One of the biggest claims leveled by skeptics against the accuracy of the New Testament is that it represents copies of copies made over a long period of time. Certainly, no one believes that we have the original handwritten copies of the New Testament documents, and often the battle is over whether the copies we have accurately reflect the original writings or if the New Testament documents contain significant changes written in by the early church.
Now, however, David Walker, president of Right Hand Ministries, believes that he has found a document that is an original sworn testimony to Jesus. In an article published in the Herald Tribune entitled Lost, and found, in Bible translation by Cynthia Kane, it is reported that a document has been recovered from a Judge's legal chambers from the first century A.D. which may be very important in Biblical studies -- at least according to Walker.
His theories are based on Greek translations he completed of a photocopied document believed to be an ancient Latin page that was recovered from a Roman judge's chambers in the first century A.D.
Walker believes the text was penned in the decade after Jesus Christ's crucifixion, purposefully written in legal terms and not in the common Greek vernacular.
"The Latin was a transcript of the sworn testimony...circa 44 A.D.," Walker says. He believes Luke's author conducted legal interviews, sworn depositions, with people who were witnesses to the Crucifixion and to other events, including Jesus' mother and soldiers.
The article continues:
Walker, president of Right Hand Ministries in Englewood and a retired teacher and General Motors draw die specialist, believes the author of the photocopied words is the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke.
Walker's findings, should experts lend credence to them, suggest Luke was written earlier than some of the other gospels.
The findings also could mean Luke bears sworn accounts from people who witnessed Christ's death, not simply one man's narrative of what he believed happened.
To add to the interest, Walker believes that modern translations of Luke make a mistake in believing that the Gospel was written in Koiné Greek, the then-common language. He asserts that the language used in the Gospel is actually a more formal variation of Greek written for legal matters.
He then grew convinced it was a basis for part of the Gospel of Luke. He also made a discovery he calls pivotal: That gospel should have been translated using legal Greek, not common Greek as is contained in the Bible.
Such a change, based on the nuances between common Greek (the widely accepted translation for the gospel) and legal Greek, lead to a similar but more evidential version of the gospel.
Furthermore, contends Walker, the full text of Luke is a common-Greek translation based on 36 transcripts that should have been translated using legal Greek.
This would alter the whole gospel, creating startling twists. Consider such meaning changes as, during Jesus' temptation, the devil saying, "since thou be the son of God, command this stone," rather than "if thou be the Son of God, command this stone" (as is recorded in the King James Version).
If the Latin document he has translated is a formal legal document about the life of Jesus Christ from around 44 A.D., it certainly adds credence to the theory, promoted by some, that Luke's Gospel was written as a legal brief. Some have speculated that Theophilus was Luke's defense attorney in Rome, and thus it would be natural for Luke to use information previously garnered in the form of legal testimony to send to Theophilus as a basis for presenting Paul's defense.
The one problem with all this: Walker has declined to let anyone see his documents. According to the article:
Since his copied parchment is Latin, it is evidence the testimony on which Luke is based was legal in nature, he says.
Yet he has not provided Southeastern Baptist's Black with a copy.
"They're packed away," he says of the page and his research work, as his house has been for sale for months and he and his wife are prepared to move.
Walker has tried to get the first 15 "deposition" translations, from the legal Greek, published: "I've submitted this to all kinds of publishers...I'm still waiting on an answer" from one, he says. And he has ideas of a movie script. But for whatever reason, he's holding the document close to his chest.
So why should anyone put stock in his theories?
Walker fires back, "Because they can go to the text of Luke and translate using the legal and get exactly what I got." And, "It changes the dating of the New Testament. One of the first persons he interviews is Mary," Jesus' mother. "We can honestly say," based on his theory, that "Luke's the first (gospel) written."
He has them packed away? Oh, please. Mr. Walker, if you are reading this, please please unpack the papers and let experts review them. This type of information should not be hidden away or made subject to guesswork. Even if we read the Gospel of Luke and agree that it is a legal document (as I have been inclined towards believing for some time) it does not provide any proof whatsoever of the existence or the translation of the document that you claim was part of the legal documents found in the First Century judge's chamber. If what you have found is what you claim, you should share it with the world. Without the backup, the entire story can be dismissed by every single Internet atheist, and I personally wouldn't blame them.