Collecting manuscript evidence is a laborious process, but it is straightforward in comparison to the evaluation process. In the collection process, the goal is to gather as much evidence as possible concerning various readings of a specific text. In the evaluation process, the aim is to determine which reading has the best support as the original reading. The evaluation process is complicated by the fact that scholars disagree about some of the evaluation principles and their relative importance.
There are several ways we could approach the matter, including the composition of a history of criteria sets created by textual scholars. My coauthor Mr. Andrews has already provided us with a summary history of criteria in preceding chapters, and space does not permit me to expand on the history even if I desired to. Moreover, except perhaps for the Alands (sadly Kurt Aland has passed on), I doubt that any two scholars completely agree about the criteria. I have therefore chosen to use Metzger’s criteria as a foundational set, or rather the set most recently published by Metzger and Ehrman, whom Metzger mentored. Metzger’s The Text of the New Testament is probably the best handbook on textual criticism that has been used in the classroom. While going through the ME (fourth) edition I will note differences with Metzger’s third edition, the valuable outline he provides in his Textual Commentary, and I will add observations from my own experience. I will also include the perspectives of other prominent textual scholars, most notably the Alands, and most recently, Tommy Wasserman. The Alands’ perspective seems nearly to be that of respondents to Metzger, though they do not refer to his work in their discussion of criteria. Wasserman acknowledges repeating Metzger’s list and offers comments on various criteria, all of which shows that we are in good company to take Metzger’s work as our foundation. After this, we will look at some additional criteria recommended by the Alands. I am going to describe Metzger’s work in the present tense as if he were still with us–if only that were so!
I believe I owe the reader more than just another regurgitation of the criteria that can all be found elsewhere, however. What will be particularly different about this discussion of criteria is that I intend to provide judgments on the value and practicality of the criteria for those who are aiming at some proficiency in the practice of textual criticism, either because they sincerely want to do so or because the demands of their occupations or special circumstances require it. I am painfully aware that I risk revealing my own ignorance about aspects of the discipline that may have escaped my notice, and I strongly encourage the reader to verify or further examine anything I say that may seem mistaken.
I should also point out that I am aware of the duplication the reader will encounter in this chapter after reading the preceding chapters on scribal tendencies, textual scholars, and other subjects by Edward Andrews. When Edward approached me about contributing to this project, we agreed to write chapters independently. It is my hope that our different perspectives and emphases as conservatives will be helpful and compensate for the duplication, which may also serve to cover important details that either of us might have otherwise overlooked.
Metzger-Ehrman; the Autograph
To begin, then, the first thing anyone familiar with Metzger’s work would want to know about the Metzger-Ehrman fourth edition is how it differs from previous editions. Most of what Metzger taught in previous editions has simply been duplicated in the fourth edition, and I will comment on that in passing. The two fundamental principles remain the same: 1) the reading that best explains the origin of the others is to be preferred, and 2) the reconstruction of the history of a variant is prerequisite to forming a judgment about it. The Alands, who summarize their criteria as a list of twelve “basic rules,” essentially have these two principles under rules eight and nine. They maintain that a reconstruction of a stemma of readings for a variant is extremely important because the reading that most easily accounts for the derivation of the others most likely is the original. Under rule nine they state that variants must never be treated in isolation, but always considered in the context of the tradition.
Let me flesh these principles out and briefly discuss where we stand in relationship to them today. We obtain additional help from three of the Alands’ twelve rules, the first of which (rule one) is that only one reading can be original. This probably seems an obvious reference to the autograph in the view of conservatives, but in current textual criticism (and for some time now) the assumption of a single autograph for a book or epistle is old-school and arguably obsolete. Indeed, Today the goal or end target of textual criticism is increasingly debated, with considerable doubt expressed as to whether it is possible to reconstruct the autograph. The problem, which should be obvious to all, is that if changes were made to the author’s text before it was published as the initial text, we have no means of determining what the changes were. The hypothesis of the author’s maintaining one or more copies of his own work, and later editing and publishing them as equally authoritative revisions, poses a similar problem. When we encounter one or more witnesses that plausibly could be viewed as possible revisions from the author’s hand, we have no way to determine if the differences go back to the author, or were created by scribes.
As we will refer to it later in our discussion of the CBGM, the goal usually identified in modern criticism is a reconstruction of the Ausgangstext or the “initial text.” For conservatives and other optimists, the initial text can be equated with the autograph, but those who are less conservative or otherwise dubious about the reconstruction of the autograph usually prefer the term or the concept Auggangstext because they aim at recovering the first “published” copy of a New Testament (hereafter NT) work that in turn became the origin of all subsequent copies–or all subsequent copies like it. Various theoretical options are left open, including the possibility that the author himself may have edited and published more than one version of it, as we just discussed. Critics who opine that the author’s secretary edited and revised his work before it was published, or that the initial text was a later work redacted by the Christian community, can put a considerable distance between the autograph and the text that was actually the origin of the whole textual tradition.
To illustrate how far this can be taken, I mention a book by John Walton and Brent Sandy, who use their thesis of the priority of oral tradition to argue that differing variants were accepted as a legitimate aspect of ancient storytelling and reporting, even when they seemed contradictory by modern standards. If we operated from their viewpoint, we would have to assume that all variants–at least early ones–may represent equally authoritative versions of an account. There would be no value in searching for a single autograph. Like different versions of the lyrics to “When the Saints Go Marching In,” each would be authentic, and none would be the official version, so to speak.
One of the fatal flaws in this freewheeling approach is the absence of credible support for a terminus at a point in history when variants can be excluded from consideration. Walton and Sandy leave it to the community of faith to decide and maintain that the acceptance of the canon was the cutoff point. They attach inerrancy and authority to the final, canonical form, not to the autograph. The problem with this final product, which they describe as “a pristine canonical final form,” is that it still is not in any kind of final form textually, as anyone can see in the apparatus of any Greek NT. Ironically, the authors would depend on textual critics to reproduce such a text. Moreover, if Christians like myself who do translation or textual criticism are still making decisions about readings–and of course we are–then the work of the community of faith continues toward reconstructing the final form of the NT.
As we will also see later in our discussion of the CBGM, however, since the initial text can be equated with the autograph in that system, there is no rational or practical reason compelling us to discard the concept of a true, traditional autograph. I prefer to hold not only to the concept but to the quest of reconstructing it as well. In fact, I acknowledge the autograph as the foundation of my own personal belief system and my work as a translator.
Beliefs and preferences aside, however, the possibility of more than one initial text would rule out the Alands’ “rule” that only one reading can be original, as a working hypothesis. There could still be an agreement in principle that the NT author produced a first draft by one means or another, but if the textual critic (hereafter just “critic”) assumed that more than one initial text might have resulted from it, he or she would have to process variant readings differently. That is, a substantive, deliberate change of the text (as opposed to a careless scribal error) would have to be considered part of a different textual tradition, at least potentially.
To see how this might play out–or unravel–I offer an example from the beatitudes. We have Luke’s account (6:20) that Jesus declared, “Blessed are the poor,” while Matthew (5:3) reports it as, “Blessed are the poor in spirit….” We do not have any extant variants reported in NA28 for Matthew 5:3, but for Luke 6:20 one or more seventh-century correctors added “in spirit” to 01 (Sinaiticus), and the phrase is found in a number of late Greek manuscripts and some versions, including a fourth-century Latin manuscript. I will discuss the criteria that we would use in this situation shortly, but if we ignore issues of the date and quality of the Luke manuscripts with “poor in spirit,” we might conclude that there were at least two authoritative versions of Luke, one with the additional phrase and one without it. We already know, after all, that two authentic versions of this beatitude existed. The question would be whether we follow traditional TC criteria and reject “in spirit” in Luke, or we decide instead that the witnesses featuring it go back to another initial text of Luke. If I came to the latter conclusion as a translator, I would want to provide the reader with both versions at an equal level of authority, perhaps in parallel columns. For more complicated combinations of readings in other passages, three or four columns might be required!
In the CBGM, if I may again anticipate our discussion of it, all the variables of the initial text concept are recognized, but the system itself is programmed to trace all witnesses back to a single initial text. In fact, as a matter of simplification, the ECM2 editors operated with the goal of reconstructing the autograph (the “authorial texts”) for the General Epistles. I must immediately add that the editors have not taken a theological position, such as I have, however. They also state that their hypothetical witness A “represents” the initial text and is a “potential ancestor of all other witnesses.” This proves to be a purely statistical viewpoint, but I dare say that the practical outcome of the CBGM research will continue to be a single, albeit updated witness A.
However, there is a situation that virtually exemplifies what a stemma would look like in the event that there were two initial texts (and two textual traditions): the split line in the ECM2. An example can be found in 1 John 1:4, where the CBGM online tools supply the following stemma for the variant “our/your”:
(b) η ημων
What the stemma is telling us is that reading b clearly derived from reading a, but the editors came to the conclusion that either reading (a) or (c) had equal claim as the initial text. So by analogy, a critic who takes the position that more than one initial text of a book or letter may exist can, in turn, declare that a line of inheritance between two or more readings is void. In the case above, he could argue that the question mark might as well be the author or the originator of the work. This particular case is also interesting because the choice of reading (a) in GNT4/NA27 was rated as an “A” decision (highest confidence), and Metzger maintained that the first person possessive was entirely in character for John, though it would understandably cause difficulty for scribes. Moreover, the reading enjoys the combined support of 01 and 03, which would be decisive for critics favoring external support (see below). Yet, the rating was removed in GNT5, and the black diamond was added to reading c, indicating the split line. Clearly, the ECM2 editors made a judgment call to the contrary of Metzger’s, so any critic conceivably could evaluate the textual history of a variant from his or her own point of view.
The Alands emphasize the importance of reconstructing the history of a variant, which Metzger says should be done before we form a judgment about it. Their third rule is that criticism of the text always must begin with the evidence of the manuscript tradition. To further clarify that, the Alands make it their fifth rule that primary authority for a textual decision lies with the Greek manuscript tradition, as opposed to the versions or the Fathers. What this all means is that when we encounter a variant in any NT text, we should begin by determining the manuscripts supporting the different readings, and try to put them in a stemma (the equivalent of a family tree) that shows how they related to each other over the course of time. We have just touched on that in the example from 1 John above. This can be very challenging, and one of the difficulties you will encounter is that you must do stemmata (the plural of stemma) variant by variant. We can only wish that the situation was more like distinguishing Ehrman’s remarks from Metzger’s in the fourth edition of TOTNT. In that case, we know that the latest edition is the genealogical descendant of the one chronologically preceding it, and we know that wherever the two editions agree, what is stated is solely from Metzger’s pen or keyboard. We could make the same comparison between earlier editions that were solely Metzger’s, to see what he himself changed from one edition to the next. Unfortunately, the genealogical relationships between ancient biblical manuscripts are so much more complicated that finding the original readings must be done on a case by case basis, without the assumption that one manuscript always has the earlier reading in comparison with another.
I feel reluctantly compelled to add here that while the student may receive a professor’s assignment to produce a stemma, and likely be provided the data necessary for it, the practicality of doing this for the variants present in any passage one studies routinely for exegesis, let alone for something as important as a sermon, for example, may be very low. Unlike sermon outlines, one seldom comes across stemmata that address the languages in detail, even in the better commentaries, Moreover, as I will note later in the chapter on the CBGM, plain lists of manuscripts or witnesses such as those found in the standard Greek NT’s provide virtually no assistance in constructing stemmata. What is really needed is a user-modifiable version of the CBGM that covers the entire NT. Full coverage may be realized in the next decade or so; I have no idea how flexible the tools in the CBGM will eventually become.
In the meantime, probably the most practical approach toward stemmata that a non-expert can take is to list all the readings for a variant and apply the internal guidelines or principles we are examining here in attempting to create stemmata, without great effort in accounting for all the manuscripts/witnesses supporting readings, except for the more important early manuscripts. In the example from 1 John, we could have redesigned the stemma with reading (a) at the top, supported by manuscripts 01 and 03, with readings b and c branching off separately from a. It would be a matter of priorities while recognizing that we have no knowledge of likely gaps in the stemma between manuscripts. In any case, I strongly recommend establishing good habits at the very beginning. One of these habits is to build a file or folder of stemmata, being careful thereby to save all the hard work that goes into creating them. The stemmata can always be modified as more information, or better techniques come into one’s possession. Another good habit is to keep a copy of Metzger’s Textual Commentary handy. We could wish that he had commented on all the variants in the NT if that were humanly possible, but we can be grateful for what he was able to accomplish.
Metzger’s External Criteria
Let’s resume our review of Metzger’s textbook on TC. After the two leading criteria, he categorizes more specific criteria as either external or internal, to which I have just alluded. The external criteria are more limited than the internal, essentially only three: 1) the date and character of the manuscripts and their texts, together with the care taken by their scribes; 2) the geographical distribution of witnesses that agree in supporting a variant; and 3) the genealogical relationship of texts and families of witnesses. Attached to criterion three is the famous caveat, “witnesses are to be weighed rather than counted.” This originally was a legal concept referring to the evaluation of evidence and witnesses in court (in Latin, ponderantur testes, non numerantur). I do not know who was the first to apply it to the discipline of textual criticism; perhaps it was Metzger. We will return to this in a moment.
First, I want to emphasize a provision Metzger attached to the first external criterion, probably when he wrote his first edition (I have a copy of the second). He remarks that of even greater importance than the age of a manuscript (i.e. the actual material on which the words are written) is the date of the “type of text” it embodies. He goes on to list the major text-types that were generally acknowledged at that time, and for clarification, we can also compare the discussion in his Textual Commentary, where he expands somewhat on his list of criteria. There, under the first criterion, he notes the importance of “the date and character” of the type of text embodied in the manuscript, and he repeats the list of text-types. He also includes the care taken by the copyist in the task of producing the manuscript.
It helps, too, that Metzger points to minuscules 33, 81, and 1739 as providing better evidence than some “later or secondary uncials.” The only way that minuscules could have such value is by effectively reproducing texts hundreds of years earlier than the material on which they are recorded. The same thing is done today, in effect, whenever anyone orders a facsimile of an ancient manuscript such as Vaticanus (03) or Sinaiticus (01).
If we focus on the witnesses rather than the traditional text-types, then we discover that Metzger’s provision has become a major part of the infrastructure of the CBGM, as we will see in the chapter devoted to it. Ironically, it may also have done severe damage to the main point of his first criterion, i.e. the date of the “witness.” To understand this, it is essential that we differentiate between “witness” and “manuscript” in contemporary TC terminology. They are not interchangeable terms (if they ever truly were): “manuscript” is the physical medium containing the words of the text, while “witness” is the intellectual content of the manuscript, not the physical medium providing it. “Witness” and “text” are interchangeable from a practical viewpoint, but “text” is a general term (like the content of any book) while “witness” is specifically the content of a biblical manuscript or fragment of the same, for our purposes at least.
The problem for the first criterion–if by “witness” one understands “manuscript”–is that the witness presented by any manuscript can potentially be older than that of another manuscript which itself is older than the manuscript being compared to it–possibly hundreds of years older. A simple example would be that of a ninth-century scribe copying the text of a second-century manuscript long after a fourth-century scribe copied the text of a third-century manuscript. Assuming in this example that the second-century exemplar was more reliable than the third-century exemplar, the dates of the two copies would be irrelevant, and misleading if we valued the fourth-century manuscript over its ninth-century counterpart. Only the dates of the witnesses would matter.
When we think about it, we soon realize that this is how things actually stand: it is the date (and quality) of the witnesses that really matters, not that of the manuscripts. The question becomes, is there any value in an early date for the latter at all? If we compare an early manuscript with a late manuscript, we can at least say this much: if they agree in content at variants (and there seems always to be significant agreement), the scribe of the late manuscript might have copied the early manuscript, but the reverse is impossible. At the same time, we must also concede that if the agreements resulted from the scribes of both copying the same ancestor that is no longer extant–or a combination of circumstances amounting to the same thing–then the early manuscript just establishes an earlier date for that ancestor than either of its descendant copies. If on the other hand, the texts are significantly different, I feel a higher level of confidence in the manuscript with the earlier date.
I use the term “feel” in the previous sentence because my confidence may be simplistic. For many years, like so many other conservatives I have described the Alexandrian manuscripts as the “earliest and best” in comparison to the much later Byzantine manuscripts. Yet there are in fact a few late manuscripts, such as the tenth-century ms. 1739 at Athos that exhibit an Alexandrian text and are of higher quality (from the traditional perspective) than some manuscripts that are much earlier. These manuscripts serve as real-world exceptions to the earliest-and-best comparison. Assuming that we value the Alexandrian text over others, if we prefer the reading of 1739 to that of D (05), for example, then we are acknowledging that the quality of a reading is more important than the date of the witness. Then again, whether we include 1739 among the witnesses for a reading or not indicates whether we view it as an independent witness, representing an exemplar six or more centuries older that has been lost; or just a copy of another extant manuscript (e.g. 03). If the latter, then for the reading in question 1739 would have no value to us. On the other hand, if the reading in 1739 were very close–but not identical–to that of an early Alexandrian manuscript, we might be forced to decide whether in our view its scribe introduced a worthless change of his own or one taken from another early, unknown manuscript.
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So the value of a manuscript’s date is largely in the eye of the beholder. The witness of a late manuscript may be old; that of an old manuscript is old. Clearly, a reading cannot be late if it is found in the original hand of an early manuscript. For some, such a manuscript (i.e. a Greek manuscript) serves as a guarantee of authenticity, in the absence of which any Greek text is suspect. I confess to leaning in this direction. For a good many critics, however, the age of a manuscript is irrelevant. As I will point out later, dating plays no discernable roll in the programming of the CBGM, only genealogies based on internal criteria. One justification for this position is that the early manuscripts, on the whole, did not survive, and we have huge gaps in time in the historical sequence of those that did survive. Ironically, we have so many NT manuscripts, and yet so few!
