Sunday, April 10, 2011

Through a glass, dimly

1 Corinthians 16:21 (NLT)
Here is my greeting in my own handwriting-Paul.

- Most of us use computers but don't know how to program them. In previous eras people used words, but didn't necessarily read or write. They used scribes just as we might hire someone to create a website.

At the end of this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul adds his name in his own handwriting, to personalize this greeting. I can imagine him carefully drawing out the letters under the tutelage of his scribe.

I wonder how much this method of dictating texts, might change their "voice?" Surely some scribes were better than others at capturing the exact words spoken, while others might elaborate a little or paraphrase, or might even add passages in their own words. For example I might direct my scribe to include a paragraph explaining what I said to a crowd of people yesterday, in a meeting he also attended.

All this is just me wondering how current-day "bible-ologists" account for the use of scribes when they determine the validity of bible texts. I've heard theologians say that such-and-such a book is not considered as coming directly from the author claimed by the text itself because it does not match his style of writing in other documents. But how certain can we be that such differences aren't caused by the use of different scribes?

Just wondering.

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