1st century Gothic?


This is Lively Stone’s chance to tell me what he meant by his claim about 1st century Gothic, and what on earth this has to do with the preservation of Scripture.



Lively Stone,

You posted a reply to me on the “three reasons” thread, and I will respond to it here so as to give the topic its own thread. Thank you for providing this information, and I apologize for my rude tone earlier. However, if it does not offend you, I would like to know whether you have read the sources you are citing directly, or whether you are getting or information through some other source. In some cases it’s hard to discern exactly what a specific source is saying from the way you cite them.

BTW, note that you can get around the post limit by breaking your post up into several sections, as I am doing in order to address your arguments substantially.

There are several points on which we clearly agree. First of all, that Gothic is the earliest Germanic language of which we have any substantial written record. In the second place, that Ulfilas’s translation was made from the Greek text no earlier than the fourth century. And, of course, that the Goths had been around for some centuries before that.

However, the fact remains that we have no substantial texts in Gothic until the fourth century translation of Ulfilas. I was wrong in saying that the Goths had no writing before that—they did use runes apparently, but according to Wikipedia there are only a few Gothic runes, and the only one they list that predates the fourth century is an inscription on a spearhead. I do not need to refute your sources to show that, since none of your sources claim otherwise.

Speaking of your sources, it appears from what you have said elsewhere that you are relying on the work of G. A. Riplinger. It would have been courteous and honest of you to say this up front rather than giving the impression that you had yourself read the sources you cite. In all honesty, citing Riplinger does nothing to persuade me that you have a case—the one work of hers I have read (*New Age Bible Versions) *was riddled with laughable errors both in fact and in logic.

Gothic was a major world language spoken at the time of


Sure it was spoken in some form. But the only reference to the Goths from that era are brief allusions in Greco-Roman writers[FONT=Times New Roman][1]—we know almost nothing about them until the third century and certainly have none of their writings. Wikipedia,[2] citing the 1993 New Encyclopedia Britannica, says that Proto-Germanic had branched off into five other languages (including an “East Germanic” which would have been the ancestor of Gothic) by 250 B.C. But again, in the absence of any direct evidence, we can only speculate.[/FONT]

It was spoken as early as the “300s B.C.” [300 years

before Christ].

From your rather confusing system of references it appears that this is from World Book. I’ll go with Britannica (as cited by Wikipedia) over World Book, but the issue is not that important.

[/FONT][1][/FONT]http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/lrc/eieol/gotol-1-X.html: “Literary Origins of the Goths”

[/FONT][2] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Germanic


“Goths had been recruited in increasing

numbers into the Roman army.” “[T]heir relations with the
adjacent Roman empire were close…receiving diplomatic
subsidies and sending soldiers to fight” for Rome.”

This is true, but you do not give a date for this (you misleadingly imply that it was happening by the 300s B.C.). It did not happen until the Goths made contact with the Roman Empire in the third century. (See any history of the late Roman Empire—Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (chap. 10), while of course outdated, is as good a starting point as any.

The Gothic language was then one of those spoken in the
book of Acts chapter 2, when the disciples “were all filled
with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other
tongues…of every nation under heaven.” “[E]very man
heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:4, 6, 7).

You provide absolutely no evidence that Gothic was one of these languages. If you are seriously arguing that representatives of every single language in the world were there, then this would have to include Chinese, Thai, African languages, Native American languages, Australian languages. Everything else that you go on to claim would apply to those languages as well, so I don’t see how this argument is going to help you. If you are not arguing that speakers of, say, Australian Aboriginal languages were there, then how are you going to argue that Goths were there? Goths are not mentioned in Acts. It’s true that the sixth-century writer Jordanes, in his history of the Goths (chaps. 4ff), places the Goths in Scythia following a very ancient migration from Scandinavia, and I suspect that this is what Riplinger is relying on (directly or indirectly). However, no modern scholar accepts this theory as far as I know. The more skeptical scholars actually challenge the Scandinavian origin theory as well (see the Wikipedia article on “Goths”), since the literary references I referred to earlier put the Goths in present-day Poland during the first century. Most scholars, though, accept the theory but hold that the Goths migrated to Poland from Scandinavia. Jordanes was writing at the court of a Gothic king and had every reason to exaggerate the antiquity and prowess of the Goths, linking them to the ancient Scythians and Dacians. Furthermore, you (following Riplinger?) admit just below that they did not enter Scythia until at least the second century (I would say third, but that’s not terribly important).


Those unnamed Christians who received this Gothic gospel

message, took it to the Goths, obeying Christ’s command to
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel” (Mark
16:15)…“unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

This is pure speculation.

“[A]bout the middle of the second century [A.D. 150]”

It’s certainly possible that the migration began then.


“the early centuries A.D.

Why qualify a more precise date with a vaguer one?

…[the Goths] swept southeastward

across Europe to the Black Sea.”

This is correct. They entered “Scythia” in the third century.

