Monday, October 31, 2016

A Case for the Longer Reading at Ephesians 5.30?

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The 5–7th century correction (“Ca”) in Sinaiticus
Last night while reading Ephesians, I came across a variant I don’t remember seeing before. I was surprised that it wasn’t adopted as the main text since it seemed like the obvious choice. I should say that I was reading an edition that gives no manuscript evidence so I could only consider internal evidence.

Here is the context from Eph 5.29–31 (KJV):
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
The variant in question is the addition of the phrase “of his flesh and of his bones” in verse 30. The main choice is
  1. ὅτι μέλη ἐσμὲν τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ, ἐκ τῆς σαρκός αὐτοῦ καί ἐκ τῶν ὀστέων αὐτοῦ 
  2. ὅτι μέλη ἐσμὲν τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ
The longer reading can be explained as an addition from Gen 2.23. We might expect as much given that the next verse quotes Gen 2.24. The only hitch is that the longer reading in Eph 5.30 reverses the order of flesh and bone from Adam’s little poem which has “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” The influence is still there, but it’s not as close as we might expect. The real problem with this explanation, however, is that I can’t see a reason to think that a scribe is more likely to refer to Gen 2.23 than the author himself.

Now, if we didn’t have an explanation for the shorter reading, then a scribal harmonization to Gen 2.23 would have some force here. But we do have a ready explanation. A skip from αὐτοῦ … αὐτοῦ explains the shorter reading nicely. If it weren’t for the combined support of 01* 02 03 P46 for the shorter reading, I suspect more reasoned eclectics would adopt the longer reading. The longer reading is attested by Irenaeus and D F G and there is versional support from vg and syr. Notice too the evidence cited by Tregelles of some Armenian witnesses which attest the same basic mistake except that, instead of omitting the whole phrase, they only omit ἐκ τῆς σαρκός αὐτοῦ.

Apparatus from Tregelles
In fact, it would be hard to imagine that some scribes didn’t make the larger omission. The real question is whether this was also the original mistake that first created the variation. As it is, I like the simpler explanation of parablepsis and would prefer the longer reading.

72 comments :

  1. Plus, 01 02 03 P46 all exhibit clear tendency to omit by saut du même au même, which could even mean that we have a coincidental agreement in error here.

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    1. I do not have the confidence to assert anything about the "clear tendency" of 01 02 03 etc to omit, but if (and a big "IF") P46 omitted the clause, it must have been exemplaric (i.e., the "omission" was already in the exemplar).

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    2. Edgar, why do you say it must have been omitted in the exemplar rather than by the scribe of P46? (I don't think it affects my case one way or another. I'm just curious.)

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    3. Yes, it does not affect your case; might even corroborate your argument :)

      I think, if there was an omission, that omission must predate the production of P46. It could have been its exemplar or the ancestor/s of that exemplar; it's difficult (if not impossible) to say precisely where it all started. But from a paleaographical point of view, I do not see any indication from the plate (F80r, lines 9-10) that the scribe of P46 was in doubt about his text, as his usual copying features are detectable (e.g., space-intervals, ligatures, etc). What's interesting though is where the supposed "omission" is presently located on line 10--it's in the middle of the line. I have argued elsewhere that when the scribe of P46 does this kind, he is reflecting an inherited reading which he attempted to faithfully reflect on his manuscript. If that was the case here, then P46 did not omit anything... technically speaking :)

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    4. Obviously, Edgar, you know P46 much better than I do but in my view these physical markers are as good evidence for what you call 'non-exemplaric variations' as are the singular readings. You can have a disruption in the flow of writing for all sorts of reasons (psycholinguistics abounds with studies on the subject) just as you can have inherited singular readings. In my view, taken all together there is a strong cumulative evidence from both P46's corrections (where we def. have clear evidence of the scribe and, in Heb., also his diorthotes checking errors made, presumably, in copying the exemplar) and singular readings—many of which are nonsensical—that P46 does have a strong tendency to omit by scribal leaps. I've worked some with 01 and, combined with much more extensive studies by Dirk Jongkind, we can say pretty conclusively that the scribes at work in this manuscript tend to omit by parablesis. Hernandez's study of 02 in Revelation revealed the same tendency. Indeed, omission by homeoteleuton is one of the most pervasive scribal errors, especially but by no means solely, in this early period, so I would not be at all confident that the longer reading had not been in the Vorlage of the aforementioned MSS. But even if it had, the strong evidence of this tendency could apply to their ancestors. So my point still stands.

