Redaction and editing of the Bible

Anyone who has time and can read on them or already know can comment and write what he thinks.

Now this is troubling and i dont know why many christians dont try to answer this or even maybe assert this problem.I think a lot of threads have been made already to no avail ,only to agree that "yeah the Bible possibly has been redacted and edited ,so what? "while ignoring the problem that if this is the case then by any means the whole christian church and tradition falls apart .

There are some spots where editing has obviously happened (e. g. “and it is there to this day” and updating location names [Laish to Dan, Ur to Ur of the Chaldeans, etc.]), but all of them are theologically insignificant.

The one on Matthew’s genealogy is accurate: one must keep in mind that skipping generations in a genealogy was standard practice in the ancient world (“son of” = “successor of”).

On Goliath, this misses the fact that the standard way to add emphasis was repetition. And comes out with a bunch of non-sequitur “obviously this is a literary creation”.

I think I came to a deeper understanding of scripture with reading Walton’s Lost World of Scripture, and Enn’s How the Bible Actually Works ( title’s off the top of my head, but close enough for Google). They discuss respectively how oral traditions became put on paper, and how scripture functions and has meaning, despite the contradictions.
I think the emphasis on literalism, historical accuracy, and inerrancy is a modern idea that has done great damage to Christianity, as seen by your statement about how editing and redacting makes it all fall apart. It falls apart only if faith is dependent on it’s historicity, not on Christ. I think even the Bible states that most of the written texts were lost in the exile, and they rejoiced at finding remnants in the rubble of Temple when they returned (just from memory, I am fuzzy on the details). I suspect most of the Old Testament was recreated from oral traditions and memory, with much written after the return from exile.
In fact, Adam and Eve and early Genesis probably did not exist except in very rudimentary form in oral stories until put on papyrus after the exile, incorporating the creation stories of their captors.
But, not a popular topic in Southern Baptist bible studies.

7 Likes

These things Christ also said .So either Christ is a liar or something else is going on

Obi Wan Kenobi said something like “it’s true from a certain point of view.”

But Obi Wan Kenobi doesn’t exist, so I’m a liar?

4 Likes

Dont understand the correlation here between a fictional character and a middle-eastern historical teacher

Matthew’s genealogy is theological. You don’t get a numerical structure like that by chance. Well, it’s logically possible, but for any competent historian its sounding a very loud alarms. That indicates careful and purposeful construction. The author of Matthew is making literary parallels. Matthew and Luke don’t even agree on who Jesus’ grandpa was. Claims that one genealogy used Mary and one used Joseph is just uncritical harmonization and inconsistent with the life setting of the gospels.

Vinnie

Just to add some thought on the women of Matthew’s genealogy.

Matthew seems to have a penchant for women with colourful pasts. In addition to his interest in Rahab, he singles out Ruth, Tamar and “the wife of Uriah” (i.e. Bathsheba).

He could have mentioned more famous women from Israel’s history — Sarah, Rebekah, or Rachel, for example. Instead, he has chosen Tamar who seduced Judah, Rahab the prostitute, Ruth who seduced Boaz, Bathsheba the adulteress, and Mary — Mary who got pregnant without a husband. According to some Jewish traditions, she had shacked up with a Roman soldier named Panthera, and claims that Jesus had been the son of prostitute were circulating in the second century (Cf. Tertullian, De Spectaculis 30.6). Did this rumor already exist when Matthew wrote his Gospel? If so, he might have wanted to deflect such negativity, not only with a virgin birth story, but by pointing out the essential role in Israel’s history played by unchaste women.

Not all scholars agree with this interpretation, but I think it is interesting to consider.

Did Ruth actually seduce Boaz? I just reread Ruth 1-4. She certainly put herself out there but I saw nothing scandalous here. She breaks the mold of four scandalous women. Rahab was a prostitute but she she went from harlot to heroinne and there is nothing to suggest her union was anything other than sinless. I don’t think her historical claim to fame is her early way of life.

