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GandalfTheWise

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About GandalfTheWise

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  1. Bible Trivia questions

    Something to do with barley. A cake or loaf of bread? It was in the story about Gideon.
  2. Stress and sin

    I left my last job because of stress. I had been in one job for about 20 years (about 8 different managers, 5 different owners, 1 bankruptcy, more downsizings/reorgs than I can remember), and God finally had me leave. As it turns out, during my last two weeks, notice came through that the location would be closed in the next year. I was at my last job (a Christian non-profit) for about 1.5 years. For the first year it was a dream job. The last 3 months was a nightmare. I started having panic attacks. One day it got so bad that I almost fainted on my daily walk at lunch when I was trying to calm down. I went home that day and took the rest of the week off. Come next Sunday, I couldn't bring myself to go back so I basically sent an e-mail that I was planning to leave and that I was taking another week of vacation. During that week, I remember sitting on our porch snuggling with our dog at about 2AM in the morning and just having a sense that God was telling me to let it go that it was no longer my responsibility. They couldn't wait to rush me out the door when I came back. As it turns out, the last of the team was gone within a few weeks as well. 2 PhDs and an MA degree all leaving within a short time of each other pretty much describes it. The three of us (all Christians with about 60 years of work experience between us) had lunch later to catch up and we discussed it. We all shook our heads at what had been going on and we all decided that it was the weirdest situation we had all ever been in in our careers and were all happy to be out of there. I left on my own and the other two were let go. I suspect the organization was happy I left so they didn't have to pay unemployment. I had been willing to work until they got a replacement but they wanted me out the door. There are times to hang in there. I did that for 20 years. There are times to leave. The main thing is to follow God's lead. The place I hung with for 20 years set me up with some unique professional skills that I've been leveraging into some nice consulting work. As it was, I could have done a lot worse career wise. The nonprofit was a career change and gave me some good skills as well. At this point, God seems to be moving me toward semi-retirement to start doing some writing. I had planned on being with the non-profit for perhaps a decade or so and retiring, but God obviously had other plans. Stress can be a killer in the long run (literally). After the last job, it took me several months before I could sleep normally. I had gotten used to getting up a few times per night and reading for a few hours to try to calm down to go back to sleep. It was about 8 or 9 months later that I had slept through the night 2 times in a row and realized I couldn't remember that last time I had done that. I'm now regularly sleeping through the night, and perhaps getting up and reading for an hour or so one night or so every week or so. I found that my mind and emotions stopped racing. I could enjoy living in the present instead of worrying about tomorrow. I had reached a point I could not enjoy life when I was away from work. I had regularly felt my heart racing and pulse throbbing and I had started to get minor headaches, now I rarely have any of these symptoms. A month or so ago, I had a somewhat stressful day and started feeling awful. I then remembered that that was how I had usually felt all of the time and usually even worse than that. In the past 3 years, I've lost about 50 pounds without much change in diet or exercise habits. I think that most of that was due to simply not being stressed all the time. As part of my role in the last job, I was looking at the health insurance expenditures of the organization. Before I left (due to rising levels of stress in my life), I had tried to point out that one of the biggest issues in the organization was that an unhealthy culture of constantly running from emergency to emergency and always putting out fires and letting passionate people work excessive hours to keep things afloat was driving stress levels through the roof, causing turnover, and causing many long term people to develop chronic health problems due to lack of balance in their lives. That was basically ignored even though the anonymous employee surveys that I processed were clearing pointing to some problems in that area. After a trip to the ER for a panic attack (a few hours after I left the door on the last day at the last job), my doctor recommended counseling about dealing with stress and I saw a Christian counselor for a meeting. He recommended a book that I found very insightful and helpful. SOS: Help for your emotions by Lynn Clark. God used this book to show me that I had been suppressing a lot of anger. As it turned out, I was not angry at people (or I immediately would have recognized it as a problem), I was angry at systems, procedures, and organizations. I was angry at things that didn't work well that I wanted to fix but was unable to. In other words, most of my stress was being driven by being mad about stuff I had no control over. I had no clue that this was so unhealthy and indeed I had mistaken it as a positive passion and caring about things. Instead, it was an unhealthy obsession with stuff that God was not calling me to worry about. He put me in that organization to recommend changes and provide guidance and wisdom. It was not my responsibility to worry about whether people listened or not. I had let the thousands of people served by this organization and the thousands of jobs riding on my analyses consume me. The team I was on were all looking at information and data about the organization and independently coming to the same conclusions (which we later figured were unwelcome to some people which was probably why we were all pushed out). Hang in there. Worry about the things God has put on your shoulders and don't add extra burdens. His yoke is easy and light; the extra stuff we add ourselves is the real burden. Consider what you can learn and gain from your current position. There is no job so awful that you cannot be learning something form it (even if it is in the form of why some things are the wrong way to do things ). Look ahead to where God wants you to walk with Him. Are there new skills, new areas, or other things you can start working on at on your own time? Do you have a sense of the direction forward? God usually doesn't have us escape from problems, but rather has us move forward toward solutions and new adventures.
  3. What did the rich young man lack?

