Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Hill and Kruger Respond to Parker's Review of The Early Text of the NT

Recently I responded in a blogpost (here) to a review by David Parker in JTS of the volume The Early Text of the New Testament (eds. Hill and Kruger; OUP, 2012). In the review I expressed the assumption that the editors Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger would respond somewhere else, and speak for the whole volume and for their introductory chapter.
Now inedeed the editors have written a long response on Kruger's blog. I will only cite their conclusion:
In sum, we appreciate Parker’s prompt engagement with ETNT so soon after its publication.  While no book is beyond criticism, many of Parker’s specific criticisms stem from a misunderstanding of the scope of this project and its purpose.  It is our hope that the clarifications we have offered here will help address some of these misunderstandings and allow for more productive dialogue on these important issues.


  1. This whole notion of responding to book reviews is quite interesting. If my memory doesn't fail me—and it is quite possible that it does—this is the second time H&K responded to a book review, Brice's review being the first one?

  2. On the point about 'the Munster approach' I can follow the contextual argument of H&K; but I can also see that without qualification (as e.g. 'this older Munster approach') it is potentially quite misleading and should have been picked up. (In addition to the problematic inherent circularity of the classification which is referred to.)

  3. Parker has also called the CBGM the "Muenster Method" which creates more potential for confusion.

  4. Well Peter, circularity is also built in the new "Münster approach". Secondly, I try in my chapter, at least, to be transparent: "Admittedly this method of evaluation involves an unavoidable element of subjectivity, since the judgments are based on a comparison with the hypothetically reconstructed initial text in NA27, which in turn is close to the text of the fourth-century codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus." (with footnote to Bart Ehrman's article "A Problem of Textual Circularity: The Alands on the Classification of New Testament Manuscripts."

    In the end, in our current dominant method (reasoned eclecticism), there is some degree of circularity. The external evidence builds on the application of internal evidence. We believe some manuscripts are good because they have a good readings... I think, however, that the whole process is controlled by sound principles of internal evidence. There is much to be said about this, but I believe Barbara Aland's method for evaluating fragmentary papyri is not without merit, echoing Epp and Royse. I used it in my essay in order to repeat and evaluate Min's analysis of Matthean papyri.

  5. Tommy, to cite Peter M. Head: "I think it is fair enough." I would, though, stress that such a procedure is best reserved for the fragmentary papyri alone. I also agree that some degree of circularity is unavoidable, but, on that view, I prefer the "spiral" metaphor used in your contribution to the 2d ed. of Ehrman & Holmes.