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Question #1:

Good evening Bob. First , thank you for mentoring me. I appreciate your insights. Now, another question. Was there a time or place where the books of the bible were legitimized, based on witnessing or testimony?

As always many thanks, and I pray that you are blessed in spirit as you labor for our Lord.

Response #1:

The Bible is the complete and completed Word of God. It consists of the 39 books in the Old and 27 books in the New Testament with which you are familiar. God is the One who determined the parameters of what we call "the canon", that is, the complete set of scriptures old and new. Human beings can only acknowledge what He has done (or fail to do so). Human beings can neither legitimize nor delegitimize the Bible, for the Bible belongs to God – it is His Word.

In the course of history, humanly appointed groups have proclaimed books and collections of books as "part of the canon", but these actions, taken on behalf of their adherents, are merely of historical interest. God is the One who established the canon. What is and is not scripture is clear to anyone who takes the time to read it, especially in the case of believers. So for example the fact that the Roman Catholic "Counsel of Trent" ( 1545–63) proclaimed the Apocrypha to be part of the scriptures does not make it so; and it is not so. But anyone reading the Apocrypha, any believer, that is, can readily see that those materials are greatly wanting when compared to the actual Word of God.

At some point (years away at present, I fear), I plan to have much more to say about this issue in part 7 of Bible Basics: "Bibliology: The Study of the Bible". Until then, here are some links which will provide additional details (the preceding two paragraphs are merely an overview), which will be helpful in consideration of this question:

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God IV

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God III

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God II

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God I

Issues of Canonicity

Issues of Canonicity II

How can we know the Bible is true?

The Canon (in subject index)

Thanks so much for your prayers! Keeping you and yours in mine as well.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the very Word of God.

Bob L.

Question #2:

How long does it take for a legend to form? About two generations. And this is exactly how long it took for the first pseudepigraphical "infancy" gospels to arrive, the ones which purport to give information about Jesus life as a child. But the actual four gospels which precede them are much earlier and therefore are not legendary. Luke wrote his introduction like a historian showing that he knew what history was.

Response #2:

It's a great point.

The NT begins to be documented with papyri only a generation or so after the events – not enough time for it to be dismissed as not historical.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

Gnostic heresy actually might corroborate Mattheiean priority instead of Markan priority. All of the major gnostic heretics, by the early second century, consistently quoted from and referenced Matthew treating it as if it did have priority over the other gospels. Why would they do this were it not for the fact that Matthew was written first?

Q is a myth.

If Matthew was written first then that undermines much of the faith-attacking scholarship on the gospels (positing a lost gospel "Q"). Matthew and Luke were consistently treated as the first documents of the gospel. Luke had to be second because Acts was another early document highly influential in the era of Paul and it was written as a sequel. Mark was somewhat later and John was the latest. But even John was written early and widely distributed and thus should be considered a primary source (not a late apologetic document written by bishops).


Response #3:

Good points!

Some Gnostic links at Ichthys:

Adoration of angels (in SR 4)

Combating Gnosticism

Blaspheming "majesties" and the Gnostics

Visions of Angels and the Gnostics

"Fullness" and Gnostics

doxai and Gnostics

John vs. Gnostics

Jude on Gnostics

Gnostic milieu in NT times

"Elemental Spiritual Forces"

Peter and Jude vs. Gnostics

Gnostic references in the NT

Modern Gnostics

Astrology and Gnosticism

Question #4:

Hi Bro Bob,

And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
2nd Peter 3:15-16 KJV

The passage in question says that there are some things in the Pauline epistles which are difficult to understand. What exactly does this mean? I've heard on numerous occasions where Pastors and bible teachers cite that verse against those who disagree with their theology (e.g., a-millenialists, divine sovereignty, etc.). Some also quote that verse when attempting to refute their opponents who disagrees with their doctrine from any part of the bible, including the Old Testament. Can you help me to understand the precise context of this verse? Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #4:

It seems to me that the verse is very straightforward and that the people you refer to hear are doing precisely what Peter is complaining about, namely, "which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction" (2Pet.3:16). Please note that Peter calls Paul's writings "scripture" – which means he understood very well that they are inspired and part of the Bible. That is the only thing we really need to take away from the passage. Peter seems to have felt that the Pauline writings were "hard to understand" in parts, and given the great variety of misinterpretations of Paul (notable from Augustine down) I suppose we would all have to agree. But just because something is difficult to understand on a first reading 1) does not make it untrue, and 2) does not make it worthless. Indeed, most things I've learned in my life which have proved of great value were not so easy to learn. They took time and effort and repetition. This is true of Paul too. I see new things every time I read one of his epistles in Greek. And I cannot imagine the New Testament without his contribution through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

What do you make of the alleged similarities between 2 Peter and Jude? Does this kind of similarity necessarily mean that one is dependent on the other?

Response #5:

Not if you believe in the inspiration of scripture. There are many similarities in the gospels too. And similarities between the prophets and in the Psalms which are nearly word for word (e.g., Micah 4:1-3 with Isaiah 2:1-4). But the Spirit has His reasons for doing what He does, and not just to "test the faith" of those who notice such things (although I'm sure that this is part of it: such things winnow out "smart" scholars all the time). In regard to Peter vs. Jude, they both ministered in Jerusalem, so even though Peter's epistles are to gentiles outside of Palestine and Jude is writing to Jews in particular, all the recipients were laboring under similar Gnostic attacks of Jewish provenance in the main, so that similar warnings about a common problem is certainly not out of the ordinary. See these links on Gnosticism:

Adoration of angels (in SR 4)

Combating Gnosticism

Blaspheming "majesties" and the Gnostics

Visions of Angels and the Gnostics

"Fullness" and Gnostics

doxai and Gnostics

John vs. Gnostics

Jude on Gnostics

Gnostic milieu in NT times

"Elemental Spiritual Forces"

Peter and Jude vs. Gnostics

Gnostic references in the NT

Modern Gnostics

Astrology and Gnosticism

Question #6:

Dear Teacher

I think I've seen something you've written about this before but I can't find it anymore:

How do we escape James's and Jude's authorship of New Testament letters since they weren't apostles?

If memory serves me right, you said that they were associated with Peter so they derived their authority to write from him? Or something along those lines. Is that it, Sir?

Your student in the Lord

Response #6:

James and Jude were our Lord's half-brothers and had a special mission to Israel, so they were exceptional in this regard.

