Evangelical Textual Criticism

Monday, June 14, 2010

Should internal or external evidence come first?

It's a while since I read B.B. Warfield's Textual Criticism of the New Testament, but this week I'm looking at it again because I am interested in his definition of text. I noticed that he divides textual evidence into (a) external; (b) intrinsic (internal) evidence; (c) transcriptional (internal) evidence (p. 9). This is basically what Metzger does in his own Introduction. This set me wondering how far back this division goes. In Westcott and Hort's Introduction it appears that (b) and (c) generate an assessment of (a). Who is the first to lay (a), (b), and (c) out in that order?

7 comments:

  1. I think the general development of these criteria can be traced back through the centuries, but Westcott and Hort of course clarified the methodology, so I think they are most influential for Metzger's basic scheme and nomenclature- Note that Hort in the Introduction describes the whole process of arriving at the criteria where of course external derives to a great extent from the internal evidence. (They can therefore speak of "Internal Evidence of Documents.") However, when it comes to the practical application (see the appendix with notes on select readings), the logical order is your a, b and c (External Evidence, Intrinsic Evidence, and Transcriptional Evidence).

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  2. By the way, E. J. Epp has written good essays on criteria. Incidentally, I will publish one myself in the second edition of The Text of the NT in Contemporary Research) some time in the future.

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  3. Tommy, I look forward to reading your essay. Is there a projected date for the publication of this volume, The Text of the N.T. in Contemporary Research? Peter Rodgers

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  4. It is entirely right to note first the external evidence for variations, but where the evidence is evenly divided ,internal evidence and transcriptional probabilities should be given equal weight, or even more weight.Sometimes internal considerations take precedence. This has certainly happened with Romans 5:1 and with a number of other verses in the UBS 4/Nestle 27. (See Novum Testamentum XXXIV, 4 (1992) 391. In these cases, though considered after the manuscript evidence, special emphasis should be given to these criteria for deciding on readings

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  5. The weight of internal evidence spans a continuum. On the one extreme, it is used only for breaking a tie in the external evidence, as noted for Romans 5:1. On the other extreme, it is used to conjecture a reading not found in the external evidence, as in Acts 16:12. But on either extreme, it is internal evidence which has the final word.

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  6. Perhaps it becomes clearer if you think about what "external evidence" really is. What exactly means "external evidence"?

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  7. Peter, I don't know when that essay will be published. I guess that depends on the status of the other contributions. Our co-blogger Michael Holmes will know more since he is one of the editors. In any case there will be some new chapters, and mine is one of them.

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