CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

A long running fad in some circles is to try to find the "historic Jesus." In this line of thought, the "historic Jesus" cannot be the same Jesus that we find in the Bible. Instead, the "historic Jesus" must be some interesting historical figure (such as a eschatological preacher) who has been layered in myth and clothed in deity by his followers. He certainly wouldn't have claimed to be God (since there is no personal God) and he would have been appalled at what today's Christians would have made of him. People like John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg and the Jesus Seminar promote this view in their books (that are always more abundant on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and Borders than the books by more conservative scholars like William Lane Craig or J.P. Moreland).

Fortunately, while this fad belief gets far more publicity (especially around Christmas and Easter), at least one author who rejects this view and makes the case for historic Christianity gets some shelve space in the large chain stores: Lee Strobel.

Say what you like about his books, they adequately present the basic arguments for historic Christianity, and do so through a series of interviews with various credentialed academics who are experts in their field. He has done so again in his latest offering, The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ. According to the advertising blurb:

[Author Lee Strobel] addresses six major challenges and claims: that a "different Jesus" is seen in ancient documents that seem as credible as the four canonical gospels; that tampering by the church has damaged the Bible's portrayal of Jesus; that new explanations refute Jesus' resurrection; that Christianity copied pagan religions regarding Jesus; that Jesus didn't fulfill messianic prophecies; and that contemporary people should be able to choose what to believe about Jesus. As with his previous books, Strobel attacks the issues as an investigative journalist, though one with a clear agenda. He searches out experts (including Craig A. Evans and Michael Licona) to refute each objection, offering readers top evangelical scholarship revealed in everyday language while challenging the claims of liberal writers like John Shelby Spong, Bart Ehrman and others. "In the end," he says, "none of these seemingly daunting challenges turned out to be close calls... they were systematically dismantled by scholars... with facts, logic and evidence." Evangelical readers will come away with deeper understanding of the various arguments about Jesus.

In one chapter, Strobel has a conversation with Dr. Dan Wallace largely about the views of Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. At one point, Lee Strobel asks Dr. Wallace about the view that no manuscripts of the Bible survived the attempted destruction of all manuscripts by the Emperor Diocleian in 303 A.D. After making the point that such an idea is "loony", Dr. Wallace continues:

“It’s disturbing that when it comes to the Christian faith, people don’t really want – or know how – to investigate the evidence,” he replied. “Christians are not being led into proper historical research by their pastors. I have been saying for some time that I don’t think the evangelical church has fifty years left of life to it until it repents.”

“In what way?”

“First, we have to quit marginalizing scripture,” he said. “We can’t treat the Bible with kid gloves. We really need to wrestle with the issues, because our faith depends on it. And second, we need to quit turning Jesus into our buddy. He’s the sovereign Lord of the universe, and we need to understand that and respond accordingly.”

“After years of studying these issues in depth, what has surprised you about the manuscripts you’ve analyzed?”

“The most remarkable thing to me is the tedium of looking at manuscript after manuscript after manuscript that just don’t change,” he answered. “Yes, there are differences, but they’re so minor. When I teach textual criticism every year, my students spend about a third of their workload transcribing manuscripts – and invariably they marvel at how little the manuscripts deviate.

“Now, I don’t want to give a false impression that they don’t deviate at all. But the vast majority of differences involve a spelling error or a moveable nu. You don’t see a line out of the blue where a scribe said, ‘Oh, I’m gonna make some kind of bizarre statement here.’ So the bottom line to me is how steady the copies of the manuscripts have been over the centuries.”

“Do you believe that God has accurately preserved enough for us to know him and his truth?”

“Absolutely. Do we have all the essentials? Yes. Do we have all the particulars? No. But that’s the task of a textual critic: to try to get back to the original. I’ll spend the rest of my life looking at manuscripts – transcribing them, photographing them, and publishing them. We still won’t recover the original wording in every single place. But I hope by the end of my life we’ll be a little bit closer – and that’s a worthy goal.”

A worthy goal and a worthy book.


Well, Goliath, let's see: Jesus said the blessed are the ones who feed the hungry, visit the sick, welcome the stranger, and (to sum up) generally show compassion and mercy to each other. And door #2 is for those who don't give a flip about their suffering neighbor.

Would you really be willing to be a heartless jerk for the rest of your life just to avoid being blessed for decency?

I wonder if you hate Jesus or just his fan club?

Take care & God bless

From the article:
"The most remarkable thing to me is the tedium of looking at manuscript after manuscript after manuscript that just don’t change"

Is this guy serious? Has this guy checked Marks ending, trinity references; and so many other articles of faith were added later to the text. And Christians are buying it (and this book). He could have at least checked Codex Sinaiticus...

Goliath: congratulations on achieving a feat I didn't think was possible: you read the Bible more literally than a fundamentalist. And more selectively, too. "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, bless those who curse you."

You're hate-blinded, dude. I find myself wondering whether you believe your own rhetoric. Granted, it's got zing, but it lacks enough substance to make it past the kids in my Sunday school class. I suspect you're bright enough to know you're creating a warped portrayal of Jesus. Else, why the ultra-fundie readings (which no fundie would espouse) and the convenient omissions?

