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Comment Re: Why the exemptions? (Score 2) 271

Well, this IS veering off-topic, but...

What actually constitutes the original?

The "original" is probably lost forever, true. But unimportant. We don't have the autograph copies of Homer's Odyssey and Iliad, Caesar's Gallic Wars, or any other ancient document, either, but there's no real dispute about what they say.

The New Testament, on the other hand, is the best-attributed document from antiquity, comparable in size to the writings of Homer, with 100x the documentary evidence. The work in the 19th, 20th, and 21st century textual criticism of the texts, based on still-extant early manuscripts and papyri, on early translations, and on the citations of the early church writers, has produced a consensus critical document that is source of most of the modern translations. (Look up Nestle-Aland 28 and UBS-5.) The citations of the early writers are quite important--with them alone, all but about 3 verses of the entire NT can be verified.

This results in a level of certainty approaching or exceeding 99% of the accuracy of the transmitted/reconstructed text, as well as validating that the Textus Receptus on which the KJV is based is STILL approximately 95% correct. And those places where there is still any uncertainty do not affect any doctrinal statements.

There's no question anymore that the documents said exactly what they say, and no question remaining of "errors creeping in over thousands of copies".

The Old Testament is harder. The texts in the Masoretic tradition were shown by the find of the Dead Sea Scrolls to have been meticulously and faithfully transmitted, even though the tradition prescribed destroying the original when the copy was completed. Further, the Septuagint, a translation into Greek by Jewish scholars approximately 220 BC, gives us a good idea of the complete OT text from before Christ. These are the major basis for the critical OT text.

Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, but his words weren't recorded until many years or decades later, in Latin and Greek.

Jesus certainly spoke Aramaic, that being the language in use in Judea at the time. He certainly ALSO read, understood, and probably spoke Hebrew, as that was part of the religious training of Jewish men. He probably also spoke some Greek, since that was the language of the Roman occupation and Jesus had no problem talking to Roman soldiers or to Pontius Pilate, who probably didn't go out of their way to learn Aramaic. He may even have spoken a little Coptic, since he spent part of his early childhood in Egypt.

The writings of the NT as extant are entirely Greek, with occasional Aramaic words thrown in. The earliest NT writing is probably 1 Thessalonians, by Paul of Tarsus, from the mid-50s.

However, Mark was probably being written about the same time, since Mark apparently predates Luke, and Luke obviously predates Acts, and Acts dead-ends at about the year 67. The most likely explanation of the abrupt termination of Acts is that it had been brought up to date, and there was nothing to add. Acts is also in many places an eyewitness account, as testified by the use of the pronoun "we".

Furthermore, the hypothetical "Q" document, if it existed, must ALSO have been extant by the time of the composition of Luke. That puts the recording of the sayings, actions and life of Jesus at no more than about 25 years after they occurred, well within the living memory and testimony of eyewitnesses, in a culture where memorization and oral transmission of tradition was more practiced than today. After all, if we want to remember something, we write it down--or email it to ourselves...

There are no texts attributed to Jesus.

Well, there are, but there's no reason to think they are genuine. The documentary evidence is much too late.

And most of his Apostles couldn't write, either.

The Jewish men were probably the most uniformly well-educated peasants in the entire world, as they were religiously required to be able to read Hebrew. But in any case, Matthew was a tax collector, Peter, James and John were businessmen, and Mark's family was associated with the High Priest. There is NO reason to assume they were not at least marginally literate.

But that's beside the point, anyway. Most writers used secretaries; Paul had at least two, and Mark was traditionally writing for Peter. It was true in the Roman world, and doubly so in Judaism, where there was an entire business class of Scribes.

It's hypothesized that the words of Jesus were recorded in a document, known as Q, from which the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke borrowed from. While the Gospel of Thomas (not in the Bible) takes the form of a document like Q, the actual document hasn't been found and might not exist. The Gospel of John is a later document, many decades after Jesus.

