Saturday, 18 July 2009

Huge Amount of Ignorance


In the comments section, I was challenged on my knowledge of a couple passages that are late additions to the gospel. In even went so far as to look up what Xian sites had to say. Christianity Today just so happened to agree with me...

But, that's not what I'm writing about today. Sometimes fate just smiles on you, and in a totally unconnected and unrelated way you find something just so perfectly funny that it has to be brought up.

[There] is a huge amount of ignorance that we're catering to in the Christian public.


Couldn't have said it better myself!

36 comments:

Matt said...

You do realize that there are only two manuscripts in existence that leave out the ending of Mark?

GCT said...

I do realize that the best and oldest manuscripts do not have the version that we have today. I also realize that textual scholars agree with me that whatever ending was there it was not the one we have today. They are in disagreement on what that ending was (whether it simply ended or there was a story that is now lost to us) but they do not disagree on whether the ending that most Xians think is correct is not correct.

And, the post wasn't about that. It was about the Ray Mummert-esque quote.

Anonymous said...

So the answer was yes, you do realize that there are only two? Two texts. Not to mention, they are two texts that are already known to be corrupted in other ways as well. The texts that omit the ending to Mark also contained references to many other things, promoting suicide, prayers for the dead, etc, that are anti-biblical. If I transcribe your blog post, and change a fact, it doesn't matter if years from now they find 5000 copies with it accurately, but mine happens to be the oldest copy they find. Mine would still be wrong.

The Rambling Taoist said...

We've got to give anonymous some credit. It (he, she, God -- don't know which) has an unintelligible answer for everything. Sort of like the 8-Ball I had when I was a kid.

Robert Madewell said...

I find it fascinating that an evangelical magazine is questioning the inerrancy of scriptures. Of course, there's that caveat that there's got to be some version of the original manuscripts that is inerrant.

GCT said...

Please support your argument Matt/Anon. The majority of textual scholars disagree with you.

Anonymous said...

You are the one claiming these "oldest manuscripts." Produce yours. It's easier for you to produce 2.

GCT said...

"Excursus: The Missing Ending of Mark

The Gospel of Mark currently ends at 16:8. This ending has always made readers uneasy, and in antiquity there were several attempts to graft an ending onto Mark. These endings are all considered spurious by the scholarly community. Basically, the current ending offers the reader the choice: did the writer mean for the Gospel to end at 16:8, or did the writer supply another one that has gone AWOL somehow?

Evidence from the Patristic fathers indicates that if the ending went AWOL, it did so quite early, for Longer Ending (Mark 16:9-20), found in some Bibles, is known from sometime early in the second half of the second century. Around that time it was incorporated into a harmony of the four Gospels known as the Diatesseron and generally attributed to Tatian, a heretic who was a student of Justin Martyr's in Rome in the middle of the second century. However, the Longer Ending was apparently unknown to Origen, and Jerome and Eusebius claimed that it was absent from almost all the Greek manuscripts they knew (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p462).

In addition to the Longer Ending, there is also a Shorter Ending found in Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Coptic manuscripts. That ending consists of a few sentences in which the women report briefly to Peter. It is then reported that Jesus appeared to the disciples, and then sent them forth to proclaim the "sacred and incorruptible" message of eternal salvation. The style and vocabulary are decidedly unMarkan.

The so-called Freer Logion adds a number of verses to the Longer Ending. It is generally regarded as scribal gloss inserted to soften the Risen Jesus' criticism of the Eleven in 16:14. (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p463).

Against these, Evan Powell proposed in his 1994 book The Unfinished Gospel that the ending of John, John 21, was formerly the ending of Mark. Powell's argument was based on linguistic and stylistic affinities. David Ross has an excellent review of the idea on his Mark website, along with more evidence to bolster it."

Anonymous said...

The manuscripts you mention, as I warned originally are from those affiliated with the Vaticanus, a wildly corrupted group of writings "adjusted" by those wanting to fit their thoughts on how religion should be.

What a waste of time. Again you completely miss what has already been said and cut and paste exactly what was already disqualified. I'm done with this thread.

GCT said...

What a waste of time that you seem to deny what scholars agree on.

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GCT said...

