Friday, January 18, 2019

Septuagint Summer Course at Trinity Western

Please see the flyer below announcing the Septuagint Summer School course, June 24–28, 2019, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm (Pacific Daylight Time), to be taught by Dr. John Screnock, Research Fellow in Hebrew Bible, University of Oxford.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Leander Keck on Textual Criticism and Inerrancy

I once had the pleasure of meeting Leander Keck in Cambridge where he used to attend the NT seminars when he was in town. Since then I have tried, from time to time, to read some of his work.

Here is a bit from one of his very early books on his theological approach to the Bible called Taking the Bible Seriously. It is basically an attempt to maintain some authority for the Bible while giving full reign to historical criticism. Here is what he says in a brief aside on textual criticism:
It is amazing how fundamentalism* talks so confidently about the inerrant, perfect, infallible character of the original Autographs of the Bible when no one has seen one for more than eighteen centuries! Moreover, it is clear that originally no one thought the wording was perfect since copyists, translators, and authors had little fear of changing it. This is one reason the text critic’s task is so complex. He aims to unravel these changes in order to provide a text which is reasonably reliable. He has no perfect text to offer (pp. 56–57).
I don’t have much to say on this since we’ve discussed inerrancy plenty on the blog and Keck isn’t saying anything that Warfield hadn’t addressed in his day (see here). I quote it here as just another example of the objection.

*In a footnote, he explains: “In this essay, the term ‘fundamentalism’ is used loosely to characterize right-wing Protestantism in general. The term has a checkered history.” From there he goes on short description of the history of the Fundamentals and mentions “more sophisticated” fundamentalists who are fleeing the term. He mentions those involved with Christianity Today and Inter-Varsity Fellowship and concludes, “Recently, conversation has been resumed between sophisticated fundamentalists and the other wings of Protestantism; this is clearly a good omen.” (He doesn’t say who or what it is a good omen for.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Dr. Will Kynes to Lecture at Phoenix Seminary Next Month

I am excited to announce that Will Kynes will be giving a lecture in the Chapel at Phoenix Seminary on his latest OUP monograph: An Obituary for “Wisdom Literature”: The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus. Students and the general public in and around the Phoenix area are invited to attend the lecture on February 4th at 10:00. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

P. J. Williams to Give Cooley Lecture at Gordon-Conwell

At the end of this month, Peter Williams is set to give the Cooley Lecture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte) on a topic that will be of interest to our readers. Here is the info from the brochure.

Can We Know the Exact Words of God? 

Peter J. Williams
Principal of Tyndale House in Cambridge
January 24–25, 2019

About the Event 

These lectures engage with some of the most common questions asked by those seeking a solid grasp of an evangelical doctrine of Scripture. They argue that God can be correctly described as having given us books, which are made up of specific verbal sequences, which are in turn made up of specific words.

Schedule and Location 

Patrons’ Reception: Thursday, January 24, 2019 - 6:00 PM – Room 122A
Lecture: 7:00 PM each evening – Room 219

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
14542 Choate Circle
Charlotte, NC 28273-9103

For any questions concerning the lecture events, please contact Mark Poe at or 704-435-6408.

Lecture 1 (January 24) 

Can we know the exact words of Scripture? Evangelical Christians hold Scripture to be their supreme authority. Evangelicals often identify their supreme authority as the ‘original text’ of the Bible. But haven’t the originals been lost? Isn’t it problematic to adhere to a non-existent authority? And how are we to decide which text to follow when manuscripts disagree? What are we to do when a New Testament quotation seems to differ radically from the Old Testament text it is quoting? This lecture will argue that the classic evangelical understanding of Scripture is robust today and is able to deal with the data of the manuscripts. However, one of the main risks to evangelicals comes through widespread misunderstanding of what they believe. Lazy thinking and confused use of terminology represent major threats to the spread of evangelical approaches today.

Lecture 2 (January 25) 

Can we know the exact words of Jesus? For Christians the teachings of Jesus hold a key place within their supreme authority. But if he taught in Aramaic and we have his words only in Greek, aren’t Christians cut off from their supreme source? Haven’t Jesus’s words been corrupted during transmission to us? Has the church been corrupted by Greek culture and ideas away from its original Semitic identity? This lecture explores various contemporary claims which stress the distance between us and the teaching of Jesus and argues that we can have reliable knowledge of the teaching of Jesus today

For a list of past Cooley lectures from speakers that include Dan Wallace and Mike Holmes, see here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Anthony Ferguson on Texts Preserving Psalms from Qumran

Last week, guest blogger, Anthony Ferguson, described his recently defended and completed dissertation on the ‘Non-Aligned’ Texts of Qumran and reported on its major conclusions. I asked Anthony to write another post on the texts preserving Psalms at Qumran, and he kindly obliged. Thank you, Anthony, for your labors, and we look forward to reading more of your work in these areas in the future.

11QPs-a (XX-XXIV; Image from Leon Levy Library)
The texts preserving Psalms from Qumran classified by scholars as biblical texts are significant for the fluid/standard text debate because they preserve large-scale differences that designate them in the mind of many scholars as an alternative tradition or edition of the Psalter (e.g., Sanders, Ulrich, and Flint). Contrary to these scholars, many others understand these texts to be secondary to the MT, and not strictly biblical texts at all but liturgical texts (e.g., Talmon, Gottstein, Skehan, and Tov). Despite Tov viewing many of these texts as non-biblical, he still labels them non-aligned. I understand these texts to be based on a Masoretic like text and secondary to the Masoretic Psalter. Thus, I label many of these texts as texts belonging to the Masoretic tradition that contain liturgical alterations.