Thanks for your prayers, my friend! I hope to be back in the groove soon.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Teacher

Thank you very much, Sir, for the answer. How do we know though that they had a special mission to Israel? I figured that James's introduction to his letter saying that he was writing to the twelve tribes scattered abroad was at least a clue. But I didn't see anything like that in Jude's.

Your student in the Lord

Response #7:

Along with other NT writers concerned with the spiritual welfare of Jewish Christians, Jude is concerned with combating Gnosticism (cf. Jude 1:6-9) – that is in fact the focus of Jude's battle against false teaching. So since the problem he's combating was preeminently a Jewish problem (at that time), we can be sure that he has a Jewish audience. That also stands to reason since there is no indication that he, an associate and brother of James, had left Jerusalem. Links:

Adoration of angels (in SR 4)

Combating Gnosticism

Blaspheming "majesties" and the Gnostics

Visions of Angels and the Gnostics

"Fullness" and Gnostics

doxai and Gnostics

John vs. Gnostics

Jude on Gnostics

Gnostic milieu in NT times

"Elemental Spiritual Forces"

Peter and Jude vs. Gnostics

Gnostic references in the NT

Modern Gnostics

Astrology and Gnosticism

Thanks for your prayers, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hello--I have a question: have you ever heard in your scholastic circles or studies that there is "overwhelming evidence" that the Pastoral letters of Paul an 2 Peter are "fakes"? There are these couple of guys on CARM--I do NOT know what church they are associated with, but I suspect that they may be a few fries short of a Happy Meal (not to be unkind, but these guys are fanatics) who think that 1 and 2nd Timothy and Titus are fakes and written after Paul dies. I know 2 Peter has had a lot of controversy in getting accepted, partly because few of the early church fathers quoted from it. But it was eventually accepted. I know that the 2nd letters of a pair in the NT tend to be more controversial, I guess because there is always the possibility that someone else wrote the second one, copying the style of the first. Anyway, have you ever heard of this?

One of these guys is such a fanatic that he rejects Luke because Luke wasn't one of the 12 disciples that Jesus chose and wasn't an eye witness. He thinks Luke erred in saying that one of the thieves repented and turned to Jesus Christ in faith, whereas Matthew says both thieves cursed Jesus. I have told this guy that none of the Gospel has ALL the information in them about Jesus' lives and that if they ALL agreed in every last detail, then detractors would rightly scream "collusion!" I also asked this guy "Isn't it possible that Matthew mentioned both thieves cursing Jesus but just did not mention one repenting later on, but Luke supplied that information? Isn't it possible that the one thief repented, maybe after hearing Jesus asking His Father to forgive those who had hung Him there? After all, they were hanging on those crosses for at least 6 hours?" So far, he hasn't answered me. He keeps getting suspended for breaking the rule against making personal attacks against other posters--in this case, me. I told him that the Gospels all supply some similar information, but also, each supplies details that the other Gospels don't. But TOGETHER they supply a harmonious whole. So, far, he hasn't told me if he thinks my scenario is a possibility--in fact, he has said it would have been impossible for him to have repented. When I asked him why, he didn't give me an answer--just raved that Luke is unreliable. HOWEVER, get this--he think Luke is more trustworthy in Acts, because he himself saw many of things that happened in the early church and was a companion of Paul. But ALSO get this--this guy thinks that Paul taught a false gospel, that he saw Satan disguised as Jesus outside of Damascus, and anyone believing what he taught is destined for hell. So, he apparently only believes Luke in Acts when it suits what he wants to believe.

Such are the fanatics that sometimes people CARM.

Anyway, I would appreciate your thoughts about the Pastoral epistles, and 2 Peter. I think these guys main objection to 2 Peter is that near the end, Peter mentions Paul as a dear brother and calls Paul's epistles, obliquely, "scripture." And these guys want to think that Paul was a false apostle. This one fanatical guy did supply a scholar who seemed to agree that Peter didn't write it, but he failed to read through to the end of this scholar's dissertation, in which he concludes that Peter DID write 2 Peter! But no other proof has been forthcoming.

Thanks and have a blessed Christmas season.

Response #8:

Yes, I have heard of this sort of thing. But as Solomon said, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study [of THIS sort, anyway] is wearisome to the flesh" (Eccl.12:12 KJV). There is no end of speculation in print out there – in no small part because theologians and exegetes at seminaries and universities need to get tenure through "publish or perish". Biblical studies are several centuries behind the Classics. In Classics, it was all the rage in the early 19th century to suggest that this or that line or paragraph was "not original", doing so on no more solid grounds than the critic's "sense of the text". It got to the point where one wag quipped that things had gotten to such a pass that it was now clear that apparently no Classical text was written by its actual author. This was called the "delirium delens", or "the deleting sickness". It had run its course by the end of the century, though there have been occasional outbreaks since. And we see the same thing happening in biblical "scholarship". In the early twentieth century many such scholars expounded theories of the gospels being as late as the fourth or fifth centuries – until evidence from as early as the first century began to show up (in the papyri et al.).

As a scholar who has spent his whole life reading Greek, I have to say that for me there is no question but that the pastoral letters are written by the same person who wrote the other epistles of Paul – namely "Paul" (and 2nd Peter is also stylistically impossible to distinguish from 1st Peter). That is a subjective argument, it is true, but at least it is has the benefit of some scholarly bona fides behind it. I have spent a fair amount of time analyzing ancient Greek works on the basis of style and can tell you that there is no irrefutable science there. Unless there is some internal evidence that could be considered convincing (not "liking" what Peter say about Paul certainly doesn't fit that bill), external evidence is the best way to determine authenticity. Of course content is also used to better effect in making such determinations – but by that canon the pastorals are absolutely consistent with everything else Paul has to say (I've spent some time on this too). Anyone who thinks differently on the basis of style or content arguments will have to put forward their thesis based upon proof, i.e., some point of style "impossible" for Paul/Peter (pretty hard to prove), or some point of doctrine completely inconsistent with what is said elsewhere. Because, after all, externally the evidence is all in favor of considering these epistles (pastoral and 2nd Peter) legitimate as they purport to be. It's not as if the biblical mss. we have from antiquity exclude either nor include lots of other "stuff" which is not legitimate (Sinaiticus does have some apostolic works, but these are segregated from the "Bible" per se in the manner of appendices et al. in modern study Bibles). All of these puny attempts to attack the canon have always, from antiquity, merely served to demonstrate that the Bible is clearly the Bible. And, by the way, it is so not because church councils proclaimed it so but because God ordained it so.

