Randy Hoyt

Debate: Text of the New Testament

I attended a debate last weekend at SMU with my friend Brian around the question, “Can we trust the text of the New Testament?” This debate did not center around questions about the historical accuracy of the events described in the New Testament, about inconsistencies between the different books, about how each book came to be included in the canon, about who authored each book, or about whether or not miracles really occur — none of that. The question was all about how confidently can the original texts of the New Testament be reconstructed from the existing manuscript evidence.

The two parties in the debate were Bart D. Ehrman, well-known scholar and professor at the University of North Carolina; and Daniel B. Wallace, director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. I was somewhat familiar with Ehrman’s work before the debate. I was glad to see him present in person; he was much more personable than I was expecting. (He clearly won the debate, though neither side discussed what significance their victory would hold.) It was a very enjoyable evening, hearing these scholars share the current status of the field.

Oct 06

3 Comments

  1. Laura Gibbs says:

    Randy, you got to see Ehrman in action!!! I am so jealous. I have read literally every single one of his books and while his attitude sometimes drives me bonkers (he really seems to like poking people in the eye with a sharp stick), I learn new things from every single one of this books. I almost didn’t read Forged because, gosh, the title itself was such a sharp poke… but of course I couldn’t resist and, once again, I thought it was great — the chapter on James, in particular, blew me away. Do you have a favorite Ehrman book?
    Even better: did you read James Kugel’s huge compilation of notes from his Harvard lectures, How to Read the Bible? I had read all of Kugel’s more scholarly books, and wasn’t expecting anything exactly new from this one but it was AMAZING. I even sent James Kugel fan mail after reading it… and he wrote me back, too, which really surprised me. The guy is a saint.
    http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Bible-Guide-Scripture/dp/074323586X

  2. randyhoyt says:

    I haven’t read any of his books yet, but I have known of them and seen summaries and comments online. I had sensed his stick-poking attitude and stayed away from them. However, in person he was incredibly well-spoken and polite — even comedic — so I’m planning to give them a chance. I picked up Misquoting Jesus; I appreciated the personal introduction and am looking forward to reading it.

  3. Laura Gibbs says:

    Misquoting Jesus is an excellent one — my favorite is Lost Christianities, but Misquoting Jesus would probably be second in line. I usually listen to them at Audible (his books are available right away there, which is nice) — but Misquoting Jesus is one I bought the paperback copy of to have as a reference!

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