Saturday, January 30, 2016

Addendum to my previous post.

I think it obvious that I am a nerd.  I wear it like a badge of honor. So, as I was searching for a website to feed my hunger for more knowledge on theology, philosophy, etc. I stumbled upon a site that serves as a kind of theology hub.  I just finished reading an article about the reliability of Mark and think that it may explain the reliability of Mark better than I have.  It's a short and easy read and may answer questions that may have been raised by my last post.   You can find it here.

The article was written by Peter J. Williams.  I have never read anything by him before today, but it is definitely written with more authority than what I have.  If you are the 99% who will not read it, for whatever reason, at least read this paragraph:
Mark contains three major sections of teaching by Jesus (chapters 4, 7, and 13) as well as shorter accounts of teaching. Various features of what is attributed to Jesus suggest that Jesus’ teachings were not invented by Christians, since they use forms of speech and expressions either not found or rarely attested among early Christians, and they do not show many of the features of early Christian discourse. For instance, positively, Jesus regularly referred to himself regularly as the Son of Man, a phrase not common amongst early Christians, amongst whom he was called the Christ, Lord, or the Son of God. Or again, Jesus used parables, though these were not common amongst early Christians either. Negatively, Jesus’ teachings do not use the titles that were later used of Jesus. Nor do they explicitly cover many of the issues that early Christians spent time discussing such as the relationship between Jews and Gentiles, whether or not Christians could eat food that had been sacrificed to idols, or how churches should be organized.
This establishes evidence of earlier writings than what we have of the Gospels.  I didn't really go over that as much as I wanted and felt it left a gaping hole in my argument.  I don't want people to think that I am glossing over the failure to find early writings of the Gospels.  The earliest extensive writing we have of a Gospel  dates to the mid 3rd century.  When this article was written the earliest manuscript was a small portion of the Gospel according to John dated to first half of the 2nd century.  That may not longer be so.  A small segment of Mark has been recovered.  The preliminary study has dated it in the 1st century.  In the lifetime of the apostles and other witnesses.

Exciting stuff that it is, it's even more exciting that there are still no major differences between the early manuscripts and the modern Bible.

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