Sanctified Gullibility is Still Gullibility

It doesn’t get much more embarrassing than this.

Jason Colavito has a short write up on how Christian apologists are using a prop — a giant human skeleton that isn’t a skeleton at all — from von Daniken’s ancient astronaut theme park for the gullible.

Since when is defending one’s faith with a lie a good idea?

Pretty pathetic. It leads people to follow several bogus thought trajectories:

1. That belief in a creator needs to be defended via the idea of giants (it doesn’t, and that “approach” is absurd).

2. That belief in a creator is synonymous with young earth creationism and rigid biblical literalism (it isn’t).

3. That those who defend the young earth view of creationism will basically stoop to any level to do so (many would not; that is, they aren’t ethically challenged).

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Sachs, Velikovsky, and Sitchin

A short time ago I blogged about the work of C. Leroy Ellenberger, at one time a first-tier defender of Immanuel Velikovsky who later came to doubt and then refute that brand of catastrophism, sent me a link I thought I’d share with readers.

Leroy’s link was to a brief address by Abraham Sachs, a well-known 20th century Assyriologist (i.e., a scholar of Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform). The address was a refutation of Velikovsky’s use of cuneiform material to support his catastrophist theories. Here’s an excerpt:

“In searching for mathematical and astronomical texts, I myself have had the opportunity of sifting about 125,000 tablets in this country and the British Isles. As one looks back, with the advantage of hindsight, over the progress of cuneiform studies in the last century, it is evident that in the early decades, two steps forward were accompanied by one step back, in recent decades, the proportion is more like 300 to 1. In 1896, an excellent dictionary of Akkadian contained 790 pages; today, the latest torso of an Akkadian dictionary– with only one-third of the dictionary published in 8 volumes– already runs to more than 2500 pages. I mention all this only to underline the sad fact that anyone who, like Dr. Velikovsky, is not a student of cuneiform, runs the very high risk of finding non-existent facts, false translations, and abandoned theories that have foundered on the rocks of new textual material when he relies, as Dr. Velikovsky does, on books and articles that are 80, 50, 40, and in some cases, even 20 years old. . . . In Worlds in Collision, p. 161, Dr. Velikovsky says that Babylonian astronomy at one time had a four-planet system, with Venus missing. For this, he refers to a book, [quite correctly,] written in 1915. Not being a cuneiformist, Dr. Velikovsky cannot inspect the original text referred to in his 1915 source. I have read the text and I can report that it is quite true that Venus is missing in the text– but so are the other four planets. . . . Wherever one turns in Dr. Velikovsky’s works, one finds a wasteland strewn with uncritically accepted evidence that turns to dust at the slightest probe. . . . [I]it’s advisable to be [a cuneiformist] if you’re going to write about cuneiform texts. . . .”

 

While the address was directed at Velikovsky, the verbal spanking is also useful for directing attention to the bankrupt scholarship of Zecharia Sitchin, part of whose imaginative ancient astronaut theorizing includes catastrophism elements associated with the alleged astro-physical effects of Nibiru, wrongly identified by Sitchin as a 12th planet. This short speech (less than fifteen minutes) was given at Brown University in 1965, just a few short years before Zecharia Sitchin would pretend to know something about cuneiform tablets. Why is it that Sitchin, presumably an expert in cuneiform, was somehow ignorant of this material when Sachs was not? The answer is simple. Sitchin was no expert in this material. He was contriving a theory.

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Bart Ehrman Smacks Down Jesus Mythicism

New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, well known to non-specialist readers as a critic of evangelical views of Jesus (Ehrman is an atheist1) recently published a book entitled Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. Ehrman’s answer is that he did. His book therefore provides a succinct overview of the evidence for a historical Jesus. It also serves as a succinct critique to the “Jesus Mythicists” (think Freke and Gandy here2), folks who, in the spirit of the Zeitgeist movie (is that a tautology?), deny Jesus ever existed. Needless to say, they aren’t happy that a scholar of Ehrman’s stature would dare affirm the historicity of Jesus, even if (perhaps “especially since”) he has no faith in what the New Testament writers say theologically about Jesus’ divinity or Savior status. The same can be said for the way Jesus Mythicists have turned apoplectic over the Jesus Family Tomb controversy (if it is the tomb of Jesus, they’re wrong — he existed).

