Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism


  1. I recently attended a conference on the text and canon of Scripture by a few men who are critical of a method of textual criticism which attempts to "recover the original text." These are the same Reformed Baptists James White has been going back and forth with for a while now. It provided some interesting food for thought, at least:

    1. I haven't watched White's DL's on that controversy. Can you summarize the argument? Do they deny that there's an Ur-text to recover? Or do they just object to the methods and assumptions of someone like Metzger?

    2. They definitely object to the methodology of Metzger, but they can't possibly deny the potential of a recovering an "original text." However, I believe they would question our ability to identify it as such through purely scientific or contemporary text-critical methods.

      Their arguments briefly summarized: It is possible that we may either discover earlier manuscript copies, more variant readings, and/or discover that the provenance of copies we have is questionable. As such, so-called "earliest," "majority," or "best" manuscript evidence we currently have carry less defensible weight than eventual ecclesiastical reception of the canon and text of Scripture in history - i.e evidence for the the "confessional" view of the divine preservation and inspiration of His word (e.g. WCF and LBC 1.8) - although any arguments must be admittedly be ultimately subordinated to the "epistemic foundation of Protestantism," the self-authentication of Scripture to believers by the Holy Spirit (WCF and LBC 1.5).

      I have my own questions regarding the position they presented, but I do have to say that I am not much in favor of the idea that we must somehow "reconstruct" God's word through a process of reasoning based on available empirical evidence.