One can imagine the same result from the fact that the first “gods” were not created on God’s own day but later, by God’s commandment and power, were all created on the same day in a certain place. For instance, this “genealogical” account, which comes from the New Testament in the Gospel of Mark, the first three words being from the God of Abraham in Genesis 25:1 and ending “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What is astonishing is that the same story, which is given from these two separate points of view in the story of Abraham, the man who “loved the world,” was actually related in two entirely different ways in two different Scriptures. That there may be two different readings of the same story is very typical.
So the question now becomes how many readings have been found as well as which, if any, there really are, and when did the Bible contain this number of readings for “gods.” The book that I have used to illustrate this article (a work, by the way, not written by me – more by a very good biblical scholar than I ever would have imagined – but a very competent translation of a New Testament scholar’s book) provides a list of readings and which of these were actually found and so what of this number there really is. It was printed in a number of English-language publications, primarily in a single book, and is probably the most important study on the subject – I will be using that one here in order to illustrate this article. I have taken the liberty of providing the title of this book and adding two quotes from the same author – this is in keeping with the purpose of this article. The quote he is quoting is given by George Staunton in his book The Oxford Companion to the Bible , where the number of readings, and hence the number of “gods,” is given as 1,040 to 2,040.
It should be noted that these are the most numerous readings, including the more popular ones, that exist in the New Testament. In fact, the number is as high as 3,000 or 4,000, the latter number coming from a study in Greek of 2,400-2,500 Greek manuscripts discovered by Mr. Walter Bessman about ten years ago as he was working on an edition of the New Testament (Bessman also
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