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    5. Thanks for clarifying, Peter :)

      I would be cautious with this line though: "But even if it had, the 'strong evidence' of this tendency could apply to their ancestors." This is not only extremely difficult to prove; it is impossible to precisely cull this "strong evidence" from the ancestors of a manuscript (unless that ancestor is also extant and their relationship is not incontrovertible). Perhaps the only point I'm raising is a methodological caution. :)

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    6. I don’t think it’s extremely difficult to prove that the manuscripts, or the texts they carry, tend to omit text. I think it can be difficult to prove whether such omissions come from the manuscript’s ancestor(s) or from its very scribe. (This is where corrections can prove useful, by the way.) That’s all I meant by the aforementioned line! :) And methodological caution is by all means in order, but I would extend the same caution to your observations concerning space intervals, etc.

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  2. Consider also Lk 24.39, where the order "flesh and bones" also occurs, even while the order "bones and flesh" does not appear in the NT.

    Notably, both orderings occur in the canonical LXX (9x each), along with "flesh and bones" 2x in the Apocrypha.

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  3. Peter,
    Ah, the move to using the subjectivity of internal considerations is complete. You not only dismiss the earliest Greek evidence but fail to sight that the earliest fathers and the earliest versions that support the Greek manuscripts. Oh wait, did I mention 33 and 1739? Certainly, internal evidence has a place, but even your discussion, once you eliminated the earliest evidence, demonstrates that the internal evidence can be read differently.
    I assume that Dr. Robinson would have already followed the Majority text here.

    Tim

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    1. Timothy, I believe I argued against rather than dismissed evidence. I'm happy to admit the external evidence here favors the shorter reading, just not enough to outweigh what I deem to be stronger internal evidence. Parablepsis is a much simpler explanation here than the incomplete harmonization to Gen 2.23. As for subjectivity, I would prefer to call it judgment which one cannot avoid in textual criticism.

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  4. Timothy Joseph: "I assume that Dr. Robinson would have already followed the Majority text here."

    On external grounds, indeed certainly; but on internal grounds, for reasons similar to those noted by Mr Gurry.

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  5. It seems to me that a theological problem is introduced by the longer reading. As Comfort has pointed out, how can the church be members of Christ's flesh and bones? It weighing these decisions, and making these judgments, we must be guided by the overarching principle of the analogy of faith. If a decision introduces theological problems, then it is probably not the right decision.

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    1. I hear what you are saying Ed, but doesn't that run the risk of defaulting to simply favouring the readings which conform to your pre-existing theology? And wouldn't that thereby undermine the ability of the text to challenge and correct you?

      I would hate to see, for example, complementarians or egalitarians deciding the junia variant based on their idea of the analogy of faith.

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    2. There is always that risk with everyone who handles the text. But to say that textual decisions can be made independent of one's hermeneutic or theological grid is, in my view, impossible. Life without presuppositions is not attainable. The very exercise of examining a text is impossible apart from presuppositions. I assume the word I am examining is God speaking. This means that no textual decision could ever conclude a contradiction in the original. Autonomy would presuppose just the opposite. The notion that we go wherever the truth leads us, even if that supposed truth leads us away from the authority of Scripture is a pious cloak for a deviant autonomy in my view.

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    3. Ed, I agree with you on the biases and presuppositions part, but I think that causes me to go a different direction on this.

      Let's take a hypothetical example. Let's say we have a textual decision, and the evidence seems to support option A over option B. When we consider option A theologically, however, it appears to create a contradiction with some other part of our faith. Option B, however, offers no such contradiction. What I hear you saying is that you would see that potential contradiction as an indication that, apparent evidence notwithstanding, option A must in fact be incorrect, and we should instead favour option B.
      What I would say is that if the evidence supports option A, and A would contradict some other part of the faith, I should see that as a sign that those biases and presuppositions we discussed have contaminated my understanding of that other part of the faith, and therefore this potential contradiction is an indication that I should go and re-examine my understanding of that part of the faith. I don't believe that a God of truth could ever ask us to hold a faith which contradicts evidence, so whenever I find a contradiction between the evidence and my understanding of the faith, I assume that the most likely explanation is that my understanding of the faith is not correct. A Christian should, I think, always be free to follow the evidence wherever it goes.

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    4. Actually, what I mean Ryan is something more like textual evidence that might lend itself to a clear contradiction if interpreted with specific criteria, criteria that might preclude a high view of Scripture, say inerrancy. Would you ever interpret textual evidence in a way that would end in the view that there was an obvious and clear contradiction in the autograph? If you say yes, we have a serious problem on our hands. Regardless of the rest of the criteria we use to make decisions, that one criterion outweighs them all. It is more basic than the other criteria. I hope that clears things up a bit on what I mean by presuppositions.

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    5. This might be of interest here: http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.co.uk/2006/02/inerrancy-and-textual-criticism_28.html

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    6. Peter Gurry,
      Thanks, as usual Dr. Williams succinctly addresses this complex situation.