On the gospels, you are absolutely correct, of course, and I commend you for a fine defense of the truth. I have found from early days that the Bible is absolutely consistent from Genesis to Revelation, and that any perceived contradictions or "problems" merely constitute ignorance on our part – but if we persevere in our quest for the truth over time these will usually be answered (I've seen this over and over again).

People who undermine the absolute integrity of the canon are only undermining the authority of scripture in their own hearts. And since the Bible is the only way we know anything at all about Jesus Christ and the truth in the first instance, rejecting scripture's authority is an inevitable step on the road to a complete loss of faith and apostasy.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi--Thanks for your input. This guy told me that he doesn't believe the Pastorals came from Paul because they are "so different" from the other epistles! Really? I told him the reason they are "different' is because Paul is writing to specific persons--Timothy and Titus--not to the entire congregations, as he did in his other epistles (except for Philemon). So, there is an intimacy in his style in the Pastorals. But there is nothing contradictory in them, compared to his other epistles. And I pointed out to this guy that Paul had different purposes for writing ALL of his epistles--some for encouragement, some for correcting false doctrines, some for expounding on the Christian Faith, some for correcting false practices or condemning sins that were going on in the congregations. So, each will have a different "tone" and purpose. So, why not the Pastorals? Sheesh. I mean, this is hermeneutics 101, or whatever it is called.

I think a couple of these guys are delusional, as they have said the Holy Spirit has told them Paul is a false apostle and taught heresy and that Luke's Gospel is a lie, etc. I don't think it was the HOLY Spirit that told them that!   Here is some of the gibberish I have to contend with, from this guy:

"There is no simple explanations to have from God than what Jesus had from God for it cant be put into words at all, for it purely is Spirit and no words can explain it. Even the words of Jesus was so rejected from lack of understanding who God really is, these had him executed for his words. Understanding come by God alone, all Jesus can do is point you to the Father to walk as He walks in His same light and words can not explain what that is at all for it is the life we live not what we say we live for that can be misconstrued just as it was misconstrued from Jesus. One cant possible know the way unless you are the way. The bible is only law, a tutorial, JKV says schoolmaster, to lead you to the same place in the Father that Jesus was at in the Father for yourself and once faith is achieved and God is manifest in you then you are no longer under that tutorial for with Gods Spirit in you that law is fulfilled, it did its job, it lead you to the same place in Christ that Jesus was at in Christ which simply means to be anointed of God. Christ in you is Gods anointing in you. And don't confuse anointing with works. You cant know the meaning at all least you have His same Spirit, mind, understanding. What you are saying is you bypass Gods understanding by having His same mind, Spirit, disposition which is common among your belief systems, denominations. It isn't a matter of believing them the words in the book can be grossly miss interpreted, it is a matter of you He in you and you in Him as one, same mind, same Spirit, same walk as he walks in His same light. And as you say you will believe what you believe no matter what Jesus says or any other says that you should be like Him with he in you and you in Him as one as Jesus was one in Him, John 17. And God gives His understanding not to just 11 and not just to Jesus but to all who has received His same PSirit and born of God as Jesus was born of God no different at all. And all who has received form God His Spirit to be like Him as Jesus did and we do see that outpouring. But it seems that you do say otherwise than to be like Him yourself. And you know very well if you follow the way of Christ to be like Him or not. If you are not then you follow that way you have described in some belief system instead of following the way of Christ to be like Him yourself. I don't think you follow the way of Christ at all to be like Him by what you just stated."

Response #9:

My diagnosis: 1) correspondent doesn't know who Jesus is: God and man (let alone what He did in standing judgment for the sins of the world); 2) like so many others, correspondent doesn't want to have his/her freedom to believe whatever he/she wants at any time constrained by the Bible.

Both maladies are common to unbelievers, apostate former believers, and marginal believers who are headed to apostasy. The "stuff" they are throwing at you is merely armor designed to protect their emotions from the truth they once knew or even now still fear (in the same way that an unbeliever will embrace atheism or evolution or the like with religious zeal). In their tiny minds, these sorts imagine that if they can hold their own with the likes of us (again, in their minds), then if they do find themselves standing before the Lord, they will have winning arguments. It seems so ridiculous to those of us who accept the truth in humility, but, after all, this is exactly what the devil did and is still doing.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

1. According to a Muslim historian in the Middle Ages (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari), the King was Artaxerxes II:

A brief Persian account of events is provided by Islamic historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari in his History of the Prophets and Kings (completed 915 CE). Basing his account on Jewish and Christian sources, al-Tabari provides additional details such as the original Persian form "Asturya" for “Esther.” He places events during the rule of Ardashir Bahman (Artaxerxes II), but confuses him with Ardashir al-Tawil al-Ba (Artaxerxes I), while assuming Ahasuerus to be the name of a co-ruler. Another brief Persian account is recorded by Masudi in The Meadows of Gold(completed 947 CE). He refers to a Jewish woman who had married the Persian King Bahman (Artaxerxes II), and delivered her people, thus corroborating this identification of Ahasuerus.

2. Any comments about the Purim slaughter? That always struck me as a particularly macabre part of Esther.

Response #10:

Esther is a different sort of book in many ways. For one thing, it never mentions God. The only thing that comes close is when Mordecai says "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish." (Est.4:14).

As to the slaughter, the book goes out of its way to emphasize that the Jews did not put their hands on the "plunder" of their enemies, even though they had the power and the right to do so. In the environment they were in, destroying those who were bent on destroying them makes a certain amount of ancient world sense. It's not the stuff of Christian love, however. The book is historical and relates what actually happened without pronouncing anyone (or any action) godly (compare the book of Acts, or more to the point here the book of Judges: "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" Judg.21:25 NKJV). To me, Esther gives us a good look at what Jewish culture and civilization entails when it is largely without faith: and shows us too that God takes care of His people even so.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Re: the books of Jasher and Jude, and Peter quoting from the book of Enoch.  Joshua 10:13 seems to quote this book and as well as in 2Samuel 1:18.

Do you have any knowledge about this book?

Some words found in Jude are also found in the book of Enoch is it suspicious that these are authors/translators have been playing with the canon of scripture?

Could it be the case I quote from you: "It was not until the Council of Trent in 1453 that the Apocrypha was officially pronounced "canonical" by Rome - as a direct result of the objections adumbrated above. I very much like what Jerome has to say about it. In a letter to his correspondent Paula, he remarks that searching for truth in the Apocrypha is like looking for nuggets of gold in the mud. Jerome did eventually translate the Apocrypha into Latin, but not without a struggle. He resisted doing so, but was eventually prevailed upon by his contemporaries who enjoyed the stories. But it is clear from his statements that he did not consider its works inspired or particularly important."