The geographical distribution of witnesses, Metzger’s second external criterion, has common-sense appeal because the best explanation would seem to be that only a very early reading, ideally the original, could account for a wide distribution of a particular variant. This is often cited in Metzger’s Textual Commentary as support for a given reading. A later, secondary (i.e. non-original) variant would presumably pop up in a given part of the world and tend to have only limited distribution elsewhere. Sometimes this geographical reasoning still seems to carry some weight. It is probably fair to say that it depends on the variant reading. If the reading is one that would have been an obvious or natural choice for “correcting” a difficulty in the biblical text, then mere coincidence could account for a wide distribution.
The most problematic issue for geographical distribution is that it was linked to various inferred tendencies in style associated with major regions, the so-called categorization of “text-types.” For example, in my own work, I have often given considerable weight to a combination of strong Alexandrian and Western witnesses, principally B (03) and D (o5, 06). I expect them to disagree the great majority of the time, so when they agree, I have evaluated their readings as likely reproducing the autograph. Research done using the CBGM has all but eliminated the concept of these types as unhelpful, however, because it is very difficult to sort out and categorize the witnesses when all their variant readings are examined thoroughly. There is too little consistency, due to significant “contamination” of readings, i.e. readings that scribes have imported from other witnesses. Vaticanus (03) still enjoys top ranking, but only because it closely agrees with the ECM Ausgangstext. Other than that, the ECM editors have only retained the Byzantine category of text, using that label, which I find curious. More on this follows below.
Metzger’s third external criterion, the genealogical relationship of texts and families of witnesses, has in effect become the center of attention in contemporary textual criticism, but in a different way and for a different reason. Metzger again addressed text-types, and while he conceded that New Testament manuscripts are largely mixed texts, he believed nonetheless that one could find broad features common to closely related manuscripts. Genealogy, for him, seems to have consisted of assigning witnesses to text-types based on their readings. As I will discuss later below, genealogy now is applied internally to individual manuscripts, primarily comparing them in pairs, and the concept of textual families or “types” that one sees so often in Metzger’s discussions has fallen into disfavor. His addition of the “weighed rather than counted” caveat undoubtedly was aimed from the start at the Byzantine family, the type later refined and defended by some scholars as the Majority Text.
I noted above that Metzger treated the “weight” caveat as a separate (but related) criterion in his Commentary. He elaborated this into the guideline that those witnesses found generally trustworthy in cases where satisfactory decisions can be reached, deserve greater weight where the decisions are difficult. This is a very important principle from the viewpoint of a traditional critic. Together with an early date, it becomes the basis for assuming the superiority of individual manuscripts such as B (03). Few textual critics, however, would approve of (or confess to) using the support of B as the sole reason for the choice of a reading. It must also be conceded that while the combination of 03 and 01 seems to point to the autograph, we are often perplexed when these two manuscripts split over readings. I would much rather face a 7/10 split in bowling. Such splits are best left to professionals, whether in bowling or textual criticism and even then there are no guarantees of successful resolution.
The Alands make Metzger’s “weight” caveat their sixth rule, and in their method, it becomes the justification for their local-genealogical approach. As such it can also be viewed as one of the foundational principles of the GBGM (to be discussed later). Instead of being used as a means to refute arguments for the Byzantine text based on superior numbers, in the hands of the Alands this rule becomes a guarantee that no single manuscript, let alone family of manuscripts, can be decisive in textual decisions. This strikes at the heart of the Westcott-Hort position that the autograph is found in the combination of 01 and 03. So while Metzger might say that Alexandrian manuscript X has been properly evaluated and found to be superior to a particular group of a thousand late manuscripts with roughly the same, inferior text, the most that the Alands assert is that “certain combinations of witnesses” may deserve more confidence than others. Of particular importance, they insist that text-critical decisions must be worked out passage-by-passage.
If there could be any uncertainty about their guarded approach to all manuscripts, the Alexandrians included, the Alands state in their seventh rule that the principle that the original reading can be found in any single manuscript or version when it stands alone or nearly alone is only a “theoretical possibility.” What are we to make of this? I have no doubt that they are targeting any choice of 03 (B) by itself, or in concert with 01. However, while NA27 and 28 reveal a significant shift away from these manuscripts in textual decisions, it is clear that 03 and 01 both still carry a great deal of weight, or at least they appear to. What has happened is that the passage-by-passage (local-genealogical) approach, which focuses on internal criteria, gives weight to these manuscripts as a result of the criteria that are followed. There is now little or no thought of accepting readings from these manuscripts simply because of their reputations for quality.
As to the Alands’ position on the main provisions in Metzger’s first two external criteria–date and geographical distribution–neither is mentioned in their rules. Yet it is clear that at least one of these criteria plays an important role because rules one through five and nine (half of the twelve!) emphasize the importance of external criteria over internal. Then, when we glean what we can from the rules and examine the examples provided, the dates of manuscripts and the historical sequences of readings appear to be very important in deciding readings. This can be inferred from the discussion of the reading NHPIOI vs. HPIOI in 1 Thess. 2:7. The Alands note that the former reading is found in a third-century papyrus and in the original hands of a number of major uncials, with the exception of 02 (A, siding with the Majority Text).
Also revealing, in this case, is that the Alands allow for the objection that the correction to the other reading by later hands could have restored the original. Their reply is that it is unlikely that the same mistake if there was one leading to NHPIOI, would have occurred in five different manuscripts. There happens to be a significant geographical separation between some of the manuscripts, but nothing is said by the Alands about this, as we might expect. However, if we eliminate geographical distribution as a criterion, then it is more difficult to rule out contamination as an explanation for the repetition of NHPIOI if it was originally an error.
Another discussion that is useful in understanding the Alands’ position is the reading EUDOKIAS vs. EUDOKIA in Luke 2:14. We can also compare this discussion with Metzger’s comments on the same variant. I leave it to the reader to study the overall issues with the passage and focus on the evaluations of external evidence by the Alands and Metzger. Briefly, the Alands state that internal support for EUDOKIAS is irrefutable, but the external evidence for the reading is much less extensive than that for the other (nominative-case) reading. In fact, they note that the latter reading is attested “only” by 01 (original hand), A, 03 (original), D, W, “and a few others.” Yet this group is not that different from the preferred group for NHPIOI above. In contrast, Metzger–who specifically refers to the geographical distribution of the manuscripts (Alexandrian and Western families)–comes to the opposite conclusion that EUDOKIAS has better external evidence. So again we see an indication that geography seems to play little to no role in the Alands’ decisions. Along with the date of a manuscript, the number of ancient manuscripts also appears to emerge as a factor.
However, my own experience has taught that no textual critic is capable of absolute consistency in making textual decisions. When the Alands turn to another variant in 1 Cor. 13:3, we find them stating that a combination of 01, 02, 03, an early papyrus, and a few late minuscules is “distinctly superior” to another, larger group of uncials and minuscules, without commenting on the reasons for this appraisal. They may have based their conclusion entirely on the value of the papyrus (second-century), but if so we would expect them to comment as they did above on the third-century papyrus. It is more likely that in this case, they fell back to a more traditional view of the evidence.
Probably most revealing for this criterion, the Alands dismiss the concept of a Western text, of which codex Bezae (D, 05) has traditionally been designated the chief witness–sometimes the only bona fide witness. They (and other textual scholars since) note that this text exhibits both “western” and “eastern” readings. Indeed, they go so far as to remark that hardly anyone in their day (1983) uses the term “Western text” without quotation marks, and they conclude with, “[s]o much for the phantom ‘Western text.'”
As a matter of fact, one can examine the apparatus of NA anywhere 05 contributes readings, and it soon becomes apparent that 05 does show considerable variation in its affinities to other texts. Also, whatever one may think of the text exhibited by 05, known for its longer, periphrastic readings, it is at least as important for this text as 03 is for the Alexandrian text. This makes 05 vital for the theory of a geographical criterion: many locales have been hypothesized during the iterations of the theory, and most have been dismissed as unviable. Only three have remained: the Alexandrian, the Eastern (Byzantine), and the Western. Even so, one can justifiably add quotation marks to all three if desired.
So we might ask whether anything can be salvaged of the geographical criterion. Geography itself has become virtually irrelevant because of the mixture of readings, and critics are agreed that the terminology connected to it is now (and has been) a matter of convenience rather than truth. If the CBGM is providing a window into the future, the geographical designations are living on borrowed time. However, whether it is a hard habit to break, or there is still some validity to textual categories, not all critics are willing to abandon the concept as a criterion. In his chapter on “textual clusters,” Eldon J. Epp makes a rather impassioned argument for the Western text while conceding that the geographical distinction is of no use. He prefers to classify groups of manuscripts that tend to agree in their witnesses as “clusters,” and for both familiarity and neutrality he calls the text represented by 05 the “D-text cluster.”
Renaming the “Western text” manuscripts in this way may technically eliminate the offending elements of the traditional labels. However, I sense that there is a fatal categorical flaw to Epp’s argument. The geographical criterion had value precisely because it gave precedence to readings with a wider geographical distribution. Sometimes one sees such readings preferred in NA27/28 over those favored by 03 etc. I have no problem with the concept of “clustering” similar witnesses, but I fail to see how this is significantly different from sorting out witnesses by genealogy, Metzger’s third criterion. If a group of witnesses exhibits essentially the same text, the next step would be to determine how they are related to each other. As we shall see later, in the CBGM witnesses with similar readings are simply rated as “potential” ancestors or descendants.
Like Epp, Michael Holmes has some affinity for the Western text, and perhaps one could say that Holmes’ position is somewhat related to geography. He is an advocate of Zuntz’s theories, principally that certain so-called Western readings predate Alexandrian readings and are preserved in the Western text, which developed other features of its own. These readings are ancient and important, and not really Western at all, predating Alexandrian readings as they do. So to Holmes, the existence of a Western text does not have the same function it did for Metzger, i.e. that of establishing a wide geographical distribution for a reading. Thus a combination of support such as B/03 and D/05 for a reading is not strong for that reason. On the contrary, Holmes points out that some would see this as an intrusion of an inferior western reading into an Alexandrian witness. Holmes would probably consider the combination that of two ancient witnesses, ignoring any bias against the Western text.
I have included Holmes here not just for his views, but also because he is the editor of the SBL Greek New Testament, which in turn is the text chosen for the Lexham English Bible. Both publications are available online and are obviously competitors with other Greek texts and translations. One would expect the SBLGNT to reflect Holmes’ textual views and feature more choices of the Western text. That is probably the case, because by one report the SBLGNT has 18 readings not found in any other critical edition of the GNT, with six of them having Western support. Most of the six also have Alexandrian support, however, and they could be chosen following internal criteria, so I do not consider them convincing evidence of a commitment to the Western text. It may be that in Holmes’ case we have a highly informed and proficient textual critic with the best of reasons to preserve the Western text, yet one who does not make a real effort to do that for its own sake in his edited Greek text.
This brings us back to Metzger’s third external criterion: the genealogical relationship of texts and families of witnesses. Some may prefer to ignore the issue of textual mixture etc. and cling to the older categories of text-types found in Metzger. Others who are familiar with contemporary work in textual genealogy may instead prefer the methodology of the ECM and the CBGM. In any case, I find genealogy problematic as an external criterion. Let me state emphatically that I do not doubt its validity as a plausible criterion, but the problem I see is the basis for identifying relationships between witnesses. No matter whether the goal is to assign a manuscript/witness to a particular family or group (Metzger and, from a different viewpoint, Epp), or to identify its ancestors and descendants (ECM), it is the readings that are being compared and evaluated by internal criteria (to be discussed below).
One might attempt to save genealogy as an external criterion by arguing that “external” in this context only means “objective,” and that we are looking for agreements and disagreements between witnesses. I have little doubt that this is what Metzger meant, and it is what the ECM editors mean. Among the latter Klaus Wachtel wrote a chapter providing a somewhat subtle argument for treating the evaluation of readings as external evidence; the title he gave the chapter clearly identifies his goal, however: “Towards a Redefinition of External Criteria: the Role of Coherence in Assessing the Origin of Variants.” Neither dating nor geography plays a part in ECM/CBGM tasks, so Wachtel maintains that percentages of agreement and disagreement between witnesses–evaluated as “pre-genealogical coherence”–can serve as external evidence. He insists that these percentages can hardly be biased. Technically they can be, since many variants can be subdivided or not as the editor or critic sees fit, resulting in different numbers of variants for the same passage.
Even if we all were to agree on the exact numbers of agreements and disagreements in variants for a witness, however, a high degree of subjectivity follows in the final stages of deciding genealogical relationships among witnesses. If one takes Metzger’s approach, reiterated in the fourth edition by Metzger and Ehrman, the determination has to be made at some point as to what kinds of readings and how many of them for a given witness are going to be sufficient to assign its text-type. Before the CBGM and other powerful tools were invented, this determination might be accepted as a judgment call, and not many would dispute the categories to which most manuscripts were assigned. Today these same categories are under intense scrutiny, and logical rationales need to be specified for distinguishing witnesses.
As for the ECM/CBGM, aside from the issue of counting variants, identifying agreements and disagreements is only the beginning. The determination of the genealogical direction (relationship) between individual witnesses–which is what the CBGM is all about–depends on determining this relationship for the readings of every variant in every witness examined. This appears to be done entirely by internal criteria and can be a highly subjective decision. If the quality of a witness such as B/03 is taken into account as a criterion (I can find no indication that it is), this too is based on the subjective evaluation of readings. Moreover, proof of the subjectivity is seen in the fact that there are two versions of the CBGM tools available online, and they do not always produce the same results for the same queries. The reason is that version 2.0 operates on a database that has been revised over time, with decisions about some readings having been changed as the circumstances that led to those decisions in version 1.0 are reevaluated.
Summarizing the state and value of external criteria, the date of a manuscript is an objective datum and serves at least to establish a terminal date for the witness (text) contained in the manuscript. It does not, however, tell us how early the witness is nor the exemplar from which it was copied, and it is possible for the witness of a comparatively later manuscript to have been produced earlier than that of a comparatively earlier one. Also, it is a fact that witnesses are mixed (contaminated) texts, so we must concede that a witness is probably composed of readings gathered ultimately from other witnesses of varying dates. However, an early manuscript does at least verify an early date for its witness. We can and should be very grateful for the early manuscripts that have survived.
We no longer have any consensus of confidence in geography as a criterion for manuscripts/witnesses. This is due to the mixture of readings we find in witnesses, making it very difficult to assign witnesses as a whole to regions. Metzger, to the contrary, was comfortable in identifying manuscripts by region and gave great weight to readings that enjoyed what appeared to be a wide geographical distribution. In drawing his conclusions, he took into account not only Greek manuscripts but citations of the fathers and ancient versions as well. Other scholars such as Eldon Epp have argued that these sources must be included, but even he dismisses the geographical element that was so important to Metzger. I doubt that the situation will change as more research is done with the CBGM and other tools, but perhaps it may to some extent. As of this writing, we are still waiting for most of the New Testament to be analyzed with the CBGM tools.
As for genealogy, determining genealogical relationships is being redefined both in meaning and method, since it was largely connected with geography. Text-types are on their way out, except for the late Byzantine text, and instead of simply classifying a manuscript or its text as being part of a “family” (Byzantine, Alexandrian, Western), the relationship between one manuscript and others similar to it is being sought. The outcome is analogous to a family tree–often more complex–and though it is touted as an external criterion, it is really based on internal criteria. I note too that the distinction between “external” and “internal” in this case if it is legitimate, is one of objectivity (external) vs. subjectivity (the internal).
In view of all these factors in external criteria, I would suggest that the only truly external criterion remaining to the student or professional minister is that of the date of a manuscript, and I emphasize that I am referring in this case only to the manuscript. One can easily obtain the date and current location of a Greek manuscript from appendices in the NA or UBS Greek texts, as well as online from the Muenster Institute, which also provides supplementary information at http://ntvmr.uni-muenster.de/manuscript-workspace. What one does with the date is mainly dependent on one’s viewpoint. We would expect a late manuscript to exhibit a Byzantine/Majority Text witness, and an early one to be Alexandrian essentially, but we want to be alerted to exceptions if possible. At present, looking up a manuscript’s “Potential Ancestors” in the online CBGM tools will give us the answer for one of the General Epistles, because on the one hand it reports the percentage of agreement with the Majority Text, while on the other it shows how close the manuscript is to the “A-text” (explained later), which usually agrees with Alexandrian witnesses. However, it will be some time before the CBGM covers a significant amount of the NT. Until then, this kind of information is only obtainable sporadically in commentaries and articles.
We move on now to internal criteria, which are more numerous and at least as debatable. If not already, it will soon become clear why those familiar with textual criticism consider it largely an art. There is a great deal of data to process, but the decisions to be made often are subjective and vary from one critic to another.
We first need to address the fundamental principle briefly mentioned earlier: that the reading best explaining the origin of the others is to be preferred. It is usually assumed that this principle branches out into the detailed internal criteria which in turn represent it. The “harder reading” criterion that we will discuss below is a prime example. The result is that the principle may not be recognized as having its own practical application. However, there are times when it does, i.e. in the choices of variant readings when no particular criterion is cited. Instead, we can expect to see the commentator or textual critic simply describing the steps that may have led a scribe to pen the preferred variant. I will provide an example below in the last chapter, a reading in James. For now, we will discuss the individual criteria.
