Monthly Archives: July 2010

Forms of Non-Theism

A previous post showed the varieties of belief and temperament that one could have as both a religious person and an atheist. This post looks at the flip side of that and considers some of the nuances that one could have independent of any religious practice or sense. Attitudes towards god or gods alone.

As before my terminology may be idiosyncratic, but it reflects distinctions that I think are useful. On the other hand they are not to be treated as categories that lie exclusive to one another. I inhabit many of these categories simultaneously.

Material pantheist – Someone who believes that  God is simply another way of referring to the physical cosmos.

Passive Agnostic – Someone who doesn’t think about and couldn’t much care about the existence of God.

Agnostic – Someone who feels they do not have enough information to make a choice about belief in God.

Antignostic – (sometimes called ‘strong agnosticism’, or ‘positive agnosticism’) Someone who believes that there cannot be enough knowledge to determine if God exists or not. An antignostic differs from an agnostic because an agnostic feels that they don’t know (but others may), an antignostic believes it is impossible to know.

Ignostic – Someone who believes that that the very notion of God is meaningless, and therefore any talk of God is similarly devoid of meaning.

Polyatheist - Someone who believes that none of the Gods they are aware of, or have been told about, exist. But who reserves opinion on the possible existence of some kind of God, were a suitable definition to be proffered.

Non-theist – (sometimes a ‘weak atheist’) Someone who doesn’t believe in Gods.

Atheist – (sometimes called a ‘strong atheist’) Someone who believes there are no Gods. This is a subset of non-theism, because it implies an active belief in non-existence, rather than merely the default position of non-belief.

De Jure Atheist – Someone who believes that the idea of God is internally inconsistent, and therefore that it is impossible for any God to exist.

Post-theist – Someone who believes that the idea of God is a culturally primitive notion that modern society has outgrown.

Antitheist – Someone who believes that belief in God is detrimental to humanity or individual human quality of life.

Once again, if you can nuance these a bit, then I’d be grateful.

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A Secret Paganism Fetish

My cultural setting and religious background is Christian. So although I self-identify as an atheist, I would also be comfortable calling myself a Cultural Christian. I still participate in some religious ritual, and celebrate Christian holidays.

But I also have a soft spot for (modern, or neo-)Paganism. Now, just like Christianity, Pagans often make claims that are totally anathema to my sense of reason. I don’t believe in a Goddess, in boggarts, or in magic. But I do believe in the wonder of the cosmos. And I do believe in the rhythms of the planet: I sleep when we rotate away from the sun, I feel a burst of optimism as the nights draw longer, I respond differently to rain than to snow. To some extent I believe in Gaia*. And I have no problem with the idea of pantheism**.

I am attracted to unmanaged woods with their thickets and impromptu clearings. I love the ruins of old religious buildings: whether the henges of pre-Christian Britain, the abbeys deserted from Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, or the Kivas of Chaco Canyon. I am energized by group meditation, song and chant. I am susceptible to the increasing poignancy of preparing for some religious observance. All these things I perceive to be more vital in the neo-Pagan tradition than in the cultural Christianity of my upbringing.

A couple of years ago I began to bring the celebration of Yule into our yearly routine. We decorate a yule log and burn it on our wood burning stove to mark the winter solstice. I haven’t worked out how to celebrate the other 3 solar quarters, however. I would like to, but I’d like to do it in a way that was gentle, didn’t take up a huge amount of time, and that seems natural to introduce into my cultural context. I’m a little stuck.

Do any of you feel an affinity for nature religions? Do any of you have any ideas how to bring that into a rational and culturally different context?

* I can understand the whole planet as a single autopoietic system potentially capable of reproduction, I don’t assign it any divinity

** God is the whole of the universe – I have no problem with it, but I can’t see the point of using the word ‘God’ at that point, when ‘the Universe’ is the same thing!

[Edit: Footnoted my equivocations]

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Alternative Laws of Nature

I’ve just got back from seeing the movie Inception. A film about dreaming. Overall I really enjoyed the film, but I thought the dream worlds were all together too… well real. It got me thinking about my dream life.