My mom is now better only my grandma is still in the same state awaiting a decompression surgery (lamino-plastsy or laminactomy) in hopes it might alleviate the paralysis and inability to move.

Thank you once again for the prayers.

Response #11:

Your surmise about Enoch and Jasher . . . as they purport to exist today . . . being false is correct. To start with "the book of Enoch", what exists is a forgery. Through the Holy Spirit, Jude was given to know and quote one of Enoch's prophesies. At some point, someone expanded this true quotation into a book which is apocryphal. Here are some links on that:

Issues of Canonicity: The Apocrypha, the Book of Enoch, and Divine Inspiration.

Pretending to be Enoch

Enoch and "2nd" Enoch (see Q/A #4 as well as #3)

Enoch and Jude

As to the book of Jasher, here we have a case of an actual book which did exist at one time – not an inspired, canonical book, but an at-the-time available chronicle – which now no longer exist. But that didn't stop forgers from writing up a new "Book of Jasher". This particular forgery is fairly recent (19th century), whereas much apocryphal literature dates back thousands of years.

From a previous posting:

The so-called book of Jasher currently in circulation is a very late forgery. Also, the canon consists of 39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament books (according to the Latin/English rendering). None of the apocryphal or pseudipigraphical books of antiquity – of which there are a plethora – are divinely inspired, and so can add nothing directly to our understanding of divine truth. But this book you reference [Jasher] is not even of ancient provenance. It was "cooked up" in the 19th century.

Thanks for the update, my friend. I'm happy to hear about your mom. I said a prayer for you mom and grandma.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Greetings Dr luginbill

Thank you for the last email and the links attachments they were very elaborative in that the arguments and clarifications were evident ,enlightening and helpful.

About the The book of Jasher you didn't include a link or further explanations, but the writer of Samuel and Joshua somehow referenced from this book by quoting from it, was it inspired or was it just mere circular evidence that contained a bit or accurate truths about a historical event?

There's this saying that if its not in the Bible then it's not inspired.

Response #12:

Sorry for the delay, my friend. Emails received after I quit working on Friday are generally not gotten to until Sunday at the earliest (since Saturday is devoted to posting).

At 1st Corinthians 15:33, Paul quotes the Greek comic writer Menander, an extremely popular poet throughout antiquity. 1st Corinthians is inspired. The quote is accurate. But I guarantee you that the secular writer Menander is not inspired (any more than the other secular writers Paul occasionally quotes: Epimenides, Aratus, etc.). The same holds true of the actual "Book of Jasher". It did exist, once upon the time, but is now lost to us. Similarly, Menander is largely lost to us (the play Paul quotes from is known only through fragments of it quoted in other writers). And the fact that the actual "Book of Jasher" is quoted in the Bible neither diminishes the Bible nor bestows any sort of divine authority on the rest of the "Book of Jasher". Even if it turned up (which is beyond unlikely), we would not have an inspired text, only a very interested secular work.

The additional problem with the "Book of Jasher" is that a forger decided to create his own "Book of Jasher" at some point in the 19th century and tried to pass it off as the actual "Book of Jasher" which no longer exists. The document which we possess today, therefore, is not the actual "Book of Jasher". But even if we did possess the actual book, it would no more be inspired itself and useful in and of itself for doctrine and practice than the plays of the Greek playwright Menander are (should more of them surface).

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi dr,

I hope all is well. I did receive this week posting and thank you for it. It is encouraging, In the Lord, that there are other believers who share your struggles through faith and prayer and have heartfelt love for what you are going through. I thank the Lord for your ministry and them.

Can you please explain Mark 16:16-18? Are these signs proof that your are a believer? Can you expound.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #13:

Glad to hear it. As to your questions, the gospel of Mark ends at verse eight (i.e., Mk.16:8 is the last verse in the chapter in the true canon). The "rest" of the verses are not part of the Bible but are the most notorious later false interpolation or insertion. Your English Bibles should have a footnote to that effect. Because the KJV was translated from a text based upon only a few very late manuscripts (most of our best mss. and papyri were found in the 19th cent. and later), it includes this false addition as if it were scripture, but most modern editions at least let the reader know that there is a problem. Were they more courageous – thinking of the truth rather than sales – they would leave it out. This false section has done a lot of damage to faith over the centuries.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

You believe that ending in mark 16 is forgery right? Me too but I receive this. Sorry its long but I'm not sure what is truth:


Response #14:

Glad we are back in touch. As mentioned before, if you ever don't hear back after a couple of days or so, there's some problem.

On the article, it's the best defense of a bad position possible. I had an exchange of emails with this individual a few years back. He approaches the issue in a reasonable, scholarly way. The problem is that the passage is NOT genuine. That would be no big deal, I suppose, except that this is one of the few interpolations that contains a great deal of really damaging false information. One of the things no proponent can answer is if this passage were genuine, then why would there be so many other endings for Mark past Mk.16:8 besides this one? And there are numerous variations. That is explainable if we accept that true Mark ends seemingly abruptly – because various folks will have tried to "fill it out", though differently of course because they are not inspired. And with an abrupt ending it is also understandable (though not legitimate by any means) to want to fill it in. But if there were one ending and this longest one were it and it were to have taken out later, 1) that doesn't explain the other endings, and 2) it also doesn't explain why the villains who took it out didn't do a better job by making the new ending less abrupt. If you are going to mar the Bible and want it to be a secret, then you will have no problem putting in a short verse you make up to take away the abruptness. There are a lot of other reasons why this is not part of the Word of God; that discussion (part of it with this same person) can be found at the following links:

*Gospel Questions VI: the Long Ending of Mark et al.

*More on the end of Mark

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Greetings Bob,

I have not messaged you in quite some time. The last time was when I asked you about Noah's flood and you were so helpful - thanks again so very much.

I would like to ask you about a Bible verse, Matthew 16:18. The verse is part of the passage that is often referred to as the Great Commission. It's a beautiful passage.

I would like to ask specifically about the part, "they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." I would love to hear your interpretation of this part of the verse. I have always thought this verse is so powerful and inspirational without really knowing what it means. And for some reason, it has been on my heart recently to understand it more fully.

I truly hope all is well with you - you are a great blessing.

God bless!

Response #15:

It's very good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you have been keeping well since last we spoke.

