CSNTM is going to Athens!

Huge news, friends! CSNTM just signed a contract with the National Library of Greece in Athens to shoot all their New Testament manuscripts. You can see the press release at http://www.csntm.org. This will involve shooting about 300 manuscripts (150,000 pages!) in 2015 and 2016. If you’d like to partner with CSNTM in preserving these ancient Christian scriptures, you can go here to make a donation.


9 thoughts on “CSNTM is going to Athens!

  1. Dr. Wallace,

    I’d like to request you make a blog post on the connection between the date/authorship of the Pastorals and the date/authorship of GLuke/Acts. Yes, I know this comment is flagrantly off-topic, but I don’t know where else to put it, and so here it is.

    The reason I ask is as follows: I had always assumed—wrongly, it seems—that none of the rest of the New Testament texts ever mentioned or quoted any of the Gospels or Acts. But I recently learned that in 1 Tim 5:18, the author quotes a snippet of GLuke. This is quite amazing to me, and I have been thinking about what it means.

    If we believe that the Pastorals are authentic, then this gives us a pretty good piece of evidence that GLuke—and hence the other Synoptics—were written no later than the mid-60s. On the other hand, if we accept a post-70 date for GLuke (based on the reference to the destruction of the temple), then this provides some significant evidence against the authenticity of the Pastorals, or at least 1 Timothy.

    Despite being a non-Christian skeptic, I had never been impressed by the case against the authenticity of the Pastorals, which seems to largely consist in an argument from silence of external references combined with Greek scholars’ insistence that the language of the Pastorals is dramatically different from the other Pauline epistles. But as we know, arguments from silence are notoriously weak, and arguments from language are highly subjective, word-counting considerations notwithstanding. Meanwhile, there seems to be an interesting (although still highly subjective) positive case for the authenticity of the Pastorals, which you give in your bible.org introduction to 1 Tim. And besides the case you lay out there, I am also impressed by the numerous personal remarks in the Pastorals, which would require a forger to have cleverly invented.

    Moreover, if we accept the authenticity of the Pastorals, then the fact that Paul quotes GLuke in 1 Tim 5:18 together with the comment “Luke is alone with me” in 2 Tim 4:11 might provide the earliest evidence not only that GLuke was pre-65, but that Luke actually wrote it! But I admit this is a stretch.

    On the other hand, the case for a post-70 date of GLuke does seem quite strong, since it’s hard to believe the temple destruction prophecy could have been a coincidence. Perhaps you’re not the best person to ask, since you believe that Jesus could predict the future. But frankly, I have much less confidence in skeptical scholars’ abilities to put aside their biases.

    So, if 1 Timothy really does know GLuke, this might push me towards rejecting the authenticity of the Pastorals. And that would be a shame, I think. So, I wonder if you have any thoughts on this connection.



    1. Well, Ben, since yours is only the third comment on this post, I will accept it and respond to it. Ironically, I have the time because I’m in Athens right now, preparing manuscripts for digitization.

      I want to commend you for being open minded and wanting to go where the evidence leads. I wish more skeptics did that!

      First, I’m not sure that Paul is really quoting Luke 10.7 here. I think he is quoting Jesus and he got the information from Luke. Whether Luke had penned his Gospel yet or not, this is how I would see things. I don’t think that Paul is calling Luke’s Gospel scripture either. Rather, he is saying that whatever Jesus says has just as much authority as the Old Testament.

      Second, I too have never been impressed with the arguments against Pauline authorship on the basis of language. I HAVE been impressed with the fact that it’s a lot of warp and woof words–the kind that don’t have content but indicate connections and relations–that comprise many of the differences from the rest of Paul’s letters. This suggests to me that if these letters are authentic, they were most likely penned by an amanuensis. And it’s no small coincidence that there are quite a few Lukanisms in the Pastorals–especially in light of 2 Tim 4.11. It is an interesting phenomenon that the purportedly Paulline letters that are most disputed are almost always the later books. This fits well with the probability that as time went on, Paul could trust his amanuenses more and would not have to dictate the entire letter to them. On the other end of things, who has ever heard of Tertius (the amanuensis for Romans)?

      Third, in Ehrman’s Forged, he never (so far as I remember) discusses the patristic evidence for authenticity of Paul’s letters. Perhaps the reason is that it is uniformly against the forgery hypothesis (unlike 2 Peter). And Eusebius’s famous statement about the homolegoumena in Ecclesiastical History 3.15 implies, as David Dungan noted in Constantine’s Bible, that Eusebius had done his due diligence and had traced back the chain of evidence all the way to the first century. With the term homolegoumena he is claiming that the testimony all the way back to the original recipients is unequivocal: Paul wrote the 13 letters ascribed to him (Hebrews is a different matter, which the patristic writers acknowledge).


