Authors of the New Testament

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MarcusOfLycia
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Authors of the New Testament

#1

Post by MarcusOfLycia » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:43 pm

There was a recent article on The Huffington Post (not my favorite source of news)...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-eh ... =fb&src=sp

I'm not a scholar myself, but was wondering what everyone thought. I haven't done much research myself, so I'll reserve a response until I have.
-- Josh

“When you see a man with a great deal of religion displayed in his shop window, you may depend upon it, he keeps a very small stock of it within” C.H. Spurgeon

1st Corinthians 1:17- "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel””not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power"

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#2

Post by MarcusOfLycia » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:00 pm

I did find and read this, which treated the 'criticism' as though it was irrelevant:

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/rea ... ble-part-4
-- Josh

“When you see a man with a great deal of religion displayed in his shop window, you may depend upon it, he keeps a very small stock of it within” C.H. Spurgeon

1st Corinthians 1:17- "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel””not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power"

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#3

Post by Canuckster1127 » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:38 pm

Bart Ehrman is selling another book .... ;)

Ehrman is an agnostic who came from fundamentalist/evangelical roots (Moody Bible and Princeton Theological Seminary) who says he lost much of his foundational beliefs as he became more aware of issues related to the Bible in the areas of textual criticism.

As appears to be somewhat usual, (I've read and reviewed several books of his) he brings into his books issues that have been around for centuries and presents them to his readers, most of whom aren't Biblical scholars as if this is news and that only ignorant fundamentalist or evangelicals would question the authoritative statements he is making. Authorship and canonicity of a few books in the NT have been around for a long time. Some of the reformers had questions of some books and when they looked to remove some of the apocraphyl books of the Roman Catholic Church Canon some advocate removing other letter in the NT which were seen as questionable. Luther wanted to remove the entire epistle of James for example.

I'm not a scholar at the same level of Ehrman but I've spent several years in the field and have some basis to respond to some of what he's saying. Modern Biblical Criticism is in some ways a navel staring kind of exercise. Everyone has an opinion. Given enough time some opinions, for whatever reasons, become accepted by some as authoritative, and eventually it's enough to settle an argument to refer back to the opinions of one particular scholar or group of scholars who have said something appears likely to be true or false and over time the certainty of that assumption grows to where it's effectively accepted as unquestionable truth. The irony is that this is precisely what some critics of Scripture note to call the scriptures into question and then proceed to assume that their own assumptions and assertions are questionable as well for often similar reasons.

Ehrman has a lot of good things to say that evangelicals should take note of. He's often correct when he points out that Evangelical and Fundamentalist traditionalists are afraid to discuss or address issues which are legitimate issues in the realm of Biblical Scholarship.

In terms of the authorship of many of these different books, it's true that 2 Peter is problematic because it doesn't take very much examination to see that the style, grammar and vocabulary are very different. Ehrman and other critics take that to mean that the authorship must be different. Other possibilities are often times ignored because just like those they criticize in the evangelical/fundamentalist camp for resorting to denial or avoidance, there are often underlying assumptions and agendas being brought by these different scholars, sometimes which are specifically aimed at amplifying issues in order to call the text into question. For example, it's quite possible that Peter used a scribe and dictated his letters. Both letters were probably written by 2 different scribes. One scribe or both to varying degrees may have had different levels of ability and those are reflected in the final letter sent out. We know Paul for example, often dictated his letters and in at least one instance drew attention to the fact that he was writing in his own hand in one portion of Romans (going by memory here.)

The fact is that the canonization of Scripture had many of these same questions at the times councils met. The church wasn't just getting together and deciding arbitrarily what to include or what not to. The books in questions were judged in terms of how well used and respected they were already within the church at large, how sure they were of the authorship and that that authorship tied in some meaningful way back to Christ Himself or the original apostles who were present and eyewitnesses to his ministry and resurrection.

The further away we come from the events and writings, the easier it is to bring assumptions and criticisms to the process, because those who were closer to the actual events are dead and gone and not able to defend or answer charges. It's a bit of an exageration but in some cases it would be difficult if you took a post I wrote on this board 5 years ago (which still amazes me that I've been here that long now) and compared it to one I wrote last month, to prove that there wasn't some possibility that someone else had taken over my name and password and we were in fact two different persons now. You could certainly call me into question based on the fact that there are things I wrote 5 years ago that I no longer agree with or would write today. Hopefully most people would take my word as the original poster in both instances, that I am indeed the same person and I've never allowed anyone to post under my name here. Do it 2000 years later however, with academics who are pretty impressed with themselves and how smart they are at figuring these sorts of things out and add into that that most people reading them don't have the scope of knowledge that they can appeal to to refute them and it wouldn't be hard to "prove" that I'm not one person with way too much time on his hands but indeed I must a be a conglomerate of individual scribes located in a sweathouse in the Philippines who writes these opinions and because 5 years ago I favored a particular phrase or made a typical spelling error that I don't now.

