Back in October I posted a query about the strengths and weaknesses of evangelical textual criticism. In the light of the discussion of Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus it seems that we might benefit from further discussion of this. In particular it would be worthwhile discussing the problems posed by textual criticism for the idea that God inspired particular words and their sequence within scripture.
Verbal inspiration is not merely an evangelical concept, but one presupposed in OT phrases that speak of God's 'words' (e.g. Ps. 119:130). This pre-Christian idea has at various times been embraced by a wide range of historic churches. In fact, verbal inspiration has proven such a powerful notion that it has even been attributed to translations of the Bible, e.g. the Septuagint, or part thereof (Philo, De Vita Mosis 2.37-38), Vulgate, and, in the last century, even the KJV. This of course raises the question of the extent of such inspiration. We should avoid multiplying unnecessarily entities that have been thus inspired. Protestants at the Reformation maintained that verbal inspiration applied to the Hebrew/Aramaic text of the OT and the Greek of the NT, and evangelicals have generally continued in the same belief. My questions are as follows:
1) What, according to textual criticism, are the principal problems with maintaining that the 39 + 27 books of the (Protestant) Bible are verbally inspired in the original languages?
2) What are the ways one might go about addressing these problems?