BTW, even bible.org agrees with me:

"Three of these passages have been considered inauthentic by most NT scholars—including most evangelical NT scholars—for well over a century (Mark 16.9–20; John 7.53–8.11; and 1 John 5.7–8).31"

They also note that there's more than 2 manuscripts:

"The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (א B 304 sys sams armmss Eus Eusmss Hiermss), including two of the most respected mss (א B)."

Anonymous said...

Do you even know what the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are??

GCT said...

They are the two oldest manuscripts and considered the best sources we have for original wording. I understand that you think that there are errors, although most sources count the non-inclusion of Mark 16:9-20 as an error as well as the non-inclusion of the story in John of the woman taken in adultery.

The fact is, however, that you keep harping on these texts, claiming that only 2 support the argument of Mark's modern ending being a modern addition. There are other manuscripts (you were in error), and there are other concerns as well, such as the fact that the writing does not match the rest of the piece, there are many words that are not used anywhere else in the piece, etc.

So, continue to complain about the manuscripts that textual scholars accept, continue to claim there are only 2, even though there are more, and continue to ignore the other lines of evidence.

Anonymous said...

There are only 2. There are copies of those 2, but that doesn't equal more manuscripts, but rather more copies. Have a bit of common sense about it. If I tried that same argument, you'd never let me get by with it.

"the fact that the writing does not match the rest of the piece, there are many words that are not used anywhere else in the piece, etc."

So because he used new words at the end he hadn't used in the rest means it's false? We'd have to nullify a lot of other documents as well then.

GCT said...

"There are only 2. There are copies of those 2, but that doesn't equal more manuscripts, but rather more copies."

Ah, I see. When copies of the manuscripts that you like are found, they count as good manuscripts. When you don't approve, they are simply copies and don't count. There are 9 sources listed there, deal with it.

"So because he used new words at the end he hadn't used in the rest means it's false? We'd have to nullify a lot of other documents as well then."

I'm surprised that someone filled with such bravado is ignorant that this is one of the criteria used to do textual study. This is a known criteria. If you were writing a paper and in a specific section started to use words and a writing style that were uncharacteristic of your other writings, we might indeed be suspicious of it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it can bring text under scrutiny. It does not automatically render that text as some forgery. You are jumping right to "It must be untrue" rather than "It makes me wonder."

And no, I haven't in any place claimed that because there are so many copies that make up the textus receptus that the sheer number makes them true.

Exact copies only prove that they came from the same original. If the original is proven false, so are the copies.

GCT said...

"Yes, it can bring text under scrutiny. It does not automatically render that text as some forgery. You are jumping right to "It must be untrue" rather than "It makes me wonder.""

On the contrary, I've listened to the experts make their case and decided that they make a good case. You, OTOH, are tilting at windmills. You keep having to deny this piece of evidence and that piece and the expert opinions of people who do this for a living. If anyone is jumping to something, it's you as you try and protect your precious beliefs.

"And no, I haven't in any place claimed that because there are so many copies that make up the textus receptus that the sheer number makes them true."

Must have been another "anonymous," although I doubt it. The reason I doubt it? The same writing style, using the same haughty tones, etc. Hey, this textual stuff may work after all.

"Exact copies only prove that they came from the same original. If the original is proven false, so are the copies."

But, you haven't proven the original false. All you've done is asserted that it's false, and why? Because it contradicts your cherished beliefs. I'm sorry, but that's not rational grounds to accept your argument.

Anonymous said...

"'Yes, it can bring text under scrutiny. It does not automatically render that text as some forgery. You are jumping right to "It must be untrue" rather than "It makes me wonder."'

On the contrary, I've listened to the experts make their case and decided that they make a good case."

I'm sure you listened unbiased as well, right? Please.

GCT said...

So, you're disputing that the experts agree with me, or are you claiming that they are also biased? You are aware, of course, that many Biblical scholars go into that study because they want to learn more about their own religion, right?

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about these "experts." However, if they are as easily dismissing scripture because someone used different words in the ending than in the beginning, they are also making false assumptions. As I've said, I would not deny this would be reason to investigate, but certainly not reason to disqualify it completely. If you consider that someone is writing as inspired by God certainly they could slip between their own vernacular and what God is telling them.

GCT said...

"I don't know anything about these "experts.""

Obviously. And, the fact that the links I provided continue to inform you that the majority of textual scholars (including the links by Xian sources no less) disagree with you has also escaped your notice.

"However, if they are as easily dismissing scripture because someone used different words in the ending than in the beginning, they are also making false assumptions."

