preference for a reading the less weight the supporting External evidence has for that reading.


As my related Thread Cumulative Weight of Early Witness for Difficult Readings indicates there is a strong inverse relationship between Difficult Readings and External support and sufficiently difficult readings can have very little External support and still be either likely original or at least a good candidate. Since there is normally exponentially more Transcriptional evidence than Intrinsic evidence the Transcriptional evidence will have far more weight.

One significant problem with all Textual Criticism to date is that it is informal regarding weighing of criteria. To get this thing started let's assign the following weights:
  • 3 = Strongly favors.

    2 = Favors.

    1 = Weakly favors.

    0 = Neutral.
Now on to the text in question:
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The thinking in the related Acts Thread is that the related section reads better with the verse than without. How much better? How much worse is the section without the verse? Does the rest of Acts strongly favor, favor or weakly favor inclusion of 8:37? To what extent is 8:37 needed?


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From The Mouth Of Believers

Post by JoeWallack » Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:22 am

JW:
The Intrin[sic] evidence. How necessary is the candidate to the primary point of the immediate story? The immediate story:

8
26 But an angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza: the same is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship;
28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.
29 And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30 And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31 And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare? For his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other?
35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.]
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing.
JW:
Note that the primary purpose of the pericope is teaching that foreigners need guidance from existing believers and not teaching about baptism. The candidate in question is all about baptism so 8:37 is probably not going to rate a 3 (strongly favors) in the Intrinsic category and is even some reason to doubt 8:37 as original since it is not related to the primary theme of the immediate story.

The next step is to consider the level of logical coordination that 8:37 provides between what precedes and what follows. To what extent is it needed? Be sure and look at 8:35. Who's mouth was opened?


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Well Shut My Mouth

Post by JoeWallack » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:40 am

JW:
The Intrin[sic] evidence continued. How much does the candidate improve the point of the surrounding verses?:

8

Verse Point Improvement
30 And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? Qualification for baptism The foreigner accepts that The Jewish Bible is authoritative
31 And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth:
Qualification for baptism A foreigner needs a native to understand The Jewish Bible
35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus. Qualification for baptism Note (carefully) that "his mouth" is 3rd person. It's not Philip's mouth. The "open his mouth" here refers back to 8:32 "openeth not his mouth". With this and the second 3rd person at the end of the verse ("him") there is already an implication that the foreigner now understands that the Jesus being preached to him was prophesied in The Jewish Bible which he considered authoritative. Nothing explicit is required to indicate that the foreigner is readied to be baptized and would actually hurt the economical literary style some.
36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? Qualification for baptism The foreigner recognizes that "certain water" is required for baptism with the implication that the foreigner is already familiar with qualifications for baptism. The question may just be rhetorical (so to speak) as we have implications that the foreigner is and knows he is ready to be baptized. Note that to this point all three (count em, three) of the foreigner's statements have been questions.
37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.] Qualification for baptism Improvements are an answer to a question which is a question and an answer to this answer/question and these answers are more specific than what precedes. Literary reasons though to doubt originality are:
  • 1. The explicit here is not required because of the preceding implications.

    2. It goes against the style of what precedes, three foreigner questions, and packs more into one verse, question/answer, answer and confessional statement than any preceding verse.

    3. The final answer "Jesus Christ is the Son of God" is a confessional statement and does not refer directly to anything mentioned in the story. The key to the story is who was The Jewish Bible referring to and not what.
Thus, since 8:37 does not help the primary theme of the pericope and is questionable as a literary improvement of the surrounding verses it's probably not going to rate a 2 (favors) in the Intrinsic category. Next Intrinsic consideration is how it fits with the surrounding stories.







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We've Got Spirit Yes We Do We've Got Spirit How Bout Jew?

Post by JoeWallack » Sat Oct 27, 2018 11:28 am

JW:
Continuing with the Intrinsic evidence. How important is the candidate to the primary theme of the surrounding stories:

Verse Primary Theme
8:14-17
14 Now when the apostles that were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit:
16 for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Receiving the holy spirit
8:18-25
18 Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles` hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
19 saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee.
23 For I see that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.
24 And Simon answered and said, Pray ye for me to the Lord, that none of the things which ye have spoken come upon me.
25 They therefore, when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
Receiving the holy spirit
8:26-39
26 But an angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza: the same is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship;
28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.
29 And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
30 And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
31 And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare? For his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other?
35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.]
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing.
Guidance of the holy spirit.

Note that the primary theme of the first two stories is receiving the holy spirit while the primary theme of the third story, which includes the candidate, is the guidance of the holy spirit. The following story is primarily about Paul receiving the holy spirit. Acts in general is also primarily about the holy spirit. For the specific stories above and Acts in general baptism and belief/confession regarding Jesus are secondary themes. From a literary and theological standpoint belief in Jesus and baptism precedes Acts as established and does not need to be demonstrated. The purpose of Acts is the holy spirit. The candidate does not refer to the holy spirit and therefore provides no support for the primary theme of Acts.

The specific purpose of the story containing the candidate is to demonstrate that the holy spirit is needed to convert foreigners and the candidate does not provide any support for this.


Joseph

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