Thursday, February 20, 2020

Links around the Web

Meade and I have been up to our necks in final prep for the Sacred Words conference this weekend which has meant I haven’t had time for blogging. Instead, here are some TC-related links and news from the past few weeks.


Speaking of conferences, Pete, Dirk, and Kim Philips will be speaking in Frisco, TX April 2–4, 2020. Don’t miss it if you’re in the area. Details at Also in April, Dan Wallace will be giving two lectures at TEDS on textual criticism. See here.

“Hebrew Manuscripts: Journeys of the Written Word” exhibition at the BL March 19–August 2, 2020. Watch the promo video and get more at

News and Publications

Geoffrey Khan has just published a new two-volume book on The Tiberian Pronunciation Tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Both are open access. Ben Outhwaite says, “These volumes represent the highest level of scholarship on what is arguably the most important tradition of Biblical Hebrew.”

John Meade has completed his 10-years-in-the-making edition of the Hexeplaric fragments! Here’s an interview with the seminary about it.
PS: Do the hexaplaric readings of Job affect our English Bibles? JM: In short, yes. The hexaplaric readings usually agree with the Hebrew text upon which our English translations are based. But in some cases, they differ and preserve an older text. I’ll limit myself to two examples where the ESV has based its translation of Job on Hexaplaric versions, but you may not have known it...
Hixson on the ending of Mark – Hixson has written a nice, accessible article on the ending of Mark’s Gospel for the Gospel Coalition.
Uncertainty here makes us uncomfortable, but we lose nothing of our faith if Mark ends at 16:8, and God often calls us to trust him in the face of uncertainty. Without faith it’s impossible to please him, after all. Since faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1), and seen hope is not real hope (Rom. 8:24), it wouldn’t be walking by faith if God answered all of our questions. That would be walking by sight. With or without Mark 16:9–20, the tomb is empty, Jesus has purchased our pardon, and we can be certain of that.
Jongkind on how Greek improves understanding of the text at the Crossway blog
In conclusion, do we need Greek in order to appreciate the examples discussed above? It certainly helps. It puts us in a position where we can “Come and see,” where we listen directly. Reading Greek (and likewise the Hebrew of the Old Testament) helps us to develop a sensitivity to the beauty of the language that is difficult to appreciate otherwise. And it is not just about beauty; it is also about meaning. Thankfully, we can explain all this in modern English. But for those who can, the blessing of approaching Scripture in the original is a great privilege.
Myths and Mistakes is the runner-up in NT for the Biblical Foundations Book Award. I’m not entirely clear on what the criteria were, but Tom Schreiner nicely says, “Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism breaks new ground, and although it eschews simplistic solutions, gives us new confidence that the Bible is the word of God.” 


  1. I wish Hixson would have posted his article here, where he might interact with those, like me, who would question his position. I assume Hixson now would logically have to describe himself in the ‘canonical text’ position rather than ‘authorial text’ position.

    1. Tim,

      I apologise as I only saw this comment today. There has been no shortage of speculations and assumptions about that article, and few (if any) of the people who disagree with the conclusions seem to have understood the point of it or know how it came to be.

      To be clear: I never sat down and decided to write about the ending of Mark just to do it. Several months ago (maybe November of last year? Possibly late October?), one of the TGC editors contacted me and asked me to write an article for them on the ending of Mark. I didn't want to write it, but it is the sort of article that needed to be accurate, and I knew I was in a position to be accurate. I eventually agreed to write it, though only reluctantly. That is why it was posted there and not here—they contacted me first and asked me to do it, and only reluctantly did I agree to do so. One of the reasons I did agree eventually is that I tend to see people dismissing Mark 16:9–20 a bit too easily, and I think it deserves a bit more hesitation than an easy answer allows.

      The fact is that the ending of Mark is much more complicated than something like John 7:53–8:11, where I think the answer is fairly easy once you look at the details of the data, so the only way to treat it even close to accurately within the word count limits I was given (and also note that I was not permitted footnotes) was to re-frame the question. The logical question I wrote to answer was not "should Mark 16:9–20 be in the Bible?" but rather "*writing as a textual critic*, in light of the overwhelming evidence for Mark 16:9–20, why does anyone question it at all?" (and *as a text critic*, I did honestly and accurately answer *that* question in the article, though limited by my permitted word count). Some of the arguments traditionally used against it are not as convincing to me (e.g. the difference-in-style argument, as there are ways to explain that difference) as others.

    2. That is all to say that you assume incorrectly; I still hold to an authorial text position, and I have no logical obligation to describe myself in a canonical text position. I'm still convinced that Mark's Gospel ends at 16:8, but I'm also convinced that it's a much less clear decision than many textual variants. When I said in the article that I recommended to leave 16:9–20 in the text and leave the note between vv. 8 and 9, that shifts the decision to a local church level. It provides the honesty about the textual tradition and that many Christians did understand there to be some tension there, but it also provides the text that was received as canonical at least by the second century for pastors to preach from it if they so choose. The solution I proposed is one of those difficult decisions one has to make when one comes to grips with the fact that Christianity is bigger than a single individual and that some decisions are more difficult than people often make them out to be. Even though I would not preach from Mark 16:9–20, I know fellow Christians who would, and I understand why they would. Leaving vv. 9–20 in the text but with the note is another way of giving a "diamond of uncertainty".

      This decision is really analogous to transliterating βαπτίζω as "baptise". There is little if any logical difference between a diamond of uncertainty between two possibly-original readings at a place of textual variation and a decision to transliterate a word whose precise definition is uncontested or the refusal of someone to come down on the 'correct' interpretation of a particular verse. One difference though is that in very many cases, any textual uncertainty between two opposing readings makes *far* less of a difference on theology and interpretation than exegetical uncertainty. In either case (though only sometimes with textual uncertainty) there is uncertainty about what the text means, but nobody seems to have much of a problem with uncertainty as long as they are the ones in control of it (e.g. exegetical uncertainty about the meaning of a passage). Even though I am convinced that βαπτίζω means 'immerse', I have brothers and sisters in Christ who are convinced by good arguments that the semantic range of βαπτίζω extends to "sprinkle". Of course, I think they're wrong, but I also know that there are good, reasonable arguments for it that some find convincing, and I know that the Holy Spirit has not yet convicted them (or me!) of being wrong about that. As a result, if I were a pastor and were preaching one of those passages, I wouldn't hesitate to tell my church that βαπτίζω means immerse. However, if I were translating the New Testament for multi-demoninational use, I'd leave it as "baptise" to allow that freedom of conscience for one of the more difficult decisions.


    3. Typo in the last paragraph. Should be: "...transliterate a word whose precise definition is contested...", not "...uncontested...".

  2. Peter,
    << Speaking of conferences, Pete, Dirk, and Kim Philips will be speaking in Frisco, TX April 2–4, 2020. >>

    No, probably not, in light of restrictions due to COVID-19.