Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Three TC articles at CT

Over Christianity Today there are three articles on textual criticism including:

1. On the Pericope adulterae with Is 'Let Him Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Stone' Biblical? by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra. It includes this quote:

"Such judgments [about the inauthenticity of the pericope] raise questions about what words like canonicity and inspiration mean for evangelicals. If we reserve the word inspired for the text in the earliest manuscripts, yet accept that other material (such as the pericope adulterae) should be included in our biblical canon, are we implying that select biblical passages may be canonical yet not inspired? If so, what should we do with this distinction?"

2. There is some Q & A with Dan Wallace about his trip to Albania by Derek Keefe.

3. Finally, there is a "classic" article on Textual Criticism and Inerrancy by J.I. Packer which answers the question, "How can I reconcile my belief in the inerrancy of Scripture with comments in Bible translations that state that a particular verse is not 'in better manuscripts'?"

17 comments:

  1. I'll take a crack at this first...

    "If we reserve the word inspired for the text in the earliest manuscripts,"

    ... but we don't. Inspiration is limited to the actual text written for/by an Apostle of the New Testament...

    "yet accept that other material (such as the pericope adulterae) should be included in our biblical canon,

    ... but we don't. The canon is limited to the text of inspired writings only.

    "are we implying that select biblical passages may be canonical yet not inspired? If so, what should we do with this distinction?"

    No, so nothing needs to be done.

    I have a problem with Dr. Daniel Wallace and others putting the OT Apocrypha in the NET "Bible." I don't have a problem with those OT Apocrypha works; I just can't imagine any good reason for putting them in a collection called the "Bible." If they rename the NET Bible to "The NET Bible and the OT Apocrypha" then I don't have a problem.

    Does anyone else have a problem with the Apocrypha being placed in the NET Bible?

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  2. Does anyone else have a problem with the Apocrypha being placed in the NET Bible?

    Not at all. After all, it's not the "New EVANGELICAL Translation." Read McDonald on the Biblical canon and Hengel on the Septuagint before assuming that the deuterocanonicals have no place in the Bible.

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  3. Anonymous (hey, that's me)... how about, Anon 2

    Better yet, would you define what you mean by "Bible"? Wittgenstein has rightly been credited with the statement "there are no genuine disputes, only vague and undefined terms."

    Remember, as an Evangelical, I define the OT canon based on the statements of Christ. For example, Christ credits Isaiah as the writer of what some call deutero-Isaiah passages. Hence, I would argue that Christ, as God, was correct in all His statements and His statements have essentially been preserved (contra Jesus Seminar).

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  4. Just a few days ago I posted this:
    textualcriticism list

    Lets see, if I did this coding correctly. :-)

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  5. maurice a robinson5:10 pm, April 24, 2008

    Three times yesterday I besought the Blogsite to let me post the following, but it apparently had no grace sufficient to allow it to appear. Trying again:

    I find it somewhat humorous that I was among the various scholars interviewed by Ms Zylstra for the CT story on the PA (via email on two occasions).

    Apparently I may have been the only interviewee who not only advocated the PA as an authentic incident, but also as fully inspired and canonical, and also as Johannine, belonging within the GJn at the traditional location . I also provided Ms Zylstra with some internal considerations relevant to Johannine authenticity of the passage.

    Apparently such a traditional and conservative claim couldn't make the cut....

    In the article as e-published, however, I wonder why Wallace is supposedly so "amazed" that out of 47 MSS (mostly minuscule) from Albania, 3 of those MSS lacked the PA entirely, 1 MS had it at the end of Jn, and 1 MS had it added in by a later scribe.

    All this is quite normal and typical; nothing at all unusual about that circumstance, as can be demonstrated from my collation data.

    When Wallace suggests that "This is way out of proportion for manuscripts from the 9th century and following" -- such simply is not correct.

    Out of the approximately 280 MSS that omit the PA, more than 260 of these are post-9th century minuscules, as compared with 18 pre-9th century papyri and uncials [out of 35 containing that area of relevant text] that omit the PA.

    Further, at least 26 post-9th century minuscule MSS relocate the PA to the end of Jn, and at least 32 post-9th century minuscule MSS that originally omitted the PA have it inserted either in the margin or on an added leaf.

    So why should anyone wonder or be "amazed" at any of these circumstances that happen to repeat themselves in reasonable proportion among the 47 Albanian MSS?

    Perhaps of more pertinent interest is the question: how many of the 47 MSS include the PA at the traditional location?

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  6. Dr. Robinson:

    Could it be that Dr. Wallace was amazed at the numbers since all these mss were in the same location? One might find the kind of numbers you cite with mss that are found randomly, but would we expect to find mss in one location that vary according to Dr. Wallace's assessment? Of course, who knows from whence all those mss came.

