The Codex Vaticanus

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The Codex Vaticanus


For my first badge I am going to be talking about Codex Vaticanus and why I believe it is one the most significant artifact to Biblical history (you can make an argument the Textus Receptus is as important because it’s the text from which The King James was translated). Discovered in the Vatican library in 1475, it is unknown exactly when this artifact arrived in the Vatican, however it is dated to the middle of the 4th century. It is believed that the Codex Vaticanus is nearly the oldest complete copy of the Greek Bible in existence (with the exception of a few missing parts from damage to the manuscript). It is written in uncial script (all capital letters) and there are no spaces between the words, a style known as scriptio continuo. While it may not be the most accurate texts, it is one that precedes all modifications found in later manuscripts. While critics argue the manuscript was probably set aside because of its many errors, this does not eliminate the fact that the Codex Vaticanus gives us insight into some of the earliest Christian ideals and writings in a nearly full collection. It is by no means a perfect text, but it is still a glimpse at the many influences of the time period. Additionally, the Codex Vaticanus is composed of 759 leaves containing both the Old and New Testament, which is more than can be said of the Textus Receptus, which only contains New Testament texts.

Utnapishtim and the Great Flood (Babylonia)

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As the story is related to Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim has a flood experience similar to that of Noah in the Bible. The beginning of the story says that Utnapishtim had become a god "by virtue of his goodness and obedience to the gods in saving all humankind and animals from the great flood", similar to how Noah was chosen or favored by God because he "was a good man, a man of integrity among his contemporaries, and he walked with God" (The Flood Myths 125, 121). The only difference is that this is coming from a polytheistic standpoint while Noah and the Ark is a monotheistic story. Essentially, Utnapishtim is the equivalent of Noah. The gods tell him to build a ship "ten dozen cubits high in length and ten dozen cubits wide", which again, is similar to God telling Noah to build the ark, but the measurements are different (The Flood Myths 126). It says "Ea, the god of waters who had perpetrated the flood, saw that it was much worse than he had planned", and I wondered if this might be a parallel to why God made the covenant with Noah after seeing the destruction he had caused (The Flood Myths 126). You also see here that Ea (god of waters) is the one who creates the flood, while the one and only God is responsible in Noah and the Ark. It then says, "Ishtar, the goddess of beauty, who had spoken evil in the assembly of the gods, causing the flood..." (The Flood Myths 126). Here we see a difference in the cause of the flood, which in Noah and the Ark is "the wickedness of man" (The Flood Myths 121). We see another difference later, when the ship of Utnapishtim lands on the summit of Mount Nisir as opposed to Mount Ararat. Again, when Utnapishtim waits only 7 days, instead of 40, to release a dove, and not a raven first, to see if the land has dried. Finally, it is the raven in this story, and not the dove, that lets the protagonist know that the land is finally dry.

Tata and Nena (Aztec)

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(couldn't find an actual picture of this story so we're going with this)

I liked this story even though it was short because I found I was able to make connections to more than just Noah and the Ark. Another polytheistic perspective, the story starts off by saying "the people grew very wicked and ignored the worship of the gods", similar to how to the beginning of the story of Noah says "the wickedness of man was great on the earth" (The Flood Myths 128, 121). It then says, "Tlaloc, the god of rains, announced that he was going to destroy the world with a flood"; Tlaloc assumes the role of God in Noah and the Ark (The Flood Myths 128). Just had God had favored Noah, "Tlaloc was fond of a devout couple, Tata and Nena", Tata and Nena is this case being the equivalent of Noah and his wife (The Flood Myths 128). However, there is no mention of them having any children. In this story they are instructed to hollow out a log and take two ears of corn, nothing else, and there is no mention of saving any animals. When the water is gone, they land on dry land, as opposed to Mount Ararat in Noah and the Ark. Now here's where things get fun. Once they landed, "they were so happy that they caught a fish and ate it, contrary to the orders of Tlaloc" (The Flood Myths 128). Is this a parallel to the original sin committed by Adam and Eve? Immediately after this, "Tlaloc then appeared to them and said, 'This is how I am repaid for saving your lives?' They were then changed into dogs" (The Flood Myths 128). Is this a parallel to Adam and Eve being cursed by God and cast out of the Garden of Eden after committing the original sin? I know the timeline isn't the same, but the similarities are definitely there. Very different from the ending of Noah and the Ark, this story ends in the gods destroying the world and entering the era of the Fifth Sun.