As to your question, I think you mean "Mark 16:18"; I have this in quotes because no such verse actually exists in the Bible. This is part of what is probably the most famous – and dangerous – interpolation in the entire Bible. The gospel of Mark actually ends at verse eight: "Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid" (NIV). For many readers today and in antiquity, this has seemed too abrupt and so has virtually invited additions to fill it out. And there have been a number of these, going back a very long way. However, Mark wrote after Matthew and had his reasons – the inspiration of the Spirit – to end where and how he ended. It is permissible to talk about that, discuss that, and hypothesize about that. What is NOT permissible is to add to scripture (cf. Rev.22:18 NKJV: " If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book"). But the fear of God has not, unfortunately, keep all busybodies from doing just that, and the so-called "longer ending of Mark" was printed in the KJV version and has had a foothold in English versions at least ever since. KJV did not have access to the many better and older manuscripts that have surfaced since. But today it is possible to say with (in my view) absolute certainty that these verses (past verse eight) are not part of what Mark actually wrote. There is a good deal more about the details at the following links:


The interpolation at the end of Mark

Problems with the longer ending of Mark

More problems with the long ending of Mark

What about the long ending of Mark?

Technical objections to rejecting the longer ending of Mark addressed

Do feel free to write me back about anything here or in the links.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Yes! Mark 16:18 - you are correct.

You know, I was reading this on my phone late at night being so tired. My mistake! Sorry to bother you with this.

As I think about the verse :

17 And these signs will follow those who [a]believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[b] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

My tendency is to think it was for that time - that the disciples had a special gift for that time to heal the sick. Of course, I believe that God still heals the sick today - I just mean the immediacy and power of verse 18, that the sick will recover when hands are laid on them. What a beautiful statement and blessing from the risen Jesus!

Response #16:

Mark ends at 16:8.

So these verses are not part of scripture either.

No doubt there are many things that have been written which are beautiful but not scripture. I have no problem with enjoying good literature – but the Bible is different in every way. It is the Word of God, fully inspired by the Holy Spirit. These verses are not scripture, even if we like what they say. Putting one's hands on the sick today has no effect. Praying for a sick person may well be answered: God does answer prayer and nothing is impossible for Him. In fact, all prayers prayed in faith by believers are answered – just not necessarily in the manner and at the time we might personally prefer. Laying on hands to heal was something our Lord did and a power the disciples / apostles had . . . for a time . . . in order to establish their authority. But for us to have it today would be a disaste. I pity the person who had this power today. Just as the crowds besieged our Lord, so today a person with this power would be hounded to an early grave by all the people who wanted to be healed. And it would a problem for anyone who did not have the spiritual discernment of, say, the apostle Paul, to have this power. How do we know that the Lord wants person X to be healed? Even if person X seems to us to be a believer and "a good soul", it might be the Lord's will – for lots of reasons we could imagine – for him/her to have to bear up under the illness we are concerned about. I have personally certainly benefitted by having to trust Him over a lengthy period for deliverance – from disease and many other things. But if we snap our fingers and make suffering go away, where would the opportunity for trusting Him be?

Yes God heals. But He does it His way and in His timing. It might be immediate – and there is no harm in praying for that (we all do). But we should not lose heart if He chooses for His own perfect purposes to answer us in a way differently from what WE want.

And PLEASE do NOT pick up any poisonous snakes.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Oh WOW! I did not fully appreciate your initial response - I have a copy of the NKJV and those verses are there. I really am in total shock - how can this happen? How many Bibles have been printed like this? I need to continue to go through the sources you list and understand this myself. I also use blueletterbible.org and those verses are present.

I am really blown away by this revelation - you are truly a gift! I will continue to review.

God bless you!

Response #17:

You're most welcome!

Feel free to write me any time, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Another question I wanted to ask you is about textual criticism - where could I get some help to understand the textual notes in the Bible? They must be possible to understand despite how they look, but in both books by Metzger that I've got ("The Text of the New Testament - Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration" and "A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament") there doesn't seem to be explicit guidance on it. Here I would also appreciate your prayer. Time is really short and I've got a lot to study and a lot to learn. I added some more Greek to my study plan and I want to add Textual Criticism too, but I hope I won't have to choose between one or the other. On this though, I have to say that Greek Bible reading is going well, whereas textual issues are still quite foreign to me.

In our Lord,

Response #18:

Sorry for the delay. I was out town spending some time with my family in Michigan. I got a chance to break bread with my nephew and his new fiancé (wedding next summer). On the "tough" side was seeing my mother in the state she is now in. She was able to get in the car with me last May and do a number of things. Now she is on hospice, skin and bones, and doesn't really even recognize anyone. I think she did seem to know who I was for a couple of brief moments over three days, but mostly she slept or stared off into space. She's also in a lot of pain, but they are giving her serious meds which seems to mostly mitigate that. I guess I'm grateful that she is "out of it" since it would break her heart to fully realize what a sad state she's in – she was always a very 'can do' independent New Englander.

On textual criticism, that is a hard one in that it's a little like someone asking for a book or course of instruction on how to become an ace fighter pilot. There are books; there are courses of instruction. But not many people ever get to be ace fighter pilots, and those who do do so through natural talent and special experience. Textual criticism is also more of a "doing" thing. Not that there aren't books and canons of procedure. But in my experience it's a little bit like political prognostication. There are plenty of experts but somehow a multiplicity of opinions. That is no doubt why in Metzger's commentary they have a committee and, based upon the committee's deliberation, a grade of probability assigned for each "problem and solution" in the NT (they do NOT, of course, cover all problems, and in fact leave off considering at all some of the passages I have found to be most important in this regard).

Short of actually fussing over specific problems and gaining more and more familiarity with the witnesses to the text, the only other thing one can do is to learn Greek better. One of the reason why the great Classicists of the past were so good at this particular art of textual criticism is that they knew ancient Greek so well. It's all very well to stake out a position on a particular passage, but if one's "answer" isn't what Paul (e.g.) would have likely said, then it doesn't really matter if the defense is logical. How do we know what Paul likely really said? We don't, absent the Bible. But we can with study and experience come closer to knowing how he probably would have phrased things, both from a growing appreciation of his style and also from a growing understanding of Greek. I'm thinking of a linguistic class many years ago where the non-native English-speaking Finnish professor gave the class one take-home exercise wherein it had to be determined whether or not the paragraph in question had been written by a native speaker of English or a non-native one. In all cases, the English was fine. And in some paragraphs there were mistakes. But sometimes the mistakes were mistakes a native speaker would make. And in some paragraphs there were things that were not technically mistakes but were the sorts of things a native speaker would not say (at least "not in that precise way"). How did we know this? We are native speakers and we just "know" because we have heard the language all of our lives.