First, we have to ask critical questions. How does he determine who the most popular women in the Old Testament stories in Matthew’s specific Sitz Im Leben? How does he know at the end of the first century, after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, when Matthew is writing, what names and stories are the most popular? These four names were well known and probably were chosen for a reason. So we can ignore the author’s uncritical generalization and claim to have more knowledge than he actually does.

“Instead, he has chosen Tamar who seduced Judah” (Genesis 38)

Why Tamar over Sarah? Tamar ensures the proper Abrahamic and David lineage of Jesus and invokes the concept of sin.

In Genesis 24 Abraham makes his servant swear that his son Isaac will not marry a Canaanite wife. The servant travels and procures Rebekah for Isaac. In turn, Isaac told Jacob the same thing (Gen 28). Jacob then travels and procures Leah and Rachel (apparently a pure bloodline is more important than monogamy). This is a theme here. Judah, had a Canaanite wife. That is a problem. She died. Enter Tamar to fix the problem. She keeps the Abrahamic lineage of Jesus intact. Now in Matthew’s Gospel it seems that Judah also starts the direct Davidic line.

In the story Judah’s two sons die then he with-holds his third son so Tamar acted and he states, “She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not lie with her again."

“Matthew emphasizes that Judah is the origin of the Messianic Davidic king as he adds “land of Judah” to his combined quotation of Mic 5,1 and 2 Sam 5,2.” The Narrative Roles of the Women in Matthew’s Genealogy, John Paul Heil

Tamar fills a duel role in preserving both the Davidic and Abrahamic ancestry of Jesus. There is certainly sin involved in the stories of Judah and David but Mary and Jesus are the reversal of that. Tamar recalls that sin has been involved in the Davidic ancestry since its beginning. Rahab and Ruth may be meant to give hope in the list but then we know how it all turns out with David.

It is quite possible Jesus was an Israelite of suspect paternity (mamzer) and this sparked such stories and Matthew is doing clever damage control with Mary’s reputation but as far as the two women in the middle, there was nothing scandalous about their unions with their husbands and what did Ruth do that was so scandalous? There are cogent explanations for the names of the four women that don’t require a sexual scandal based solely on tenuous evidence.

Vinnie

“Female Innkeeper” would probably be a better translation (mind you, that was about as reputable).

Welcome back to the forum, @fmiddel ! long time no see. Where have you been?

1 Like

If you quoted accurately what a fictional character said through its creator, you are repeating correctly a fictional tale.

Are you confusing me with somebody else?

Usually! Sorry. Thought you were participating in this discussion.

I think it’s fair to say that the disciples of and bystanders to Christ’s ministry may have written notes quoting him. Also, I can tell you many things my high school football coach said and so can many of the kids who played for him decades later. Depending on how important the person is to you, how relevant the topic, how long you sat under that person’s influence, you may recall in detail a great deal.
We can start an analysis of scripture beginning in John chapter 15 and work from there, too. I find it tough to challenge the authenticity of the words allegedly spoken by Christ there.

I don’t see a questioning of authenticity. Oral traditions can be authentic and may be held as even more authoritative than written words in some cultures, especially those where the population is functionally illiterate. Even with Paul’s letters, they were typically read aloud, often by a representative of Paul who could clarify and guide discussion.

2 Likes

Challenging the authenticity of the N.T. is all the rage, especially since Dr. Bart Ehrman’s popular books hit the streets. He mentions the “phone game” to discredit oral traditions as a means of preserving historical data and refers to experts who prove (to him) that our memories are like sieves.
I have wondered often who besides Christ could have come up with the things said as they were recorded for us. The words we have are wild. I can’t imagine anyone making up them up. Can you?
“I am the living God, the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser…”

2 Likes

I would agree. Language changes, and to some extent oral transmission may be more accurate as the rendition would change with the language to better convey the original meaning rather than remain static in as they do in written form. Ultimately, we have to trust and have faith that the Holy Spirit has intervened to keep the intended meaning intact.

2 Likes

The point is that Jesus referencing a story doesn’t require that story to be historical fact. I can understand that this might cause problems for some people, but at face value, it’s simply not the case.

2 Likes

Exactly. Look at parables.

Oral tradition was still preferred by some (e.g. Papias) in the second century. Given literacy levels this is expected.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.