You get the idea.

That doesn't mean that Ehrman doesn't have good things to say or even that we need to attribute less than honorable motives to him (although he's pretty willing to do that to the ignorant "fundies"). But Textual criticism is not the precise science that many Biblical critics try to present it as. It's an art as well as a science and like any other field of knowledge, people go in with agendas and intended outcomes, even if they're subtly present.

There are some authorship issues. Some think that some of the Pauline epistles are questionable. What's not questionable however is that these epistles were pretty prevelantly present and not very far removed from witnesses who quoted them who were either contemporaries of Paul or disciples of those who knew Paul or knew the church or person written too. It's not that things can't be examined and questioned. Hebrews we have no idea who wrote for example and yet it's still accepted as Scripture because it was used and recognized by many earlier on. It's even speculated, and may be a legitimate consideration that a woman wrote it (Priscilla of Priscilla and Aquilla) and the author was supressed because of cultural prejudices of that day. We don't know.

There are some elements of biblical criticism that are important for all to accept as true. We don't have the original manuscripts of any portion of Scripture OT or NT. Often time we don't even have one particular manuscript that is considered more authoritative than any other and what we have is a conglomeration of many manscripts some of which are considered better in some areas than others. That's a difficult thing for some who hold to literalism so strongly that they would prefer not to have to deal with those issues. So some ignore them. Some try to avoid the issue by putting their faith and focus in one particular translation and make it the authority (This is the heart of the King James Only approach) elevating it above the actual texts that it was translated from. Recognizing that doesn't mean we have to accept Ehrman or other liberal academics as the final authorities. There are many equally skilled and trained people (including for example Bruce Metzger, who trained Ehrman) who come to much less radical conclusions than Ehrman.
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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#4

Post by PaulSacramento » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:14 am

There are a few books out there that give a far more balanced view than Bart's.
The ones by Metzger ( as Canukster mentioned) are great.
Bloomberg has a few also.
There is nothing wrong in reading a book that states a particular viewpoint, even if controversial, as long as we are balanced and fair and read the views of those on the other side of the fence.
I suggest:
http://www.amazon.com/Historical-Reliab ... =8-2-fkmr0

http://www.amazon.com/Canon-New-Testame ... 204&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Text-New-Testamen ... t_ep_dpi_3

To name only a few

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#5

Post by MarcusOfLycia » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:26 am

Thanks for all of the information!

What struck me in the article was that his focus didn't seem to be on who wrote the New Testament so much as that he needed to prove they were liars. There was a lot of anger in it I felt. I would think if he truly didn't care who wrote it, his first word wouldn't be 'liar', but he spends just as much of the article trying to judge the character of the authors as he does trying to identify the authors. Although... he never cites anyone, just saying 'most scholars', etc.

As I said, this is a new(ish) topic to me, so again, I appreciate the insight! I'll check out the sources you guys posted.
-- Josh

“When you see a man with a great deal of religion displayed in his shop window, you may depend upon it, he keeps a very small stock of it within” C.H. Spurgeon

1st Corinthians 1:17- "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel””not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power"

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#6

Post by PaulSacramento » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:31 pm

Bart has always struck me as someone that, having come from an evangelical fundamentalist view of an inerrant bible, having discovered the the bible is not inerrant in the way HE wanted it to be, is now on a mission to make sure everyone is not duped as he was duped.
Many of his issues are old ones, many of his views are re-hashes that HE thinks have not been answered to his satisfaction and he strikes me as the type that believes ( because of his background) that if you can't take ALL of the bible as literal and inerrant then NONE of it is literal and innerrant.
In short, Bart so believed that it was the way he wanted it to be that, when he found it wasn't, his "crisis of faith" leads him on a mission to save all those that believe as he believed.
A sort of noble mission, in a sense, but one that has very little to do with Christian faith.