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  7. maurice a robinson6:40 pm, April 24, 2008

    Anon: would we expect to find mss in one location that vary according to Dr. Wallace's assessment?

    No reason why not; although the matter of original provenance is seriously distorted after MSS are relocated to various libraries and museums (as is the apparent case with Albania), even though in some localities a general conception of provenance still can be maintained.

    Perhaps the following examples will illustrate the point (tabulated from my collation data):

    Sinai has 9 MSS that omit the PA altogether.

    Istanbul has 3 such MSS.

    Jerusalem has 4 such MSS.

    Patmos has one MS that omits the PA altogether, and 4 MSS that have it inserted by a later corrector.

    Athens has 14 MSS that omit the PA altogether, and 4 MSS that have it inserted by a later corrector.

    Athos has 35 MSS that omit the PA altogether, 4 MSS that have it inserted by a later corrector, and 6 MSS that relocate it to the end of Jn.

    Rome has 21 MSS that omit the PA altogether, 1 MS that has it inserted by a later corrector, and 2 MSS that relocate it to the end of Jn.

    All in all, I see nothing particularly unsual relating to the lack, supplying, or relocation of the PA as found among the Albanian MSS.

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  8. Of the roughly 1700 continuous text MSS there are roughly 300 that omit the PA. This is roughly 18%. (Maurice has the exact numbers.)
    So, if you find 47 new MSS you would expect the PA to be missing from about 8, statistically.

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  9. From the CT article (p. 2):

    Wallace: "A person hearing these words should recognize that they have no authority as authentic words of Jesus," he said. Christians who are reading the story, he said, should give it the same authority as any other unsubstantiated early Christian teaching about Jesus.

    - - -

    I would like to think that Wallace is not being fully or accurately quoted here. For him to declare that these words "have no authority as authentic words of Jesus" would mean that he and his fellow textual critics who are in agreement with him (which obviously does not include Dr. Robinson) are the Magisterium that determines which words are and are not "authentic words of Jesus."

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  10. I find it a bit prejudiced for Maurice to say that these are not out of proportion when he doesn't know what's in the MSS that we discovered. In fact, he is assuming several things in order to discredit the significance of this find: (1) most of the manuscripts are minuscules, (2) most of the minuscules are gospels manuscripts, (3) these gospels manuscripts all have John, and (4) the Gregory-Aland manuscripts that we also photographed are part of the statistical base.

    We actually have not gone through the lectionaries yet, and there are quite a few of them. Further, we haven't gone through the Gregory-Aland MSS. This reduces the grand total of new minuscule MSS to far less than 47. So, whatever the stats are that suggest that these discoveries are not out of proportion need to be seriously adjusted to the data.

    And when it comes to the one MS that has the PA at the end of John, the stats he provides say that although there are 26 such MSS, 17 have no commentary. The one we found has no commentary; ergo, it belongs to less than 1% of all John MSS. I'd say that that is an unusual find by itself.

    Maurice has often accused me of speaking before I know all the facts on text-critical matters; and, in part, he's been right. I thank him for the corrections. But it seems that he's done that very thing this time.

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  11. For another interview with Dan Wallace see: http://www.midbible.ac.uk/content/view/131/

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  12. maurice a robinson3:18 pm, April 25, 2008

    Dan Wallace is of course correct on his main point:

    DW: "I find it a bit prejudiced for Maurice to say that these are not out of proportion when he doesn't know what's in the MSS that we discovered."

    I certainly do not know how many of the 47 Albanian MSS are continuous text as opposed to lectionaries (which latter only sporadically contain the PA within the Menologion); I do not know how many of the continuous text MSS contain the gospels; nor how many of those contain GJn; nor how many of those contain the portion of text that might or might not include the PA.

    What I did point out -- by clear comparison with what exists in other localities -- is that it is not unusual to find in any given regional location some MSS of the GJn that either omit the PA entirely, relocate the PA, or add the PA in the margin or via a supplemental leaf. In this sense, the data Wallace reported from Albania are not all that unusual or disproportionate as shown by the statistics cited from other localities. Nothing more, and certainly nothing "to discredit the significance of this find" as claimed by Wallace.

    As I commented previously: what I really would like to know is how many of the 47 Albanian MSS do contain the PA in the traditional location; that would be of greater importance from my perspective than that which appears to be a rather "normal" proportion of omission, transposition and supplement as found in the small number of MSS cited in that regard.

    Wallace also notes that "we haven't gone through the Gregory-Aland MSS. This reduces the grand total of new minuscule MSS to far less than 47."

