Friday, October 31, 2008

Yarbrough on the Johannine Epistles


A new commentary arrived in the mail today:
Robert W. Yarbrough, 1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008).

It is worth noting here because the author claims a close attention to textual criticism as one of the (six) distinctive features of the commentary: 'this commentary offers remarks on every textual variant in John's Epistles found in NA27'. (I also found the general tone of the preface and the promise of the other distinctive features of the commentary very appealing.)


The text-critical "remarks" are there after each section, with generally fairly brief remarks (often not much more than a couple of sentences, never as much as a whole page) on each variant, perfectly sensible as far as a quick survey can reveal. Occasionally, having encountered a commentator taking the text-critical discipline seriously, one wished for fuller discussions (e.g. on 1 John 4.3 and 5.7). I can't detect any global tendency in his text-critical remarks. I didn't find a place where he disagreed with NA27 (on the three passages where ECM differs from NA27 he is non-committal either way - perhaps partly because they lack much exegetical significance).
I like the idea of addressing every variant given in NA27, since that will be useful for students beginning in textual criticism. I also like the way he speaks of the integration of textual criticism and exegesis.
He makes a couple of interesting comments:

'Having gone through every variant of John's letters, most of them (as it turns out) manifestly minor, I have found no reasonable grounds for suspicion of the soundness of our knowledge of what the author of these epistles wrote.' (p. x)

'The numerous variants inherent in the manual copying process offer rich potential for reflection on lexical possibility and semantic nuance, but they offer no room for pessimism regarding whether we know almost exactly what the original text contained.' (p. 5)


9 Comments:

mike fox said...

thanks for the remarks on this commentary. i think a high-dollar, "exegetical" commentary should certainly find a way to touch on textual criticism, or lower the price and call it exposition! do you know if the other BECNT commentaries deal with TC? just curious, i'm an OT guy.

Anonymous said...

I really this remark:

'Having gone through every variant of John's letters, most of them (as it turns out) manifestly minor, I have found no reasonable grounds for suspicion of the soundness of our knowledge of what the author of these epistles wrote.' (p. x)

No PRWTO- this or PRWTO- that or Ur this or Ur that redacted literary theories possible thanks to objective really, historical research and text-critical analysis.

Malcolm

Steve said...

Anonymous said, "No PRWTO- this or PRWTO- that or Ur this or Ur that redacted literary theories possible thanks to objective really, historical research and text-critical analysis."

Was that supposed to make sense?

Peter M. Head said...

I generally take the view that human communication works best when it is assumed that attempts at communication are actually 'supposed to make sense'. In this case, and despite the attribution to Pseudo-Malcolm - who generally does make sense, I agree that it is a struggle. But I think it is a post-modern ironic parody.

For me it begins at the beginning with "I really this remark". Here is a text crying out for emendation, and yet used to introduce a quotation of re-assurance about the very issue: do we know what authors wrote? The dissonance is deafening, and seeks readers willing to enter into its own playful world. Archaeologists will "dig" the remark; controversialists will "dislike" the remark; readers will have to introduce their own response to the remark into the introduction to the remark - caught in a nasty vicious hermeneutical circle.

But the dissonance reaches a crescendo of silence in the following non-sensical pseudo-statement which subverts its own surface non-meaning (that historical research shows that tradition-historical theorising is bunk), by not actually making any real sense. It shows that texts "really" require such analysis, even though it looks like a celebration that such analysis is unnecessary.

Clearly this was what pseudo-Malcolm intended to communicate.

Matt Evans said...

ha!

The White Man said...

Pseudo-Malcomb may generally make sense, but Malcomb often doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Peter attributively (!?) wrote:

...Pseudo-Malcolm...

While the white man snirred:

...Malcomb...

Well, the harder reading is Malcolm, which explains the Byzantine embellishment and need for fuller exposition in the mind of the Western scribe Dr Head; but the white man's mispelling must be a local phonetic attempt. Let's hope the white man is more proficient in his native tongue!

Further, it becomes clear why God inspired the authors of the NT - and not me. Pseudo - does not suit them well.

HA! :-)

Malcolm

The White Man said...

Good catch, Malcolm!
Collated any ancient texts lately?

Anonymous said...

the white man,

Yes, Russian. Guess against what?

BTW, do you think I'm a uniate?

Malcolm