Is the Bible Corrupted? (What to Make of Transmission Errors)

HAS JESUS BEEN JESUS MISQUOTED?

Early church librarian, Pamphilus of Caesarea, in the mid-200s, would make copies of Scripture and “correct the manuscripts of the Bible.” Even back then, there was a godly reverence for correctly copying Scripture.

In spite of that, many documents have come to us “corrupted,” or changed in one way or another.

In fact, it is said, there are more discrepancies in the copies of the New Testament than there are words in the New Testament (quote from White Horse Inn episode below). What should we make of that?

Does this mean the Bible is actually inaccurate? Does this mean the Bible is fallible and unreliable? How do we know that what we read is actually the historical truth?

In this day and age, many opponents of Christianity attack the New Testament, attempting to collapse the great foundation on which Christianity rests. They have a point. << READ ON >>

Mysterious Family

kipling2This Istrian stone monolith was found in 1588, near Ravenna as a part of the city wall.  It is from the mid-first century. You have a family–a woman with her arm around a man (her husband?) and a sleeping/deceased girl-child in her arms. Underneath the man and woman are two young men and under them a third boy. On the very top you have the bust of a woman.

What is their story? Who is this family? They have only been remembered as far as their names and faces. You can see that the family wanted to reflect the intimacy between the woman and man, and the woman’s love for the little girl. But nothing else is known of their story, only faces and names. A piece of history has been forgotten.

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The Italian text says:

Gli appartenenti ai due gruppi che commissionarono il monumento sono rappresentati con busti entro nicchi alternate a pannelli iscritti. In alto e raffigurata Firmia Prima, quindi nella nicchia liberto Lucio Firmio Principe e dall’ anziana Firmia Apollonia che stringe al petto la piccola Lesbia probabilmente sua nipote. Al di sotto sono I due busti dei fratelli Marco Latronio Secondo e Salvio Latronio Saturnino e, nella nicchia inferiore fra due alberi di alloro, il giovane Sperato, schiavo nato in casa verna. L’interesse della stele e dato dal cara… realistico dei ritratti femminili di Firmia Prima Firmia Apollonian intensamente caratterizza personaggio piu importante colei… monumento sibi et suis de percunia…

A rather rough internet translation of this says:

Those belonging to the two groups that commissioned the monument are presented with busts within niches alternating panels subscribers . High and depicted Firmia First , then in the niche freed Lucio Firmio Prince and the ‘ old Firmia Apollonian embracing to her chest small Lesbia probably her niece . Below are the two busts of the brothers Marco and Latronio According Salvio Latronio Saturnino and , in the lower niche between two laurel trees , the young Hoped , a slave born at Verna . The interest of the stele and gave the dear … realistic of female portraits of Firmia Before Firmia Apollonian intensely characterizes character she most important monument

(would love to have a better Italian translation, if anyone can help.)

The whole monolith

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The stone can be found at the Ravenna archeological museum, next to San Vitale Church.

History is filled with mysteries such as this one. Of course we cannot always know the lives of everyone who ever lived, but if their story is not written, it floats off into the dark recesses of history.

This just goes to show:

History is not names and dates.

History is the why*s and the wherefore*s of those names and dates.

If you want to really “Do History,” then make sure you are applying the principles of historical study.

History means asking questions and finding answers using primary source documents.
In that, you will need names and dates.

But names and dates are not the end of the story, only the footnotes of the REAL STORY.

3 Crucial Principles for Student Online Research

1.  All students and parents should have a content filter/accountability system. 

Our family’s favorite is Covenant Eyes which allows for age-appropriate content filtering. The program also saves a searchable record of all internet activity. We all get pulled astray. It’s a fact of nature, and accountability is a strong method to counter our nature.  Covenant Eyes will not allow the internet to open without logging in, and after it logs in it records all sites and pictures viewed. Each child can have their unique login information and filtering options.

(I’m so confident about Covenant Eyes, I’ve asked to sponsor them on my website. So, although I may get a kickback if you join through these links, I only tell you about it because I believe it is essential for every family to use).


 

2. All students should be taught about online predators and dangers.

My children were required to become “certified to use the internet” by going through NetSmartKids web materials, which have materials for younger as well as older children.

Alternately Carnegie Cyber Academy can be helpful.

DVD options  The Safe Side: Internet Safety


 

3. All students should know how to recognize credibility of a website.

History research requires credible sources, so fan-sites and armchair historian sites are not as valuable and most often have no unique primary sources for you. When you do a Search online,

“Look Before You Click”:

*Site address reflects academic credibility

It should have a short web address. It should probably end with .org instead of .com, though that is not always an indicator. Free sites are always suspect.

