Author/Professor Bart Ehrman’s field is called New Testament textual criticism. This field is not about what the Bible means.
It is, instead, the study of ancient hand-written New Testament manuscripts. The goal is to figure out what the most original copy or document said. And, it is to try to figure out why these hand written manuscripts changed from one copy to the next. Was it carelessness, or, did people’s thinking and culture change causing the scribe to think he could improve what he was copying?
I was surprised to learn:
1.) There are no original copies of the New Testament.
2.) There are thousands of later surviving hand-written copies, written in Greek, of the New Testament.
3.) Of these thousands, no two copies are exactly alike.
4.) There are hundreds of thousands of mistakes. There are more mistakes than there are words in the New Testament.
5.) There are passages in the New Testament manuscripts where no agreement has been reached as to what was written in the original work.
Most of the mistakes are unimportant, things like spelling errors and typos most of us make. The interesting changes are word replacements that took place both over hundreds of year and between copies made within the same few years.
Most of those who quote scripture in any forum, including on the comment page of this blog, consider themselves well qualified to determine the meaning of that which they quote. What they quote, however, may be something quite different from what was originally written.
Hey you local readers, the Freethinkers potluck is this Sunday, March 17, Fargo Public Library, 1 PM, Fercho Room. Bring a little something to share and yak with the locals.