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Tex­tu­al Crit­i­cism : Resolv­ing The Chris­t­ian I‑Know-Noth­ing” Multi-Problem

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Occa­sion­al­ly we come across Chris­tians who, when informed that the text of the gospels under­went cor­rup­tion dur­ing their trans­mis­sion, often react with the fol­low­ing type of ques­tions : When ? Who did the cor­rup­tion ? In what coun­try ? Before or after Muham­mad ? Why was it done ? How come no one noticed it?” These type of seem­ing­ly inno­cent” ques­tions mere­ly reveal the incal­cu­la­bly colos­sal igno­rance of the per­son in ques­tion. Chris­tians who pose such ques­tions do not seem to real­ize how utter­ly fool­ish they come across to any­one who are famil­iar with at least the very basics of tex­tu­al crit­i­cism. Thus, the poor ques­tion­er only suc­ceeds in on humil­i­at­ing no one else but him­self. Chris­t­ian apol­o­gists and mis­sion­ar­ies need to stop pos­ing such out­dat­ed, absurd ques­tions since it reflects quite bad­ly upon their intel­li­gence and gives oth­ers a very bad impres­sion of them.

There­fore it was not sur­pris­ing to come across an anony­mous­ly-writ­ten paper” con­tain­ing pre­cise­ly these type of ques­tions on the Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies’ cesspool, Answer­ing Islam, enti­tled The Mus­lim Mul­ti-Prob­lem. This will be a reply to this short paper” where the argu­ment is that we are, in fact, faced with a Chris­t­ian who-when-where-how-what-why‑I know noth­ing-mul­ti-prob­lem. Since this arti­cle is a response to Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies, most of the atten­tion will be focused upon the integri­ty of the New Tes­ta­ment and will only occa­sion­al­ly make men­tion of the Jew­ish Bible where necessary.

Bible Tam­per­a­tion and Tex­tu­al Cor­rup­tion Issues

The anony­mous writer begins :

Many Mus­lims claim that the Bible has been tam­pered with and corrupted.

Yes, because it is true ; the Bib­li­cal text was indeed cor­rupt­ed. More­over, Bib­li­cal schol­ars are also in full agree­ment that the text of the Bible (in this instance, by Bible” it is referred to both the Jew­ish Bible and the Chris­t­ian New Tes­ta­ment) under­went changes dur­ing the course of its transmission.

Any event in real life real­i­ty with human agents has cer­tain char­ac­ter­is­tics and con­di­tions attached to it. Any such act is done by one or more par­tic­u­lar per­sons, at one or more spe­cif­ic times, in a cer­tain fash­ion, in cer­tain places, and for a rea­son. I hope every­body can agree with that. So, to make your claim of tam­per­ing cred­i­ble you will have to answer these questions :

Sure, let us now answer the ques­tions by using the answers pro­vid­ed by Bib­li­cal tex­tu­al critics.

When Did The Bible Tam­per­ing Happen ?

The mis­sion­ary asks :

When hap­pened this tam­per­ing ? [Before or after Muhammad]?

Answer : Most­ly before Muham­mad(P). Begin­ning with the New Tes­ta­ment, schol­ars of tex­tu­al crit­i­cism gen­er­al­ly agree that the text of the New Tes­ta­ment under­went the most dras­tic and fre­quent types of changes/​corruptions in the first three cen­turies of its trans­mis­sion. The New Tes­ta­ment text of these peri­ods is often described as a liv­ing” text, a flu­id” text, and a text in flux.” For instance, one of the lead­ing schol­ars in the field of New Tes­ta­ment tex­tu­al crit­i­cism of our times, Bart D. Ehrman describes the trans­mis­sion of the New Tes­ta­ment text in the ear­li­est peri­od as follows :

The major­i­ty of tex­tu­al vari­ants that are pre­served in the sur­viv­ing doc­u­ments, even the doc­u­ments pro­duced in a lat­er age, orig­i­nat­ed dur­ing the first three Chris­t­ian centuries.