      Tim

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    7. Peter,
      There is nothing subjective about how Christians know God's revelation to what it is. If you cut out the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit on the human heart as THE way in which we know Scripture to be what it claims to be, you are left with nothing but arbitrary from end to end. True believers know God-speaking, not by the criteria of textual criticism, or even by detailed rules and principles of hermeneutics. They can only know God-speaking by an inward, radical work performed by the Holy Spirit. If you do NOT begin with the presupposition that God-speaking is inerrant, then you are not beginning with a distinctly Christian view of Scripture.

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    8. Ed, I'm not sure if that was directed at me or Pete Williams, but let's accept your proposal for the sake of argument. Now I am a Christian who knows God's revelation and by an inward, radical work performed by the Holy Spirit, I now know that he spoke the longer form of Eph 5.30.

      For more on this question, see here: http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/does-scriptures-self-attestation-apply.html

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    9. As I have noted previously: if as an evangelical Christian I might presume the originality of a particular reading "by an inward, radical work performed by the Holy Spirit" while some other evangelical Christian presumes the opposite on the basis of the same inward testimony of the Holy Spirit -- who then should be presumed to be correct?

      If serious evaluation of external and internal evidence thus becomes spiritually or theologically marginalized, there will be no end of subjective and conflicting preferences, all being attributed (or blamed) on the Holy Spirit. Brethren, this should not be so....

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    10. You are both taking my comments out of context. What I have said in response to someone else was that we presuppose an inerrant autograph. I do not believe we conduct textual criticism based off some supernatural inward witness. What I am saying is that one of the criteria for making proper judgments about the text is that the autographs do not involve contradictions. Therefore, if I make a decision that leads to such a contradiction, something is wrong with my decision. I hope this clarifies my remarks.

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    11. Thanks, Ed. That does clarify. Another option is that there is a limitation to our present state of knowledge.

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    12. Ed: "What I am saying is that one of the criteria for making proper judgments about the text is that the autographs do not involve contradictions. Therefore, if I make a decision that leads to such a contradiction, something is wrong with my decision."

      But again, what if what you consider an "error" or "contradiction" might be interpreted by others as not such? Case in point: Mt 1.7, 10, where the critical text's "Asaph" and "Amos" are plain and clear errors if taken at face value (which I do, by the way); but others even within the evangelical camp defend those readings as either mere orthographic variants, or even as intentionally symbolic in order to depict Jesus in his lineage as prophet (Amos), priest (Asaph), and king (David) -- as was expressly stated to me by a well-known member of the ESV committee in defense of their choice of reading at those points. So what then?

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    13. I would conclude that there was a spelling error somewhere which is what you have done. You may locate the error in the original holding that Matthew worked from a list that contained the error. But the reason you would say that it was a spelling error is because you would deny that Matthew got it wrong, or at least I hope you would. My view would refrain from concluding that Matthew actually got it wrong. My view would stop at the point of saying that there is obviously a spelling error at this place, not sure how it entered, but that it is there seems obvious. I try to avoid synthesizing every single difficulty I encounter. I reject the view that integrity in textual criticism requires errors in the autographs based on the "objective" evidence. That view presupposes an errant text and arrogantly seeks knowledge that I believe is beyond us for the moment. More work needs to be done and it is being done. Theological presupposition is the starting point for every textual scholar or critic. That much is unavoidable. The only question is, is the presupposition faithful to the God who speaks, or is it loyal to autonomous human reason. We will sit in judgment of divine revelation or will it sit in judgment of us?

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    14. Ed: "I would conclude that there was a spelling error somewhere which is what you have done."

      Not me since I follow the Byzantine reading which has no error or contradiction; but others have suggested such.

      But this still misses the point regarding what to do when one evangelical critic favors one particular reading while another favors a different reading -- and both with some sort of plausible justification, even if one reading appears erroneous or contradictory.

      Another example: "Judea" in the critical text of Lk 4.44 (as opposed to the Byzantine "Galilee"), when the parallels in Mt 4.23/Mk 1.39 clearly state "Galilee" -- is this an error or contradiction? While I would say yes, other evangelical scholars who favor the critical text obviously reason differently.

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    15. I am not sure but perhaps we are talking past one another. When one begins the textual evaluation, they do so either with the basic presupposition that the autograph had no errors or contradictions or they do not. Either the Bible is self-attesting, our final authority for faith and practice, or it is just like any other book subject to the same kind of judgment and opinions of fallen human reason. As a reformed Christian, I affirm the highest view of Scripture and reject the idea that men can approach the task of textual criticism from a neutral position. A Christian is committed to God speaking prior to his education in the science of textual criticism and it is within that framework that the Christian rolls up his sleeves to get to that original text. What one scholar may say versus another really only begs the question of their presuppositions. One scholar presupposes an inerrant autograph and this guides is decisions at the most basic level. Another scholar, such as Bart Ehrman, operates without such a presupposition. But the practice of textual criticism follows, rather than precedes this presupposition.

