Evangelical Textual Criticism

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The NIV 50th Anniversary (Commissioned 1965)

 This year, 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the New International Version (NIV) in 1965. The actual translation was published in 1978.

Pressrelease from Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI) -- April 1, 2015:
In 1965, the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) took on the most massive translation project of modern times: to prepare a contemporary English translation of the Bible from the best available original manuscripts. Since its release in 1978, the NIV has become the world’s most read and most trusted modern-English Bible translation with over 450 million copies distributed worldwide. Upon the 1978 release of the NIV, readers were ecstatic that they could finally understand the Word of God in contemporary language. But the CBT’s work was far from complete. A smaller group of committee scholars assembled study notes, maps, charts and diagrams to provide additional content and context, resulting in the NIV Study Bible. This Bible released in 1985 and provided unprecedented clarity with over 20,000 study notes and hundreds of study tools available to readers. The NIV Study Bible was designed for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the Bible. To date, the NIV Study Bible has sold more than 10 million copies, making it the best-selling single study Bible available over the past 30 years. For additional information on the NIV 50th Anniversary, please visit www.thenivbible.com.

During 2015, you will find free stories, videos, app, reading plan, and other stuff on this website, that describes the history, honor the translators, and celebrates the impact of the NIV around the world. For instance, you can watch the video, "Made to Study" featuring members of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), Douglas Moo (chair), David Instone-Brewer (colleague of our bloggers of Tyndale House), Paul Swarup, Karen Jobes and others, which outlines the work they perform on this ongoing translation committee.

I would love to see some more resources on the textcritical work behind the translation of both the Old and New Testaments. In the meantime, you can read my old blogpost about the Greek NT text(s) underlying the New International Version (which has been reevaluated twice for the TNIV).

Monday, May 25, 2015

Articles on Five New Editions of the Hebrew Bible

1 comment:
I recently learned two things I didn’t know: there are five editions of the Hebrew Bible in various stages of production and there is a new Hebrew Bible journal with a number of good articles on these editions.

The journal is called Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel (HeBAI), published by Mohr Siebeck apparently as a counterpart to Early Christianity. The 2nd and 3rd volumes have issues dedicated to these new editions. I was only aware of two of these, so I was glad to have essays gathered together on all five.

I’ll share the table of contents for the two volumes along with a short description of the five editions I culled from the introductory essay. I should also point out that Ron Hendel’s essay is especially good and is available free online.

The Five Editions

  1. Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ) directed by A. Schenker. The successor to Biblia Hebraica series. Now with a half dozen fascicles available. The fascicles have lots of text critical comments and I understand the hope is to publish these separately once the OT is complete.
  2. Biblia Qumranica (BQ) directed by A. Lange. This is essentially an edition of all the Biblical material from Qumran. So far there is one volume available on the Minor Prophets (Brill, 2005). 
  3. Hebrew University Bible Project (HUB) directed by M. Segal. So far three volumes have been published with extensive introductions according to E. Tov. These cover Isaiah (1965), Jeremiah (1995), and Ezekiel (2004), all published by Magnes. I understand this is a diplomatic edition like BHQ.
  4. Hebrew Bible: Critical Edition (HBCE) directed by Ron Hendel. Formerly the Oxford Hebrew Bible (OHB), this edition is now to be published by SBL. Samples, introductory material, and a list of participants are online here. Randall Buth has questioned the need for such an edition on the blog in the past.
  5. Der Samaritanische Pentateuch (SP) directed by S. Schorch. An introduction to this edition from Schorch is available here.

Essays on the Five Editions

HeBAI, vol. 2, no. 1 (2013)
  • Evaluating New Editions of the Hebrew Scriptures (pp. 1-5)
    Knoppers, Gary N.
  • The Edition Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ) (pp. 6-16)
    Schenker, Adrian
  • The Biblia Qumranica as a Synoptic Edition of the Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls (pp. 17-37)
    Lange, Armin
  • The Hebrew University Bible Project (pp. 38-62)
    Segal, Michael
  • The Oxford Hebrew Bible: Its Aims and a Response to Criticisms (pp. 63-99)
    Hendel, Ronald
  • A Critical editio maior of the Samaritan Pentateuch: State of Research, Principles, and Problems (pp. 100-120)
    Schorch, Stefan
HeBAI, vol. 3, no. 4 (2014)
  • The Theory and Practice of Textual Criticism (pp. 355-362)
    Knoppers, Gary N.
  • Scribal Practices and Approaches Revisited (pp. 363-374)
    Tov, Emanuel
  • New Editions of the Hebrew Scriptures: A Response (pp. 375-383) [This a response to the essays in volume 2]
    Tov, Emanuel
  • Comments on New Editions of the Hebrew Scriptures (pp. 384-391) [This a response to the essays in volume 2]
    Williamson, H.G.M.
  • The Idea of a Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible: A Genealogy (pp. 392-423) [online here]
    Hendel, Ronald
  • The Question of the So-Called Qumran Orthography, the Severus Scroll, and the Masoretic Text (pp. 424-475)
    Lange, Armin
  • The Rationale for the Society of Biblical Literature Commentary on the Septuagint (pp. 476-490)
    Hiebert, Robert J.V.