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#7

Post by neo-x » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:50 pm

Every religion that has ever existed has some kind of human influence in its doctrines. it has to be. just like religion and religious practices are influenced by us and vice versa. so for that matter yes history has a lot of color on Christianity. But people like the author of the book mentioned is clearly out there trying to prove that the Bible is all a lie. which is pathetic indeed. After centuries of bashing the Bible, the Word of God with its authority stands still. people like him are trying to be an over night hit. a celebrity if you ask me, just like Dan Brown for Davinci Code.
It would be a blessing if they missed the cairns and got lost on the way back. Or if
the Thing on the ice got them tonight.

I could only turn and stare in horror at the chief surgeon.
Death by starvation is a terrible thing, Goodsir, continued Stanley.
And with that we went below to the flame-flickering Darkness of the lower deck
and to a cold almost the equal of the Dante-esque Ninth Circle Arctic Night
without.


//johnadavid.wordpress.com

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#8

Post by PaulSacramento » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:43 am

I don;t think that Bart is trying to prove the bible to be a lie, just trying to show that it isn't inerrant, which is irrelevant to those that never viewed it as such and take the bible for what it is and what it isn't.
I think Bart is trying to show that putting all your confidence and faith in the bible is no different than putting it in man, fallible and error prone man.
And he is right, one should not put ALL our faith in the bible, there is only ONE WORD of God and that is our Lord Jesus Christ, the bible is quite simply God's words in Human Words.
May I suggest there reading also:
God's Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080102 ... 0801027012

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#9

Post by neo-x » Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:40 am

I don;t think that Bart is trying to prove the bible to be a lie, just trying to show that it isn't inerrant, which is irrelevant to those that never viewed it as such and take the bible for what it is and what it isn't.
I think Bart is trying to show that putting all your confidence and faith in the bible is no different than putting it in man, fallible and error prone man.
And he is right, one should not put ALL our faith in the bible, there is only ONE WORD of God and that is our Lord Jesus Christ, the bible is quite simply God's words in Human Words.
May I suggest there reading also:
God's Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080102 ... 0801027012
May be, but I know for a simple fact that when someone says something is a "lie" (he does use the word), it implies at face value that the authenticity of everything in it could be a complete forgery. I think it is clear what his intention is. I have been an atheist 8 yrs of my life to know what people mean when they say something like that.
And he is right, one should not put ALL our faith in the bible, there is only ONE WORD of God and that is our Lord Jesus Christ, the bible is quite simply God's words in Human Words.
Technically you have a point (I understand the point you are trying to make but i think it is a dangerous approach, since you have only assumptions), but even though it is God's Word in Human words, it doesn't change anything. Just like Jesus is God in human form. Without the Bible we wouldn't know about anything. I simple cant see why the Bible would have less value since there would be no other way for us to know about God, had the Christians before us chose to have this attitude.

I do not believe in a "defective" Bible. One may write a truth, a thousand different ways but it will remain truth, It won't be a lie. as for sparks whose reference you quoted in your post. I did some search on that and I think while his case is just another form of centuries old classical debate cases, he proves nothing except the fact that the reader has its own interpretive process.

For example in the case of Hebrews, he says that the writer whoever he was, applied platonic exegesis. while this could be a similarity it is not conclusive, it just shows you an alternative explanation to a traditional belief. Also about Paul epistles, again grammar and vocabulary don't match and other styles, etc. what does this prove. I say different scribes,not to mention the facts that he had different people helping him writing these epistles, Timothy, Silas, Luke, he had different audiences and many of his helpers like I mentioned above would have different editing choices and vocab. Of course someone may choose to believe to the contrary. But if i look the way I write 10 years ago, it is different to my use of grammar and vocab today.

My point is if I start rationalizing the Bible on modern literal standards, I would be out of context which is exactly what writers like Sparks are doing. The prophetic Words in the Bible were not spoken by man. The holy spirit spoke through them and even if someone say well they made some mistakes, well what kind of mistakes can you they really make, put it to a little test. what kind of mistake can you make when God speaks through you. I tell you you will not forget it for your entire life. Just like one can not forget the birth of his/her child. His many important moments. you will also make sure that you get it down exactly as it is.you will not have a casual attitude towards it.

Conforming to the view that bible is errant in many places, poses a far greater question as to how am I to discern which parts are inerrant? I hope you see my point. This view puts a lot of questions, but it supplies even less conclusive answers, it throws alternatives at us with little original roots since these arguments have been put forward before and only are based on how you interpret a 2000 years old book and how little we actually know about the background and life times of those people whom God chose to deliver and write his words.

