Thursday, June 22, 2017

Audio for the Bible in the Original Lanugages

Hebrew Resources:

Academy of Ancient Languages Online Resources for Learning Ancient Languages has a page with mp3 audio files of Abraham Shmuelof 

Youtube resources on search "Hebrew audio bible biblia" catches OT read by A. Schmuelof and some others. It also retrieves modern Hebrew New Testament.

Hebrew Audio Bible New Testament playlist on Youtube

Greek Resources

Youtube Greek New Testament (TR) read with Modern Greek pronunciation.

Greek New Testament Audio dot Com mp3 audio files, modified Modern Greek pronunciation.

Aramaic Audio Bible 

Vulgate (New Testament)

Latin Audio Bible (Vulgata Latina) - Complete New Testament (NT) as MP3 - 260 files, one for each chapter

Précis: Apostolic Tradition and the Rule of Faith in Light of the Bauer Thesis (Bryan M Litfin)

A Précis of
Chapter 6 from
Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts: Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis. edited by Paul A. Hartog, Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2015.

“Wide diversity of opinion about Jesus existed in the second and third centuries, and normative Christianity had not yet triumphed.” (p. 141) So in some places “What is now called ‘heresy’ did precede ‘orthodoxy’.” (p. 141) There is enough evidence of this in the post-Apostolic and ante-Nicene Fathers. However, Bauer’s Thesis requires that there was no consistent and and identifiably unique Christian confession or message in the first and second centuries that would later become identified by the term ‘orthodox.” His thesis also requires that the confession or message that became known as ‘orthodoxy’ developed after these other forms of christianities.  This view is also advance by his modern proponents, like Bart Ehrman, Helmut Koester, and Elaine Pagels.

But Bauer ignored the evidence from the first century, the texts of the New Testament. Litfin cite’s Bauer’s reason for rejecting this evidence:

“[T]he New Testament seems to be both too unproductive and too much disputed to be able to serve as a point of departure. The majority of its anti-heretical writings cannot be arranged with confidence either chronologically or geographically; nor can the more precise circumstances of their origin be determined with sufficient precision. It is advisable, therefore, first of all to interrogate other sources concerning the relationship of orthodoxy and heresy…” (Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy, xxv, cited by Litfin p. 144)

Litfin makes a terminological distinction to help the discussion. “Is expressing an interest in the life and teachings of Jesus sufficient to be designated Christian? Can one simply claim that title for oneself with no regard for what the term originally meant?.... Instead, we ought to examine the historical evidence to determine whether any strands among the second or third century  Jesus-Religions more faithfully represented the earliest known layers of Christian belief.” (p. 143)

Litfin uses ‘Jesus-Religions’ as a wide taxonomic grouping covering all early groups that claimed some affinity for or belief in the teachings or person of Jesus. He uses ‘Christianity’ for those groups who held to a certain unified core of stated beliefs about Jesus that are consistent with the preaching about Jesus in the New Testament.

The focus of the article is the development of Christian creeds, confessional statements about Christ, discernable principally from Paul’s writings, the Synoptic Gospels, and John.  The main method of argument is to use the works of historical critical scholars that demonstrate the historicity of these early confessions recorded in the New Testament text.

[A side note: Whether intended or not, this method of argument also very clearly demonstrates how weak and unsubstantiated so many of the bold assertions of historical critics actually are. The chief rhetorical value for using the term historical is its truth-claim, that it implies some kind of objective certainty about what can be known of the past. However, what one historical critic asserts with certainty (in this case Bauer and his proponents) others historical critics show as feeble and lacking in historical merit.]

Looking at what historical criticism has categorized under the term Kerygma to denote the message that was proclaimed, Litfin enlists the works of C.H. Dodd (The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development 1936), Oscar Cullman (The Earliest Christian Confessions 1949) J.N.D Kelly (Early Christian Creeds), Frederick Danker, Jaroslav Pelikan and many others. Litfin focuses especially on the work of James Dunn (Unity and Diversity in the New Testament 1977). Inside and outside of historical criticism these and other authors have highlighted that there is an identifiable, uniform, and unique message that can serve to identify what is Christian from what is not. That the main points of this message were used in the 1st century for that purpose.