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    16. As an ETS member who obviously commits (annually) to a position of "inerrant in the autographs", it would seem that I begin with the same presupposition that Ed espouses. However, I remain uncomfortable with any claim that this position somehow determines text-critical choice.

      For example, as a matter of text-critical epistemology, how does one know for sure that one variant in a particular unit is a plain and clear error and that another variant in the same unit is not? This is particularly the case when, as I noted previously, other evangelical textual critics who may be committed to the same ETS inerrancy principle obviously take positions that differ from my own inerrancy-based presuppositions -- including problematic variant readings where error or contradiction might be presumed by one side, but which can be given a plausible interpretation by the other side without necessarily violating inerrantist principles? What then?

      Would you seriously claim that the text-critical distinction between, say, my views and those of Dan Wallace or Darrell Bock (all of us ETS members) is merely a matter of one side or the other "begging the question of their presuppositions"?

      It would appear that rhetoric of this nature creates far more problems than solutions.

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    17. I suppose I would ask it this way: would you ever arrive at a conclusion about a particular variant that would contradict core Christian doctrine? If the rules of textual criticism indicated a high probability for a particular conclusion that was injurious to Christian belief, would you conclude that there is a high probability that that core belief should be abandoned? Or would you leave the matter unresolved and hope for more evidence?

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    18. If the examples already cited have certain variants that involve what I might consider errors or contradictions, would you not say that acceptance of those particular variants would contradict the core presuppositional doctrine of biblical inerrancy? If not, then what particular examples of "injurious' variant readings are you actually talking about? If the examples given do not suffice, something more specific would help to further the discussion.

      And again, what to do with the supposedly erroneous or contradictory reading when such is given a possible explanation and justification by other evangelical inerrantists? That, I think,is the heart of the matter; not whether particular texts or variant readings might be wrongly utilized or misinterpreted by either those totally outside of evangelical Christianity or even by reflecting differing theological perspectives that clearly exist within evangelical Christianity.

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    19. It seems that I am not explaining my position very well. As one who handles the text, I handle it with the presupposition that the autographs existed without error of any kind. Therefore, if one option is open to me to decide that a particular variant was likely the original reading, AND that decision for that reading would introduce theological problems, it seems to me that this fact alone would make that reading unlikely, and that decision a poor one. For instance, if the longer reading in Eph. 5:30 introduces theological problems in that it says that I am bone of his bone, which I am clearly not, then why would not such a problem guide me to a different decision? By the way, I am not a textual scholar like you so please view me through the lens of a student when it comes to this field. My area of focus is on systematics and apologetics, not textual criticism. However, I believe the field is indispensable to theology and apologetics. What I am arguing here is that inerrancy is the foundation upon which a faithful textual critic operates. Otherwise, he places himself above the autographical text as the final arbiter of what is God speaking and what is not. The canons of textual criticism are grounded on the doctrines of inerrancy and inspiration. For this reason, no final decision can lead to contradictions in the original and any decision that introduces theological difficulties must receive the appropriate scrutiny.

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    20. Ed, I think the solution to your problem here is hermeneutical rather than text critical.

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    21. Ed,
      I think you're explaining yourself well. What I hear you saying is that, essentially, you set the theological principle of inerrancy as a governing principle in your evaluation of textual evidence.
      My issue with that is that, ultimately, the effect is to reject an entire category of textual conclusions a priori on account of a theological principle, i.e. you're essentially stating up front that you would not accept any textual conclusion that contradicted inerrancy.

      We spoke before of presuppositions and biases, and I agree with you that they are inescapable and that everyone has them. We take that first step together. I think we veer in sharply different directions on the second step though.

      I hear you saying that you confess belief in inerrancy as a presupposition, and then you openly allow it to decide textual decisions. To me, that's like opening the front door and allowing the presuppositions to waltz in and have the run of the place. I think the next step after acknowledging your presuppositions should not be enthroning them, but rather trying to control for them. I do not believe objectivity can be achieved, but I think we still have a moral obligation to attempt to evaluate the evidence based on the evidence itself, and not our presuppositions. (Personally, my attempts to that end are composed primarily of making sure I am constantly engaged in authentic, open conversation with people who I know hold differing presuppositions than me. But that only works if the conversations truly are authentic and open, i.e. you're going into it with a bona fide belief that you could be wrong).

      As the saying goes, all truth is God's truth. Truth that goes against the evidence is not a higher truth, it is simply a non-truth. I don't believe that God would ever ask us to hold a truth in defiance of evidence. If you want to have God's truth, then, I believe the best way is to follow the evidence. And if that leads to the overturning of a previously held doctrine, well then you should rejoice that God has led you to the opportunity to root out some piece of untruth from your life.