    I'd take a look at all 3 versions of this story in Matthew, Mark, and Luke for a better context and some more insights. 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[d]” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[e] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:17-31 NIV 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:18-30 NIV Look carefully at Mark 10:21, Jesus looked at him and loved him. Jesus doesn't seem to indicate that he is failing to keep the law. He does not seem to point out that he is covetous (which means wanting someone else's stuff) or greedy (wanting more stuff). This man recognized that something was amiss even though he has been doing what he was told was right. Look at the version of Luke and what transpired after Jesus told him to sell all he had and follow Him. 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus' reaction is interesting. He does not call the man out for particular sins; instead Jesus looks at him and says that his entire way of life needs to be turned upside down to enter the kingdom of God. By all the standards he knew, he was keeping the Law and was being blessed by God, but he must have sensed something was not right so he came to see Jesus. Note that culturally there seemed to be the tacit assumption (probably based on the OT and Law) that health and wealth were a sign of blessing from God on the righteous and that sickness and poverty were a sign of God's curse on the unrighteous. Look at the reaction of people when Jesus said it was difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, they were shocked. To make a long story short, Jesus did not call him out for not keeping the commandments and indeed Mark's version says that after he said that "he had kept the commandments since he was a boy" that Jesus loved him. It's interesting that Jesus does not tell him to repent or point out any failure with regard to the law, He instead points out a spiritual shortcoming that the Law did not address and that this man (and the crowd around them) had missed. It was about loving one's neighbor as oneself and loving God above all else. Sell what you have and give to the poor; come follow me. Jesus was telling this man (who was probably in many eyes an ideal of one who kept the Law and was blessed by God) that everything they thought they knew about righteousness and being under God's blessing was wrong.
  4. How effective are Gospel tracts?

    Here' a story of a friend of mind. He was walking across a college campus one day and someone was handing out tracts. He took one to be polite. Later that day, he arrived early for a class, was bored, read it, prayed the prayer in it, and got saved. 30 some years later he's still serving the Lord. I originally met him at church perhaps a year or so after this happened.
  5. What is the temperature outside...

    It's mostly about getting acclimated to it. I watch shows about Alaska and see people walking around in actual temps that are below zero. That kind of weather has me bundled up and staying indoors. Also, my perception is that high humidity in cold weather (before snow or rain) creates a dampness that just feels colder. Sometimes it just seems that a 30 degree day with high humidity can sometimes suck the heat out of me faster than a colder but dryer day.
  6. Turning the other cheek

    I try to assume the best about the person posting. I'll re-read and see if I am misunderstanding the words or the tone of the post. If indeed the words and tone do seem to be hostile or negative, I'll usually chalk it up to them having a bad day or spouting off in a way that they'll be embarrassed about later. If I have a negative reaction, I try to make it a point to always step back and process things before responding. (It's helpful for me that I prefer to clearly think through my responses and write essays for posts instead of twitter-like thoughts. It usually gives me time to calm down before I say something I'll regret. ) Some people simply seem to always be on a crusade. There is some spiritual matter or truth that they are convinced is a matter of heaven and hell and that God has appointed them to deal with it. Anyone who is not as passionate about it as them is lukewarm and offensive to God; anyone who disagrees is under God's wrath and judgement by being either a wolf, false teacher, false prophet, not a Christian, or someone hiding secret sin. When these people post or address me directly, I ignore it unless I feel specifically that God wants me to respond. I tend to like these people. I like the enthusiasm and zeal. I used to be like that myself so I feel a bit of affection for them. That said, they're still loose cannons that can do a lot of damage. I usually let them roll around the deck all they want to until they start hurting people; then I'll try to step in and try to limit the damage. Another issue is that we are all different. There are some people here with an "accountant" personality: we need to be serious and make sure that everything is tidy and in order, and address every detail properly. There are some people here with an "artist" personality: we need to feel and express what God is doing and share it with other people, let's toss some paint on the walls and see how pretty it looks! There are some people here with an "explorer" personality: we need to live this great adventure called life that God is guiding us through, full speed ahead! There are some people here with a "police" personality: we need to protect people and maintain order. I could go on and on. The problem is that some people seem incapable of realizing that each of these personalities is how God made some of His children. The reality is that we need all these different outlooks to be healthy as a group. When one personality type dominates, the group becomes unbalanced and unhealthy. I usually try to counterbalance things when one type starts to overwhelm and shut out the other types. In general though, I'm here to help people and learn. I look for people that have serious questions (and are not just spoiling for a fight) and serious problems and try to offer something helpful and encouraging to them. If someone is willing to dialog and engage with me, I'm happy to interact. If they are only want to argue, I just walk away and don't waste my time. Two of the big things that guide my responses are these. 1) Each person is a unique treasure created by God to reflect His glory in some unique way. It's my obligation to help everyone become who God created them to be, not shoot them down and try to make them like me (nor let others shoot them down and try to make them like them). 2) Holiness, good works, fruit, and lack of sin are the result of transformation not willpower and our best efforts. It is God's Spirit inside of us slowly changing us to become more Christlike that results in holiness, not keeping rules and commands. These two things are the biggest drivers guiding what I post.
  7. Why So Many Translations?

