In preparation for a short documentary film I’m making about textual variants in the Bible, I would like to pose a question aimed strictly at Christians—both Catholic and Protestant—and ex-Christians. People of other religions and non-ex-Christian atheists (et al) are welcome to comment, but your answers lie outside the scope of this project.
The question is simply this:
Are you familiar with the textual variants of the New Testament, particularly the Gospels?
If you want to answer this question, feel free to comment and say a little something about yourself: Religion, familiarity with textual variations, and perhaps a defense.
For reasons I cannot explain, the discussion about textual variants appears to have mostly faded away in recent centuries, despite no good reconciliation. So I’d like to hear what contemporary personal theology has to say about this.
Wikipedia thankfully has a relatively robust introduction to the subject at this link, if you’re interested in the topic.
The problem can be summed up like this: If we do not know what the scriptures originally said due to copy error and intentional manipulation, how can be be certain we understand Christianity?
1 Cor 11:16 has two styles of translations. CEB and ESV use “no such”, while other translations use “no other”.
Jeremiah 8:8 stated that Moses’ Law contained errors.
One other verse is 1 Cor 6:9 where there is a reference to gay people. Some scholars say the gay reference should be translated as “man who has many bed-partners”. You can see in verse 11 stated “and that is what some of you were”, but people do not usually change their sexual orientation, which is a give-away for a mistake.
I’m not sure if I qualify: I’m a non-theist Quaker. Errors, deliberate or accidental, don’t have much significance to me as I treat the entire bible as literature, none of which has divine authority. The bible is just one of many works that can provide insight into the nature of mankind and the development of religion.
It’s all in the introduction to the bible. Translations usually have introductions to explain that some words simply can’t be translated so the interpreters try their best at finding the closest word and explain cultural differences there. As much as can be is usually documented. Many christians know this and will have a strongs concordance under their bibles. Words I’ve looked up have been Greek words for love and also menanoia. Many Christians find out about this and their faith is strengthened as they look more deeply into what each teaching in the bible really means. As for ulterior motives and people changing things for their own profit, the bible said that would happen. Truth is, some people who have believed couldn’t read but they believed a testimony then lived out their own experiences. I know all this from personal study. I don’t belong to a church. My bf and I live’ in sin,’ plus he’s an all out atheist. The only thing I’m offended by are atheists stating an opinion in which they say you have to be stupid to believe in God. In other words, christians already know what your documentary is stating. It’s my hope it’s foundation won’t be to prove bible believers’ stupidity when thats prejudice.
Thanks for the comment. While this blog was originally created to criticize religion and even mock it, it’s slowly morphed into something with a better methodology. For example, I started turning to science to answer some questions about religious demographics and the like. In my short film I’m not calling people stupid for believing the bible despite known problems in textual variants. It’s merely to discuss that they exist and maybe explain how people have come to accept them. In some cases, they might reject them, such as Prof. Bart D. Ehrman, who dedicated his life to studying the oldest texts and their variants and ultimately lost his faith. I just find it fascinating, but I’m done mocking people for believing in that. Now, if you told me you believe in mermaids, well, that might get a chuckle or two out of me 😉
Lol. I like your reply and will keep my eye out for the documentary.
I would refer you to the book, “Cold Case Christianitu” by James Warner Wallace. Ex-cold case detective and atheist who examined the NT using his skills.