This con­vic­tion is not based on idle spec­u­la­tion. In con­trast to the rel­a­tive sta­bil­i­ty of the New Tes­ta­ment text in lat­er times, our old­est wit­ness­es dis­play a remark­able degree of vari­a­tion. The evi­dence sug­gests that dur­ing the ear­li­est peri­od of its trans­mis­sion the New Tes­ta­ment text was in a state of flux, that it came to be more or less stan­dard­ized in some regions by the fourth cen­tu­ry, and sub­ject to fair­ly rigid con­trol (by com­par­i­son) only in the Byzan­tine peri­od1

Sim­i­lar­ly, in the lat­est revi­sion of Bruce Met­zger’s clas­sic, The Text of the New Tes­ta­ment : Its Trans­mis­sion, Cor­rup­tion and Restora­tion, co-authored with Bart Ehrman, we read :

We have good evi­dence to indi­cate that in the ear­ly decades of trans­mis­sion numer­ous changes were made to the texts in cir­cu­la­tion : as words or entire lines came to be left out inad­ver­tent­ly or inad­ver­tent­ly copied twice, styl­is­tic changes were made, words were sub­sti­tut­ed for one anoth­er, evi­dent infe­lic­i­ties or out­right mis­takes were cor­rect­ed, and so on…It is a strik­ing fea­ture of our tex­tu­al record that the ear­li­est copies we have of the var­i­ous books that became the New Tes­ta­ment vary from one anoth­er far more wide­ly than do the lat­er copies, which were made under more con­trolled cir­cum­stances in the Mid­dle Ages. More­over, the quo­ta­tions of the New Tes­ta­ment by ear­ly church fathers evi­dence a wide array of tex­tu­al vari­a­tion dat­ing from these ear­li­est stages in the his­to­ry of trans­mis­sion.2

Like­wise, the Alands describe the state of trans­mis­sion of the text of the New Tes­ta­ment of the ear­li­est peri­od as follows :

Until the begin­ning of the fourth cen­tu­ry the text of the New Tes­ta­ment devel­oped freely. It was the liv­ing text” in the Greek lit­er­ary tra­di­tion, unlike the text of the Hebrew Old Tes­ta­ment, which was sub­ject to strict con­trols because (in the ori­en­tal tra­di­tion) the con­so­nan­tal text was holy. And the New Tes­ta­ment text con­tin­ued to be a liv­ing text” as long as it remained a man­u­script tra­di­tion, even when the Byzan­tine church mould­ed it to the Pro­crustean bed of the stan­dard and offi­cial­ly pre­scribed text. Even for lat­er scribes, for exam­ple, the par­al­lel pas­sages of the Gospels were so famil­iar that they would adopt the text of one Gospel to that of anoth­er. They also felt them­selves free to make cor­rec­tions in the text, improv­ing it by their own stan­dard of cor­rect­ness, whether gram­mat­i­cal­ly, styl­is­ti­cal­ly, or more sub­stan­tive­ly. This was all the more true of the ear­ly peri­od when the text had not been attained canon­i­cal sta­tus, espe­cial­ly in the ear­li­est peri­od when Chris­tians con­sid­ered them­selves to be filled with the Spir­it. As a con­se­quence the text of the ear­ly peri­od was many-faceted, and each man­u­script had its own pecu­liar char­ac­ter.3

Sim­i­lar state­ments acknowl­edg­ing the flu­id state of the New Tes­ta­ment text in the first three cen­turies are found in many oth­er sources. Thus, we can say with rea­son­able cer­tain­ty that the vast major­i­ty of changes and cor­rup­tions were made to the New Tes­ta­ment text much before the time of Prophet Muham­mad(P).

Mov­ing on to the Jew­ish Bible, schol­ars again agree that most changes were made to its text much before the time of Prophet Muham­mad(P). For exam­ple, Waltke explains :

the fur­ther back we go in the tex­tu­al lin­eage, the greater the tex­tu­al dif­fer­ences. Before the text was fixed as ca. 100 CE it was copied and recopied through many cen­turies by scribes of vary­ing capa­bil­i­ties and of dif­fer­ent philoso­phies, giv­ing rise to vary­ing read­ings and recen­sions (i.e., dis­tinct text-types).4

Thus, far more vari­a­tions are to be encoun­tered in our ear­li­est wit­ness­es. It should be not­ed that we do not encounter the orig­i­nal text” of any book of the Jew­ish Bible in the Qum­ran scrolls — the old­est wit­ness­es of the Jew­ish Bible. Eugene Ulrich, one of the lead­ing author­i­ties on the Qum­ran scrolls — being the chief edi­tor of the Qum­ran scrolls — and the text of the Jew­ish Bible, explains :