The message centered on Jesus, His incarnation, birth, suffering, death, and the physical resurrection of His body, and His exaltation to the right hand of the Father.

Despite differences of emphasis or formulation within Christian groups of the 1st century, the New Testament shows that this core message was held by the church of Jerusalem, the Hellenistic Jews, and the Gentile Christians.

This is prior to the known development of gnostic systems which claimed to be Jesus-Religions. An essential difference between Christianity and gnostic groups is the proclamation of the physical resurrection of Jesus, held from the time of the Apostles by the Jerusalem Church, the Hellenistic Jewish believers, and the Gentile believers. Like their later inheritors, the earliest known gnostic groups denied the physical resurrection, and this denial places them outside of what the 1st century church defined as the Christian faith.

This core message is also at the heart of what later became termed orthodoxy. Though that term is a later development, the collection of beliefs it describes is earlier than the gnostic groups.

[Side note: remember that this is all based on Historical Critical presentations, which is helpful in demonstrating how susceptible these approaches are to ideological paradigms.]

Litfin then turns to examine the regula fide as it is expressed in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. “It will not come as a surprise to find that the regula fidei of the ‘orthodox’ Christians does in fact encapsulate” the set of teachings espoused in the kerygma of the Apostolic writings. (p. 161) “The best recent collection of relevant texts is that of Pelikan and Hotchkiss” supplemented by other texts listed on p. 162 fn 71.  Litfin created a chart that lists 18 specific items of teaching about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, and includes explicit reference to Apostles/Tradition as an item. The other axis consists of 21 ante-Nicene chronologically ordered writings by 12 different authors/sources.

“[T]he same key ideas keep appearing over and over again (that is to say, the headings of the chart). Even if an author does not cite each and every concept when he mentions the Rule, a wider investigation of his treatise or corpus would reveal them in short order. Therefore the empty boxes [in the chart] do not indicate that the author did not believe the idea. The gaps merely reflect that many writers made passing reference to the rule in the course of their argumentation…” (p 162)

The chart demonstrates a consistent heritage from the Apostolic proclamation of the central teachings of what would be called orthodoxy. “This is the gospel, the good news of what ought to be called ‘Christianity’ Although Walter Bauer has helpfully reminded us of the many diverse opinions about Jesus in the ancient period [side note: which really never was an issue of controversy], we should discriminate carefully between them all, remembering that only one type was there at the beginning.” (p. 164)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Précis: “Orthodoxy,” “Heresy,” and Complexity: Montanism as a Case Study (Rex D Butler)

“Orthodoxy,” “Heresy,” and Complexity: Montanism as a Case Study (Rex D Butler)
A Précis of
Chapter 5 from
Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts: Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis. edited by Paul A. Hartog, Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2015.

The group of Christians that later became known as “orthodox” are known from documentary evidence to have existed early, throughout a very widespread area, and and very consistent in the expression of their beliefs. Groups that are known as heretics from the early ages are almost universally later, show up as local phenomena, and differ greatly from one another as well as from the orthodox.

While the term “orthodox” was not used in Scripture or in wide use by the post-Apostolic Fathers until the 4th century, the terms “heresy” and “schism” were in use to describe departures from a normative body of teaching/doctrine of Scripture which the Apostles and post-Apostolic Fathers defended. “Such references to heresy, however, do not disprove the existence of orthodoxy but, rather, presuppose it…. Prior to the linguistic delineation of ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heresy,’ Christian leaders nonetheless possessed and transmitted what they considered to be apostolic teachings and/or traditions….” (p. 117) And the body of these normative teachings is found in Scripture and in the documents of the early Church.

Butler examines Montanism in some detail because Bauer maintained that this movement was an example to fortify his thesis. However, Montanism was not early, beginning in the late 2nd century it comes after normative Christianity is already documented. Montanism in the late 2nd century is a purely local phenomenon, whereas normative Christianity is already established throughout the Mediterranean and the Near East. And while normative Christianity already has a body of accepted doctrine, Montanism maintained that it was new, and was itself open to new and divergent teachings.