Ehrman’s book was recently reviewed by a scholar named Richard Carrier. Carrier’s review is exceptionally nasty and, frankly, not befitting intelligent discourse. (One would have thought the review was by Don Rickles — dating myself there, I know — or Bill Maher). At any rate, Ehrman has responded at length to Carrier. I recommend his response (and it is indeed very long) to PaleoBabble readers. It’s clear and unpretentious.

(Hat tip to Tim for this item).

 

  1. This is my estimation. Ehrman actually isn’t clear on whether he’s atheist or agnostic — but he’ll answer that if you pay him. I’m not paying for the answer. I’m not sure what bit of sophistry would allow one to deny the existence of God and yet not be an atheist. Even if one opts for some sort of “consciousness” position as God, that is a naturalistic view and results in a non-personal non-deity. That isn’t “God” in the understanding of anyone who’d ask the question. But I’m guessing since I’m not forking over any money for clarity.
  2. The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God?

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Archaeology and the Queen of Sheba

I’ve seen a couple news items in the last several days about the possible discovery of a gold mine that archaeologists suspect may be associated with the biblical story of the Queen of Sheba. Examples include this story and this post from the Bible Places blog.

This doesn’t look like paleobabble. That said, it looks like it will be some time before the true nature of the discovery is known. The presence of a Sabean inscription is certainly promising.  If the site turns out to produce more textual material it would be especially interesting. I’m not expecting anything that would shed any light on the Ethiopian legend of Menelik I (the presumed child of a presumed liason between Solomon and the queen). That would be beyond cool.

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Have Archaeologists Found Biblical Sodom?

I am referring to the recent archaeological work outlined at this link (and others, of course) that proposes Tell al-Hammam as the site of Sodom.

Short answer: No.

There are several archaeological and chronological problems associated with this site being Sodom. For those reasons (the longer answer), see this useful summary and its links from the Bible Places blog.

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Ron Wyatt and Those Egyptian Chariot Wheels

I’ve complained before about the poor quality of Ron Wyatt’s “research” (loosely defined) before. While he may have been well-intentioned (his aim was to defend the Bible’s content), there is no excuse for the kind of paleobabble he has become notorious for. What follows is a simple but telling example (though to be fair, this one comes from Mary Nell Wyatt, whom I presume is Wyatt’s wife).

Wyatt’s name is well known on the internet for touting the Nuweiba location for the crossing the Red (Reed) Sea. It was in conjunction with this investigation that Wyatt allegedly found Egyptian chariot wheels under water in support of his theory.

Did Wyatt ever bring one of these out of the water? The link below claims so, but (as is so common with paleobabble), no independent peer-reviewed examination by archaeologists and other specialists (to see if they were merely coral formations) was ever conducted and published. But aside from that, there are the obvious logic problems:  If it was a chariot wheel, how would one know it was Egyptian? If Egyptian, how would one know it was related to the exodus event? And if it was from that event, didn’t anyone notice the incongruity of the sea floor *not* being littered with these wheels?

Wyatt and his defenders — including Nell Wyatt — eventually put forth the idea that chariot wheels (their size, number of spokes) were reliable chronological indicators. Specifically, Wyatt wanted to argue this chariot wheel (if that’s what it was – again, completely absent of context) was only used prior to 1400 BC, a datum which fits with a 1446 BC date for the exodus, the date arrived at by a literal biblical chronology. The Pharaoh of the exodus in that dating scenario is an 18th dynasty pharaoh.  Mary Wyatt defends this idea on the “Wyatt Newsletters” site here. I’d like to draw your attention to a few selections in particular:

The significance of these wheels is of extreme importance to the dating of the Exodus and determining which dynasty was involved. Back in the late 70′s, Ron actually retrieved a hub of a wheel which had the remains of 8 spokes radiating outward from it. He took this to Cairo, to the office of Nassif Mohammed Hassan, the director of Antiquities whom Ron had been working with. Mr. Hassan examined it and immediately pronounced it to be of the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. When Ron asked him how he knew this so readily, Mr. Hassan explained that the 8-spoked wheel was only used during the 18th Dynasty. This certainly narrowed the date. We began to thoroughly research the Egyptian chariot and soon discovered that the fact that Ron and the boys found 4, 6 and 8 spoked wheels places the Exodus in the 18th Dynasty according to numerous sources, such as the following: “Egyptian literary references to chariots occur as early as the reigns of Kamose, the 17th Dynasty king who took the first steps in freeing Egypt from the Hyksos, and Ahmose, the founder of the 18th Dynasty. Pictorial representations, however, do not appear until slightly later in the 18th Dynasty….” (From “Observations on the Evolving Chariot Wheel in the 18th Dynasty” by James K. Hoffmeier, JARCE #13, 1976)

