Is the Bible corrupt?

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Thomas, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    The ‘corruption’ of the Bible is one of those modern memes that is generally accepted without question by those who choose to do so.

    Again, the Bible covers such a vast range of narrative genres, and covers such a vast timescale, that blanket statements along these lines really don’t carry any weight. Nor do blanket statements like ‘it’s all myth’ etc.

    When it comes to the New Testament, the ranges narrow considerably. However, when asked to supply evidence in support of the corruption assertion, not much is forthcoming. Personally I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest corruption. It’s fashionable at the moment to insist that Christianity is the Hellenisation of a Hebrew teaching, but again there is no scholar that makes such a claim, as far as I know. The web is awash with subjective opinion about how it’s been misrepresented, misinterpreted, mistranslated, etc., etc., … so much so that one wonders if any of it survives … but when it comes to scientific methodology … the case has yet to be made, I think.

    Whilst there are those who criticise how the books of the NT were selected and brought together, what is not offered is a process those same critics would find acceptable. The compilers selected those documents which to their best knowledge had a reliable train of transmission, and rejected many of the apocryphal texts on the grounds that they didn’t. Those who find critical fault with the orthodox texts, in my experience, rarely if ever apply the same critical rigour to the apocryphal texts.

    Whilst scholarship takes great interest in the apocrypha, there is no suggestion that such texts are any more ‘authentic’ or ‘reliable’ expression of Christianity, over and above the canonical, but there seems to be the assumption that apocryphal texts somehow offer an authentic insight into an ‘alternative’ Christianity that was suppressed by orthodoxy. Again, the broad consensus of scholarship doesn’t make such claims.

    That the text has been redacted is not disputed, but that in itself does not comprise ‘corruption’. Scholars have gone through the various extant versions of the text and whilst differences can be noted, there is no significant theological diversion. Archeological finds continue to support the idea of an uncorrupted text. The DSS etc., the Diatessaron of Tatian, and a host of references in the writings of the early Church Fathers are often so voluminous that near-complete synoptic gospel texts can be put together from these citations.

    Again, what texts were considered authentic and what were not, or what comprise revelation and what don’t, can be discerned in the writings of the Fathers. Thus we have utterly orthodox documents like the Letter of Clement of Rome was not considered canonical, whilst on the other hand such dogmas as the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin are asserted in apocryphal texts, but not in the orthodox canon …

    If anyone has material evidence of corruption, then I’d be interested.
     
    A Cup Of Tea likes this.
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    21,270
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    I'll look but isn't the while first section of nohn in question? And don't we know some of Paul's letters are not?

    It may not comprise theological difference...but changing, adding, is corruption...and evidence of one place e is indicative if the potential for more...
     
  3. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Messages:
    3,293
    Likes Received:
    555
    What have they changed, what have they added? At what point where there a 'Bible' and how is that book different from what we have now?
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    21,270
    Likes Received:
    1,689
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    The Prologue of John? No, I don’t think so, not any more.

    They’re not from Paul’s hand, but they are Paul’s theology. The same with the letters of John – probably not from John’s hand, but his theology.

    Not really. It’s editing. As long as the original message is the same, it’s not corrupt. Every text passes through at least one editorial process today, but no-one suggests that these texts are corrupted. Corruption would mean it began saying ‘A’, and ended up saying ‘B’.

    If it were possible to demonstrate semantic difference, then I would agree, but it’s not. Corruption is simply too strong, too volatile a term – it allows for all manner of erroneous assumptions.

    Colossians, for example, is beloved of the followers of the Sophia Perennis because it’s got a precise statement of Christian metaphysics. It’s one of the dubious letters. If it’s by Paul, it’s around 65AD. If not, then a disciple of Paul, the date set is 80AD.

    What Colossians shows is Christ’s divinity was an axiom of faith well before the close of the first century. So this is an orthodox belief before the likes of Basilides and Valentinus and the ‘Christian gnostics’ came along. It’s little things like this that establish the orthodox line.

