Monday, May 15, 2006

Textual Criticism

On the plane ride back to Boston, I read the book "Misquoting Jesus" by Bart D. Ehrman.

Basically, this book points out the fact that we don't have any original manuscripts of the New Testament. The best we have is a bunch of copies of copies of copies, and it takes a really determined scholar to determine what was closest to the original. He discusses how most errors in copies were due to accidents but some were "improvements" made by copyists who thought they were doing the right thing and others were definitely motivated by a spin on their personal doctrine.

The whole concept is completely at odds with the "doctrine" that most Evangelical Christians are familiar with, that the Bible is the "inerrant Word of God", when in reality it is a very human collection of writings. I expected there to be some catastrophic revelation that the Bible was full of terrible mistakes that would undermine my faith. To my surprise, I found myself convinced even more of their validity, but now I am more gaurded against taking some things too literally from the English Bible.

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