Just when you think you’ve got it figured out

Just when you think you’ve got this Christianity thing all figured out, someone comes along with research that shows how much we still have to learn about faith, the Bible, following Jesus and being serious Christians!

Elizabeth Schrader, PhD candidate at Duke University, has shared her work on John 11 from the Papyrus 66 Codex.  She raises a huge question, what if this story is NOT the same as the Mary and Martha story from Luke 10?  This is because there are obvious editorial corrections and changes in this text, which is the oldest surviving text of John’s gospel in existence.

The image below shows one of the issues:  In John 11:1 The Greek character Θ (theta) is clearly inserted in the second word, after the character “ι” (iota) is erased.  This changes “µαρία” (Maria – Mary) to “µαρθα” (MarTHa).

There is enough question for us to ponder the possibility that “Martha” was edited into the story sometime in the early 3rd century AD when in fact the Lazarus of John 11 and Mary, his sister are actually different people than the Mary and Martha that invited Jesus into their home in Luke 10 (Lazarus is never mentioned in this passage and it is called “HER” house – which would never have happened if she had a brother.)

It leads to the potential / possible / perhaps likely conclusion that this passage might well read much differently than the way we’ve always thought it does: (And fair warning, the “what if” that this is all raising is already causing heads to explode in some of the more stringent, literalist, rigid areas of Christendom. which ain’t necessarily a bad thing.)

Soon to be Dr. Schrader’s video work is detailed and involved, but wow, it’s worth your time!

If you don’t have time for that, Diana Butler Bass just preached a sermon at this year’s Wild Goose Festival here in NC that talks about this very same “what if.”  It’s also mind blowing, and well worth your time.  What if the very same “MARIA – Mary” that gives only the 3rd confession that Jesus is the Christ in all the Gospels (the first two are Peter) is in fact Mary Magdalene – Mary the “Tower” (Magdala means “tower” in arabic.)  Peter the rock and Mary the Tower as the examples of faith set out for all of us to follow?  Hmmm… now that’s definitely worth our time.

Just when we think we’ve got this Bible thing all figured out, huh?  Someone comes along and rocks our world again showing us we may very well have it not quite right yet.