Textual Criticism

In the absence of a really good library, getting Accordance has helped me get back into theological geekery in a big way. One of the modules I got with it was the NET Bible, or “New English Translation”. As a straight translation for reading I'm not all that fond of it, but the notes that come with it are solid gold. I'll just give you the notes from Mark 1:1 as an example:

Apologetics and physical law

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I don't tend to like apologetics, and I think last night I realised another reason why not. I think it's because, at bottom, apologetics is an attempt to persuade the other person of the rationality of your position. And this is always a losing proposition, because if they're not convinced of your rationality, then how are they going to be convinced by your reasoning? The starting point is just too far apart. So I don't tend to go in for apologetics, and prefer to let the Holy Spirit get on with His job and I get on with mine. I only tend to do apologetics when something annoys me. Like last night.

What is a Christian?

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While I'm being contentious, here's something I've been thinking about for a couple of days as a result of a Usenet discussion. What is a Christian? I've come to believe that's actually the wrong question. It is, to be sure, only a very recent question, one which has occupied only the past, say, 10% of the Church's life, and so, since it's very new, and since it's a wildly different category of question to the ones we're used to answering, as a Church we don't really have a very good answer yet. The answers that we do have seem to start “someone who accepts” or “someone who believes”, which rather reduces Christianity to a set of dogma, a bunch of formal propositions to be accepted. This doesn't look anything like the informal way in which Jesus banded his followers together, and how they continued to operate after he ascended. (Perhaps a better definition, if we have to have one, would start “someone who has been transformed” or “someone who has been met”. But we like verifiability, so that probably wouldn't fly.)