    So Colossians isn’t by Paul, but is it corrupt? No, how can it be? What’s it a corruption of? Is it saying something other than the testimony of the Gospels? No, it’s just spelling it out.

    Indicative of a possibility of, but that’s not evidence of. To step from one to t’other is to over-step the mark. I think this recalls Ahanu’s ‘slippery slope fallacy’. It’s Bultmann’s error, for one.

    How many innocent people have been convicted on the grounds that a prior conviction is enough evidence to assume he or she is also guilty of the crime in question? It’s a leap too far in human rights, and I’d say the same in text criticism.
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    21,270
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    I run into this same type of disagreent with others....

    I can still appreciate our country overall...but am willing to admit the pile of errors we've been involved with....Iraq, Vietnam, drug, and Indian wars to be prime examples...just a few in a big pile of errors and corruption...and fairly successful despite oucellves...

    Or the highly intelligent dumpster diver friend of mine....one who insists that the food never was technically in the dumpster because the store separated trash and garbage from use by date throwaways...and dubble bags it in the store...he removes the inner bag from the outerbag so the bag he tosses in his trunk was never really in the dumpster with trash....we can argue all day...never getting anywhere....he is much more intelligent and educated than I...

    I see the bible the same way....it has an amazing plethora of issues...from errors in translation, agendas of the translated, additions, commissions and errors by scribes...but so what...yes corrupted, but as you said... It is theologically there...it states its case repeatedly and from different angles...

    My glasses are also scratched and smudged...but they do what they need.
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    I think your tendency to use emotive language that over-states the case might have something to do with it. You should try politics. I'M JOKING!
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    That's the killer question.
     
  9. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,379
    Likes Received:
    168
    I suppose you're referring to Colossians 1.15-20? Where does Colossians assert Christ is God in the Catholic sense? Please quote it for us with your understanding of why it should be interpreted your way . . .
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    Verses 15-20. And not Catholic per se, or rather the Catholic interpretation of these verses was established before the Catholic Church, it's the same in the Orthodox Patriarchies, for example.

    So it's not so much a question of why it should be interpreted that way – it always has been in the orthodox traditions – the question is rather why it should be interpreted any other way ...
     
  11. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,379
    Likes Received:
    168
    Let's just start interpreting the text. The first half of Colossians 1.15 reads:

    "He is the image of the invisible God . . ."​

    According to my source (Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon by Peter Gorday) there was disagreement over the meaning of "image of God" here. John Chrysostom (349 - 407), Gregory of Nazianzus (329 - 390), Athanasius (?296 - 373), and Origen (184 -253) all agreed the image was the same invisible nature as God. Tertullian (155 - 240), Theodore of Mopsuestia (350 - 428), and more said "the image of God" should be viewed from the perspective of Christ's humanity.

    Gregory of Nazianzus, showing us the view of the first camp of commentators, wrote:

    “He is called image because he is of one substance with the Father; he stems from the Father and not the Father from him, it being the nature of an image to copy the original and to be named after it. But there is more to it than this. The ordinary image is a motionless copy of a moving being. Here we have a living image of a living being, indistinguishable from its original to a higher degree than Seth from Adam and any earthly offspring from its parents. Beings with no complexity to their nature have no points of likeness or unlikeness. They are exact replicas, identical rather than like" (Orations 30.20).
    Theodoret of Cyrus (393 - 457) agrees with Gregoy of Nazianzus:

    “The term image signifies that one living being shares the same substance with another being” (Interpretation of the letter to the Colossians).​

    Tertullian, showing us the view of the second camp of commentators, wrote:

    “It is fortunate that in another passage [the apostle] calls Christ ‘the image of the invisible God.” For does it not follow with equal force from that passage that Christ is not truly God, because the apostle describes him as the image of God? This is true, if (as Marcion contends) he is not truly man because he has taken on the form or image of a man. For in both cases the true substance will have to be excluded, if image (or ‘fashion’) and likeness and form are descriptions of a phantom. But since he is truly God as the Son of the Father, in his fashion and image, he has been already by the force of this conclusion determined to be truly man, as the Son of man, ‘found in the fashion’ and the image ‘of a man.'"(Against Marcions 5.20)
    Theodore of Mopsuestia agrees with Tertullian (and is "astounded" by the interpretation of Gregory of Nazianzus and the others):

    "He calls Christ the invisible image, not because God becomes visible in him but rather because the greatness of God is shown forth in him. In a way we do see the invisible nature of God in Christ as the image, in the sense that he was begotten by God the Word and will judge the whole earth when he appears in his proper nature at the time of his second coming. Thus, he holds for us the status of ‘image,’ which is visible and belongs to Jesus’ earthly, human state, for the very reason that we are able to infer from this ‘image’ [in its earthly appearance] to his divine nature . . . I am astounded at those who attribute his status as the ‘image’ to his divine nature univocally . . . since the term image would never have been applied to human being (i.e., as some have done) if it had been a term exclusively proper to divine nature" (Commentary on Colossians).​

    These two interpretations of "the image of God" in Colossians 1.15 are wildly divergent understandings. Why are Christian commentators confused about the meaning of image in Colossians 1.15? Does the Christian community possess a very early Jewish Christian commentary on Colossians 1.15? Tertullian and Origen are the earliest commentators I have been able to find so far. Any earlier? Who is the first known interpreter of "the image of God" in Colossians 1.15? First doesn't mean best, but knowing who, when, and where is important.


     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    OK.

    OK. But none of those are arguing against the Divinity of Christ, rather how His divinity and His humanity co-exist.

    Tertullian is refuting Marcion, and in fact affirming the substantiality of Christ as God and man.

    OK. But Theodore nevertheless is not disputing the Divinity and humanity of Christ, so really it's a matter of semantics.

    Not really, as neither side actually contends with the doctrine of the two natures, human and divine, in Christ. Nor are they disputing the essential content of Colossians, rather it's a matter of exegetics.

    Christ said "No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18) so we could argue that it's not the physical form of Christ that is the image of God – God has no form and no image – but rather 'image' infers the humanity through which the invisible divinity is made known.

    On the other hand, we can equally say that it's not simply that in Christ God is physically present, but that Christ's divinity is one and the same as that of the Father, there is no distinction, so if one perceives divinity in Christ, one sees God: "Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also" (John 14:9).

    They're not confused. They're offering different perspectives of the same thing.

    Far more interesting to me is the fact that this text, like Philippians 2:6-11, comprises a Liturgical hymn of the community that the scribe (in Colossians) and Paul (in Philippians) incorporated into the text. So they are older, in that sense, than Scripture, and yet they affirm matters that would take hundreds of years to resolve doctrinally and formulate dogmatically – Christ's divinity and His humanity being central to both.

    What subsequent commentaries have to say is secondary. What matters is how they would be understood 'at face value' when sung during the Liturgy, without theological and philosophical speculation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  13. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,379
    Likes Received:
    168
    I'm already aware of that, Thomas.

    He interprets "image of God" to affirm Christ was a human being, because Marcion contends "he is not truly man." At least that's how I read it. Theodore is more clear. Just pointing out "image of God" should be viewed from the perspective of Christ's humanity in his view.

    And I never believed he was disputing the divinity of Christ.

    Yes, both sides believe he is human and divine, but both sides don't agree on the meaning of "image of God" in Colossians 1.15.

    I see that.

    Although they are not confused about their conclusion regarding the nature of Christ, they are confused on the meaning of "image of God" here.

    That doesn't tell me how to interpret "image of God" in Colossians. What did the author originally mean?!