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    22. Ryan, why can't inerrancy provide (very important) evidence for Ed?

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    23. I think Ryan has done a good job of providing the sort of approach to Textual Criticism that I am most deeply concerned about. He would allow the canons of textual criticism to overturn the most basic beliefs of Christian doctrine. Without admitting it, Ryan has embraced a view of Scripture that I would argue falls outside the limits of historic Christian orthodoxy. Would we actually reject a physical resurrection of our Lord if the rules of textual criticism dictated we should? Isn't that a presupposition of a different kind? And isn't that presupposition unsupported by any evidence one could bring forth?

      Peter, I think you are correct in stating that the issue has strong attachments to hermeneutical principles. That is my point. As much as some people would like to do so, we simply cannot establish hard boundaries between these fields. They are all involved in one another. It comes down to this: we either begin with the authority of an inerrant and inspired text in which we are in search of, or we begin with the authority of something else. It's God or man. The whole point of TC remains, in my opinion, to be the discovery of the autographical text. It is there. That God is rational and that his communication reflects his perfectly rational nature serves as our most primitive guide for understanding the revelation we have before us...in my humble opinion.

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    24. Peter - I think it's a matter of categorization. Namely, textual decisions should be decided on the basis of textual evidence, and so on. We wouldn't decide a medical matter based on legal evidence, would we?

      Inerrancy is a conclusion. Conclusions are supposed to proceed from evidence, not precede them.

      If inerrancy is true, than the evidence will inevitably support it. The idea of inerrancy being true yet not supported by the evidence is an inherent contradiction to the very idea of truth.

      What Ed seems to be looking for is an epistemological basis for getting to have a "truth" independent of the evidenciary basis for it. But you don't get to do that. That's just an epistemological end-run. Truth must be established upon evidence, or else it is simply not truth.

      To reach for the obvious example, Ed's line of thinking is what got the church into the ludicrous and ultimately ministry-undermining position of insisting that the sun revolved around the earth, all telescopic evidence to the contrary. I think God wants us to learn from our mistakes. Not sure if that puts me outside of historic orthodoxy or not...

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    25. Hi Ryan,
      You said, "If inerrancy is true, than the evidence will inevitably support it. The idea of inerrancy being true yet not supported by the evidence is an inherent contradiction to the very idea of truth."

      This is simply not true. What is true is that the evidence, properly understood and interpreted will not contradict the doctrine of inerrancy. Your statement requires neutrality, an impossibility. You either approach the textual critical task with the conviction that the Autographic text was divinely inspired and therefore, inerrant, or and it should be treated with the highest respect or the Bible is to be treated like any other book. How would we react to a textual variant that seemed to call into question the doctrine of inerrancy or inspiration or any other core doctrine of Scripture should we encounter it? We would leave the issue open under the conviction that there is an explanation that harmonizes the text even if we do not know what that might be at this time. In other words, our knowledge of the autographic text is limited by divine providence. The only way a person could ever conclude that the Bible is the Word of God is through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, not the art and science of textual criticism.

      As far as I know, textual criticism cannot deliver a defense of inerrancy. That is not a conclusion of textual criticism in and of itself. With all the extant variants that we have, how could we possibly get to inerrancy from a textual critical standpoint? Could we say that the original seems to claim inerrancy for itself? Maybe we could but maybe we cannot. Even if we could, there is nothing in that conclusion that would give rise to the acceptance of this doctrine from a purely rational standpoint which is what you seem to be advocating.

      To be sure, this is a theological, hermeneutical, and epistemological commitment. It is not a commitment based on the empirical investigation of 5,000+ manuscripts. It precedes such an investigation.

      If you reject the doctrine of inerrancy on the ground that we must wait until all the evidence is in, and all the MSS have been examined, and then and only then can we embrace this doctrine, I am afraid that not only are you not espousing an orthodox view, you are not espousing a Christian view of Scripture let alone a plausible one in my opinion.

      In the interest of fair disclosure and transparency, I am a theologian with a keen interest in systematics and apologetics. Hence, my training is not in the field of textual criticism, but in my opinion, is in the field that lays the foundation for textual critical studies. The denial of theological and philosophical commitments that inform and guide one's textual investigations is simply not something I can take seriously.

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    26. Ed: “How would we react to a textual variant that seemed to call into question the doctrine of inerrancy or inspiration or any other core doctrine of Scripture should we encounter it?”

      I would think that the examples already provided regarding apparent error or contradiction (as well as many other variants elsewhere) would seem to “call into question” precisely what you are suggesting. So the question remains, what to do in those cases, particularly when various evangelical inerrantists accept the problematic variants and reject the non-contradictory or non-errant readings in such units, based primarily on their view of the evidence.