Although in the tra­di­tions, pious, and pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion, the books of Scrip­ture were com­posed by indi­vid­ual holy men from ear­li­est times (Moses and Isa­iah, for exam­ple), crit­i­cal study of the text of Scrip­ture demon­strates that the books are the result of a long lit­er­ary devel­op­ment, where­by tra­di­tion­al mate­r­i­al was faith­ful­ly retold and hand­ed on from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, but also cre­ative­ly expand­ed and reshaped to fit the new cir­cum­stances and new needs that the suc­ces­sive com­mu­ni­ties expe­ri­enced through the vicis­si­tudes of his­to­ry. So the com­po­si­tion of the Scrip­tures was organ­ic, devel­op­men­tal, with suc­ces­sive lay­ers of tra­di­tion. Ezekiel was com­mand­ed to eat a scroll and found that it was sweet as hon­ey (Ezek 3:1 – 3), so per­haps I can be allowed to use the image of bakla­va for the com­po­si­tion of scrip­tur­al texts : many lay­ers laid on top of one anoth­er by suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions over the cen­turies, as the tra­di­tions were hand­ed on faith­ful­ly but cre­ative­ly adapt­ed, and formed into a uni­ty by the hon­ey — some­times heat­ed — of the lived expe­ri­ence of the com­mu­ni­ty over time.5

The Qum­ran scrolls reveal that the text of the Jew­ish Bible was not copied with­out changes. Instead, the text was grow­ing organ­i­cal­ly, being adapt­ed and changed. Nat­u­ral­ly, this alters our under­stand­ing of the so-called orig­i­nal text.” After sum­maris­ing the state of the text of the indi­vid­ual books of the Jew­ish Bible in the Qum­ran scrolls, Ulrich concludes :

The process of com­po­si­tion of the Scrip­tures was lay­ered ; some of the lat­ter stages of that process — mul­ti­ple lit­er­ary edi­tions of the books of Scrip­ture — are demon­strat­ed by our new extant evidence.

3. Because the text of each book was pro­duced organ­i­cal­ly, in mul­ti­ple lay­ers, deter­min­ing the orig­i­nal text” is a dif­fi­cult, com­plex task ; and the­o­log­i­cal­ly it may not even be the cor­rect goal. How do we decide which of the many lay­ers that could claim to be the orig­i­nal read­ing” to select ? Often the rich­er reli­gious mean­ing in a text are those which entered the text as a rel­a­tive­ly late or devel­oped stage ; do we choose the ear­li­er, less rich read­ing or the lat­er, more pro­found read­ing ? In con­trast, if a pro­found reli­gious insight in an ear­ly stage of the text is toned down lat­er by a stan­dard for­mu­la or even a vapid plat­i­tude, which do we select ? And must we not be con­sis­tent in choos­ing the ear­ly or the lat­er edi­tion or reading ?


5. The Masoret­ic Text, like the Samar­i­tan Pen­ta­teuch and the Sep­tu­agint, is not a uni-vocal term or enti­ty, but a col­lec­tion of dis­parate texts, from dif­fer­ent peri­ods, of dif­fer­ent nature, of dif­fer­ent tex­tu­al val­ue. There is no rea­son to think of the Masoret­ic col­lec­tion as a unit (a codex, a Bible”), or as a uni­ty. The col­lec­tion is like the Sep­tu­agint, a col­lec­tion of var­ied forms of the var­i­ous books.

6. Thus, final­ly, the sit­u­a­tion has changed con­cern­ing trans­la­tions of The Holy Bible.” The New Revised Stan­dard Ver­sion now con­tains a num­ber of improved read­ings based on the bib­li­cal man­u­scripts from Qum­ran. It can even claim to be the first Bible to con­tain a para­graph miss­ing from all Bibles for 2,000 years ! It con­tains between chap­ters 10 and 11 in 1 Samuel a para­graph found at Qum­ran and attest­ed by Jose­phus, but absent from all oth­er Bibles over the past two mil­len­nia.6

And there­fore it should be obvi­ous that the vast major­i­ty of changes and cor­rup­tion of the text of the Jew­ish Bible and the New Tes­ta­ment hap­pened many cen­turies before the time of Muham­mad(P).

Who Tam­pered With The Bible ?

The mis­sion­ary asks :

2. Who did the tampering ?

Answer : The New Tes­ta­ment text was cor­rupt­ed by Chris­tians who were involved in the copy­ing of its text where­as the text of the Jew­ish Bible was cor­rupt­ed by the Jews respon­si­ble for the copy­ing of the text.

Where Was The Bible Tampered ?

The mis­sion­ary asks :

3. Where was it done ? [city, country, …?]

Answer : It was done where ever Chris­tians were locat­ed and required New Tes­ta­ment texts — such as Pales­tine, Asia Minor, Egypt, etc. In the case of the Jew­ish Bible, we would say the Pales­tin­ian region.

What Parts Of The Bible Were Changed ?

The mis­sion­ary asks :

4. What parts of the text were changed ?

Answer : A list of some spe­cif­ic changes is pro­duced here.