God drew them from

Scandinavia to Scythia (modern Romania and Bulgaria)

And points north and east, but Jordanes does seem to have Romania in mind when he speaks of Scythia.

This would indicate that Riplinger’s reference to Goths at Pentecost does not rest on the Scythian theory, since she is now admitting that they weren’t there in the first century.


meet the recently completed New Testament half way. The
Goths “migrated into Scythia” and became part of the

“Barbarian, Scythian,” people mentioned in Paul’s letter to
the Colossians (3:11).

But when Paul wrote Colossians, by your admission above, the Goths were not yet in Scythia!

“At this time a vast number of Goths

were Christians”

At what time?

“During the preceding century Christianity had been

planted sporadically among the Goths beyond the Danube,
through the agency in part of Christian captives,…and in
part of merchants and traders.”

Presumably the EB is talking about the third century—the century before Ulfilas.

“[T]he Goths were

acquainted with Christianity before Ulfilas, [also called [/COLOR]
Wulfila, ‘the apostle’ to the Goths] through missionary
work in their territory…” “By Ulfilas’ time, the Visigoths
[West Goths] were aware of Christianity not only because
of their captives but also through the missionaries who had
come to preach among them.” (EB, s.v. Ulfilas; Camb. Hist. Vol. 2, p.

339; The Bible Through the Ages, p. 224.)

I will grant that point, since your sources here appear to be both clear and impeccable. However, there is no evidence whatever that the Bible was translated into Gothic before Ulfilas.


The original New Testament was complete before

A.D. 100; the Gothic Bible must have been
translated immediately to fill the need of the nearby
Gothic Christians,

There’s no “must” here at all. You have provided no evidence for Gothic Christians this early, since your claim that there were Goths at Pentecost is groundless, and the citations about Christians being captured by Goths are referring to the third century, when the Goths invaded the Roman Empire. Furthermore, you are assuming that Christians can’t go for any length of time without a Bible in their own language. This is using theology to dictate history, and it will not cut any ice in a debate.

“But now is made manifest, and by the

scriptures…made known to all nations”
(Rom. 16:26),

You are distorting the Scriptural text by your selective quotation. The text actually reads (vv. 25-27, KJV):

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

26But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
27To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

You are assuming that Paul is saying that the Scriptures have been made known. But that is not what the Greek text says. The participle “gnoristhentos,” which means “made known,” is genitive masculine singular, agreeing with “the mystery” in v. 25 (or possibly with “the everlasting God,” although this is a much less likely reading). It can’t possibly be referring to “the scriptures of the prophets,” which is genitive *plural. *(And yes, I checked the Textus Receptus, at afii.org/hpgbypg/gknttr.htm.) Furthermore, you run into the same problem as with Pentecost—if “all nations” really means every single nation in the world, then by your logic the Scriptures must have been also translated into every single language in the world. Are you really claiming that the Bible existed in all the languages of Papua New Guinea in the first century? Too bad all those poor Wycliffe missionaries don’t have access to these translations—they wouldn’t have to work so hard bringing the written Word of God to the peoples of the world. . . .

“the word of the truth of the
gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in
all the world; and bringeth forth fruit” (Col.
1:5, 6).

This does not mention Scripture—and of course the “all the world” argument applies again.


God promised “the thoughts of his heart to all generations”

(Ps. 33:11). Confirming this promise, even scholars
recognize that the Gothic alphabet [and Bible] may have
existed before the A.D. 350 edition, attributed to Ulfilas by
secular historian Philostorgius, writing in A.D. 433. (The First

Germanic Bible, p. xv; Late Antiquity, s.v. Philostorgius; Bruce Metzger, The Early
Versions, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977, pp. 376, 377, n. 4, 5.)

May have is not “did.” The argument remains highly speculative. And why is “and Bible” in square brackets? What did Metzger actually say? Is “and Bible” an addition of Riplinger? Given her usual methods, both in New Age Bible Versions and in what you have been citing, I do not trust her one inch. She does not lie, but she is so biased and bigoted that she distorts evidence right, left, and center. (I note that in another post you claim that these pre-Ulfilas versions were destroyed by Diocletian–again you have no evidence for this.)

Summary: you have provided not one shred of evidence for a first-century Gothic manuscript of the Bible. You have made an unsupported argument that there were Goths at Pentecost, and have deduced from this airy basis a speculation that there must have been a first-century Gothic Bible, supported by a vague (and poorly documented, because you don’t say which of your sources is saying this) speculation that Ulfilas may not have been as original as Philostorgius thought. Furthermore, you admit in another thread that your source for all of this is Gail Riplinger, whom I know to be one of the most notorious and unreliable propagandists out there.

So I’m sorry, but my earlier claims stand, however rudely they were phrased. You have no evidence. You have the usual Riplinger pseudo-scholarship—lots of impressive looking citations that melt away when you look at them and do not say what you say they say.

And finally, you still have not told us what any of this proves!

In Christ,


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.