*Site name often reflects academic credibility

*It should have a site name that is specific to history. Museum sites. Academic sites.  Reading the blurb that shows up on the search page can show you the type of site you will be visiting.

* Lots of random ads undermines academic credibility

If you see a site with a lot of ads for random products, not related to history, you should suspect the site, and move on to another site. Website owners whose main purpose is revenue will sell space on their page that filters information according to YOUR previous search history, showing your personalized ads. This reveals that the purpose of the website is to sell, not to inform, thereby undermining academic credibility.

BUT If the ads are directly related to the material presented–specifically recommended books on the topic, articles to download, materials that will help you–you may consider purchasing them and supporting the site’s owner whose primary purpose is to inform.

*Avoiding blogs and forums enables the finding of credible sources

Not very many people make it their intention to connect students to primary source information on history.  Because of this, blogs should be avoided.  Forums are opinion-driven sites, and very rarely will you be using your time wisely when you spend time skimming forums.

7 Sources for Primary Document Research

Research Guidewriting_fresco

Instead of looking for primary source documents with a random Google Search, start with actual history sites!

What to do:

Let’s say you have the prompt:  “What were the three most significant causes of the Fall of Rome

1. Plan your search.

Before finding primary documents, you need to know WHAT you are looking for. Review a history book to get a general idea of the kind of answer you seek. Make a list of at least 10 keywords you are looking for. Narrow down what exactly you are looking for. Are you looking for a journal, a letter, a picture, a speech, a statistic?

Berkeley has a helpful list that can help you “Know Before You Search.”

Plan: I read in my textbook that the borders were weak. Barbarians came. I read about the moving of the Capital to Constantinople.I read about problems with the emperors, and about nationalism, something about Theodosius.  

“Fall of Rome,” “barbarians,” “Constantinople,” “Theodosius,” “Roman borders,”  “Roman emperors,” “Roman nationalism,” and “Theodosius” are my search terms.

I am hoping to find  a letter that a Roman who lived then wrote describing the problems they were having.

2. Narrow Down, then Search

Click on the most relevant link below. Narrow down from category to subcategory. Use the search feature to type in your pre-planned search terms.

Hint: you can do a search on any website, even if they do not have a search feature, by using the following method.

In the address bar, copy the website up until the subfolder you are interested in.  (Make sure the subfolder does not end with .htm or .html, because that will merely search on the page, not for all related documents.)

Write—  site:http://(website address)/  space (search term).
For example:          site:http://spartacus-educational.com/ barbarians

3. Document Where You Found Your Material

Stay Organized! Scrivener is a good method for organizing research, since in one project there are different areas to file various types of information–chapters or pictures or research links.

Don’t forget to copy the source link BEFORE copying the vital information.  Always copy the link first, paste it on your sources page. (You can format it later, but get that link saved!)

The worst thing a researcher can do is to spend hours finding something, but then not be able to track it down again later, so he is not able to use that evidence.  Back up where you found that vital piece of information.1170824_79172868

The Links

Ancient and Medieval History

I) Global History and Geography: Reading and Documents (Alternately available from Classical Historian). This book is a very nice introduction to the value of primary documents. There are questions at the end of each excerpt, enabling students to consider the source critically. Though it is not an internet source, it provides a necessary and “bite-size” transition to the study of primary source documents.

US History, Uniquely

II) Library of Congress American Memory Timeline in particular is the holder of primary documents from United States history.

World History, including US History

III)  Spartacus Educational exists for the purpose of connecting young readers to primary source information. This site index sorts history by topic or by time period.

IV) Primary Sources by Century—USC LibGuides (many login required, but some are free access)

V) Library Guides at Bowling Green  Early American History, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century

VI) JSTOR.COM There are a lot of historical documents here. You can sign up for a free account and have access to three documents at a time. While these are not all directly primary documents, they quote primary documents and can be a valuable source of books to look for. Often Jstor leads you to Google Books.

VII) Online Books a) Google Books  I have found quotations of otherwise unavailable research in topical studies available in the searchable academic books available through Google Books. Some pages are not-viewable, but often those missing pages can be found if the books has an b) Look Inside feature on Amazon. Sometimes the books are available secondhand at a very reasonable price. c) Gutenberg.org has many digital copies of documents available for free online viewing or download. If the document is in the public domain, it may be found there

These are starting places. The key is to have a direction, key words, a plan.  If you do not prepare yourself before you begin, you will get lost in a swamp and turn up nothing substantial, having wasted your time. Know what you want and see what treasures you find!

 

Here are some other Links to look into

Berkeley’s Library Links

National Archives

How to Use Youtube for Primary Source Info