Monday, March 18, 2013

Avram's Fatal Exegetical Error: Failure to Engage in Textual Criticism of Acts 21

Avram argues that the New Testament actually prohibits Gentiles from circumcising (he says "Having said all that, the correct interpretation of what James meant when he said "observe no such thing" refers to the prohibition against Gentile circumcision").  Where does he get that?  From a passage that isn't actually in the Bible.  Allow me to explain.

If you read Acts 21 in Bible translations based on say Textus Receptus then Acts 21:25 reads like the following:

"But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

Yet if you look at a translation based upon older, more reliable manuscripts then it reads as follows:

"As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

See the difference?  That little gem of anti-Judaic scribal tampering is missing from the older text.  The more reliable text doesn't have "observe no such thing."  For evidence of what I'm saying, please refer to Acts 21:25 in the Codex Sinaiticus which is provided in the link in the previous post.

Avram has demonstrated what can happen when a scholar forgets to do a little textual criticism.  You've got to do your homework and read the oldest manuscripts.  The newer Bible translations have done this homework for you for the most part.  See the ESV, NIV, etc.  I'm pretty sure that they are all up to date.

To the Gentiles:  since you are part of the family, you really must get circumcised eventually (provided you understand that it is not circumcision which saves you).  Your reward for this is that you will be able to one day enter the Messianic Temple (a Temple which the Prophets say cannot be entered by those who remain uncircumcised in the flesh).  

1 comment:

  1. Excellent rebuking of exegetical error!