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2011, Here we go!

January 3, 2011

The “stats  monkies” at WordPress sent yesterday their summary of activities on this blog site.  I won’t plague you with all the details, but I’m pleased that there were in excess of 59 thousand views since the launch in July 2010.    So this marks the end of 2010 and at the same time the first six months of this experimental effort to bring scholarship on Christian origins to the blogosphere.

As a rank new-comer to this, it has all been very interesting, sometimes trying, sometimes reassuring.  Clearly, there are some who seem to cruise for blog sites where they can vent their pet peeves, ride hobby-horse issues, etc.   But, mercifully, these have been few (although they take up a disproportionate amount of time/effort, especially if you wrongly assume, as I have, that they actually want to learn something).

Anyway, I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this particular kind of blogging, and I hope that at least most of the 59 thousand views in 2010 were positive experiences.  I’m grateful for the encouraging comments from readers.

In the coming year, I’ll continue to share some of my own scholarly work, and draw attention also to the work of others that notice and think deserves further notice.  Next week, I’m off to Wittenberg for a mini-conference sponsored by the Corpus Judaeo-Hellenisticum, this conference focus on  early papyri.  I’m giving the opening presentation, on the scholarly importance of earliest NT manuscripts, and look forward to the presentations of others.  I’ll see if there are some observations to harvest for a posting here.

I wish a healthy and safe 2011 to you all!

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  1. Mike permalink

    I just came across your blog today and am very glad I did.

    I have recently encountered some folks who have no confidence in the reliability of the New Testament texts, believing, among other things, that these documents could have been edited in material ways since the time they were written. What is your degree of confidence that the New Testaments we read in various English translations today materially and faithfully represent what the original documents actually said?

    • One of my own areas of expertise is the textual transmission of the NT writings. To be brief (as I must), the NT texts have been transmitted (copied, read, distributed) from the time of their composition, and in the pre-printing press era by hand-copying. So, they were subject to the sort of accidental and deliberate changes that any text was subject to from that era. The critical editions of our Greek NT (such as the Nestle-Aland edition) include in the apparatus indications of the variants in various manuscripts and which manuscripts support each variant. There are some 5000 Greek manuscripts of the NT writings, and it has been estimated that there are 150,000 to 300,000 variant-readings among them. Probably 90+%, however, are easily detectable accidental errors-in-copying. Probably 90+% of the remainder are easily identifiable as intentional changes made by ancient readers/copyists in the interest of clarifying the Greek style of a text, or harmonizing a Gospel passage with a parallel in another Gospel. Only a very small number of variants cause us text-critics real difficulties, but they do!
      A good current English translation will be based on a good critical edition of the Greek NT, and so will convey the best judgement of scholars over the last century or so of scholarly work on the matter. And today, we have manuscripts of some NT texts that take us back to scarcely more than a century after they were composed, astonishingly closer than for any other ancient literature. So, with the majority of textual critics, I would say that we can be pretty confident that our familiar NT writings are substantially what their authors wrote.

  2. Melissa Fitzpatrick permalink

    Dr. Hurtado, I so enjoy keeping up with your blog. I definitely understand the joys and unique frustrations of the blogosphere but am excited that you are willing to deal with the shenanigans again in 2011. Looking forward to hearing about the conference in Wittenberg on early papyri.

  3. I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog, Dr. Hurtado, and I hope to see much more over the years. And don’t worry, you certainly have gotten the hang of things (smile). Have fun in Wittenberg!

  4. Thanks Dr. Hurtado for starting this blog and for answering my questions in 2010. I link you on my site.

  5. keep up the good work! 🙂

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