The author [Hoffmeier] goes on to explain how it was only during the 18th Dynasty that the 4, 6 and 8 spoked wheels are used- and that monuments can actually be dated by the number of spokes in the wheel: “Professor Yigael Yadin maintains that during the earlier part of the 18th Dynasty, the Egyptian chariot was `exactly like the Canaanite chariot:’ both were constructed of light flexible wood, with leather straps wrapped around the wood to strengthen it, and both utilized wheels with four spokes. In Yadin’s eyes, the four-spoked wheel is diagnostic for dating purposes; it is restricted to the early part of the 18th Dynasty. It remained in vogue, he says, until the reign of Thutmoses IV, when `the Egyptian chariot begins to shake off its Canaanite influence and undergo considerable change.’ Yadin believes that the eight-spoked wheel, which is seen on the body of Thutmoses IV’s chariot, was an experiment by the Egyptian wheelwrights, who, when it proved unsuccessful, settled thereafter for the six-spoked wheel. So widespread and meticulous is the delineation of the number of wheel spokes on chariots depicted on Egyptian monuments that they can be used as a criterion for determining whether the monument is earlier or later than 1400 BC.” (Quoted from the same article as above.)

Sounds credible, doesn’t it? Sure … until you actually read Hoffmeier’s article for yourself. Those who do will discover that Mary Wyatt misquotes the article. She cannot follow the argument or (more likely in my view) cherry-picks the article for what will help her point. Here are Hoffmeier’s words, beginning with the portion Wyatt utilizes (numbers at end of lines indicate footnotes in the original article):

Professor Yigael Yadin maintains that during the earlier part of the 18th Dynasty, the Egyptian chariot was “exactly like the Canaanite chariot :”6 both were constructed of light flexible wood, with leather straps wrapped around the wood to strengthen it, and both utilized wheels with four spokes. In Yadin’s eyes the four-spoked wheel is diagnostic for dating purposes; it is restricted to the early period of the 18th Dynasty. It remained in vogue, he says, until the reign of Thutmose IV, when “the Egyptian chariot begins to shake off its Canaanite influence and undergo considerable change.”7 Yadin believes that the eight-spoked wheel, which is seen on the body of Thutmose IV’s chariot,8 was an experiment by the Egyptian wheelwrights, who, when it proved unsuccessful, settled thereafter for the six-spoked wheel. In short, “So widespread and meticulous is the delineation of the number of wheel spokes on chariots depicted on Egyptian monuments that they can be used as a criterion for determining whether the monument is earlier or later than 1400 B.C.”9

Hoffmeier does not stop there, though Mary Wyatt’s citation does — suggesting Hoffmeier is in agreement with Yadin. He isn’t. Hoffmeier goes on to question, critique, and overturn Yadin’s thesis:

Yadin’s observations raise two questions. First, is the number of spokes in the wheel of the chariot as reliable a dating tool as he suggests? Secondly, what prompted the change from the four- to six-spoked wheel? Was it purely a way to “shake off Canaanite influences,” or was there a more practical motivation for the shift?

A chariot scene from the tomb of Ken-Amun10 (dated to the reign of Amenhotep II) shows a partially obliterated chariot. Four-spoked wheels are invariably depicted with the spokes in a 12, 6, 3, and 9 o’clock position, but in this scene the two visible spokes point toward 12 and 4 o’clock; this indicates a six-spoked wheel.

The introduction of the six-spoked wheel did not herald the immediate end of the four-spoked wheel, for Amenhotep II himself is shown driving a chariot of the older type on the red granite block discovered by M. H. Chevrier,11 as is Userhet, an official in his court.12 Subsequently we find Thutmose IV riding a chariot with eight-spoked wheels in the scene which for Yadin marked the beginning of the shift away from the four-spoked wheel.13 As we have seen, however, there is evidence of a wheel with six spokes in the preceeding reign, and we conclude that the shift began before 1400 B.C. Possibly the chariot of Thutmose IV was produced in a period when experimentation was still in progress, or alternatively, the chariot was custom made according to the king’s specifications. Either explanation might seem plausible, since until recently no other 18th Dynasty Egyptian chariot wheels with eight spokes had come to light. However, while browsing through some of the assembled talatat scenes in the Akhenaton Temple Project office in Cairo, the writer came across a processional scene in which Akhenaton is shown riding in a chariot that had eight spokes in its wheels. This scene tends to support the hypothesis that the Thutmose IV chariot was a custom- made vehicle, as Akhenaton’s would have been.