    I'm interested in how Jewish Christians understood "image of God" in Colossians, because you and I are assuming the author was a Jewish Christian named Paul - unless we assume the author was a Gentile disciple of Paul. How would they have understood this phrase when they heard it? When it transferred to the Gentiles did this meaning (whatever it was) undergo transformation? Meanings can change quickly - especially in the fast-changing Jewish world of Paul.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
  14. Sam Albion

    Sam Albion akaFrancisKing:ViveLeRoi!

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Messages:
    350
    Likes Received:
    9
    did Jesus have a belly button? Was Mary taken to heaven when she died, or did she have to wait until 1956? Did God hate witches, or was James paranoid via whore-given syphillis? Who decides? You, me, the bishops? A king? Of course the bible has been corrupted...
     
  15. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    21,270
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Adam was the belly button question...daen Michaelangelo and his depiction of the old white guy creating the belly button need white guy....

    Jesus was inutero...so he did, should have...
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    Whoa, Sam, this kind of thing doesn’t really help the debate!

    'did Jesus have a belly button?’
    I would have thought so. The Bible doesn’t say ...

    'Was Mary taken to heaven when she died, or did she have to wait until 1956?’
    Again, the Bible doesn’t say. The tradition dates from the 5th century, not 1956, but as it’s extra-canonical, it does not impact on the veracity of the Bible.

    'Did God hate witches, or was James paranoid via whore-given syphillis?’
    LOL, which James are you talking about, Joyce?

    'Of course the bible has been corrupted…’
    Well, in the absence of any evidence to that end …
     
  17. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,179
    Likes Received:
    120
    beyond any of these questions validity (of which I find none personally) or even the second half's decisions inquiry... I fail to see how yo go from this portion...

    to this. systematically the 2 are not conjoined.

    I believe we could all come up with our doubts to the Biblical validity on subjects (at least from a literal standpoint), but that doesn't in fact prove it has been corrupted. I have my suspicions that it is in fact corrupted (mind you my personal viewpoint is the authors were trying to say what they thought to be true, but lacked complete understanding when written, furthermore upon the copy and rewrites those ideas were even more confused, again that's just my idea)
     
  18. Sam Albion

    Sam Albion akaFrancisKing:ViveLeRoi!

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Messages:
    350
    Likes Received:
    9
    the james I was referring to was the king, of the KJV Bible, and, rather than laugh at my so called "invalid" questions

    whether jesus was, or was not, the son of God, was debated by the church, and decided on. Not decided by God, or indeed, a DNA test, but a conclave of bishops.

    and, re: mary: the greek orthodox church split from the catholic church on the Mary issue. The debate was whether she was holy in her own right, or was simply a womb rented by God.

    honour God as your King: you think this was the original message of Christ?

    so... changing the rules of the game (the bible), to suit the views of the powerful people: is that not corruption?
     
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Messages:
    10,570
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    People today really don't get the KJV. What he wanted was an English translation that was as good and as uplifting and as nourishing as the Latin or the Greek. Scholars of language extol its virtues better than I. D'you think the KJV a corruption of the text?

    And don't knock syphillis, LOL! It's produced some of the greatest works of art in music, painting ...

    But it was the belief of the Church before the bishops, before Scripture was written, so that doesn't really stand. What was debated was the nature of His divinity, which still is to this day, and always will be, until the time we meet, then we shall know, "because we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).

    Until then, the perennial question: "Who do men say that I am?"

    Nope. Remember the doctrine of the Theotokos was determined when the Church was one, so no, that was never the debate. The Doctrine of the Assumption is, in the East, the Dormition. The distinction today is we have defined dogmatically what the Orthodox profess, but prefer to leave as 'mystery', which personally I believe is the wiser course, but it's no big deal.

    Probably, in the lingua franca of the day.

    Well there's no evidence of that ...
     
  20. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Messages:
    21,270
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    I don't even know what that means? What church was before scripture? Lol the church decided what was scripture.
    when was the church one? The formation of the universal church was a power grab, an attempt to join all the churches, consolidate the belief. As far as I know that never succeeded....it came close....

    I hope the syphillis line was a joke along the lines of....but he built good roads...
     

Share This Page