The Gospel of John, at least, claims to be an eyewitness account. Actually, the EARLIEST fragment of NT text we have is a small piece of John, dated about 125AD and found in Egypt. The traditional location of composition of the Gospel of John is Ephesus, so the current approximate date of composition is about 95AD, although it could be somewhat earlier. It is uniformly agreed that the other three Gospels came BEFORE John, and more or less in a group, and must therefore be 1st century accounts.

"Q" may not ever have existed outside the memories of the eyewitnesses.

The Gospel of Thomas is dated to the mid-to-late 2nd century, and has no possibility of being an eyewitness record.

There are also many early Gospels that weren't included in the Bible, including the Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Philip, and Judas. These decisions were made by the early Catholic Church.

The decisions of which documents should be included or excluded actually predate the Catholic Church, except in the "small-c" sense of "catholic", or "universal". The canon was established in practice before the schism between the East and West churches. The Gospels, as "memoirs of the apostles" (Justin Martyr), were in common use in the early 2nd century. Collections of Pauline epistles were circulating by the end of the 1st century. The process of canonization essentially rubber-stamped the value the early church placed on this set of documents; they were useful, the others were not. Before 253AD, the canon had already taken form, with the exception of 4 small books to add (James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John) and one to remove--and if you WANT to read "The Shepherd Of Hermas", look it up online. There are still people who read it devotionally.

These decisions were not entirely arbitrary. The following criteria seem to have been followed, although they may have been retroactively derived:

  • Apostolic Origin
  • Universal Acceptance
  • Liturgical Use
  • Consistent Message

There isn't a one to one equivalence of words from Hebrew, Latin, or Greek to modern English or any other modern language. There are also differences in the meaning of words and idioms that would have made sense at the time of authorship but don't have meaning today. There is a lot of flexibility for a translator to try to convey the meaning and make the text understandable in modern languages. Any translation of that scale is a unique work of the translator, so it's legitimate for it to be copyrighted. Some great authors have contributed their efforts to translate the Bible, including Tolkien.

And so we have the rich multitude of translations available today in English. Everything from "formal equivalence", which attempts to achieve word-for-word exactitude, through "dynamic equivalence", which aims for thought-for-thought conveyance of meaning. The New American Standard Bible is on the "formal" end of the spectrum; the Contemporary English Version is on the "dynamic" end; and the New International Version is somewhere in the middle. Having so many translations is a GOOD thing, because it's NOT possible to translate EXACTLY what the original said. Multiple translations capture nuances.

Also, if you are looking for a modern, public-domain translation, the World English Bible is fairly good.

The loss of the Great Library of Alexandria probably took some of the manuscripts with it, and was a tremendous loss to history. Really, it's a matter of faith.

I seriously doubt that the autographs of the NT documents were part of the Great Library. More likely, they were cherished to death by individuals. But they're not necessary! The text is there, and the main message is clear:

We are separated from God by sin.
Jesus took the penalty for our sin.
We can be reunited with God.

That is where faith happens: Believe It, Or Not.

Comment Re:Umm... (Score 1) 380

They actually know better, and acknowledge it in their advertising, although subtly.

"Own it today on Blu-Ray or DVD!"

They have advertised the product for PURCHASE, not LEASE. It's OWNED by the buyer, not LICENSED to them. After making that statement in their advertising, they can not enforce a "non-transferable license" unless we LET them.

eBooks SHOULD cost less, because costs of printing, distribution and storage are effectively ZERO. Previous analysis of this demonstrates that approximately 65% of the cost of a hardback is eliminated by the eBook ( So a hardback priced at $25 should be about $9 as an eBook.

I refer you to Best ebook sellers on the planet, in my opinion.

If the publishers were selling eBooks at a 65% markdown compared to their hardbacks, they would see less piracy. Baen books are hardly ever found on piracy sites, according to the publisher.

I am fully in favor of the first sale doctrine and the existence of a used market in eBooks and other digital media. But I also see the arguments opposing duplication. There is no question in MY mind that I OWN these piles of bits; but until the technology catches up, what I see as the ethical choice is to DELETE materials I transfer to others, to deal directly with the original publishers when I cannot ensure my seller is deleting their copy, and only do business with companies whose business practice reflects my own opinions. Like Baen.