Metzger subdivides the internal criteria into two groups: 1) transcriptional and scribal issues, and 2) issues in determining the author’s choices. At the top of the list in the first group–and rightly so both for its importance and the difficulty in employing it–is the criterion that the harder reading should be preferred (to which the shorthand Latin term lectio difficilior is applied). This criterion is founded on the assumption that scribes were reasonable, intelligent persons who had great respect for the Scriptures and for their work. When we encounter two or more witnesses (texts) that disagree with a reading, creating thereby a variation unit, our job as textual critics are to reverse-engineer the process of reasoning that led one or more scribes to change the original. Along with our assumptions about the character of the scribes, we begin with the assumption that one of the witnesses exhibits the original reading that was changed into the others. Since the scribes knew they were copying Scripture if anything they should have been most reluctant to change what they saw in their exemplars; so something about the original reading must have been unacceptable to them. If therefore, the original reading is exhibited among the witnesses, we expect one reading to be “harder” to make sense of than the other reading(s). In effect, a competent scribe would “correct” what appeared to be a mistake, as opposed to changing something that read well into something more difficult.
One of the questions associated with this criterion is what would have made a reading difficult for a scribe? Some problems are trivial, such as misspellings, examples of which have already been provided earlier by my friend Mr. Andrews (see chapter V). Others deserve special attention and will be discussed below as subcategories of this criterion. For misspellings, however, we need to determine whether the offending text makes sense without correction. If not, then we need to have a plausible explanation for how the apparent error came about, such as the doubling of a letter or the omission of one. Another source of errors in Greek, as mentioned in chapter V, is the similarity in sound of certain vowels. In practice, you will not have to be very creative because the choices made by the editors of the Greek text in comparison to the other readings should reveal what most likely happened.
The main difficulty we encounter with the lectio difficilior criterion is an additional provision that has traditionally been attached to it: a reading meeting this criterion can be rejected if it is so difficult as to be impossible. This is an attempt to keep nonsense readings from prevailing. It is also important to note that neither this criterion nor the added provision applies to a reading that is a mistake, such as a misspelling or grammatical error by a scribe. If that is what has happened, then we ought to be able to explain how the mistake occurred, as I said above.
The problem with the provision, as you might guess, is that too often the determination of unacceptable difficulty for a reading is a subjective judgment call. The reading “found” in 2 Pet. 3:10 which I will discuss later is a classic example. No mistake is possible, and to the creator of the CBGM the reading is so difficult that he resorts to a reading found in the Syriac, which commends itself as a reliable version; but this reading happens not to be found elsewhere in Greek. Other solutions have been suggested that do have Greek support, and I agree with a few others in preferring the very difficult reading as not being impossible.
Moreover, as I have done textual criticism using NA, on a number of occasions I have found difficult readings with excellent manuscript support rejected in favor of easier readings. I could only conclude in some of these cases that the rejected readings with superior support were considered too difficult to be plausible. Identifying these variants should be possible even for a student of textual criticism. The features to look for are a reading that is very difficult, yet has strong manuscript support. Expect to find 03 and 01 listed, except in those passages that are missing from 03.
Second in the list of internal criteria is that the shorter of variant readings (lectio brevior) should be preferred, though Metzger allows a number of exceptions, and Ehrman does not comment on Metzger’s original discussion other than to add references to other works on the subject. One very clear exception would be a case of homoeteleuton as was discussed earlier. So we would exclude a reading that was shorter by virtue of an accidental omission. However, considerable doubt has been cast on the criterion by James R. Royse, who wrote a dissertation on scribal habits and later published it as a book entitled Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri. Royse examined six papyri in great detail and came to the conclusion that early scribes tended to omit rather than add material, with some exceptions. He reaffirms his position more recently in a work I have already mentioned, citing others who have reached similar conclusions.
I do not think this criterion must be jettisoned, but we need to consider the conditions under which it could be valid. It is mainly intended to eliminate readings that in some respect are the invention of a scribe. Some critics like to describe these as “expanded” readings. One immediately thinks of glosses, i.e. brief phrases explaining something in the text that are mistaken by a later scribe for a recommended reading, and used to “correct” or “complete” the text.
Conflate readings are typically cited as an example of spurious longer readings, and probably correctly so. The rationale for rejecting these readings is that a scribe would either have been instructed or just inclined, not to omit anything that could be original to the autograph. We also assume that in this case, the scribe had before him at least two exemplars with differing readings and that his task or personal goal was to somehow combine their contents into one. Acts 20:28, discussed earlier, is a good example with the conflated reading, “church of the Lord and God.” If the scribe’s choice was between “Lord” and “God,” however, we can only wonder whether he realized that combining “Lord” and “God” guaranteed that the reading would be erroneous. I fear that we sometimes grant ancient scribes too little ability to think through what they were doing. How, in this case, do we give reasonable consideration to the possibility that omission was the culprit and not conflation? The best answer is that if the “conflate” reading was original, then we have a large number of manuscripts in which “Lord” was accidentally omitted, and another significant group in which “God” was omitted. Unless nearly all the members of each group were faithfully copying an ancestor (the CBGM term for this is “coherent”), we would conclude that coincidence does not adequately account for the omissions, and conflation better explains the longer reading.
The Alands caution that a shorter reading which looks like an edit in a witness that in turn varies from other witnesses in the tradition should be viewed with suspicion. However, I suspect that this determination is beyond the resources of most readers. The good news is that it is not difficult to piece together what the editors of a critical Greek NT were thinking in this situation. One can see in the apparatus whether the shorter (or shortest) reading has been selected for the text; if it also has the support of leading Alexandrian manuscripts, then the brevity of the reading may have been an additional reason for its preference. The difficulty of the reading will almost always be a major factor, often overruling everything else. If one can find no other reason for the choice of a reading in the text other than its brevity, then the “shorter reading” criterion was probably decisive.
A third criterion in the list is that when parallel passages differ, scribes would most likely bring them into agreement, i.e. harmonize them; therefore the original reading probably is the one that disagrees with the accepted text. For a quotation from the Old Testament in the New Testament, readings that match the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) are more likely secondary compared to those that do not. In the Synoptics and other parallel New Testament passages, readings that agree with their parallels should generally be suspect as secondary, “corrected” by scribes. Strangely, the Alands include this criterion with the shorter reading, suggested evidently by their observation that neither criterion should be applied mechanically. Other than that, the two criteria have nothing to do with each other.
It might be tempting to follow the parallel passages criterion mechanically, automatically choosing the readings that differ, because it is hard to imagine a scribe altering a passage that agrees with its parallel. There is a chance, however, that an alteration in a passage is due merely to a scribe’s faulty memory of it. Wasserman notes that Vaticanus (03) is known for accuracy in avoiding harmonization, and thus one cannot assume a scribal error in the few cases where parallel passages do agree.
A fourth and final criterion offered by Metzger on the list related to scribes is that they would be more likely to attempt to improve the Greek of the passage before them, than to make it rougher than it was–common sense, really. The last three criteria can probably be viewed as a subset of the lectio difficilior criterion, but this fourth one especially can be seen as such. Metzger does not use “improve” or similar language; he instead lists various ways this might be done, and Ehrman does not comment on Metzger’s discussion. The alterations include the substitution of more familiar words, the replacement of rough grammar and diction with Atticizing improvements, and the addition of pronouns, conjunctions, etc. to smooth out the text.
The Alands do not address this criterion in their own list of rules, and Wasserman challenges the validity of it, citing other scholars who have challenged it as well. I would not completely rule out the substitution of more familiar words, because they could begin as a gloss in the margin, or even more so between lines. A scribe not possessing the sharpest mind might mistake the gloss for an alternate reading of the term in the text, instead of a gloss.
With due respect to Metzger, however, I have to agree with others in doubting the introduction of Attic elements–i.e. words and grammar from Classical (Attic) Greek–by scribes. I especially take issue with those scholars who profess to find Attic style and grammar inflicted upon the text by scribes who were trying to bring the New Testament up to the standards of golden-age Athens. In my experience, this is the judgment of those who usually have not read enough Greek, particularly Attic, but also Greek from the other time periods. If one desires to find ancient Greek dialects, I suggest reading Homer, and old and new Ionic, to obtain an idea of what a Greek dialect really looks like. Once Attic was developed, it basically became the Greek language. I see Attic grammar persistent in Greek from the golden age through to Byzantine Greek.
So it might seem ridiculous to some that the writers of the New Testament would exhibit any familiarity with Attic Greek–and I refer to the actual authors (Peter, Paul, John, Luke, of course, et al.), not merely their amanuenses–but I think that in reality if you knew Greek at all in the first century, it was basically Attic Greek. The biggest difference would not be found in the dialect or the grammar, but in literary vs. common style. Literary could be long, ponderous sentences with one or two main verbs and numerous verbal modifiers, such as we find in Luke’s introductions. We also see long, complex constructions in Paul and Peter. We even see the optative mood used in indirect discourse and conditions, which are among the more complex grammatical constructions. For the most part, NT Greek is the common style, but we do find examples of a more literary style.
Considering these objections, I think the criterion can usually be ignored for decisions, especially when the critic using it describes the NT writer as being incapable of writing “good Greek.” Sometimes a reading is rejected simply as being beyond the literary ability of the biblical author. Here again, I would question whether the critic is sufficiently acquainted with the language so as to make such a judgment, because most who do are not, in my opinion. Other arguments for or against a reading should be examined instead, or at least given substantial weight in opposition to this criterion if they point to a different reading.
Metzger’s second group of internal criteria, those concerned with the author’s choices, are listed as six and termed “intrinsic probabilities.” The first, though not explicitly stated this way, is that variants consistent with the diction, style, and theology of the author overall in the book are preferable. Metzger did not originally include the author’s theology as an element of this criterion. I would caution the reader that the criterion can be difficult to apply. In the first place, the more material we have in a book, the better. I am not happy with the criterion in any book much shorter than Romans or the Corinthian letters; I question whether we have enough of the author’s work to make an informed judgment of his style and lexical preferences. There is also tension between this criterion and the lectio difficilior. Scribes quite possibly would be familiar with the styles of biblical authors and might alter or prefer variants to match their conceptions of a given author’s style. In other words, to any one scribe, a particular variant could have been the easier reading because it seemed more consistent with the author’s style. Modern critics may make the same mistake. It is best if the reading that is harder for other reasons also happens to be consistent with the author’s style. As for the author’s theology, I do not dispute that Ehrman (with Metzger’s concurrence) has raised a valid point. Details in theology can be very hard to objectify, however, and I suspect that only broad cardinal doctrines will be of use. Otherwise, the critic may find him- or herself having to prove first that A or B is part of the theology of the author in question before it can be used for this criterion.
The Alands address the author’s diction and style (and the context), as well as his “theological environment,” but only negatively. That is, they caution that these factors can never be the sole basis for a decision, particularly in opposition to external evidence. We are apparently left to conclude that the criterion does have limited value in conjunction with others. Wasserman makes a much clearer point, in agreement with others, that it can be difficult to determine what is genuine to the author’s style and what has been altered by a scribe to better match his perception of the author’s style. I always come back to the question of whether I have enough material to summarize the author’s style. If I am doubtful about that, then the word or construction in question needs to be very unusual, not something likely to be repeated, though it must be repeated at least once to be part of a style.
The second criterion in this list is that the variant must be consistent with the immediate context. Here again, however, tension may occur with the lectio difficilior. While some readings may seem disjointed or out of place with the preceding or following context, scribes may have added conjunctions, or other modifiers that they imagined must have been omitted by error, with the result that a smooth variant is actually secondary. I suggest two things to consider: 1) a great deal of experience in Greek is needed to make a good decision in this case, so consulting one or more commentaries that focus on the problem is essential; and 2) if an alteration of the autograph has occurred, it should be possible to reverse-engineer it. That is, there should be a plausible way to explain how the autograph could have been changed by the scribe to the reading in question without doing mental gymnastics or serious surgery with quill and ink. Otherwise, if the smoothing elements appear to be authentic, they probably are.
The third criterion in Metzger’s list is an extension of the first: that a variant is preferable if it is consistent with the usage of the author in other books written by him. What I said about the first criterion applies to this one as well, but on the whole, I think we have to allow for the possibility of more flexibility in the author’s usage in other books. It may not prove to be so; i.e. we may find complete continuity between one book and the other, or limited continuity. We do not know what may have changed in the author’s frame of mind as he moved from one book to another.
The last three criteria in this group were originally limited by Metzger to the Gospels. The limitation is not mentioned with Ehrman as co-author so that the criteria evidently apply to any book in which their conditions would be met. I do not want to make too much of this. If the change was intentional, the purpose probably was to allow the last criterion to apply beyond the Gospels; the other two focus on the Gospels in any case.
To continue, then, the fourth criterion, not stated as explicitly as I do here, is that when reports of Jesus’ teachings have variants, a variant is preferable which is most consistent with Aramaic idiom. This assumes that Jesus most often spoke his native language, but of course, we do not know how often he may have spoken in Greek. Some might say “never,” but I am confident that Jesus would have used Greek with Romans such as Pilate and the centurion. I do think that he would have spoken to fellow Jews in Aramaic, and of course, we have important quotations of Jesus in Aramaic. In applying this criterion, we need to bear in mind the ethnic composition of Jesus’ audience. In practice, the reader may be entirely dependent on commentators familiar with Aramaic.
One comment that I strongly encourage anyone unfamiliar with Aramaic to be on guard against is, “The detail that we find here in the Greek is irrelevant because it is translating an original Aramaic word (or construction) incapable of expressing this precision,” or words to that effect. A commentator who says this may or may not be correct because a speaker in any given language can usually find a way to express a concept for which the language is not well suited. However, I see this as a subtle challenge to the accuracy implied by inspiration, and even if one excludes the implications of inspiration, I think we can assume that the report of what was said is accurate. I believe that the biblical author, aware of the importance of his work, would have taken pains to clear up any ambiguities in what the speaker said before doing his translation. The alternative is to doubt the accuracy of any and all reports of speeches and conversations.
The fifth criterion is the priority of the Gospel of Mark. It has long been acknowledged by New Testament scholars in the great majority of circles and schools that Mark’s was the first Gospel, and that Matthew and Luke used and edited Mark’s Gospel. It usually seems to be the case that when there are parallels to a passage in Mark, he tends to have the harder reading in sense. His is also the shortest gospel.
Having said all that, I personally reject Markan priority, confessing that I do so for theological reasons. I actually believe that the four gospel writers wrote independently of each other, not editing the work of their fellow evangelist and that the incredible agreement among the synoptics was due to the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. Even if I accepted Markan priority, however, I would not consider it of much practical help as a criterion for textual criticism. True, it would be at least hypothetically useful for choosing the most factual account of an event or quotation variously reported among the three synoptics. Nevertheless, I do not see the assumption of Markan priority providing helpful clues in determining Matthew’s or Luke’s autograph. At best I only know that I can expect them to differ with Mark, probably in ways that will mitigate or smooth out what Mark has to report. That is far too general an assumption to be of much use.
The sixth and final criterion in the list is the possible influence of the ancient Christian community (notably second to fifth cent. C.E.) on the formulation and transmission of the passage in question. Now we are referring mainly to theology, and theology underscored. Metzger has stressed the need for the textual critic to be thoroughly acquainted with early Christian theology and heresies. It is only to be expected that scribes would be influenced both by their own theology and by others with their own theological agendas. When they encountered variant readings that posed theological problems, they would naturally be tempted to choose a reading that was not hampered by difficult or heretical theology. A reading that does come with troublesome theological baggage is another form of lectio difficilior.
Ehrman is of course well known for expanding on this issue in his book, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. As an example we can refer to his discussion of the Greek word EAN in 1 John 2:28, where EAN (“if”) is replaced with hOTAN (“when”) in late manuscripts. Ehrman sees in this a clear case of scribal intervention to eliminate any appearance that John might have had doubt about the return of Christ.
Theology would never be the only factor to consider in making a textual decision, however, in this case, both the manuscript evidence and the harder reading (lectio difficilior) criterion favor EAN (“if”). If we check English translations, we may wonder why so many have “when” instead of “if,” seemingly exhibiting the reading that should be rejected according to the criteria. It happens that the standard Greek lexicon (BAGD) recommends “when” for this verse. We could actually stop there, with nothing more to prove. As someone privileged to have had much more experience reading Greek than most New Testament scholars, however, I can tell you that “if” is actually correct as the translation. That is why some late scribes changed the Greek found here. But John used an unusual construction, not one that questions the truth of the return of Christ, as Ehrman suggests. Many of the personal “if” constructions we see in the New Testament seem designed to draw out a confession of faith from the readers, and that may be the case here.
I think it is imperative to add one more internal criterion that in effect was addressed by Metzger in connection with the external criteria: the quality of manuscripts and their witnesses. This is a summary judgment both of the readings of a manuscript’s witness, and of the overall care taken by the manuscript’s scribe. One could, therefore, subdivide this criterion into two criteria, but in practice critics routinely speak of the quality of a manuscript like 03 (B) as if the manuscript and its witness were the same–indeed, some critics insist that they are, so I think it is reasonable to treat them as such in this case. I classify the criterion as internal because decisions about readings are mostly internal, and they play a larger role than the care taken by the scribe. Also, a careless scribe will exhibit his carelessness in the errors he makes, so we can expect the quality of readings to be consistent with the scribes care.