Since at least my teenage years I’ve been a lucid dreamer. Not all the time. About 50% of the dreams I remember I am a passenger, and typically all I can remember is the broad feeling of the dream (e.g. last night I dreamt I was late, there was a train involved, and that’s all I can remember). The other 50% I am, to all intents and purposes, conscious in the dream. More than that, I have some control. And over the years I’ve come to notice certain laws that always hold. Now laws is a funny word because in some cases I suspect I’ve created them, in others they seem to be features of the dream world. Either way they are laws. There may be more, but here are a few I can identify.

1. I cannot die. Unlike inception, I don’t wake up when I die (more on that later) I simply cannot die. Similarly, events in the dream do not cause me to feel pain, unless I’m already in real pain (again, we’ll come back to that).

2. I cannot kill. This isn’t a moral thing: if I try to destroy something I am utterly unable to do so. This may not apply to things I accidentally kill (I don’t remember if that’s ever happened), but is absolutely true of things I want to destroy.

3. I cannot read. I can quote text, I am highly literate, but I cannot read. Texts exist in my dream, but I cannot read them. I cannot create texts that I can read either.

4. I can fly. My flying action is rather like swimming, but still. This is always there, and I often merrily float around my dreams. I am the only person in my dream with this ability. I’ve never met anyone else in my dream who can fly.

5. I can breathe fine underwater. I swim a lot in my dreams, and I don’t need to worry about air. As for number 4, other folks in my dream don’t seem to be able to do this, so have the normal concerns about breathing.

6. I am impervious to the damage of extreme environments. I can walk through fire, sub-zero temperatures, etc.

7. I cannot travel faster than around 30mph. Regardless if I give myself a Ferrari, or a supersonic jet. I’ll still travel only just faster than running pace. In some dreams it is slower still, and I would be faster running. I think this is linked to dreams where you need to be somewhere and can’t get there fast enough, or you can’t out-run a chasing evil. But if it started in those dreams, it has now become a law and is the same always. Fortunately law number 8 means I can usually change where I am instantly to be somewhere else, so longer distance travel is often easier for me than shorter distance.

8. I can change the world at will (within some largely mysterious bounds, I can’t be specific about). In Inception the characters use totems to detect if they are dreaming. My equivalent is this ability. When I realise I am dreaming (which is the point I first become conscious in the dream), I try to change something trivial. The color of a street lamp from orange to green, for example, or a person’s gender. If I can do this, I am dreaming. I’ve never been conscious in a dream when this has failed, even when surfacing out of one dream into another. I don’t change the world in an Inception style, raising buildings, or demolishing cliffs. Instead I change things instantly and completely. I can fairly reliably change people’s gender (including my own – at least until anything sexual happens, then I’m always male [unfortunately :)]), add and remove people from the scene, change location (although not all locations are always available to me), and change my identity (name, job, whether people know me or not, etc). It is rare for such a change not to work, but often they don’t stick. I might change the location to NYC, for example, only to find myself back in my garden a couple of minutes later.

9. Anyone I have sex with in my dream will transform to be my wife. This, I think, was a decision, made by virtue of being able to change the world. This has been true since before we were married, and I have a vague memory of making the decision way back in a dream (but this could be a fake memory, the memory is so insubstantial). I don’t remember why I made this choice – it isn’t like I’d have a moral objection to dream-infidelity. But it is now a law.

10. I can wake at any time I want. This, again, is something learned. I remember having nightmares as a young teen. I taught myself to wake at will, so now it is a law of the dream.

These two things are not laws of the dream-world, but are things I know about my dreams.

11. Any physical sensation in the dream is real. If I feel like I’m going to be sick, time to wake and get to the bathroom. If I feel my arm is painful, I’m probably sleeping on it. - A corrolary to that: Never pee in the dream. Most of my muscles seem nicely shut off in my dream state, my plumbing not so much. Fortunately, I learned this quite young, and so, by law 10, it is no longer a problem.

12. After having one lucid dream, I can usually go under again for another. At this point I have a good degree of choice of what I dream of next. If I get the opportunity for a couple of hours of lie-in, I can repeat several times. This, I have to say, is bliss.

So why this post? Well aside from the fact that lucid dreaming is very interesting (and pretty damn cool if you can do it), something significant occurs to me. In my dreams I have made my own reality. So those laws are laws that are purely about me. Some I know I’ve chosen, others are limitations of my experience or psychology. But none of them are real laws, none of them are necessary. If I had a different psychology they would be different. But I know these are laws, in the same way I know my coffee cup will fall if I drop it in the waking world. I have tried hard to subvert many of them, but they always hold.

