Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Compiled New Testament Version

Imagine that every one of the many thousands of New Testament documents, whether copied in manuscript, scroll, or papyri, were lost... Not even a translation of the autographs existed. There is no longer any Gospel of Mark. There is no longer any letter to the Corinthians. Now imagine critical scholarship attempting to piece together the New Testament from secondary sources such as the Church Fathers or other early Christian writings.

My mind is captivated by the idea. What would such a reconstructed New Testament look like? The sheer volume of early texts which contain translations, quotations, summaries, and such from the New Testament documents—not to mention the overwhelming abundance of stated references therein—is staggering. What would it be like if all these pieces were sifted from their various environs and reorganized into a single whole? Would we be missing any substantial portions of the New Testament? Would lengthy historic writings like Acts be well attested? Would Revelation be unrecoverable? What about smaller, less widespread epistles--would they be overlooked?

How might we go about deciding whether a thing was being quoted from, expanded on, summarized or significantly altered? What criteria would determine if something was from a “New Testament writing” to begin with or if the author we're referring to is actually a Christian instead of a heretic?

Even though the primary source documents are available to me any time, I would pay good money for a New Testament compiled solely from secondary sources—not just for the novelty and fascination of it, but for the resource. Consider someone talking about Yeshua and what he was all about, and then opening up your CNTV, Compiled New Testament Version, to find the truth of the matter from several dozen or more combined witnesses. Imagine having your actual New Testament open on one side and a CNTV open on the other for parallel study and cross referencing. That is what someone else did to your NT translation anyway prior to you even reading it (if your Bible is an eclectic text).

We have, after all, books that reconstruct what hypothetical documents like Q or the Elohist Source might have looked like. Why not books that reconstruct non-hypothetical documents from the available sources outside those documents themselves?

2 Comments:

Blogger Celucien joseph said...

We would probably end up with 90 to 95% of today's Greek NT. In fact, the great Princetonian New Testament Scholar, Bruce Metzger notes that it is highly possible to reconstruct perfectly the authentic teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ from the writings of the early church fathers.

Josh McDowell said, "We can recreate all but eleven verses of the entire New Testament within 300 years of Jesus Christ. Through the 89, 000 quotations by the early church fathers when they would write letters to the churches, they would often quote two or three chapters of the New Testament. And with taking their works, you can recreate all but eleven verses of the entire New Testament."

7:43 PM  
Blogger slaveofone said...

Thanks for that. But you didn't say where you got your info from...

10:23 PM  

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