Abstract/Details

“Those Who Love Me Will Keep My Word”: Narrative Variants in New Testament Gospel Stories

Schrader Polczer, Elizabeth.   Duke University ProQuest Dissertations & Theses,  2023. 30418734.

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation examines dozens of “narrative variants” preserved in copies of ancient New Testament gospel manuscripts. In antiquity every copy was made by hand, so even texts understood to hold sacred status were always susceptible to meaningful change. Although New Testament textual criticism has traditionally sought to recover a singular text of the gospels, this study argues that early Christianity was in fact centered in an environment of interpretive expansions and editorial revisions, rendering such a recovery impossible in many passages. In antiquity, gospel stories were regularly altered by a single letter, a single word, an added or omitted phrase, an altered phrase, a rewritten section, or the revision of an entire book. The narrative variants highlighted here are limited to those preserved in gospel manuscripts copied no later than the fifth century, whether in Greek, Coptic, Latin, and/or Syriac. The study also examines the reception of story variations in artwork, liturgy, and ancient quotations of the gospel text; various modern scholars’ attempts to establish the “original text” in these passages are also surveyed. Three goals are in view: to demonstrate that 1) early Christian copying emerged at the confluence of Second Temple Jewish and Roman-era literary practices, both of which were centered in textual change; 2) consequently, the exact narrative authored by an evangelist is sometimes uncertain, despite the best efforts of modern scholars; and 3) even in cases where the direction of textual change is reasonably certain, a tendency to create narrative variants was present from the beginning. The dissertation concludes that a wide variety of forms of gospel stories were understood as sacred in the first centuries of Christianity, that narrative multiplicity is inherent to the Christian gospels, and that this multiplicity should be embraced by Biblical scholars.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Religious history;
Biblical studies
Classification
0320: Religious history
0321: Biblical studies
Identifier / keyword
Gospels; New Testament; Textual criticism
Title
“Those Who Love Me Will Keep My Word”: Narrative Variants in New Testament Gospel Stories
Author
Schrader Polczer, Elizabeth
Number of pages
317
Publication year
2023
Degree date
2023
School code
0066
Source
DAI-A 85/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
ISBN
9798380348041
Advisor
Knust, Jennifer
Committee member
Goodacre, Mark; Johnson, William A.; Ehrman, Bart D.; Denzey Lewis, Nicola; Wasserman, Tommy
University/institution
Duke University
Department
Religion
University location
United States -- North Carolina
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
30418734
ProQuest document ID
2865982198
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
https://www.proquest.com/docview/2865982198