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Quote of the Day: Does it Matter if Biblical Scribes Changed Their Manuscripts?

bart ehrman

I am not saying that “we have no idea what the authors of the New Testament wrote.” I’ve never said that. The book doesn’t say that. The book is not attacking the Bible and it is not a wild claim that we have no clues about what Jesus and his followers and the later writers of the New Testament thought and said. We do indeed have clues. In most cases we have pretty good ideas.

So why does it matter, “for the bigger picture,” if scribes changed their manuscripts? Because it is one way out of many to show that the Bible people read and randomly cite by cherry picking verses here and there is not a perfect book handed to us by God. In other words, it is one opening among many that was/is meant to take people down the path of critical inquiry into the Bible, to show that you can’t blindly “follow” the Bible.

And once you start taking that path, if you are sincere and honest and truth-seeking – there is no turning back. Only after you start going down it do you start to realize that there are other even more significant problems with the Bible. Only when you look into these other problems do you start to realize that in fact it has contradictions, all over the map; and historical mistakes; and geographical errors; and legends; and myths. You start to realize that we don’t have eyewitness accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus’ (let alone of Moses’!) life and that the accounts we are at odds with each other. And that our sources for Jesus are decades after the fact and are not always reliable.

— Dr. Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Misquoting Jesus, April 26, 2020


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    Well, I finally started questioning my premise that the Bible was inspired about 15 plus years ago, as I have people I care about who have relationships that the Bible seems to consider wrong. I know some people who don’t believe that, but that goes to inspiration. If God was trying to pass wisdom down to us, you’d think that studying the Bible wouldn’t end up with all these massive contradictions. And looking at those people I care about, and seeing that true love existed between them, told me all I needed to know.

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    Other Christian traditions don’t seem to have a problem with the idea that the bible is full of mythology and ideas that didn’t stand up to human advancement. My Jewish friends accept that their stories are myths. These groups seem to be able to get what they need put of their scriptures without needing to believe they are inerrant, infallible, and literally historically accurate. But I guess if evangelicals gave up inerrancy they might have to stop being bigoted toward women and LBGTQ people.

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    As a former Roman Catholic, who never read the bible, I eventually read it and became RC, rel, challenged and came to the belief that due to all the mistakes, contradictions inherent in the text, is probably the reason that Catholics avoid the bible for the most part, devoting a lot of study to theology, unlike the fundamentalists who work on the principal ‘god said it, i believe it and that settles it’.

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Bruce Gerencser