Concept Video of HBCE/OHB Electronic Edition

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Luther’s Notes Discovered - in a library!

News in from the BBC
A first edition of one of the most important works of the man who inspired the Protestant Reformation has been discovered in a library in France. The publication by German theologian Martin Luther, called On the Freedom of a Christian, dates back to 1520.
This was a year before he was excommunicated by the Pope for criticising the Catholic Church.It includes around 50 notes written in red by Luther himself, indicating changes he wanted for a second edition.
The American who made the discovery, James Hirsten, said it gave an important insight into Luther’s thinking at the time.

The annotated edition was found in The Humanist Library in Selestat, in the north-east of France.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Poll: What’s the Goal of Textual Criticism?

“Original text”?
Not long ago I read the entry on New Testament textual criticism in a very good dictionary that claimed that the goal of textual criticism has shifted so that today the quest for the “original text” has been displaced by a quest for the “initial text.” The article left the impression that this was now a settled matter.

When I read this it struck me as an exaggeration. True, the most widely-used edition (Nestle-Aland) has shifted its stated aim to the initial text, but have any other editions or editors shifted with it? I wondered.

So I asked several editors who have edited or are editing a Greek New Testament (all reasoned eclectics for what it’s worth) and the answer back was basically no. They’ve aimed their editions at the earliest attainable text, a text which they thought was substantially identical to the original (no scare quotes).

But I’m curious what readers of the blog think. Hence the poll: What is your preferred term for the goal of textual criticism? Vote below and then define (and defend) your preferred term in the comments. We’ll see if there’s any substantial shift afoot among the blog readers. (Note: the question is not whether you think such a goal is always attainable.)

What is the goal of textual criticism?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why Peter Williams Does Not Believe in the Septuagint

If you hang around Peter Williams long enough you will learn not to speak of the Septuagint unless you want a short lesson on the history of the translation of the Old Testament into Greek. In a recent lecture, Peter gave his reasons why he doesn’t believe in the Septuagint and why you shouldn’t either. You can watch the video on YouTube.

New article: Evans on Books, Autographs and NT Textual Criticism

1 comment:
Craig A. Evans, ‘How Long Were Late Antique Books in Use? Possible Implications for New Testament Textual Criticism’ Bulletin of Biblical Research 25 (2015), 23-37.
Abstract: Recent study of libraries and book collections from late antiquity has shown that literary works were read, studied, annotated, corrected, and copied for two or more centuries before being retired or discarded. Given that there is no evidence that early Christian scribal practices differed from pagan practices, we may rightly ask whether early Christian writings, such as the autographs and first copies of the books that eventually would be recognized as canonical Scripture, also remained in use for 100 years or more. The evidence suggests that this was in fact the case. This sort of longevity could mean that at the time our extant Greek NT papyri were written in the late second and early to mid-third centuries, some of the autographs and first copies were still in circulation and in a position to influence the form of the Greek text.
This is a very interesting article which raises some good questions. Essentially, basing himself on the work of Houston on Roman Libraries, Evans thinks that normal papyrus bookrolls in antiquity would have been in use for a long time (an average of 150 years, p. 26). This suggests to Evans that the NT autographs would probably have survived several hundred years (this he takes to be supported by Tertullian’s knowledge of autographs of Paul’s letters kept in the churches to which they were written). The implication for NT textual criticism is that ‘the longevity of these manuscripts [i.e. the autographs] in effect form a bridge linking the first-century autographs and first copies to the great codices, via the early papyrus copies that we possess.’ (p. 35) I’m not convinced by any of the steps in this argument, but it may be helpful to have a conversation about this in the coming days.