Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.
Christians falsified more consciously than Jews
We have to bear in mind in the first place a relevant fact: of no Gospel, of any writing of the New Testament, and of course of any biblical text, we have an original, even though until the century of the historical Enlightenment it was affirmed that they had the original of the Gospel of Mark, even in duplicate, one in Venice and the other in Prague and both originals in a language in which none of the evangelists wrote: Latin.
Even the first copies are missing. We only have copies of copies of copies, and new ones constantly appear. In 1967 there were more than 1,500 manuscripts of the Greek Old Testament and 5,236 of the New Testament. Although, with some frequency, an item has been mistakenly recorded several times, very few of them contain the complete New Testament and most of them are relatively recent. Only the papyri date back to earlier times, some of them to the 2nd and 3rd centuries, but they are very fragmentary: of the oldest only a few words are left (John 18, 31-33, and 37- 38).
Since in antiquity books were only reproduced by hand, falsifications were simpler and, while copying, at any time changes in the text could be done: enter new paragraphs, make suppressions or even complete them. In the manuscripts of the New Testament, errors, mistakes for lack of attention or ignorance as well as conscious falsifications arose in this way, sometimes unintentionally and other times intentionally; the latter especially in the 1st and 2nd centuries, when the New Testament did not yet have canonical validity and there was not the slightest qualm, as many other falsifications show us, in modifying the text.
The copyists, the editors and the glossators intervened constantly. Some passages were suppressed at will, others were enlarged; the text was reordered or shortened. It became uniform, polished, harmonised and paraphrased; confusion and degeneration increased and the field became a jungle of conflicting versions (Lietzmann); a chaos that today makes it impossible for us to establish, in many places with certainty or at least probability, what was the original text (Knopf).
If many Christians are hardly satisfied with these undeniable facts, so much so it is irritating that the books of their ‘inerrant’ Bible are false. That imputation, either by the author or in the course of its transmission, is called pseudoepigraphy.
Some falsified Christian works, especially those of the most ancient times, may have been done in good faith, with good intentions, and strictly speaking they are not forgeries or crimes from the psychological or subjective viewpoint. But objectively they are still falsifications or forgeries. However, nobody could or would want to call a spade a spade as it would disfigure the face of supposedly inerrant writings inspired by God.
In any case, the Old Testament is better off in comparison with the New and the early Christian literature as the Jews, especially those of earlier times, were much less versed in falsification and all that this implies. The pseudepigraphs of the ancient Jews did not yet emerge in an aura marked by the constant struggle against the heretics; of mutual suspicion, and corrosive distrust.
For that reason they were not attacked but rather received with enthusiasm. Those peoples were barely prepared for counterfeits, much less did they take into account the potential of counterfeiting. The reproaches of counterfeiting were not generalized for a long time among the Jews as they would later be among the Christians, when each of the many sects falsified to impose their theories of faith on the great Church, and this, by means of counter-falsifications—sometimes even by the simple method of destroying the contrary writings.
However, as hearing about falsifications became a constant, it is difficult for someone to have falsified in good faith. The redaction of a ‘true’ religious pseudoepigraphy is ‘quite improbable’ and it is evident that ‘in the Christian sphere it occupies an essentially smaller space than in the Jew or the pagan’ (Speyer). That is to say: the Christians falsified more. They were the ones who did it the most.
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