“The new prophets’ messages were recorded, collected,and circulated; and, therefore, another, more serious charge was leveled against the Montanists: that they revered these writings as authoritative, like those written by the apostles.”(p. 125) Butler surveys the early church’s reaction to several of Montanism’s distinct teachings and practices-reaction to some of which was very mixed.

They were condemned as heretics, non-Christians, by assemblies prior to that of the Council of Iconium (ca. 230-235). Their non-biblical teaching on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit was recognized as a false portrayal of the God of Scripture. Because they did not confess the Trinity accurately the Council of Iconium mandated that people coming from Montanism into the Church needed to be baptized. Their previous baptism in Montanism was not in the name of the true God even though they may have used the same words as Christ gave in Matthew 28. However the data about and from Montanism is more mixed than the declaration from the Council of Iconium might lead one to expect.

Butler reviews the reception of Montanism in North Africa, particularly by Tertullian, who embraced the New Prophecy, and in a writing titled the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas. The issue with this document is that it shows signs of Montanist influence, but it does not clearly embrace Montanism. There are clear statements by the editor that show the influence of the New Prophecy. But it may be that the brand of Montanism that came to Carthage was much more orthodox in its teachings than that of Asia Minor.

Butler states: “Elsewhere, I have argued that if Montanism were anything other than theologically orthodox, it would not have attracted the adherence of Tertullian, who was a committed Christian apologist and polemicist. The rejection of Montanism, therefore, resulted from other issues-not heterodoxy, but heteropraxy; not incorrect doctrines, but unacceptable practices.”(p. 138)

Thus Montanism was rejected as heretical in Asia Minor, but was considered generally orthodox in North Africa. This may be due to a number of factors, including significant differences in teaching and practice between the two Montanist movements at these different locations.

“The complexities involved in the history of Montanism should not necessarily be construed to support the Bauer Thesis, but they do demonstrate the diversity within normative Christianity during its early centuries.”(p. 140) This also demonstrates that two groups having the same name may not be the same in teaching and practice. Thus it would hazardous to conclude that the Montanism condemned in Asia Minor as anti-Trinitarian is the same Montanism embraced by Tertullian, who himself remained a staunch Trinitarian and defender of orthodoxy.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Précis: Baur to Bauer and Beyond: Early Jewish Christianity and Modern Scholarship (William Varner)

Baur to Bauer and Beyond: Early Jewish Christianity and Modern Scholarship (William Varner)
A Précis of
Chapter 5 from
Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts: Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis. edited by Paul A. Hartog, Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2015

The development, distribution, and character of Jewish Christianity in the 1st century and following represents a significant oversight on the part of Bauer and those embracing his thesis. Georg Streker wrote an appendix to the 1971 English translation of Bauer’s work titled “On the Problem of Jewish Christianity.” He followed the Bauer Thesis closely, and his presentation has been promoted by Bart Ehrman.

Streker and Ehrman basically ignored the literature on early Jewish Christianity. Varner surveys the traditional understandings of early Jewish Christian history and the distinctions between the Nazarenes and the Ebionites in early Christian writings. Some of the main modern period works treating the subject are:
FJA Hort’s 1894 Judaistic Christianity (Internet Archive)
J. Daniélou’s 1958 The Theology of Jewish Christianity (Engl. Tr. 1964)
HJ Schoeps 1949 Jewish Christianity: Factional Disputes in the Early Church (Engl. Tr. 1969) (Scribd link)
H Schonfield’s 1936 The History of Jewish Christianity (Internet Archive)
J Jocz 1949 The Jewish People and Jesus Christ

Varner traces the root of the Streker/Ehrman paradigm to Ferdinand Christian Baur’s Tübingen School Hypothesis. This view of church history uses selected aspects of the Clementine literature as its primary base. FC Baur pits Pauline (gentile) theology against Petrine (Jewish Christian) theology and finds a Hegelian synthesis of the two in Johannine theology. Varner turns to look at the common propositions between Baur, Bauer-Strecker, and Ehrman as well as their common neglect of widely documented contrary evidence in the early documents: for example, a focus exclusively on the Ebionites, neglecting mention of the Nazarenes and the historical migration and changes within Judaism and its ways of dealing with Jewish Christians after the destruction of the Temple and the failure of the Bar Kochba rebellion.