D. C. Park­er, the lead­ing British schol­ar of tex­tu­al crit­i­cism, in The Liv­ing Text of the Gospels, dis­cuss­es some of the impor­tant parts of the text of the gospels which were changed — such as for instance the words of Jesus(P) on divorce and remar­riage (Mark 10:2 – 12 ; Matthew 5:27 – 32 ; 19:3 – 12 ; Luke 16:18); the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9 – 13 and Luke 11:2 – 4); the addi­tion of the sto­ry of the woman caught in adul­tery in John 7:53 – 8:11 ; the end­ing of Mark ; and a bunch of tex­tu­al prob­lems in the last 167 vers­es of Luke. After analysing a num­ber of tex­tu­al prob­lems in Luke, Park­er concludes :

In our inves­ti­ga­tions we have uncov­ered evi­dence in rather more than 40 vers­es out of the last 167 of Luke’s Gospel, about a quar­ter of them. Some of the read­ings might be best described as quaint. In sev­er­al oth­ers we can see, as in so many oth­er places, a dif­fi­cul­ty or an unfor­tu­nate phras­ing being removed…But the sum total pro­vides incon­tro­vert­ible evi­dence that the text of these chap­ters was not fixed, and indeed con­tin­ued to grow for cen­turies after its com­po­si­tion.7

Bruce Met­zger and Bart Ehrman, on the oth­er hand, make men­tion of sev­er­al oth­er changed parts of the New Tes­ta­ment text which are of immense the­o­log­i­cal and exeget­i­cal significance :

Just with­in the Gospels, ref­er­ence can be made to the Pro­logue of John (e.g., 1.18), the birth nar­ra­tives of Matthew and Luke (e.g., Matt. 1.16, 18 ; Luke 1.35), the bap­tism accounts of the New Tes­ta­ment (e.g., Mark 15.34 ; Luke 3.22 ; John 1.34), and the var­i­ous pas­sion nar­ra­tives (e.g., Mark 15.34 ; Luke 22.4344 ; John 19.36). More­over, a num­ber of vari­ants affect a range of issues that con­tin­ue to inter­est his­to­ri­ans and exegetes of the New Tes­ta­ment, includ­ing such ques­tions as whether the Gospels could have been used to sup­port adop­tion­is­tic” Chris­tol­ogy (e.g., Mark 1.1 ; Luke 3.22 ; John 1.34) or one that was anti-docetic” (e.g., the West­ern non-inter­po­la­tions), whether Luke has a doc­trine of the atone­ment (e.g., Luke 22.1920), whether mem­bers of the Johan­nine com­mu­ni­ty embraced a gnos­tic Chris­tol­ogy (e.g., 1 John 4.3), and whether any of the authors of the New Tes­ta­ment char­ac­ter­izes Jesus as God (e.g., Heb. 1.8).8

How Was The Bible Tam­pered With ?

The mis­sion­ary asks :

5. How was it done [i.e. with­out leav­ing traces of it]? 

Answer : We know that the texts were changed and cor­rupt­ed pre­cise­ly due to the numer­ous traces left of it in the man­u­script tra­di­tion ! Traces of changes and cor­rup­tions are most promi­nent in the ear­li­est New Tes­ta­ment frag­ments and man­u­scripts. Quot­ing Bruce Met­zger and Bart Ehrman again :

It is a strik­ing fea­ture of our tex­tu­al record that the ear­li­est copies we have of the var­i­ous books that became the New Tes­ta­ment vary from one anoth­er far more wide­ly than do the lat­er copies.…9

Gabel, Wheel­er and York sum­marise the types of traces of changes and cor­rup­tions to be found in our ear­li­est witnesses :

One study of three of the most exten­sive papyri (Chester Beat­ty I, Bod­mer II, and Bod­mer XIV-XV), cov­er­ing pas­sages from the Gospels and Acts, has dis­cov­ered more than a thou­sand sin­gu­lar read­ings” — words or groups of words not found in any oth­er known man­u­script — and this does not include dif­fer­ent spellings ! None of the papyri has a text whol­ly like that of the lat­er, recon­struct­ed fam­i­lies sur­veyed ear­li­er. To the extent that they rep­re­sent a con­sec­u­tive text at all and are not frag­men­tary (as most of them are), they are wit­ness­es to sev­er­al tex­tu­al fam­i­lies with­in the same book. For exam­ple, the Chester Beat­ty Papyrus II, from the third cen­tu­ry, gives us a read­ing of Romans that exists nowhere else. It places the dox­ol­o­gy that now ends chap­ter 16 at the end of chap­ter 15, lend­ing sup­port to those who have main­tained on lit­er­ary grounds that chap­ter 16 is real­ly a sep­a­rate let­ter that was lat­er attached to Romans. Both Bod­mer II and the Bod­mer XIV-XV con­tain por­tions of the Gospel of John, but they often dif­fer dras­ti­cal­ly from one another.