Now it is hard (perhaps impossible) to get to the point of "native speaking ability" with ancient Greek, but the more we read and study, the closer we can get to having this sort of "fine tuning" ability. Understanding how books were written, produced and propagated, understanding ancient paleography, understanding about manuscripts, papyri, and other witnesses to the text, etc. are all important in textual criticism, but knowing Greek well is the key to all things. I would recommend tackling the issues in passages where you have questions, using Metzger and/or commentaries which deal with the issue as points of reference. This is very much a "learn by doing" type of thing in my experience.

Question #19:

Hello Professor,

No problem about the delay. You wrote back just when I thought about writing again to check if everything is alright with you.

I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I have been praying for her and will continue to do so. I hope that she can stay in peace and possible comfort even as things have worsened considerably. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you also. And I understand your point about her being "out of it". Many of us would prefer not to live if it meant getting to such a stage.

Thank you for your extensive guidance on textual criticism. I understand your points and it may be that time is ripe for me to engage in this. I've got resources to make a start with, I just need to find some sort of resource to help me decipher the critical notes I've got in my Greek New Testament, because at the moment they are a total mystery.

In our Lord,

Response #19:

Thanks much for your concern, my friend, for me and for my mom.

Apologies for not addressing the issue of the textual sigla used by Nestle-Aland et al. You will find in the front (or sometimes rear) of every Greek New Testament which makes use of such sigla an explanation of said signs and abbreviations (print editions, that is – not at all sure about e-editions). Mind you, these explanations are usually insufficient, incomplete, lacunose, and – unfortunately for most people – oft times given in Latin. So just getting to the point where one understands most of what the notes and textual signs mean takes a lot of time and effort in and of itself. It is a noted problem. Many of my seminary acquaintances bemoaned this fact (it's the same problem with the Hebrew OT too, by the way). I had some experience with the issue when I got to Talbot seminary because of my prior years doing a Classics undergrad degree, but it was still an effort to become comfortable with the particular sigla used for the Bible – and I already knew Latin. As I say, this is "learn by doing" kind of thing and will eat up as much time as you will let it (in the early going), but some of that will be necessary. Feel free to lean on me in this if you bump into something that you just can't seem to figure out.

Question #20:

Metzger's "Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament" is being very helpful and as I'm now re-reading his "Text of the New Testament" I'm making progress with this area of study. However, occasionally I'm not clear about Meyer's conclusions. In some notes (e.g., on 2 Corinthians 4:6 or 4:14) he presents a certain conclusion, but below, in square brackets, there follows another note and occasionally it contradicts the points just made in the note above. Could you explain that?

Response #20:

I think you may have the second edition (please check). No doubt he and the committee received "blow back" for some of their common sense conclusions in the first edition – because these ran afoul of what other people want to be true. I have seen (in an online format) how indeed M and co. have reversed positions on some passages. That is why I say that in the case of the Bible, one needs to understand the doctrine behind the passage as well as the language and the issues of textual criticism in order to make the correct "call". In all cases of textual criticism, the decision is always heavily informed by the critic's understanding of what the author really meant to say. So in most instances it will never be a case of absolute proof that every reasonable person will have to accept. And we are not in that business where the Bible is concerned. The only Person we have to please is the Lord. This skill (textual criticism) is another tool in helping with the Spirit to get to the place where we are confident with our judgment call (and also to be able to explain it to those we teach).

Question #21:

Metzger. Mine is a Fourth Revised Edition. All your points are taken. I have in fact had a similar discussion with a friend of mine, who I believe could be saved now and who asked me some good questions, but despite his incredible intellect doesn't seem to be growing and progressing towards a ministry. The reason is that, having a background in physics and mathematics, he looks for "hard proofs" in teachings and sometimes the Spirit leads to the truth in a more subtle way and worldly credentials don't give any guarantee that one is actually led by the Spirit. I sense he is struggling with that and that's why he is not moving forward - he is not accepting the truths, but hanging between two different positions on issues and being unable to make a judgment. Spiritual progress requires study and intellect, but it also requires a genuine desire for the truth which cannot be measured by earthly means and in fact very often these are totally meaningless (and I'm not saying this only because I have no credentials as a teacher, having no degree in Theology or a qualification confirming any level of Hebrew and Greek I might have attained to). I suppose it's the same here - we do our best and employ the best scholarly means at our disposal - but then we have to make a call.

Response #21:

Very well and very nicely put!

Question #22:

I look at your work and in-depth studies, I look at the work of biblical scholars such as Unger, who has produced such a fine commentary, at Keil and Delitzsch, at Meyer. Yes, they have made their errors, as we all do, but they have borne some wonderful fruit and a true commitment to the Word is written all over some of these works. Hundreds of pages of in-depth biblical scholarship. And then I look at myself – I have a lot to do.

Response #22:

K&D and Meyer and Metzger and Unger and the like have my respect. Where they got spiritually as individual Christians is a little hard for me to judge (of course it's not mine to judge), but I will say that what you are doing is of far more value from the spiritual point of view for those to whom you are and will minister than the works of these scholars and their ilk. I doubt if anyone made any spiritual progress reading any of the books any of these fellows produced, and of course there is a long list of similar names, many of whose "works" are far less useful to the likes of you and me than those of these prominent five. If the objective is "well done!" from Jesus Christ, it does matter what we do and why we are doing it. Not to say that this other type of scholastic work in biblical studies won't be rewarded (again, not mine to say), but I do know that giving others encouragement and helping them to be drawing closer to Jesus Christ through the Word of God through the truth is the objective of all good Bible teaching. The best that can be said for reference works is that they MAY indirectly help in some ways those who take this objective to heart. So don't feel bad about not doing what you were not called to do in any case; feel good that you are doing what the Lord wants and that with which He is well-pleased. We can all do better. That shouldn't make us feel bad about the good things we are doing. Besides, there are many chapters of your life which have yet to be written. As I tell everyone (as you know) who is preparing for or engaging in or contemplating ministry, it seems to me that the Tribulation is likely to offer many unique opportunities. I'm currently reading a book about Churchill's leadership during the WWII. He seems to have been born for just that time and relished his role at the time even though most others just wanted the war over ASAP. Not saying you will "enjoy" the Tribulation, but you are going to be in a position to be of great help to many believers who are likely to finally "get serious" when everything is turned upside down. So keep plugging and keep plodding – it's all any of us can do day by day.

