I have started to read Comfort’s Encountering the Manuscripts. It is very informative and interesting for me since I am quite illiterate in this area. But the author confuses me so. He was defining “publication” in his introduction and began talking about ancient poets and philosophers. Then he mentions Jesus and calls him, “the mystical poet and prophet”. But as I read along, he talks about Christ and his resurrection as the “proof positive that Jesus is who he said he was”. (p.2)
So, what is the author? A believer or is he just a scholar? Can you tell by just reading him? And is it important what he is?
Whether it is important or not, I am reading the book quite critically anyway. It is because I am completely new to this subject. And there are a lot of things I am quite ignorant of. So when he makes certain claims, I would literally mark his words, planning to re-visit it later.
Here are a few of things (to start with, since I have only read 15 pages of the 354) he said which I am going to think about and double check on:
1. The autographs (and/or archetypes) would have shorter endings than what we see in manuscripts (p.8)
2. The book of Mark could not possibly end with the preposition gar. In his words: “Who would end a sentence, much less an entire Gospel, with that word?” (p.9)
3. Some writers seem to have let their writings be published without thorough editing. He felt that Paul would have had dictation left uncorrected and he gave the example of Eph 3:18. (p.6)
I think (1) would be quite possible though with me, it is the other way round. I write them all and then cut down the words to make it more succinct and to the point. So can he be so sure that autographs are always shorter than the manuscripts?
I am not sure about (2) – why not unless you think only Yoda does it so.
I am all perplexed with (3). Here we were working so hard doing exegesis on why the authors would use such and such a word or phrase with such and such a tense or grammar, only to realize that it was an uncorrected mistake in the first place? Hard to swallow that for now.
Autograph – the authored manuscript, penned, dictated or endorsed by the author
Archetype – the copy of a text in a scriptorium or library used to make copies
Manuscript – handwritten copies of text.