The Bible

No one in the Church has ever possessed an inerrant Bible.
Textual Criticism as Reason to Reject Verbal Plenary Inspiration
Suggested Sources 
·       Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts, Yale University Press 1995, Harry Y. Gamble 
·       The Text of the New Testament,  4th Edition, Oxford University Press Bruce M. Metzger and Barth D. Ehrman 
·       The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Oxford University Press, 2011, Bart D. Ehrman.
·       Misquoting Jesus, Bart D. Ehrman
·       Wikipedias Page on the 16 ommited verses in scripture.
Hypothetical q 
Introduction: the Bible Did Not Fall From Heaven
Open your Bible and read the following verses: Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14; Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, 11:26, 15:28; Luke 17:36, John 5:3-4; Acts 8:37, 15:34, 24:6-8, 28:29; Romans 16:24 and 1 John 5:7-8. If you are not using a King James Version, you might be a bit perplexed. They are all missing from modern translations of the Bible which just skip right over them. It turns out that most textual scholars today feel these were not part of the original New Testament documents (the autographs as they are called), but were added to the text at a later time period. In most cases, they are missing from key early manuscripts leading textual scholars to conclude they are additions or corruptions of the autographical text. Most of them do not amount to very much. Matthew 23:14 is simply what we also find in Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47. Someone added this into Matthew, assimilating the text with what we find in the other two synoptic Gospels. Not a huge deal. Doctrinally speaking, 1 John 5:7-8 is the most significant of these 16 omitted verses as it implies a very direct statement of the trinity was added to the text of some copies of 1 John:
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. KJV
There was extensive debate about the Trinity and the nature of Jesus in the early church before the issue was largely settled. As you can imagine, many modern day scholars sought to defend the authenticity of the Comma Johanneumthough the debate has been settled. This passage is not quoted in the early church and that silence is inexplicable if the passage was original to the autograph. It also does not show up in any early Greek manuscripts.  Its first appearance was in the fifth century outside of the New Testament and it was then assimilated into copies of the Latin translation of the New Testament known as the Vulgate. 
We have to realize that the Bible did not fall from heaven as a completed text. Our English New Testament comes from publishers, not heaven. It is  translated by a committee based off of accepted critical editions of the Greek New Testament which in turn are based off of collections of manuscripts and attempts to reconstruct the earliest version of them and what the original authors actually wrote. There are thousands of variants between the manuscripts. Each of the 27 books of the New Testament was composed at a different time and probably in a different setting by many different authors, some of whom are probably known and some of whom are not. We must also realize that writing in antiquity was not as easy as it is today and the New Testament documents were all originally written on parchment or papyrus and over time and use, would become damaged and need to be replaced with a new copy. We do not have any of the original copies of the New Testament works. Those have all been lost to time. What we have are copies, of copies of copies. How many steps exist between the putative autographs and our earliest manuscripts is largely unknown. With copying comes errors, intentional and unintentional ones as the manuscript record attests to.  One of the most commonly known interpolations in the Bible is the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. This scene is missing from many important manuscripts and is widely regarded by even the most conservative of textual critics as an addition to the text of John by someone well after it was written.  There are many examples of known and suspected additions to the text of the Bible in the manuscript record. This causes some evangelical Christian organizations to make very precise statements about inspiration. Article X of  the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy reads as follows: 
“We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original. 
We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.”
I question the veracity of this article  son two fronts. I do not think we can be as certain as many evangelicals  about the accuracy of the New Testament on purely textual critical grounds. I will enumerate reasons below but I think on the epistemic grounds of faith, most would say it is likely God would have left us a reliable record of the incarnation. So while in the absence of proof we must trust. But I think we have clear evidence of changes that occurred before the manuscript record. Yes, the New Testament is miles ahead of many other works on textual grounds comparatively speaking, but there is a tendency that the father back we go, the more diverse the manuscripts and patristic  citations  become. There is also an almost a general  100 year period of darkness between when the original texts of the New Testament were written and manuscript evidence for significant parts of them ensuring us the originals looked very similar to our extant versions.  In addition, it has become common for many scholars to supposed some of the NT works were published in multiple versions by the same author! Identifying an “autograph” here becomes a bit questionable. 
If we use textual,  criticism as a model for inspiration, what type of Bible are we left with?  Bart D. Ehrman write, “If one wants to insist that God inspired the very words of scripture, what would be the point if we don't have the very words of scripture? In some places, as we will see, we simply can­ not be sure that we have reconstructed the original text accurately. It's a bit hard to know what the words of the Bible mean if we don't even know what the words are! 
