Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
White/Ehrman Debate Is Available
01/26/2009 - Jeff DownsNo doubt most of you are already aware that the MP3s and Audio CD of the debate are available. But since no one has mentioned it on the blog yet, I figured I would.
Go here to purchase. $6.00 for MP3s and $15 for audio CD.
Before We Head to Sea
01/22/2009 - James White
I wanted to drop a line before we head out to sea. I've been thinking about last night, and a number of things have come to mind. First, I'm really glad Dr. Ehrman said many of the things he did. Most of us have known he was heading this direction, but the frankness of the debate, and his obvious displeasure at being challenged, led him to make things very, very clear. His statement that he has "moved away" from even talking about the "original" text is tremendously telling, and the fact that much of what is called New Testament textual studies today is no longer, really, relevant to the concerns of believing Christians needs to be made very, very clear.
I was especially interested in his tremendous fear to even talk about the Qur'an and Islam. I thought Dr. Ehrman is a professor of religious studies? The chair of that department, in fact? Yet he professed utter ignorance of Islam last night, once even accusing me of trying to "liken" him to a Muslim! He simply refused to comment on the Qur'an whatsoever, not even theoretically answering the question that if the Qur'an has textual variants, would this not mean that the Qur'an is misquoting Muhammad? His unwillingness to apply his own hyper-skepticism to anything other than Christianity betrays his deep bias and prejudice. He knew that to be consistent he would have to say the Qur'an misquotes Muhammad, but Dr. Ehrman is a good post-modernist liberal, and quite politically correct. He avoided that like the plague, though, obviously, he would have to say that very thing, if he was consistent.
I will attempt to have sound clips (pulled from my little video camera) to play on the DL tomorrow.
One other item. Ehrman asked me to cite all 12 papyri manuscripts that can be dated to within 100 years of the writing of the New Testament. I knew where my list was in a print book, but forgot totally that I had the same book in my Libronix library! I could have pulled the list in 20 seconds had I remembered that. I have been kicking myself for that all morning once I realized how quickly I could have accessed the information. But, here's the data (I will be expanding this discussion a good bit in the future). The following manuscripts have been dated to the second century by credible papyrologists and paleographers: P4/P64/P67 (all one manuscript), P32 (which I mentioned), P46, P52, P66, P75, P77, P87, P90, P98, P104, P108, P109.
Right Facts, Wrong Conclusions
01/21/2009 - Jeff Downs
Turn on your television around the two major Christian holidays and a perennial stream of really smart people who don't believe in the historic Christian faith will wax eloquent on the real meaning of the Bible. The latest weapon in their arsenal is the work of renown scholar of textual criticism and best selling author of Misquoting Jesus, Dr. Bart Ehrman. In a much anticipated upcoming debate in Ft. Lauderdale, FL the basis for all Christian truth claims will be defended ably by tonight's guest, Dr. James White.
Click here to listen to the interview James did with the guys at Apologetics.com.
The P52 Graphic
01/12/2009 - James WhiteAs most of you know, I am working now on the presentations I will be making next week in Florida, and, of course, primarily my opening presentation in the debate with Bart Ehrman. I have always wanted to do something more with Rylands 457 (P52) than just show it on the screen. So a few weeks ago I got an idea of what I wanted to have, and yesterday I managed to put it together. I've posted a video of the KeyNote slides below. It begins with an image of the fragment itself. The first transition gives you the rest of the text of John 18:31-33; next, the fragment disappears leaving just the text; next, the very same text as found 300 years later in Codex Alexandrinus; then it transitions into the modern printed text, then into the same text in modern digital format, then I bring the fragment back in to complete the circle. One text, transmitted faithfully for about 1,900 years. The Lord is good to His people.
By the way, shortly after I uploaded this graphic, I got some help with my debate preparation. I think I will blame this little thing for any errors or omissions! Maybe a few scribes had a similar problem?
A Quick Resource Request (Updated)
01/09/2009 - James WhiteI have begun creating my KeyNote presentations for the conference, debate, and cruise, and in the process came across a resource that would surely expand my citations on one of the key texts that will be discussed, Mark 1:41. I have added it, with the highest priority, to the ministry resource list. It is the work on Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis by DC Parker. As a "sneak peak," here is a graphic of one of the slides for the conference presentation on Mark 1:41 and Hebrews 2:9:
Updated less than fifteen minutes after posting: Thank you, the book has been ordered! Once again, to all who help in this way, I do hope that as you watch or listen to these debates, you feel a part of what we are doing in giving a defense of the gospel.
01/07/2009 - James White
Monday morning I posted two items on my ministry resources list at Amazon, both commentaries on John by Origen. By Tuesday evening the books were sitting on my desk, being put to use (thank you CR!). They led me to the needed location in a resource I've had for many years so as to have the exact citations, in Greek, that Bart Ehrman has based an important portion of his external argumentation relating to the textual variant at Hebrews 2:9. Specifically, in his earlier work, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, he speaks of the external sources that support the reading "without God" (χωρις θεου) over against the reading of the vast majority of manuscripts and sources, "by the grace of God" (χάριτι θεοῦ). I will be addressing this variant, along with the one from Mark 1:41, in the opening session of the conference the day of the debate, for those of you who can get there early. It will be recorded, of course, for those who can't. In any case, the reading is found in only two tenth century manuscripts, which would normally be enough to dismiss the reading. However, Ehrman points out that 1) one of those manuscripts is 1739, from Mount Athos, an important minuscule that is an excellent copy of a 4th century exemplar that itself is a copy of a (probably) 2nd century manuscript (1739 and 1881 are important later minuscules). 1739 is pictured to the right. 2) Early writers knew of the reading. And here is what I wanted to check out, for he says the reading "was acknowledged by Origen himself as the reading of the majority of the manuscripts of his own day, manuscripts that consequently must have been produced no later than the end of the second century or the very beginning of the third." He provides at this point a footnote (he repeats the same assertion in Misquoting Jesus, but without the references) that gave me three references in Origen's commentary on John, 1.35, 28.18 and 32.28.
In only one of these is there any reference to other manuscripts, and it simply does not substantiate Ehrman's claim that Origen said "the majority of the manuscripts" of his day read as 1739 reads. The citation is very short, but it reads, "For 'apart from God he tasted death for all.' This appears in some copies of the Epistle to the Hebrews as 'by the grace of God.'" I wanted to see if the underlying text in any way suggested that "some copies" here would be "a few, or a minority," so I found the text in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. The Greek reads, "οπερ εν τισι κειται της προς Εβραιους αντιγραφοις χαριτι θεου." I see nothing in the phrase εν τισι αντιγραφοις that in any way indicates that these are the minority of manuscripts. It seems Ehrman is assuming that if Origen prefers the reading of "apart from God" that this means it is in the majority of the manuscripts available to him. But the reasons why Origen may have preferred one reading over another can be quite complex, to be sure. In any case, all we can glean from the references Ehrman himself provides is that Origen knew of the variant in the third century. The idea that it was a majority reading at that time is not substantiated by the references he offers, and there is good reason to think otherwise, given that the reading simply disappears from the manuscript tradition outside of two 10th century witnesses. It is hard to imagine a scenario, especially in Alexandria, where we have the greatest papyri witness (P46 contains this text and reads "by the grace of God"), where a majority reading could simply disappear, only to be found in a 10th century manuscript.
In any case, more on this in a few weeks in Florida! Once again, my thanks to those who have assisted me in my studies through the ministry resource list. I will keep it current for those who like to support the work by providing study and research resources.