b-greek-digest V1 #604
b-greek-digest Friday, 10 March 1995 Volume 01 : Number 604
In this issue:
Q: Reality or Fantasy
Re: dogmatic errors
Re: dogmatic errors
Re; Comments by Larry.
Re: Hurtado's comments
re: UBS3 is Poison
Re: Dogmatic Errors
Re: Historical Jesus
Re: Hurtado's second post.
Kenneth Litwak's Response to the Quest for the Historical Jesus.
Historical Jesus, Q1, Mack et al
Re: Mack on Q1 and Cynics
re: UBS3 is Poison
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 95 18:12:19 GMT
Subject: Q: Reality or Fantasy
One thing I believe is missing (besides a little courtesy) in this rather
heated discussion about
historicity, textual validity and inspiration, is the notion of canonicity.
When I get caught up in crossing my eyes over the _apparatus criticus_ of
NA 27 or when I get
confused about source criticisms of a particular text (I'm presently
struggling with sources for Lk
11:47-51) I step back and recall that the text that is the object of my
study WAS/IS itself SUBJECT
to a community of believers. Isn't this also true for the Hebrew
Who decided that this text and not that one would be part of the collection
we call _scripture?_
Why are these psalms and not other psalms which we know existed and were
prayed during the first
century BCE included in the Kethuvim? Who decided the Gospel of Thomas was
NOT to be part of
the scripture? Who said a letter of Clement didn't warrant inclusion into
the corpus of other letters
we find in the NT? These decisions were made by a community of the
faithful; living people;
historical characters of the past.
For me it is an aspect of divine inspiration that God worked THROUGH this
believers. For many this will seem an attack on the inerrancy of the word
of God; for others it may
seem beside the point but it is a fact; historical, philosophical, lexical
and otherwise that the TEXT
is/was SUBJECT to the community. Long before there was a New Testament
there was group of
For what it's worth.
Gregorian University, Rome
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 13:01:39 -0500
Subject: Re: dogmatic errors
Calling a text "garbage" and accusing Hort of being a liar doesn't help make
your arguments very convincing. In fact, it casts some doubt on whether you
can subjectively look at the discussions/arguments.
However, let me say that although Hort was wrong about his hypothetical
manuscript text-type/family, does not infer that he was a liar, or that he is
completely unreliable. The very fact that Hort could PERCEIVE that there
were text-types was a great discovery that has helped textual critics even to
today (see Kurt and Barabra Aland, et al.)
Let me add that the church has traditionally recognized many different
methods of interpretation, other than the "plenary verbal" inerrancy
approach. That is actually a very modern approach. Even very early in
church history, various interpretations were considered valid (including
Perhaps since it appears that you can read Greek, you ought to familiarize
yourself with the actual NT manuscripts and papyri themselves. You will find
just how different each manuscript is, and appreciate how difficult textual
criticism (ie, the study of the manuscripts) is. I have examined several
papyri and hundreds of copies of pages (folios) of NT manuscripts and know
this to be true. You may be able to obtain books that contain facsimiles of
the manuscripts through your local library or have them order these books via
the interloan system.
I have come to see how important the message itself is, rather than the words
themselves. After all, wasn't the error of the Pharisees that of being too
literal and not knowing the spirit of the Scripture?
God's love be poured upon you,
from a God-loving brother in Christ--
Tim Staker-- Timster132@aol.com
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 14:15:36 -0500
Subject: Re: dogmatic errors
Pardon the confusion that my posting may have caused you, however I was
responding in defense of the eclectic text to J.C. Hall's assessment of the
W-H text as "garbage". I'm new online and haven't picked up all of the
conventions to avoid this confusion. Please review the thread to find my
responses to Hall's caustic accusations.
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 15:05:49 -0500
Subject: Re; Comments by Larry.
I am in complete agreement with Larry's comments. As H.E.W. Turner stated
it: "The Christian cannot enjoy the robust condidence that he is not
following cunningly devised fables...and at the same time withdraw his basic
documents from critical scrutiny or historical examination, even of the most
rigorous kind. He cannot enjoy the advantages of a historical examination,
without the possible disadvantages of historical analysis and explanation."
(Historicity and the Gospels :34) In short, you can't have your cake
and eat it to!
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 15:18:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Hurtado's comments
I should emend the last post to read:
I am in complete agreement with Larry's comments. As H.E.W. Turner stated it:
"The Christian cannot enjoy the robust condidence that he is not following
cunningly devised fables...and at the same time withdraw his basic documents
from critical scrutiny or historical examination, even of the most rigorous
kind. He cannot enjoy the advantages of a _HISTORICAL REVELATION_, without
the possible disadvantages of historical analysis and explanation."
(Historicity and the Gospels :34) In short, you can't have your cake
and eat it to! Sorry about the slight misquote.
