Friday, November 11, 2016

New Articles and Reviews in the TC Journal

Volume 21 (2016) of TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism is now complete (the whole issue is here).

Two new articles and five new reviews have just been added. As one of the editors I must say that we are very happy with the development of the journal in recent years:

Articles (new)

Georg Gäbel, The Import of the Versions for the History of the Greek Text: Some Observations from the ECM of Acts
Abstract: In this article, I discuss the relevance of the versions for Greek textual history, taking as my starting point the forthcoming Editio Critica Maior of Acts. After a brief introduction to the citation of versional material in the ECM of Acts, three groups of examples are presented: (1) examples where each versional variant is correlated with one Greek variant, (2) examples of variants found in versional witnesses belonging to the D-trajectory and believed to have existed in now lost Greek witnesses, and (3) examples for the mutual influence of Greek and versional texts. I conclude that (1) careful attention to the versions will benefit our understanding of Greek textual history, that (2) some variants of Greek origin not attested in the Greek manuscripts now known can be reconstructed on the basis of the versions, and that (3) in some cases, particularly in bilingual manuscripts, there is likely to have been versional influence on the Greek text.
Katie Marcar, The Quotations of Isaiah in 1 Peter: A Text-Critical Analysis
Abstract: This article examines the quotations of Isaiah in 1 Peter in order to determine, as far as possible, the author’s Vorlage. It first defines quotations (as opposed to allusions), evaluates the importance of introductory formula or terms, and contextualizes this study in terms of comparable analyses in Pauline studies. After this methodological ground-clearing, the textual forms of the following six Isaianic quotations are analysed in detail: 1 Pet 1:24–25 (Isa 40:6–8), 1 Pet 2:6 (Isa 28:16), 1 Pet 2:8 (Isa 8:14), 1 Pet 2:22 (Isa 53:9), 1 Pet 2:25 (Isa 53:6), and 1 Pet 3:14–15 (Isa 8:12–13). These quotations are studied in light of evidence from the proto-MT, Dead Sea Scrolls, Old Greek (OG), the hexaplaric recensions, and other relevant sources of textual information. The article concludes that quotations of Isaiah in 1 Peter generally agree with the OG, with a few exceptions where they are closer to the proto-MT, and bear no evidence of a Hebraizing revision except in quotations of Isaiah that are also quoted by Paul.

Reviews (new)

Mark Billington and Peter Streitenberger (eds.), Digging for the Truth: Collected Essays Regarding the Byzantine Text of the Greek New Testament: A Festschrift in Honor of Maurice A. Robinson (Chris S. Stevens, reviewer). See also a reply by Timothy J. Finney.
Carla Falluomini, The Gothic Version of the Gospels and Pauline Epistles: Cultural Background, Transmission and Character (Marcus Sigismund, reviewer)
Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint (2nd edition; Mark A. Hassler, reviewer)
Lorenzo Perrone (ed.), Die neuen Psalmenhomilien: Eine kritische Edition des Codex Monacensis Graecus 314 (Thomas J. Kraus, reviewer)
Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts, Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism (Ernst Boogert, reviewer)


  1. If Boogert's recommendation of Porter & Pitts isn't proof that peer review as currently practiced in the field of NT textual criticism is worthless, nothing is.

    1. Dear Mr. Snapp,

      Probably you can explain your statement a little bit further...


    2. Ernst,
      Briefly, P&P's handbook contains mistakes that would be unacceptable in a freshman's essay. It also contains entire chapters on peripheral subjects that have little if any connection to "The Fundamentals" of New Testament textual criticism.
      For further explanation see my review of that should-never-have-been-published-in-such-shoddy-condition book at . The comment about Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 having "very little manuscript support" is particularly inept and would have shown any discerning reviewer that these authors are unreliable and their work cannot be trusted.

    3. Dear Mr. Snapp,

      Thank you for your reply. In fact, more than 75% of your criticism is also in my review, which I have written completely independent from other reviews (including yours). So I think we agree on most of its deficiencies. The main difference between your review and my review is the way it is composed, but that is something completely different from your statement that “peer review as currently practiced in the field of NT textual criticism is worthless.”

      Probably it is appropriate to quote for the reader my conclusion in full:

      "To conclude, on the one hand, Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism offers lots of topics relevant to a thorough introduction into textual criticism. On the other hand, its deficiencies and sometimes obvious failures make it necessary to read another introduction parallel to it. With these reservations, I recommend this book to everyone who looks for a good introduction to the field of New Testament textual criticism."