That is odd, I think. And seems to me to say something interesting about the human mind. Something I’m not sure how to articulate.

I’d be interested if any of you are lucid dreamers, and if you can enumerate the laws that always hold in your dreams – the physics of your mind…

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Determinism – Another Great Misunderstanding

My last post was about one misunderstanding of science that annoys me. Here’s another.

Just rereading Anthony Kenny’s “What I Believe” (motivated by a reply to Bob’s comment in the last post) – in the chapter on morality he summarily dismisses utilitarianism. By saying:

Either determinism is true or it is not. If it is, then there is only one course of action which is a genuinely possible choice for us…. If, on the other hand, determinism is false, then there is no such thing as the totality of the consequences of one’s action; for the total future of the world depends on the choices of others as well as one’s own.

This falls foul of a mistake I’ve come across many times. It confuses the idea of non-determinism (that the future cannot, even in principle, be determined) with the idea that prediction is impossible.

We are very good at predicting the future. You wouldn’t survive crossing a road if you weren’t. Of course, you cannot tell exactly what will happen, you couldn’t say where each car will be at a particular moment in the future, and how fast they will be travelling. You couldn’t even say what lanes each car will be in. But you don’t need to. In science this is called the probability distribution.

In a world where outcomes are continuous, any particular outcome has a likelihood of basically zero. But instead we can group outcomes into categories. A category of outcomes where car 1 is in lane 2, for example, or when car 3 is going between 50-52 mph. Given any possible grouping of future states, what are the likelihoods of each group? These are probabilities we can guess. And our survival depends on having at least a good go (though we’re not perfect, by any means). This is perfectly consistent with non-determinism, and is also consistent with determinism, under the (pretty obvious, I think) assumption that we cannot know enough to predict a specific future.

There’s another example in a book I’m reading “Introducing Persons” by Peter Carruthers. But its harder to quote because it is an extended argument. In it, he basically says that you aren’t justified in thinking that other people have a mind on the basis of what they do. In other words, you might suppose that someone has a mind, because you can see their actions, work out their perceptions, and posit an intermediate set of mental states. So what is the problem with this? Well according to Carruthers we can’t perfectly predict what will occur, we can’t know exactly what mental states they are in, we are “constantly surprised” and therefore we can’t posit any mental states.

Really, is it so hard for philosophers to understand uncertainty? I know it takes a while in Math lessons to really get probability (so you don’t think that 5 coin flips coming up heads make a tails more likely*). And it is still notoriously difficult to develop gestalts around problems such as the Monty Hall Problem or the Tuesday’s Child Problem. But still, this seems to border on the wilful misunderstanding to me. These philosophers deal with far more complex ideas all the time.

In the hands of other debaters, well I’m happy to concede it might just be an annoying point of confusion.

* Incidentally this is a difference between a mathematician and an engineer. Given a coin that flips heads 5 times in a row, a mathematician will tell you the next flip is equally likely to be heads or tails. The engineer will tell you (correctly) it is more likely to be heads.

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The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene does not refer to a gene that makes us selfish. It does not in any way seek to carry a moral connotation that we are inherently selfish (though that may be true).

The emphasis is on the second word.

The point of the selfish gene is that it is the gene that is trying to replicate, trying to see its descendants in future generations, trying to out-compete its fellows. In this view individual creatures are just bundles of genes from an evolutionary point of view. We are vehicles for the real actors. The competition at the creature level is just a manifestation of the competition among genes. This approach is why creatures cooperate with their family members more than other individuals: because they share more genes.

So can we not use “selfish gene” as if it was a scientific doctrine of original sin?

kthxbai

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A Twisted Sense of Moral Outrage

My wife rarely gets angry, but yesterday she was livid, in response to an article on the lunchtime radio news about Raoul Moat.

Moat was a middle aged man with a history of domestic abuse, who was released last week on license from prison after serving time for assault. In the time he was in prison his ex-girlfriend had started seeing someone else. He left prison, procured a shotgun, shot his girlfriend, the new boyfriend, and a random police officer who was sitting in his car at a nearby road junction. He then went on the run for a week before shooting himself when we was finally tracked down by the police.