From: John Richards <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 1995 19:30:58 GMT
Subject: re: UBS3 is Poison
In message <199503091226.GAA07818@marlin.gulf.net> John Calvin Hall writes:
> >One other detail to note is that UBS3 isn't identical to W-H, but is an
> >improvement upon it.
> Absolutely. But it is still retaining many of the Arianistic heresies
> embedded in Aleph and B. [illustration: a BLT sandwich might have the best
> tomatoes, and bacon, but it's still poison if the mayo is rancid! ::grin::].
> The UBS3 is poison.
I would be very interested to see a short list of these "Arian heresies"
in the codices. There are other possible interpretations besides the
suggestion that they are Arian corruptions.
There is after all strong evidence that the accepted text was edited by
the victors after Nicea. For example, Eusebius _before_ Nicea quotes
Matthew 28.19 as "baptizing them in my name", while _after_ Nicea he
quotes it as "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit." Scholars have always been amazed to find a
formula of (at least) a couple of centuries later embedded in Matthew.
Eusebius we know too was responsible for preparing a number of
"official" and finely produced Bibles for Constantine to present to the
influential Churches - which established the emended text as the
They may well have removed or edited other texts offering ammunition for
the Arians, even if they missed a few - like John 14.28. We tend to
forget how LATE all our manuscript evidence is, relatively speaking - and
how flexible attitudes were to the texts in the early stages,
particularly before they became looked on as "scripture", as exemplified
by the freedom with which Matthew and Luke are prepared to adapt, ie.
edit, Mark. After all, were there TWO blind men cured in the incident at
Jericho - or was there only ONE? Did it occur on the way INTO Jericho -
or on the way OUT? These discrepancies are hardly important from a
critical point of view. They are easily explained by the fact that Luke
wants to use the way OUT from Jericho for Zachaeus, so this incident is
shifted to coming IN, while Matthew has a particular love of doubles
(apparently symbolising for him the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles,
as for example in his odd emphasis on Jesus sitting on the two asses at
the same time), and so has changed Mark's single blind man into a pair
of them. They do become a problem though with your attitude to
the PERFECT creation and transmission of the TRUTH textually. In that
context the SLIGHTEST discrepancy or change is an insurmountable
Stackpole Elidor (UK)
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 15:53:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Dogmatic Errors
Alllow me to respond AGAIN to you posts.
Perhaps you haven't read my post from today, but let me restate it
explicitly. I DO EMBRACE TEXTUAL CRITICISM and THE NA26/UBS3 TEXT (as the
starting point). My posts have been responses to MR. HALL, WHO WAS THE ONE
WHO CALLED THE UBS TEXT "GARBAGE" AND HORT A "LIAR".
Yes, I do read Greek and do practice textual criticism using the apparatus of
the NA text, and can appreciate the issues.
I am also aware of the controversies surrounding "verbal plenary
inspiration", which I mentioned to Mr. Hall only to make him realize that the
merits of textual and historical criticism are appreciated by those who would
hold the same view of Scripture that he does. I made no revelation of my
position on that subject.
From: Kenneth Litwak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 95 13:11:45 PST
Subject: Re: Historical Jesus
Without quoting Tim Staker's comments to sdave bandwidth, I would like
to add my $0.02 on the quest. Imagine forming a study group to decide what
happened in Roman history and beginning it by essentially rejecting
anything Tacitus, Pliny, Seutonius or other writes had to say, because
they had ideological motivations (which obviously no 1st cent. person could
recognize let alone overcome ever on any detail -- like we're better at that?).
What would you come up with? Probably the ROme of your dreams. You'd find
the Rome you wanted. The quest is absolutely identical. The primary sources
are branded as unreliable at the outset, before any study is done, and then
a reconstruction is done without reference to the only primary sourdces that
exist from the 1st century (which does not include GTH). There's more
special pleading going on in this scheme than a Perry Mason episode.
It's utterly ludicrous that having a theological bias makes the writers of
the Gospels unreliable. Imagine questioning the team at Harvard over their
Quark discovery because they have world-views. Imagine trying to
reconstruct the historical Abraham Lincoln without reference to any documents
from the 1840s-60s by him or associates because they are biased. Instead
you merely create the Lincoln you want, the exact thing which is done on
many topics in many revisionist history books this very day. Finally,
I could care less about the results of a search based on things like the
criterion of dissimilarity, since no one has ever found a control group of
documents from the same period to test this or any other criterion upon.
I could probably use dissimilarity to prove that I didn't write something
I know I wrote. It also might be nice if some of these questers used
some nuanced language about possiblities or probabilities. I just read last
night a statement by a Prof. Tatum in the Jesus Seminar stating categoricall
that the infancy narratives in Mt and Li are"theological fiction".
