In Matthew 24:36 we have in our printed Bibles today “No one knows the day or the hour, neither the angels, nor the Son, except the Father alone.” This is Jesus speaking. But “nor the son” is not found in all of the manuscripts. So Dr. Ehrman camps on that verse more than any other verse in both ‘Misquoting Jesus’ and ‘Orthodox Corruption.’ He refers to it at least 6 times in ‘Misquoting Jesus.’ He points out that the later proto-orthodox scribes would have deleted “nor the son” from their manuscripts because it slaps the face of Jesus. If in fact, he was the omnipotent Son of God, how can you say he does not know the day or the hour? Curious to me, is that Dr. Ehrman just does not tell the whole story here. If this was done by orthodox scribes who deleted this for that theological purpose, then they missed two terrific opportunities to continue along that agenda.
First of all, you have virtually no manuscripts that drop “nor the son” in the parallel passage, Mark 13:32. That verse says explicitly, “No one knows the day or the hour, neither the angels, nor the Son, except the Father.” Why is it that we only have one 10th Century manuscript and one Latin manuscript – and that is it – that drop “nor the son” in this Mark passage? No other manuscript does. For Matthew 24:36, we have most manuscripts that drop it. For Mark 13:32, only two manuscripts drop it. That is remarkable.
In AD 180, Irenaeus talks about how there must be four gospels just like there are four winds that control the earth, etc. Aside from whatever you think of Irenaeus‟ argument for the number of gospels, the fact is he is using analogies that show the number has been established and known for a long time. By the end of the 2nd Century, we are looking at a four-fold canon of the gospels. These gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – not the Gospel of Thomas, or Philip, or Peter, or Mary, or any others. With this being the case, if early to mid-2nd Century proto-orthodox scribes are going to be omitting “nor the Son” for a theological reason, why would they skip over Mark 13:32?
Another pertinent point is in the very passage of Matthew 24:36 because it says, “the Father alone.” Even if you dropped “nor the Son” – and I am inclined to think that Matthew did not put in “nor the Son”, I think that actually does go back to him, but it is not a faith-commitment for me, having gone back and forth over it through the years – if you have “neither the angels, except the Father alone”, well that “alone” seems to be exclusive of just the Father, and therefore the Son is not part of that purview of the knowledge. In Mark 13:32, interestingly you have “neither the angels, nor the Son, except the Father.” There is no “alone” at the end. So Matthew is saying implicitly with the “alone”, what Mark says explicitly with “nor the Son.” If scribes did not want to argue against the omniscience of the Son of God, then why did they not drop the “alone” in this verse? Why did they not drop the “nor the Son” in Mark 13:32? This must be one of the worst conspiracy jobs ever performed.
Going back very early on, we have versions that do not include “nor the Son.” Origen speaks about some manuscripts that did not have “nor the Son.” Yet the first time we have any church father that talks about this as causing problems theologically is not until the 4th Century with St. Basil. We have father after father that talks about this text, and Irenaeus thinks “nor the Son” is authentic, saying “Let us use this as an illustration for our own humility before God.”
Dr. Ehrman mentions absolutely none of this. He does not mention Mark 13:32, the parallel passage. He does not talk about what the fathers say, except for one reference to Origen – which he does not cite, and is in fact what Jerome says Origen said. He does not give all the references that he needs to in „Orthodox Corruption‟. This is a major passage he has not handled appropriately, yet it becomes the major passage for his whole theological agenda. If he has missed it on this, then how much confidence can we have in Dr. Ehrman getting the rest of it correct?