      You can see that I only say with much hesitation that it is “a good introduction.” The question at stake is: what makes a textbook good or worse?

      I agree with you that the book should not have been published with all those deficiencies. But the book is there, with all those problems. As a reviewer, it does not make sense to state (as the only conclusion) that you should look elsewhere and especially that “[t]his book should never have been published in such flawed condition.” You should describe as accurate as possible what can be found in it and what not, what is good and what is bad. Taking the book overall, I cannot say that everything is bad. There are many nice sections in it and after reading the book, the student has a ‘good’ impression of what is at stake in NT textual criticism (again, indeed with much deficiencies). As for me, I can and will not make the harsh conclusion that it is all wrong.

      Moreover, if in a second edition those deficiencies will be corrected, it will be a nice introduction. That is also something I had in mind while writing the review. Will the authors be willing to accept my criticism? Of course, that cannot be the main rule, but it should be something to keep in mind. According to the most used feedback rules, feedback (especially negative feedback) should be discriminating and lovingly (or supportively) to be effective (Dee Fink 2003). That is what I have done. In my view, that has more to do with high academic standards, than with the idea that the peer review system fails.

      All the best,

  2. I found the P&P review comments regarding the Byzantine text in paragraphs 11 and 14 helpful, although I would resist terming my position a "more eclectic approach toward the Byzantine tradition" -- Mr Snapp's position would seem to hold more of that designation.

  3. Dear Mr. Robinson,

    I like it that you have read my review. I wondered that you found yourself posited under the head of a "more eclectic approach toward the Byzantine tradition". I have only said that P&P have wrongly connected you with the second school ("a school that commits rigidly to the majority reading within the Byzantine textual tradition"), since you wrote in the preface to your edition (p. x) "At all times, pertinent transmissional, transcriptional, external, and internal factors are considered as component elements of weight." But I agree, that it can be concluded from paragraph 14, since the connection of your position with the first option is implicitly there.
    On the other hand, much of your principles used toward the restoration of the text are eclectic in nature (see pages 544ff. in the appendix of your edition), although you will probably call it different (transmissionalism?).


    1. Thank you for your reply. To clarify, my basic methodology rests upon external evidence, and strictly follows the Byzantine Textform when essentially united. Where the Byzantine external data are seriously divided, internal principles are utilized as you note, but only to determine a more plausible reading from among the major Byzantine divided alternatives, and not to open the door to some form of "Byzantine eclecticism" in which small minority Byzantine readings or even non-Byzantine readings might be favored on the basis of internal principles.

      (I do suggest that even where the Byzantine Textform is basically united internal principles should be utilized -- but there with the intent of confirming the reading otherwise clearly supported by external data).

    2. Maurice, when the internal evidence does not confirm the reading clearly supported by external data, does this not raise questions about the value of internal evidence for those places where the external data is not clear?

    3. Peter, as you know from previous discussion, I would suggest that the internal evidence as read from within a Byzantine-priority perspective will confirm to various degrees "the reading clearly supported by external data". I see no reason to assume a hypothetical that internal evidence somehow will not confirm the externally supported reading, particularly when I find case after case reflecting the opposite.

      Obviously, the application and interpretation of internal evidence differs within the thoroughgoing or reasoned eclectic perspectives, but it remains illegitimate to presume that those approaches to internal evidence should be used instead of a Byzantine-oriented approach, and certainly not to claim a non-confirming stance in places where Byzantine supporters would interpret the internal data differently.

      I sense an ETC lunch at ETS approaching quickly...I am off to San Antonio as we speak.

    4. Dear Mr. Robinson,
      Thank you for explaining your position. It has illuminated my view of the/your Byzantine priority perspective. It is always a good thing to understand each other better!

  4. Dear Ernst,

    EB: “I agree with you that the book should not have been published with all those deficiencies.”

    You are aware that you recommended the book, right?

    EB: “As a reviewer, it does not make sense to state (as the only conclusion) that you should look elsewhere and especially that “[t]his book should never have been published in such flawed condition.”

    On the contrary, inasmuch as you believe that the book should not have been published with all its current deficiencies (as you just affirmed!), it does not make sense to recommend it. Tell the publishers that such an indigestible mess will be vomited back upon them. Otherwise, they will keep giving you more.