Varner then turns to present a summary of research on these questions that have been published after Ehrman’s first edition of Orthodoxy and Heresy (1996)  and his Lost Christianities (2003). This summary and the reading list points out many different helpful issues, particularly the need to be more accurate in describing the confessions and theologies of those casually labeled as Jewish or Jewish Christians in the first century.

“Erhman’s popular treatment of Jewish Christianity repeats the views of Strecker without directly acknowledging them. Ehrman’s discussion also suffers from a tendential bias by labeling all of early Jewish Christianity as ‘Ebionism.’ This is a patent anachronism that attaches to all early Jewish Christians the name of a group of Jewish believers that held aberrant views from the Jewish Christians known as ‘Nazarenes.’ Ignoring the important contributions of Justin Martyr, Ehrman does not even mention the ‘Nazarenes’ nor does he ever attempt to connect them with the pre-70 Jewish believers. By labeling them all as Ebionites, he prejudices the discussion to support his assumptions.” (p. 99)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Review: Michael Fox, Proverbs: An Eclectic Edition with Introduction and Textual Commentary, The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition, vol. 1.

Michael Fox, Proverbs: An Eclectic Edition with Introduction and Textual Commentary, The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition, vol. 1. Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, GA, 2015. 500 pages, $69.95.

Reviewer: Joe Abrahamson.

The Society for Biblical Literature published the first volume in The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition. I've only read a little bit so far, and Inter Library Loan doesn't allow me the time to pour through it. But my preliminary observations are: Fox was a great teacher, and he is an excellent writer. Though the volume is highly technical Fox is very good at presenting the manuscript evidence and its contexts in an understandable way. All of the relevant quotations from the Versions are presented in the original language and in English translation. This means that the reader can see not only the Syriac, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, but also see how Fox understands them.  Fox is very good about laying out his reasoning for his textual decisions in a clear way. In this alone he has raised the bar for presentation to a better standard.

Typesetting of Hebrew, Greek, and Syriac are beautifully done in clear, legible fonts.

The volume is in three sections: Introduction; Textual Commentary with Critical Text; and the Critical Text of Proverbs.

The Introduction alone makes this a worthwhile addition to the library of anyone pursuing Old Testament Exegesis, even if one’s focus is on other biblical books. It is here where Fox lays out in a very lucid manner the assumptions, materials, processes, tools, and scope of the Textual-Critical task. While the focus is, of course, on the book of Proverbs the matter at hand is dealing with manuscripts and the texts they convey. “The primary goal of The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition (HBCE) is to reconstruct the corrected archetypes of biblical books.” (p. 2) This means the most reasonable reconstruction of the Hebrew text from which our current Hebrew text and the Versions are derived. Fox states that this goal is more of a process to follow and not an expectation that the Critical Text that results from this would be fully accurate. He states: “I wish to be clear that the text I have produced, however successful, never had physical existence. It is a construct. It can be defined as proto-M as it should have been, the text the authors and editors wanted us to read. This goal is heuristic: approachable but not wholly attainable.” (p. 4-5)

The advantage that Fox has given the reader in his presentation is that he has made his cases in such a way that the reader can evaluate Fox as well as the evidence and make clear arguments where one would agree or disagree with Fox’s textual decisions.

The Introduction

The seventy-five page Introduction focuses first on the nature of Textual Criticism, then on the Hebrew texts and how they are handled, with special focus on Ketiv and Qere. Fox gathers together examples of different functions of Ketiv and Qere into handy tables. These are useful presentations of the evidence, Fox’s understanding of them, and how he deals with them. Fox turns to discuss the Versions: The Septuagint, the Peshitta, the Vulgate, and the Targumim. In this section on the Versions Fox discusses the nature of the relationships between the Versions and the Hebrew text.

The final section of the Introduction covers Policies and Procedures covers how Fox applies the tools and vocabulary of Textual Criticism and to clarify some important distinctions in Textual Criticism that often make things very complicated. This includes such points as textual agreement does not necessarily mean support of a variant; the assumption that a scribe knew the vocabulary he was copying; the distinction between a real variant and one that existed only in the mind of a scribe (thus copied into a manuscript without actual manuscript evidence) and other issues.

