I was attempting to explain this blog to a colleague the other morning and I don’t think he was completely satisfied. Or perhaps he just wants an argument. He wrote me an email:
“I would place textual criticism as a necessary foundation to all NT and OT studies. If we cannot trust the text, we cannot trust the message that springs out of it. Where there is doubt or the hint of doubt, this opens the door to evangelicals to import radical methods of textual criticism that reflect the belief system of non-evangelicals arising from their non-evangelical belief in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.
The fundamental issue that evangelicals must address at some stage in their academic career is how far can an evangelical adopt an eclectic approach to Scripture and remain an ‘evangelical’? By eclectic, I mean, one who creates a text that is not found in any MS, or is a hybrid text, which is not found in any family of MSS, or they invent a reading in the hope that it solves some perceived difficulty in the latest printed text.
It seems to me that you cannot have an “evangelical” textual criticism, when there is no consensus of what an evangelical position is on this topic. If a site like ETC is to have a goal it should work toward a consensus among evangelicals which should rule out some DIY approaches and agree on some parameters arising from an evangelical concensus on the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, or is there no consensus on that doctrine among evangelicals? Maybe ETC needs to work out a statement of faith on an ETC doctrine of inspiration of Scripture before it can move on to a statement about what an “Evangelical” position on Textual Criticism would look like?”
Leslie McFall (www.btinternet.com/~lmf12)