The point of this criterion is that manuscripts like 03 and 01 lend weight to a reading simply by their support. How relevant this will be will depend on the method used in the decision process (see below). The fact that the “best” manuscripts sometimes disagree at a variation unit must be acknowledged, though. Probably no other fact so clearly establishes the truth that TC guidelines cannot be used mechanically. One may be tempted to cut the Gordian knot by ruling that when 03 and 01 (or some other reliable combination) disagree, 03 is to be preferred. In that case, however, there are variation units where other criteria will favor 01. There are also passages where only 01 provides a reading. You will discover that many decisions are easy, many others are not, and some will (or should) rob you of sleep.
So Which Method?
We have already seen that some criteria of textual criticism act in opposition to others. The same is true for textual critics. Most can be loosely categorized according to criteria that they favor.
Thoroughgoing Eclecticism (G. D. Kilpatrick, J. K. Elliott)
In this approach, internal evidence alone is used to make decisions. The term “eclecticism” basically refers to deciding readings on a case-by-case basis. Those who take this approach tend to view all external evidence as unreliable. They claim without fear of dispute that reasoned eclectics by comparison use the same internal criteria, but that the latter inconsistently abandon these criteria and resort to external criteria when the need arises to obtain the results they want. This is a minority view and is criticized for not recognizing the value of the external evidence.
In practice, thoroughgoing eclectics will agree with reasoned eclectics (described below) in most cases, because the preferred manuscripts usually support readings also favored by internal criteria.
Reasoned Eclecticism (B. M. Metzger, the Alands, Others)
In this method, internal and external evidence are given more or less equal weight. The distribution of weight varies because among many reasoned eclectics there is a tendency to emphasize internal criteria. For example, the superiority of manuscript B (03) is acknowledged, but in practice, it is not always clear whether a reasoned eclectic is taking into account the age and quality of B, or is only thinking of the readings it exhibits.
In any case, reasoned eclecticism differs from its thoroughgoing counterpart in that some readings are preferred to a greater or lesser degree for the manuscripts that contain them. This has been the method of the committees of the Nestle-Aland edition and United Bible Societies edition of the Greek New Testament. For the greater history of the NA text, the editors also preferred the manuscripts of the Alexandrian family of texts as being the best and most faithful in preserving the original reading, following the appraisal of Westcott and Hort. The editors viewed the Western family of texts, while early, as paraphrastic, adding and removing words, clauses, and whole sentences. The Byzantine family is much later than the Alexandrian and Western families and is known for its smoothing out rough readings, the combining of two or more readings, and the harmonization of parallel passages. It continues, for the most part, to be viewed as such by the editors.
Beginning with NA26, there was a concerted effort under the leadership of Kurt Aland to depart from the conclusions of Westcott and Hort and evaluate readings on a case-by-case basis both externally and internally. The results were usually the same as previous decisions, but neither 03 nor 01 nor their combination was treated as a decisive factor. Aland insisted that this was not eclecticism and grudgingly conceded that it could be called the “local-genealogical method.” Today it is common to use this term synonymously with “reasoned eclecticism,” whether entirely accurate or not. The editors of NA28 have redefined reasoned eclecticism in regard to external evidence, as we saw above, and in the process have in effect replaced the local-genealogical method with it.
Majority/Byzantine Text Priority (M. Robinson, Z. Hodges, A. Farstad)
Under this method, the Byzantine text family is given priority over all others and is considered the best and most faithful in preserving the original reading. Some confusion probably is inevitable between this and the Majority Text, a term possibly coined by Kurt Aland and further advanced by Zane Hodges. The vast majority of extant manuscripts exhibits this form of text which has variously been called “Byzantine,” “Koine” (pronounced coin-áy), and “Syrian.” I omit here the traditional defense of the text (often associated with the Textus Receptus) based on divine preservation, which can be found elsewhere and no longer is used by scholars advocating the text. Hodges, in his paper “A Defense of the Majority Text” argued that statistically, superiority in numbers of extant manuscripts was evidence of historical priority.
More recently, Maurice Robinson has taken up what, to me, seems a variation of the same argument by requiring a strong “transmissional history” of a text family as proof of historical priority. In essence, whatever else may be said in favor or against a reading, it needs above all to appear in a substantial number of manuscripts to be viable. Along with this Robinson also protests that any viable Greek text should exist somewhere in a sequential form (i.e. not fragmented) for at least short sections, e.g. a few verses. In making this point, he brings to light what can theoretically be viewed as a weakness of any eclectic text (one in which readings are decided case-by-case): it is virtually impossible that even a short sample of the text would ever be found. The mind may then be tempted to jump to the conclusion that no such autograph could ever have existed!
I have to agree with the majority of critics, however, that these arguments based on numbers are fatally flawed. In the first place, going back to one of Metzger’s original criticisms, mere numbers do not prove superiority:
For example, if in a given sentence reading x is supported by twenty manuscripts and reading y by only one manuscript, the relative numerical support favoring x counts for nothing if all twenty manuscripts should be discovered to be copies made from a single manuscript, no longer extant, whose scribe first introduced that particular variant reading.
In the case of the Byzantine text, we have better reason than usual to expect that scribes would have reproduced just what they found in their exemplars. For all that, even Robinson concedes that no two Byzantine manuscripts will agree exactly. In the second place, the Byzantine text consistently–though not without exception–presents the easier readings in variation units. Critics are agreed that scribes will tend to change harder readings to easier alternatives, not the reverse. As a result, we would only expect to see more continuity in the “transmissional history” of the Byzantine text than in other witnesses with harder readings.
Robinson gives the reader the impression that he and his colleagues evaluate individual readings, and that may be true, but for the most part I think it is fair to say that those who favor the Byzantine text provide for themselves the relatively easy task of identifying those readings in the apparatus and simply selecting them as the autograph. They can be found usually by the symbol Â for “Majority Text” in NA (except the General Epistles of NA28) or by “Byz” (GNT, ECM2). Technically there is a difference between the Majority Text and the Byzantine text, which is now being accentuated by the editorial committee for NA28. I think it is fair to say that most people, the uninitiated and scholars alike, think of the Majority Text and the Alexandrian manuscripts as opposites. The committee defines Majority Text (or MT) readings as those supported by a numerical majority of manuscripts, which can include Alexandrian readings. However, they classify Byzantine readings as those supported by the majority, excluding their own hypothetical A-text, which usually agrees with Alexandrian witnesses. I will have more on this later.
Documentary Approach (F. J. A Hort, E. C. Colwell, P. Comfort)
In this approach, preference is given to the traditional external evidence, particularly the date and quality of manuscripts, both individually and in groups. It is often assumed that the combination of 03 (B) and 01 presents the autograph, even if they stand alone against all other manuscripts. Manuscript 03 is accorded the greatest weight, and if other criteria do not pose major problems, the support of 03 alone may tip the scales in favor of a reading.
The early papyri are also highly valued. However, their fragmentary nature limits their usefulness mainly to verification of the reliability of the leading early manuscripts with full texts (more or less). P75, for example, is famous for establishing an early date for the witness (text) of 03.
This approach bears considerable resemblance to reasoned eclecticism and even to the Aland’s local-genealogical method in the results obtained. It is interesting that the Alands stress the importance of external criteria over internal in half of their “rules,” while they also make it their seventh rule that no single manuscript or small group of manuscripts (no doubt having 03 and 01 in mind) when standing alone has a real chance of providing the original reading. Only infrequently do 03 and 01 stand alone, however, so the great majority of the time documentarians who also give serious (but not primary) consideration to internal criteria can get along rather well with reasoned eclectics who give priority to external criteria. The only problem with this picture is that the latter group may be dwindling as “external evidence” comes under criticism or is redefined.
On the other hand, most documentarians, among whom I could include myself (more or less), my coauthor as well, assign a great deal of weight to the “harder reading” (lectio difficilior) criterion and are always uncomfortable with a suspiciously easy reading regardless of its external support. If or whenever they reject a reading with strong Alexandrian support because it clearly does not commend itself as the source for the other readings, they cross the line and become reasoned eclectics for the moment or even thoroughgoing eclectics. The difference in outcomes between documentarians and the others lies, however, in the fact that a documentarian will find it very difficult at best to reject any reading that has the combined support of 03 and 01. Like those who prefer the MT, documentarians, for the most part, have a relatively easy job of choosing readings with the support of those two manuscripts.
Difficulty arises for the documentarian whenever 03 and 01 disagree, or “split” over readings, or when the lectio difficilior clearly is a competing reading. Thankfully this does not happen often, but there often is no satisfying solution when it does. The best approach, in my opinion, is humility: make a choice with the knowledge that one is on shaky ground, and remain open to reviewing the choice. If either 03 or 01 has the harder reading, choose it. Otherwise, as a true documentarian, consider the possibility that the harder reading is an error and try to determine whether 03 or 01 is the more likely source of the other readings.
If one wishes to remain true to the traditional documentary approach, I advise him or her to consider obtaining a copy of NA25, which will more conveniently display choices based on the approach. The documentarian may even want to consider the text “frozen” at this stage. Future editions of NA and UBSGNT will undoubtedly present readings more consistent with internal criteria. I realize that NA25 may be unobtainable; if so, obtain a copy of NA26 or 27. You can probably find one at a library if nothing else. In the appendices, you will find the invaluable “Editionum Differentiae.” This is a list of all the places where these editions differ from others, including NA25. Make a convenient copy of the list, even if you can purchase the text. It will provide you the means of easily determining the text of NA25, and unfortunately, the list is not included in the current NA.
If the reader understands and highly values the harder-reading criterion and other good internal criteria, however–the same that led to high valuations of the Alexandrian manuscripts–I doubt that the future NA editions and the CBGM upon which they are based will pose too much of a problem. Moreover, the apparatus should still provide the information necessary to make informed decisions from the documentary perspective.
Examples of New Testament Textual Criticism
The following examples will illustrate how textual criticism can be done from the different perspectives. None illustrates the use of the CBGM, which is discussed later and for the present is only available for the General Epistles. I am taking a pragmatic approach here, trying to minimize the amount of work necessary for the reader to make an informed decision. It has been my experience that pastors especially, and even people studying the Bible for their own enrichment, more often than not lack the time to do a thorough job of textual criticism on a passage. As a result, they easily succumb to the temptation to neglect it altogether.
As a minimum of preparation, I recommend obtaining a copy of Metzger’s Textual Commentary that I have cited before. His eyewitness accounts of committee decisions are very helpful, even though many decisions are left out. A Greek text with apparatus showing the different readings is absolutely necessary, of course, and you can choose between NA and UBSGNT. I use NA because its apparatus includes most all of the variation units, and I need to know where and what they all are. UBSGNT has a much easier apparatus to read, but it does this by avoiding abbreviations and symbols that can be difficult to follow. I also recommend some kind of workspace, anything from pencil and paper to a computer spreadsheet, as the reader prefers. You may like something elaborate, or not. I would start with a simple layout of rows to list different readings and two columns, “pro” and “con” or something like that. My good friend Mr. Andrews prefers to list the criteria point by point under each reading. You may find that better, especially until you are familiar with the criteria. Let’s begin with a verse in Matthew.
Is it “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” or “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness”?
Matthew 6:33 New King James Version (NKJV)
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
There are other variants besides those shown above, but they do not have comparable support. The reading followed by the NKJV and, somewhat surprisingly, the ESV is that of the MT/Byz text. For those who prefer that text, the decision is clear. The reading chosen for the NASB basically is found in 03 and 01. The words “kingdom” and “righteous” are switched in 03 relative to other manuscripts, but like 01 it lacks “of God.” So the decision is also relatively easy for documentarians.
This case is one of undoubtedly many that illustrate the different approaches of documentarians and reasoned eclectics. The latter will give greater weight to internal criteria, often ignoring the quality of individual manuscripts or even groups of them. Metzger discusses this variant unit in his Textual Commentary and reveals that the committee was essentially divided between two internal criteria: the shorter reading and the author’s style. The minority of the committee was attracted to the shorter reading and felt that “of God” would have seemed a natural addition to a scribe. The majority of the committee, however, was attracted to the longer reading because Matthew seldom employs βασιλεία (“kingdom”) without a modifier (the instances in 8:12; 13:38; 24:7, 14 were regarded as special exceptions), and attributed the absence of a modifier in several witnesses to accidental scribal omission. In view of these conflicting interpretations, Metzger concluded, it was thought best to include the words in the text but to enclose them within square brackets.
I always have reservations about the author’s style as a criterion, but the Gospel of Matthew is a sufficiently long work (as NT documents go) to consider evaluating style, provided that there are multiple occurrences of the word or phrase in question. The argument of the NA committee here can easily be checked if the reader has access to any adequate computer application to manipulate the Greek text. In fact, an English search tool should be sufficient in this case, and I leave to the reader to make his or her own decision about the accuracy of the committee’s conclusion.
As an aside, I note that dissenting opinions are sometimes signed in Metzger’s Commentary, and it would have been helpful to know where Kurt Aland stood on the issue, given that the shorter reading was also, the earlier reading. This would seem to favor it in the Alands’ local-genealogical method.
We have already seen that a number of critics take the position that scribes more often omit than add, so the shorter reading criterion carries little weight in this decision, and consequently it is even more difficult that it might appear from Metzger’s discussion. In seeing how this issue has filtered down to Bible translations, we can conclude that the ESV translators settled on a reasoned eclectic choice in this variation unit, resulting in their agreement with the NKJV.
Did Mark use good Greek?
Mark 1:37 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
…they found Him, and *said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
The problem here is not at all evident because it is completely hidden behind English that appears normal, and it is not covered in Metzger’s Commentary. Those familiar with NASB style know that the asterisk (*) indicates a peculiarity in Greek, a present tense used for the past, but this is not the issue. If we ignore it, the original Greek essentially has, “and they found Him and said to him.” I mention this variation unit because it illustrates the issue of Attic Greek that we discussed earlier. In “classical,” Attic Greek (I would say conventional ancient Greek), subordination was used to connect verbs, a grammatical style called hypotaxis. English more often uses parataxis, a structure connecting verbs together with conjunctions, and ancient Hebrew/Aramaic used parataxis heavily. The Greeks preferred to make one verb the “main” verb grammatically and attach others to it as participles or other verbal forms, a practice that was foreign to Hebrew/Aramaic style.
In the reading of 03 and 01 for 1:37, Mark has the two verbs cited above connected by the conjunction “and,” just as the translation indicates. In the MT and other manuscripts, however, “found” has the form of a participle, as one would expect of conventional Greek. Though 03 and 01 are nearly alone in their support of the paratactic reading, a documentarian will somewhat reluctantly choose their reading lacking reasons to do otherwise. This kind of external support means nothing to a thoroughgoing eclectic or a reasoned eclectic taking the local-genealogical approach (recall the Alands’ position on a small group of manuscripts). However, internal criteria would favor the paratactic reading as well. Mark’s Gospel is a relatively substantial work, and he seldom uses hypotaxis instead of parataxis in these narratives. We can assume that the MT reading was the work of scribes who perceived Mark’s parataxis as non-standard Greek and were attempting to improve it. So it comes as no surprise that the reading of 03/01 appeals to documentarians and reasoned eclectics alike. Those favoring the MT will most likely choose its reading.
There are a few instances in Mark’s Gospel where he uses conventional hypotaxis, and I think they are sufficient to indicate that he could write in that style when he desired. I see his parataxis and other unconventional features of his Greek as the result of translating eyewitness accounts in the forms that he received them. The same stylistic variations can be seen in Luke, only to a much greater extent, and we know that Luke was capable of writing literary Greek.
Did Paul write “let us pursue” or “we pursue”?
Rom 14:19 English Standard Version (ESV)
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Rom 14:19 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
This is one of the more difficult variation units that one may encounter, depending on one’s preferred method or approach. It should be an easy decision for MT advocates because the MT has “let us pursue” (cf. the NKJV), and that makes good sense in the context. But when it seems that the moment is right for exhortation, 03, 01, and a number of other witnesses read “we pursue” instead, and Paul does not deliver another command until verse 20 (“Do not tear down…”).
This is a convenient opportunity to call attention to the GNT rating system. The choice of “let us pursue” has the lowest level of confidence, a ‘D’ rating. Many have criticized the rating system as being too subjective or simiply inadequate, but I think it is useful in revealing what the editors thought, whether one agrees with them or not. In this case, Metzger also makes the extraordinary statement in his Commentary that the reading “we pursue” has “slightly superior uncial support.” One wonders if he had his tongue in his cheek when he wrote that, considering that the reading is supported by 01, 02, 03, and others. It might be a little stronger if it also had the support of 06 (D), which agrees with the MT, but the decision is an easy one for documentarians if only external evidence is considered.
Metzger notes in the same place that Paul’s style fits the simple “we pursue” here, but there are two factors we must consider that complicate the issue. First, the two forms of the verb in question might have sounded nearly alike to a scribe. This fact would tend to make the manuscript evidence of far less significance since an error–if there was one–could have crept in very early after the autograph. The second factor is that of the harder reading (lectio difficilior). Clearly “we pursue” is the harder reading because we expect an exhortation instead. That, taken together with its superior external support, seems to make it the better choice. But Metzger reports that the committee felt that the context required “let us pursue.” In essence, they rejected the lectio difficilior in this case as too difficult.
The case for this reading being too difficult can legitimately be made because it is easy to explain it as a misspelling of the verb based on the similarity of sound that I mentioned above. Even deliberating as a documentarian, I would have to take this into serious consideration. To base the decision entirely on the manuscript support might be irresponsible in this case. In the end, I am still inclined toward the “we pursue” reading for two reasons: 1) it is difficult, but it does not seem impossible in the context; 2) as Metzger pointed out, Paul’s style better fits it. With the latter, I also take into account that fact that Romans is a book of relatively substantial length, long enough to provide evidence of the author’s style.
1 Corinthians 13:3
Did Paul refer to martyrdom by fire?