What made her livid was the reactions. Flowers have been left at the scene of his shooting; a facebook page calling him a ‘legend’ attracted over 1000 fans in a day. Among interviewees with comments such as “he was a good bloke”, one person said “he was a good worker, he’d never claimed benefit [i.e. welfare] in his life”. He may have been guilty of murder and attempted murder, but at least he didn’t claim benefit. That would be really despicable!

Over at “throw yourself like seed” Andy wrote a brave and difficult post about the children’s author K. P. Bath, sentenced for 6 years in prison for viewing child pornography. Now I don’t share Andy’s particular desire to ‘speak up’ for this injustice, but I do think the comparison is instructive. Read the comments to the CNN article Andy links to and you’ll read feedback such as “they ought to cut his testicles off and shove them down his throat until he chokes”, “I hope he gets raped repeatedly in jail”, and so on.

So we have Moat, someone who directly and consistently has abused, maimed and killed people, and Bath, who has been a willing consumer of images of other people’s (non-lethal) abuse. Moat is a legend, Bath deserves extended torture.

The reason is simple, I think. In our culture we have a deep and subconscious belief in intrinsic evil. An infectious model of demon possession and corruption left over from the time when religion was highly superstitious and almost totally pervasive.

Large swathes of our culture have convinced themselves that sexual abuse of children belongs in that category. So anyone who engages in it is identified with evil in its baldest sense. Conversely spousal abuse, violence against the police and ‘crimes of passion’ are all in a different cultural category for us. The latter two are crimes that could be portrayed in a movie, for example, with a sympathetic hero (a lone fugitive having to battle the corrupt police, a jilted lover getting their own back). Spousal abuse has come a long way in our society, but those who campaign against it still face a difficult barrier, shared with those fighting physical abuse of children – the patriarchal teachings of Christianity have left a legacy – men are supposed to call their household to discipline, and that is as true of wives as it is of children. None of Moat’s crimes were demonic, he is allowed to be a normal guy with issues. Bath isn’t allowed that category.

I find Bath’s crimes to be worthy of strong condemnation and criminal sanction. But to me they are of a completely different scale to the ‘legend’ Moat. I think that a casual and facile resort to categories of ‘evil’ and ‘righteous’ do nothing for our actual moral sense. And I think this is one further example where generations of indoctrination into a superstitious and irrational religious morality has castrated the ability of many in our society to approach crime in a just way.

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Aesthetic Appreciation needs Education – or How to Eat Steak

I’ve been on vacation this week. I got thinking about two interesting and related things.

Firstly I was reading Mill’s Utilitarianism. I love Mill, and this book is no different. He deals in some depth with the obvious objection to Utilitarianism. How do we judge what constitutes a pleasure, and particularly a ‘higher’ pleasure. Part of this is the question of aesthetic education. Is Shakespeare’s “Tempest” really more aesthetically worthy than the movie “American Pie”. How can we tell?

I was mulling over this while eating a steak. In two neighboring tables folks also ordered steak. And they ordered it well done. It struck me that this was the same thing. Well done steak is the equivalent of a crappy rom-com, and rare steak the equivalent of Shakespeare. You see, most people who order their steaks medium or more, have suffered mis-education. They have been told that pink meat is unhealthy (it is not), or that it is raw (it is not), or that it is somehow icky (it is not). So instead they ask for meat that has lost most of its texture and flavor, meat who’s proteins have been changed to be less digestible and therefore less nutritious. I was such a person. That was my background. But then someone took me in hand and said, pretty blankly: “steaks are supposed to be cooked rare”. Sometimes you need someone to tell you in those bald terms.

A rare steak. The meat is warm in the middle, but the gel-like texture is still intact. It is not raw in the middle - the fats have started to break down, as have the cell walls (releasing the juices which carry 90% of the flavor), so the meat melts in the mouth.

This isn’t a matter of personal preference, but of chemistry. The taste, texture and color of steak are generated by a complex set of proteins. You can track the changes in these proteins during the cooking process. There is quantitatively less of the major flavor compounds in well-done steak than rare steak, and fewer flavor compounds generally. Overcooking steak causes the muscle fibers to denature and fuse, meaning it is much tougher and drier (some folks even use a steak hammer to tenderize their steak before overcooking it!). Overcooking also dramatically increases the concentration of heterocyclic amines (HCA) the major DNA-damaging (and therefore cancer-causing) agents in red-meat. Red meat is not a significant carcinogen if cooked properly. You may look at the rare steak and think “eww”, but that is because you have been told to think that. In fact, the rare steak is both tastier and better for you. And neither of those assertions are a matter of preference – they are falsifiable statements of fact.