This became a problem for my view of inspiration, for I came to realize that it would have been no more difficult for God to preserve the words of scripture than it would have been for him to inspire them in the first place. If he wanted his people to have his words, surely he would have given them to them (and possibly even given them the words in a language they could understand, rather than Greek and Hebrew). The fact that we don't have the words surely must show, I reasoned, that he did not preserve them for us. And if he didn't perform that miracle, there seemed to be no reason to think that he performed the earlier miracle of inspiring those words.”[1]
Erhman makes a good point. Are we to believe the will of God was thwarted?  How does one maintain that God desired to provide an inerrant text to the church when no one in the Church has ever possessed such a text? God was concerned with and decided to inspire an inerrant scripture but failed to preserve it in the early church? Surely we must set the bar higher for God. If He wanted us to have a completely inerrant version of the Bible, He could have easily given us one. The autographs could have been written inerrantly and preserved accordingly.  It is not even likely that all of the original autographs of our New Testament documents even existed at the same time in different locations. 
If we argue the New Testament, with its thousands of errors and divergent readings, is good enough at conveying the essential message and meaning of the original texts, then so too is a softer model of Biblical inspiration whereby every single word was not mechanically dictated by God and must be deemed as infallible and inerrant on an a priori basis.  Our copies of the Bible are deemed reliable by the textual community, but certainly far from perfect or certain in all details. A softer model of inspiration is consistent, if not outright warranted,  by the findings of textual criticism since no Christian has ever possessed an inerrant Bible. What we have always possessed was a reliable record of God’s salvific work. One might suppose that we possess exactly what God wanted us to. Does it make sense to suggest we possess anything less? I disagree with the Chicago Statement here. While I do not think the indisputable fact of thousands of errors in our extant manuscripts logically refutes the doctrine of inerrancy, surely it calls the reasonability  of  verbal-plenary inspiration into question. A view where every single word was not mechanically dictated by God but the overall composition and meaning of each text serves the salvific purpose for which God intended it, coheres better with the manuscript tradition.
 PART 2: A Deeper Dive into Textual Difficulties in the Bible
Copyright Laws did not exist in antiquity
The vast majority of the population could not read or write and therefore, the average Christian home did not have a complete copy of the New Testament and most may not have even had more than a single copy of any New Testament work, if that, very early in the church’s history.  If you were among the small percentage of literate people in antiquity and desired a copy of any New Testament work, you would have had needed access to the work and it would need to be copied by hand. Christian communities and some authors would probably have had  smaller collections of books in the late first century and we know of some collections from the second century (e.g. Marcion’s, Tatian’s Diatessaron which harmonized the gospels, the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs[2] papyrus 46, which is a collection of most of Paul’s letters paleographically dates from 150-250CE, and comments by Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century that on the day of the son the scriptures and memoirs of the apostles are read (Apology 1.67) [3]. Also, we know just at the start of the 4th century that Diocletian’s edict in 303CE commanded the confiscation and destruction of Christian books. Gamble argues this edict shows that congregational libraries were common in Christian communities by the end of the third century.[4] Needless to say, the dissemination of books and literacy levels were very different in antiquity. 
Copyright laws did not exist and once someone possessed a copy of your work, they were free to do with it whatever they desired. There was no real way for an original author to control subsequent transmission and revision of their work. As Harry Gamble wrote, “In providing copies of a work to friends an author effectively surrendered further personal control over the text. A recipient might make her copy available to another, who could then make a copy in turn. No expense was involved other than the cost of materials and, if need be, the services of a scribe. In this way copies multiplied and spread seriatim, one at a time, at the initiative of individuals who lay beyond the author’s acquaintance. Since every copy was made by hand, each was unique, and every owner of such a copy was free to do with it as he or she chose. In this way a text quickly slipped beyond the author’s reach. There were no means of making authoritative revisions, of preventing others from transcribing or revising it as they wished, of controlling the number of copies made, or even of assuring that it would be properly attributed to its author. In principle the work became public property: copies were disseminated without regulation through an informal network composed of people who learned of the work, were interested enough to have a copy made, and new someone who possessed the text and would permit it to be duplicated. Thus a text made its way into general circulation gradually and for the most part, haphazardly, in a pattern of tangents radiating from the points, ever more numerous, where the text was available for copying.” [5]
Once a change entered into a copy, everyone else whose version was based on that copy would have this corruption present, in many instances, without ever knowing it. There is no way around this. Of course, the dissemination of Christian literature was not always haphazard as Gamble knows. Any document could have been intended for multiple communities and even Paul presupposed the circulation of some of his letters in his writings. Galatians is addressed to the churches (note the plural) of Galatia. How Paul intended his letter to be circulated in several churches is not known for certain. He could have sent copies to each, he could have had the letter carrier proceed from one congregation to the next with the letter or have each congregation make their own copy. That the congregations made copies seems likely, since like us modern exegetes, they were probably not capable of digesting it all in one reading and would wish to retain a copy for further study and aid. This may be especially true of a work like Romans. Similarly, Colossians 4:16 urges a letter exchange between the Laodiceans, whereby, each group reads one another's letter. Colossians is widely thought to not be a genuine Pauline epistle so it cannot be used as direct evidence for Paul expecting his letter to be circulated without first defending that position. However, this does show that either the author knew Paul's letters were circulating or wanted them to encourage this practice by offering a Pauline warrant. Gamble writes, "An exchange of letters between the neighboring churches of Colossae and Laodicia would be only a short step beyond the circumstances that obtained for the Roman letter and the Galatian letter. The author of Colossians obviously did not think that such an exchange would be considered extraordinary."[6]
Early Christians Most Certainly Edited the texts of the New Testament

The  case of Marcion is a cautionary tale for many Christians as to just how editable the New Testament works were. He seems to have been excommunicated from the church in Rome shortly before the middle of the second century and was denounced by the second century writers, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus along with Tertullian whose work, Against Marcion, appeared just after the turn of the third century. Marcion accepted ten Pauline epistles (he excluded the Pastorals) and a version of the Gospel of Luke which he is said to have distorted and truncated. [7] Marcion was taken aback by the primitive and belligerent God of the Hebrew Scriptures whom he thought was nothing like the Father Jesus spoke of.