We should never put our faith in man, on that I agree, never on words alone too; but on the Spirit of God, and that tells me that the word of God is true. It has meaning and purpose. Jesus authenticated the originality of the O.T when he said "Matthew 5:18, I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Don't you think that God does have a standard when it comes to his book and he sure sounds serious enough to me that he cares for what is written and what is not.
It would be a blessing if they missed the cairns and got lost on the way back. Or if
the Thing on the ice got them tonight.

I could only turn and stare in horror at the chief surgeon.
Death by starvation is a terrible thing, Goodsir, continued Stanley.
And with that we went below to the flame-flickering Darkness of the lower deck
and to a cold almost the equal of the Dante-esque Ninth Circle Arctic Night
without.


//johnadavid.wordpress.com

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#10

Post by jlay » Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:54 am

Neo,

Very well said. I think there has been a movement for a while to undermine the integrity of the scriptures. Some of this is more obvious than others. One that makes mountains out of mole hills. We know the limitations of translation. We don't need to be naive about it. But at the same time we don't need be so quick to decalre errancy. How would we know that Jesus is the WORD (logos) of God, except by the written word?

I think we've seen the subtle effects of subscribing to such things. That being believers beginning to question the reliability of the scripture, and thus pick and choose what to obey, or even how to obey. It's almost fashionable.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#11

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:22 am

Inerrancy can mean different things. If the issue is if every individual letter, punctuation mark, phrase etc. in what we have in the Bible is absolutely correct and preserved, then although we have a very reliable body of manuscripts and remarkable preservation, we don't have the original and so inerrency from that point of view is a moot point.

Too, unless we're dealing with the original languages and have the understanding to read and understand them in the manner that the original people do (again as much an art as a science) then we're dealing with translations and translations are not perfect so that is a moot point too.

Many who push inerrancy do it because their philosophical world view of God and how God should do things requires it. If there's a need to have a manual that can "never be wrong" which is tangible, can be held in the hands and gone to to solve any problem, then that need drives the establishment of the view. Unfortunately what happens often, is that there is always an element of human interpretation and understanding in approaching the text and this blurry dividing line can be ignored and what ends up being claimed is inerrant is our particular set of doctrines and creeds and if anyone dares to disagree with them or modify them then inerrency means that these people are questioning God and the Bible and since they can't be wrong, then we're never wrong.

I agree with what is being warned against above. We can go too far and slide to a point on the spectrum to where everything is arbitrary.

What's often not looked at in the fundamentalist and evangelical circles is that it is possible to have too high a view of Scripture or to confuse Scripture with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is possible to invoke a system of Bibliolatry to where we become people of a book instead of believers in a living, breathing relationship with God. The Bible points us toward Christ. It is not a fourth member of the Trinity nor is it intended to be the sum of all truth in the universe. There are many elements of truth that it is silent upon or incomplete in the sense a a catalog of all knowlege. I think it's fully sufficient for it's intended purpose.

Many scoff at the idea that Scripture can be looked at and relied upon too highly pointing instead to how many view it too lowly as if that were in and of itself a justification for overcompensating. The two conditions however are not mutually exclusive and the existence of one doesn't justify the establishment of the other. We need to come to a point of seeing the Scriptures in the role God intended for them and let that be our guide, not the need that our adopted system of approach requires or confusion of Scripture with it's interpretation.
Dogmatism is the comfortable intellectual framework of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is more decadent than the worst sexual sin. ~ Dan Allender

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#12

Post by PaulSacramento » Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:03 am

I think if we look at it from only TWO POV we don't get the right picture at all.
It's not a case of the bible being inerrant or not making it have value.
The bible has value far beyond "simple inerrancy".
The bible is a tool for us to find God, it points the way to God, it is vital, crucial and indespensible but so are the many other ways that God reveals "himself" to Us.
God is revealed in Nature, in the workings of the universe, in His only begotten Son, in the words of the many writers of the bible, in the Holy Spirit that guides us and reveals all to us.
We can't take any one of those things in isolation.
We can't take divine revelation by the HS as "truth" unless that divine revelation "matches" up to what we see and is revealed to us in Nature, in Christ and in the bible.
We have to take the bible for what it is, all that it is, and also have to realize what it is not ( like a science book for example).
When the bible says the sun rises in the east or that the earth doesn't move, we know that it is not the son that raises but the earth that rotates and we knwo this by nature so we don't cling to what was said as literal and concrete but as figuritive.
That doens't mean the bible is wrong or that the author is wrong, it means that he didn't mean what he said literally, no more than the ancient writer who said that Rome ruled the world or that Alexander's empire reached the very ends of the Earth.

