Friday, November 05, 2010

Hurtado on Developments in NT/Christian Origins

On his blog Larry Hurtado has listed what he thinks are major developments in the study of NT/Christian origins over the last century or so. The first three in the list relate to textual criticism:

# The “de-throning” of the textus receptus and the turn to a critically-based NT text. Westcott & Hort (1880s) were crucial (though they built much on the work of earlier scholars). Today, all scholars agree that our editions of the NT must be based on sound critical principles and the best evidence subjected to critical analysis.

# The discovery & publication of early NT papyri. In particular, the Chester Beatty biblical papyri (which includes both NT & OT) in the 1930s had profound effects thereafter on scholarly notions about the early history of the NT writings. The Bodmer biblical papyri (1950s-1960s) furthered this. We now have copies of NT writings (often partial/fragmentary) that take us back to ca. 200 CE, and so allow us to peek back into the second century. This evidence still needs to be mined further, but has already generated significant shifts in scholarly views (e.g., the demise of the “Caesarean text” of the Gospels, and theories of a 3rd or 4th century “recension” behind the “Alexandrian” text of the Gospels).

# Methods in text-critical analysis. These include more soundly-based quantitative methods (prompted particularly by E.C. Colwell in the 1960s) for establishing textual relationships of manuscripts. Now, with the development of computer-applications, there are further developments, esp. the Muenster-based “Coherence Based Genealogical Method” for attempting to map the “textual flow” of the transmission of NT writings.

3 Comments:

The White Man said...

"Westcott & Hort (1880's) were crucial (though they built much on the work of earlier scholars). Today, all scholars agree that our editions of the NT must be based on sound critical principles and the best evidence subjected to critical analysis."

Two things may be inferred from this:

1. In the 1880's, not all scholars agreed that GNT's must be based on sound critical principles, etc.

2. Anyone who does not agree with this now, however, is no scholar.

Thus it would appear that regardless of their respective views and critical principles, the Dean of Chichester will be judged by differing standards than blog member Maurice Robinson.

maurice a robinson said...

To keep matters clear: I neither reject sound critical principles nor avoid subjecting all the evidence to sound critical analysis (and yes, I did remove the a priori "best" from before "evidence", preferring not to place the cart before the horse).

I still wonder why Westcott and Hort are set in opposition to Burgon in relation to "dethroning the TR", given that Burgon himself on numerous occasions (over 60 in Matthew alone!) plainly declared certain readings found in the TR to be in error, almost always requiring refinement in the direction of the Byzantine Textform.

The real point at issue during the 19th century was not the TR in particular, but rather which categories of external evidence were to be deemed superior (eclecticism and internal considerations played a far less significant role in that era). Both Burgon and Westcott-Hort (as well as Tregelles, Tischendorf, Lachmann, and others) should be judged on that basis and not in relation to a presumed irrational "TR defense" based on either ignorance or mere tradition.

Nazaroo said...

Quote:"Today, all scholars agree that our editions of the NT must be based on sound critical principles and the best evidence subjected to critical analysis."

Yes, but we are still waiting for that to happen!

For the latest review of "sound critical principles" we recommend the interesting debate between James Snapp Jr. and myself here:

http://adultera.awardspace.com/AG/Snapp-Eclecticism.html

There Mr. Snapp's new system (largely built upon previous versions of eclecticism) is thoroughly reviewed.

The bottom line is that "sound principles", and more importantly a properly scientific method of analysis is still largely just a "wish-list" among critics, with very little that can survive any scrutiny for scientific standards.

peace
Nazaroo