Archive for the 'Bible knowledge' Category
The logic is familiar. There are an extraordinary number of personally stressful experiences combined with selected recalling of natural occurrences meshed with biblical quotations, written some 2000-3000 years ago, to provide incontrovertible evidence that the God’s end of age is upon us and only the faithful (our type of faithful) will survive. Here is the latest of this sort of tripe from the website http://www.worthydevotions.com/. I have highlighted the apocalyptic messages in case you missed the subtlety.
Defenders of Christianity often escape criticism by referring to atheist ignorance of true Christian beliefs. Even though their beliefs vary more than Christians like to acknowledge, we can have some “showy” knowledge of the New Testament to throw into the conversation. Christians are surprisingly ignorant of their own sacred texts.
The New Testament, essentially a new covenant with God, is a disparate collection of 27 books written in Greek somewhere between 70CE and 150CE. Most believe Jesus was executed about 30CE. The collection of books was canonised, made the measure of true Christian beliefs, some 300 years later. Our English translations come from scholarly reconstructions from Greek documents and fragments as well as later Latin and Coptic translations. Ironically the most popular English translation, the Authorised Version or King James Version, is considered one of the most unreliable.
Do we have the ‘original versions’?
No, we only have only copies of copies of copies and so on. P52 is the earliest fragment, in Greek, of John 18:31–33 and dated around 125CE. We also have later fragments or pages as well a limited number of books or codices, such as Codex Sinaiticus, dated around 350CE. These later codices contain writings that partially correspond to today’s New Testament. For example, Codex Sinaiticus contains the earlier Latin translation of the Old Testament (Hebrew scriptures), much of the New Testament, and extra non-canonical writings like Epistle of Barnadas, a very anti-Jewish text.
What were the first and last writings of the New Testament?
Interestingly, for most Christians, it was one of Paul’s letters, 1 Thessalonians, written around 50CE. The last was probably 2 Peter around 150CE. Most scholars agree that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the gospels, not Matthew as printed in the New Testament. Mark’s gospel was written around 70CE.
Who wrote the gospels?
Most scholars agree that the gospel writers are anonymous, despite the traditional church assignments to apostles or companions of apostles. We can speculate that they were reasonably well-educated Greek-speaking Jews living somewhere in the diaspora, Jews living away from ‘Palestine’. Jesus and his immediate followers would have spoken Aramaic, the common semitic language of Palestinian Jews since the Babylonian captivity some 500 years previous. Like 90% or more of local population, Jesus and his followers were probably illiterate.
More next time…
Alex McCullieNo comments