Thursday, August 11, 2011

FacePalm of the Day #118 - Bart Ehrman and the Epistle to the Laodiceans

facepalm animated gifs Pictures, Images and PhotosLast Saturday, Dr Darrell Bock  faced off with Dr Bart Ehrman on the Unbelievable? radio broadcast. They discussed Ehrman's latest book Forged in which Dr Ehrman contends that the majority of the writers of the New Testament were liars because they claimed to be people that they weren't. During the course of the discussion Ehrman said that this was a wide-spread practice by Christians and offered up the Epistle to the Laodiceans as an example of a letter that could not have been written by Paul even though it claims to be, has nothing that can be consider heretical, and was considered to be canon by many Christians over many centuries. This intrigued me. And like Dr Ehrman often does, he says some true things but neglects to tell everything that would be relevant to know.

1. There are no copies or definitive mention of the letter before the 4th century
2. There are no Greek copies of the letter - they are all Latin.
3. It doesn't contain heresy because it also contains nothing that you cannot get the canonical epistles.
4. The Wikipedia article states: " Jerome wrote in the 4th century, "it is rejected by everyone."[12]"
5. Some people think that this may be the letter referred to Colosians 4:16. I don't think so because we should be able to trace it back to the first century if it were authentic.
Here is the problem. There is no possible way knowing what we know can we say that Paul wrote this. As for the other Epistles like Ephesians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, and the other canonical books, it's not nearly as slam dunk as Ehrman makes it sound. The Epistle of Laodiceans is no where in their league. I mean just look at this thing and see if it's "God-breathed" or merely copied. 

Translation from the Vulgate

Latin English
1. Paulus apostolus non ab hominibus neque per hominem sed per Iesum Christum, fratribus qui sunt Laodiciae. 1. Paul, an apostle, not of men or because of men, but because of Jesus Christ, to the brothers at Laodicea.
2. gratia vobis et pax a Deo Patre et Domino Iesu Christo. 2. Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. gratias ago Christo per omnem orationem meam, quod permanentes estis in eo et perseverantes in operibus eius, promissum expectantes in diem iudicii. 3. I thank Christ in my every prayer, that you are enduring in Him and persevering in His good works, looking ahead to the promise of the Day of Judgment
4. neque destituant vos quorundam vaniloquia insinuantium, ut vos evertant a veritate evangelii quod a me praedicatur. 4. Don't let the vain speech of anyone trouble you—speech that tries to lead you away from the truth of the gospel I have preached.
5. et nunc faciet Deus, ut qui sunt ex me ad profectum veritatis evangelii deservientes et facientes benignitatem operum quae salutis vitae aeternae 5. And now may God allow my people to (continue to increase in?) the truth of the Gospel and do good (for greeting?) eternal life.
6. et nunc palam sunt vincula mea quae patior in Christo; quibus laetor et gaudeo. 6. And now my bonds are seen, which I suffer in Christ, and so I rejoice and I am glad.
7. et hoc mihi est ad salutem perpetuam; quod ipsum factum orationibus vestris et administrantem Spiritum Sanctum, sive per vitam sive per mortem. 7. And this is for my eternal salvation, which comes through your prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit, by life or by death.
8. est enim mihi vere vita in Christo et mori gaudium. 8. Truly to me, to live is in Christ, and to die is a joy.
9. et in ipsum in vobis faciet misericordiam suam, ut eandem dilectionem habeatis et sitis unianimes. 9. And he will work his mercy in you, so that you will have the same love and be of one mind.
10. ergo, dilectissimi, ut audistis praesentia mei, ita retinete et facite in timore Dei, et erit vobis vita in aeternum; 10. So, beloved, as you have heard in my presence, so hold fast and work in the fear of God, and eternal life will be yours.
11. est enim Deus qui operatur in vos. 11. Since it is God that works in you,
12. et facite sine retractu quaecumque facitis. 12. do whatever you do without inhibition.
13. et quod est, dilectissimi, gaudete in Christo. et praecavete sordidos in lucro. 13. and (as it is?), beloved, rejoice in Christ, and avoid those dirtied with wealth.
14. omnes sint petitiones vestrae palam apud Deum. et estote firmi in sensu Christi. 14. Let all your petitions be (made?) before God, and be steadfast in the (way?) of Christ.
15. et quae integra et vera et pudica et iusta et amabilia facite. 15. And what is sound and true and sensible and just and lovable, do these things.
16. et quae audistis et accepistis, in corde retinete, et erit vobis pax. 16. And what you have heard and accepted, hold it in your heart, peace will be yours.
17. salutate omnes fratres in osculo sancto. 17. Salute all the brothers with a holy kiss.
18. salutant vos sancti. 18. The saints salute you.
19. gratia Domini Iesu cum spiritu vestro. 19. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit.
20. et facite legi Colosensium vobis. 20. And let this be read to the Colossians.

Epistle to the Laodiceans (Wikisource translation) - Wikisource

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Laodiceans

Wikipedia - Epistle to the Laodiceans
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