William O. Walker Jr. argued that it is likely on a priori grounds that Christians would make changes to the text of the New Testament.[8] He starts by pointing out that no one would deny that interpolations have made it into many other classical works (Homer, Orphesus, Musaeus, Hippocrates, Aristophanes, Euripedes, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Seneca et al.) and the ancient world was aware of them. He then goes on to point out the “there is ample evidence that early Christians themselves introduced interpolations into Jewish writings that they regarded as in some manner deficient, defective, or less 'Christian' than might be desired.” Examples include:
·       The Testimonium Flavianum. The 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus was not a Christian and it is quite clear that a later Christian either inserted whole-cloth, or embellished an existing description of Jesus in Antiquities of the Jews (book 18, ch. 3).
·       The 2d century critic Celsus accused Christians of adding  material to the Sibylline Oracles
·       Christians probably also rewrote and expanded Jewish psuedepigraphical texts (Synagogal Prayers, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah and 4 Ezra. 
·       There is even some evidence of Christians tempering with the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament: Walker writes: “As a matter of fact, however, it is clear that by the second century Jewish scholars were engaged in expunging what they, at least, regarded as 'Christian additions' to the Septuagint (LXX). Indeed, Justin Martyr's text of the LXX 'contained some remarkable interpolations' that 'appear to be of Christian origin'; Justin, however, was 'so sure of their genuineness that he accuse[d] the Jews of having removed them from their copies. Moreover, O'Neill has noted that Rom. 3.13-18 was incorporated into most manuscripts of Psalm 13 in the LXX (Ps. 14 in the Hebrew Bible) and from there into both the Vulgate and the Prayer Book version of the Psalms.”
·       In the middle of the 2nd century Bishop Dionysius claimed that material had been added and removed from his letters by heretics. 
·       Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, writing in the late 2d century was apprehensive of the fact that his writings would be altered. 
·       In the 4th century Rufinus claimed extensive interpolation in many Greek patristic writings.
·       To what we find mentioned by Walker I add that Origen records that  in the 2nd century Celsus, mentioned above, accused Christians also of altering the text of the gospels multiple times to avoid difficulties. 
·       Also adding that Origen himself commented on the textual variants in the Gospel of Matthew as follows: “There are many other (differences of this kind) so that many copies of the Gospel of Matthew do not harmonize with each other. The same thing (is true) also with the other Gospels . . . For it is clear that there has been much alteration of these writings, whether due to the same carelessness of certain scribes, or due to bold-ness on the part of some who intentionally alter them, such as those who insert (something) or remove the proper reading in order to support their own beliefs.”[9]
·      Pg 31 walker more books and evidence
Different Versions of the NT Texts: 
Finally, it is important to note that each book of the New Testament has had its own unique history of composition, early dissemination and later copying—the specific steps of which have been lost to us. As Metzger and Ehrman wrote, 
“To some extent, each of the books of the New Testament has its own textual history. What can be said of all the books, however, is that each first appeared as a discrete publication, or series of publications, by its author(s). It is relatively easy to pinpoint the origin of some of these texts: Paul's letter to the Galatians, for example, was written at a certain time and place to a certain audience. But other texts present complications: many scholars have considered 2 Corinthians, for example, to be a combination of two or more Pauline letters, each written at a different time, for a different occasion, and only later combined into the one letter we now have. Moreover, there is at least one passage in 2 Corinthians that does not appear to have been part of the original letter(s) at all but to have been interpolated into the letter at a later time by a later hand (6.14-7.1). This may be true of other passages in the Pauline corpus as well; scholars today continue to debate the possibility of non-Pauline interpolations that occurred before any of the surviving manuscripts had been produced.” [10]
It may be helpful to dissect some of this last paragraph as it is loaded with references. When speaking of potential New Testament works as a series of publications, Acts and the Gospel of John immediately spring to mind. John 20:30-31 is clearly the end of the book to most scholars:
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[d] that Jesus is the Messiah,[e] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Yet after these words, we see a new chapter. We have another chapter that most scholars now think was a redactional addition to the Gospel of John. Mark presupposes and Matthew narrates Galilean appearance stories of the risen Jesus whereas Luke and John 20 only narrate Jerusalem appearance stories. John 21 also includes an important tradition about Peter who Paul puts first in order of appearance stories (1 Cor 15:5). It may be that chapter 21 bridges some gaps or simply feels this material is just too important not to include. Christians were also disappointed at times by their eschatology and expectation of the imminent return of Jesus. In 1Thessalonians 4:13-18, possibly the earliest written New Testament work, there seems to have been a concern about those who have died before Jesus had returned in the late 40s and very early 50s (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). Jesus was probably expected to return soon and it may have been his own words that led to this belief.[11] John 20:22-23 says about as much, claiming Jesus was misinterpreted:
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
It would seem a belief had originated in the Johannine community that this beloved disciple would not die before Jesus returned. Once this beloved disciples passed away and the Lord had not returned,  this issue needed to be addressed. The original author was probably not the redactor.  If the interpretation I just offered is true then that is self-evident. The beloved disciple is deceased when chapter 21 was written. NT Wright and Michael Bird wrote, “It may well be that this chapter was drafted after the beloved disciple himself had died, when some in the church, having misunderstood Jesus’ words (‘If it’s my intention that he should remain here until I come, what’s that got to do with you?’), worried that Jesus should have returned by now. That was never the point (21.20-23). The final editor adds a note verifying that the beloved disciple was the real author, and ‘we know that his evidence is true’.
The second ending of chapter 21 added by a later redactor does speak about the author  and community being distinct from the beloved disciple.  Raymond Brown discusses other reasons why:“We have maintained that the Galilean appearances of Jesus to the disciples once preceded the Jerusalem appearances. In re-editing the Gospel, the evangelist would have been able to smoothly intercalate (if he knew the sequence); a redactor would be more likely to add on. Moreover, even if the evangelist himself added on a new set of appearances, he would have felt free to move or modify his previous conclusion in xx 30-31, whereas a redactor might not wish to tamper with the Gospel that had come down to him.” [12]
On page 1080 of that same work,  Brown lays of a number of stylistic details betraying the hand of a different redactor. Not only is the ending of John most likely the work of a redactor, but the beginning may have been as well. As Brown summarizes in his shorter and newer introduction to John, “The Prologue is written in a carefully constructed, interlocking poetic pattern found but rarely in the Gospel proper. Moreoever, the Prologue employs important theological terms not found elsewhere in the Gospel, for example, logos (“Word” personified), charis (“grace” or “covenant love”), plērōma  (“fullness”).”[13] Though this may have been a pre-constructed hymm of sorts in the community which would explain any  vocabulary differences but it is odd that none of the aforementioned terms  are found in the gospel proper. We should not view this redactor as correcting the Gospel of John but supplementing. We have an important account about Peter and it was probably a close confidant of the text’s actual author or at least a long-standing member of the Johannine community who could authoritatively add to the Gospel proper. These changes to the bookends of John had to have been added during a very early period in its compositional history given its textual history which excludes any knowledge of them. This is unlike the Pericope de Adulterae or story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-8) which most scholars feel was a later insertion into the text of John as its external attestation is much poorer. This story actually ends up in different places in John in the manuscript record and even shows up in Luke at times which is not odd since many scholars feel it shows an affinity to Lucan special source material.[14]  
In addition to these, many scholars wonder if there were different versions of the Gospel of John and posit complex theories of its tradition history considering the numerous parts that appear jumbled and out of order. Since Tatian in the late second century onward, some exegetes have thought the original order of John was out of place and needed to be corrected. Aside from clearly having two separate endings there are several other breaks in sequence apparent in the Gospel.  
Helmut Koester writes, “Another aspect of the question of the integrity of the extant text of the Gospel concerns the order of its chapters an sections. Major disorder exists in two instances. The first concerns the sequence of chapters 4-7. At the end of chapter 4, Jesus is in Galilee, at the beginning of chapter 5 he goes to Jerusalem, chapter  6:1 says, “And after this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee,” and 7:1 reports that Jesus left Jerusalem and went about in Galilee, because the Jews were trying to kill him. Moreover, John 7 continue the discussion of the theme of judgment which had been initiated in chapter 5. If the order were chapters 4,6,5,7, all these difficulties would be removed.”[15] It is important to note that in antiquity, where travel was by foot or livestock, a distance of 80 miles between Jerusalem and Galilee is rather significant. For any geographically inclined individuals, this hopping back and forth between locales seems rather puzzling. 
