Elijah Hixson & Peter J. Gurry, eds.IVP Academic / 2019 / Trade PaperbackOur Price$28.995 out of 5 stars for Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism. View reviews of this product. 2 Reviews
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Andy Le Peau5 Stars Out Of 5Highly RecommendedJune 11, 2021Andy Le PeauQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5How reliable are the ancient manuscripts we have of the New Testament? Were thousands of unintentional errors made in copying? Did scribes also willfully make hundreds of changes to conform to their theological biases? If so, does that bring the whole of the Christian faith into question?
The truth is that exaggerated and false claims have been made by those seeking to discredit the New Testament, those seeking to defend it, and those simply trying to do solid academic work in a challenging field. I was very impressed with the clarity, care, and objectivity that the authors of this volume employ to unpack answers to all these questions and many more. They skillfully lay open the problems perpetuated by scholars and apologists of all stripes.
These include the use of outdated information, abuse of statistics, and selective use of evidence. Sometimes the quality, age, length, and provenance of ancient manuscripts are not sufficiently differentiated. All ancient texts are not equal and should not be lumped together as if they were.
Chapter by chapter the authors consider myths about the number of ancient texts, about comparisons to other ancient literature, about dating, about corruption for theological reasons, about the nature and impact of copying errors, about how the church fathers can and cannot help us, and much more.
For example, Bart Erhman, a scholar who is famous for his work debunking the reliability of the Scriptures, claims there are about 400,000 variants in the ancient manuscripts. The authors of this volume think this figure is too low. After careful analysis, they suggest that half a million is probably a better estimate.
Yet largely this does not cause the authors to join Erhman in his doubts. Why? For many reasons. For one: often variants are corrections of obvious mistakes scribes made in the copying process. For another: dozens of new new papyri have been discovered in the last century, yet this has not resulted in major changes, testifying to the reliability of the documents we already had available.
As they write on page 210: *It is true, then, that most variants do not affect the meaning of the text or the Christian faith in general. A few dozen do, however, and some of these are theologically important, as in Mark 1:1, Luke 23:34, and John 1:18.* Yet even if the phrase *Son of God* was not in the original autograph of Mark, that does little to alter how the sonship of Jesus is presented in Mark or in the Christian faith more broadly.
I highly recommend this book for its clarity, readability, and fairness, for all those interested in how we got the New Testament.
MichaelIndian Trail, NCAge: 45-54Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Myths And Mistakes In New Testament Textual CriticismNovember 17, 2019MichaelIndian Trail, NCAge: 45-54Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5"Myths And Mistakes In New Testament Textual Criticism" is a timely response to Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" (a title that questions the validity of the original Bible manuscripts and casts doubt on the Bible itself). Just over 300 pages, "Myths and Mistakes In New Testament Textual Criticism" addresses many subjects on the topic, including:
- The number of existing manuscripts and why too many can lead to confusion.
- Comparing the New Testament to ancient books (Iliad, Odyssey, Josephus, etc.).
- Copying the manuscripts.
- Dating manuscripts.
- Manuscript translations.
Other subjects are covered. The title is an academic read and while a challenging read, the book provides many excellent insights on the manuscripts. Anyone can benefit from the read: Christian apologist, anyone who wants to learn more about the manuscripts and their reliability, unbelievers and skeptics, and other types of readers. A valuable addition to anyone's library. I look forward to reading this title more deeply in the future. Recommended.
I was given a review copy by IVP Academic in exchange for a fair review and appreciate the opportunity.
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