It's the same problem that the printing press created: "anybody" could print and sell these books. It's what the copyright developed to control. By current copyright law, Ben Franklin was a pirate.

Comment Re: Errrrrrr, NO (Score 1) 313

> Not owning a firearm does preclude you from being part of a "well regulated militia"

Errrrrrr, NO.

According to US law, you probably ARE in the militia. If you are an able-bodied male, 17-45 years of age, and are or intend to become a citizen, or you are a female in the National Guard, YOU ARE THE MILITIA.

See "10 U.S. Code  311 - Militia: composition and classes"

Subtitle A - General Military Law

                                Ãf 311. Militia: composition and classes

                                (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

                                (b) The classes of the militia are --

                                (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia;


                                (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia."

As a member of the national militia, do you own a weapon or weapons similar to standard military issue, and are you familiar and proficient with their operation and maintenance?

Comment Re:Yeah, um, not so much (Score 1) 819

And I'm sure the women who've been raped, robbed and murdered in their own homes feel that their treatment by law enforcement has been stellar and that their tormentors are all brought to justice.

Not as much as the women who've been robbed and murdered in their own homes by their own firearms. There are 2.7 times more of them. And certainly not as much as the women who have been murdered by people they knew with their own firearms. Thee are 21 TIMES more of them.

Not logically possible. The statistic the first poster posits must necessarily include EVERY member of the statistic the second poster posits, and therefore CANNOT be smaller. Any set can not be smaller than one of its own subsets.

Just sayin'.

Comment Growing up, 1977 (Score 2) 784

When I was 11, my friend and I rode the bus downtown 15 miles each way, missed the start of "Star Wars", hung around for an hour and a half for the next showing, watched the movie, and rode the bus home.

30 mile round trip, 6 hours unsupervised, and we had no trouble at all. And as many have pointed out, the world is even safer now.

Yes, I know that "Anecdote is not Data". However, it is clear that:

* The Meitivs did NOT break current law, which does not cover outdoors (Why? The ones who made the law wanted to let their kids go to the park, that's what I'm thinking...);
* The police will not accept the word of a child that they do not need any help and are on their way home;
* The government will interrogate our children without our permission or presence because they are in school.

I'm on the Meitiv's side here, obviously.

Comment Re:Microsoft? (Score 2) 144

"Unfortunately, Rachel's maneuver placed the car in the intersection, going the wrong way. Her sudden appearance in the cross-lanes caused cars to veer in all three dimensions and windshields in at least a half dozen cars turned blue as the auto-pilots went into spastic fault-mode."

from "Let's Go to Prague!", by John Ringo.

In the Honorverse timeline, this is about 4020 AD.

Comment Re:The Average Cat (Score 1) 66

Well, I did read the article. I did not immediately watch the video, and now that I have, I'm still not impressed.

The strength of the tool is NOT the averaging of multitudes of shapes, which is what is essentially advertised. Instead, it is in finding images in the set that conform to what the user selects: filtering, not combining.

So, the "average" of blue butterfly wings with this shape is that they are blue and have this shape. You're not AVERAGING, you're FILTERING.

Or, given this "average" nose, find the "average" ears.

This tool is not as demonstrated primarily an averaging tool, but a filtering tool to eliminate everything that is not arbitrarily close to the arbitrary average. I'm sure there are cases where that is useful, but it's NOT the described function.

Automatically correlating equivalency points is nice, but not new. Morphing between the images is fun, but not new. Autoalignment of equivalency points is nice, but not new.

Putting it all in one tool is good, though.

Comment The Average Cat (Score 3, Insightful) 66

So...what the software demonstrates is that if you line up all the pictures of cats by centering them on their noses, you will CLEARLY see...

...that the average cat has a nose.

The rest is blurry and remarkably uninformative.

There needs to be a LOT more intelligence, either machine or human, applied to this before it is remarkable.

Comment You're IN the militia (Score 2, Informative) 1633

You're probably ALREADY serving in the militia, by US law:

Subtitle A - General Military Law

                Ã 311. Militia: composition and classes

                (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

                (b) The classes of the militia are --

                (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia;


                (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia."

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