A Disappointing History of the New Testament

On Christmas Day, I picked up the January 2011 edition of the Ensign.  It contains an article titled “The Historical Context of the New Testament” by Thomas A. Wayment, Associate Professor of Ancient History at BYU.  The six page article manages to convey almost no useful historical context or information.

The article is a puerile discussion of the birth of New Testament.  The author does not quote or reference one Mormon or non-Mormon historian (or biblical scholar) on the subject.  His only references are to NT scriptures.

According to a highlighted statement in the article:  “Understanding the origins of this remarkable book of scripture can inspire our study.”  I couldn’t agree with this statement more.  But the Wayment article inspires little besides sleep.  Does the author assume that members are not intelligent enough to understand some of the issues surrounding the history of the New Testament?

There are several important issues that could use a serious discussion (or at least a mention) including:

  • Q-source — a hypothetical sayings collection
  • Inconsistencies between the synoptic gospels
  • Marcion Bible
  • New Testament being canonized after the advent of the Apostacy
  • Possible editing and translation errors
  • Newer translations of the NT
  • Books not included

Where’s the beef?  I started to wonder if this article was written in such a way as to not offend the Christian Right (who believe in an inerrant NT)?

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2 Responses to A Disappointing History of the New Testament

  1. Carl Youngblood says:

    I totally agree, Roger. Wish that the Church were willing to promote real biblical scholarship a little more.

  2. rogerdhansen says:

    Grant Hardy in an article title: “The King James Bible and the Future of Missionary Work” (June 2010, accessed on the Internet) recommended the following: “Including basic information on translation issues and specific translations in the Sunday School and CES manuals.” He is arguing for the LDS Church to move toward more modern translations of the Bible, without totally abandoning the KJV.

    Hardy goes on to state: “Because of our exclusive use of the KJV, most Latter-day Saints have little understanding of issues of biblical manuscripts, transmission, translation or interpretation. This makes it difficult to explain our faith to knowledgeable Christians.”

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