Medium. This still has some of the juices present, but has now lost all vestiges of the gel-like texture of a good steak. The pink in the middle is what some folks mistake for being 'rare'. In my experience ordering rare, this is most often what I get.

Part of the problem, in steak and popular culture, is that the crappy version has become institutionalized in our culture. It is very difficult in the UK, and almost impossible in the US (in my experience) to order a ‘rare’ steak in a restaurant and get an actual rare steak (this doesn’t apply to all restaurants costing > $50 per entree, but even then you’re not guaranteed success)*.

Well done. At this point all the natural juices have been grilled off. The fused actin proteins (fused having lost their interleaving myosin) that are characteristic of over-cooking are now throughout the meat. The main flavor compounds are greatly diminished. The steak is dry and will require smothering in sauce to be palatable.

We have steak no more than once every few months at home, so I like to go for it on holiday. Of the three steaks I ordered this week, I got one medium, one medium-well and one medium-rare. 0/3 hit rate. That’s pretty sad. Last time I ordered a rare steak in the US I got this lecture about how “rare means red and bloody in the middle – is that okay?” (actually it isn’t bloody in the middle – that’s just rubbish, it is an aqueous solution of myoglobin that gives rare steak its characteristic red juice – and rare steak should be more than just red in the middle!). I said “yes, absolutely, the rarer the better”. And I got? A steak that was medium-well done. God help anyone who ordered it well done – probably better to serve it in an urn.

How do we raise the cultural sophistication of society? How do we tell people that eating well-done steak is consuming a bunch of BS and a substandard product? How do we encourage artistic effort and excellence, rather than another crappy movie? How do we educate the aesthetic sense of others in a culture where aesthetic sophistication is considered to be arrogance? Where can I find aesthetic education in those areas that I am still ignorant?

Photo credit: The Healthy Butcher

* I’ve heard a (possibly apocryphal) story that Gordon Ramsey would refuse to cook steaks more than medium in disdain for the uneducated palette of anyone who ordered it that way.

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Texts of the Greek New Testament

In a previous post I discussed the greek word translated “daily” in the Lord’s prayer. In the comments I got asked about the categories that we use to talk about the greek text. I promised to post more on that, so here goes. I don’t have long this evening to edit this thoroughly, so I may do that more over the next few days.

So, we have a lot of different Greek texts of the New Testament. How are these classified, grouped and understood? Well aside from dating, which is (obviously) a continuum, there are two important ways to group them:

The First Division — Type of Text

The most obvious division is between three groups of text that have different forms. They are the Papyri, the Uncial Texts and the Minuscule Texts. The papyri were written on papyrus (obviously), the uncial and minuscule texts were typically written on vellum, parchment or paper, and bound into codices (in book form), although in many cases we have only individual leaves. The difference is in the style of writing. The uncial manuscripts are written in capitals, the minuscules in lower case.

1 John 5:7-8 in the Codex Vaticanus, a Uncial Codex of the Alexandrian text-family.

1 John 5:7-8 in the Codex Vaticanus, an Uncial codex of the Alexandrian text-type

This division is roughly chronological – papyrus manuscripts (c. C2 – C8) tend to be earlier than uncials (c. C3-C10), which are in turn earlier than minuscules (c. C9-C16). This isn’t rigid, however. There is a lot of overlap between papyri and uncials in particular.

When you see a NT manuscript discussed, it will be referred to by a code. Papyri have a prefix written as a Blackletter P (e.g. 18, a papyrus of Rev 1 found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt and now held at the British Library). Minuscules are written as numbers (e.g. 44, a complete  C12 text of the gospels also in the British Library). Uncials have a broader range of symbols, the most important are represented by single letters, in a range of different scripts (e.g. א, Codex Sinaiticus, or B, Codex Vaticanus), often with superscripts (so Ha is distinct from He – the stories behind these letters are complex and for another day). These letters are called ‘Sigla’, and there are a little less than 50 of them. Other uncials are represented by their number, which is always given with a leading zero (to differentiate from Minuscules), so 068 is a C5 uncial of John 16, once more at the British Library [I'm picking the British-housed texts deliberately - there are plenty of these texts not housed in the British Library!]. All Uncials have a numerical value, but those that also have a letter are rarely referred to by their number (א is 01, for example).