What can account for this wide vari­ance among doc­u­ments writ­ten so ear­ly in the his­to­ry of the New Tes­ta­ment text ? The answer, leav­ing aside errors of copy­ing and writ­ing, is that Chris­tian­i­ty was evolv­ing rapid­ly dur­ing its first sev­er­al cen­turies and the New Tes­ta­ment evolved along with it to meet its needs. As the young reli­gion spread across the ancient world, it cre­at­ed com­mu­ni­ties of believ­ers in wide­ly sep­a­rat­ed places, and each of these com­mu­ni­ties faced unique sit­u­a­tions and had its own pecu­liar needs. The sacred texts were adjust­ed to meet local con­di­tions. One schol­ar refers to such changes as rev­er­en­tial alter­ations,” while anoth­er calls them ortho­dox cor­rup­tions.“10

Sim­i­lar­ly, it is due to the traces left in the man­u­script tra­di­tion of the Jew­ish Bible that we know for sure that its text also under­went corruption :

Tex­tu­al crit­i­cism is nec­es­sary because there is no error-free manuscript…Variants occur more fre­quent­ly in the medieval man­u­scripts of the MT tra­di­tion, but they are minus­cule com­pared to the vari­ants found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). In fact, the fur­ther back we go in the tex­tu­al lin­eage the greater the tex­tu­al dif­fer­ences. Before the text was fixed as ca. 100 CE it was copied and recopied through many cen­turies by scribes of vary­ing capa­bil­i­ties and of dif­fer­ent philoso­phies, giv­ing rise to vary­ing read­ings and recen­sions (i.e., dis­tinct text-types).

The restora­tion of the orig­i­nal OT text is foun­da­tion­al to the exeget­i­cal task and to the­o­log­i­cal reflec­tion.11

As we have seen, the same obser­va­tion also holds true for the New Tes­ta­ment text ; the ear­li­est man­u­scripts and frag­ments of the New Tes­ta­ment reveal far more dif­fer­ences and vari­a­tions than all the lat­er manuscripts.

What Was The Motive For Bible Tampering ?

The mis­sion­ary final­ly asks :

6. Why would any­body do this incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult thing ?

Answer : It is not incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult” to make cer­tain changes to the text of a doc­u­ment, espe­cial­ly if that doc­u­ment is ini­tial­ly pass­ing along in a non-uni­form man­ner between dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties. The New Tes­ta­ment is not one book ; it is a col­lec­tion of dif­fer­ent books pro­duced by var­i­ous authors at dif­fer­ent times and loca­tions. Not all of the four gospels were avail­able to all the Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ties from the start. For instance, one com­mu­ni­ty might ini­tial­ly have read only Mark while lack­ing the oth­er gospels ; anoth­er com­mu­ni­ty might have read Matthew but would not know any­thing about Mark, yet oth­er com­mu­ni­ties might have pos­sessed Luke and John while lack­ing Matthew and Mark and so on. Only lat­er were the books col­lect­ed togeth­er and wide­ly known as such. As Fred­er­ic Keny­on explained :

…the anony­mous Gospels and Acts were not regard­ed as the lit­er­ary com­po­si­tions of their authors, but as nar­ra­tives of the life of our Lord and the work of His apos­tles, com­piled with the pure­ly prac­ti­cal object of dis­sem­i­nat­ing the knowl­edge of their lives and teach­ings among the Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty, and with no eye to a future which in any case would soon be cur­tailed by the Sec­ond Coming.

There was no need to be metic­u­lous in ver­bal accu­ra­cy. The sub­stance was what mat­tered, and if addi­tions, believed to be authen­tic, could be made to it, why should they not ? Then there were lit­tle means, even if it had been thought need­ful, to secure uni­for­mi­ty of trans­mis­sion. Each book cir­cu­lat­ed orig­i­nal­ly as a sep­a­rate roll, and there was no fixed Canon of Chris­t­ian Scrip­tures. Not every Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty could pos­sess a com­plete set of Gospels or of Paul’s epis­tles, but each would sup­ply itself as best it could from its neigh­bours. Many copies would be made by untrained provin­cial copy­ists, and there would be no oppor­tu­ni­ty of cor­rect­ing them by com­par­i­son with oth­er copies, except such as might be in the imme­di­ate neigh­bour­hood. Such revi­sion as there might be would be local and unme­thod­i­cal.12