The Textual Commentary with Critical Text

The page layout for this section is well planned. The Critical Text appears at the top of the even pages with the Textual commentary below it and on the facing even page. Just enough of the Critical Text is included on the top of the even pages to balance out with the Textual Commentary. This eases reading, reducing the need for page flipping.

As noted above, Fox presents the Versions in their original language as well as in English translation.  

The Critical Text of Proverbs

The Critical Text of Proverbs starts at the right back cover making access to just the book of Proverbs in Hebrew both natural and handy. The Critical Text itself is free from extraneous markings making it distraction free. The textual notes are at the bottom of each page of the Critical Text marked by chapter and verse numbers. These present brief summaries of the textual evidences for Fox’s textual decisions.


Textual Criticism is exegetical. The exegete always brings his or her philosophical and theological background to the task. I would suggest that an exegete’s ability to see these personal assumptions and make the relevant assumptions clear in the discussion of an exegetical issue is a degree to which an exegete’s work might be considered objective.

Textual Criticism is exegetical. Textual Criticism involves the interpretation of not only one particular text, but of multiple manuscripts and Versions, each of which exhibit their own exegetical framework to a greater or lesser extent.

From the opening paragraph in his Preface Fox distinguishes his Textual Critical task from that of theological exegesis. Throughout the Introduction and Textual Commentary Fox’s ability to keep  careful and clear distinctions between the data, evidence, and the reasoning for his decisions makes his work accessible and useful to faith groups who may differ strongly on these issues.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Précis: Post-Bauer Scholarship on Gnosticism(s): The Current State of Our “Knowledge” (Carl B. Smith) (p. 60-88)

Post-Bauer Scholarship on Gnosticism(s): The Current State of Our “Knowledge” (Carl B. Smith) (p. 60-88)

A Précis of 

Chapter 3 from 
Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts: Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis.  edited by Paul A. Hartog, Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2015.

Gnosticism as a pre-Christian religious movement holds a “crucial position in Bauer’s reconstruction. Essentially it was the heresy which preceded orthodoxy.”(p. 60-61) Bauer’s scholarship falls within the historical philosophy of the University of Göttingen’s Religionsgeschichtliche Schule. This school “postulated that Gnosticism was essentially the product of Eastern oriental influence which had deeply impacted the Hellenistic world and the later writings of the Old Testament and Judaism, as well as those of the New Testament and early Christianity.” (p. 77 my emphasis)

Smith reviews what was known about Gnosticism in Bauer’s time (particularly through writings of church fathers), the discoveries of “Gnostic” texts since his time, and the complex issues that have attended Gnostic studies as an academic field.

Smith focuses attention on the Nag Hammadi library discovery, publication, and the significant lack of unifying theme of the diverse works which might justify labeling the group of documents as Gnostic. Smith highlights three more discoveries of gnostic texts:
  1. The Gospel of Mary,
  2. the Secret Gospel of Mark, widely controversial because the text was seen by only one Scholar, Morton Smith of Columbia University. He published a scholarly work and a popular work on the manuscript and then the manuscript was lost. Many regard the gospel as inauthentic and others see it as an “important text in the transmission of Mark’s gospel.”(p. 66)
  3. and the Gospel of Judas.

Smith discusses the issues surrounding the Gospel of Thomas and the scholarly work identifying Sethian Gnosticism. The difficulty is that there is that the documents and the early church fathers do not testify to a unified doctrinal structure. This is in fact a basic problem in the study of Gnosticism.

The term Gnosticism itself was coined in the 17th century by Henry More, a rationalist Platonist theologian involved in promoting a Platonic interpretation of Kabbalah. More used the term to designate a broad group of diverse non-Christian movements from the 2nd century. The term Gnosticism was not used by any of these ancient movements as a self-description of their systems of ideas and practices.

