Monday, December 09, 2019

Review Article of A Critical Examination of the CBGM

The latest issue of TC is chock full of good-looking articles—none of which I’ve been able to read yet. This issue also has a lengthy review article from Andrew Smith dealing with my published dissertation on the CBGM. Andrew was very kind to send me a pre-pub copy. It’s a real honor to have something you worked so long and hard on taken seriously in a venue like this. So, my thanks to TC for publishing it and especially to Andrew for his detailed and careful interaction. Once I emerge from end-of-semester-and-new-baby fog, I might offer some response. In the meantime, let me again thank Andrew and commend the article to you. Here’s the conclusion.
In conclusion, the CBGM deserves the serious scrutiny of the scholarly community outside the INTF, and Gurry’s examination of the method is the first major published work to start the conversation. The strengths of this book include the introduction to the history and reception of the method, the descriptions of the method’s process, and the straightforward examples of using the method found in the first two-thirds of the book. Additionally, Gurry’s clarifications regarding the referent of Ausgangstext in the process of editing the ECM serve as a good reminder that the text-critical community needs to clearly state presuppositions when producing a critical text of the Greek New Testament. The testing of the method’s parameters in chapter four begins a welcome exploration that could have had a more meaningful impact if supported by statistical analysis; this is a general weakness in the humanities when analyzing data such as these. The final third of the book raises some good questions about the use and future of the method, though Gurry’s answers are not always satisfying. His analysis of the method draws attention to the differing opinions of scholars regarding the CBGM and history, especially what is meant by history in each context. Finally, looking to the future, Gurry provides some helpful recommendations for moving forward with the CBGM. Some of his suggestions are fundamentally at odds with the method itself but discussing these in detail will also move the discussion forward.
Update: the book can be purchased here in time for your white elephant parties. 


  1. It is good that work like your book, Andrew Edmondson's dissertation, recent SBL papers, et al. are taking the time to think about and discuss the CBGM. My hope is that using numerical methods to evaluate coherence will be less frequently tossed into the "TL;DR" and "witchcraft" buckets and become a serious topic of discourse in a broader range of biblical scholarship. At times, my impression is that there is an emotional repulsion that drives critics away from even thinking about the topic. Is that a fear math? Is that a fear of computers? To me, anyway, it's a very strange reaction.

  2. I don't buy Brill books, I check them out of the library. But I made an exception with this one, and I'm glad I did. First, by some mysterious alchemy, I was able to get it (new) for $78 on Amazon. Second, I needed someone to 'splain CBGM to me in an understandable way, and it did.

    So I also recommend buying your own copy of this one...heck if you give up Starbucks once a week for two years, you'll have it covered. :-)

    1. This is now my favorite comment. I think this should go on the back cover: “worth two years of Starbucks”!