Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Center for Study and Preservation of the Majority Text

I am informed by Paul Anderson that with others he has just launched the Center for the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text: The site is currently under construction. I'm not exactly sure what the 'preservation' will be, though perhaps it is in part defence. The most historically informative section may be the details of Byzantine families when they are uploaded. One gets a sense of the ethos through the interesting collocations in the In Memoriam section, which lists the perceived heroes of the cause.


maurice a robinson said...

Some serious reservations (among many) which seem to make the whole premise irretrievably flawed:

On the "In Memoriam" list, Herman Hoskier most certainly was not a "defender of the traditional or majority text", as any careful perusal of his writings will demonstrate (regardless of out-of-context isolated quotations often cited by KJVO partisans).

Also, Dabney was openly a TR/KJV defender, and hardly in the area of those who would maintain a true Byzantine or majority position.

The same holds for pseudo-scholarly organizations such as the so-called "Dean Burgon Society" (which Burgon would not be allowed to join, nor would desire to join) and the Trinitarian Bible Society. Their TRO/KJVO position clearly distinguishes them from anything resembling a proper Byzantine-priority or majority text position.

Equally, Sturz was not a pro-Byzantine supporter, even though he strongly advocated the early existence of the Byzantine texttype; rather, his method was quite mechanical, favoring a 2-out-of-3 texttype approach.

In sum, I see serious problems with any organization that becomes so syncretistic that proper lines of demarcation become blurred, leaving no real distinctive affirmation in place.

Jim said...

as the kids say, 'oh snap'! maurice is not a fan- for good reason it seems.

Christian Askeland said...

Perhaps, the website editors could clarify who they are and what their backgrounds are. I would guess that they would be open to Maurice's criticisms which sound significant. Unfortunately, Maurice was not invited to play a role in the project, or at least consulted. Who is Paul Anderson?

maurice a robinson said...

As a point of clarification, I indeed was invited to participate, but declined for many of the same reasons already stated. On the other hand, I do support any effort -- including this Center's -- to make available for public viewing and collation any Byzantine-type Greek NT manuscripts, whether continuous-text or lectionary based.

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

Dr. Robinson,

I am happy to see that you must be feeling better, to be writing today. Praise God!

I didn't interpret the "In Memoriam" statements the same way you did. The author seems to be generally saluting those who paved the way for the current project -- whether by insisting that Hort was on the wrong track, or by defending the traditional text in one way or another, or by developing cases for alternatives (feasible or not) to the NA/UBS text. I think the intent was just to honor the trailblazers, not to imply an intent to build a highway upon every trail or to claim that every trail leads to advocacy of the Majority Text.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

jonathancborland said...

"We remember the King James Committee for their work on the great Authorized Version."

"To those in the West who spread the true Word of God from the Dean Burgon Society and the efforts in Trinitarian Bible Society and those in the Wycliffe and Gideon’s who not only preserved the traditional text, but defended the Deity of Christ when attacked."

Anyone who has browsed KJV-onlyism on the Internet will see some of their catch phrases on this new website (e.g., "great" before "Authorized Version;" "true" before "Word of God," etc.). Also, as Dr. Robinson mentioned, the website seems to advocate the position that the majority text and the traditional text and the King James Version are what are to be defended.

The end of the page has "Gloria Dei," which should probably rather be "Gloria Deo" indicating glory to God, and use of Latin (but improperly) is also indicative of many KJVO supporters.

maurice a robinson said...

Writing from home-based limited recuperation:

Snapp: "The author seems to be generally saluting those who paved the way for the current project"

Were that so, I would rather see mentioned textual scholars who did pave the way, such as Scholz, Scrivener, Miller, and Whitney as opposed to inclusion of those who either promote a TR/KJV-only agenda or various wild and questionable textual theories.

Mere opposition to W-H should not qualify a person as a forerunner of a majority text or pro-Byzantine position, particularly if such opponents may have their own peculiar agenda.

My main concern is the question of involving at high levels of a putatively text-critical organization those who declare "by faith" a specific English translation or printed TR text to be the ultimate determiner of "autograph preservation" or "originality".

Such in no way reflects a valid "majority text" or pro-Byzantine position, since it lacks any valid underlying text-critical theory or theory-based methodological praxis. Rather, one reads in their writings primarily continued strong negative criticism, opposing any effort that would move the text away from a "faith-based" English translational or TR touchstone standard. The Byzantine or "majority text" is used only when convenient, and when not, it is excoriated as much as is the W-H or current critical text in their writings. We've seen it all before throughout the internet blogosphere -- why provide yet one more forum for such nonsense?

Whatever that latter position might reflect, it no longer represents NT textual criticism as we know it. I would prefer not to saddle any attempted "majority text" organization with such a problem.

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

J Borland,

Last I checked, the KJV-Onlyists haven't copyrighted the adjectives “great” and “true” to describe the KJV or the Word of God. Dan Wallace recently described the KJV as a text which has been hailed as “one of the greatest literary monuments to the English language;” he called it “a must for all English-speaking Christians,” and an “incredible literary achievement.” Should we expect him to join the Dean Burgon Society soon? I think not. Yet although nothing at the CSPMT site describes the KJV as “a must,” it looks like you may be trying to build a case that it is operated by KJV-Onlyists. Do you (or anyone else reading this) have any additional evidence?