    EB: “Taking the book overall, I cannot say that everything is bad.”

    That is also true of being bitten by a non-rabid bulldog.

    EB: “If in a second edition those deficiencies will be corrected, it will be a nice introduction.”

    Indeed, take away imperfections, and you get perfection. But that is true of almost anything, no matter how horrendous.

    You did not recommend an imaginary second edition. You’ve allowed “Recommended by Ernst Boogert” to be used to sell a /real/ book – the one that you just admitted is so badly flawed that it should not have been published.

    I submit again that such peer review is useless.

  5. I think I would support Ernst on this.
    Yes, his last line did technically say he would recommend the book, but exegetes should know that context is king, and the context here was a review that had just finished laying out, in a civil manner, the book's shortcomings. I think most readers would understand then that in the last line Ernst was merely being polite, much as people are when they reply "fine" when asked "how are you doing?" no matter their true feelings.

    I don't see the problem with being polite like that. We need more civility, not less. His review clearly listed the shortcomings, I don't see the problem in presenting those shortcomings within the trappings of polite respect. What is with this trend lately that if you find someone's work deficient, people think it is ok to haul out insults like "shoddy" or "vomit"? This is a professional book review, not a trump rally.

    I'd also add that, with SBL around the corner, Ernst may very well run into either or both of the "P"s face to face, which should remind everyone that even though we're behind screens as we type, there are real people behind those names, and we should treat them as such.

    1. Ryan,

      Just to make sure I understand: you don't see a problem with saying that a book has so many flaws that it should never have been published, and then saying that you recommend the book.

      Is that not similar to saying, "That road has so many potholes that it should never have been opened to public use," and then saying, "I recommend that you take that road"?

      When a book's severe flaws -- sometimes at an elementary level; cf. the statement about the quantity of manuscript-support for Mark 16:9-20 -- do not prevent it from receiving a recommendation, and recommendations become wishes (like, "I wish for a second edition in which all of these mistakes are corrected") the result is that recommendations and non-recommendations cease to matter.

    2. Perhaps matters are much like the old Punch cartoon from 1859:

      Right Reverend Host. "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr. Jones!"

      The Curate. "Oh no, My Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!"

      (And I did purchase the Porter-Pitts book, by the way).

  6. I am not sure, even with the qualifications laid out by Ernst, that politeness is the only reason he recommended the book. After reading the review and his comments here, I for one still intend to purchase this book. I will actually benefit from both his thorough critique and his recommendation. I will be much more attuned to those areas Ernst has pointed out and more attentive to the other chapters as well. As we say in my crowd,, Mazel Tov, Ernst on an insightful review!

  7. Like Tim Finney, I would like to state that Chris Stevens's idea in his review of the Maurice Robinson festschrift, that all the writers are textually motivated by some view of providential preservation, is wrong. And silly. And wearisome in the way it is constantly trotted out.

    I believe that all of the manuscripts we possess, not only Byzantine but other types, not only Greek manuscripts but those in other languages, have been preserved by God's providence.

    I take a positive view of the Byzantine text-type without subscribing to the belief that the genuine reading will always be a Byzantine reading. I am happy to accept dozens, maybe even scores, of non-Byzantine readings as original, if they have early as well as widespread support. In fact, I am even open to the theoretical possibility of conjectural emendations - not that I have seen any particular cases that seem convincing.

    One of the reasons I was attracted to a Byzantine priority position was (A) the arguments by Pickering and Sturz about the non-secondary nature of the Byzantine text (the arguments that nudged me toward that position were based on textual evidence not theological reasoning), and even more so (B) the responses by Fee and Wallace (in S&D 45, 46) that failed to respond to the question of the origin of the Byzantine text-type.

    What particularly got my attention was this. If, as one news article recently put it, Hilary lost because she refused to grant the validity of any of Trump's case, Fee and Wallace adopted exactly the same take-no-prisoners, concede-nothing approach. But in addition, they attributed a theological motivation to the Byzantine/Majority text defence: providential preservation. Now, it is true that some KJV-only people use this approach, and maybe some Byzantine text defenders do too. I don't, but maybe some people do. But tarring everyone with the same brush is just smearing (as they say in politics today). Basing arguments on other people's supposed motivations is always a particularly unattractive and dubious approach to take. As the old lawyer's adage puts it: when the evidence is on your side, argue the evidence, when the law is on your side, argue the law, and when neither the law nor the evidence is on your side, attack the motivation of your opponent. This is precisely the way I read Fee and Wallace's arguments: as elitist smack-downs.