Are you incapable of holding more than 1 thought in your head at any time? There are multiple reasons that they reject the ending of Mark, reasons which I've given you. It's rather dishonest to pretend that there's only one reason when you've already tried to argue against the others. Also, what "false assumptions" would those be?

"If you consider that someone is writing as inspired by God certainly they could slip between their own vernacular and what God is telling them."

How do you know they weren't inspired by Baal, or Satan, or Grunfledger? Which parts do you think were inspired by god? Let me guess, it's conveniently the parts that you believe in but are contested by scholars, right?

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

Hello everyone.

I just want to chime in to sort out a couple of things about Mark 16:9-20.

The earliest manuscript of the Gospel of Mark is Papyrus 45, but due to extensive damage it has no text at all from Mark 16. The next-earliest copies are Codex Vaticanus (c. 325) and Codex Sinaiticus (c. 350). Both of these two manuscripts have highly unusual features at the end of Mark. In Vaticanus, the copyist left an entire blank column, although he never deliberately leaves such a column in his work elsewhere. (There are some blank spaces in the OT-portion of Vaticanus, but they are explained by special factors involved in the production of the manuscript.) There is just enough blank space, if a copyist pumiced out the subscription and began writing at the end of 16:8 in slightly compacted lettering, to hold Mark 16:9-20. In Siniaticus, all four pages containing Mark 14:54-Luke 1:56 are replacement-pages; they are not the work of the same copyist who produced the pages which precede and follow them. Also, in Sinaiticus Mark 16:8 is followed by a uniquely emphatic decorative line. Plus, this decorative line is remarkably similar to the decorative lines drawn by one of the copyists who made Codex Vaticanus.

Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are the only undamaged Greek MSS that end Mark at the end of 16:8. There is one medieval Greek MS, #304, which is claimed to end there, but it has not been shown that 304 is not simply damaged; its text is essentially Byzantine, and the running commentary that accompanies it resembles the Commentary of Theophylact, which included comments about Mk. 16:9-20.

There is non-Greek evidence for the ending at 16:8 -- one Sahidic (Egyptian) copy from c. 425, one Syriac copy, also c. 425, and an early stratum of the Armenian version (which was produced c. 425-450, although the earliest Armenian Gospels-MSS are some 400 years later), plus two early Georgian MSS (which is no surprise because the Georgian version was translated from Armenian).

But against those pieces of evidence, there is much more in favor of Mark 16:9-20 besides the 99.9% of the MSS that contain this passage. It is supported in the 100's by Justin Martyr, Tatian, the unknown author of Epistula Apostolorum, and by Irenaeus of Lyons, who explicitly cited Mark 16:19 in "Against Heresies," III:10:5-6. Granting that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are very important witnesses, when one considers their somewhat quirky features at the end of Mark, and when one considers the much earlier patristic evidence in favor of Mark 16:9-20, the case is not nearly as cut-and-dried as one might think from some Bible-footnotes.

I am not sure who the textual scholars are that GCT had in mind who believe that Mark's original ending was not Mark 16:9-20, but I can assure you that the textual scholar who is well-informed about Mark 16:9-20 is an exception, judging from the inaccuracies I have found in modern-day commentatories and NT-introductions.

I do not aspire to resolve the entire question for you in one Comments-post. But I would suggest that Mark 16:9-20 may be considered a legitimate part of the Gospel of Mark, in approximately the same way that Jeremiah 52 has been routinely considered part of the book of Jeremiah.

For more information, I welcome you to track down the Email Edition of my essay on this subject at the TextExcavation website.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

GCT said...

The earliest copies do not contain the ending. The ending also contains words and writing styles that do not match the rest of the gospel. Also, I doubt highly that they would write in "slightly compacted lettering."

The best piece of evidence that you've got is the writing of Irenaeus who does not give chapter and verse and only quotes one line (if it wasn't added later as we know that later Xians have added words and phrases to earlier writers, like they did with Josephus). There's a couple different things this could mean.

1. That the ending is genuine and correct.
2. The ending is not genuine and correct, and the text of Irenaeus is forged by later authors.
3. The ending is not genuine and correct with a different ending containing that line being quoted.
4. The ending is not genuine and correct with the ending we have being a story that was already circulating and had reached Irenaeus's ears and got into his writings.