1 Corinthians 13:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
…and if I surrender my body to be burned…
1 Corinthians 13:3 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
…and if I hand over my body so that I may boast…
I close this chapter with one more example from Paul, another challenging one, but also one that is especially interesting. It is an easier decision for advocates of the MT than for documentarians, though the MT is problematic. We will probably agree that Paul is referring to martyrdom, and granting that, the phrase “to be burned” clearly makes more sense than the phrase about boasting. The two Greek verbs in question have almost identical spelling, differing only at one letter. However, the letter in the one word would not normally be confused with the corresponding letter in the other, so we can start with the assumption that the scribe or scribes who first made the change inferred that the one verb was an error for the other. If so, it follows that the verb for boasting was changed to that for burning rather than the reverse.
The MT has a future subjunctive verb, which may mean nothing to you, but as a matter of fact, no such form exists in Greek! It turns out that a good number of other manuscripts have almost the same verb, but in the future indicative–which does exist–and the difference between the two is a single letter: a short ‘o’ (omicron) vs. a long ‘o’ (omega). Not to bore you with grammar, I hope, I need to add that the subjunctive is needed in conventional Greek for the construction Paul used here. Nevertheless, the future indicative is sometimes used in the same construction elsewhere. Knowing that we can reverse-engineer the thinking that led to the reading in the MT: a scribe found the future indicative, considered it a mistake for the subjunctive, and changed part of the spelling but forgot to delete the rest that stood for the future tense.
So I think those who favor the MT can concede that a simple mistake was made in that text, but that the intent of the scribe was the word for “burn,” which is also the meaning that seems to make much better sense. As we have already observed, easier readings are typical of the MT.
Documentarians are faced with very convincing manuscript support for the verb that means “boast.” The same uncial manuscripts that Metzger called “slightly superior” above for the reading in Rom. 14:19 are in this case called “early and weighty” by him, as they should be. There is no doubt about this being the harder reading; it is inconceivable that if burning were the reading of the original, it would be changed to “that I may boast.” The only question is whether it is too hard to be viable.
Some might protest that Paul could not boast postmortem in any case, but I think he could have referred to last words prior to execution, if not sooner. So the question mainly becomes whether the pejorative connotation associated with boasting can be mitigated here. It is possible that Paul is referring to a justified boast, as he seems to in 2 Cor. 8:24, Phil. 2:16, 1 Thess. 2:19, and 2 Thess. 1:4. I suspect it is also possible that he did not mean to refer to such boasting. Perhaps he intended to portray martyrdom as it was accepted by some with wrong attitudes. As we think these possibilities through, we are working with internal criteria: the author’s usage elsewhere and the context.
As a translator for the NASB, I especially like this one because it gives me the opportunity to have a slice of humble pie. I am always very reluctant to put a lectio difficilior reading with the best external support in the category of being too difficult to be viable unless there is a good explanation for its creation as an error. In this case, I think “boast” is viable and should, therefore, be the preferred reading, but the opinion of the other translators prevailed. Oh well, no one is perfect (myself especially). I must at least concede that the great similarity between the two words in spelling and thereby in sound as well could have provided an opportunity for the creation of “boast” as an error.
I hope these examples have revealed how textual criticism can be done practically, focusing on the criteria that are not only relevant for each variant unit but also for the particular approach used. I confess to having said relatively little in reference to thoroughgoing eclectics. At the risk of oversimplification, I remind the reader that in this approach the manuscript evidence does not matter, and only internal criteria count. In any case, I believe future work in textual criticism will necessarily focus on the CBGM, which we will discuss later.
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SECTION 1 Surviving Sexual Desires and Love will cover such subjects as What Is Wrong with Flirting, The Pornography Deception, Peer Pressure to Have Sexual Relations, Coping With Constant Sexual Thoughts, Fully Understanding Sexting, Is Oral Sex Really Sex, …SECTION 2 Surviving My Friends will cover such subjects as Dealing with Loneliness, Where Do I Fit In, Why I Struggle with Having Friends, …SECTION 3 Surviving the Family will cover such subjects as Appreciating the House Rules, Getting Along with My Brothers and Sisters, How Do I Find Privacy, … SECTION 4 Surviving School will cover such subjects as How Do I Deal With Bullies, How Can I Cope With School When I Hate It, … SECTION 5 Surviving Who I Am will cover such subjects as Why Do I Procrastinate, … SECTION 6 Surviving Recreation will cover such subjects as … SECTION 7 Surviving My Health will cover such subjects as How Can I Overcome My Depression, …
Who should read THIRTEEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD KEEP LIVING? Anyone who is struggling in their walk as a young person. Anyone who has a friend who is having difficulty handling or coping with their young life, so you can offer them the help they need. Any parent who has young ones. And grade school, junior high or high school that wants to provide an, in touch, anti-suicide message to their students. … Many youths say that they would never dream of killing themselves. Still, they all have the deep feeling that there are no reasons for going on with their lives. Some have even hoped that some sort of accident would take their pain away for them. They view death as a release, a way out, a friend, not their enemy. …
The purpose of Waging War is to guide the youth of this program from start to finish in their therapeutic efforts to gain insight into their patterns of thinking and beliefs that have led to the current outcomes in their life thus far and enable them to change the path which they are on. Waging War is a guide to start the youth with the most basic information and work pages to the culmination of all of the facts, scripture, and their newly gained insight to offer a more clear picture of where they are and how to change their lives for the better. Every chapter will have work pages that Freeman has used and had found to be useful in therapy, but most importantly, this workbook will teach the Word to a population that does not hear it in its’ most correct form. What is the significance of controlling ones’ thoughts and how does that apply to you? Doubts, fears, and insecurities come from somewhere, especially when they are pervasive. Understanding this idea will help one to fight those thoughts and free them from the shackles their mind puts around their hearts, preventing them from achieving their dreams and the plans God had intended for them when they were created.
There are many reasons the Christian view of humanity is very important. The Christian view of humanity believes that humans were created in the image of God. We will look at the biblical view of humanity. We are going to look at the nature of man, the freedom of man, the personality of man, the fall of man, the nature of sin and death, as well as why God has allowed sin to enter into the world, as well as all of the wickedness and suffering that came with it. Andrews will answer the following questions and far more. How does the Bible explain and describe the creation of man and woman? Why is it imperative that we understand our fallen condition? What does it mean to be made in the image of God? …
In FOR AS I THINK IN MY HEART – SO I AM, Edward D. Andrews offers practical and biblical insights on a host of Christian spiritual growth struggles, from the challenge of forgiveness to eating disorders, anger, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, pornography, masturbation, same-sex attraction, and many others. Based on Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV): “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he,” Andrews’ text works from the position that if we can change the way that we think, we can alter the way we feel, which will modify the way we behave. FOR AS I THINK IN MY HEART – SO I AM offers far more than self-help to dozens of spiritual struggles, personal difficulties, and mental disorders. It will benefit Christian and non-Christian alike. The Scriptural advice and counsel coupled with cognitive behavioral therapy will be helpful even if every chapter is not one of your struggles. For As I Think in My Heart enables readers to examine the lies and half-truths …
THERE IS A GENUINE HAPPINESS, contentment, and joy, which come from reading, studying and applying God’s Word. This is true because the Scriptures offer us guidance and direction that aids us in living a life that coincides with our existence as a creation of Almighty God. For example, we have a moral law that was written on our heart. (Rom. 2:14-15) However, at the same time, we have a warring against the law of our mind and taking us captive in the law of sin, which is in our members. (Rom. 7:21-25) When we live by the moral law, it brings us joy, when we live by the law of sin; it brings about distress, anxiety, regrets to both mind and heart, creating a conflict between our two natures. In our study of the Bible, we can interact with a living God who wants a personal relationship with us. And in APPLYING GOD’S WORD MORE FULLY, we will learn how to engage His words like never before. Andrews helps his readers …
THERE IS ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE between Christian living books by Andrews and those by others. Generally speaking, his books are filled with Scripture and offer its readers what the Bible authors meant by what they penned. In this publication, it is really God’s Word offering the counsel, which is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) From the moment that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, humans have been brought forth in sin, having become more and more mentally bent toward evil, having developed a heart (i.e., inner person) that is treacherous, and unknowable to them, with sin’s law dwelling within them. Sadly, many of us within the church have not been fully informed …
A clean conscience brings us inner peace, calmness, and profound joy that is seldom found in this world under the imperfection of fallen flesh that is catered to by Satan, the god of the world. Many who were formerly living in sin and have now turned their life over to God, they now know this amazing relief and are able today to hold a good and clean conscience as they carry out the will of the Father. WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD, has been written to help its readers to find that same joy, to have and maintain a good, clean conscience in their lives. Of course, it is incapable of covering every detail that one would need to consider and apply in their lives …
This book is primarily for WIVES, but husbands will greatly benefit from it as well. WIVES will learn to use God’s Word to construct a solid and happy marriage. The Creator of the family gives the very best advice. Many have been so eager to read this new publication: WIVES BE SUBJECT TO YOUR HUSBANDS. It offers wives the best insights into a happy marriage, by way of using God’s Word as the foundational guide, along with Andrews’ insights. WIVES learn that marriage is a gift from God. WIVEStake in information that will help them survive the first year of marriage. WIVES will be able to make Christian marriage a success. WIVES will maintain an honorable marriage. WIVES will see how to submit correctly to Christ’s headship. WIVES will learn how to strengthen their marriage through good communication. …
This book is primarily for HUSBANDS, but wives will greatly benefit from it as well. HUSBANDS will learn to use God’s Word to construct a solid and happy marriage. The Creator of the family gives the very best advice. Many have been so eager to read this new publication: HUSBANDS LOVE YOUR WIVES. It offers husbands the best insights into a happy marriage, by way of using God’s Word as the foundational guide, along with Andrews’ insights. HUSBANDS learn that marriage is a gift from God. HUSBANDS take in information that will help them survive the first year of marriage. HUSBANDS will be able to make Christian marriage a success. HUSBANDS will maintain an honorable marriage. …
Technological and societal change is all around us. What does the future hold? Trying to predict the future is difficult, but we can get a clue from the social and technological trends in our society. The chapters in this book provide a framework as Christians explore the uncharted territory in our world of technology and social change. Some of the questions that Anderson will answer are: What are the technological challenges of the 21st century? How should we think about the new philosophies like transhumanism? Should we be concerned about big data? What about our privacy in a world where government and corporations have some much information about us? How should we think about a world experiencing exponential growth in data and knowledge? What social trends are affecting baby boomers, baby busters, and millennials?
Government affects our daily lives, and Christians need to think about how to apply biblical principles to politics and government. This book provides an overview of the biblical principles relating to what the apostle Paul calls “governing authorities” (i.e., government) with specific chapters dealing with the founding principles of the American government. This includes an examination of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers. The thirteen chapters in this book not only look at the broad founding principles but also provide an in-depth look at other important political and governmental issues. One section explains the history and application of church and state issues. Another section describes aspects of political debate and discourse. A final section provides a brief overview of the Christian heritage of this nation that was important in the founding of this country and the framing of our founding documents.
Economics affects our daily lives, and Christians need to think about how to apply biblical principles to money, investment, borrowing, and spending. They also need to understand the free enterprise system and know how to defend capitalism. Chapters in this book not only look at broad economic principles, but a section of the book is devoted to the challenges we face in the 21st century from globalization and tough economic times. A section of the book also provides an in-depth look at other important social and economic issues (gambling, welfare) that we face every day …
Do you desire to follow Jesus Christ and transform the culture around you? Are you sure you know what it means to be a disciple and follow a dangerous revolutionary who often comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable? Jesus Christ is not the mild status quo rabbi you may have been taught in your local church. He is dangerous and anyone who follows him is on a dangerous journey. The demands he places upon you and the challenges you will encounter are necessary on the journey. The journey with Jesus Christ is not for the fainthearted. If you are really serious about joining Jesus Christ in the transformation of the culture around you, here is a raw outlook on what to expect on this DANGEROUS JOURNEY.
Each of the twenty-five chapters in the POWER THROUGH PRAYER provides helpful methods and suggestions for growing and improving your prayer life with God through the power of prayer. So, what can we expect if we make prayer a part of our life? Prayer can give you a peace of mind. Prayer can comfort and strength when facing trials. Prayer can help us make better life choices. The Bible says: “If any of you lacks wisdom [especially in dealing with trials], let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5) Prayer can help to avoid temptation. Prayer is the path yo forgiveness of sins. Your prayers can help others. You will receive encouragement when your prayers are answered.
DOZENS OF QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED: Why is prayer necessary? What must we do to be heard by God? How does God answer our prayers? Does God listen to all prayers? Does God hear everyone’s prayers? What may we pray about? Does the Father truly grant everything we ask for? What kind of prayers would the Father reject? How long should our prayers be? How often should we pray? Why should we say “Amen” at the end of a prayer? Must we assume a special position or posture when praying? There are far more than this asked and answered.
What forms of prayer do you personally need to offer more often? Who benefits when you pray for others? Why is it important to pray regularly? Why should true Christians pray continually? To whom should we pray, and how? What are proper subjects for prayer? When should you pray? Does God listen to all prayers? Whose prayers is God willing to hear? What could make a person’s prayers unacceptable to God? When Jesus says, “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith,” an absolute guarantee that we will receive it? HOW TO PRAY by Torrey and Andrews is a spiritual gem that will answer all of these questions and far more. HOW TO PRAY is a practical guidebook covers the how, when, and most importantly, the way of praying. An excellent devotional resource for any Christian library.
Christian Apologetics and Evangelism
Was the Gospel of Mark Written First? Were the Gospel Writers Plagiarists? What is the Q Document? What about Document Q? Critical Bible scholars have assumed that Matthew and Luke used the book of Mark to compile their Gospels and that they consulted a supplementary source, a document the scholars call Q from the German Quelle, or source. From the close of the first century A.D. to the 18th century, the reliability of the Gospels was never really brought into question. However, once we enter the so-called period of enlightenment, especially from the 19th century onward, some critical Bible scholars viewed the Gospels not as the inspired, inerrant Word of God but rather as the word of man, and a jumbled word at that. In addition, they determined that the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, saying the Gospels were written after the apostles, denying that the writers of the Gospels had any firsthand knowledge of Jesus; therefore, for these Bible critics such men were unable to offer a record of reliable history. Moreover, these critical Bible scholars came to the conclusion that the similarities in structure and content in the synoptic (similar view) Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), suggests that the evangelists copied extensively from one other. Further, the critical Bible scholars have rejected that the miracles of Jesus and his resurrection ever occurred as recorded in the Gospels. Lastly, some have even gone so far as to reject the historicity of Jesus himself.
Inside of some Christians unbeknownst to their family, friends or the church, they are screaming, “I doubt, I doubt, I have very grave doubts!” Ours is an age of doubt. Skepticism has become fashionable. We are urged to question everything: especially the existence of God and the truthfulness of his Word, the Bible. A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION of REASONABLE FAITH is on healing for the elements of emotional doubt. However, much attention is given to more evidenced-based chapters in our pursuit of overcoming any fears or doubts that we may have or that may creep up on us in the future.
How can you improve your effectiveness as teachers? Essentially, it is by imitating THE GREAT TEACHER: Jesus Christ. You may wonder, ‘But how can we imitate Jesus?’ ‘He was the perfect, divine, Son of God.’ Admittedly, you cannot be a perfect teacher. Nevertheless, regardless of your abilities, you can do your best to imitate the way Jesus taught. THE GREAT TEACHER: Jesus Christ will discuss how you can employ all of his teaching methods.
How can you improve your effectiveness as teachers? Essentially, it is by imitating THE TEACHER the Apostle Paul. You may wonder, ‘But how can we imitate Paul?’ ‘He was an inspired author, who served as an apostle, given miraculous powers.’ Admittedly, Paul likely accomplished more than any other imperfect human. Nevertheless, regardless of your abilities, you can do your best to imitate the way Paul taught. THE TEACHER the Apostle Paul will discuss how you can employ all of his teaching methods.
How true is the Old Testament? For over two centuries Biblical scholars have held to the so-called documentary hypothesis, namely, that Genesis – Deuteronomy was not authored by Moses, but rather by several writers, some of whom lived centuries after Moses’ time. How have many scholars questioned the writership of Isaiah, and are they correct? When did skepticism regarding the writership of Isaiah begin, and how did it spread? What dissecting of the book of Isaiah has taken place? When did criticism of the book of Daniel begin, and what fueled similar criticism in more recent centuries? What charges are sometimes made regarding the history in Daniel? Why is the question of the authenticity of the books of Moses, the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Daniel an important one? What evidence is there to show that the books of Moses, the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Daniel is authentic and true? Do these critics have grounds for challenging these Bible author’s authenticity and historical truthfulness? Why is it important to discuss whether Old Testament Aurhoriship is authentic and true or not?
Agabus is a mysterious prophetic figure that appears only twice in the book of Acts. Though his role is minor, he is a significant figure in a great debate between cessationists and continualists. On one side are those who believe that the gift of prophecy is on par with the inspired Scriptures, infallible, and has ceased. On the other side are those who define it as fallible and non-revelatory speech that continues today in the life of the church. Proponents of both camps attempt to claim Agabus as an illustration of their convictions. This study defends the position that Agabus’ prophecies are true in every detail. Beginning with a survey of major figures in the debate, the author conducts an exegetical analysis of passages where Agabus appears in defense of the infallible view.