Acknowledging the inaccuracy of the term Gnosticism Smith presents a summary of the research on the social history of Gnostics and Gnosticism focusing on the most clearly discernable movement of Sethianism, then Basilides, and Valentinus. There are serious questions as to whether Valentinus belongs in this category.

Smith turns to discuss the basic questions, terminology, origins and definitions of Gnosticism. “That a variety of religious groups existed in the ancient world who claimed to possess a special knowledge or ‘gnosis’ is also undisputed; however, the term is so commonly used and in so widely diverse manners that it is not a helpful term to delineate any specific movement of antiquity.” (p. 79) The term gnostic is of greater utility, though primarily a pejorative. It may have been used for self-description, but caution is warranted against overgeneralizing.

Today there are four basic categories of views regarding Gnosticism: 1) abandon the term and look for more finely and measurably defined categories such as biblical demiurgy, 2) view Gnosticism as “a religion in its own right” … “a dualistic religion of alienation, protest, and transcendence, which, though multifarious, adapted itself readily to other religious traditions, perhaps in a parasitic manner.”(p. 81) 3) limit claims and research to carefully distinguish that can be more rigorously tested, and 4) “isolate those individuals, groups, and texts in the ancient world which called themselves ‘gnostik’..., identified themselves as possessors of ‘gnosis,’ or were perceived by their contemporaries as making these claims.” (p. 82)

What is known from their adversaries and from writings about individuals or movements that are categorized as Gnostic tends strongly to date from the 2nd century. This undermines the Bauer Thesis which depended on Gnosticism (loosely defined) preceding the development of Christianity.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Codex Sinaiticus Christological Texts

Recently the Biblical Archaeology Review website republished a short article on Codex Sinaiticus. The article was titled: “What’s Missing from Codex Sinaiticus, the Oldest New Testament? Compare differences between the King James Version and Codex Sinaiticus.” [Attributed to the “Biblical Archaeology Society Staff 06/05/2017”]

This particular Codex has been at the center of debate since Constantine Tischendorf reported in 1860 about his discovery and acquisition of the manuscript.

The Biblical Archaeology Review article is a hit-piece that has two targets. The named target it the King James Version, but the actual targets are the doctrine of Christ through undermining confidence the teaching of the Bible.

The points made in the Biblical Archaeology Review article are that Codex Sinaiticus is one of the oldest and most complete manuscripts of the Bible. The article cites some passages to demonstrate that there are significant differences between the Codex and the King James Version. The wording of the article implies that there are serious problems with Christian doctrine as represented in the KJV because these teachings are not found in these key passages of Codex Sinaiticus.

This discussion is not an apologetic for the KJV, the Textus Receptus, or the Majority Text. What I wish to show here is how hollow and disingenuous the arguments framed in the Biblical Archaeology Review article are, as well as by others which intend to undercut doctrines of Scripture through these kinds of Textual Critical argumentation. The Biblical Archaeology Review article resorts to cherry-picking, but the manuscript the authors claim as evidence actually does teach the orthodox faith. And it does so very clearly.

Here are three of the main arguments presented in the article:

1 The denial of Christ’s bodily resurrection

The authors state:
“For example, the resurrection narrative at the end of Mark (16:9–20) is absent from the Codex Sinaiticus….Tischendorf was not troubled by the omission of the resurrection in Mark because he believed that Matthew was written first and that Mark’s gospel was an abridged version of Matthew’s gospel. If this were true, the absence of resurrection in Mark would not be a problem because it appears in the older Matthean gospel. Modern scholarship generally holds that Mark is in fact the oldest of the Synoptic Gospels, which could cause theological concerns over the omitted resurrection.”

The title of the article is “What’s Missing from Codex Sinaiticus, the Oldest New Testament?” (emphasis added) The authors leave heavy implication that this alleged lack of an account of the resurrection in the Gospel of Mark in Codex Sinaiticus means two things:
  1. That Sinaiticus as a Manuscript does not support the resurrection of Christ.
  2. That because of this the historicity of Christ’s resurrection is in doubt.