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Re: Authors of the New Testament

#13

Post by neo-x » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:43 am

We have to take the bible for what it is, all that it is, and also have to realize what it is not ( like a science book for example).
When the bible says the sun rises in the east or that the earth doesn't move, we know that it is not the son that raises but the earth that rotates and we knwo this by nature so we don't cling to what was said as literal and concrete but as figuritive.
That doens't mean the bible is wrong or that the author is wrong, it means that he didn't mean what he said literally, no more than the ancient writer who said that Rome ruled the world or that Alexander's empire reached the very ends of the Earth.
:clap: BINGO...agreed to the fullest.
I agree with what is being warned against above. We can go too far and slide to a point on the spectrum to where everything is arbitrary.

What's often not looked at in the fundamentalist and evangelical circles is that it is possible to have too high a view of Scripture or to confuse Scripture with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is possible to invoke a system of Bibliolatry to where we become people of a book instead of believers in a living, breathing relationship with God. The Bible points us toward Christ. It is not a fourth member of the Trinity nor is it intended to be the sum of all truth in the universe. There are many elements of truth that it is silent upon or incomplete in the sense a a catalog of all knowlege. I think it's fully sufficient for it's intended purpose.

Many scoff at the idea that Scripture can be looked at and relied upon too highly pointing instead to how many view it too lowly as if that were in and of itself a justification for overcompensating. The two conditions however are not mutually exclusive and the existence of one doesn't justify the establishment of the other. We need to come to a point of seeing the Scriptures in the role God intended for them and let that be our guide, not the need that our adopted system of approach requires or confusion of Scripture with it's interpretation.
:esmile: you cleared everything out very well. i suppose if the Bible Bashers see the spirit of the Word of God and the Heart of God which is revealed through the Bible rather than finding word errors in words and calling them lies, I would not have to sound so defensive.

I did not mean that everything should be too heavily relied on scriptures alone and does not include morals, logic and general wisdom. What I meant is the fact that even if words changed or someone wrote in the bible something and do not know who he was, these are not grounds for destroying my faith in the Bible and calling it a lie. Because simply put my lack of facts do not over rule to what was written. I say again I do not believe the Bible to be defective (in context with Ehrman or Sparks). I do believe that errors can occur in transcribing or replicating or translating but a mere alternative choice of words can't change the theme of the message and as long as that holds true, I can not accept someone to call it a lie, just because it is primitive and they are not sure how authenticated it is?

Every religion in the world is influenced by men and vice versa. I believe because I choose to believe. If you find God, you do not necessarily need the Bible. God's eternal plan is in a book but by no means it is the only source there is. If they burn all the Bibles in the world just because they found out it was errant I am sure people will find a way to believe just like the early gentile church did who had no Bible.

The History of the Bible and how it came from the higher echelons of Catholic church to the hands of a meager peasant is remarkable indeed and therein lies the blood and prayers of hundreds of believers, martyrs who fought for a cause and were killed. Not because they understood everything that was said, neither because God revealed himself to them and tasked them to spread out his Word but the conviction that a change was called for, reason and faith demanded it. And a book it may be, but it tells everything one has to know to reach God. There have been innumerable testimonies throughout the globe about how someone came to Christ by just reading the Bible, without being evangelized by someone. Now that is remarkable.

And if one were to criticize and say that it proves nothing except the fact that the reader himself got excited. i would not think so since the Bible does say about the spirit of God that draws everyone to God. and as Paul writes in Romans 10

" How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"".

Having all of that, I must conclude that either the Word of God is true, not that the book in itself possess some magical enchantment but for the simple fact that what it says, works out, it adds up, it happens. Sometimes it is very hard to decide philosophically or even theologically if one finds some truth to both sides of the picture. which in this case is true.
It would be a blessing if they missed the cairns and got lost on the way back. Or if
the Thing on the ice got them tonight.

I could only turn and stare in horror at the chief surgeon.
Death by starvation is a terrible thing, Goodsir, continued Stanley.
And with that we went below to the flame-flickering Darkness of the lower deck
and to a cold almost the equal of the Dante-esque Ninth Circle Arctic Night
without.


//johnadavid.wordpress.com

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