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Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism Paperback – October 1, 2002
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From the Back Cover
New Testament textual criticism is an important but often overlooked field of study. Results drawn from textual studies bear important consequences for interpreting the New Testament and cannot be ignored by serious students of Scripture. This book introduces current issues in New Testament textual criticism and surveys the various methods used to determine the original text among variant readings.
This collection of essays represents the best of current scholarship and provides an excellent introduction to the field of New Testament textual criticism. ìRethinking New Testament Textual Criticism is based on a symposium where E. J. Epp, M. W. Holmes, J. K. Elliott, and M. A. Robinson made presentations of foundational issues that arise from current approaches to New Testament textual transmission. Especially noteworthy is the closing response, in which MoisÈs Silva offers a lively and forthright defense of the traditional task that confronts all textual critics. Readers of this book will be challenged and instructed in the art and science of textual criticism.î óBruce M. Metzger, Princeton Theological Seminary ìAn important ëturn of the centuryí contribution to New Testament textual criticism, this book addresses questions of methodology and allows proponents to speak for themselves and to one another. This book should serve as a useful introduction to the major issue in the field. I am glad to commend it.î óGordon Fee, Regent College David Alan Black (D. Theol., University of Basel) is professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous books, including Itís Still Greek to Me.
About the Author
David Alan Black (D.Theol., University of Basel) is professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous books, including It's Still Greek to Me.
Top customer reviews
The book is formatted well, but I wish that Black had required an internal outline to help us follow along while reading. It felt like some of the authors had a great outline planned out, but because I could not see it getting lost in sub-points and off-topic comments became frequent. Epp was notorious for this, and Silva was slightly guilty as well. However, Holmes was easy to read and keep focused with, while Robinson hit a home run with his easy to understand and well formatted essay. The reason why Epp's formatting problems were such an issue was because his essay took up half the book (up to page 77). Holmes took 25 pages, Elliot took 25 pages, Robinson took 15 pages, and in conclusion Silva only took 10 pages. This makes the poor outline problems with Epp a big issue. Apparently none of the other reviewers up to this point have felt the same way as I do, so this is based on my judgment alone (at this point), but I genuinely had a hard time staying focused on the current topic during different parts of Epp's essay.
The essays in the second half of the book were very enjoyable. I am still not sure which view I hold to, but hearing these men (who actively practice the methods they defend) argue for their own methods was intriguing, and I want more!
Overall, this book was certainly a good place to find out about the different viewpoints on how to practice textual criticism. I will probably re-read the main essays in the second half of the book in the future, and I can recommend it to others. 3.5 stars.
[Also, to clarify: If you are not a fan of Ehrman (like myself), you need not feel annoyed when Ehrman is praised in this book. This book was released back when The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture was his big claim to fame (and if I am not mistaken he was still a Christian when writing it). So in other words, his more recent controversial viewpoints were not published yet. Please understand this before feeling annoyed when he is praised by Epp, Elliot, and Silva.]
David Alan Black organized the Symposium so that students and faculty could hear the different schools of thought in modern New Testament textual criticism from their distinguished proponents, so that they might be better able to make up their own minds. So "Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism" is a good resource for those of us who are relatively new to the topic and have not as yet heard all the arguments. Eldon Jay Epp starts off by introducing the reader to five issues in textual criticism: choosing between variants, manuscripts, and critical editions, and choosing to consider context and goals. He explains the ideas that bear on these issues, including some more controversial contributions by Bart Ehrman and David Parker on the last two, and compares the state of textual criticism at the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th.
After that excellent introduction, Michael W. Holmes presents "The Case for Reasoned Eclecticism", the current orthodoxy, which combines external evidence (i.e. manuscript tradition) with internal criteria in choosing between variants. Holmes compares this approach to thoroughgoing eclecticism, which places more weight on internal criteria, and "documentary approaches", such as Byzantine priority, which place more weight on external evidence. J.K. Elliott follows with "The Case for Thoroughgoing Eclecticism", then Maurice A. Robinson with "The Case for Byzantine Priority". It helps to have some familiarity the major text-types and terms and symbols for different types of manuscripts, but these essays are generally easy to understand and offer a good introduction to the state of New Testament textual criticism.