The Second Division — Text Family

Scholars also divide the texts according to the text tradition they come from. A text tradition is a group of related texts. Because corrections, changes, editing and additions all tend to be copied from one text to another, the premise is that, texts that all display the same features, are likely to trace back to common ancestry. This isn’t always a perfect premise, but it is normally a good one.

So we divide the texts into three again. The Alexandrian text tradition, the Byzantine text tradition and the Western text tradition.

These are obviously named for places, but don’t let the names fool you. Each of these traditions may be clustered in a particular area, but they are all relatively geographically spread. The names are names of convenience rather than being hard-and-fast geographical distinctions.

The Alexandrian text is evidenced in the earliest manuscripts we have. Most of the Papyri are Alexandrian (those that aren’t are either later, or else are unclassifiable because they contain too small a fragment, or contain sections without significant variation among the text-types). The Alexandrian texts are clearly the earliest we have. Whether they are better evidence of the original text, is a more theological debate. As I’ve said before I have little patience for the obsession with ‘original’ texts, whatever that means. Recently critical editions of the NT, and most new translations, have methodologically preferred the Alexandrian texts because of their demonstrable age, and the fact that they lack what look like interpolations and decorations of later texts.

The Byzantine text tradition is also sometimes called the Constantinople tradition (Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire – the Greek speaking part of the Roman empire that survived until the C15 – 1000 years after you were probably told the Roman empire fell in your western-biased high school!). But it is also more problematically called the Majority text. This name is somewhat politically charged, it is the remnant of a bad scholarly program that tried to prioritize this text over the Alexandrian tradition because of the sheer number of manuscripts we have. It doesn’t take a scholar to notice that the quest for authenticity is not democratic – there are more extant copies of the LOLcats bible than the Byzantine text tradition – that doesn’t make the LOLcats bible more authentic. So I’d recommend staying clear of “Majority Text” (and its paranym “Received Text”). The Byzantine texts are much later, and tend to be more verbose than the Alexandrian. It is in the Byzantine family that we have the bulk of texts with the post-resurrection narratives in Mark, for example, or the woman caught in adultery, or the end of the Lord’s Prayer. We also have a lot of Byzantine-style texts in the form of Lectionaries – compilations of bible verses used for daily prayer or ritual. This is not surprising, the Byzantine empire was a Greek-speaking Christian state. Byzantine texts often have more fluent, liturgy-friendly, wording. You can think of the Byzantine texts as being equivalent to the various versions of the Latin Vulgate used in Catholic Europe.

P37, from the University of Michigan library. An example of a Papyrus containing the Western text of Acts.

The Western text tradition is more eclectic. Originally named for a group of texts associated with the Western Mediterranean, this group of texts has now been found in a much wider spread. From France to Switzerland to Syria. It is characterized by a freer style, bordering on paraphrase and retelling at points. There are more additions (some the same, some different to the Byzantine texts), although in Luke there is a section that is shorter in the Western text (proving that all rules have exceptions). Unlike the Byzantine texts, which were highly influential in the production of early protestant translations, the Western texts haven’t had much of an impact on our English bibles, and so their alterations are less well known. There are relatively few Western texts, in contrast to the other categories. Though a couple of Papyri in this text-type are very early (C2-3 for P37, for example), most scholars consider their obvious paraphrasing and changes in wording to be evidence that they witness a later stage of the text than the Alexandrian text-type. With a much smaller number of texts, we get more patchy coverage. We have no copies of this tradition for the non-Paul epistles and Revelation, for example (and it could be that these books were not canonical for the communities who originated the Western text-style). Scholars of the Western text tradition often use non-Greek sources as primary evidence, particularly Syriac versions of the text, which appear to have a lot of similarities.

There are plenty of other texts that aren’t obviously thoroughly in one category or the other, or else are so fragmentary as to have no clear indication of their type. Various other text-types have been proposed, although none are unequivocally accepted. The Ceasarean text tradition, for example, is useful in categorizing some patterns of change in the Gospels, but on close inspection tends to fragment into sub-families and more nuanced arguments.

And that, phew, is a whirlwind tour of NT text classification. I hope it wasn’t too tedious. I find this geektastic, but I’m aware that there were plenty of my fellow undergrads asleep in these lectures!

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