In such a sce­nario, dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties would make dif­fer­ent types of changes to the spe­cif­ic books that they hap­pened to pos­sess as they copied and recopied their text. Then these copies would find their way to oth­er com­mu­ni­ties and scribes, who would then fur­ther adjust and edit their texts to suit their own par­tic­u­lar needs and this process would go on and on. Even lat­er when Chris­tians would have become aware of most of the writ­ings now form­ing the New Tes­ta­ment, dif­fer­ent changes would con­tin­ue to be made to the text of these doc­u­ments by dif­fer­ent Chris­t­ian scribes involved in the copy­ing of the texts and in the recopy­ing process more changes would undoubt­ed­ly come about. Thus, the text of the New Tes­ta­ment writ­ings was changed in a hap­haz­ard and non-uni­form man­ner. Hence, the text under­went dif­fer­ent types of changes even though there was no out­right grand con­spir­a­cy” involv­ing each and every Chris­t­ian to alter the text of doc­u­ments. More­over, not all of the changes were delib­er­ate. Many cor­rup­tions would be quite unin­ten­tion­al, such as spelling mis­takes, miss­ing words and lines, mis­tak­en­ly copy­ing lines twice, etc.

Besides the many unin­ten­tion­al changes, parts of the text of the New Tes­ta­ment were also altered occa­sion­al­ly for the­o­log­i­cal and doc­tri­nal rea­sons — thus quite delib­er­ate­ly. Chris­tians belong­ing to dif­fer­ent rival sects altered the text of the var­i­ous New Tes­ta­ment writ­ings, par­tic­u­lar­ly those of the gospels, to suit their the­o­log­i­cal and doc­tri­nal agen­das while accus­ing their rivals of chang­ing pas­sages. Then on oth­er occa­sions, sim­i­lar pas­sages with­in the gospels were har­monised with each oth­er in order to elim­i­nate con­tra­dic­tions. More­over, at times pas­sages were also cor­rect­ed to remove his­tor­i­cal and oth­er errors from the text.

The dif­fer­ent rea­sons that led to the cor­rup­tion of the New Tes­ta­ment text are list­ed by Bruce Met­zger13 as follows :

1. Unin­ten­tion­al errors 

  • Errors aris­ing from faulty eyesight
  • Errors aris­ing from faulty hearing
  • Errors of the mind
  • Errors of judgement

2. Inten­tion­al changes 

  • Changes involv­ing spelling and grammar
  • Har­monis­tic corruptions
  • Addi­tion of nat­ur­al com­ple­ments and sim­i­lar adjuncts
  • Clear­ing up his­tor­i­cal and geo­graph­i­cal difficulties
  • Con­fla­tion of readings
  • Alter­ations made because of doc­tri­nal considerations
  • Addi­tion of mis­cel­la­neous details


We are final­ly done answer­ing all of Chris­tian’s I know noth­ing!” mul­ti­ple ques­tions. Yet the anony­mous apol­o­gist is not quite fin­ished. It seems he/​she is intent on embar­rass­ing him/​herself fur­ther by mak­ing the fol­low­ing astound­ing claim :

No Mus­lim could ever answer these ques­tions. I won­der why?? Maybe because it is such an incred­i­ble feat that would require more than a mir­a­cle do get done ? Believ­ing in the tam­per­ing needs a lot of faith. Blind faith, against the man­u­script evi­dence we have. 

It takes no faith what­so­ev­er to believe and know for sure that the text of the Bible under­went cor­rup­tion dur­ing the course of its trans­mis­sion since it is sole­ly due to man­u­script evi­dence that we know with 100% cer­tain­ty that the Bib­li­cal text was indeed cor­rupt­ed — both inten­tion­al­ly as well as unin­ten­tion­al­ly. Refus­ing to look at the incon­testable evi­dence and irra­tional­ly insist­ing oth­er­wise is the actu­al blind faith, and is, in fact, self-decep­tion — akin to a child scream­ing inco­her­ent­ly, San­ta Clause does exist !” mul­ti­ple times upon real­iz­ing that he is but a myth. One may close their eyes, deny the truth a mil­lion times, insist that some­thing is true while know­ing it is false, but the truth will not alter despite these episodes of self-decep­tion. For a detailed refu­ta­tion of pop­u­lar Chris­t­ian claims about the man­u­scripts, preser­va­tion and tex­tu­al accu­ra­cy of the New Tes­ta­ment, see also : Tex­tu­al Reli­a­bil­i­ty /​Accu­ra­cy Of The New Tes­ta­ment.

