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Assignments for History of the Bible

Recommended Methodology for Learning Experiences:

As a way to assist you in getting the most out of the learning experiences below, I suggest you do the following:

1) Read the required textbook reading first. Make a sincere effort at understanding the material in JTT especially with particular attention to material that relates to the questions.

2) Read through the questions in the assignment.

3) Check my website (under the appropriate class title) for any hints in regard to the questions. "Hints" refers to the notations I sometimes include that, in a sentence or two, give you the gist of the article and or the point of the question(s) I have asked you to read in conjunction with the required texts. If you do not have internet access, let me know right away so I can provide a hard copy of any hints.

4) Read any articles and complete the assignment.

Assignment 1  Read JTT Preface and Part 1.Also read the articles below in the order they are listed. Finally, in 6-10 pages, answer the questions that follow.

Louis Igou Hodges, "Evangelical Definitions of Inspiration: Critiques and a Suggested Solution," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37:1 (1994):99-114

Charles Ryrie, "Some Important Aspects of Biblical Inerrancy," Bibliotheca Sacra 136:541 (1979):16-24

Norman Geisler, "The Concept of Truth in the Inerrancy Debate," Bibliotheca Sacra 137:548 (1980):327-339

Craig Bahnsen, "The Inerrancy of the Autographa," in the book Inerrancy (ed. By Norman Geisler). This is therefore not just an article from a journal you may want to just loan the whole book; Bahnsen is dense at points, but there's nothing better on this subject.

John Woodbridge, "Recent Interpretations of Biblical Authority, Part 4:Is Biblical Inerrancy a Fundamentalist Doctrine?" Bibliotheca Sacra 142:568 (1985):292-305

1) What theological ingredients should a good definition of inspiration include (i.e., of what doctrinal ideas should the definition take account?).

2) Why is it important to include the human side of the idea of inspiration? How do we know the Bible wasn't just dictated by God?

3) Define inerrancy. Does inerrancy pertain to the original writings only or also to copies?

4) How does Bahnsen demonstrate that the inerrancy of the autographa is NOT a philosophical or theological cop out? How does he use SCRIPTURE to show the difference between the autographs and copies? (these two questions are interrelated)

5) What is "limited inerrancy"?

6) What is the synoptic problem and how can the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy be reconciled with this problem?

Assignment 2  Read JTT Part 2 and, in 4-7 pages, answer the following questions:

1) Define the terms "canon," canonicity," and "canonical"

2) Describe the process of determining which books were canonical with respect to both the Old and New Testaments.

3) How can the human aspect of recognizing the canon (i.e., voting which books were in or not at councils) be reconciled with our being sure the right books got in the canon (and that none were missed)?

4) Why was the canonicity of some books disputed? Give examples.

5) How do we know the canon is closed? Provide sound theological argumentation for this, not just your opinion.

6) How should we view / use non-canonical material?

Assignment 3  Read Parts 3 and 4 of JTT; review Appendix 1 ("Septuagint Manuscripts") from Part 1 of JTT.Read Finally, read the following from my website and the article listed:

[*Note Parts 3 and 4 of JTT are also to be read for Assignment 4]

Read the first several pages (on the development of the OT text from Qumran evidence) of my article "Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and the Sons of God." This article will be on my website until January 2001, when it is scheduled for publication. Only the discussion of what the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us about the history of the Old Testament text is relevant for this class.

Read my overview on "Types of Errors in OT manuscripts" posted on the website, msheiser.tripod.com/page1/.

Read John Martin, "Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel, Part 3:The Text of Samuel," Bibliotheca Sacra 141:563 (1984):209-222(This article may be tough to follow but don't worry about the details. My purpose is to get you to appreciate the value of LXX for finding the "original" text of the OT).

In 4-7 pages, answer the following questions:

1) What do the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us about the history of the OT text and "which Bible" was used by Jews living after the OT events were past history?

2) What is the LXX and why is it important to the above question?

3) What is textual criticism and what is its goal? What kinds of errors have crept into manuscripts over time?

4) When were vowels added to the OT text?

5) Find a scholarly commentary (or a couple; see the bibliography at the end of the Learning Agreement) on I Samuel (or use a study Bible's notes if they apply) and look up I Samuel 13:1.There is a significant textual problem in that verse what is it and what is perhaps the solution?

Assignment 4  Review or re-read Parts 3 and 4 of JTT.Then read the posting on my website and the articles noted below.Finally, read D.A. Carson's book on the King James Version Debate (also, read ahead in JTT to Appendix 3 in Part 5 it's on the KJV debate).Answer the questions that follow.

Read my overview of the "History of the NT Text" posted on the website.

Dan Wallace, "Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text," Bibliotheca Sacra 146:583 (1989):270-290

Dan Wallace, "The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?" Bibliotheca Sacra 148:590 (1991)

Dan Wallace, "Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism," Grace Theological Journal 12:1 (1991):21-49

In 6-10 pages, answer the following questions:

1) What are the major "families" of NT manuscripts? What are their main distinguishing characteristics? Which one underlies the King James Version?

2) What is the "TR" (Textus Receptus)?How many "TR's" are there (roughly), and why does this multiplicity undermine "TR only" advocates"?

3) Who are "Westcott and Hort" and why are they important to NT textual criticism? What does the word "eclectic" mean with respect to the debate over which text is best?

4) Give me five major arguments used by KJV only and Majority Text / TR only advocates to defend their position. What would Carson or Wegner say in response to them?

5) How would Carson argue that the Alexandrian text is NOT doctrinally corrupt?

6) With the aid of a commentary (see the bibliography), look up I John 5:7.There is a significant textual problem here what is it and what is the solution? What are the ramifications for KJV only advocates?

7) How does this whole debate over text families affect the doctrine of inspiration? How do you reconcile this doctrine with the multiplicity of textual evidence we have for both testaments?

Assignment 5  Read JTT Part 5 (concentrate on the material from "Why So Many Translations?" to the end), as well as D.A. Carson's book on the Inclusive Language Debate, answering the questions that follow in 4-7 pages:

1) What are some things that make more modern English translations (say, after 1901) different than the King James translation?

2) Summarize the varying translation philosophies explain them and compare them. Which philosophy underlies the NIV? The NASB? The KJV? The Message?

3) What exactly is the "inclusive language debate"?

4) What is Carson's position on the debate?

5) In what cases do YOU think it's permissible to translate a passage in "gender neutral" terms? In what cases should it be avoided? Give examples for both responses.

Using What You've Learned With Respect to Some Difficult Passages

Assignment 6  In 4-7 pages, summarize the debate over whether John 7:53-8:11 is original to the New Testament or not. I want you to summarize any relevant textual problems first, followed by the theological significance of including or excluding the passage. This passage is noted in most newer study Bibles, so start there and then refer to scholarly commentaries on the Gospel of John.

Assignment 7  Look up some scholarly commentaries on Jeremiah, and read anything in them on "the text of Jeremiah". You will find that there are TWO versions of Jeremiah left to us by manuscript discoveries and one is a good bit longer than the other.In 4-7 pages, summarize the manuscript evidence for Jeremiah and the above problem.Which version of Jeremiah is most commonly used in our English Bibles? Do you think this is a sound decision and why?

Assignment 8 - Find a scholarly commentary on I Samuel (or use a study Bible's notes if they apply) and look up the David and Goliath story.In 4-7 pages identify the significant textual problem underlying this whole story and articulate a solution (or solutions).Does the issue of more than one textual version of a biblical book or story impinge on the doctrine of inspiration in any way?