A challenge to pastors

Dan Wallace on his blog, The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, reviewed the excellent book by Craig Blomberg, Can We Still Believe the Bible. In his book Blomberg was addressing Bart Ehrman’s comments on various textual readings in his book Misquoting Jesus. Wallace addressed the two 12-verse readings of Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 and offers a powerful challenge to pastors, writing,

My own examination of over 75 translations in a dozen different languages reveals the same monotonous story: Translators keep these passages in the text of their Bibles because to do otherwise might upset some uninformed Christians. But Ehrman has let the cat out of the bag. Just as Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire pointedly athetized the Trinitarian formula in 1 John 5.7–8 [Comma Johanneum – mine] over two centuries ago, so Ehrman has done the same for Mark 16 and John 8. When Gibbon wrote this note in his six-volume work, it scandalized the British public. A hundred years later, the Comma Johanneum did not even show up as a marginal note in the Revised Version of 1881. It is time for us to relegate these likely inauthentic texts to the footnotes. Otherwise, we will continue to placate uninformed believers, setting them up for a Chicken Little experience when they read books like Misquoting Jesus. Sadly, tens of thousands of college students, raised in a Christian home, have abandoned the faith because of fear of embarrassment over these issues, especially due to Misquoting Jesus. In recent years, it has been estimated that over 60% of kids coming from Christian homes abandon the faith by the time they get done with college. It is time for pastors and other Christian leaders to educate the masses about the reality of the transmission of the Bible. If we don’t, the fallout will only get worse.

We need to recover the robust study of the biblical languages in seminaries. We are training too many pastors with little or no understanding of Greek and Hebrew and even fewer who are trained in the finer points of textual criticism. Our sheep are going out into the world and are being fleeced by secular scholarship all because they are ill-prepared to handle the onslaught. And they often are finding little support back in their church.

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