And only God knows best !Endmark

Cite Icon Cite This As : 
  1. Bart D. Ehrman, The Ortho­dox Cor­rup­tion Of Scrip­ture : The Effect Of Ear­ly Chris­to­log­i­cal Con­tro­ver­sies On The Text Of The New Tes­ta­ment, 1993, Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press : Lon­don & New York, pp. 28 – 29[]
  2. Bruce M. Met­zger, Bart D. Ehrman, The Text Of The New Tes­ta­ment : Its Trans­mis­sion, Cor­rup­tion, and Restora­tion, 2005, Fourth Edi­tion, Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, pp. 275 – 276[]
  3. Kurt & Bar­bara Aland, The Text of the New Tes­ta­ment : An Intro­duc­tion to the Crit­i­cal Edi­tions and to the The­o­ry and Prac­tice of Mod­ern Tex­tu­al Crit­i­cism, 1989, 2nd edi­tion, William B. Eerd­mans Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, p. 69[]
  4. Bruce K. Waltke, How We Got the Hebrew Bible : The Text and Canon of the Old Tes­ta­ment”, in Peter W. Flint (ed.), The Bible at Qum­ran : Text, Shape, and Inter­pre­ta­tion (Stud­ies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Relat­ed Lit­er­a­ture), 2001, Wm. B. Eerd­mans Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, p. 27[]
  5. Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Ori­gins of the Bible (Stud­ies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Relat­ed Lit­er­a­ture), 1999, Wm. B. Eerd­mans Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, p. 23[]
  6. Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Ori­gins of the Bible (Stud­ies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Relat­ed Lit­er­a­ture), 1999, Wm. B. Eerd­mans Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, p. 32[]
  7. D. C. Park­er, The Liv­ing Text of the Gospels, 1997, Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press, p. 172[]
  8. Bruce M. Met­zger, Bart D. Ehrman, The Text Of The New Tes­ta­ment : Its Trans­mis­sion, Cor­rup­tion, and Restora­tion, 2005, Fourth Edi­tion, Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, foot­note 52, pp. 284 – 285[]
  9. Bruce M. Met­zger, Bart D. Ehrman, The Text Of The New Tes­ta­ment : Its Trans­mis­sion, Cor­rup­tion, and Restora­tion, 2005, Fourth Edi­tion, Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, pp. 275 – 276[]
  10. John B. Gabel, Charles B. Wheel­er and Antho­ny D. York, The Bible As Lit­er­a­ture : An Intro­duc­tion, 2000, 4th edi­tion, Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, pp. 262 – 263[]
  11. Bruce K. Waltke, How We Got the Hebrew Bible : The Text and Canon of the Old Tes­ta­ment”, in Peter W. Flint (ed.), The Bible at Qum­ran : Text, Shape, and Inter­pre­ta­tion (Stud­ies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Relat­ed Lit­er­a­ture), 2001, Wm. B. Eerd­mans Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, pp. 27 – 28[]
  12. F. G. Keny­on, The Text of the Greek Bible, Stud­ies in The­ol­o­gy, 3rd edi­tion revised and aug­ment­ed by A. W. Adams, 1976, Duck­worth, pp. 249 – 250[]
  13. For more details see : Bruce M. Met­zger, The Text Of The New Tes­ta­ment : Its Trans­mis­sion, Cor­rup­tion and Restora­tion, 1992, Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, New York, pp. 186 – 206[]

1 Comment

  1. tumbleweeds Reply

    Most­ly before Muham­mad (P). Begin­ning with the New Tes­ta­ment, schol­ars of tex­tu­al crit­i­cism gen­er­al­ly agree that the text of the New Tes­ta­ment under­went the most dras­tic and fre­quent types of changes/​corruptions in the first three cen­turies of its transmission.”

    I believe the Gospel preached by Jesus was per­vert­ed from the very out­set of his ministry.

    Many crit­i­cal schol­ars, both con­ser­v­a­tive and lib­er­al, acknowl­edge that the authors of the Greek New tes­ta­ment have drawn a por­trait of Jesus by cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of Jesus with the ancient Jew­ish per­son­i­fied wis­dom nar­ra­tives. http://​find​ar​ti​cles​.com/​p​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​m​i​_​m​0​L​A​L​/​i​s​_​4​_​34​/​a​i​_​n​8689929

    The Per­son­i­fied Wis­dom literature/​narratives were applied (midrash) as a con­tex­tu­al and exeget­i­cal frame­work to inter­pret the per­son of Jesus as the per­fect image’ or emis­sary that rep­re­sent­ed or exem­pli­fied the will of God’s cre­ative thought or word as typ­i­fied in the Old Testament.