Another pictorial source from the reign of Thutmose IV is the workshop scene from the tomb of Hepu.15 Here wheelwrights are working on wheels that are supported by four spokes. This suggests that the four-spoked wheel remained in use for a limited time after 1400 B.C. Thereafter, for the remainder of the 18th Dynasty, the chariot wheel is regularly represented with six spokes,16 the single exception being the eight-spoked wheel of Akhenaton mentioned above. In the 19th and 20th Dynasties, the chariot wheels, for the most part, continue to have six spokes.

We see them, for example, on the royal chariots of Seti I,17 Ramesses II,18 and Ramesses III.19 Admittedly, for the reigns of Ramesses II20 and Ramesses III,21 one can cite scenes depicting four- spoked wheels, but, in each instance, the chariots are driven by foreign warriors. Again, chariot wheels with eight spokes are found in the Ramesside era, but they are limited to a few chariots driven by Hittites. The Hittite chariots normally had six spokes in each wheel. According to the evidence presented here, the six-spoked wheel is regularly portrayed in the chariots used by monarchs after Thutmose IV, the sole exception being the talatat scene from the Amarna period mentioned above. However, contrary to Yadin’s position, the six-spoked wheel is found before 1400 B.C. But he is basically correct in stating that the six-spoked wheel is consistently shown on chariots after 1400 B.C. Yadin’s explanation for the shift in the number of wheel spokes is hardly convincing.

The Egyptians were certainly jingoistic, but it is stretching the point to believe that they would alter the number of wheel spokes merely to “shake off Canaanite influences,” and thereby assert their nationalistic identity. They were eminently practical, and we must seek a practical reason for the change.

There’s really no excuse for this sort of stilted research. It’s simply not honest to hack a scholar’s article for what you want to say, leaving readers in the dark as to the contrary information, thus misrepresenting your source’s actual viewpoint.

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The Serpent and Eve Nonsense: Where The Idea Comes From and Does Not Come From

In case readers have been following comments to my earlier posts on this biblical paleobabble issue, I decided to make things convenient.  Please note that they may not be any more decipherable, since the articles I link to below require at least a decent grasp of the Hebrew alphabet (and Syriac helps), transliteration of the same, and principles of morphology. I am posting them mainly so readers will at least have the sources and know I’m not making up my arguments.

Briefly, there are some commenters who believe that the Bible *really* teaches us that in the garden of Eden, Eve had sex with the serpent (aka, Satan or the Devil – never mind that Gen 3 does not use either of those terms) and fathered Cain. My contention is that the biblical text does not teach this nonsense. Rather, it is an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Eve narrative, projected into the text by misogynistic interpreters in the ancient Jewish community.

Here is a good scholarly article that traces the idea in early and late Jewish sources, mainly rabbinics and Syriac texts. The article also highlights the idea of a serpentine Eve (again, misogynistic interpreters wanted Eve to be the villain).

These ideas are ultimately based on two items (and then taken in different directions, depending on the interpreter: (1) the notion that Eve’s name can mean “serpent”; and (2) that the “deception” of Eve in Gen 3:13 has a sexual connotation. In regard to the first, the article linked to above refers to another article by Scott Layton. Here is that article.  It is a technical discussion of Semitic morphology that shows the Semitic “Eve” is not the same as “serpent” (and so should not be understood that way, despite the fact that certain rabbis thought that way; NOTE: Just because a rabbi thought X doesn’t mean X is true or even sensible). In regard to the second item, the graphic below. It is the search results for all forms of the lemma (root word) used in Gen 3:13. In no instance outside Gen 3:13 is there a sexual connotation to the deception — that therefore has to be invented and them superimposed on Gen 3:13.