    That may well be the case -- but the "new" MSS alone do not alter the fact that there are 47 MSS in Albania, and that the MSS omitting, transposing, or supplying the PA still have to be considered in proportion to the overall total. This should be patently obvious.

    I also fail to comprehend this remark by Wallace:

    "And when it comes to the one MS that has the PA at the end of John, the stats he provides say that although there are 26 such MSS, 17 have no commentary. The one we found has no commentary; ergo, it belongs to less than 1% of all John MSS. I'd say that that is an unusual find by itself."

    Somehow apples and oranges are being compared here. If the MS found has no commentary, then it is in strongly good company (ca. 70%) with the 17 other end-Jn PA MSS that have no commentary. Comparison as 1% of the total number of MSS containing the GJn is irrelevant in this regard.

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  13. Dr. Robinson:

    How many mss were discovered in Albania that
    1. were minuscules (late)
    2. contain the Gospels
    3. contain the Gospel of John

    I think Blende7's math is way off. He/she expected to find 18% of all 47 mss to omit the PA, but it seems s/he has assumed that all 47 mss had the Gospel of John. If that were the case, I would find that far more significant than any other stat.

    What Wallace said was:

    What surprised us most was that three of the manuscripts completely lacked the story of the woman caught in adultery [John 7:53—8:11, a passage that many biblical scholars believe was not originally in John's Gospel, which may affect its canonicity]. Another had the story at the end of the Gospel. It's my favorite passage that's not in the Bible

    A total of 3 lacked the PA. And if there were only 4 minuscule mss that contained the Gospel of John, then 75% of the late mss omit the PA. Now that would be exceptionally significant, no?

    Being a rookie in this field, what am I missing?

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  14. To Anon2:

    You said, "I would like to think that Wallace is not being fully or accurately quoted here. For him to declare that these words 'have no authority as authentic words of Jesus' would mean that he and his fellow textual critics who are in agreement with him (which obviously does not include Dr. Robinson) are the Magisterium that determines which words are and are not 'authentic words of Jesus.'"

    You are quite right: I was not accurately quoted. I try not to speak in absolutes without having such overwhelming evidence that I can speak in such terms. That's rarely the case with historical inquiry.

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  15. maurice a robinson3:10 am, April 27, 2008

    Anon said: "A total of 3 lacked the PA. And if there were only 4 minuscule mss that contained the Gospel of John, then 75% of the late mss omit the PA. Now that would be exceptionally significant, no? Being a rookie in this field, what am I missing?"

    This of course makes the same kind of assumptions Dr Wallace objected to previously in relation to my statements. Unless Dr Wallace provides further data in relation to the question I asked specifically (i.e., how many of those 47 MSS contained the PA in the traditional location), I can work only on the basis of what appears to be an "educated assumption".

    That assumption can be explained quite simply, based on the "normal" and very high proportion of Gospel MSS as compared with those of the Acts, Epistles or Revelation.

    Even granting that perhaps half (say 24) of the 47 MSS were lectionaries (therefore not containing the PA in their Synaxarion portion, and a 50-50 shot within their Menologion portion), the remaining 23 would then be presumed to be continuous-text Gospel MSS. And if Dr Wallace did not specifically mention any of these in particular except the (previously lost but now found) uncial of Mark, I would assume that, allowing for some MSS being fragmentary or lacking at this point, at least 3/4 of these 23 (say 16) would contain the PA in the traditional location in Jn.

    If such indeed were the case, then a proportion of 16 MSS with the PA in the usual location compared with the few that omit, relocate, or add in as a supplement again all seems quite within the range of "normal" possibilities. So there is at least a modicum or method in my madness.

    Of course, Dr Wallace can simply do us all a favor by noting how many MSS out of the 47 do contain the PA in its traditional location, thereby putting an end to speculation.

    By the way, to make it perfectly clear: I wholeheartedly support Dr Wallace's research and photographic labor in this area, and continually welcome any "new" manuscript discoveries that are being made by him or anyone else.

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  16. Hello Dr Robinson,

    I'm curious to know more about what your take on the PA is.

    Are any of your writings on the subject available on the Internet?

    Thanks,
    John

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  17. maurice a robinson2:55 pm, May 04, 2008

    John: I'm curious to know more about what your take on the PA is.

    I think my first comment in this series explains that fairly clearly.

    John: Are any of your writings on the subject available on the Internet?

    Not that I know of. You will have to find a copy of Filologia Neotestamentaria (2000) for my full-length article on "Preliminary Observations" regarding the PA (and even it does not provide my full perspective).

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