Still, the majority of scholars agree that the ending is not genuine, and I'm sure it's not because they are ignorant of the subject matter, as you stated.

Doc said...

I love this imaginary "majority of scholars" you keep quoting. How many scholars make up a majority exactly??? Or maybe just let me know how many scholars there are in total so I can just divide it by 2 and add 1.

I thought unfounded claims were the M.O. for the Christians, not the Atheists.

GCT said...

Doc,
Even Xian sites have agreed with me that a majority of scholars support this view. I posted one such link already. Here's another.

"Most scholars agree this text in Mark 16 was later added by another writer/scribe."

You could also read Ben Witherington who is a textual scholar:

"I have argued as well in my Mark commentary at length that the original ending is lost, and the later material in Mk. 16.9ff. does not represent the original text."

And so on...

Anonymous said...

So if you're wrong, and there are two or three internet sites that agree with you, you're suddenly right?

You are wrong on this buddy. You've got some great arguments, but this one is a loser.

Anonymous said...

So if you're wrong, and there are two or three internet sites that agree with you, you're suddenly right?

You are wrong on this buddy. You've got some great arguments, but this one is a loser.

Anonymous said...

Your link to Ben Witherington takes us directly to a review of Ehrman's book that is none to flattering.

GCT said...

Posting the same thing twice doesn't make you right, nor does it make your argument that I'm just wrong correct. The sites I posted are simply representative and they all agree that the majority of scholars, including the scholar in one of the links, dispute the ending of Mark.

"Your link to Ben Witherington takes us directly to a review of Ehrman's book that is none to flattering."

I disagree with a lot that's in the review, but this actually strengthens my case in this point. Witherington doesn't agree with Ehrman on much, as you point out, but in the case of the ending of Mark not being original, they are both in agreement.

Anonymous said...

"The sites I posted are simply representative and they all agree that the majority of scholars"

So, again I ask, how many scholars make up this majority? Or just give me a total number of textual scholars and I'll do the math.

GCT said...

Majority of scholars = well accepted in the textual scholar community. I don't know that anyone can provide you a specific number, but that's not really what you are quibbling over, is it? What you are trying to do is simply claim that they are all wrong no matter how many there are because their conclusions are contrary to your beliefs. IOW, you think that your beliefs dictate reality instead of allowing reality to dictate what your beliefs should be.

Anonymous said...

Nope. I just want you to be honest about it. Yes, there are textual scholars who agree with you. They are nowhere close to a majority. I think you actually know very little about New Testament Textual Criticism. Unfortunately your ego won't allow you to admit it.

GCT said...

"Nope. I just want you to be honest about it. Yes, there are textual scholars who agree with you. They are nowhere close to a majority."

The people who are actually in the textual scholar field claim differently. I guess I should believe you over them on your say so?

"I think you actually know very little about New Testament Textual Criticism. Unfortunately your ego won't allow you to admit it."

What I know I've learned from reading up on it. And, from my readings it seems that scholars say that the majority of scholars support that the current ending of Mark was not the original. Of course, all you've done is claim, "Nuh-uh" and then tried to call me ignorant. You've yet to bring a single scholar forth that supports your view. You've yet to supply any arguments that contradict the reasons why scholars believe the story to be a late addition. You have your beliefs and you want them to trump reality so much that you think they do. It's sort of sad really.

Leo said...

http://www.apologeticspress.org/image/rr/2005/0512a.jpg

GCT said...

Why do the Xians here continue to ignore all the arguments? It's because they can't answer them. Sure, a picture to documents that "quote or have" the ending of Mark is one thing, but what it doesn't tell us is how much is quoted or contained therein. Iraneus, for instance, has one line, and as I pointed out already this could mean several things that the apologist wouldn't be happy with.

Also lost in this is that the oldest and best manuscripts do not contain the passages in question. I know that KJV adherents love to question those manuscripts, but they count among the many "errors" everywhere where it doesn't agree with the KJV, which is begging the question. (They never pause to consider that the KJV may be in error, which the majority of textual scholars hold is the case, in that it came from manuscripts that have known errors.)

Finally, this doesn't address the fact that the majority of scholars do not accept that the ending of Mark is correct. This is attested to in many locations, including some more honest Xian locales. Simply claiming, "Nuh-uh" or talking about all the copies that do have the ending in them isn't cutting it.