Misquoting Jesus means the Manuscript Copies have Mistakes

The interrelationship between various signific...

Relationships between manuscript sets

I am reading through Misquoting Jesus, by Bart Ehrman of North Carolina.

Still in Chapter 1 he jumps into the background to the New Testament and quickly moves to the issue of copying the manuscripts.

What we have are copies of these writings, made years later—in most cases, many years later. Moreover, none of these copies is completely accurate, since the scribes who produced them inadvertently and/or intentionally changed them in places. All scribes did this. So rather than actually having the inspired words of the autographs (i.e., the originals) of the Bible, what we have are the error-ridden copies of the autographs. Page: 8

Dr. Ehrman has a tendency to major on the minors of textual criticism. The above quote is an example of that. He says flat out that “all scribes made inadvertent and intentional changes” and that as a result we have error-ridden copies of the autographs. Autographs are the original copies of the New Testament letters and Gospels. We do not have those but, for me and many others including manuscript scholars, that is not a problem. What we do have are many, many copies with a minute number of errors in them and a larger number of variants. He will concern himself with the errors or apparent errors in most of his books but truly they are apparent errors or in some cases simply things that are not explainable. Things that are not explainable in ancient documents are really not a problem in most cases.

They were happy to rest on the claim that the autographs had been inspired, and to shrug off, more or less, the problem that the autographs do not survive. Page: 8, Misquoting Jesus

Here he is referring to his professors at Moody Bible Institute and other students there that did not have a problem with the issue of not having the original autographs of these Scriptures. He makes a big deal of that in Misquoting Jesus and actually shows emotion over it. Not having the original autographs is perplexing to him and he begins to puts God in a box by saying that if He were God he should have preserved these autographs for Bart Ehrman because Bart will have little or no faith in God if he can’t see and touch the original autographs. Wow, Bart, do you really need that?? If that is your position, I see why you are where you are today. He did put the 10 commandments on stone but they got broken and we don’t have those stones either.

Bart is engaged in the very discipline that ensures that we get back to the original words of the New Testament. Note here that he will not deal with the Old Testament because he knows  there were well developed methodologies of coping Hebrew manuscripts and that he simply does not find the issues among those manuscripts that he does of the New Testament manuscripts though they are much older than the New Testament manuscripts.

University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni Sch...


Just prior to this statement about the original autographs, he gives more of his background at Moody Bible Institute. He makes a point of saying that all students had to sign a statement that they believed in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible.  He says this in such a way to make me wonder if he even knew what these words mean. Realize that up to this point, Bart Ehrman, had never seen a manuscript of the New Testament nor did he have a clue about how these manuscripts came down to us today. His base line or standard then was that the Bible was transmitted without any “mistakes.” He implies that he believed that the transmission of the text should have been letter perfect all the way through, copy after copy. My quick assessment is that He was living in a pipe dream, that is, he was in a fantasy world with very vague views about how God might use his power or where God should use His power.

More to come on the adventures with Dr. Ehrman.

9 thoughts on “Misquoting Jesus means the Manuscript Copies have Mistakes

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