Jesus' most basic ethical teaching is that love is primary. Jesus' most basic theological teaching is that God is the source of blessing.

Take care & God bless

Goliath, we get it. We understand that you mischaracterize Christianty and hate Christians. I ask again, why are you so hateful?

Hey Peter,

Are you serious? Certainly, you realize that this guy is an expert who has read hundreds of maunscripts. Do you think that somehow he doesn't know that the ending of Mark was added? Do you think he isn't aware of the change that makes a more direct reference ot the Trinity than in what most scholars have identified as the original text? I mean, seriously?

It is apparent that you haven't read the book because he does address the additional verses in Mark and a couple of other variants. His point is that these variants have been identified and additions have been identified. After those, it is the same over and over and over. It is great evidence that we have a reliable text.

Hi Goliath

"What will it take for us to finally get it?"

For me to "get it", you'd have to cut the bull and actually say what's got you so wound-up and hateful. You can't seriously expect me to believe that you enjoy being hate-filled or bitter, and you can't seriously expect me to believe that the level of dedicated hatred you've got going is somehow related to three verses of Scripture. It just doesn't pass the BS detector.

If you want me to take you seriously, then get real about it and stop putting forward arguments that the children in my Sunday school class would find unconvincing.

Most people I know that are that cheesed off, it's either the problem of evil got up close and personal, or some poison-filled "Christian" made the name of Christ hateful to them. I've never met anybody who went off the deep end over a few select verses in a book that they know they're misinterpreting.

I've actually been praying for your peace of mind. It can't be healthy to go around like that. I'm not praying for God to pull some whammy on you, just if you could settle. On some level you have to know you're not thinking straight when you're going off like that.

Take care & God bless

Hey BK,

Of course he is an expert, which makes his statement so strange. Everyone knows those two and truck load of other doctrinal changes made over the years, yet he writes "manuscript that just don’t change". This kind of nonsense is used for popular Christian writings, which sells well. But I bet he would not use that kind of language when talking to biblical scholars.

And I think you are missing the forest for the trees. But that's why we argue about these things. :)


Sorry man, you are wrong. Dr Wallace is entirely justified in his statement regarding the NT text. He acknowledges many times that there are discrepancies, but marvels at how unified the remaining text is. The very fact that we have such early and diverse collection of witnesses allows us to see very clearly that Mark's longer ending was a later addition. The trinity reference in 1 John is so meaningless it isn't even funny. Being more than 1300 years after the work was authored, it tells us nothing about the early transmission periods. Both these examples do however, show just how much these types of alterations stick out like sore thumbs, and so are easily removed from the text. Simply re-asserting that "many articles of faith were added later” is just as meaningless as the trinity reference. The only two you have bothered to specify have been known by scholars for a good long time and have been shown to be inconsequential. You must provide hard textual data, rather than supply endless assertions. If your like me, and are fascinated by NT textual criticism, I’d recommend the New English Translation of the Bible. It is my favorite! Dr Wallace is the Senior NT editor. It contains over 60,000 translator notes to discuss translation issues, and why a certain reading might be preferred over others. Both Mark's ending and the 1 John reference are treated in extensive detail.



Sorry man, you are wrong. For example Kurt Aland stated that more that half of the verses in the Gospel of Mark (Greek text) have textual variation. And why is my trinity and Mark's ending meaningless/funny; those is still in my Bible, billions of Christians have and still do believed those are divine words, and it shows how early Christians added doctrines after doctrines to the text. I'm sure you know what scholars think about New Covenant verses, John's ending, verses referring Joseph as Jesus' father, women to shut up in the church, Great commission, drinking fresh and blood, birth narrative, baptism formula and just Google "missing bible verses"... the list is just endless. And the interesting thing is that pretty much all important Christian doctrines in the Bible were added later. Let's cut out all those "sore thumbs"...