The Flood Myth of the Incas

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(I promise this will make sense)

Yet another polytheistic story, it begins during a time "when humankind was cruel, barbaric, and murderous, similar to the wickedness of man mentioned at the beginning of the story of Noah and the Ark (The Flood Myths 134). It goes on to say "In the highlands of Peru there were two shepherd brothers who were of impeccable character"; these two brothers assume the role of Noah (The Flood Myths 134). These shepherds tended to a pack of llamas who told the brothers that "the stars had told them that a great flood was coming that would destroy all creatures on earth", as opposed to God telling Noah directly in the book of Genesis. Rather than build an ark, "The two brothers and their families decided to seek safety in the caves in the highest mountain", along with their llamas (The Flood Myths 134). It says it "rained for months", which is relatively vague compared the precise 40 days given in the story of Noah and the Ark (The Flood Myths 134). After the rain had stopped, "Inti, the sun-god, appeared once again and smiled, causing the waters to evaporate", which is different from Noah and the Ark, in which God subsides the water with wind and Noah must wait for the earth to dry on its own. Once the earth was dry, "the shepherds and their families repopulated the earth", similar to how Noah and his descendants repopulate the earth. A fun little thing at the end, it says "Human beings live everywhere: llamas, however, remember the flood and prefer to live only in the highlands" (The Flood Myths 134). Looking at the Bible as strictly a text, we have talked a lot about how Bible stories were a means for the authors to explain what was going on in the world around them and any observations they might've made. Given that context, I interpreted this last part as an explanation for an observation the author might've made about llamas during the time this story was written.

Luke 9:55-56


Verse
King James Version
New Living Translation
Oxford Study Revised English Bible
Luke 9:55-56
“55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village”
“55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 So they went on to another village”
“55 But he turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went on to another village”

For this discussion, I have chosen Luke 9:55-56 to compare between three different bibles: the King James Version, the New Living Translation, and the Oxford Study Revised English Bible. To provide context, Luke 9:53-54 says “And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” (Unbound KJV Bible). In response to what James and John had suggested in Luke 9:54, verse 55 follows. The general message here is the same across the three bibles; Jesus rebukes them for what they said and move on to the next village. However, both the New Living Translation and the Oxford Study Revised English Bible omit the words spoken directly by Christ, which appear in red ink in the King James Version. In doing so the New Living Translation and the Oxford Study Revised English Bible take away from the main theme of the gospels, which is that Christ was sent to earth to save the human race. It’s ironic actually because the whole point of the book of Luke (and all the gospels really) are to record the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the words spoken directly by Christ in verse 56 are essentially his mission on earth. So while these differences in translation don’t skew the literal message found within the two verses, they take away from reinforcing the overarching theme present in all of the gospels.

The Gospels

Multiple versions of the gospels exist because each gospel appeals to a different audience. Matthew was writing to the Jews, Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Gentiles, and John to all men (a very general audience). In appealing to a different audience, each gospel is tailored to the needs of that audience so that it may effectively convey its message. Matthew focuses on Old Testament sermons and the law to appeal to the Jews (the Jewish people put a lot of faith in the Old Testament), Mark focuses on Jesus' miracles to appeal to the Romans (who were more concerned with what Jesus did than what he said), Luke focuses on the parables to appeal to the Gentiles (shows that Jesus has mercy even on those who are not Jewish; gives hope to the “outcasts”), and John focuses on Jesus' teachings to appeal to a more general audience.

The problem with eye witness accounts and accounts written after the fact is that it’s difficult to have an absolute truth; the fact that there are four gospels to begin with is proof enough. Take the Gospel of John for example: 93% of the material found in the Gospel of John cannot be found in any other gospel. With eye witness accounts, it’s difficult to avoid bias. Even if four people all watch the same thing, each person is going to get something a little different out of it. While the general story of the four gospels are all the same, each one appeals to a different audience and therefore the presentation of information is bias. Each one highlights certain aspects, while dimming or omitting others. Not to mention that stories are often embellished for dramatic effect. The issue with accounts written after the fact is that memory is not as accurate as we think. The gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus was thirty years old when he began his ministry, and the first gospel (Mark) was written in 70 A.D, leaving about a 40-year gap. Information easily could’ve been warped in the author’s mind or otherwise forgotten all together. Additionally, because the oral tradition was still in place at the time, a 40-year gap before anything was written down is basically a 40-year game of cultural telephone, in which all sorts of miscommunications could have occurred.

Matthew 12:24: “But when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul prince of devils that this man drives the devils out.’”
Mark 3:22: “The scribes, too, who had come down from Jerusalem, said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and, ‘He drives out demons by the prince of demons.’”
Luke 11:15: “but some of them said, ‘It is by Beelzebul prince of demons that he drives the demons out.’”
John 7:20: “The crowd answered, ‘You are possessed! Who wants to kill you?’”