Question #23:

Which reading is correct in Romans 5:1 - ἔχομεν or ἔχωμεν? If my understanding of the sigla is correct (and I am not skilled at that, but asterisk does mean the original hand), the original hand has the subjunctive.

Response #23:

My friends and I argued about this one in seminary. Sinaiticus, even though it is the best ms., still isn't perfect, and there were copy mistakes made at the time the manuscript was produced which were contemporaneously corrected. The problem is that determining whether a correction was made at the time or was supplied by a later hand is not so easy. Tischendorf (who first published it), Scrivener (who collated it) and Kirsopp Lake (who published the facsimile with intro and did other Aleph materials) all have things to say about postulating the number and the dates of the various "correctors", but it often comes down to a judgment call about the handwriting; then to that we have to add the fact that, as mentioned, Aleph is sometimes incorrect.

This particular case you ask about is even more difficult because at the time that this ms. was copied, Greek was being pronounced differently than it had been in Classical times. One of the main differences is that the diphthongs all start to sound alike and also the distinction between omicron and omega is being lost – especially if we posit a scriptorium situation where the scribe was listening to an oral presentation which he then wrote down (that has multiple potential problems for this issue). The bottom line is that this is a difficult call. My feeling is that the original is correct (omega = "let us have"), regardless of the date of the corrector (who wants to change to omicron). On the one hand, we DO HAVE peace positionally in Jesus Christ – so one can understand the theological impetus to change to the indicative – and that very motive makes the change suspect (in textual criticism, it's called lectio difficilior, i.e., the more difficult reading is more likely to be correct because the scribes who couldn't understand it were tempted to "correct" it something they could understand); and on the other hand, in verse three of Romans chapter five we can see that this section is hortatory (i.e., "let us boast" argues for "let us have peace" since these seem to be parallel). We do have peace, positionally, but that doesn't mean a teacher like Paul can't encourage his readers to "take hold" of that peace (subjunctive), living it and loving it as we should – just as we have Jesus but don't always walk with Him as closely as we should.

Question #24:

Can you please recommend a good NKJV bible? As a reminder, do not purchase. I want to read that along side the NIV bible. I see some glaring differences, particularly as it relates to Ro 8:1. All versions except KJV and NKJV do not have part b and stop and for those who are in Christ Jesus. To me this is a big error of translation.

Anyways much appreciated.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #24:

On the NKJV, the Thomas Nelson version looks pretty good. I don't have it myself but it has good reviews and I did look at it online at Amazon. Seems to have a great many valuable helps, and as far as the notes are concerned, it seems to accept the Genesis gap – which is very unusual in a positive way.

As to Romans 8:1, the interpolation "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" is a later intrusion into the text; it's not part of the original Word of God. It's in NKJV because it's in KJV and it's in KJV because of the inferior nature of the Textus Receptus text from which it was translated (an early critical edition largely due to Erasmus' efforts and based on only a few late and mediocre mss.). The false interpolation, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit", is a direct lift from verse 4 – although this is not exactly what is found in all of the mss. which wrongly expand the verse: some have a different version, and that is a VERY clear sign, along with the evidence from other excellent mss., that this expansion does not belong here.

How did it get in? Since it is in most of the later mss. which include it an anticipation of v.4 it could have been an accident, but the more likely thing is that it is a gloss that worked its way into the text. That is to say, some scribe who was squishy on grace wanted to qualify the absolute statement in Romans 8:1 that believers are saved by saying, in effect, "only if they walk correctly"; but of course if that were true no one could be saved (as anyone would conclude if we evaluate our conduct correctly in the cold light of truth). It is true that as believers it is required that we walk in the Spirit, but that is subsequent to our unconditional salvation, and that is why Paul waits until verse 4 to make that point. Following the impossible situation of chapter seven, he wants to make it clear that we are saved absolutely by grace.

Chapter divisions are not original to the text (they date back only to the mid 16th cent. and Robert Estienne's edition of the NT), so they can sometimes through off our appreciation for the continuation of the argument (here between the end of chapter seven and the beginning of chapter eight, which for Paul ran directly one into the other).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hello Professor,

Thank you for the reference. It is a very good verse to show that it is all about the faith response and I have taken a note. Believers will be able to see that, although I think no Roman Catholic would know what honouring God really is - since they think this is what they are in fact doing. I hope that our friend who has shown openness and a desire to seek the truth (he is the original addressee of the Marian series), will understand that our part is to believe and be faithful. I really think he could come to the truth and pray that it happens.

As for other friend - you are, of course, welcome, Professor and I'm happy I could be of some help. I'm happy for him as I have also noticed that he has been growing in his understanding of the truth and after our long exchanges has come to accept points that he was initially unwilling accept.

And then I have benefitted a lot from you putting me in touch with other believers. They have given me a lot of encouragement and their prayers are greatly appreciated.

I read your email and it seems that the pattern of misplaced zeal is observable in many Christian or "Christian" circles. I seen that result in some spectacular failures. What really gets me, though, are the wolves in sheep's clothing who are adept at exploiting the good intentions of others. This was also the case with our friends who were listening to Chris Oyakhilome, a man who became very prosperous preaching prosperity gospel. What you wrote about the "Radical" book refers to a slightly different shade of this problem, but the pattern is identical. I'm happy I can help others out, but with a desire to be faithful as strong as he has, he would be a perfect victim of this sort of device.

So I agree - it is all about the truth. Growing in the understanding of it and then living it. The problem is that it is not only the wolves who don't do that, but the sheep as well - and so they end up being misled and manipulated. It's the truth that shows whether people really want to be faithful to God or not and often those who seem very zealous show little desire to spend the time in the Word - which shows what this zeal really is. It is all about the truth.

Your response on Romans 6:23 has been very helpful. I've gone through it a couple of times and I can now better understand your interpretation. I will go through all of this again and write back if I have more questions. I was hoping to have already done that today, but I will do that as soon as possible.

I still wanted to ask you another question. My friend asked me about the translation of 1 Samuel 15:32 in a new translation. As you would probably expect, it's the word מַעֲדַנֹּת which causes the difficulty. It is rendered as:

a) "cheerfully" (NASB, ESV) - which I read is due to some thinking that it's root is עדן - the same as for "Eden";

b) "trembling" (NET) - which seems to come from LXX "τρεμων";

c) "in chains" (NIV) - which seems to be explained as coming from ענד.