Types of Differences found among the Texts Preserving Psalms

11Q5 (11QPs-a) generally represents the types of differences preserved in the texts preserving Psalms from Qumran. The major differences preserved in 11Q5 include a different sequence of Psalms, the inclusion of Psalms not found in the Masoretic Psalter, and large-scale additions.

Sanders, the editor of 11Q5 in DJD, argued that 11Q5 represented a genuine Psalter. Sanders’ reasons included the following: his belief that David was the author of the Psalter, the nature of the non-Masoretic Psalms, the presence of large-scale additions such as superscriptions and interjections, and the fact that 11Q6 (11QPs-b) appears to be another copy of the text preserved in 11Q5 (whether 4Q87 represents this same text is debated).

11Q5 as secondary and dependent on the Masoretic Psalter

Contrary to Sanders, I argued that 11Q5 is secondary to and dependent on the Masoretic Psalter. First, I believe that the major differences that distinguish 11Q5 from the MT can reasonably be explained as liturgical adjustments. For example, the different sequence of Psalms can be attributed to liturgical traditions that recognize a stable Masoretic Psalter (see m. Tamid 7:4). Moreover, the inclusion of non-canonical psalms is a phenomenon found in texts that preserve the Masoretic Psalter. The LXX superscription to Psalm 151 demarcates this text as non-canonical, and thus, shows that ancient Jews did not have a fundamental problem with combining canonical and non-canonical psalms together in the same scroll. Last, one should note that there are analogies in later Jewish liturgical texts to many of the large-scale additions preserved in 11Q5. Space permits only a few examples. The liturgical function of the Hallel Psalms (Pss 113-118) during the feast of Booths led to additions in the liturgy. For example, if a slave, woman, or minor answers the reader of the Psalms, they were to repeat what was said. If an adult male answered the reader, he was only obligated to respond halleluyah (m. Sukk. 3:10). Local customs then permit further types of repetition. Moreover, as the Levites walked around the altar, it was known that they would repeat portions of Psalm 118:25: אָנָא ייי הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא אָנָּא והוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא, “Save now, we beseech thee, O Lord! We beseech thee, O Lord” (m. Sukk. 4:5). Thus, there appears some precedent for dissecting and reworking Masoretic Psalms for liturgical purposes in liturgical traditions that clearly recognized a stable Masoretic Psalter. Overall, it seems that the major differences that distinguish 11Q5 from the MT are liturgically motivated.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Logos in Oxford, 29 May–12 June 2019

Our friends at SCIO are planning another Logos conference in Oxford this summer:

Logos in Oxford

A summer workshop on biblical texts, vocation, and the Christian mind

Offered by SCIO with funding provided by Steve and Jackie Green

To be held at St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford
Programme dates: 29 May–12 June 2019

This workshop is primarily intended for graduate students (including graduating seniors who will begin advanced studies in Autumn 2019) working in Biblical-related studies with a special focus on ancient texts and manuscripts, history of the Bible, reception history, ancient languages (with a Biblical focus), and related disciplines. Working on Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative projects is no longer a prerequisite, though students working on Scholars Initiative Projects are particularly encouraged to apply.

Logos in Oxford offers an opportunity to be taught by academic experts in the fields of history, theology, and textual studies.

The award of a place at Logos in Oxford 2019 will cover travel to and from Oxford (including air travel), as well as board and lodging during the workshop. In addition, participants will receive a generous stipend. Up to thirty places are available in 2019.

Fore more information and application forms click here:  Logos Conference

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Important Series for New Testament Textual Criticism

I’m slowly working on a syllabus for a new ThM-level course in NT textual criticism and that means putting together a student-friendly bibliography. I thought it might be helpful to students to have a list of the most important text-critical series. Here’s what I have so far. See what you think. Anything I should add or change?

ANTF = Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung (transl. Works on New Testament textual research). Published by de Grutyer and edited by the director of INTF (formerly Kurt Aland and now Holger Strutwolf). Includes the extremely important Text und Textwert series as well as a number of other very important works. 50 volumes. Full list at
(N)CHB = (New) Cambridge History of the Bible. Organized chronologically and covering a full range of issues, the series was recently updated in a completely new edition, but the original volumes are still worth consulting. Orig. 3 volumes; now 4 volumes. Full list at
NTGF = New Testament in the Greek Fathers. A series started, I believe, by Gordon Fee to study the text used by the Greek Fathers and now published by SBL. It was founded with special attention to methodological refinements and that remains a hallmark. 9 volumes. Full list at
NTTSD = New Testament Studies, Tools, and Documents. Arguably the premier series for text-critical research. This series combines and continues two older series: New Testament Tools and Studies (NTTS), founded in 1965 and Studies and Documents (SD), founded in 1935. 60 volumes. Full list at
Swanson = New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines Against Codex Vaticanus by Reuben J. Swanson. The subtitle tells you what you need to know. This novel format led to a quite useful series which gives an immediate sense of variation in the select manuscripts and is often the quickest route to full collations of important manuscripts. Dogged only by its regular lists of errata, Swanson died before finishing the series and it is now in the hands of Kent Clarke. 9 volumes. Full list with lots of background on Swanson’s work at
T&S = Texts and Studies. Another good series, this one now published as a “third series” by Gorgias. Noteworthy for, among other things, publishing papers from the biennial Birmingham Colloquium on New Testament Textual Criticism. 18 volumes. Full list at For reprints of the older, “first series,” see
TCS = Text-Critical Studies. A series published by SBL Press and currently edited by Michael W. Holmes. Covering both testaments, this series has not been as significant as the others but may be more notable for being the only affordable one! Under the direction of Holmes, it is once again publishing new volumes after a hiatus. 11 volumes. Full list at
Important text critical works are sometimes published in other major series such as LNTS, SNTSSup, NovTSup, etc. and as individual volumes by the major publishers.