    Let's put the boot on the other foot and see how it fits. Now, please understand that I don't mean a word of what I am about to say. But imagine if I were to say that Fee and Wallace adopted the textual positions they take to distance themselves from a charismatic loony-bin background (on the one hand) and the fire-breathing fundamentalism of DTS (on the other) and in an effort to gain credibility among the ivy-league smart-set, they distanced themselves as far as possible textually from their KJV-only brethren. And imagine if I argued that this was the REAL motivation behind their textual views. I'm sure I'd find myself scratched off a few more people's Christmas card lists.

    So, why is it that this sort of base motivation-mongering is constantly repeated and levelled at people who hold to a Byzantine-priority viewpoint? Why is it repeated even when there are clearly some authors who, in their own articles, disclaim a belief that the Byzantine reading is always right, a view going right back to Sturz? Why, if all Byzantine-priority people hold to a providential preservationist or Byzantine-only-reading view, are people like myself and Tim asked to publish articles in a book honouring one of the big names in Byzantine priority?

  8. Hi Andrew,

    That's an interesting thought exercise - putting the boot on the other foot.

    It reminds me though that I have actually seen people argue that seriously. The first example that comes to mind, although not specifically about textual criticism but about religious scholarship in general, comes from Carl Trueman over at Reformation 21. A few years ago he published an admittedly funny but distinctly sarcastic put down of evangelical academics jumping through hoops to try to impress liberal colleagues at SBL, and suggested that their real motivation for this or that piece of academic work was to build up their academic reputation. I'm sure I can find that article.... yes, here it is:

    Here's an excerpt:

    The memory of this service leads me to two further reflections on the culture of theology. First, I have always been amazed at the infatuation of so many orthodox academics with their reputation in the secular universities and liberal departments. A few years back, I edited a book with Paul Helm on the doctrine of scripture. At the time I was on faculty at the University of Aberdeen. One colleague - a friend but one of distinctly liberal leanings -referred matter-of-factly in a public lecture to the upcoming book as representing the tradition of Warfield, of which he himself did not approve; but the comment was not a sneer; rather it was a simple statement of his impression of the book. Within a couple of days I received an email from one of the contributors, asking if this was the case and saying that, if so, he wanted to withdraw from participation. Now, it was not actually the case: the book addressed the issue of scripture from a different direction to the concerns of Warfield; but what puzzled me - no, what disappointed me, for I understood exactly what was going on - was that this person was so terrified of being associated with Warfield. I wonder to this day if he would have been so concerned if he had been invited to contribute to a collection of essays that someone said pointed in a Barthian or Bultmannian direction. Probably not - because those options would not be so embarrassing to mention to friends at cocktail parties in the Senior Common Room or at the next meeting of the Society for Biblical Literature.

    Now I worked in secular universities long enough to know that liberal colleagues are bright enough to spot a conservative at five hundred feet. Just because you avoid contributing to certain volumes or using certain words, or because you choose to laugh when certain people to the right of you are mocked, does not win you respect from the secular academy. It is a sad fact but, as far as biblical studies and theology go, only giving up all that is distinctive about the Christian faith will ultimately do that for you. The individual to whom I referred above no doubt liked to think he was taken seriously by mainstream colleagues, but I sat as a junior faculty in enough coffee room discussions to know the real thoughts of liberal colleagues about conservatives who try to fly under the radar. They despise them for their theology; and they despise them for the fact they try to hide or minimize it. A double whammy. Given the choice - and there is always a choice -- I'd rather just be despised for being a brazen conservative with looney theology, than a duplicitous conservative with looney theology. That way one can still be of use to the church and still look in the mirror with some degree of self-respect.

  9. The other thing I would say Andrew, is that while I do trust that your motivations are what they say they are, it is still true that many - if not most - people who hold that conclusion do also have that theological motivation. More often than not we know this to be true because they admit it openly - for them it is a badge of orthodoxy. Others may not admit it explicitly, but you need only have a real conversation with them and in short order their belief in divine preservation comes out. So I think that the reason that guys like Wallace, and dare I put myself in there too, address this issue of theological motivation is not because we are trying to undermine or discount these people with whom we disagree - I don't think that we're pulling the old "oh they disagree with me, but that's just because they're biased!" - but rather it is simply because that's what we experience: we experience a majority having that theological motivation.