There aren't any tools you can use to prove that. It's not possible
though any technique to show what could have happened in history or could
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 16:50:45 -0500
Subject: Re: Hurtado's second post.
As it pertains to Larry's second post I think it prudent to add the following
in light of Steve's remarks. Only last week I was conversing with a well
known scholar who enjoys the seniority of Robinson and a slightly higher
"name recognition". As such he is regularly hired to do external consultation
by various Religion Departments across the country to judge the prospective
PhD applicants for any respective job openings. He told that he was reticent
about candidates (by definition) from only two schools--Harvard and
Claremont. Now having said that let me press the following point.
First, whether real or imagined Larry swims in a stream of thought that is
in the majority concerning the Claremont-Harvard axis. In my interactions at
S.B.L. there is an overwhelming amount of raised eyebrows when these two
schools are mentioned.
Second, I find it disturbing that Steve even has to pen his apologia. His
mentors have severely prejudiced his and other students chances by not giving
the appearance of being a little less canalized in their viewpoints.
Moreover, there is an air of arrogance about Jim and Helmut that is quite
palpable at times. As an example, Robinson once called an institution I was
mentioning an "intellectual ghetto". Robinson had never been there, nor knows
who is on staff or even what is taught there. Jim would be surprised to know
that one of his colleagues in the Q Project got one of his graduate degrees
from there. And one of the professors on staff at this institution had been
one of Jim's students and had so impressed Jim that Robinson suggested that
any one of his essays would be, if properly lengthened, of publishable
quality as a book--and these were just student essays! But Jim is unaware of
these facts. Now I am not saying this to pontificate or pass judgement on
Jim. In fact I am impressed by the collective acumen that resides at
Claremont. What I am trying to convey is that the burden for a school's
reputation does not rest with outsiders but with the faculty there. While I
have taken Steve's admonition to heart (e.g. not all Claremont folks think
alike) it still remains a problem that these two fine institutions have not
been more eclectic in their research agenda and more amenable to other
The burden for proper reputation lies not with me, nor Larry, (nor even
Steve) but with the faculty at Claremont-Harvard. Thus while this essay is
somewhat exculpatory with respect to Larry's first post it is a reminder that
Claremont needs to have their faculty as active in displaying their breadth
of perspectives as do their quality students like Steve.
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 1995 16:25:59 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Kenneth Litwak's Response to the Quest for the Historical Jesus.
What he said.
It is clear to me that the quest for the historical Jesus is emblematic
of a philosophy perfectly suited to the disproving of everything. It
takes the worst aspects of David Hume's denial of causality and marries
it to relativism and comes up with absolutely nothing.
This vacuum is then filled by the "scholars" of the Jesus Seminar and
others. They create a Jesus that has no substance that cannot be the
foundation of my salvation.
"Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, born of the Virgin Mary is my Lord."
(Luther, Small Catechism, Explanation of the second article of the
Apostle's Creed) Whether you are Lutheran or not, this a primary
fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith that quests for the
historical Jesus almost fundamentally reject.
I would go into a scholarly argument against the Historical Jesus, but
thanks to Mr. Litwak, I don't need to. He covered the bases well.
The Christ of my faith looks at the quest for the Historical Jesus from
the perspective of Psalm 2.
He that is in the heavens laughs,
He has them in derision.
Concordia College, Seward, Nebraska.
From: Larry Swain <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 15:05:56 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Historical Jesus, Q1, Mack et al
A whole lot of this thread reminds me of a story one of my classics profs
waaay back told us mere undergrads. It involved a great Classicist of
the last century who gave a series of lectures on Vergil and the Aeneid,
giving all sorts of insights into motivations and meanings of various
passages that had been understood in much different ways. He did not
however provide bibliography for these amazing insights. When pressed by
his colleagues he said his source was Virgil himself with whom he had
spoken at a seance.
Another way of looking at this is atomic theory-nothing new on this
list. But the idea of atoms had been introduced by the
presocratics-proven by microscopes. The cart often comes before the
horse. So if we posit a Cynic, non-eschatological Jesus, accept the
reconstructed Q1, Mack and others fit some phenomena neatly into the
paradigm-the cart before the horse. And if you disagree so what-come up
with another paradigm. But that isn't really the way we do business is
it? Don't we all still operate by the paradigm or theory which makes
the most sense of all the various phenomena is the preferred
theory-commonly known as Occam's razor? Frankly, the Cynic paradigm is
intriguing-but is the influence specifically Cynic? Or is it more
Hellenistic in general? Or can we really describe it as "influence"?
Judaism and Christianity are part of that Hellenistic world-can we really
say that their is influence rather than say that itinerant philosophers,
teachers, and prophets is a phenomena of the Hellenistic world? To me at
least there is a difference. Does Mack's theory really make the most
sense of all the phenomena "begging to be explained" (apologies if that
is a misquote)? In my opinion, no.
