|Letters from the week of 23 - 30 October 2016
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Poetry and Church Buildings
The question you raise of changes made to the Bible in the first centuries is one that has been studied for 1400 years. Today we have good indications that the biblical texts of the 1st century have come down to us virtually unchanged, thanks to Mss found in the Dead Sea scrolls. As for the New Testament, it is fair to say that no ancient text has as many attestations. For instance, Caesar's Gallic Wars (which I had to study as a boy) comes to us with a 10th-century MS: no earlier text. The NT on the other hand comes to us in about 25,000 full and partial texts of the Imperial period. The critical Greek edition we use today is certainly the best-attested ancient text of the Roman era.
There are variations, of course. Jesus' "bloody sweat" in Gethsemane and the woman caught in adultery appear in a minority of texts. But overall there is a very high degree of concordance among the MSs we possess to date.
Depending upon carbon dating variations, the fragment of John's Gospel kept in the Rylands Library in Manchester, England, dates from the late 1st century to very early 2nd.
Bishop Pierre Whalon
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe
25 October 2016
A Book that will be of interest to those interested in Anglican church buildings: Building Jerusalem: Elegies on Parish Churches is an anthology of 95 poems inspired by Britain’s churches. This collection is designed especially for readers who treasure the richness of Britain’s ecclesiastical heritage. Taken in sum, these elegies remind us why it is important to preserve churches and to keep Anglican heritage alive. Building Jerusalem contains poems by such major figures as Simon Armitage, John Betjeman, Charles Causley, U. A. Fanthorpe, Geoffrey Hill, Philip Larkin, Andrew Motion, Peter Porter, R. S. Thomas, Anthony Thwaite, and Rowan Williams, and a host of other poets, and it carries the endorsements of Sir Simon Jenkins and Bevis Hillier.
“A church without a poem is a steeple without a bell, a choir without a hymn. Thank you Kevin Gardner for composing such a glorious sound, and from friends old and new. It will enhance every church visitor's bliss.” Sir Simon Jenkins
“A plangent, devastating elegy for a Church of England apparently in its death throes … One reads it with mingled admiration of the verse and sadness at the dereliction of so many English parish churches.” Bevis Hillier
Thank you for your work on Anglicans Online, my favorite ecclesiastical website.
Kevin J. Gardner
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Waco
Waco, Texas, USA
26 October 2016
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