Raymond Brown highlights another problem in order: “In 14:31, Jesus concludes His remarks at the Last Supper and gives the command to depart; yet this is followed by three more chapters of discourse so that the departure does not seem to take place until 18:1”[16]
John 14:30-31 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way. 
John 18:1 1After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.
The “Rise, let us be on our way” does look out of place and the three chapters of lengthy discourses separating them appear to interrupt this flow.  As Koester remarked, “It has been suggested that chapters 15-17 are a later interpolation. But in language, style and content, these three chapters belong with 13-14. It is clear, therefore, that they are not in the right place. Chapters 15-16 may have followed  John 13:34-35, because 15:1-17 is a commentary on the commandment to love each other, and 13:36-38 seems a good continuation of 16:31. This leaves John 17, the farewell prayer of Jesus. No satisfactory solution has been found for the placement of this chapter. That John 17 was added after the displacement of chapters 15-16 had already occurred, is also possible because chapter 17 is characterized by a theological interpretation of Jesus’ departure that differs markedly from the farewell discourses in chapters 13-16; it orientation is more explicitly Gnostic.”[17]
We are also left to wonder whether or not 12:44-50 is a public discourse by Jesus after he goes into hiding right before it (12:36)? In additions to several repetitions in discourses, Raymond Brown notes some additional internal problems with the order of the Gospel. “There also seems to be a twofold conclusion to the public ministry in 10:40-42 and 12:37-43, although here the evidence is not as clear. The disciples of JBap, who were present when he identified Jesus  and explained his mission  in 1:29-34, do not seem to understand anything about Jesus in 3:26-30. After Jesus’ first sign at Cana (2:11), he works signs in Jerusalem (2:23); yet his next miracle at Cana is apparently designated as his second sign (4:54), as if there were no signs intervening. In 7:3-5, his brother speak as if Jesus had never worked sings in Judea, despite the Jerusalem signs just mentioned and another miracle in ch. 5. At the Last Supper, Peter asks Jesus where he is going (13:36, also 14:5); yet in the same setting  in 16:5 Jesus complains that no one has asked him, “Where are you going” Throughout ch. 3, Jesus has been at Jerusalem which is in Judea; yet in mid-chapter (3:22) we are suddenly told that he came into Judea. Some of these difficulties may be explained away, but not all of the,. It appears that in John we have on the one hand the elements of a planned and cohesive outline, and on other, elements that seem to indicate alterations, insertions or reeditings. On the one hand there are dramatic scenes that betray minute editorial care (ch. 9, and the trial before Pilate in 18-19); on the other, there are scenes that lack finish and organization.”[18]
I think it is important to note that a Brown has, some of these difficulties may be explained away but the cumulative  case they make seems rather strong. All of these differences might suggest a multi-stage compositional history for the extant Gospel.[19] Originally Raymond Brown posited there were two different versions of John along with a redactor. In his latest work he did still think it likely the original evangelist touched up his own work which was then redacted. Other scholars have also proposed complicated theories and sources behind the odd nature of some of the material. It should be noted that large blocks of material being out of order can be explained by pages in a early codex becoming mixed up. Smaller blocks of material cannot be explained in this fashion. I honestly can’t make heads or tails of all of it. What I feel very confident of is that the extant form of the Gospel of John was not entirely composed by one author and the original author may have edited his own work one or more times.  John definitely felt the hand of a redactor. This is no way detracts from the authenticity of material. As Brown notes, “The fact that this material was added at the end of the Johannine Gospel formation does not mean that overall it was any less ancient than the material  that appeared in the evangelist’s Gospel.”[20] Thinking of the two-document hypothesis, that Matthew and Luke supplemented Mark’s gospel with Q and special material independently in no way means those traditions are not early or authentic. Whatever fluidity happened during the Gospel of John’s composition, it happened early as aside from scenes like the women caught in adultery, there is no hint of it in the textual record. The additions, such as the second ending which leaves the first on entirely intact, indicate an authoritative disciple within the Johannine community. We are not dealing with some nefarious, agenda driven later Christian corrupting the text but a confidant of the evangelist who had respect for the Gospel as it stood. To a large degree the process must be viewed as enrichment as opposed to correction. 