But Mike, someone might say, what about 1 John 3:12 (“We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother”)? Being “of the evil one” here is the same metaphorical meaning as when Jesus told the Pharisees (note this comes from John’s gospel – same writer as 1 John) they were of “their father the devil” (John 8:44). So, was the serpent out screwing more women producing the Pharisees? (I can just sense the anti-Semitic “Jews are the spawn of Satan” answer for that one). Cain was “of the evil one” because he murdered his brother — he did evil. And let’s look at 1 John 3:12 in its context, shall we? If we take 1 John 3:12 as Cain being literally fathered by Satan, then *all of us* are also the spawn of Satan, since verse 8 of that same chapter says, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil.” Since the same book (1 John 1:10) says that no one is without sin, I guess we were all spawned by Satan (even the people making the silly literal argument, unless they are somehow divine and not human [note: no "bloodlines" are mentioned in 1 John; its anyone who sins]). It’s obviously metaphorical.

Even thought the sources above are dense and for specialists, the one thought to take away in any event is simple enough: Just because a rabbi from antiquity said XYZ about Eve doesn’t mean what he says is true or coherent or at all grounded in sound philology (a word scholars use for nuts-and-bolts analysis of the morphology, grammar, and syntax of ancient texts). Arguments for interpreting ancient texts should always be about what’s actually in the text, not wordplays you can strike, ideas you can promote through such wordplays (like the Edenic fall is the woman’s fault), etc.  While the apostle Paul says the woman was deceived (1 Tim 2:14), he places blame for humanity’s demise squarely on Adam (Romans 5; this is why Jesus is the “second Adam” – reversing the curse – not the “second Eve”). Frankly, it’s evil (not just paleobabble) to use the Bible to promote misogyny and anti-Semitic thinking.

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Noah’s Ark Session Report

As I hoped in a recent post, I was able to attend Randall Price’s session at the annual Near East Archaeological Society meeting (a sub-session at the Evangelical Theological Society meeting) this past week in San Francisco. The session was entitled, “Report of the 2011 Ark Search LLC Expedition and Excavation on Mt. Ararat.” I’m happy to say it was an interesting and informative session. I went wanting to hear two things. First, I wanted to actually hear Price distance himself from the Chinese ark investigation hoax.  I had previously posted a letter on this blog from Dr. Price disavowing the nonsense. You can find that letter here on Dr. Price’s website (and other items investigating the hoax). I just wanted to hear him say it in a room filled with many people predisposed to wanting the ark found. He did so, very clearly. He did the same when I briefly chatted with him later in the conference. Second, I wanted to know if he had read the recent critique of the bogus Carbon-14 testing that I linked readers to in this earlier post. He actually brought up the article before Q & A time, so I know he read it. He also agreed with its findings, which I was glad to hear.

My general impression of Price’s session is that he and his team are making a serious attempt to understand a large anomalous form under the ice that they have detected with ground-penetrating radar (the tests were performed by people expert in that technology, one of whom has a PhD in geology). The audience saw a number of slides from the data read-out that indeed showed an anomalous rectangular space or object. I can’t actually say more than that since some of the information (legitimately) ought not be discussed on the web due to legalities surrounding permits from the Turkish government (i.e., what the team was allowed to do and not allowed to do – I don’t want to mis-characterize anything I heard and make it hard for Price’s team to get permits next year). I can say that nothing even close to conclusive was found. It’s basically going to take permission to dig or drill into the object, and then proper testing of any material remains. I don’t say this sarcastically, but good luck with that. There are many physical and legal obstacles to even getting anything to test. That’s just the way it is.

There was only one negative aspect of the presentation for me. We really *can* do without all the Indiana Jones-ish storytelling. It amounts to hype and detracts from being taken seriously. There wasn’t a lot of that, but any of it is too much.

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More on the Noah’s Ark Fraud

Here’s a link to a short post from the Bible Places blog that contains links to Carbon-14 analysis of the wood from the recent Noah’s ark “discovery” (read: fraud). It’s nice that someone bothers to do scientific research and pursue problems (the hoaxers do not) and report all the data (the hoaxers do not report everything in their upcoming “documentary”). Granted, the source for this critique comes from a site that itself many readers (and me) will question in regard to some of its own presuppositions, but this is the sort of research and analytical critique that needs to happen (note that the author of the critique does have a PhD in geology). This sentence in the post says it all:

In short, the burden of proof is on those who claim that they have discovered Noah’s Ark. Their unwillingness to report their data so that it can be analyzed by scholars suggests that they are perpetuating a fraud.

“Suggest” is far too nice.

