HENDERSON — What is the goal of biblical research?
That is the question the Rev. Dr. Abidan Shah explores in his recently released book, “Changing the Goalpost.”
Based on his doctoral dissertation at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the book contrasts the approaches scholars and theologians have pursued in attempting to find the source (or sources) of the New Testament of the Christian Bible we know today.
Before the 1960s, Shah writes, the goal of research into ancient biblical manuscripts was to find the original text of the New Testament. Since then, the “goalpost” has moved, as the title of his book suggests. Recent research into origins of the Bible have focused on finding “any text” or “many texts” that underlie the New Testament.
Shah summarizes the work of scholars on the “original text” side of the issue and those on the “many texts’ side.
He and the scholars he reviews track the New Testament from the early days of Chritianity to its modern status.
Some of the scholars described how changes to the Bible occurred as the manuscripts of early texts were hand-copied by scribes (until the advent of the printing press in the 16th century), resulting in changes in the text due to simple errors or to the practice of some scribes to alter the wording to fit their theological agendas.
Shah emphasizes the importance of retaining the traditional view of scripture by focusing on the “original text.” He concludes, “Without a generally settled original text, there can be no settled Biblical theology, and this in turn will result in an unsettled Christian faith and practice.”
Shah is lead pastor at Clearview Church in Henderson. He holds a bachelor degree in broadcast journalism from Toccoa Falls College and a master of divinity degree and a Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
This is the second book Shah has published in recent months. Last spring, he and his wife Nicole penned “30 Days Through a Crisis” as a guide to help themselves and others cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.