But the bodily resurrection is not missing from Codex Sinaiticus. In fact, the section listed in the article is in no way demonstrates that Codex Sinaiticus denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is actually included in Codex Sinaiticus:

And the point could be belabored with at least a dozen more references that show that the texts in Codex Sinaiticus teach the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But the evidence that shows most clearly the disingenuous presentation of this Biblical Archaeology Review article are the verses in Codex Sinaiticus right before the missing section:

5 και ειϲελθουϲαι ειϲ το μνημειον  ειδον νεανιϲκον καθημενον εν τοιϲ δεξιοιϲ περιβεβλημενον ϲτολην λευκην  και εξεθαμβηθηϲαν 6 ο δε λεγει αυταιϲ μη εκθαμβειϲθε  ϊηϲουν ζητειτε  τον εϲταυρωμενον ηγερθη ουκ εϲτιν ωδε ιδε ο τοποϲ οπου εθηκαν  αυτον 7 αλλα υπαγετε ειπατε τοιϲ μαθηταιϲ αυτου και τω πετρω · οτι προαγει ϋμαϲ ειϲ την γαλειλαιαν · εκει  αυτον οψεϲθε καθωϲ ειπεν  ϋμιν ·

5 And they entered the sepulcher and saw a young man, sitting at the right side, clothed in a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 But he says to them: Be not amazed. You seek Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified; he has risen, he is not here: see the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he goes before you into Galilee: there you shall see him, as he said to you.(Mark 16:5-7)

Now the authors might claim that they were only talking about the specific text at the end of Mark, and that they did not really mean the rest of the Codex rejected the resurrection of Jesus. Such an explanation would fail to satisfy.  The question still by why they generalized about “What’s missing from Codex Sinaiticus” that would “cause theological concerns” without bothering to show what the rest of Codex Sinaiticus actually says on the issue.

But this cherry picking is an essential feature of the authors’ method. We see this when we turn to the next issue.

2 The Denial of Jesus’ Ascension to Heaven

Again, the title of the article is: “What’s Missing from Codex Sinaiticus, the Oldest New Testament?” (emphasis added) The article heavily implies that Codex Sinaiticus does not support the teaching that Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection. The authors state:

“One other omission in Codex Sinaiticus with theological implications is the reference to Jesus’ ascension in Luke 24:51.”

The ending of Luke’s Gospel in Codex Sinaiticus says:

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and having lifted up his hands, he blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, as he blessed them, he was separated from them. [διεϲτη απ αυτων] And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.

This is supposed to lead us to question whether or not the KJV is valid. After all, the article says Codex Sinaiticus is older and more reliable. The KJV has “ and carried up into heaven” after the last words of verse 51. Wow, we are supposed to think, the KJV is obviously later--the author said so. And the KJV obviously has extra words compared to the older text.  Therefore we are supposed to conclude the words do not belong. And furthermore we are supposed to conclude that the more ancient Bible does not really teach Jesus bodily ascension to heaven.

So let us turn to Codex Sinaiticus itself and see if it does deny the bodily ascension of Jesus. The Codex says at Acts 1:9-11:

9 And when he had said these things, as they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they were looking steadfastly toward heaven as he departed, behold, two men stood by them in white garments, 11 who also said: Men of Galilee, why stand looking towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven.   

In Codex Sinaiticus Peter records the ascension of Jesus:
foreseeing, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that neither was he left in hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus has God raised up, of whom we all are witnesses. Therefore, having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you both see and hear.
(Codex Sinaiticus Acts 2:31-32)

Also in Codex Sinaiticus Peter testifies to the ascension of Jesus in his First Epistle:
Which (water) in its antitype, baptism, now saves you also (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the inquiry of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him.
(Codex Sinaiticus 1 Peter 3:21-22)

At the martyrdom of Stephen Codex Sinaiticus reports:
55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.
(Codex Sinaiticus Acts 7:55-56)

Some of what Codex Sinaiticus records of the ascension in the writings of Paul:
Who is he that condemns? It is Christ Jesus who died; yes, more, who has risen, who is at the right hand of God; who also intercedes for us.
(Codex Sinaiticus Romans 8:34)

which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and caused him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above every principality and authority and power and lordship and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that to come, and subjected all things under his feet, and gave him as the head over all things to the church,

If then you were raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God...
(Codex Sinaiticus Colossians 3:1)

