Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Numbers and Genealogies

It must be said that in Sacred Scripture, according to the truth, nothing is contrary. But if some things appear to be contrary, either they are not understood or they are corrupted by the fault of the scribes, which is clear especially in numbers and genealogies. And so those things which cannot be determined the Apostle wills to be shunned.

Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to Titus, sect. 99 [in Commentaries on St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Baer, tr. St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, IN: 2007)]. The reference is to Titus 3:9.


  1. John Farrell6:30 AM

    Fascinating. Proving once again that, no, Bart Ehrman was not actually the first person to realize that the copying of Scripture entailed (gasp) ... errors.

  2. branemrys8:35 AM

    Exactly. People often talk as if people prior to the modern era had no capacity for textual criticism or critical scholarship; but, in fact, they were well aware of the issues (probably more aware than most moderns, given that many of them would have often experienced the problems with copying at first hand), and people like Origen actually laid some of the foundations for it. (Aquinas, while doing it only on a small scale, did some excellent work in it -- the most famous and extensively developed, but not only, example being his proof that the Liber de Causis wasn't Aristotelian.) If they were at any disadvantages it was in having almost always to do it from scratch with limited resources; to the extent we surpass them we do it more in scale than in spirit.


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