    Given that, really it leaves no choice but to address that angle. You have to tackle the theology of it. You can argue the evidence all you want, but someone with an ingrained belief in divine preservation will be perfectly willing to believe that an all powerful God transcends all that stuff, and time and again they will inform you that they will put their trust in God rather than scholarship and the "wisdom of men." When you encounter that, it's just not enough to argue the evidence; you also need to offer some explanation as to why these other people are not accepting the evidence.

    1. Yes, Ryan, I agree that people from a Byzantine-priority perspective have certain motivations, just as everybody involved in textual criticism is prompted by a menagerie of all sorts of motives: personal, career, social, financial, political, institutional, denominational, theological, anti-theological, etc. Some of the motivations of some (or even most Byz-priority people), including providential preservation might not appeal to other textual critics as particularly strong arguments.

      And, of course, people are free to address this issue. Sometimes motivation is extremely important, as in 'follow the money', or in a murder trial. Climate change deniers are always banging on about motivation: climate scientists are only saying what they do because they are in receipt of huge research grants. I just happen to think that, whatever the motivation, arguments for or against climate change are more persuasive if they tackle the evidence rather than accusing people of sinister motives.

      The point I object to is the fact that Byz-priority people would generally have about a dozen arguments (right or wrong, strong or weak), for why they hold the view they do, and providential preservation is neither the only reason, nor anywhere near the top of the list. And it is usually the least educated and most textually-rednecked Byz-priority people who bring it up, not the leading advocates. But to hear some critics, it is the whole ball game.

      People like Maurice Robinson never try to claim they are right based on theology, either in individual textual variants, or in globo. Harry Sturz filled his book with logical, textual and historical arguments for why the Byzantine text-type was not a secondary witness to the NT text (i.e. the offspring of the marriage of the Alexandrian and Western text-types as a result of some mythical editorial recension), and therefore is a primary witness to the NT text. Similarly, Pickering spent 150 pages making the same sort of arguments, and only mentioned the matter of providential preservation in a two-page appendix in which he specifically stated that 'it is possible for us to know precisely what it is [i.e. the original wording of the text] (though due to carelessness and laziness we do not, at this moment)'. In other words, Pickering said we don't exactly have the original wording yet! He further went on to say that 'a serious effort must be made to let the evidence tell its own story'.

      I don't claim that Byz-priority is so self-evidently correct that everyone should sign up to it. What I object to is the way that, instead of accurately stating and critiquing its big arguments, the issues that Byz-priority people want to highlight are side-stepped with the accusation that is all about providential preservation. This accusation is used as a smokescreen to ignore the better arguments of Byz-priority.

    2. Just for the record: from a theological perspective, I held to biblical inerrancy and a general providential preservation of the original text long before I moved to Byzantine priority from a prior reasoned eclectic position. And no, it was not the theological presuppositions that influenced my changed view, but a further examination of external and internal data as evidenced within a hypothesis regarding reasoned transmissionalism -- and this from Kenneth W. Clark, himself hardly an evangelical.

      As Scrivener stated, what we have in Scripture is a "general integrity in the midst of partial variation" (Plain Introduction, 1894, 1:4) -- and it is from that point that all text-critical work begins.

  10. Greg Paulson has also just posted his review of Porter and Pitts here.

    1. Paulson's review is exactly what I expect from those who are convinced that 'only now', in the 21st century and after the advent of CBGM can anybody really know the original, oh no wait, initial, oh no wait, ausgangstext. There are many valid points within this review that is critical of P&P. However, the obvious allegiance to Muenster far outweighs these points. Hilarious that Paulson takes offense at P & P placing Comfort in the same breath with 'real' textual critics! Let's disregard that Comfort has personally collated manuscripts and produced a valued, by some, variant commentary, and make this a point of negative contention in a review.
      I know this is a shock and not understandable, but many of us non-enlightened still believe with old-timers like Dr Metzger and Dr Comfort that the original text is the goal of TC and documentary evidence is primary.

    2. Peter,
      I followed that link and read Paulson's review, and ...

      That's more like it.

    3. Snapp: "That’s more like it."

      ...But still very much within a Münster-related interpretative framework, as noted by Mr Joseph. Reviews and reviewers generally cannot be wholly neutral, which is one reason I rarely engage in the reading or writing of such, absent some controversy or specific need.