In the text of Hebrews as recorded in Codex Sinaiticus the ascension of Jesus and His being seated at the right hand of the Father is recorded:
who, being the effulgence of his glory and the exact image of his substance, bearing onward also all things by the word of his power, when he had through himself made a cleansing of sins sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, having become so much superior to angels as the name which he has inherited is more excellent than they. (Codex Sinaiticus Hebrews 1:3-4)

Now in respect to the things spoken, the main point is: we have such a high priest who took his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, (Codex Sinaiticus Hebrews 8:1)

in which will, we are sanctified, who have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest indeed stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but he, after having offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down at the right hand of God, henceforth awaiting till his enemies be made his footstool. (Codex Sinaiticus Hebrews 10:10-13)

therefore, having so great a cloud of witnesses lying round about us, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that easily besets, and run with perseverance the race that lies before us, looking away to Jesus, the author and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy lying before him endured the cross, having despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Codex Sinaiticus Hebrews 12:1-2)

The testimony of the Apostle John:
But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured concerning this, said to them: Does this offend you? If then you should see the Son of man ascending where he was before?
(Codex Sinaiticus John 6:61-62)

Jesus said to her: Mary. She turned and said to him in Hebrew: Rabboni, which is called, Teacher. Jesus says to her: Touch me not; for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them: I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.
(Codex Sinaiticus John 20:16-17 -- Both the resurrection and the ascension)

As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any one hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me. He that overcomes, I will give to him to sit with me in my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne.
(Codex Sinaiticus Revelation 3:19-21)

At this point some might object that some of these passages speak about the ascension but others are about the session at God’s right hand. That is a non-textual distinction, and quite simply a distraction from the facts of the evidence. Scripture, even Codex Sinaiticus, teaches both the bodily resurrection, the bodily ascension, and the session of Christ at the Father’s right hand. The Scripture, even the books in Codex Sinaiticus teach that the purpose of Christ’s ascension is his being seated in Glory as the God-Man at the right hand of the Father in authority over all creation to be worshiped.

3 The Denial that Jesus is God

So, the third main claim is that “What’s missing from Codex Sinaiticus” is that Jesus is God’s Son.. “Mark 1:1 in the original hand omits reference to Jesus as the Son of God.”

The reader should, by now, realize how weak and actually silly these claims are. So what if Codex Sinaiticus does not have that particular phrase at that verse? The rest of the whole of Codex Sinaiticus is filled with references to the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

The pattern of these three objections to the KJV are not really against the KJV per se. Rather, these are objections trying to undermine confidence in Scripture with the purpose of denying that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. We have already listed plenty of passages above with reference to their wording in Codex Sinaiticus.

But let us take what Codex Sinaiticus says are Jesus’ own words in answer to that particular question, as they are stated in the Gospel of Mark:

And the chief priest arose in the midst and asked Jesus, saying: Answerest thou nothing? What do these testify against thee? But he was silent and answered nothing. Again the chief priest asked him and said to him: Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said: I am; and you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven. [ο δε ιϲ ειπεν εγω ειμι και οψεϲθε τον υϊον του ανθρωπου εκ δεξιων καθημενον τηϲ δυναμε ωϲ και ερχομενον μετα των νεφελων του ουρανου ] And the chief priest rent his clothes and said: What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy: what think you? And they all condemned him to be worthy of death.
(Codex Sinaiticus Mark 14:60-64)

Read also Codex Sinaiticus’ words in the first fourteen verses of John’s Gospel.

There is no denying that the text contained in Codex Sinaiticus clearly teaches the divinity of Jesus Christ. Indeed the Hypostatic Union is very clear. Even though there are textual variants that at some points impact how some passages relating to these issues might be read. The fact is that the overall content of Codex Sinaiticus affirms the orthodox faith.


The Biblical Archaeology Review article that prompted this article is just one example of many. These kinds of cherry picking attacks take place in scholarly works and non-professional works. They form the basis of much of the current Atheist anti-Christian apologetic. Learning what these attacks are and how to look them up in the manuscripts they list as evidence can go a great way to demonstrate the hollowness of their attacks.