"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, November 14, 2011

NT Manuscript Variations and Inspiration

For those of you who have been to Sunday School classes or youth events where your questions were dismissed by your teachers because "you should just accept things by faith and not question God," I am glad to read that not everyone is this way. Thankfully many people have questioned and not simply accepted things blindly, but searched and studied.  I liked this little snippet.  Maybe because it's comforting to know scholarly people have studied and come out stronger in their trust of Jesus as he is presented in the New Testament.

In The Case for the Real Jesus author Lee Strobel recalls an interview he had with Bruce Metzger   "a scholar who's universally acknowledged as the greatest textual critic of his generation."  Bart Ehrman "even dedicates Misquoting Jesus to him, calling him 'Doctor-Father' and saying he 'taught me the field and continues to inspire me in my work.'"

Strobel was interviewing Metzger about the variations between New Testament manuscripts noting most of them "tend to be minor rather than substantive."

"Yes, yes, that's correct, " Metzger replied, adding: "The more significant variations do not overthrow any doctrine of the church."

Then I recall asking him how his many decades of intensely studying the New Testament's text had affected his personal faith.  "Oh," he said, sounding happy to discuss the topic, "it has increased the basis of my personal faith to see the firmness with which these materials have come down to us, with a multiplicity of copies, some of which are very ancient."

"So," I started to say, "scholarship has not diluted your faith ____"

He jumped in before I could finish my sentence.  "On the contrary," he stressed, "it has built it. I've asked questions all my life, I've dug into the text, I've studied this thoroughly, and today I know with confidence that my trust in Jesus has been well placed."

He paused while his eyes surveyed my face. Then he added, for emphasis, "Very well placed."   (pg. 99)

I just wanted to share this for those wondering what the Bible being inspired meant.

In an interview with Dan Wallace ...

"Seeking a crisp summary, I said, 'Complete this sentence: when Christians say the Bible is inspired, they mean that...'"

"'...that it's both the Word of God and the words of men.  Lewis Sperry Chafer put it well: "Without violating the authors' personalities, they wrote with their own feelings, literary abilities, and concerns. But in the end, God could say, That's exactly what I wanted to have written."'"  (pg. 74)

Good definition or would you say it differently?



observant observer said...

Thanks for sharing this. I think I've read long time ago about this topic. I just wonder how was it that different scholars like them can come with different conclusions. One was affirmed with the studies like Metzger, while someone like Bart Ehrmahn and the Jesus Seminar's members on the other hand became skeptical.
Today i just read the blog (that was recommended by you; Parchment and Pen),titled the Evidence for the Ressurection of Christ in a nutshell, and found my self to be affirmed in faith as well.

I am also in tuned with the last paragraph of yours that Bible is inspired. I think that God really really put us human as His partners, co-workers/co -authors, since He has no doubt and place trust that men and humanity as His creatures and image of Him will be able to reveal Him in a way that understandable by human with their own uniqueness and personalities. God really cares about us as individuals. And this is also one of the things that makes me even more convinced on the faith. I mean how great it is that God can love and trust us so much that we have been dignified to be partners! Dont you think that we should be growing to love HIm even more!

aemish said...

I'd have to call myself an unintentional believer. But, food for thought:


Unknown said...

Good definition. :)

I liked reading this, thank you for sharing.

Metzger's comment that learning more has just confirmed his faith is very interesting to me, especially with Ehrman also mentioned here. I'd love to see the two of them, or any two Biblical scholars who went in opposite directions like that, writing a book together and sort of comparing notes and perspectives.

Susanne said...

Observant, good thoughts! I love your last paragraph on inspiration. :)

Yes, I guess it is one of life's great mysteries why some scholarship strengthens one's faith while the exact same scholarship weakens another's. Although if I remember correctly Ehrman didn't lose his belief in God based on scholarship, but his trying to make sense of the suffering in the world.

Also I think some people want a reason to be skeptical whereas others want a reason to believe. Maybe it's the mindset you go into it that plays a big role.

Thanks for your comment as always!

Susanne said...

Aemish, unintentional believer, huh? I'll have to think about that one.Thanks! :)

Susanne said...

Sanil, I think mentioning Ehrman's connection to this guy is what made this section stick out so much to me! I've read one of Ehrman's books and hear about him quite often so this was noteworthy! :)

Sadly Metzger is now deceased so there can be no book like this with him and Ehrman, but perhaps some others could do as you said. Reading the book I was surprised that much of the stuff people bring up today to discredit the NT, stories of Jesus, etc. have been dismissed years ago by the majority of scholars. It's just those are now being made public more so and people are thinking it's something new and true.

Of course the book is a bit old now (2007) so maybe there is more to the stories now that it's nearly 2012!

Thanks for your thoughts!

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