      Presuppositional and hermeneutical discussion within a theological framework without engaging specific examples becomes chimerical at best and somewhat disingenuous at worst. Yet in fact, a presuppositional view regarding inspiration and inerrancy as well as all major doctrines of the faith can be derived and established from those passages of scripture that in essence are unaffected by textual variation. Therefore, it would seem that various attempts at resolution of textual variation should not per se affect the standard theological/hermeneutical orthodox position.

      But you raise a hypothetical:

      Ed: “Would we actually reject a physical resurrection of our Lord if the rules of textual criticism dictated we should?”

      Specifics greatly needed: what “rules” of textual criticism actually would “dictate” such? What if every mention of the resurrection were omitted from all NT MSS before the 9th century? How would this affect the decision (again speaking hypothetically)? Yet if only a single variant reading clearly denied the resurrection (e.g., adding “not” before “was raised”), would that somehow override the remaining NT testimony regarding the resurrection, or would that reading be considered an aberrancy? (I suppose some could claim the denial variant to be “more difficult” or “the reading that explains the rise of the remaining variants,” especially if such appeared in one or more early papyri or uncials — but would such be accepted among the general body of non-evangelical NT text-critical scholars? Highly unlikely, I would think).

      Generally, the issues involving inerrancy generally concern less critical issues as in the examples already provided. So also Mt 13.35, where, instead of “spoken by the prophet,” Aleph* Theta f1 f13 33 pc all read “spoken by “Isaiah the prophet,” even though the quotation is from Ps 78.2; and that reading is rightly rejected by nearly all textual critics, even though in nature it is no more problematic than the “Jeremiah” reading in Mt 27.9 that is accepted by all textual critics. In such conflicting cases, what do you do with presuppositions, hermeneutics, and theological observations?

      This is why theological and presuppositional issues need to be tempered by actual evidence and specific examples in order to maintain a proper level of consistency, and that is the basis for my request.

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    27. Ryan: “Inerrancy is a conclusion. Conclusions are supposed to proceed from evidence, not precede them.”

      But conclusions regularly become evidence for other conclusions. I see no reason why the main Author of Scripture couldn’t be taken into account as part of internal evidence. But as such, it too is susceptible to abuse just like the other internal criteria. In this, I don’t see inerrancy as anything like a safer guide to making textual decisions. Quite the contrary, it seems a rather unsafe guide since our interpretation of God’s inspired words may be wrong (as I think Ed’s are here) and since, as sinners, we are tempted to dictate to God what he can and cannot say to us.

      Thankfully, relatively few textual decisions carry such theological freight (Eph 5.30 included, in my opinion).

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    28. And thanks to all for the good discussion.

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    29. Thanks Peter for the great conversation. Still not sure how Dr. Robinson thinks that disagreement between MSS could lead to the belief that the autographical text could contain an error or contradiction. All that is proven is that there are some unresolved difficulties in the MSS. Nothing more. Perhaps I am just not doing as good a job as I could stating my position. Great discussion though.

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    30. I really am puzzled by the continuing misperception: as an evangelical and ETS inerrantist I most clearly do not hold that "the autographical text could contain an error or contradiction" -- a position that I hold on theological but not text-critical grounds.

      What I have been asking about are certain readings, mainly in the critical text, that clearly appear erroneous; these I reject on external and internal text-critical as well as inerrancy-related grounds. Yet those same readings are accepted by other evangelicals, who attempt to justify such within an inerrantist framework. It still seems to me that this issue is not dealt with in Ed's comments (at least as I read them).

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    31. Dr. Robinson, we have been talking past one another. My whole point is precisely what you have stated and it is in 100% agreement with what I have been saying. Inerrancy is a theological commitment that one brings to the practice of textual criticism. This does not mean that we can forego the difficult work of attempting to understand a particular variant in order to reach defensible conclusions. But it does mean that any threat to our theological commitment would be dealt with accordingly. Presuppositions are important and they have consequences.

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    32. Perhaps, Ed, we then actually do agree, although I still would prefer engagement with particular problematic examples in order to illustrate the point more clearly.

      Other than that, my position parallels what Ryan stated: not making "inerrancy as a governing principle in [the] evaluation of textual evidence" but as a separate theological and presuppositional matter that in and of itself should not be the primary determinant when faced with competing variant readings.

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    33. I think another reason for prefering to operate along these lines would be that to elevate the "inerrancy" of Scripture to a controlling principle in textual criticism entails a large presumption that we know what the inspiration of Scripture entails for the manner in which it tells the truth. But we need the inductive evidence to help us. One could easily be misled into thinking that Scripture's perfection must have entailed grammatical consistency, referential precision, detailed reporting accuracy.

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    34. The Head hits the nail right on....