Acts may stand as another New Testament text which may have been published as two different  editions by the author. This comes from the very early textual witness of two different versions of Acts with significant differences. Helmut Koester writes,
“Acts presents still another literary problem insofar as it is transmitted in two versions that frequently differ from each other. The text that is usually printed in critical editions of the New Testament is that of the Egyptian uncials from the fourth century (,B, etc.), whose readings are largely identical  with those of the Alexandrian church fathers. Another version is found in the representatives of the Western Text (Codex D and the Old Latin translation) with readings that are supported by the Latin church fathers. This version contains numerous special readings and passages that appear to be “additions.” Among these is the famous addition of the Golden Rule  to the Apostolic Decree in Acts 15:29. Whether or not one considers the Western text of Acts as secondary, there is no question that it existed already in the 2d century. An interesting suggestion sees this version as either the original text of Acts or as the author’s second edition of the book. This could explain the fact that the Western text presents some valuable information that is missing in the Alexandrian version, such as information about places (Acts 12:10; 20:15) and  times (Acts 19:9; 27:5). At the same time, other Western readings must be secondary, especially the attempts to adjust contradictions and to enhance the anti-Judaic tendencies of the book. It is therefore more likely that the Western text of Acts is a second edition (by Luke Himself?), but not a degeneration of the original text.”[21]
Ehrman and Metzger summarize the scholarship on this view in a footnote: “Likewise, scholars from Blass at the end of the nineteenth century to Boismard and Lamouille at the end of the twentieth have maintained that the Book of Acts was published in two editions, one that is now represented in the Alexandrian tradition and the other in the Western, which is some 8.5% longer than the other. See M.-E, Boismard and A. Lamouiue, Le texte occidental des Actes des Apotres; reconstruction et rehabilitation: vol. i, Introduction et texts; vol. ii, Apparat critique {Vans, 1984).[22]  For a  another perspective on the textual history of Acts, see Fitmyer’s discussion in his Anchor Bible Commentary on the book of Acts[23] (pp 69-72).
The second epistle to the Corinthians is another example of an NT work with a potentially complicated compositional history. Many scholars think it originally consisted of multiple letters of Paul that have combined into a single letter. Most scholars feel the epistle looks  disjointed with clear breaks in tone and content.  For example, 2 Cor 7:2 appears to pick up right where 6:13 leaves off. 2 Corinthians 2:13 ends with Paul’s concern about not finding Titus. This is not picked up until 7:5, five chapters later. It is then suggested by some that 2 Cor 14-7:4 was inserted into the text at this point. There are other potential breaks in sequence but we must also consider, in 2 Cor 8:17 Titus has not arrived in Corinth but 12:17-18 depict him at work there. In addition, the first-person plural is used predominantly in chapters 1-9 whereas this switches to first-person singular in chapters 10-13. Of course, critical scholars can’t agree on just how many letters it was composed of. Gert J.C. Jordaan wrote:
“Since Semler’s work a variety of theories have been developed (cf. Thrall 2004:47–49), namely a two-letter theory (e.g. Lake 1919; Plummer 1925), a three-letter theory (e.g. Vielhauer 1975:153), a four-letter theory (e.g. Bornkamm 1962; Georgi 1964:24), a six-letter theory (Schmithals 1969:90– 94) and even a nine-letter theory (Weiss 1970). Of these perhaps the most popular is the theory of Adolf Hausrath, which became known as ‘the four-letter hypothesis’ (cf. McCant 1999:20): Chapters 1:1–2:13, continued in 7:5–16 (and 13:11–13); Chapters 2:14–7:4; Chapter 8 (and 9); Chapters 10–13:10 (or 13:13). The last four chapters (10–13) are identified with Paul’s ‘tearful letter’ (2:3–4). “[24]
Not all scholars identify the last four chapters with the tearful letter but there are only two possibilities or a combination of them. Paul composed this letter over a lengthy period of time or multiple letters were combined into one. Both can explain a lot of the evidence, such as Titus’s absence earlier and assumed presence later.  Neither view can be proven and in the end, a combination of both may very well be the correct solution. I am not convinced viewing the composition over an extended period of time is the best explanation for all of the evidence. Here is what is suggested:
Paul writes 2 Cor 1:1-2:11 while en route to Troas from Ephesus or just arriving there. Paul receives some sort of news in Troas and writes 2:12-7:2 while heading to Macedonia from Troas. Jordaan writes, “As already hinted in the first point of the argument above, the differences between 2:1–11 and 7:3–16 are accounted for by this hypothesis for the letter’s composition history. Paul wrote 2:11 at a time when his ‘painful visit’ was still fresh in his memory and when he had not yet received any feedback on his ‘painful letter’. Chapter 7:3–16, however, was written a few weeks later from Macedonia when he had received news from Titus about the positive effect of the ‘painful letter’.”[25] Next Paul writes 7:3 – 9:15 while in Macedonia and finally the last part 10:1-13:13 soon after leaving Philippi. Paul’s tone and context seems to change so much throughout this, one wonders what his intended audience would have made of it? The break in tone between chapter 9 and 10 may make the letter schizophrenic to the point of incoherence. 