Islam is making a significant mark on our world. It is perhaps the fastest-growing religion in the world. It has become a major obstacle to Christian missions. And Muslim terrorists threaten the West and modern democracies. What is the history of Islam? What do Muslims believe? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Why do we have this clash of civilizations? Is sharia law a threat to modern democratic values? How can we fight terrorists in the 21st century? These are significant questions that deserve thoughtful answers. This book provides practical, biblical answers so Christians can understand Islam, witness to their Muslim friends, and support efforts by the government to protect all of us from terrorism.
IS THE QURAN THE WORD OF GOD? Is Islam the One True Faith? This book covers the worldview, practices, and history of Islam and the Quran. This book is designed as an apologetic evangelistic tool for Christians, as they come across Muslims in their daily lives, as well as to inform them, as a protection again the misleading media. The non-Muslims need to hear these truths about Islam and the Quran so they can have an accurate understanding of the Muslim mindset that leads to their actions. Islam is the second largest religion in the world. Radical Islam has taken the world by storm, and the “fake media” has genuinely misled their audience for the sake of political correctness. This book is not a dogmatic attack on Islam and the Quran but rather an uncovering of the lies and describing of the truths. The reader will be introduced to the most helpful way of viewing the evidence objectively. We will answer the question of whether the Quran is a literary miracle, as well as is there evidence that the Quran is inspired by God, along with is the Quran harmonious and consistent, and is the Quran from God or man? We will also examine Islamic teachings, discuss the need to search for the truth, as well as identify the book of truth. We will look at how Islam views the Bible. Finally, we will take up the subjects of Shariah Law, the rise of radical Islam, Islamic eschatology, and how to effectively witness to Muslims.
The average Christian knows somewhat how dangerous radical Islam is because of the regular media coverage of beheadings of Christians, Jews, and even young little children, not to mention Muslims with which they disagree. However, the average Christian does not know their true beliefs, just how many there are, to the extent they will go to carry out these beliefs. Daily we find Islamic commentators on the TV and radio, offering up misleading information, quoting certain portions of the Quran while leaving other parts out. When considering Islamic beliefs, other Islamic writings must be considered, like the Hadith or Sunnah, and the Shariah, or canon law. While Islam, in general, does not support radical Islam, the vast majority do support radical beliefs. For example, beheadings, stoning for adultery or homosexuality, suicide bombings, turning the world into an Islamic state, and far too many other heinous things. THE GUIDE TO ISLAM provides Christians with an overview of Islamic terminology. The reader will learn about Muhammad’s calling, the history of the Quran, how Islam expanded, the death of Muhammad and the splinter groups that followed. In addition, the three sources of their teaching, six pillars of belief, five pillars of Islam, the twelfth Imam, and much more will be discussed. All of this from the mind of radical Islam. While there are several books on Islam and radical Islam, this will be the first that will prepare its readers to communicate effectively with Muslims in an effort toward sharing biblical truths. …
If you have the desire to become better equipped to reach others for the lost or to strengthen your faith, Judy Salisbury’s guide—written specifically to meet the needs of Christian women today—offers you a safe, practical, and approachable place to start. In her lively, … If you have the desire to become better equipped to reach others for the lost or to strengthen your faith, Judy Salisbury’s guide—written specifically to meet the needs of Christian women today—offers you a safe, practical, and approachable place to start. In her lively, straightforward style, Salisbury covers such issues as: Does God exist? Can I trust the Bible? Does Christianity oppress women? Can we know truth? Why would God allow evil and suffering? Was Jesus God and did He really rise from the dead? How does or should my faith guide my life?
A Time to Speak: Practical Training for the Christian Presenteris a complete guide for effective communication and presentation skills. Discuss any subject with credibility and confidence, from Christian apologetics to the sensitive moral issues of our day, when sharing a testimony, addressing a school board, a community meeting, or conference. This exceptional training is the perfect resource for Christians with any level of public speaking ability. With its easy, systematic format, A Time to Speak is also an excellent resource for home-schooled and college students. The reader, in addition to specific skills and techniques, will also learn how to construct their presentation content, diffuse hostility, guidance for a successful Q&A, effective ways to turn apathy into action, and tips on gaining their speaking invitation.
Historical Criticism of the Bible got started in earnest, known then as Higher Criticism, during the 18th and 19th centuries, it is also known as the Historical-Critical Method of biblical interpretation. Are there any weakness to the Historical-Critical Method of biblical interpretation (Historical Criticism), and why is historical criticism so popular among Bible scholars today? Its popularity is because biblical criticism is subjective, that is, based on or influenced by personal feelings or opinions and is dependent on the Bible scholar’s perception. In other words, biblical criticism allows the Bible scholar, teacher, or pastor the freedom to interpret the Scriptures, so that God’s Word it tells them things that they want to hear. Why is this book so critical for all Christians? Farnell and Andrews will inform the reader about Biblical criticism (historical criticism) and its weaknesses, helping you to defend God’s Word far better.
Biblical criticism is an umbrella term covering various techniques for applying literary historical-critical methods in analyzing and studying the Bible and its textual content. Biblical criticism is also known as higher criticism, literary criticism, and historical criticism. Biblical criticism has done nothing more than weaken and demoralize people’s assurance in the Bible as being the inspired and fully inerrant Word of God and is destructive in its very nature. Historical criticism is made up of many forms of biblical criticism that are harmful to the authoritative Word of God: historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, social-science criticism, canonical criticism, rhetorical criticism, structural criticism, narrative criticism, reader-response criticism, and feminist criticism. Not just liberal scholarship, but many moderate, even some “conservative” scholars have …
APOLOGETICS: Reaching Hearts with the Art of Persuasion by Edward D. Andrews, author of over seventy books, covers information that proves that the Bible is accurate, trustworthy, fully inerrant, and inspired by God for the benefit of humankind. The reader will be introduced to Christan apologetics and evangelism. They will learn what Christian apologetics is. They will be given a biblical answer to the most demanding Bible question: Problem of Evil. The reader will learn how to reach hearts with are the art of persuasion. They will use persuasion to help others accept Christ. They will learn to teach with insight and persuasiveness. They will learn to use persuasion to reach the heart of those who listen to them.
REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is going to challenge your objectivity. Being objective means that personal feelings or opinions do not influence you in considering and representing facts. Being subjective means that your understanding is based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or ideas. If the reader finds these insights offense, it might be a little mind control at work from years of being told the same misinformation repeatedly, so ponder things objectively. We can also have preconceived ideas that have been a part of our thinking for so long; we do not question them. Preconceived is an idea or opinion that is formed before having the evidence for its truth. If we are to be effective, we must season our words, so that they are received well. Then there is the term preconception, which means a preconceived idea or prejudice. Seasoned words, honesty, and accuracy are distinctive features of effective apologetic evangelism.
Use of REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES should help you to cultivate the ability to reason from the Scriptures and to use them effectively in assisting others to learn about “the mighty works of God.” – Acts 2:11. If Christians are going to be capable, powerful, efficient teachers of God’s Word, we must not only pay attention to what we tell those who are interested but also how we tell them. Yes, we must focus our attention on the message of God’s Word that we share but also the method in which we do so. Our message, the Gospel (i.e., the good news of the Kingdom), this does not change, but we do adjust our methods. Why? We are seeking to reach as many receptive people as possible. “You will be my witnesses … to the End of the Earth.” – ACTS 1:8.
Why should we be interested in the religion of others? The world has become a melting pot of people, cultures, and values, as well as many different religions. Religion has the most significant impact on the lives of mankind today. There are only a few of the major religions that make up billions of people throughout the earth. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. God’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) God has assigned all Christians the task of proclaiming the Word of God, teaching, to make disciples. (Matt. 24:15; 28:19-20: Ac 1;8) That includes men and women who profess a non-Christian religion, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam to mention just a few. If there are Hindus, Buddhist or Muslims are in your community, why not initiate a conversation with them? Christians who take the Great Commission seriously cannot afford to ignore these religions. …
Evangelism is the work of a Christian evangelist, of which all true Christians are obligated to partake to some extent, which seeks to persuade other people to become Christian, especially by sharing the basics of the Gospel, but also the deeper message of biblical truths. Today the Gospel is almost an unknown, so what does the Christian evangelist do? Preevangelism is laying a foundation for those who have no knowledge of the Gospel, giving them background information, so that they can grasp what they are hearing. The Christian evangelist is preparing their mind and heart so that they will be receptive to the biblical truths. In many ways, this is known as apologetics. Christian apologetics [Greek: apologia, “verbal defense, speech in defense”] is a field of Christian theology which endeavors to offer a reasonable and sensible basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections. It is reasoning from the Scriptures, explaining and proving, as one instructs in sound doctrine, many times having to overturn false reasoning before he can plant the seeds of truth. …
MOST Christian apologetic books help the reader know WHAT to say; THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST is HOW to communicate it effectively. The Christian apologist’s words should always be seasoned with salt as he or she shares the unadulterated truths of Scripture with gentleness and respect. Our example in helping the unbeliever to understand the Bible has been provided by Jesus Christ and his apostles. Whether dealing with Bible critics or answering questions from those genuinely interested, Jesus referred to the Scriptures and at times used appropriate illustrations, helping those with a receptive heart to accept the Word of God. The apostle Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving” what was biblically true. (Ac 17:2-3) The material in THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST can enable us to do the same. Apologist Normal L. Geisler informs us that “evangelism is planting seeds of the Gospel” and “pre-evangelism is tilling the soil of people’s minds and hearts to help them be more willing to listen to the truth (1 Cor. 3: 6).”
THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK is a practical guide (for real-life application) in aiding all Christians in sharing biblical beliefs, the Good News of the Kingdom, how to deal with Bible critics, overturning false beliefs, so as to make disciples, as commanded by Christ. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8) Why do Christians desire to talk about their beliefs? Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14) This is the assignment, which all Christians are obligated to assist in carrying out. Jesus also said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39) Jesus commanded that we “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them” and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20) If one failed to be obedient to the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20, he or she could hardly claim that they have genuine faith. All true Christians have a determination to imitate God, which moves us to persist in reflecting his glory through our sharing Bible beliefs with others.
“Absorbing, instructional, insightful. Judy Salisbury’s book Divine Appointments embodies examples of truly speaking the truth in love. The stories she weaves together provide perfect examples of how to relate to others through conversational evangelism… Divine Appointments is an apt companion to any apologetics book, showing how to put principles into practice. It’s an apologetics manual wrapped in a warm blanket. Snuggle up with it.”— Julie Loos, Director, Ratio Christi Boosters
The reader will receive eight small introductory books in this one publication. Andrews’ intention is to offer his reader several chapters on eight of the most critical subject areas of understanding and defending the Word of God. This will enable the reader to lay a solid foundation for which he can build throughout his Christian life. These eight sections with multiple chapters in each cover biblical interpretation, Bible translation philosophies, textual criticism, Bible difficulties, the Holy Spirit, Christian Apologetics, Christian Evangelism, and Christian Living.
“‘Deep’ study is no guarantee that mature faith will result, but shallow study guarantees that immaturity continues.”(p. xiii)—Dr. Lee M. Fields.
The Culture War. How the West lost its greatness and was weakened from within outlines how the West lost its values, causing its current decline. It is a forceful attack on the extreme liberal, anti-religious ideology which since the 1960’s has permeated the Western culture and weakened its very core. The West is now characterized by strict elitist media censorship, hedonism, a culture of drug abuse, abortion, ethnic clashes and racial divide, a destructive feminism and the dramatic breakdown of the family. An ultra-rich elite pushes our nations into a new, authoritarian globalist structure, with no respect for Western historical values. Yet, even in the darkest hour, there is hope. This manifesto outlines the remedy for the current malaise and describes the greatness of our traditional and religious values that once made our civilization prosper. It shows how we can restore these values to bring back justice, mercy, faith, honesty, fidelity, kindness and respect for one another. Virtues that will motivate individuals to love one another, the core of what will make us great again.
EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE FIRST CENTURY will give its readers a thrilling account of first-century Christianity. When and how did they come to be called Christians? Who are all obligated to be Christian evangelists? In what way did Jesus set the example for our evangelism? What is the Kingdom of God? What was their worship like and why were they called the Truth and the Way? How did 120 disciples at Pentecost grow to over one million within 70-80-years? What was meant by their witness to the ends of the earth? How did Christianity in its infancy function to accomplish all it did? How was it structured? How were the early Christians, not of the world? How were they affected by persecution? How were they not to love the world, in what sense? What divisions were there in the second and third centuries? Who were the Gnostics? These questions will be answered, as well as a short overview of the division that grew out of the second and third centuries, pre-reformation, the reformation, and a summary of Catholicism and Protestantism. After a lengthy introduction to First-Century Christianity, there is a chapter on the Holy Spirit in the First Century and Today, followed by sixteen chapters that cover the most prominent Christians from the second to fourth centuries, as well as a chapter on Constantine the Great.
Inside of some Christians unbeknownst to their family, friends or congregation, they are screaming, “I doubt, I doubt, I have very grave doubts!” OURS is an age of doubt. Skepticism has become fashionable. We are urged to question everything: especially the existence of God and the truthfulness of his Word, the Bible. A half brother of Jesus warned us against doubting: “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (Jam. 1:6) When insidious doubts begin to creep into the mind and the heart, it is only a matter of time before a CRISIS OF FAITH gives way spiritual shipwreck. Since we have been warned that “some will fall away from the faith,” we should be ready “to save some,” even ourselves. …
The intention of this book is to investigate the biblical chronology behind Jehovah’s Witnesses most controversial doctrinal position that Jesus began to rule invisibly from heaven in October 1914. This biblical chronology of the Witnesses hinges upon their belief that the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which they say occurred in 607 B.C.E. The Witnesses conclude that Chapter 4 of the book of Daniel prophesied a 2,520 year period that began in 607 B.C.E. and ended in 1914 C.E. They state, “Clearly, the ‘seven times’ and ‘the appointed times of the nations’ refer to the same time period.” (Lu 21:24) It is their position that When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, the Davidic line of kings was interrupted, God’s throne was “trampled on by the nations” until 1914, at which time Jesus began to rule invisibly from heaven. …
In order to overcome and church problems, we must first talk about the different problems of the church. Many of the church problems today stem from the isms: liberalism, humanism, modernism, Christian progressivism, theological liberalism, feminism, higher criticism, and biblical criticism. Moreover, many are simply not a biblically grounded church regardless of how much they claim to be so. The marks of a true Christian church would be like the different lines that make up a church’s fingerprint, a print that cannot belong to any other church. The true Christian church contains their own unique grouping of marks, forming a positive “fingerprint” that cannot belong to any other church. William Lange Craig wrote, “Remember that our faith is not based on emotions, but on the truth, and therefore you must hold on to it.” What truth? Jesus said to the Father in prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Are you doing the will of the Father? Is your church doing the will of the Father? – Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:15-17.
Evangelist Norman Robertson claims that “Tithing is God’s way of financing His kingdom on the earth.” He asserts that “It is His system of economics which enables the Gospel to be preached.” Not bashful about telling his followers of their duty to give, he flatly states: ‘Tithing isn’t something you do because you can afford it. It is an act of obedience. Not tithing is a clear violation of God’s commandments. It is embezzlement.’ Most likely you accept that giving should be part of Christian worship. However, do you find continuous demanding appeals for money disturbing, perhaps even offensive? FLEECING THE FLOCK by Anthony Wade is an exhaustive examination of all of the popular tithing arguments made from the pulpit today. …
DECEPTION IN THE CHURCH by Fred DeRuvo asks Does It Matter How You Worship? There are 41,000 different denominations that call themselves “Christian” and all would claim that they are the truth. Can just any Christian denomination please God? Can all be true or genuine Christianity if they all have different views on the same Bible doctrines? DeRuvo will answer. He will focus on the largest part of Christianity that has many different denominations, the charismatic, ecstatic Signs and Wonders Movements. These ecstatic worshipers claim … DeRuvo will answer all these questions and more according to the truth of God’s Word.—John 8:31-32; 17:17.
Plunkett exposes the errors corrupting the Christian church through the Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, and extreme charismatic movements. LEARN TO DISCERN, by author Daniel Plunkett highlights how an encounter with a rising star in the Word of Faith / “Signs and Wonders” movement was used by God to open his eyes to the deceptions, false teachings, and spiritual abuses running rampant in the charismatic movement today. These doctrines are thoroughly explored as taught by some of today’s most prominent speakers and evangelists and contrasted with the clear teachings of Scripture. LEARN TO DISCERN is an invaluable resource …
Translation and Textual Criticism
The King James Bible was originally published in 1611. Some have estimated that the number of copies of the King James Version that have been produced in print worldwide is over one billion! There is little doubt that the King James Version is a literary masterpiece, which this author has and will appreciate and value for its unparalleled beauty of expression. This book is in no way trying to take away from what the King James Version has accomplished. The King James Version is a book to be commended for all that it has accomplished. For four centuries, when English-speaking people spoke of “the Bible,” they meant the King James Version. The question that begs to be asked of those who favor the King James Bible is, Do You Know the King James Version? What do most users of the King James Bible not know about their translation? Whether you are one who favors the King James Version or one who prefers a modern translation, Andrews will answer the questions that have long been asked for centuries about the King James Bible and far more.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO BIBLE TRANSLATION (CGBT) is for all individuals interested in how the Bible came down to us, as well as having an insight into the Bible translation process. CGBT is also for those who are interested in which translation(s) would be the most beneficial to use. The translation of God’s Word from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek is a task unlike any other and should never be taken lightly because it carries with it the heaviest responsibility: the translator renders God’s thoughts into a modern language. It is CGBT’s desire to take challenging and complex subjects and make them easy to understand. CGBT will communicate as clearly and powerfully as possible to all of its readers while also accurately communicating information about the Bible. …
We have come a long, long way from the time that the KJV was The Bible in English and the many translations available today. Finding the right Bible for the right person can be daunting, with almost too many choices available. However, it is still possible to divide the options into two broad categories: literal translations and dynamic equivalents. What is the difference, and why should you care? Bible publishers used to say that literal translations are good for study purposes, and dynamic equivalents are better for reading. So literal translations were advertised with terms like “accurate,” “reliable,” and, of course, “literal.” For dynamic equivalent translations, terms like “contemporary,” “easy to read,” and “written in today’s English” were used. Naturally, publishers do not advertise the negatives, so they did not point out that the literal translations might be a little harder to read, or that the dynamic equivalents might not be entirely faithful to the original languages of the Bible. However, more recently, some scholars have been taking this analysis in a new direction, assessing literal translations as less desirable than dynamic equivalents even for accuracy and reliability.