"In chains" is also the rendering of most versions of the same word in Job 38:31. It would fit into the context (as would "cheerfully" given Agag's proud assumptions), but the root ענד has got nun and daleth in an opposite order than in מַעֲדַנֹּת, so I'm not sure.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #25:

Thank you, my friend, for all you do.

On your question, your three options set out the problem. The word is a hapax legomenon (i.e., it only occurs one time in the Bible), in this form, at any rate, so it comes down to context and then to inferred derivation to justify what context suggests. The issue is that "in chains" (if from 'anadh), "joyfully" (if from 'adhan) and "trembling" (if from ma'adh) all work, more or less, in terms of the context. The LXX seems to understand the last of the three possibilities; but the problem with the "trembling" solution are twofold: 1) it seems to contrast with Agag's statement which suggest relief, not apprehension; 2) quite apart from the need to construe this in that case as a plural noun in the adverbial accusative (not common if this even qualifies; see Kautzsch, para. 118q), the formation of the word would be difficult to explain, namely, the use of -nah apparently as a noun forming suffix (can't think of another example of that). The first of the three possibilities, "in chains", requires that we understand an accidental reversal (or purposeful correction based on misunderstanding) of the daleth and the nun; but this requires us to come up with a word not otherwise existing (a parallel is sometimes sought at Job 38:31 but that requires the very same correction which in my view also causes more problems than it solves). Given that we have this word in this form also at Job 38:31, and given that BH sometimes does shift a more common masculine form to the feminine in order to produce an adverbial effect, and given that this text makes good sense in the context, I would stick with the middle reading, "happily": Agag assumed he was out of danger, but instead his fate had been decided.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hello--A blessed soon-to-be Easter to you! I am sorry to bother you and no rush on the answer, but I was researching Revelation and noticed that there are two different translations for Rev. 22:14. Here is a list of some of them:

Revelation 22:14 "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

Response #26:

It's no problem, especially since this is one of the easier one's you've sent my way.

The alternative text only appears in a handful of late minuscules . . . and the Textus Receptus of the KJV. The TR is the problem; the text it has available for Revelation was highly inferior and actually also incomplete (so that Erasmus, whose scholarly edition is at the root of the TR, even had to back translate one passage from the Latin version). The "commandments" version is the result of a transcription error: while the two alternatives are very different in English, they are quite similar in Greek (with stolas and entolas being confused – "garments" wrongly read as "commandments").

Here is my translation of the passage:

Happy are they who are washing their clothing so that they will have a right to the tree of life and they may enter by the gates into the city [of New Jerusalem].
Revelation 22:14

Happy Easter to you and yours as well!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Since as you say the best manuscripts have theou ("of God") at Acts 20:28, may I ask what the manuscripts are?


Thank you very much

Response #27:

In this instance, that is the reading of both of the oldest complete uncials we have of the NT, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (along with other less important witnesses to the text which also read this).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

What’s your textual critical opinion on Matthew 21:44? Is it an interpolation?

Response #28:

Matthew 21:44 definitely IS a part of the text. It is present in all the best mss. But it is not present in D and certain other late witnesses . . . which means it plays into a false theory, prevalent among secular scholars, to the effect that the so-called "western text" family is superior. Personally, establishing text families in the NT has always seemed to me problematic because the differences between supposed "members" of such families are often more pronounced than the similarities. So if there is a western family, that fact is of so little moment that it would very dangerous to put any reliance on it in deciding a reading such as in this case.

N.b., this "western text family" theory is different of course from the pet false theory of many evangelicals which promote the homogenized Byzantine text family(s) . . . because they are more often in accord with the KJV.

Question #29:

Dear Bob,

Happy new year from Tasmania!

I just wanted to know if you have ever written anything about the differences between the Codex Sinaiticus on your web site, if so can you provide me a link? I came across this web site recently.

best regards

What’s Missing from Codex Sinaiticus, the Oldest New Testament? - Biblical Archaeology Society

Response #29:

I talk about this issue all the time at Ichthys so this sort of discussion is interspersed throughout the website; one link you might look at is the most recent posting on textual issues which mentions Sinaiticus quite a bit: "Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations IX".

Sinaiticus is the best ancient ms. and the oldest complete one (there are some papyri which are older but far from being complete copies of the NT). No ms. is perfect and textual criticism is more of an art than a science, but Aleph (as Sinaiticus is also called) is old enough that it does not have some of the later interpolations – false additions to the text which are not actually part of the Bible. The short article you link to is fine, but I would quibble with the title "What's missing" and amend to "What erroneous material is not wrongly included in Aleph?" For more on this issue, please see the link: "False interpolations into the NT text".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #30:

In Haggai 2:9 and 2:14 the Septuagint has significant additions to the ends of those verses. To verse 9 is added, “even peace of soul for a possession to every one that builds, to raise up this temple.” And to verse 14 is added, “because of their early burdens: they shall be pained because of their toils; and ye have hated him that reproved in the gates.” (Translations are from Brenton’s Septuagint.) Is there any way that these aren’t additions, but are actually original, and the Hebrew we have is missing them? What might be the cause of the variation in the LXX?

Response #30:

There is no evidence or convincing argument I know of for accepting these additions. It is also true that people have been adding things to ancient texts from the dawn of time. It's virtually impossible to find any ancient work of any size which hasn't been the victim of at least some interpolations (e.g., see Luginbill's "Paragraph 3.84 and Thucydides' History," Ancient History Bulletin 16 [2003] 151-174). It has been pointed out that Amos 5:10 is very similar in the LXX to the addition in the second passage. One way that these sorts of interpolations make their way into texts in the Greek tradition in particular is through the addition in the margin by readers, especially those who felt themselves to be learned, of comments – which were taken later by copiests to be part of the text which was then thought to have been left out accidentally and thus put in the margin to preserve it. That could be the case with either expansion here.

Question #31:

I know NT quoting from the OT where the Greek is different from the Hebrew is a deep topic, but there’s one specific example I’d like to ask about. In Matthew 21:16 Jesus seems to quote from Psalm 8:2 when he says “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself” (NASB). What should we make of the fact that Jesus says “praise” while the Hebrew of Psalm 8 says “strength”?

Response #31:

The quote in the Greek is directly from the LXX, the most common situation (but by no means the only one) in NT quotes from the OT. The difference is not significant in any case. "Strength" coming from the mouths of the young would mean, poetically, "strong words" or "high praise"; the LXX merely gives the Hebrew poetic phrase a (in this case) correct prose translation / interpretation.

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