    I primarily use the USB4/NA27 Greek texts (which both have a nice apparatus for alternate readings) and an older LXX with parallel English in the margins. I started learning Hebrew this year so hopefully in a few years some of my OT reading will move over to that. When I last used English as my primary Bible, I used NIV for NT and ASV for OT. I've read the Bible through in KJV, ASV, RSV, NASV, LB, TEV, NIV, JB, and NVI (Spanish). Before I learned Greek, I just compared a number of translations and used Strong's and Thayer's a lot. Now I tend to use BDAG, LSJ, and more technical resources as well as doing more extensive word searches across the GNT, LXX, and using Project Perseus to find how words were used by other ancient Greek authors. The main reason I've worked on learning original languages is so that I don't have to have to rely on translations. That is certainly not for everyone as it does require a serious commitment over a long period of time. My opinion is that most translations are fine to use for one's main devotional reading, memorization, and the like; and that a combination of versions should be used for in depth study.
  8. what would u say here?

    32 years! Congratulations. I respect that.
  9. Recall Notice.

    I recall seeing this many years ago and got a kick out of it. It gets the general points of the gospel across.
  10. Harmonizing Paul and the Twelve

    I think it would be appropriate to consider other passages from Acts such as Acts 9:1-31. In particular, Acts 9:26-30. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. Acts 9:26-30 NIV From this, it appears that apostles (with the coaxing of Barnabas accepted Saul/Paul) and that it was the Hellenistic Jews that rejected Paul. I think that the passage in Acts 22:18 would be referring to the Hellenistic Jews rejecting Paul rather than the apostles rejecting Paul given that Acts 9:29 explicitly says that the Hellenistic Jews tried to kill him. From other passages in Acts, it appears that one of the controversies in the early church was the extent to which the Law of Moses needed to be observed. Some Jewish believers seemed to believe it was necessary; others did not. Acts 15:1-35 contains more information on this. Here are a few passages from this chapter. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. Acts 15:5-6 NIV After consideration, the apostles and elders in Jerusalem decided that it was not appropriate to force the gentile converts to keep the law of Moses but rather just a few requirements to avoid deeply offending Jews. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Acts 15:28-30 NIV Based on the passages in Acts, it would appear that the Ebionites were more akin to those believers of the party of the Pharisees than the apostles and elders. Indeed, it seems like the believers who were Pharisees were in disagreement with the apostles and elders on this issue.
  11. Bible Mysteries

    “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Matt 13:55 NIV Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3 NIV 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. Luke 4:22 NIV 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45 12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. John 2:12 NIV 41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” ... 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. John 6:41-42, John 6:59 NIV 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum Matt 4:13 NIV Note that the Matthew, Mark, and Luke story of Jesus in Nazareth shows much familiarity with Jesus' family and a clear indication that some people there actual had contact with His family. In contrast, the story in John 6 (which takes place in Capernaum) shows only an acquaintance with the names of His parents and no indication of the rest of the family. Note that the comments in John 6 are related to the Jews questioning that Jesus could have come from heaven. They are pointing out that they know who his parents are so He couldn't have come from heaven in their minds. Note that this interaction takes place in Capernaum which is about 30 to 40 miles away from Nazareth. 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” John 7:27 24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” John 9:24 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” John 9:29 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. John 9:31 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” John 16:18 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” John 18:30 These verses contain the same Greek word as in 6:24. It is a word that can have many shades of meaning with regard to knowing things. John 6:42 on its own could be taken as 1) knowing of Joseph, 2) having known Joseph (while he was alive), or 3) Joseph is alive and well and they have met him. It's the combination of other verses that seem to point to as Jesus' family consisting of Mary, his brothers, and his sisters at the beginning of His ministry. In my opinion, there is no strong proof that Joseph was alive at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. It just seems to me that there is more circumstantial evidence that Joseph was not around at the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
  12. Can We Really Live As We Please?

