Richard Carrier Blogs on Pauline Interpolations

This blog was quite interesting and I am glad I took the time to read it.  I believe you will enjoy it as well.

In the New Testament, at least two passages have been interpolated into the letters of Paul: 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Today I’ll present the evidence for this conclusion that most experts have long known about, but most laymen never hear.

For those not savvy to the study of ancient manuscripts (called textual criticism), an “interpolation” is a word or passage that was added to a text after it was written and disseminated, added of course by someone not the author, who wished to pass off that “interpolated” text as being by the author (or, often times, this insertion happens by accident–but that didn’t happen here). We have hundreds and hundreds of examples of interpolations in the Biblical manuscripts (most of which you don’t hear about because they are so obviously interpolations that they aren’t in your bibles but were deleted by modern scholars, or never got in because our bibles came from only one of many lines of the textual tradition, each line interpolating its own words and passages like crazy). For examples and discussion (and books to consult) see my slideshow (PDF) for the Carrier-Holding debate.

via Richard Carrier Blogs.

That was only a snippet.  Go on, go read the rest!


4 Responses

  1. I think it dangerous to say what an author would or would not say. People are surprising creatures, and Paul an emotional character quite capable of saying extreme things.

    There is no textual evidence for an interpolation at 1 Thess 2:14-16. None. Mind you you most variations get created in the first hundred years after a text is written, and our manuscripts mostly come later than that. But it’s just too easy to amend things by saying “I don’t like this; out it goes”.

    1 Cor 14:33-35 has better arguments and some textual support as an interpolation, but again not conclusive, and the change would also again have to have come very, very early (since other famous interpolations like the Adulterous Woman in John and Mark’s Multiple Endings have textual evidence behind them).

    Interesting, complex arguments (lots of space on them in the commentaries) but not the slam dunk Carrier seems to think.

  2. I don’t know what is more dangerous; suggesting that evidence points to an interpolation or assuming rhetoric is passion.

  3. There is of course that view as well, though “passionate as a fox” doesn’t quite seem right. It is of course equally as dangerous to assume an author feels nothing, but is merely using the verbal tricks of the trade (vituperatio was a standard method in ancient rhetoric, yes) to win his audience over.

  4. I am puzzled by the assertion that it is “too easy” to amend the texts. I agree that it is very easy to posit an interpolation, but this seems to me to be the natural consequence of the state of the evidence. The fact of the matter is that we have little manuscript evidence for a period of a century or two in which it is reasonable to think that the texts were quite fluid. Doesn’t the fact that it is so easy to posit an interpolation also make it too easy to assume that the earliest recoverable text is what Paul originally wrote? I agree that there should be a presumption in favor of the text as it survived the transmission process, but I cannot imagine that it should be a very strong presumption. I would think that we would want positive reasons to justify the belief that a text is original just as we would want positive reasons to justify the belief that it is an interpolation.

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