On New Testament Reliability and Irenaeus of Smyrna

Dear Brothers and sisters,

Please help!

I have two questions.

1.Bart D.Ehrman said that "There is very little we can say about the reliability of the NT in terms of what the original manuscript says. All we have is copies of copies of copies etc. which rendered our ability to know what the original text says almost impossible. "

So, do I/we need to worry about his (Bart D. Ehrman) assertion or statement above…?

  1. It is said that Polycarb, Ignatius and Papias were John’s disciple. But I never find a solid evidences proving that they were John’s disciples.

(N. B. Irenaeus said Ploycarb was John’s disciple but we never heard from Polycarb or Ignatius himself stating that they were John’s disciple. What if Irenaeus of Smyrna was lying …?)

Thank you.

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@Daniel1 Great question :slight_smile: No, you do not need to worry about Bart Ehrman’s statement. Ironically, the fact that we have so many copies of the New Testament is a reason to trust it; not to doubt it. I recommend F. F. Bruce’s book “The Canon of Scripture” if you are struggling with the reliability of the New Testament. I’ve also included some resources below with responses to Ehrman.

Second, Ehrman’s hyper-skepticism (again) goes well beyond what the evidence warrants. He appeals to numerous studies showing eyewitness testimony can sometimes be mistaken—even seriously mistaken. Our memories can sometimes fail us. And of course that’s correct. But this is hardly new information. Even without the help of modern scholars, it’s clear our memories are fallible. To use this fact as a reason to dismiss the eyewitness testimony of the Gospels goes far beyond what the evidence can bear. Sure, the Gospel authors might be mistaken, but the mere possibility isn’t enough. One gets the impression Ehrman himself recognizes he might have pushed his case too far when he clarifies, “I am decidedly not saying that all of our memories are faulty or wrong. Most of the time we remember pretty well” (143, emphasis his).

In addition, Ehrman’s methodology for distinguishing between distorted and non-distorted memories is subject to serious scrutiny. It’s certainly not as easy observing “inherent plausibility” in a passage, or whether that passage would be “highly relevant” for the present needs of the Gospel audience, as Ehrman suggests (157). Even if scholars agreed on these criteria (which are themselves debatable), their application is fraught with pitfalls and subjectivity. Yet Ehrman makes it sound as simple as 1–2–3.

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@Daniel1 In addition to the above resources that @SeanO presented above, Daniel Wallace, an expert on NT documents, speaks on the topic of textual reliability of the NT here. He also debates Bart Ehrman here.

Do not be afraid of credentials. Only wisdom need be heeded.

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Dear Sir,

Thank you so much. That was great help from you. I’m thankful for your help and resources provided.

God bless you.

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Dear Sir,

Thank you for your input and assistance.

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