It  may be best to view this last part as a separate letter altogether.  Jerome Murphy-O’Connor thinks this and that there were only two letters merged into one:  “This hypothesis is based on what are viewed as hard transitions in the present text of 2 Cor. The details will be discussed in the commentary, but with many interpreters I do not find that the breaks in chaps. 1-9 involve such a degree of discontinuity as to demand a partition hypothesis. Chaps. 10-13, however, cannot be the continuation of chaps. 1-9; it is psychologically impossible that Paul should suddenly switch from the celebration of reconciliation (1-9) to a savage reproach and sarcastic self-vindication (10-13). Thus, 2 Cor is certainly a combination of two letters.”[26]
He contrasts letter A (1:1-9:15) and letter B (10:1-13:13) as follows, “In contrast to the measured tone and careful language of Letter A, in which polemic and apologetic elements are subordinated to the didactic exposition of Paul’s understanding of his ministry, Letter B is an explosion of outrage in which both self-vindication and abuse of opponents are bitterly intemperate. The kindly tact of letter A, which betrays Paul’s feeling of being in control of the situation, is replaced by a desperate anxiety regarding the future of the community.”
This is a complicated issue and there is a lot of literature out there on the subject. There does appear to be a complicated It does call into question the concept
Bornkamm, G. (1962). The History of the Origin of the So-Called Second Letter to the Corinthians. New Testament Studies, 8(3), 258-264.
The Pentatuech is believed to have have been composed by many different authors over a long period of time. Isaiah is also viewed as being composed by two or three different writers by many scholars today. Some scholars think just Isaiah may have written his work in two separate parts 
We Overestimate tbe  Textual Certainty of the NT
“It is a .striking feature of our textual record that the earliest copies we have of the various books that became the New Testament vary from one another far more widely than do the later copies, which were made under more controlled circumstances in the Middle Ages.”[27]
Editorial Fatigue in the Gospels 
 HUMAN NATURE of the TEXT Markan prioroyt later, use of sources. Human writing, assimulation of Jude Not four eyewitness.
Examples of editorial fatigue in Matthew and Luke, tie into human nature of writing and sources. Same chapter as canonization and inspiration
Also note the Holy Spirit, which came at Pentecost, has not led to inerrancy in the Chirch today. Why must we assume it ever existed, considering that the Bible didn’t come fully established for sveral 100 years and no Christians ever had one. 
Text Criticims Fytmeyer and Brown  on Infany narrative not in origina, 311
“According to Esuebius (H.E. 6.12.1-6), Serapion of Antioch (d. 211) approved of the use of the Gospel of Peter in the church at Rhossus—and retracted his authorization after reading that document in its entirety.”  C. Clifton Black, Mark pg 103
Tatian Gospel harmony remained popular in the Syrian church until the fifth century. 
God’s intended purpose?
There are well over 5,000 Greek New Testament Manuscripts
Christian apologists often tout the large number of Greek New Testament manuscripts and their temporal proximity to the autographical texts as evidence of textual reliability. Usually we see comparisons to other poorly attested literature. I
If we have an extremely poor textual record for the Annals of Tacitus, the fact that the New Testament has better textual attestation does in itself tell us as much as we would like to think. A person who is less of a jerk than someone else may be, nonetheless, still be a jerk themselves. Being better than something really bad does not necessarily make you good, just less bad. The devil in the details. 

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“The “New Testament” in  “New Testament papyri” is no less problematic. If some scholars are correct that a few Christian papyri were copies as early as the second century (as we will see, none can actually be dated with any certainty to that period), then the designation of any such manuscript as “New Testament” would be highly ambiguous, if not totally meaningless. The very phrase “New Testament”(Greek: kainē diathēkē) was still only tentatively being applied to Christian writings  at the end of the second century. And even after that time, it was not at all a settled question exactlywhich books would be included under such a heading. That problem would be debated for centuries. Furthermore, as best as we can tell, none of our extant manuscripts copies on papyrus contains even half of the twenty-seven documents that would come to be called “the New Testament” in later centuries. Thus, one can in all honesty say that there isn’t really any such thing as “a New Testament papyrus.” Nongbri, pg 19, God’s Archaelolgy
Two  schools of thought pg63-64
Why Nongbri avoids Gregory’s P designations. 