- -Larry Swain
Parmly Billings Library
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 18:07:43 -0500
From: "Larry W. Hurtado" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 11:33:45 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Mack on Q1 and Cynics
A couple of small responses to Greg Bloomquist on hypotheses. First,
Greg, when you say something like "there are no facts apart from
hypotheses", you must be using "facts" differently than I. By
distinguishing "facts" from hypotheses, I had in mind the "fact" that Mt
and Lk have an impressive amount of VERY similar or sometimes identical
material, almost entirely sayings material attributed to Jesus. The Q
hypothesis by distinction is an attempt to account for this & related
facts. If you prefer the term "data" to refer to the sort of things I
meant, OK. But then please clarify for me how you're using the word
Second, I though it is obvious that a presently untestable
hypothesis may someday become testable, I still insist that we carefully
distinguish between untested, untestable, and tested hypotheses as to the
force we acede and the confidence with which we treat them.
Thirdly, I hardly think it incautious to indicate that John the
Baptist is consistently referred to in available sources as a
prophet-figure, that Jesus is consistently linked with John the Baptist
and is likewise referred to as a prophet figure in the minds of
contemporaries, and that this thus has a much more compelling force as a
model for Jesus than the non-Jewish Cynic philosophers some lean toward
today. I have already indicated, of course, that lst century Jewish
tradition was influenced by the encounter with Hellenism, so I should not
be surprised to find lst cent. Jewish prophet figures saying and doing
some things that might reflect this interaction. So, as to "etymology"
one might find a theme or action that might have come from this or that
non-Jewish "source", but it is something like the etymological fallacy
identified in linguistics to understand something thus derived on the
basis of its original source. So, ascetic tendencies in John the baptist
might well reflect the Jewish encounter with ascetic themes in Hellenism,
but the question is how any given item functioned within a given
Cheers. Larry Hurtado, Religion, Univ. of Manitoba
From: John Calvin Hall <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 1995 23:51:29 -0400
Subject: re: UBS3 is Poison
>>When looking at the two side-by-side, it is very clear which is superior:
>>The Traditional Text, foundin the TR.
>I usually don't get involved in these religious debates, but I can't help
>myself. I was just wondering if you knew, Mr Hall, that the TR is closer to
>UBS3 than the Byzantine text type in the book of Revelation. Does that
>matter to you?
I'm sorry, but I would have to admit that I am not completely "learned up"
on this specific area of the Greek Text. =)
The problem is really not Erasmus. A lot of historians throw around the fact
that he was influenced by the Roman Catholic Church, thus disqualifying him
as a Textual Critic, but they somehow neglect to tell about his "in your
face" attitude toward the pope [the only thing keeping him from the stake
was his popularity]. But like I said, the problem is NOT with Erasmus.
The problem is with our doctrine of PRESERVATION.
Us Fundamentalists love to throw around the doctrine of INSPIRATION - - that
we believe in the Verbal-Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. But
more and more I notice, in Doctrinal Creeds of churches and seminaries, an
addition to this statement. Lately I read Baptist Bible Seminary's [Clark
Summit, PA] doctrinal statement, and it goes something like this..... They
believe in the Verbal-Plenary Inspiration of the Word of God
_in_the_original_autographs_. To me, that sounds like they are saying, "Yes,
the original autographs were verbally and plenarally <sp?> inspired, but
what we have today is not that way...." I DISAGREE!!!!!!!!!
God didn't give the Church His awesome and mighty word, and let it digress
in accuracy through time! God never said that He was turning the matter of
PRESERVATION over to inferior men! NO WAY!!! Sure, Erasmus could have messed
up in his edition of the Greek Text, but God promised to preserve His Word!
God forbid, Hort's worthless story about a Lucianic Recension might have
happened, BUT GOD PROMISED TO PRESERVE HIS WORD. I am no way big enough to
call God a liar... =)
The Church has had the Word of God ever since He gave it to her. If you
believe what Hort, or Tischendorff would want you to believe, then you'd
think that we have not had an accurate copy of the Holy Bible for 1500
years. This is heresy, and to me, borders on blasphemy, because it calls God
>I'd also be interested in your opinion on the major gaff at the end of the
>book of Rev?
Like I said, I have not completely studied this area of Revelation.....
>Just my 2 cents . . .
No problem! Maybe when I get done all my other projects, I can look into
this area in Revelation ::grin::. Keep in mind though - don't be so hard
against Erasmus for being Cathoic: both Westcott and Hort have been
documented to be Mary-olaters, and with what I've heard about the dogmas of
Metzger, Aaland, Black, etc..... I'd wonder whether or not they even have a
relationship with Christ .... I guess that's just between them and the Lord.....
End of b-greek-digest V1 #604
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