      And what is the record number of comments to a single thread anyway?

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  6. Ed, the same way they can be members of his body.

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    1. Actually, I am not a member of Christ's flesh and bones. I am a member of his body spiritually, the church. But to say that I am a member of Christ's flesh and bones is not actually how we understand being members of Christ's body. For that reason, the decision to go with the longer reading seems somewhat shaky to me. A husband and wife can be joined physically while Christ and the church cannot. I think the totality of the evidence points to the shorter reading. If we are going to advocate for the longer reading, I think more evidence than has been presented is needed in my opinion. Good discussion though. Worthy of time and energy.

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    2. Thanks, Ed. I don't know who "we" is, but I don't see a problem with reading "flesh and bones" any less (or more) spiritually than you are already reading "body."

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    3. Equally figurative, 1Cor 12.14-21 (where hands, head, and feet obviously include both flesh and bones).

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    4. They were Davids fleshly bothers Peter. Literally...from one father as a nation. Right? We are not that. I think we are still missing the point somewhat but I will leave it where it sits.

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    5. Ed,
      I would agree that in this instance the longer reading creates a theological inconsistency and particularly since the external evidence is overwhelming in favor of the shorter reading that the shorter, theologically sound reading is original. I am a less inclined to agree that the theologically stronger variant is original solely based on that criteria.
      I also agree that the scriptures provided do not correspond to the situation in this passage. As much as I am in awe of the knowledge that Drs. Robinson and Head have, neither of those passages are analogous to the problem created by the longer reading.

      Hang in there!

      Tim

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    6. And it could also have been the case that -- if not merely a matter of accidental omission -- the same perceived "theological difficulty" could have caused some scribes to omit the phrase and thus establish theological smoothness and viability. The sword cuts both ways...

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    7. Dr. R.,
      As always, your insights are spot on. My position on TC, that the earliest documentary evidence is given priority of originality certainly leads me in the direction towards the shorter passage. This likewise impacts for me, as I believe it impacts all of us in some way, the way I read the internal evidence. I also try to temper these tendencies by being aware of scribal tendencies within these manuscripts.
      I realize this position places me, for some, stuck with Metzger and company in the last century. However, while acknowledging influence by Metzger, Black, Aland, and Comfort, I am here because to the best of my understanding this is where the original text is most likely to be. Recognizing that for all the study and reading I have put into TC, it pales by any measure to the time and effort and knowledge put in by every TC scholar, I continue to seek to be enlightened.
      Thanks!
      Tim

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  7. It doesn't seem to me that the evidence is overwhelming in favour of the shorter reading, particularly in view of Irenaeus who cites the longer reading in Adv Haer 5.2.3 (extant in Greek as well as the Latin translation), and also most of the early versions. The phrase is to be understood figuratively, as several have said, and it looks ripe for deletion in the interest of avoiding misinterpretation as literal language. I like Whitney's discussion (2:215-17) https://archive.org/stream/cu31924091301121#page/n223/mode/2up
    Also, Hoehner ends his note (769n3) in favour of the longer reading "It is accepted as the best reading because of its overwhelming external evidence and because it is the harder reading with regards to its internal evidence."

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  8. I applaud Peter Gurry for taking an honest look at the evidence. The fact is, the founders of modern textual criticism were not impartial to the evidence. Certain manuscripts were called 'vile' and wherever their readings departed from the consensus of two favoured manuscripts, such as at this very reading, they were rejected out of hand in compiling "The NT in the Original Greek." What value is it that the oldest Gk mss lack this reading, when all of them lack many readings found in NA and all our English Bibles?

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    1. White Man,
      There are even more later Byzantine variants that are not in our English bibles or NA 28, does that also invalidate the Majority Text. I would argue that the earliest manuscripts give us the best opportunity to ascertain the original text but this does not mean that the later manuscripts never have the original text or lack value. Maybe I am misreading you?

      Tim

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    2. Yes, you are misreading me. It is a fallacy that the original text can be found in the oldest manuscripts, even where they perfectly agree. Case in point: Matthew 27:49. The oldest two Greek manuscripts--generally thought to be the most reliable, and on whose whose authority the end of Mark has been judged to be spurious--differ in three places from each other in the first part of the verse, but are perfectly united in presenting the last part--a part that is found in no English Bible (except possibly as a footnote). Yet this reading is far better supported by Greek manuscripts (not to mention Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Slavic) than the shorter reading of Ephesians 5:30.
      So, everyone agrees that the oldest extant manuscripts are corrupted--why still cling to them with such tenacity?

