The Six Big Fallacies of NT Studies
by Yuri Kuchinsky
After many years of studying early Christian history, I came to the conclusion that our whole New Testament academic industry, as it exists today, is extremely dishonest, as well as very biased politically. Yes, in my view, we're now talking about the whole system that is hopelessly corrupt...
So here's something that I've written on this subject not so long ago. Here's the catalogue of the Six Big Fallacies of New Testament studies. As to the minor fallacies, they'll probably be beyond count...
All constructive comments and criticism are welcome.
The Six Big Fallacies
1 -- THE 7 AUTHENTIC EPISTLES OF PAUL?
Let's just all agree that all 7 are authentic, and nobody
asks any questions about it, OK?
2 -- THESE ARE ALL 1ST CENTURY TEXTS?
Let's just all agree that Mt, Mk, Lk, and Jn are all first
century texts. And then, we can find a tiny scrap of papyrus somewhere,
and all agree that it dates to "exactly 125 CE" (P52). Then our whole dating
scheme can have a nice and very secure anchor. And nobody asks any questions
about it, OK?
3 -- THE TWO-SOURCE THEORY?
According to the dominant 2 Source Theory, Mt and Lk were written independent of each other, and they were both based on Mk. Fine, so let's just all agree that this is so. Although there's still the small matter of over 1000 (!) close textual agreements between Mt and Lk _against_ Mk... (This is in the triple tradition, i.e. outside of the hypothetical Q.) Only in the Wonderful World of NT studies can such stuff be viewed as realistic by over 90% of the Scholars. And all this surely fills us all with confidence that Mk was indeed the earliest gospel!
[These ca. 1000 textual agreements, as mentioned above,
are usually known in the field as the "Minor Agreements of Mt and Lk against
Mk". But it sure seems like this nomenclature, in itself, is already a
bit prejudiced... Because, when most people hear about these "Minor Agreements",
they just have this tendency to say, "Oh, well, these are just "Minor Agreements",
so why worry about them?" But actually, this is a MAJOR PROBLEM indeed
for the 2ST! Thus, it's much better to describe these 1000 agreements as
the "Anti-Markan Agreements" between Mt and Lk. See some more info about
4 -- THE ALEXANDRIAN DELUSION?
NT Textual Criticism is something else -- there's a House of Mirrors for you...
Every single Father of the Church before 200 CE is citing his gospels according to the Western text -- what I prefer to describe as "Western/Peripheral text". All the earliest Semitic-language MSS, the Old Syriac, belong to Western text (as well as the Gospel of Thomas). In fact, in Syria, with its most ancient Christian tradition, it was all Western text until the 5th century!
And yet, by some strange miracle, all the modern Bibles
are Alexandrian text -- which, clearly, was just a rather late Egyptian
text; a local text that cannot even be found anywhere outside of Egypt.
(In contrast, Western text is found very early everywhere in the Christian
world.) Conclusion? NT Textual Criticism is all Smoke and Mirrors.
5 -- ALL THE EARLIEST GOSPELS WERE IN GREEK?
Sure they were! But is there any actual evidence for this?
Not really, but why do we need any stinking evidence, when everybody already
knows that this was so!
6 -- THE HEBREW GOSPEL OF MATTHEW?
In 1987, Howard publishes a completely unknown Hebrew
text of Matthew -- obviously a Jewish-Christian text, and obviously quite
primitive. But no such text was supposed to be found! So let's just pretend
it's not there... If it is a Jewish-Christian text, then, quite clearly,
it cannot contain any valid traditions about the Historical Jesus. After
all, we all know that the original Christians were all Greeks, and so it
was the Jews who later hijacked Christianity, and turned it into Jewish-Christianity!
None of this should really be so surprising, or in need of any sort of an unusual explanation. The explanation for most of these fallacies is quite simple; these are the dogmas that have been bequeathed to our NT scholars as a result of all those many centuries of Catholic apologetics.
The numbers 2 and 5 ("These Are All First Century Texts", and "Greek is King") are really the foundational Catholic dogmas, that have been embraced by our modern NT scholars with unreserved enthusiasm. As well as #1, of course (Pauline authenticity). The others are a little bit different, because this is what our modern NT scholars came up with for themselves, although, fundamentally, of course, they also spring up from the same old roots.
For example, since "Greek is King", and since it's pretty obvious that the Majority Text (the basis of KJV) had been adulterated by the later ecclesiastical editors, in their wisdom, the Scholars decide that the Alexandrian Greek text would have to be the next best thing. Western text, of course, is mostly preserved for us in the Old Syriac and Old Latin. (That's why it's also sometimes called the Syro-Latin text.) But, meanwhile, even Clement of Alexandria, himself, this quintessential Alexandrian Father of the Church, is still citing his gospels according to the Western text! So, I wonder, where was he hiding his trusty copy of that "original Alexandrian NT"? Could it be that there was, as yet, no such thing even in _his_ time (ca 200 CE)?
And so, quite obviously, this is the field of historical inquiry that has not yet evolved to a fully legitimate scientific level. NT studies is where pseudo-science and apologetics still reign supreme. There are egregious logical fallacies under every bush -- just about everywhere one looks -- and woe unto anyone who might wish to call a spade a spade. The knives come out pretty quick, and then soon you'll be declared a persona non grata.
Yes, this is one field of study where those ghosts of ancient past still reign -- the ghosts of intolerance, book-burning, and of ancient racial prejudice. Indeed, that's where all these hallowed Catholic dogmas really come from; the intolerance as sanctified by both time and custom.
All the best,
"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."
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