If the new venture turns out to be a KJV-Onlyist enterprise with a façade of Majority Text advocacy, this should become very obvious after a while. In the meantime, why not give the CSPMT the benefit of the doubt? If the creators of the site become aware that they are suspected of being KJV-Onlyists, they might quickly act to make clear what their position currently is.

I think there’s already been a change at the "In Memoriam" page from “Dei” to “Deo.” On the News page, there’s another typo: “mansucript.” And on another page, Michael Marlowe’s last name is repeatedly missing the “e.” This sort of thing has been known to happen at brand new websites.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

jonathancborland said...

Hi Jim,

My intention was merely to share my opinion that the new website sounds a bit like a sanitized KJV advocacy group. I say this on intuition alone based on my own reading of certain Internet sites promoting the KJV-only position.

For example, to many familiar with the position the expression "To those in the West who spread the true Word of God from the Dean Burgon Society . . ." will certainly elicit a contrast: these are in contrast to those, e.g., who spread the corrupt NIV from Zondervan.

Of course I hope I am wrong, especially since I myself am in favor of a most rigorous testing of the Byzantine-priority hypothesis on both external and internal evidential bases.

The wording of the new website in many places, though, suggests a distinction between the majority text and the traditional text. My intuitive fear is summed up in Dr. Robinson's statement in this thread: "The Byzantine or 'majority text' is used only when convenient, and when not, it is excoriated as much as is the W-H or current critical text in their writings."

If the underlying assumption of the originator(s) of the website is that every variant that does not align with Greek basis of the KJV at every point must for this very reason be rejected, then the organization is KJV-only and should not try to disguise itself as anything else. I and many others, I think, would appreciate if this fear could be assuaged on the website itself.

I do not intend to say that those who hold to the KJV-only position cannot contribute to the study of biblical textual criticism, only that there are built-in limitations to the possible extent of their contributions.

Jonathan C. Borland

Christian Askeland said...

Because the KJV issue looms large for so many, it would be helpful if they openly stated their position on the website. I would guess that Onlyites might have their own suspicions about the webpage.

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

A post over at the King James Only Debate Blog states that Wilbur Pickering and Kirk DiVietro are two board members advancing the project. Kirk DiVietro is definitely a promoter of the Textus Receptus and recently gave an interesting presentation -- I think it may have been at a meeting of the Dean Burgon Society -- about James White's book "The King James Only Controversy," an audio-file of which is accessible at YouTube.

So this is not an entirely illusory concern. I expect it will be addressed at the CSPMT site. (Plus, for some kinds of projects, this sort of thing might not matter. Look at the CSNTM, for example. If its organizers were all secretly KJV-Onlyists, that would not make the resources at that site any less useful.) I look forward to seeing what kind of fruit will come from this endeavor.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

Anonymous said...

The dedication page says "Trinitarian Bible Society for the defense of the Traditional Text and the Deity of Jesus Christ." Which implies that other GNT editions attack the deity of Christ. This idea that current GNT editions detract from the deity of Christ has been demonstrated over and over and over again to be false, so there is nothing to be gained by participating in that debate yet again with this group.

David Robert Palmer

Daniel Buck said...

I'm underwhelmed by the level of scholarship exhibited on the site so far, but I can't complain about the availability of manuscript downloads. All truth is, after all, God's truth.

I'm intrigued by the connection between A 02 and Family Pi. Where did they get this--just from collation the PA? Well, it may be from Lake and Lake:

The reconstructed text of Family Pi, therefore, represents a manuscript older than the Codex Alexandrinus and affords another witness to a text which must have existed in the early part of the fifth century, if not before. Moreover, both the text of Family II and the Codex Alexandrinus were elements in the formation of the Ecclesiastical text, the more or less standard text of the Middle Ages, since it differs from each about equally and to the same extent that II differs from A.

Nazaroo said...

I find the "danger" in some kind of TR or KJVonly bias to be insignificant and probably irrelevant.

Scholars as usual, give the public far too little credit for being able to form their own opinions from whatever facts can be made available.

The originators of the new site will probably also give in to this arrogant mindset in refusing to put up adequate presentations by their legitimate opponents.

On the PA site,
we have had no such fear of providing data from all parties for evaluation. There is as much material of the Davidson-Tregelles-Hort-Metzger variety as there is of the Burgon-Miller-Hills, as well as the more central Scrivener-Hoskier-Hodges-Robinson variety.

Whatever bias is found in the review of theories, opinions, and claims of fact hardly hampers access to the data and arguments themselves.

We hope the new site takes our example to heart, and lets people compare alternatives adequately.


Steven Avery said...


My concern is the inverse. The Reformation Bible / KJB defenders have a responsibility to learn, explain and share the superb Reformation Bible dynamic that is far superior to the comparatively one-dimensional (Greek) Majority/Byzantine text, which virtually excludes many major evidences, except as tie-breakers. While the Reformation Bible dynamic worked fully (and arguably providentially) with Greek mss, Latin lines, early church writers and internal and consistency and grammatical types of evidences.

For KJB/TR defenders like Kirk DiVietro to couch their position in the language of "Majority Text" .. combined with "preservation" they show that they do not understand their own Bible position. "Study" the Greek Majority text .. sure .. and include the wide variety of people above .. however the KJB defender believes in preservation of the Reformation Bible / TR / KJB text, not the helpful, contributory yet limited Greek Majority Text.

Steven Avery
Queens, NY

Steven Avery