To start from the end… The elder the translation, the more reliable, in my experience. The Swedish 1526/1541 is infinitely better than any of the 20th century ones (and much closer to Greek language-wise).
Modern translations are often worthless, especially when into “Dynamic Equivalence” (a sobering is on the way, as in the 2001 English Standard Version turning back to the traditional post scholastic errors/sexualizations – which, contrary to DE ones, are systematic and thus easy to spot ;=)
Generally speaking, only ideologically un-interesting passages are still correctly translated, often carried on from the 2nd century North African, very reliable, Old Latin translation.
That’s one for continuity!
However, count on everything socio-politically prostitutable to have been changed – often several times over.
The 4 gospels were all added to early on. In reading they must be kept apart from one another. At Lund we were told, both at the Theological Institution and at Seminary, never to mix Marcan with Johannine theology, and so on.
Mark, written for Rome, is the more original story gospel (the first stage being collections of words gospels such as the late 2nd century in part Gnosticist Gospel of Thomas), arguing against earlier merely wonder-maker versions. I would date this to the 40ies, even.
Follows Antiochene Dr Luke much into Herstory (Lukas might have been a lady ;=)
John of Efesos is Theology more than anything – slightly Gnostic (but not yet Gnosticist). Great for meditation, but not much so for reading out loud.
Matt, to my mind is unequivocally Alexandrian, 120-140ies. That is, after the 130 2nd Jewish War break with (outlawed) Judaism.
Matt not seldom follows the published letters of Paul against Mark and Luke giving Idolatry as permissible cause for divorce – inverting Paul in 1 Cor 7:12-17, who argues against the compulsory religious/ethnic divorce of Ezraism, see Ezra 10).
But then, the letters of Paul were only published c:a 100 ;=)
The earliest text-witnesses (often translations) such as the Greek/Latin Codex Bezae (a 440ies copy of a 170-180 original, perhaps by Ireneos himself) representing the first half of the 2nd century, already show changes (both textual, as for instance, the “and he said, saying” indicating quotes from Jesus, and accommodations to the surrounding World, as in the relegating of women back to Kinder und Küche).
Given all this (remember, dearest Erica; that we are not yet free from Integrism!) I still confidently say that the Holy Scriptures (always in the plural) of the Church, laboriously collected over centuries, contain all things necessary for Salvation but also things that may be detrimental, if mistaken for the real thing.
I also say with Paul (1 Cor 4.6), Dr Hooker and the Swedish 1593 Confessio fidei, that nothing beyond what is written is to be required of anybody – which, however, to my mind (I have no other) is precisely what is being done today, by anti Moderns posing as the guardians of Faith (Christian) and Morals (Gnosticist ravings on the Spilling of Semen and the Neo Platonist State Absolutist fiction that Oppression is necessary for Stabilitas).
The answer to the accusation that the traditions of men are un-reliable is, of course, that there has been, since very early on, a death penalty for forgery, but no corresponding one for a week memory…
In fact, traditions are reliable. Documents are not.
Collections many times the biblical format have survived more or less unscathed for quite as long. On the other hand, for whoever wants to, documents are easy to change; which is why the Mazorets didn’t want to “correct” even “obvious” errors and omissions.
It’s only the Way of the World…
Indeed what is fascinating about these conversations is that the Gospel has been heard, despite all the Efforts of the World!
From Carolingian times Academia and State have been preaching Hierarchy, Subordination, Exclusion, Hate, Crusades, 6 Phantom categories, Burnings, Hell and Damnation…
The Social discipline of Empire.
And yet, people have heard Equality, Emancipation, Inclusion, Love, and Mutuality.
The Gospel of God’s Righteousness in Christ Jesus.
Which is what God whispers softly when you read the Good Book talking to your heart.
What I can contribute as someone with a degree, are bits of learning and some scattered insights that come to me because of my peculiar place in time and space. Individual circumstances and a certain goût de la véritée allow me to indicate some directions where to dig for hidden truth.
Despite all the efforts of Empire, the Gospel still belongs to all of us through the Church and through the Good Book – even when “modified” to suit the latest fashions ;=)
Gods tender Mercy knows no bounds,
his Truth shall never decay…
From a conversation on Thinking Anglicans three years ago. And thank's to Erika who tipped me off.