Saturday, March 12, 2011

Marginal Notes

Since writing began people have been making notes in the margins. We know for sure that this happened with scripture text because we have examples of it on some of the ancient manuscripts. I have several study bibles where I have made notes to my self in the margins so I am as guilty as those ancient scribes.

One example of this on an ancient copy of Luke 3:23 in the genealogy of Jesus. A scribe or scholar came to the part about Jesus being the son of Joseph. Knowing that Jesus was the son of God he wrote in the margin beside that verse the words, “As was thought” as simply a marginal note. Perhaps years later another scribe was given the task of making a copy of that manuscript. He came to the place where the marginal note had been placed and thought that the previous scribe had left it out of the text and wrote it in the margin. He promptly included the marginal note in the text of the new copy. There it stayed every time a new copy was made.

It is still there however new translations often put it in brackets to indicate that it was not in the original text. There are a lot of examples of this same kind of scribal error. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Strong Faith

I received a private message about my previous post about Misquoting Jesus.
"Did the knowledge of errors in the bible harm my faith in Jesus?"

My strong faith in Jesus has always been based on my personal relationship with God. From the time I was a child I understood that the bible is the witness of hundreds of people who had strong personal relationships with God. They recorded their understanding of that relationship and they did it in terms of their world view. Translating that story from language/culture to mine through many languages and cultures is tricky at best.

Early in my ministry I was into the King James version as the only Authorized version until I took New Testament Greek and discovered that it meant that the King of England had authorized the printing of it in English. I look for the truth with prayer and an open mind. I understand that literally thousands of people have passed the writing on to us and where men are concerned errors happen. Yet the story of Jesus comes through it all and I do love that story.

A Very Disturbing Book

I am currently reading a book that is most disturbing. It is “Misquoting Jesus” The story behind who changed the bible and why but Dr. Bart D. Ehrman. He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He came to UNC in 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

It is not surprising that those who depend on the theology of bible inerrancy dismiss him out right for he says that the current bible is full of changes from the original text.  I have known for a long time that indeed there were some changes from the original Greet text of the New Testament. I have seen and studied some of them. What disturbs me is the volume of word changes and actual large additions to the text. Some were done by scribes making errors in copying and others were done to support their own theological positions.

I have been doing a lot of cross checking the claims made here and to my shock the evidence seems to support his work. I am striving to be very careful in this study. It really has my gray matter stirred up.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

WHY ???

When we feel overwhelmed with pain and suffering in the world, we naturally ask why does this happen? As a historian I know that every generation why is there so much suffering going on. The big question gets ask by each generation as well. “Why does God allow this to happen?”

Why would God allow a gang of boys in Texas to rape an eleven year old girl? Why does a dictator kill his own people? Why does one race hate another race? These questions are not new and we will not be the last to ask them. The whys have many answers: greed, power, fear, and the forces of nature.

The real question we should ask is, “What am I doing to alleviate the suffering?” As  a Christian I know that Jesus has called me to feed t he hungry, clothe the naked, teach love to those who hate, and be a peacemaker. I can not escape the call to be the heart, hands, arms, eyes and ears of Jesus in this world. Each of us can do something and it takes all of us doing our part. Lent begins tomorrow take the time to meditate on your call to be one who serves God in this world/

Monday, March 7, 2011

Understanding Revelation

For most people when you mention the book of Revelation they get a blank stare as their eyes glaze over. I often hear that it is just too hard to understand. It is filled with a secret code that the first century church understood but it has been lost to the ages. Modern day false prophets have misused and abused its message in frightening ways and scared us.

A good way to visualize the book of Revelation is to see it as a split screen on the computer or television. On one side of the screen are scenes of death and destruction and increasing horror on this earth.  The other side of the screen if filled with wonders of beauty and light in the brightness of the place where God dwells. Both scenes are happening in real time and our eyes switch back and forth from one to the other.

John reassures Christians that, while we are living with difficulty and suffering in this realm that in God’s realm there is praise, harmony, peace, light and joy. John’s central message to both his first century church and to our twenty-first century church is: Stay faithful and God will see you through to the end. In the end God wins!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

An Affirmation

Today in worship as part of our Installation of Rev. Mike McColl as our Minister of Youth and  Young Adults the congregation of Hurstbourne Christian Church affirmed our own call to ministry.

“We, the members of Hurstbourne Christian Church affirm our call to ministry in the name of Jesus the Christ.
As God’s people we accept these charges:
          To gather in common worship
          To minister to all who seek spiritual nurture
          To extend the hand of charity
          To loose the bonds of bigotry, malice, hatred and ill will
          To share the good news of God’s love in deed and word
          To seek knowledge that each generation may gain wisdom.”