    This quote is contained in Augustine's 7th Homily on I John. Here's a link at CCEL to a translation of Augustine's work that this is taken from. Note that this older translation into English was done in the 19th century. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf107.pdf You will find this quote on page 866. It is part of his comments on I John 4:4-12. Anyone interested could read the entire homily (or indeed all 10 homilies on I John) to get the context. Here is the paragraph in which the quote is contained. This should give a sense of what he meant. This is the 8th paragraph of 11 paragraphs in this particular homily (or sermon or commentary if you will). 8. This we have said in the case where the things done are similar. In the case where they are diverse, we find a man by charity made fierce; and by iniquity made winningly gentle. A father beats a boy, and a boy-stealer caresses. If thou name the two things, blows and caresses, who would not choose the caresses, and decline the blows? If thou mark the persons, it is charity that beats, iniquity that caresses. See what we are insisting upon; that the deeds of men are only discerned by the root of charity. For many things may be done that have a good appearance, and yet proceed not from the root of charity. For thorns also have flowers: some actions truly seem rough, seem savage; howbeit they are done for discip- line at the bidding of charity. Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good. I skimmed his homily. Overall, he was talking about how our motives in doing things was critical.
  13. Bible Mysteries

    In Luke 2:41-51, we also have the story of the 12 YO Jesus in the Temple with Mary and Joseph looking for him. Given the absence of any mention of Joseph being physically present doing anything after this point (and continued references to the rest of the family without him), most commentators and scholars I've read conjecture that he probably died somewhere between this point and the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
  14. How do I start over

    Is your husband a Christian? Is he willing to consider Christian counseling? About 10 years, I hit a very low point in life. We were coming up on our 25th wedding anniversary and I didn't even want to celebrate it. (As it turned out, I was rather relieved when serious weather conditions forced us to cancel the planned celebration.) I was burned out at work and at home. I walked slowly to work and even more slowly to home because I didn't want to be either place. I had started to entertain thoughts about just giving up and leaving. I then saw a friend of the family (similar age married a similar amount of time) who up and left his wife for a woman half his age, left the state, and about a week or two later came back to his senses and returned home. That pretty much shook me to my senses. It took years to get out of this mode. I had to do it on my own because I didn't want to tell anyone about it, and what I did tell my wife and family didn't lead to any helpful changes. They simply had no clue what I was feeling and my attempts to explain it seemed to fall on deaf ears. If I were a more impetuous person, I might have done something I'd now be regretting. Some Christian men can hit a point of burnout where they feel unsupported by their family and friends. A wife and family can be completely unaware that their husband and father is quite lonely, does not feel loved or respected, and feel that the entire weight of the world is on their shoulders. It's at this time that unhealthy thoughts and doubts can start creeping into their heads. It's at this time that other women can enter the picture by just simply smiling at him and treating him with respect so he doesn't feel as bad. Most Christian men in this situation do not start out with the idea of trivially ending a marriage. They just get ground down to the point where they simply have no more strength to keep going. Some can get into an emotionless empty state where they just tolerate it and keep their word and integrity no matter what it costs them. Some have things that just start to hurt so much over time that they just crack and cannot deal with it any more. Perhaps, it's too late and it's time to circle the wagons. Perhaps this is a loud warning and there is still much that can be done to rebuild and ignite the passion and love in the relationship. The bottom line is that there are some big differences between men and women all married couples should be aware of. The Shaunti Feldhahn books are very helpful for learning about this. She seems to do good research and presents it well. Her first book "For Women Only" started off as research for a fiction project. She wanted to get into the head of a man to write about what men were thinking accurately so she started asking serious questions to Christian men in her life including her husband and father. She was so surprised that she hadn't had a clue about much of what went on in male heads that she started doing more research and the book "For Women Only" was the result of it. Also, the Willard Harley "His Needs, Her Needs" book is helpful. He's a marriage counselor drawing on years of experience.
  15. Jesus and the woman caught in adultery

