Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Last Twelve Verses of Mark further defended

The post I wrote two weeks ago about the unwarranted doubt of the last verses of Mark was just a sudden inspiration I had on the subject, not expecting to have more to say. But I got a very encouraging comment on that post from a pastor James Snapp about it, with a link to his website where he has a summary of his own research into the manuscript evidence for the authenticity of the verses, and an invitation to write for his complete study. It looks very thorough and well worth reading but I don't think I have enough scholarly patience to pursue it myself right now, knowing that he has to address the many speculations and hypotheses about unknowable historical possibilities. I hope others will have the desire to follow it on out though.

Here is the manuscript summary at his own church site.

But it is also available for download at this address: Here's the site owner's introduction, and here's the whole manuscript.

(Some of the labels I've attached to this post reflect content in Pastor Snapp's study of the Bible manuscripts).


As I said in my own post on the subject, the only reason this passage is held in doubt is that Westcott and Hort happened to prefer a couple of early Greek manuscripts to those that had previously been accepted as the authoritative Greek text. Not only do the W&H manuscripts have really very little to recommend their authority over the traditional texts when you are aware of all the evidence, but they are notorious for throwing readings into doubt that had been accepted by Christians for all the centuries up until 1881 when W&H cast their spell over our Bible. Oh yes, there are many reasonings based on the texts themselves that support that doubting mentality, but it all started with those two men and their very questionable qualifications and their subterfuge in massively altering the Bible text when they were only commissioned to do a minimum of updating. Unfortunately those who defend this line of Bibles also manage to keep themselves from knowing about the arguments against it, such as the work of Dean John W Burgon, a contemporary of W&H.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Carnal versus spiritual Christians

I know that with my emphasis on Christians either operating in the spirit or operating in the flesh I am affirming a particular brand of Christian thinking that is not accepted by many. Some insist that there is no such thing as a "carnal Christian" but as with many dismissive arguments from one camp about another, this is merely a superficial technical claim that simply ignores the reasoning behind the idea. Technically, that is, you can't even be a Christian if you are carnal. But the other side points out that Paul addressed the Corinthians as carnal while not in any way implying they were not Christians. Christians may and do think carnally, that is, they think like unsaved people, and there are degrees of this according to faith and experience and so on. They have the basic faith in Christ to be Christians, but when it comes to particular teachings their faith may falter and they will consider the question carnally. This is true of all of us in the early stages but there are some who are more spiritual than others even from the beginning.

Sometimes you'll hear it said that because we're Christians we have "the mind of Christ" so that we can count on our thinking to reflect His just because we are Christians. Or that we have a "sanctified intellect" or "sanctified imagination" just because we are Christians. No other qualifier is needed. Similarly we've all had the baptism of the Holy Spirit because we're Christians. No experience necessary to ratify the assertion and the coldest driest mind qualifies.

Some theological clashes could perhaps be understood as a difference between fleshly and spiritual. For instance, the Arminian position is easy to understand and appeals to the natural/fleshly mind, while some tenets of the Calvinist persuasion, such as predestination and election, even the perseverance of the saints, usually take some spiritual growing-into. Nevertheless there certainly are some Arminians who have a deeper spiritual understanding of many facets of the Christian life than some Calvinists.

I've grown into this way of looking at these things over time and lately it's begun to consolidate in my mind in a more emphatic way than ever before. I don't know if I will put together a full defense of this position or not, but it seems good to affirm it now at least.