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The Problem of “J, E P, D & Q”

Updated on February 27, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

The Lack of Original Autographs

Dr. Bart Ehrman is one of the atheist challengers to the biblical record. Throughout his books he talks continually about how we only have copies of copies of copies of biblical words.

In essence he is right. We do not possess any original autograph of the biblical books, that we know of. Dr. Craig Evans, who does debate Dr. Ehrman on occasion, tells us that the New Testament original autographs probably expired in approx. The 3rd of 4th centuries AD. According to him, these originals lasted a lot longer than anyone has given them credit.

But it is true, the biblical pages that we read today are not the original manuscripts he disciples and their companions wrote. Nor are the pages of the Old Testament the original copies of the words the ancient biblical writers penned when listening to the Holy Spirit.

Don't get upset, God has promised to preserve his word and those promises are found in Psalm 12: 6-7; 33:11; 100:5 and more verses. What you read in the Bible today, in most versions, are the original words of God taken down by his biblical authors.

The Copying Charge is Made

Because many scholars accept the words of Dr. Ehrman, and others who claim that he original words of God are lost to us, they begin their search for biblical source material. This behavior of course, leads many to false sources found in ancient texts that sound similar to the biblical texts.

Throughout modern biblical scholarship history to the present day, the idea has arisen that the biblical authors copied those secular ancient texts at different points in history. For some Old Testament events, these scholars claim that the biblical elites and priests copied from Babylonian myths.

This copying was said to be done roughly between the 7th to 5th centuries BC. They hold on to this view even though the ancient Hebrews had no reputation for copying other nation’s stories and making them their own. And they produce no evidence that actual copying by the Hebrews took place.

Also, these scholar charge that he New Testament gospels copied from ancient religions from Persia and other countries and gave Jesus the same birth details as Mithras and other ancient false gods.

Again, these charges are laid despite the lack of evidence and that copying would put the biblical writers in disobedience to God who said, thou shalt not bear false witness. The copying charges are without merit.

The Door is Opened to Alternative Sources

Because scholars reject the divine source of the Bible and make the Bible a collection of human thought and work, they have opened the door to the idea that the biblical authors copied their material from other human sources.

They have named these sources J, E, P, D & Q, with Q being the source document for the New Testament gospels. The other letters are strictly applied to the Old Testament books especially the Pentateuch.

We already know that certain books outside of the Bible have been mentioned in biblical pages. These books are usually found in 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles. The authors of those works clearly point out that the deeds of certain kings can be found in more detail in those ancient writings.

There is nothing wrong with mentioning those books. But there is a problem when scholars decide to read into the biblical texts and claim that those ancient works were the source material for biblical books. No such intent was ever mentioned by God in the Bible.

Despite this fact, scholars continue to create human source material for the Bible’s content. This includes the New Testament although that portion of the Bible does not mention other sources for their materials.

The Problem with J, E, P, D & Q

While these and other supposed source material is accepted by many in the biblical scholarship and academic communities, there is a problem that arises when one decides to do a very in depth scrutiny of those alleged source materials.

The main problem is that no ancient writer, including the Church Fathers, no ancient manuscripts allude to, mention, or even hint at the existence of these supposed biblical source documents.

Nothing contemporary to the biblical books has been found either that even talks about the biblical authors using different source material other than God and the Holy Spirit.

If they did, it is assured that someone other than the biblical authors would take the time to document those efforts. If they thought the Bible was in error, they would take great pains to see that it was discredited and have their works sent throughout the known world to stop the liars from profiting from their work.

It would be impossible to stop that effort as it would take place over the different historical eras by anyone who disbelieved the Bible.

For Q the story is quite the same. There are no manuscripts from the 1st century onward detailing its existence, who wrote it, how it came to be and so on. There is nothing in the historical record at anytime that Q even existed. As mentioned earlier, even all the Church Fathers failed to make mention of this important document.

In other words, Q is a complete fabrication and only exists in the minds of those scholars who think it actually could have and should have existed. Q, like J, E, P, D and other source letters never existed.

Some Final Words

The reason we d not have to worry about human source documents is that the complete Bible is the whole word of God. It was transmitted by him to those men who took down his words exactly as told and did not deviate from their divine instructions.

There was no copying the myths and fables of neighboring secular nations because those stories did not hold God’s words. They also were copies of the Bible, transformed into a format hat pleased the deceived secular min.

Also, scholars ignore God’s promise to preserve his words. We do not need to have the original autographs to have God’s words today. We have them in various English and other language versions right now and they do not differ from the ancient texts for the most part.

In the case of the last few verses of the book of Mark which are not included in an accepted ancient manuscript. We challenge the authenticity of that manuscript, not the inclusion in the modern Bible.

God’s words came from God, they have not changed and we have them today for all people to read and see how they are to live.

© 2019 David Thiessen


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