    The fact that the fun­da­men­tal objec­tive of apply­ing the Jew­ish wis­dom modes of thought was to con­cep­tu­al­ize how Jesus exem­pli­fied, rep­re­sent­ed, typ­i­fied, illus­trat­ed, demon­strat­ed, per­son­ifed the will or thought of God embod­ied in God’s Word (Logos) explains one rea­son why Logos’ and not wis­dom’ is employed as the appro­pri­ate lit­er­ary term/​device, since the pri­ma­ry focus is God Almighty’s Word, that embod­ies the expres­sion of His Wis­dom, his will and pow­er, and the out­go­ing of the divine ener­gy, life, love and light man­i­fest­ed toward his creation.

    The infu­sion of ancient Jew­ish thought and Hel­lenic Logos ideas for­mu­lat­ed very spec­u­la­tive and pow­er­ful influ­en­tial ways of inter­pret­ing God’s rela­tion­ship to his cre­ation, which trans­par­ent­ly shaped the very per­cep­tion and artic­u­la­tion of the Logos the­ol­o­gy of Phi­lo. The same set of influ­ences that shaped Philo’s con­cep­tion of the per­son­i­fied Logos as a begot­ten son of God’ can also be evi­dent­ly seen in the artic­u­la­tion of the Logos Chris­tol­ogy and Son­ship derived from the Gospel of John.

    Whether the sim­i­lar­i­ties in con­cept and expres­sion seen in the Gospel of John was the direct­ly result or influ­ence by the con­jec­tur­al the­ol­o­gy of Phi­lo — is debat­able, but not eas­i­ly dis­missed see why — http://​www​.socin​ian​.org/​p​h​i​l​o​.​h​tml

    How­ev­er, what is trans­par­ent­ly clear is that both authors utilized/​adapted the same spec­u­la­tive the­o­log­i­cal modes of thought and artic­u­la­tion that orig­i­nat­ed pri­or to Jesus birth and pre­vailed dur­ing their respec­tive times, which reflects the sig­nif­i­cant simil­i­tude in their thought pat­terns and mode of expressions.

    When I dis­cov­ered that the authors of the New Tes­ta­ment were con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing Jesus in exact­ly the same lan­guage, mode of expres­sion using per­son­i­fied imagery as we find in the broad­er philo­soph­i­cal world, both Greek and Jew­ish. I real­ized, by the Will of Allah, that in read­ing the New Tes­ta­ment and imag­in­ing the New Tes­ta­ment writ­ers as being inspired to a view of God’s Son’, these authors are mere­ly draw­ing on the promi­nent ideas of spec­u­la­tive ancient Judaism wis­dom the­ol­o­gy and the deep­er ancient her­itage infused with Hel­lenic though, which lay behind their dis­tort­ed per­cep­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion of Jesus. It behooves me why trini­tar­i­ans con­tin­ue to wor­ship a Jesus’ that is a prod­uct of spec­u­la­tive and con­jec­ture philoso­phies that pre­pared the very foun­da­tions of their chris­to­log­i­cal beliefs.

    If you remove these erro­neous human inno­va­tions, spec­u­la­tive Jew­ish wis­dom philo­soph­i­cal con­cep­tu­al­iza­tions that were erro­neous­ly applied to inter­pret the iden­ti­ty of Jesus, you will indeed rec­og­nize the true his­tor­i­cal Jesus as the mighty Prophet and mes­sen­ger of God Almighty as pro­claimed in the Quran. May

    O Peo­ple of the Book (Jews and Chris­tians)! do not exag­ger­ate in your reli­gion : Nor say of God except the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a mes­sen­ger of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spir­it pro­ceed­ing from Him : so believe in God and His mes­sen­gers. Say not Three” : desist : it will be bet­ter for you : for God is one : Glo­ry be to Him : (far exalt­ed is He) above hav­ing a son. To Him belong all things in the heav­ens and on earth. And enough is God as a Dis­pos­er of affairs.”

    Christ does not dis­tain to serve and wor­ship God, nor do the angels, those near­est (to God): those who dis­dain His wor­ship and are arrogant,-He will gath­er them all togeth­er unto Himself.”

    But to those who believe (have faith) AND do deeds of right­eous­ness, He will give their rewards,- and more, out of His boun­ty : BUT THOSE WHO ARE DISDAINFUL AND ARROGANT, HE WILL PUNISH WITHGRIEVIOUS PENALTY ; NOR WILL THEY FIND, BESIDES GOD ANY TO PROTECT OR HELP THEM.”

    Then those who believe in God, and hold fast to Him,- soon will He admit them to mer­cy and grace from Him­self, and guide them to Him­self by a straight way.” (Quran — Sura 4:171 – 5)

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