I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the annual scholarly conferences in religion and biblical studies. I hope to catch a session or two that are about the recent Noah’s ark “research” (one is a session by Randall Price, and then there’s another on recent advances in satellite technology).  If I get to those on the schedule, hopefully I’ll have something to share.

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A New Testament Textual Criticism Lesson for PaleoBabble Readers

I don’t usually post the same content to more than one blog, but it occurred to me that my newest post over at Naked Bible might be useful. It follows below with some slight alteration for this blog. My point for PaleoBabble readers is really my last paragraph. If you read Greek and have some interest in Bart Ehrman and the textual transmission of the New Testament, you may find this interesting.

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I’ve posted on Bart Ehrman and his work several times before on the Naked Bible blog (e.g., here and here). My contention with Bart is that he’s a fundamentalist — someone who is unwilling to process an issue in any other way than the black-and-white, either-or fallacy that he himself has framed. I’m sympathetic to him only in the sense that some acute personal suffering appears to be behind his fundamentalism. While I wish there was something I could do to help in that regard, I also have to be honest and say that it seems quite clear that Bart’s personal pain has skewered his scholarship. He’s human.

My greater irritation is the way the masses (aided and abetted by a pathologically ignorant media) swallow whatever Bart says as though its some grand, now self-evident discovery, or think that no one can be looking at the same data and still believe in the reality of the Christ of the gospels. Wrong on both counts. There are many scholars who do what Bart does (textual criticism, New Testament studies) who draw conclusions contrary to Ehrman’s and, more importantly, are capable of judging his method and scholarship.

In that spirit I wanted to draw your attention to something that popped up on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog today. One of its regular contributors, textual critic Tommy Wasserman, has posted a version of his most recent Journal of Theological Studies article entitled, “The ‘Son of God’ was in the Beginning (Mark 1:1).” The article is about whether the phrase “son of God” is original or — a la Bart Ehrman — was added by “orthodox scribes” who wished to add their theology to Mark’s original gospel.1 Wasserman’s article is a textbook example of a careful, scholarly response to this idea in a specific passage through examination of the text-critical data, not his own brand of fundamentalism. In the course of the article he responds to arguments put forth by various scholars that the shorter reading (the one without “Son of God”) is the authentic reading. One of those is Ehrman’s own article, “The Text of Mark in the Hands of the Orthodox,” LQ 5 (1991): 149–52.2 Unfortunately, since this is a scholarly text-critical argument, it’s really only acessible to those who read Greek (first year level or beyond). It helps to have had some exposure to manuscript symbols as well, but that isn’t essential.

Wasserman’s conclusion reads as follows:

The external evidence clearly favours the inclusion of uios theos ["son of God"] in Mark 1:1. The long reading has the earliest and strongest support by manuscripts, as well as versional and patristic witnesses and the text-types to which the witnesses have traditionally been assigned. The short reading has early and widespread, but much weaker, support. The internal evidence, to which the defenders of the short reading have normally appealed, is actually ambiguous. The traditional intrinsic argument from Markan style in favour of the long reading is possibly balanced by the corresponding possibility of a stylistic scribal addition.

In regard to transcriptional probability, an early accidental omission, even in the opening of a book, cannot be ruled out, since this apparently happened on several occasions in the history of transmission in Mark 1:1 and elsewhere. This argument, however, is balanced by the general tendency to expand book titles as well as divine names and titles. In conclusion, the balance of probabilities favours the long reading in Mark 1:1—the ‘Son of God’ was indeed in the beginning.

Again, so the point is not missed, the issue is that there is more than one way to look at New Testament manuscript data. Ehrman isn’t discovering something new and unknown to scholars. He isn’t putting forth unassailable arguments that make the faithful run for the hills. He’s arguing his position based on how he sifts the data — i.e., his views are simply interpretations, nothing more — and other professionals in his own field might conclude other interpretations are more reasonable. And, of course, even if Ehrman was right about imported scribal thoughts in Mark 1:1, that is no logical argument that he is right in other New Testament passages. There’s really no coherent way to defend the idea that all the original New Testament writers in all places in the New Testament would not have espoused at least a binitarian (“godhead of two”) monotheism of the type reflected in New Testament Christology. There is too much evidence for such thinking in *Jewish* writers centuries prior to the New Testament.

  1. This is the thrust of Ehrman’s scholarly work, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, the argument of which was put out to the lay public in his popular title, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why.
  2. A distillation of Ehrman’s arguments on Mark 1:1 is found in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, pp. 72–75.

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