    Verses 7:53-8:11 do not appear in the oldest manuscripts and appear only in a small number of older manuscripts. In these manuscripts where they occur, they are usually in the traditional location in John. However, a few manuscripts and lectionaries (basically commentaries on scripture) have them in Luke (after 21:38 and 24:53) and different places in John (after 7:36 and added at the end). Some manuscripts that have them flag them in some manner (like asterisks or brackets are used today). These verses are also found in other language traditions of the NT including Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Slavic (usually in the traditional location). The best summary I've seen of the manuscript evidence for these verses is in the footnotes of the USB4 Greek NT. My sense of everything I've read about this is similar to the footnote that @Yowm quoted. These verses appear to have been known to the early church but there was a mixed reaction to them with regard to being in the canon. Some early church fathers referenced them and some did not. Some manuscripts had them and some did not. The term scholars use for these verses is pericope adulterae. You can do an internet search for this term for more information. I will give a very strong caveat about being careful what you read about this. There is a rather heated split among Christians on topics like this that is related to the bigger picture of what Bible to use. Once you are aware of this, you will be able to understand where many people are coming from when they comment on this. Historically speaking, the NT was copied by hand. Over time, variations crept in. There are many reasons for these variations that scholars have identified. As copies of copies were made, different variations were propagated. Some of these tended to be regional (where copies of the first one brought to a region were made). Today, we have many manuscripts and small portions of various parts of the NT (as well as other writings which quoted or paraphrased scripture) ranging in date from early 2nd century to medieval times. Virtually every larger manuscript in existence has variations from other manuscripts. The majority of these are quite small and are typically stylistic and minor and do not affect the meaning. However, there are a few larger sections such as the pericope adulterae. Some Christians believe strongly in some version of a doctrine of preservation. In a nutshell and oversimplifying it, it is the idea that God created only one correct Bible which He preserved with word for word accuracy only in particular manuscripts. Some Christians identify which particular manuscripts and languages and versions are the "real" God's Word with the remainder being either error-ridden copies or satanic deceptions. When you read any discussions of manuscripts from people with this perspective, you should note that many of their conclusions are driven by the faith and conviction that God's revelation shows which scholarly decisions about manuscripts are the correct ones. An example of this is KJV-only advocates for whom the only valid manuscript traditions are those leading directly to those used by the KJV translators. For people holding some version of this type of view, all historical, linguistic, translational, and similar questions are to be decided solely on the basis of which manuscripts lead to the true preserved correct Word of God. Any discussion of manuscripts ultimately boils down to proving why this particular set are the real God's Word. Other Christians take the view that each of these NT manuscripts was indeed God's NT for the people who had them. Today where we have the luxury of owning as many Bibles as we want that have been carefully printed, few Christians through the centuries were rarely fortunate enough to have an entire hand copied one available for their use. Christians with this view are supportive of Christian scholars who study the various manuscripts to try to determine the most likely words of the originals. For those of this view, it is about evaluating each manuscript, variation, and various manuscript traditions to try to determine the most likely original reading for each verse. In this view, it is that the body of manuscripts as a whole are brought together and examined to see which witness is most credible for each verse. Any discussion of manuscripts ultimately boils down to weighing which readings are the most credible ones for a particular verse. The net result is an eclectic collection of readings based on the most credible witnesses to the reading for a particular verse. This also includes extensive footnotes commenting on when it is difficult to determine which witnesses are most credible. To summarize, some Christians look at the variations among manuscripts and ask, which of these manuscripts has God's uncorrupted Word in its entirety so we can reject the rest? Other Christians look at the variations among manuscripts and ask which of them is the most credible witness to the original reading on a verse by verse basis? Ultimately, this is what seems to me to be an irreconcilable difference. One side believes that God chose particular copyists, churches, and people to be entrusted with His uncorrupted Word over the centuries (and we have to make sure we figure out who has it). For them, it is mostly an all or nothing proposition of finding the right one in its entirety and having solid reasons why other manuscripts must be rejected in their entirety. The other side believes that God's Word as originally written is witnessed to in some way by each copyist, church, and person that had a NT manuscript of some form, and that we pull together as many of these witnesses as possible to determine which of them are the ones entrusted with the original readings of each particular verse. For them, it is about pulling together witnesses from churches and copyists across centuries and a wide spread of geography to discuss each verse and passage in detail.
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