There are more than 150 different Bible translations in the English language alone. Some are what we call literal translations, which seeks to give the reader the exact English equivalent of what was written in the original language text, thus allowing the reader access to the actual Word of God. Then, there are dynamic equivalents, where the translator determines what the author meant by the original language text, and this is what they give the reader. There is also a paraphrase translation, which is an extremely interpretive translation. Exactly what are these differences? Are some translations better than others? What standards and principles can we use to determine what makes a good translation? Andrews introduces the readers to the central issues in this debate and presents several reasons why literal translations are superior to dynamic equivalent and paraphrase translations. We do not need to be a Bible scholar to understand these issues, as well as the importance of having the most accurate and faithful translation that is reflective of the original text. …
THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (TTNT) is an introduction, intermediate and advanced level coverage of the text of the New Testament. Andrews introduces the new and relatively new reader to this subject in the first few chapters of the TTNT. Andrews deepens his handling of the material, while still making it easy to understand in the next few chapters of the TTNT, all the while being very informative in both sections. All of this prepares the reader for Wilkins’ advanced chapters. THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT was copied and recopied by hand for 1,500 years. Regardless of those scribes who had worked very hard to be faithful in their copying, errors crept into the text. How can we be confident that what we have today is the Word of God? Wilkins and Andrews offer the reader an account of the copying by hand and transmission of the Greek New Testament. They present a comprehensive survey of the manuscript history from the penning of the 27 New Testament books to the current critical texts. What did the ancient books look like and how were documents written? How were the New Testament books published? Who would use secretaries? Why was it so hard to be a secretary in the first century? How was such work done? What do we know about the early Christian copyists? What were the scribal habits and tendencies? Is it possible to establish the original text of the NewTestament? …
THE EARLY CHRISTIAN COPYISTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT intends to examine and evaluate the making of New Testament books, the book writing process of the New Testament authors and early Christian Scribes, the original or earliest text of the New Testament, and the secretaries in antiquity and their materials. We will also assess the early Christian copyists, the reading culture of early Christianity and their view of the integrity of the Greek New Testament, scribal tendencies or habits, as well as the sources of New Testament textual criticism, which would include a lengthy chapter on ancient versions of the New Testament. We will also look into how paleographers date the ancient manuscripts and how did textual variations and manuscript families arise? Just how many textual variants are there and how are they to be counted? All of this to determine what guarantee do we have as to the reliability of the Greek text. What sort of changes did scribes make to the text and can we restore the Greek New Testament to its original state. NOTE: If you have read THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT by Andrews and Wilkins, you need not read this publication, as it is select chapters from TTNT.
Edward D. Andrews boldly answers the challenges Bart D. Ehrman alleges against the fully inerrant, Spirit-inspired, authoritative Word of God. By glimpsing into the life of Bart D. Ehrman and following along his course of academic studies, Andrews helps the reader to understand the biases, assumptions, and shortcomings supporting Ehrman’s arguments. Using sound reason, scholarly exegesis, and the Historical-Grammatical method of interpretation, as well as New Testament textual criticism, Andrews helps both churchgoer/Bible students, as well as scholars, overcome the teachings of biblical errancy that Ehrman propagates.—Easy to read and understand. …
CALVINISM VS. ARMINIANISM goes back to the early seventeenth century with a Christian theological debate between the followers of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius, and continues today among some Protestants, particularly evangelicals. The debate is centered around soteriology, that is, the study of salvation, and includes disputes about total depravity, predestination, and atonement. While the debate has developed its Calvinist–Arminian form in the 17th century, the issues that are fundamental to the debate have been discussed in Christianity in some fashion since the days of Augustine of Hippo’s disputes with the Pelagians in the fifth century. CALVINISM VS. ARMINIANISM is taking a different approach in that the issues will be discussed as The Bible Answers being that it is the centerpiece.
A comprehensive book on HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE by observing, interpreting, and applying, which will focus on the most basic Bible study tools, principles, and processes for moving from an in-depth reading of the Scriptures to application. What, though, if you have long felt that you are not studiously inclined? Realize that the primary difference between a serious Bible student and a less serious Bible student is usually diligence and effort, not being a gifted student. Being a gifted Bible student alone is not enough. Efficient methods of Bible study are worth learning, for those seeking to become serious Bible students. The joy missing from many Bible students is because they do not know how to study their Bible, which means they do not do it well. Perhaps you dislike Bible study because you have not developed your study skills sufficiently to make your Bible study enjoyable. Maybe you have neglected your Bible study simply because you would rather be doing something else you enjoy.
How can we find more enjoyment in studying the Bible? How can we make our study periods more productive? What circumstances contribute to effective personal study? How can we derive real benefit and pleasure from our Bible reading? From what activities can time be bought out for reading and studying the Bible? Why should we watch our spiritual feeding habits? What benefits come from reading and studying the Scriptures? There is a great and constantly growing interest in the study of the English Bible in these days. However, very much of the so-called study of the English Bible is unintelligent and not fitted to produce the most satisfactory results. The authors of this book already have a book entitled “HOW TO STUDY: Study the Bible for the Greatest Profit,” but that book is intended for those who are willing to buy out the time to put into thorough Bible study.
Why is personal and family Bible study so important in our life now? How can we apply the Word of God in our lives? How can we use the Bible to help others? How can we effectively use the Scriptures when teaching others? How can we make decisions God’s way? How can Bible principles help us to decide wisely? Why should we have faith in God and his word? The Psalmist tells us, God’s Word “is a lamp to my foot, and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Since the Bible is a gift from God, the time and effort that we put into our personal Bible Study is a reflection of how much we appreciate that gift. What do our personal Bible study habits reveal about the depth of our appreciation of God’s Word? Certainly, the Bible is a deep and complex book, and reading and studying are not easy at times. However, with time and effort, we can develop a spiritual appetite for personal Bible study. (1 Peter 2:2)
Correctly interpreting the Bible is paramount to understanding the Word of God. As Christians, we do not want to read our 21st-century worldview INTO the Scriptures, but rather to takeOUT OF the Scriptures what the author meant by the words that he used. The guaranteed way of arriving a correct understanding of God’s Words is to have an accurate knowledge of the historical setting, cultural background, and of the people, governments, and religious leaders, as well as the place and time of the New Testament writings. Only with the background, setting, and context can you grasp the author’s intended meaning to his original readers and …
The life of Christ is an exhaustless theme. It reveals a character of greater massiveness than the hills, of a more serene beauty than the stars, of sweeter fragrance than the flowers, higher than the heavens in sublimity and deeper than the seas in mystery. As good Jean Paul has eloquently said, “It concerns Him who, being the holiest among the mighty, and the mightiest among the holy, lifted with His pierced hands empires off their hinges, turned the stream of centuries out of its channels, and still governs the ages.” …
Stalker’s Life of St. Paul became one of the most widely read and respected biographies of the Apostle to the Gentiles. As an insightful compendium on the life of Paul, this work is of particular interest to pastors and teachers who desire to add realism and vividness to their account of one of the greatest Christians who ever lived. Stalker’s work includes a section at the back entitled “Hints for Teachers and Questions for Pupils.” This supplement contains notes and “further reading” suggestions for those teaching on the life of St. Paul, along with a number of questions over each chapter for students to discuss. In addition, seventeen extra chapters have been added that will help the reader better understand who the Apostle Paul was and what first-century Christianity was like. For example, a chapter on the conversion of Saul/Paul, Gamaliel Taught Saul of Tarsus, the Rights, and Privileges of Citizenship, the “Unknown God,” Areopagus, the Observance of Law as to Vows, and much more.
With solid scholarship and exceptional clarity, beginning in Gethsemane, Stalker and Andrews examine Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. Their work is relevant, beneficial and enjoyable because they cover this historical period of Jesus’ life in an easy to understand format. Stalker’s expressive and persuasive style provides a great resource to any Bible study of the events leading to the death of Jesus Christ. THE TRIAL AND DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST is an academicish book written with a novelish style.
Delving into the basics of biblical interpretation, Edward D. Andrews has provided a complete hands-on guide to understanding what the author meant by the words that he used from the conservative grammatical-historical perspective. He teaches how to study the Bible on a deep, scholarly level, yet making it understandable to all. He has sought to provide the very best tool for interpreting the Word of God. This includes clarification of technical terms, answers to every facet of biblical interpretation, and defense of the inerrancy and divine inspiration of Scripture. Andrews realizes that the importance of digging deeper in our understanding of the Bible, for defending our faith from modern-day misguided scholarship. Andrews gives the reader easy and memorable principles and methods to follow for producing an accurate explanation that comes out of, not what many read into the biblical text. The principal procedure within is to define, explain, offer many examples, and give illustrations, to help the reader fully grasp the grammatical-historical approach. …
Anybody who wants to study the Bible, either at a personal level or a more scholarly level needs to understand that there are certain principles that guide and govern the process. The technical word used to refer to the principles of biblical interpretation is hermeneutics, which is of immense importance in Biblical Studies and Theology. How to Interpret the Bible takes into consideration the cultural context, historical background and geographical location in which the text was originally set. This enables us to obtain clarity about the original author’s intended meaning. Linguistic and literary factors are analyzed so that the various genres of Scripture are examined for their true meaning. The importance of having sound principles of interpretation cannot be overstated as …
Once upon a time, Postmodernism was a buzzword. It pronounced Modernism dead or at least in the throes of death. It was a wave that swept over Christendom, promising to wash away sterile, dogmatic and outmoded forms of church. But whatever happened to postmodernism? It was regarded as the start of a major historical transition to something new and promising and hailed as a major paradigm shift. Is it a philosophy that has passed its “sell-by” date? No! The radical fringe has become the dominant view and has been integrated into all aspects of life, including the Christian church. With the emergence of multicultural societies comes interaction with different belief systems and religions. Values like tolerance and a dislike of dogmatism have become key operating concepts, which reflect a change in worldview. …
In an age obsessed with physical and psychological health the author emphasizes the importance of spiritual well-being as an essential element of holistic health for the individual Christian and for Christian communities. This work constitutes a template for a spiritual audit of the local church. It offers an appointment with the Great Physician that no Christian can afford to ignore. Developing Healthy Churches: A Case-Study in Revelation begins with a well-researched outline of the origins and development of the church health movement. With that background in mind the author, aware that throughout the history of the church there have been a number of diverse views about how Revelation ought to be interpreted, presents the reader with four distinct interpretive models. These are the idealist, preterist, historicist, and futurist. Beville explains these interpretive approaches simply and critiques them fairly.e …
This is a comprehensive study of euthanasia and assisted suicide. It traces the historical debate, examines the legal status of such activity in different countries and explores the political, medical and moral matters surrounding these emotive and controversial subjects in various cultural contexts. The key advocates and pioneers of this agenda-driven movement (such as the late Jack Kevorkian, popularly known as “Dr. Death” and Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International) are profiled. Not only are the elderly and disabled becoming increasingly vulnerable but children, psychiatric patients, the depressed and those who are simply tired of life are now on a slippery slope into a dystopian nightmare. The spotlight is brought to bear on the Netherlands, in particular, where palliative care and the hospice movement are greatly underdeveloped as a result of legalization. These dubious “services” are now offered as part of “normal” medical care in Holland where it is deemed more cost-effective to be given a lethal injection. The vital role of physicians as healers in society must be preserved and the important but neglected spiritual dimension of death must be explored. Thus a biblical view of human life is presented. …
Journey with Jesus through the Message of Mark is an insightful and engaging survey of Mark’s Gospel, exploring each major section of the text along with key themes. It is a work that can be enjoyed by laypersons as well as pastors and teachers. Pastors will find the abundant use of illustrations to be helpful in preparing their own messages and as such, it will find a welcome place in the preacher’s library. Simply, powerfully, with great precision, and exegetical accuracy, Kieran Beville masterfully brings us on a life-transforming journey. Readers will be both inspired and challenged as they hear the words of Jesus speaking afresh from the page of Scripture and experience the ministry of Jesus in a spiritually captivating way. The author has a pastor’s heart, a theologian’s mind, and a writer’s gift. His style is gripping, as he beautifully explains and illustrates Mark’s Gospel. Kieran Beville has done a great service to the church, and especially to true believers, who desire to grow in grace, increase in their knowledge of truth, and experience the intimacy, joy, and underserved and unspeakable privilege of walking, as disciples, with Jesus. This book is ideal as a study companion for Mark’s Gospel. One can read a section from the gospel and then read the corresponding section to receive a fresh viewpoint and a practical application. …
What are angels & demons? Can angels help us? What does the Bible say about angels? What is the truth about angels? Can Angels affect your life? Who were the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2? Who were the Nephilim in Genesis 6:2? Who is Michael the archangel? Can Satan the Devil control humans? How can we win our struggle against dark spiritual forces? How can you resist the demons? Do evil spirits exercise power over humankind? Is Satan really the god of this world and just what does that mean? What did Jesus mean when he said, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one [i.e., Satan]”? Andrews using the Bible will answer all of these questions and far more. …
Donald T. Williams learned a lot about the Christian worldview from Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis, but it was actually Tolkien who first showed him that such a thing exists and is an essential component of maturing faith. Not only do explicitly Christian themes underlie the plot structure of The Lord of the Rings, but in essays such as “On Fairie Stories” Tolkien shows us that he not only believed the Gospel on Sunday but treated it as true the rest of the week and used his commitment to that truth as the key to further insights in his work as a student of literature. “You can do that?” Williams thought as a young man not yet exposed to any Christian who was a serious thinker. “I want to do that!” His hope is that his readers will catch that same vision from this book. An Encouraging Thought elucidates the ways in which Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are informed by and communicate a biblical worldview. This book will help readers appreciate the ways in which a biblical worldview informs Tolkien’s work, to the end that their own faith may be confirmed in strength, focused in understanding, deepened in joy, and honed in its ability to communicate the Gospel.
People grow old, get sick, and die. Even some children die. Should you be afraid of death or of anybody who has died? Do you know what happens if we die? Will you ever see your dead loved ones again? “If a man dies, shall he live again?” asked the man Job long ago. (Job 14:14) Did God originally intend for humans to die? Why do you grow old and die? What is the Bible’s viewpoint of death? What is the condition of the dead? Are the dead aware of what is happening around them? What hope is there for the dead?
Herein Andrews will give the reader exactly what the Bible offers on exposing who the Antichrist and the Man of Lawlessness are. If we look at the texts that refer to the antichrist and the man of lawlessness, we will have lines of evidence that will enable us to identify them. Why is it important that we know who the antichrist and the man of lawlessness are? The antichrist and the man of lawlessness have had a greater impact on humanity and Christianity over the past centuries than many know. Moreover, the influence on the true worshipers of Christianity today has been even more significant and will only go from bad to worse as we come closer to the second coming of Christ. …
Throughout the Scriptures, God is identified as the Creator. He is the One “who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it.” (Isa 45:18) He is the One “who forms mountains and creates the wind” (Am 4:13) and is the One “who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.” (Ac 4:24; 14:15; 17:24) “God . . . created all things.” (Eph. 3:9) Jesus Christ tells us that it is the Father who “created them [humans] from the beginning made them male and female.” (Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6) Hence, the Father is fittingly and uniquely called “the Creator.” (Isa 40:28) It is because of God’s will that we exist, for He has ‘created all things, and because of his will they existed and were created.’―Revelations 4:11 …
Eschatology is the teaching of what is commonly called the “Last Things.” That is the subject of Andrews’ book, which will cover, Explaining Prophecy, Explaining Clean and Pure Worship, The New Testament Writers Use of the Old Testament, Explaining the Antichrist, Explaining the Man of Lawlessness, Explaining the Mark of the Beast, Explaining Signs of the End of the Age, Explaining the Rapture, Explaining the Great Tribulation, Explaining Armageddon, Explaining the Resurrection Hope, Explaining the Millennium, Explaining the Final Judgment, Explaining the Unevangelized, Explaining Hell
The information herein is based on the disciples coming to Jesus privately, saying, “Tell us, (1) when will these things be, and (2) what will be the sign of your coming, and (3) of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) What will end? When will the end come? What comes after the end? Who will survive the end? These questions and far more will be answered as Andrews delves into The SECOND COMING of CHRIST. In chapters 1 and 2, we must address why Jesus is saying there would be an end to the Jewish age. In chapter 3, we will take a deep look at the signs that establish the great tribulation is closing in, and when is it time to flee. In chapter 4, we will go over the signs of the end of the Jewish age. In chapter 5, we will walk through the events leading up to the end of the Jewish age from 66 – 70 C.E., and how it applies to our Great Tribulation in these last days. In chapter 6, we will cover the second coming of Jesus where the reader will get the answers as to whether verses 3-28 of Matthew Chapter 24 apply to Christ’s second coming. We will close out with chapter 7, and how we should understand the signs, and how we do not want to be led astray, just as Jesus warned even some of the chosen ones would be misled. We will also address what comes after the end.
