Friday, September 29, 2006

Word of God

Click on image to enlarge

I've been reading Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus which is an introduction of sorts into the practice of textual criticism, the art and practice of identifying textual errors to get back to some sort of elusive original to get at the author's original intent or meaning.

In this flow chart, I combined the issues Ehrman discusses, hurdles if you will that keep us from being able to grasp the original New Testament. I took Ehrman's scholarship, combined it with some Bishop Spong's insights, along with some chronology from Thomas Cahill. The point is, is that getting to original words and authorial intent is exceptionally tricky when considering the variables presented in the flow chart.

The stock evangelical and/or fundamentalist response to this issue, is to refer the critic to the power of the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit would steer the reader to make the intended translation of the modern version of Scripture. That's all well and good, but as my friend Dr. Curtis Wood points out, why does it matter what one studies in terms of words on a page if indeed the Holy Spirit operates in this manner? That is a tough question.