      1. Cool, thank you for the speedy reply!

        Yes, you mentioned the Lukan amaneusis hypothesis in your Bible.org Introduction to 1 Tim. It gives me a small thrill to think that Luke might have actually written GLuke, as well as had involvement with the Pastorals 🙂 Unfortunately, I can’t bring myself to really believe it. But, it is an exciting hypothesis.

        I guess I’m not sure why you hesitate to interpret the Lukan bit in 1Tim 5:18 as a quotation from GLuke. You say that Paul might not have really meant that the quotation is from Scripture, and yet, that is what he says, is it not?

        Let us suppose that, for whatever reason, you became convinced that 1Tim 5:18 is indeed quoting from GLuke, and calling it Scripture. I wonder, would that change your opinion of the authorship/date of 1Tim and/or GLuke?

        No need to answer if you don’t want, since you must be busy and, from your perspective, these are probably elementary and uninteresting questions. But I will read what you say, should you feel like responding once more. And, thank you again.


  2. Ben, you’re a puzzle. You can get a thrill about the possibility of Luke penning the Pastorals, but can’t bring yourself to believe it? There is of course very little riding on it, but I wonder if perhaps you are just being skeptical without having compelling evidence for such skepticism. Can you at least bring yourself to consider it?

    As for Paul’s comment, there are two things to consider here. First, is the fact that Paul quotes only Jesus’ words, not any other portion of Luke’s Gospel. I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility if Paul were simply saying that Jesus’ words were authoritative, and the word he chooses to speak of them is scripture. This is one of his last letters and he is focusing on leaving behind a solid foundation for the church. The tone and content of the epistle looks to creedalize a lot of the faith in a way largely foreign to Paul’s approach previously. Second, I think that Peter’s comment that Paul’s letters are scripture (2 Peter 3.16) was almost surely due to prophetic insight given him by the Spirit. It almost seems as though the statement is dredged out of Peter because in the same breath he can complain about the difficulty in understand Paul. If I’m right, then it seems to be the first genuine, unqualified statement that a portion of the NT was scripture.

    When one looks at the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, it is very curious that they almost never refer to the NT as scripture. I take it that this is due to two reasons: (1) There was a growing canon consciousness. Although the Christ-event changed perspectives on everything, it would still take some time for folks to work out the implications. I don’t think that the apostles, for example, thought of Jesus as divine on the day of Pentecost. I think that Bart Ehrman is right that in parts of the NT it’s hard to find an affirmation of the deity of Christ. But within a couple of decades, things started getting in greater focus. When you think about the broad view of theological development in the NT due to the stimulus provided by the Christ event, it’s fascinating to see how things work out chronologically. From discussions of spiritual gifts, to ecclesiology, to eschatology, to soteriology, pneumatology, and of course Christology–all these things reach their maturity of reflection in the later books. Why would we expect bibliology to be different? Indeed, no scripture had been written for 400 years; the apostles were almost certainly not predisposed to think that once they penned letters they were scripture on a par with the OT! (2) 2 Peter’s original audience wasn’t sure the letter was by Peter since it didn’t look like 1 Peter and the courier was unknown to them (unlike Silvanus). The reason that 2 Peter had a difficult time getting accepted, then, was due to the original audience not fully embracing it. And that would include Peter’s statement about Paul writing scripture.

    Quick thoughts before I head out to the National Library to prepare some more manuscripts! Thanks for the stimulating conversation, Ben! Now that the week has started, you’ll probably not hear from me till the weekend.


  3. Dan,
    I hope the digitization project in Athens is going well. If you happen to have a lull in your schedule, could you read (and, I hope) and respond to my four-part article, “The Text of Reasoned Eclecticism: Is It Reasonable and Eclectic?”. It is posted in sections at the The Text of the Gospels blog — beginning at http://onyxkylix.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-text-of-reasoned-eclecticism-is-it.html — and is among the files at the NT Textual Criticism group at Facebook.

    It’s a direct response to your online article, “The Byzantine Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?” — My thesis being that no, they are not, but it is more reasonable to deduce that some 80% of the Byzantine Text existed as an ancient local text than that the Byzantine Text did not exist anywhere until after 300, and that accepting this would have a considerable impact on the results of a text compiled via eclectic principles.

    Will you or your assistants have any chance to visit the little museum on Hydra?


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