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    3. Your argument seems to not take into consideration that no single manuscript from any period is without some error. Obviously, having the autographs would solve this dilemma. Since we only have imperfect copies we have to use the tools of TC even when dealing with the earliest copies or later Byzantine copies. I fail to see how your argument applies to the early Alexandrian manuscripts and not ALL manuscripts.
      Tim

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  9. So, if 'the flesh and bones' reading is original, what does it actually add to Paul's argument? What is its theological point that is not already expressed by 'body'? It seems a superfluous and pointless addition. Of course, someone could postulate some flimsy or far-fetched reason for the extra words, but is there something bordering on an integral necessity (in terms of Paul's argument) for the expression, or some strong link elsewhere in the passage that ties in with the expression?

    I ask this as someone who is inclined towards the longer reading on external and transcriptional grounds, but I think there need to be good internal reasons to make a compelling argument, to complete the 'three-legged stool'.
    Andrew Wilson

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    1. Andrew: "is there something bordering on an integral necessity (in terms of Paul’s argument) for the expression, or some strong link elsewhere in the passage that ties in with the expression?"

      The link to "flesh" in Eph 5:31 would seem to make the opening clause (at least) germane to Paul's line of argument. Further, the claim of such figuratively as a "great mystery" relating to Christ and the church readily could encompass the intended implications of both clauses in the longer reading.

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  10. Ed Dingess,
    I see significant problems with the “analogy of faith” approach as you have framed it. In the case at hand, the longer reading in Eph. 5:30 does not seem to have presented a theological problem to the copyists of the vast majority of copies, or of the churches and individuals who used the copies they made. So is the problem you have posed rooted in the analogy of the faith expressed for centuries throughout Greek-speaking and Latin-speaking Christendom, of is it merely rooted in the analogy of faith of one person? (How exactly does one argue that a reading is heretical that was employed by Irenaeus in Against Heresies?)

    I would also add that it does not seem impossible that if Paul wrote the longer reading in Eph 5:30, the intended meaning was to convey that the relationship of a husband to his wife is to be like that of Christ and the church, illustrated by the relationship of Adam and Eve before the Fall.

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    1. Suppose I adopt a different set of canons for TC. Support my canons result in the conviction that the longer ending of Mark is authentic, part of the autographical text. As I look at this text, it occurs to me that the decision to willing drink poison to prove that God is all-powerful and the gospel is true, is actually a direct contradiction of the prohibition against tempting God. Because of this, I now conclude that the autographical text truly includes clear contradictions or errors. From this, I conclude either that the Bible is not inerrant and therefore not trustworthy, not the Word of God, and that as a result I should either abandon Christianity or if I remain a Christian, I will have to decide for myself where in the Bible God is speaking and where he is not.

      I would describe that method for TC as unfaithful to Christian belief. The conviction that the autographic text is inerrant is not an inductive accident of textual criticism.

      Finally, while I do agree that inerrancy is a prior theological commitment to TC (which is my main point), I do not agree that it has no bearing at all on the canons of TC. I contend that it is the basic principle upon which those canons operate. The whole point is to get back as close to the autographs as we possibly can. But what do we have when we hit our target? We have an inerrant word from God.

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    2. I'm interested in one progression you make there Ed, when you say "not inerrant and therefore not trustworthy".

      That's a fairly tight correlation you seem to be assuming - that something must be inerrant in order to be trustworthy. I would like to see if that could be proven.

      Personally, I know that of all the long list of things in life in which I have placed trust, I wouldn't call many of them inerrant.

      Stepping outside the box, I wonder what marriages would have to look like if we all adopted your principle that you had to be inerrant to be trustworthy? I suppose then that only the pope would be a suitable marriage prospect, which i'll grant is suitably ironic...

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  11. We should probably mention Peter Rodger's endorsement of the longer reading in his article "The Allusion to Genesis 2:23 at Ephesians 5:30," JTS 41.1 (1990): 92-94.

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    1. Peter Gurry,
      I suppose likewise we should mention that not a single translation committee for a modern English Bible, excepting the NKJV, has chosen the longer reading, including SBLGNT.

      Tim

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    2. MEV also among committee translatons.

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    3. Yes, there are many who prefer the other reading. I only mentioned Rodgers since he is a blog member.

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    4. Peter Gurry,
      Gotcha, I will certainly read Rodgers article!

      Tim

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  12. Ed,

    I regard Mark 16:9-20 as authentic, canonical Scripture, and I would call the suggestion that 16:18 entails a contradiction against "Do not tempt God" silly and hermeneutically shallow. What you say would occur to you -- "that the autographical text truly includes clear contradictions or errors" -- does not come remotely close to occurring to me. Predictions are not necessarily prescriptions; nor does every blessing accorded to the apostles apply to all of us.

    Using "I can't resolve the theological or historical difficulty that appears when Variant A is adopted" as a reason to reject Variant A is not a scientific reason to reject Variant A. That does not prohibit you from using it, but if you do, don't pretend that you're doing scientific work.

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