In reason


Again, you are wrong. And again, you have blown way too little, way out of proportion. Regarding Mark, yes that is true about text variants, but this has no bearing on text’s accuracy. In point of fact, there exists somewhere in b/w 200,000 to 400,000 text variants in the whole of the NT. Bart Ehrman has been fondly quoted by skeptics for some time now as having said there are more variants than there are words (138,162) in the Greek text. Here is the truth, any time one word in any NT manuscript is not the same as another, it is counted as a textual variant. Example: All manuscripts but one has, “Jesus is the Lord”. The one that doesn’t is a late manuscript (13th century lets say) and says, “the Lord is Jesus.” Here are a few text variants. Do these change the idea the text is attempting to convey? No, of course not. The idea, though the same in essence, is expressed differently in both passages. The manuscript is very late, but the variants still count because they are different. Perhaps the scribe just decided to change the wording on the fly, or his eye drifted and he made an error. It doesn't matter. And so about 95% of all text variants are unintentional like the above. These are things like, confusion of similar letters, repeating words or sentences, or just the copyist making an honest error. Check Arthur Patzia’s The Making of the New Testament pg 138. The remaining 5% are simply correcting spelling, harmonizing similar stories (the content is not changed, just the wording), elimination of textual difficulties (Origen in the second century began looking for scribal errors and Jerome in the third for the best manuscripts he could find for his translation and compared and contrasted them), and yes, doctrinal and theological changes like the ones you have noted. The point is because of the multiple and early witness, we can flesh these out very easily since they stand out so clearly. And none affect any core Christian doctrine that is not affirmed in another place where the text isn’t in question. You are right about Mark’s ending and the 1 John reference. Christians have not been made aware of these in years past. That is one of Dr Wallace’s points in his discussions. To make the Christian community aware of the field of Textual Criticism. If your Bible was printed after the ‘70’s, then it most likely contains a text note in the margin or the bottom of the page. Many have been hesitant to do even this lest they destroy the precious idea of inerrancy. As if the text was sealed in a vacuum. You are right, we Christians have done this, and allowed this to be done to ourselves. Again however, it doesn’t matter. Mark clearly affirms Jesus’ resurrection (Mark 16:6), and the Trinity was affirmed by the Council of Constantinople in 381 CE. They didn’t need the later added verse in 1 John. Again, the fact that the 1 John reference is so late (some 900-1300 years after the fact) shows that the doctrine is not affected. The NT says the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Spirit is God…trinity. Your claim that these show that early Christians added, “doctrine after doctrine to the text,” is nonsensical. Again, the reason we can show these are not part of the original, is because the earliest and best manuscripts don’t have them. How does one verse, which is found for the first time in a marginal note in a 10th century manuscript, show that early Christians added doctrine after doctrine in the early transmission periods? It doesn’t. Yes, I know of all the variations you discuss, (although verse references would be helpful) some have many critics who believe them to be original like Luke’s Last supper in Luke 22:19-20. The inclusion of the second cup is the harder reading since in differs from Matthew's account. Paul also corroborates it in the 1 letter to the Corinthians. When all the evidence is weighed, it’s most probably original to the text of Luke. The great commission trinity reference is different. Here scholars who doubt it do so with no manuscript support. Since there is no other good reason to doubt it, we can judge it most probably original. Regarding Paul in 1 Cor 14:34-35. Here is another unique problem. The verses are in all texts, but are in different place. Some have them here, and others have them after verse 40 in the same chapter. Nevertheless, this is most probably due to a scribal mistake (we all make ‘em) and so is most likely part of the original letter, even if originally contained in the margin. Luke and Matt on Joseph, and the baptism in Acts are the most compelling you have listed. You are right, a later scribe likely amended these verses in Luke and Matt to harmonize easier with the Virgin birth. However, both contain the doctrines in places that are not in textual doubt and so, the variations, while interesting, do not matter. (Matt 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38) As for baptism formula, again I have to assume, you mean the one in Acts 8:37. This is not part of the original text because the earliest versions do not have it, and no one quotes it for quite some time. This again means nothing because Acts show clearly in many places that baptism is unbreakably tied to a confession of faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-41; 8:12; 9:17-20; 16:14-15, 30-33, 18:8). The scribe is simply adding explicit statments to qulaify what the entire rest of the book says implicitly. And I don’t have to Google anything. The best places to go are to the scholarly literature. The net is packed with too many pseudo-scholars who write endlessly without really knowing a thing. Again I say, the fact that we have such a great base of comparison in manuscripts makes it easy to see what was added when, and why. Most of the answers I’ve given here are again addressed in the New English Translation with great references to arguments in books and articles. I advise you to actually read what Dr Wallace has to say in The Case for the Real Jesus and in Reinventing Jesus. Wallace knows far more about the NT text than you or I likely ever will. Finally, regarding your again repeated assertion, “And the interesting thing is that pretty much all important Christian doctrines in the Bible were added later.” We can see pretty clearly that isn’t true. Any places a text discusses a core doctrine and is in doubt (Jesus’ deity/humanity, the trinity, the resurrection), and there are not many, the doctrine is clearly affirmed somewhere else w/out textual variants. The claim is groundless. Thanks for the discussion though.


"And the interesting thing is that pretty much all important Christian doctrines in the Bible were added later."

I agree with Derek. That's nonsense.

Derek said:
there exists somewhere in b/w 200,000 to 400,000 text variants...late manuscript (13th century lets say)... confusion of similar letters, repeating words or sentences, or just the copyist making an honest error

Why are you introducing these red herrings. I mentioned that Aland only used Greek text and excluded all orthographical details.

Derek said:
"The NT says the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Spirit is God…trinity."

Where is this in the Bible? Verse please! Maybe bk can help out and tell why early Church father and manuscripts supported adoptionism (Jesus’ deity/humanity). Did Jesus teach Trinity or was it made up later?

If the previous comment was your last then thanks for the discussion.

In reason

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


You are, of course, free to discuss and debate. Many atheists do so and do so here. What they do not do, and why you are getting deleted, is because you do not discuss and debate. You repeat the same anti-Christian slogan over and over and over again.

You are no martyr, just an annoyance. The good news is that the power to change the situation is entirely in your hands.

Do you censor me because you cannot face the fact that you will never complete your Grand Commission? Or is it merely cowardice?

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