What Really Is Hell? What Kind of Place is Hell? What Really Happens at Death? What Did Jesus Teach About Hell? How Does Learning the Truth About Hell Affect You? Who Goes to Hell? What Is Hell? Is It a Place of Eternal Torment? Does God Punish People in Hellfire? Do the Wicked Suffer in Hell? What Is the Lake of Fire? Is It the Same as Hell or Gehenna? Where Do We Go When We Die? What Does the Bible Say About Hell? Andrews Shares the Truth on WHAT IS HELL From God’s Word.
Miracles were certainly a part of certain periods in Bible times. What about today? Are miracles still taking place? There are some very important subjects that surround this area of discussion that is often misunderstood. Andrews will answer such questions as does God step in and solve every problem if we are faithful? Does the Bible provide absolutes or guarantees in this age of imperfect humanity? Are miracles still happening today? Is faith healing Scriptural? Is speaking in tongues evidence of true Christianity? Is snake handling biblical? How are we to understand the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? The work of the Holy Spirit. Andrews offers his readers very straightforward, biblically accurate explanations for these difficult questions. If any have discussed such questions, without a doubt, they will be very interested in the Bible’s answers in this easy to read publication.
Today there are many questions about homosexuality as it relates to the Bible and Christians. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Does genetics, environment, or traumatic life experiences justify homosexuality? What is God’s will for people with same-sex attractions? Does the Bible discriminate against people with same-sex attractions? Is it possible to abstain from homosexual acts? Should not Christians respect all people, regardless of their sexual orientation? Did not Jesus preach tolerance? If so, should not Christians take a permissive view of homosexuality? Does God approve of same-sex marriage? Does God disapprove of homosexuality? If so, how could God tell someone who is attracted to people of the same sex to shun homosexuality, is that not cruel? If one has same-sex attraction, is it possible to avoid homosexuality? How can I as a Christian explain the Bible’s view of homosexuality? IT IS CRUCIAL that Christians always be prepared to reason from the Scriptures, explaining and proving what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality, yet doing it with gentleness and respect. Andrews will answer these questions and far more.
If you’ve struggled in the world of difficulties that surround you, you’re not alone. Maybe you have looked for help, and you have been given conflicting answers. 40 DAYS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS: Coming-of-Age In Christ, can help you. Its advice is based on answers that actually work, which are found in the Bible. God’s Word has helped billions over thousands of years to face life’s challenges successfully. Find out how it can help you! 40 DAYS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS includes seven sections, with several chapters in each. It includes the following sections: Sexual Desires and Love, your friends, your family, school, recreation, your health. You need advice you can trust! 40 DAYS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS will give you that. This author has worked with thousands of youths from around the world. The Bible-based sound advice helped them. Now you can discover how it can help you.
Young ones and teens, you are exposed to complex problems that your parents may not understand. Young Christians, you are bombarded with multiple options for solving everyday problems through social media. Where do you turn to find answers? Where can you look to find guidance from Scripture? In order to provide a Christian perspective to problem-solving, the author of this devotional book decided to take a different approach. Terry Overton was determined to find out what problems middle school children and teens were worried about the most. While visiting her grandchildren one weekend, she asked her granddaughter to send topics to her so that she could write a devotional about the topic. In a matter of weeks, not only did her granddaughter send her topics, but the other grandchildren and their friends sent topics of concern. Once the author wrote a devotional for a topic, it was sent to the teen requesting the devotional. Soon, these requests were happening in real time. Students sent text requests about problems happening in school and asked what the student should do? How should this be handled?
This devotional book follows the author’s own faith journey back to God. Significant life events can shake our world and distort our faith. Following life’s tragedies, a common reaction is to become angry with God or to reject Him altogether. Examples of tragedies or traumas include life-changing events such as physical or sexual assault, destruction of one’s home, the tragic death of a loved one, diagnoses of terminal diseases, divorce, miscarriages, or being a victim of a crime. Tragedies or traumas can cause feelings of anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt.
Throughout the book, common themes emerge to support caregivers. The reader will find interesting Bible Scriptures, offering a Christian perspective, for handling issues that may arise. These inspiring passages will assist the caregiver in finding peace and faith as they travel their journey as a caregiver. Although caregivers may not know how long they will play this role, they take on the responsibility without any question. Taking care of others is often mentioned in the Bible and, as noted in this devotional, this self-sacrificing, highly valued, and often challenging service will ultimately be rewarded.
Humans must breathe in the air of our atmosphere to survive. Many cities because of pollution face a dangerous level of contamination in their air. However, an even more deadly air affects both Christians and nonChristians. Ordinary methods or devices cannot detect this poisonous air. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, spoke of the “air,” when he said that Satan was “the ruler of the authority of the air.” (Eph. 2:2) In that, very same verse Paul said the “air” is “the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience.” If we breathe in this “air,” we will begin to adopt their attitude, thoughts, speech, and conduct.
Humans must breathe in the air of our atmosphere to survive. Many cities because of pollution face a dangerous level of contamination in their air. However, an even more deadly air affects both Christians and nonChristians. Ordinary methods or devices cannot detect this poisonous air. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, spoke of the “air,” when he said that Satan was “the ruler of the authority of the air.” (Eph. 2:2) In that, very same verse Paul said the “air” is “the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience.” If we breathe in this “air,” we will begin to adopt their attitude, thoughts, speech, and conduct.
BREAD OF HEAVEN helps the reader to have a greater understanding of the timeless truths of Scripture and a deeper appreciation of the grandeur of God. It offers meditations on selected Scriptures which will draw the reader’s attention upwards to the Savior. Kieran Beville’s daily devotional combines down-to-earth, unstuffy humanity in today’s world with a biblical and God-centered approach, and draws on rich theology in a thoroughly accessible way. He addresses not just the intellect and the will but gets to the heart, our motivational center, through the mind. If your Christian life could benefit from a short, well-written daily blast of Christ’s comfort and challenge, get this book and use it! These short Bible-based meditations are fresh and contemporary. Beville gives to the twenty-first-century reader what earlier authors have given to theirs. Here is practical wisdom that is a helpful guide to stimulate worship and set you thinking as you begin each day with God.
The Conversation: An Intimate Journal of the Emmaus Encounter is a unique and riveting reconstruction from the unnamed disciple’s account found in Luke 24 regarding his journey with Cleopas on the road to Emmaus after witnessing Jesus’s crucifixion and burial, along with hearing claims of His empty tomb. Suddenly, a Stranger begins walking with them. With their eyes “prevented” from recognizing Him as the risen Lord Jesus Christ—Yeshua the Messiah, their new, wise Traveling Companion correlates the Old Covenant Scriptures, by way of Moses and the prophets, with what they witnessed.
This “journal” is your opportunity to eavesdrop and learn what that conversation might have been like, as pertinent prophecies unfold revealing evidence that the Messiah’s suffering, death, burial, and resurrection were, in fact, specifically foretold.
Unique and life-changing, More Than Devotion, through a melding of accounts from both the Old Covenant and New, proves that our trustworthy God truly is the same yesterday, today, and forever. All fifty convicting devotions draw from a rich scriptural context, concluding with a practical, achievable call to action, plus journaling space for personal reflection. New believers and veteran followers of our Lord can grow in the innermost areas of their lives and enjoy a more intimate walk with the Savior.
AN APOCALYPTIC NOVEL: As you are no doubt are aware, Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye in 1995 wrote a novel entitled “Left Behind.” Jerry and Tim had some prior success with a major publisher and were able to get their novel published. The Left Behind novel was published by Tyndale House beginning in 1995 within a multiple volumes Left Behind series resulting in sales exceeding 60 million books. In 1992 Don Alexander wrote the storyline embedded in Left Behind. He copyrighted the novel in 1992 under the title “Oren Natas” [who is the Anti-Christ in his storyline]. The entire novel is contained in a single volume. It is a novel written depicting a colorful and witty cast of characters who live through all the “end time” Bible prophecies.
A routine classified telepathic interrogation of a potential terrorist, followed by an assignment that doesn’t go as planned thrusts Tabatha – the world’s only telepathic human – into the public eye. The exposure leads an evil neuro-scientist requesting a meeting with her in hopes of luring her to his cause as well as unveiling a deadly creative work that has spanned three decades of research and development.
ONLINE REVIEW: “Very fun read. Fast paced and honest. Tons of evolution occurs during the process thru the story. Wonderful girl trying to become an adult Christian in a world that also pits her superpowers against terrorists with the help of her own special forces team. Buy this book and just enjoy!”
In June 1985, an excavation project was undertaken by The British Antiquities Volunteers (BAV) at a plot of rocky land where the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys meet near the eastern side of Old Jerusalem. That year many hundreds of (mostly redundant) ‘small finds’ were recovered in the Judean desert but none of such significance as a handful of scrolls retrieved from a buried Roman satchel (presumed stolen) at this site. The discovery has since come to be known as ‘The Diary of Judas Iscariot.’ In The Diary of Judas Iscariot Owen Batstone relates the observations and feelings of Judas, a disgruntled disciple, as he accompanies Jesus of Nazareth during His ministry, and uses this fable and allegory to explore some of the ways a person might resist becoming a Christian.
Kevin Trill struggles with the notion that he may have missed the Rapture. With nothing but the clothes on his back and a solid gold pocket watch, he sets off towards Garbor, a safe haven for those who haven’t yet taken the mark of the beast. While on his way to Garbor, he meets up with an unlikely trio who befriends him. Together, they set out towards Garbor. Unfortunately, however, they are soon faced with their first major catastrophe, which sparks debate among them as to whether or not they really are in the Great Tribulation. On their journey, the group meets up with many people, some of them good and some of them evil. …
There grew an element in the valley that did not want to be ruled by the Light of the Word. Over time, they convinced the people to reject it. As they started to reject this Light, the valley grew dim and the fog rolled in. The people craved the darkness rather than the Light because they were evil. They did not want to embrace the Light because it exposed their wickedness. They rejected the Light of the Word and ruled themselves. Those few who had embraced the Light and hated the darkness were killed. Since that time anyone who embraced the Light of the Word, pursued or talked about it were arrested. Those arrested were sentenced to death by stoning. The last prophet gave a prophecy before he was martyred. “The whisperer will come and empower three witnesses that will make manifest the works of darkness and destroy it, and deliver my people from the grip of darkness to the freedom found in the light.” All the Children of the Light were killed off or went into hiding living among the Children of Darkness in secret, not mentioning the Light for fear of death. Generations grew up being ignorant of the Light of the Word and never knowing the difference. No one ever mentioned the Light or dared to even talk about the Light. …
When an ancestor saddles them with the responsibility to purge Australia of a demon threatening to wipe out humanity with black flames, fraternal siblings Amber and Michael Hauksby lay their lives on the line. As the world crumbles around them into chaos, and ancient marsupials wreack havoc in their hometown, they must journey into the treacherous wild lands of the outback to extinguish the black flames that loom on the horizon. First, Amber must seek the counsel of a mysterious being, who calls himself the light spirit. …
“Write Place, Right Time” follows the pre-apocalyptic misadventures of freelance journalist Don Lamplighter. While on what he expects to be a routine Monday night trip to a village board meeting, Lamplighter’s good nature compels him to help a stranded vehicle. Little does he know that by saving one of the car’s occupants, he sets forth a chain of what to him seem to be unrelated events where he must use his physical and social skills to save himself and others from precarious situations.
 Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament; a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Ed.), 2nd ed. (London: New York, United Bible Societies, 1994).
 Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, Paperback ed., trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995). Second edition identified earlier as TTNT-A.
 Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, eds., “Criteria for Evaluating Readings in New Testament Textual Criticism; by Tommy Wasserman,” in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, 2nd ed., Studies and Documents, vol. 46 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013), 579–612. Identified earler as TNTCR.
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 Ibid., 280.
 I use “witnesses” here to refer properly to the texts, not the manuscripts. Age is not a decisive factor because one can find an early text in a late manuscript.
 Cf. chap. III above. It is certainly true that oral tradition thrived in biblical times, but Walton and Sandy take extreme positions in support of their thesis, using arguments that do not bear up under scrutiny.
 John H. Walton and Brent Sandy, The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2013).
 Ibid., 63, 67, 299.
 Ibid., 67.
 I do not take the position that one writer corrected the other; I believe that Christ taught either version on separate occasions.
 Of even greater significance, perhaps, is the fact that all such “split lines” are regarded by the editors technically as lacunae (ECM2, Part 1, 34*). By comparison, the Alands would call such cases “insoluble ties,” and would only resort to that conclusion with great reluctance (Aland and Aland, Text, 280).
 Aland and Aland, Text, 280.
 Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament; a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Ed.), 2nd ed. (London: New York, United Bible Societies, 1994).
 Metzger and Ehrman, Text 4th Ed., 302. This is treated as a separate criterion in Metzger’s Textual Commentary.
 Metzger and Ehrman, Text 4th Ed., 212.
 See Metzger, Textual Commentary, 12*-13*.
 Ibid., 12*.
 Aland and Aland, Text, 281.
 Ibid., 281.
 See ibid., 280 ff.
 See ibid., 284.
 Ibid., 289.
 Metzger and Ehrman, Text 4th Ed., 327-28.
 Aland and Aland, Text, 289.
 See ibid., 231.
 Ibid., 55.
 Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, eds., “Textual Clusters: Their Past and Future in New Testament Textual Criticism; by Eldon Jay Epp,” in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, 2nd ed., Studies and Documents, vol. 46 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013), 519–77 passim.
 D. C. Parker and H. A. G. Houghton, eds., Textual Variation: Theological and Social Tendencies?: Papers from the Fifth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, 1st Gorgias Press ed, Texts and Studies, 3rd ser., v. 6 (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2008), 109-27.
 Ibid., 126.
 The tools are found at http://intf.uni-muenster.de/cbgm/index_en.html. Once there, the user can choose between the versions. I highly commend the ECM editors for their transparency in making both versions publicly available.
 See above, p. 222.
 See below, p. 375 f.
 See the Glossary for this term. I have no reluctance to equate “original” with “autograph” here, but I acknowledge that some may insist on “original” as the text from which all other known copies ultimately came. I am also making the general, faith-based assumption that we have the autograph contained in a combination of extant early manuscripts.
 See below, 341-58.
 Metzger and Ehrman, Text 4th Ed., 302-303.
 See above, 141.
 See Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, eds., “Scribal Tendencies in the Transmission of the Text of the New Testament; by James R. Royse,” in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, 2nd ed., Studies and Documents, vol. 46 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013), 461–78.
 See above, 150 f.
 Aland and Aland, Text, 281.
 Metzger and Ehrman, Text 4th Ed., 303.
 Aland and Aland, Tex, 281.
 Metzger and Ehrman, Text 4th Ed., 303.
 Ehrman and Holmes, “Criteria; by Wasserman,” 589-92. Actually Wasserman treats the substitution of unfamiliar words with more familiar as a separate criterion, which is reasonable.
 This will not win me any friends, but I dare say that I have found classical grammars (particularly Smyth) more helpful in addressing questions about NT Greek than NT grammars. The relatively few adjustments that must be made to accommodate NT Greek style are a small price to pay for better explanations and categories that one finds in classical grammars.
 I will provide an example (Mark 1:37) below, however, where external evidence indicates that the stylistic reading was a secondary attempt at improvement.
 Metzger and Ehrman, Text 4th Ed., 303-304.
 Metzger, Text 2nd Ed., 210; duplicated in the third edition.
 Aland and Aland, Text, 280.
 Ehrman and Holmes, “Criteria; by Wasserman,” 592.
 Metzger, Text 2nd Ed., 210.
 Metzger and Ehrman, Text 4th Ed., 303. The phrase “in the Gospels” found in the third edition is conspicuously missing.
 Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, Updated and with a new afterword (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 233.
 See above, 228, 231.
 With NA28 and GNT5 the committees are shifting toward a de facto form of thoroughgoing eclecticism, in that traditional external criteria play little or no role in decisions. The Alexandrian manuscripts (chiefly 03 and 01) still are highly rated, however.
 Eberhard Nestle et al., eds., Novum testamentum Graece, 26., Aufl., 7. Dr., Großdruckausg (Stuttgart: Dt. Bibelges, 1979), 43*.
 See above, 236 f.
 As Constantinople [or Byzantium] became the center of the Greek-speaking church, the local text there was to become the dominant text for the whole of the empire.
 The paper, undated, was available at Dallas Seminary and had the subtitle, “A Revised Edition of a Paper Originally Called ‘Introduction to the Textus Receptus’.”
 See above, p. 232.
 Aland and Aland, Text, 281.
 The strategy behind the UBS apparatus was that the text was designed for translators, and it was thought that only variation units that affect translation need be covered. I find it helpful to have copies of both, using NA but occasionally comparing GNT with it for clarification. In the example of Matt. 6:33, one has to work through the NA apparatus to piece together what is going on, while that in the GNT immediately makes sense.
 I am indebted to my co-author Mr. Andrews for suggesting the first examples. Some of the observations and comments included therein originated with him.
 See above, 232-33.
 They appear to be joined only by two late Greek manuscripts and a fifth-century Latin manuscript.
 I confess to making a comment here about style and encourage the reader to verify it. A light browsing of Mark should be sufficient, or perhaps a search for καί followed by an indicative verb.
 Here, the NKJV has “When they found Him, they said…,” which agrees with the hypotactic reading of the MT (however it also agrees with manuscript D).
 Metzger, Textual Commentary, 469.
 See ibid. Specifically, Metzger observes that the initial Greek phrase found here is always followed by the indicative in Romans (seven or eight times).
 Ibid., 497.