Monday, 21 March 2016

Textual Criticism of 2 Corinthians By Bart Ehrman

What is the original of 2 Corinthians? We cannot say!

Notes from Prof. Bart Ehrman's analysis of 2 Corinthians:

2 Corinthians, is one of the Pauline epistles. It was written to his congregation in the city of Corinth c. 60CE. We are missing the original. The  earliest manuscript of 2 Corinthians is P46, it dates from c. 200CE. P46 is not a complete manuscript of 2 Corinthians. Our first complete manuscript dates to around 350CE.

The theoretical problems Dr Bart Ehrman outlines in considering the original text of 2 Corinthians:

1. There's good evidence Paul dictated his letters to scribes. Suppose Paul dictated 2 Corinthians and the scribe made mistakes in rendering Paul's words into text.

Is the original text what the scribe wrote or what Paul dictated?

This is not a big point of contention.

2. Paul did not write 2 Corinthians as it has come to us today. Scholars have long recognised for over a century that 2 Corinthians is made up of two different letters spliced together; chapters 10-13 do not come from the same letter as chapters 1 to 9!

[This problem could be compounded as there's a large number of scholars in Europe and the US of the opinion 2 Corinthians is made up of 5 separate letters that Paul wrote!]

Whichever way you look at it 2 Corinthians we have is not originally from Paul. It's from whoever amalgamated the different letters (2, 5 or however many letters were used to make up 2 Corinthians).

3. This gets messier still. The original letters from Paul may have gone through scribal change prior to them being amalgamated by the unknown person. This amalgam would then have gone through scribal change prior to the earliest complete manuscript of 2 Corinthians c. 350CE.