Not everyone saw the coming of Christ as “good news”. All the gospels make some sort of accusatory claim towards Jesus, and all but the gospel of John reference Beelzebul specifically to describe Jesus. Many believed that Christ’s actions of divine healing were not divine at all, rather the work a demon. They did not believe he was the Son of God, but possessed by the “prince of demons”. The things that Christ did during his time on earth were outside of the realm of comprehension, and many were very skeptical and filled with doubt.

Heresy

According to the Merriam – Webster dictionary: “the thought and practice especially of various cults of late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation comes through gnosis”

According to the Merriam – Webster dictionary: “adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma; denial of a revealed truth by a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church; an opinion or doctrine contrary to church dogma”

Wait! Don’t destroy those texts:
  1. They provide an example of what heresy looks like – what not to follow.
  2. They highlight/validate divine scripture – how can you have divine scripture without its opposite to compare?
  3. They have historical significance – reflect the context in which they were written (location, time period, current events, etc.).
  4. They show a different perspective – provides an opportunity to identify the fault in another’s thinking and point them in the right direction.
  5. There’s knowledge to be gained – contain information not found in any other religious text.

The Book of Revelation

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(Revelation Timeline of Events)

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(Revelation Timeline of Events)

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(Revelation Timeline of Events)

The three images above are all variations of timelines of the book of Revelation; each timeline highlights certain themes/events. All three timelines make a point to mention the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials (bowls/plagues), and the beginning of a new era (main ideas/themes). As far as representation of the text goes, the second image is the most accurate because it is the most detailed of the three timelines. For example, it is the only timeline that includes the address to the seven churches (Revelation 2.1 - 3.22). The first and third images focus more on the big picture themes and leave out the fine details found in the second image. The third image is the simplest of the three and probably the easiest to follow: it is the least detailed (only has the main ideas/themes), it has very little text compared to the other two, and it is minimally illustrated. The second image can be thought of as a "happy medium" between the first and the third: it focus on the main themes in a slightly more detailed fashion without being too complicated, while maintaining illustrations similar to those found in the second image; there is a balance between the illustrations and the text. Additionally, the illustrations break the themes into groups, making it easier to understand.

Multiple versions of the gospels exist because each gospel appeals to a different audience. Matthew was writing to the Jews, Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Gentiles, and John to all men (a very general audience). In appealing to a different audience, each gospel is tailored to the needs of that audience so that it may effectively convey its message. Matthew focuses on Old Testament sermons and the law to appeal to the Jews (the Jewish people put a lot of faith in the Old Testament), Mark focuses on Jesus' miracles to appeal to the Romans (who were more concerned with what Jesus did than what he said), Luke focuses on the parables to appeal to the Gentiles (shows that Jesus has mercy even on those who are not Jewish; gives hope to the “outcasts”), and John focuses on Jesus' teachings to appeal to a more general audience.
The problem with eye witness accounts and accounts written after the fact is that it’s difficult to have an absolute truth; the fact that there are four gospels to begin with is proof enough. Take the Gospel of John for example: 93% of the material found in the Gospel of John cannot be found in any other gospel. With eye witness accounts, it’s difficult to avoid bias. Even if four people all watch the same thing, each person is going to get something a little different out of it. While the general story of the four gospels are all the same, each one appeals to a different audience and therefore the presentation of information is bias. Each one highlights certain aspects, while dimming or omitting others. Not to mention that stories are often embellished for dramatic effect. The issue with accounts written after the fact is that memory is not as accurate as we think. The gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus was thirty years old when he began his ministry, and the first gospel (Mark) was written in 70 A.D, leaving about a 40-year gap. Information easily could’ve been warped in the author’s mind or otherwise forgotten all together. Additionally, because the oral tradition was still in place at the time, a 40-year gap before anything was written down is basically a 40-year game of cultural telephone, in which all sorts of miscommunications could have occurred.
Matthew 12:24: “But when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul prince of devils that this man drives the devils out.’”
Mark 3:22: “The scribes, too, who had come down from Jerusalem, said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and, ‘He drives out demons by the prince of demons.’”
Luke 11:15: “but some of them said, ‘It is by Beelzebul prince of demons that he drives the demons out.’”
John 7:20: “The crowd answered, ‘You are possessed! Who wants to kill you?’”
Not everyone saw the coming of Christ as “good news”. All the gospels make some sort of accusatory claim towards Jesus, and all but the gospel of John reference Beelzebul specifically to describe Jesus. Many believed that Christ’s actions of divine healing were not divine at all, rather the work a demon. They did not believe he was the Son of God, but possessed by the “prince of demons”. The things that Christ did during his time on earth were outside of the realm of comprehension, and many were very skeptical and filled with doubt.