The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Sep 29, 2022

Testing the Conspiracy Theory: "Orthodox" vs. "Non-Orthodox" Variants in Jude

I am a Byzantine-priority New Testament prof who had the privilege of being mentored by Dr. Maurice Robinson to a certain degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Dr. David Alan Black was my doctoral advisor). I have a forthcoming article in TC (I think the next issue, in a few months), so I have begun "dabbling" a bit in Textual Criticism.

 Recently I had the privilege of being interviewed by Mark Ward on textual variants in Jude.  The video can be viewed here. This video was based off of a paper I presented at the Bible Faculty Summit in 2022, entitled "Testing the Theological Conspiracy Theory: Utilizing Jude as a Test-Case for the 'Heretical Alexandrian' and 'Suppressive Orthodox' Positions on Deliberate Corruption in Textual Transmission."

The paper itself interacts with both KJV-onlyists and Bart Ehrman's Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. The paper can be viewed on Google Drive here. I have also uploaded it to Academia.edu. The paper is way too snarky (and just a bit too sarcastic) for me to attempt to publish, but it still has some important data that's worth putting out there.

The basic premise of the video interview is "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," in that KJV-onlyists delight in criticizing Westcott and Hort and the various critical texts and translations based on them for either altering doctrine or downplaying it. Yet in doing so, they ignore the many places where the critical actually contains "theological truth" (using KJV-only logic) that the TR lacks. Acts 4:25, for starters (just compare the KJV and the ESV; isn't the Holy Spirit kind of important?). The methodology is flawed, because as soon as one declares that good theology (including what is included or excluded) is an important, if not the most important factor in determining the correct reading, then the entire book of Jude should be accepted in the critical texts (specifically the NA28, SBL, and newer Tyndale), not the TR.

Now, to be clear, because I am Byzantine-priority, I do not accept the critical text readings as original in Jude, when they differ from the Byzantine. My point is that if we take KJV-only arguments regarding theology in the variants at face value, then we would be forced to favor the critical texts. Also, in the paper, I argue that Ehrman's methodology also runs into some issues regarding the consistency of scribal habits (though I am not the first to point this out). It's also deliciously ironic to compare Ehrman vs. the KJV-onlyists on John 1:18, since they both agree that deliberate theological change has occurred, and they both blame the Gnostics, and they both agree on the same reading!

In a nutshell, then, there are somme inconsistencies in both the "evil, heretical Alexandrian corrupters" and the "bullying Orthodox corrupters" viewpoints (to be a bit snarky), and the epistle of Jude, in my opinion, makes this point quite clearly.

My commentary on Jude for the Lexham Research Commentary series should be coming out on Logos sometime early next year. At one point in it I compare every single place where 8 different modern Greek New Testaments differ (minus simple spelling variations), though this is hardly anything comparable to what Tommy Wasserman has done in his monograph on Jude (which I draw from for my paper).