P72 for Biblical scholars contains Jude and 1 and 2 Peter. But the Codex containg them (LDAB 2 565) also contained the Nativity of Mary, the apochrypah Paul and the Corinthians, the eleventh Ode of Solomon and a sermon by Melito of Sardis. The p72 designations tends to lose a lot of information.  Nongbri also goes on to suggest that the NT works, Jude, 1 and 2 Peter, appear to have been parts of different works that were secondarily bound together here. This binds the collection into a single dimension and is confusing and possibly misleading to Nongbri (pg 19)
Cost of Writing:
“It is hypothesized that for a large Bible like Codex Sinaiticus, a single calf or sheep pelt might have yielded only two sheets (or even just one sheet), which were about eighty-six centimeters wide and thirty-six centimeters high. Sinaiticus is estimated to have originally contained some 370 sheets. Doing the math shows that the number of animals required  to produce a large, high quality parchment Bible could be staggering, although it should be remembered that complete Greek Bibles were a rarity in antiquity (only four survive).” Nongbri, pg 26
Only 4 complete Greek Bibles
Sinaiticut, Vatinicus, Alexandrius and Syri Recerptus
Paleographic Dating
Schmid, Reassessing the Paleography
Bagnall,  Early Christian Books in Egypt
Larsen, Accidental Publication, Unfinished Texts
Epp The Multivalence of the Term ‘Original Text’
Parker: Living Text of the Gospels
Dating Gospels  : 
Dura Parchment 10 (LDAB 3071) (wiki: Dura Parchment 24) Uncial 0212
Authors / works: TatianusDiatessaron (Greek): (Mt 27,56-57; Mc 15,40.42; Lc 23,49b.50-51; 54; Joh 19,38) (direct attestation). The surviving leaf of the scroll or codex described here, was found in 1933, during excavations among the ruins of Dura-Europos, known to have been destroyed by Shapur I King of Persia in 256. Thus it clearly dates before this. Nongbri pg 55
May or may not be a copy of Diatessaron
Goodacre et al, Dura-Europas Gospel Harmony

Joosten, J. (2003). The Dura Parchment and the Diatessaron. Vigiliae Christianae, 57(2), 159-175. Retrieved May 4, 2021, from  Contra
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[1] Misquoting Jesus, Bart D Ehrman , 2005 pg 11
[2] The text supposes a collection of Paul’s letters as upon being questioned, Speratus tells us the contents of his  satchel. 
[3] “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.” Translated by Marcus Dods and George Reith. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe.(Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.)
[4] For  discussion of early Christian libraries see Books and Readers in the Early Church, Yale University Press, 1995, Harry Gamble pp 144-202. The specific arguments mentioned occur on page 150.
[5], See Gamble, ibid, pp pg 84-84
[6] Gamble, ibid, pg. 97
[7] There are actually a small number of scholars who claim Marcion’s Gospel was the first one written and the fourfold Gospel in the New Testament represent a plethora of responses to that. Though it has very little traction or  following, Matthias Klinghardt is one scholar who suggests Marcionite priority as a solution to the synoptic problem. Mark used Marcion, Mathew used Mark and Marcion and Luke used Mathew and Marcion in composing his gospel.I do not find this to be an adequate solution to the synoptic problem based on the most probable dating of the synoptic Gospels alone. 
[8] William O. Walker Jr., Interpolations in the Pauline Letters, JSNT, 2001, pp 26-43
[9] This passage was Obtained from NT Wright and Michael Bird’s Introduction to the New Testament, pg 860. They are citing “Origen Comm. Matt. 15.14, cited from Dungan 1999,72.”
[10] Test of the New Testament, Oxford, 2o05
[11] The saying about some not tasting death until they see the kingdom come is now fixed to the transfiguration in the Gospels. Whether or not this was its original context or meaning is a point of contention.
[12] The Gospel according to John, v2, Raymond Brown, Doubleday1970, pg 1080
[13] An Introduction to the Gospel of John, Yale University Press 2003, pg 41
[14] That this story, a favorite of many, was most likely not in the autographical text of John in no way makes it unhistorical. As noted above, it shares affinities to the material in Luke not attributed to Mark and Q and Papias just around the turn of the century mentions a story of a woman caught in many sins. So too does the Didascalia. Clearly something like this story circulated about in the second half of the first century. See Kyle Hughes’s article, The Lukan Special Material and the Tradition History of the Pericope AdulteraeNovum Testamentum 55 (2013) 232-251 
[15] Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels, pg 249
[16] Brown. Introduction to the Gospel of John, pg 41-42
[17] Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels, pg 249
[18] Brown. Introduction to the Gospel of John, pg 41-42
[19] I specifically said compositional as opposed to textual because this is a stage of development far before we can talk about the textual history of the extant form of the Gospel of John.
[20]  Brown. Introduction to the Gospel of John, pg 83
[21] History and Literature of Early Christianity 2nd Edition, Walter de Gruyter, by Helmut Koester pg. 50
[22]  The Text of the New Testament Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration 4th Ed.,  Oxford University press, 2005, Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman pg 274
[23] Joseph Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles, Doubleday 1998, pp 69-72
[24] Jordaan G.J.C., 2014, ‘A hypothesis for the composition history of Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians’, In die Skriflig 48(1), Art. #1783, 9 pages
[25] Jordaan, ibid.
[26] Page 816 of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, section byJerome Murphy-O’Connor. 
[27] The Text of the New Testament Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration 4th Ed.,  Oxford University press, 2005, Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman pg 275