Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Recent Writings on Textual Criticism

Various things have come across my screen in the last few weeks on textual criticism and I haven’t had time to read them all. So I’m collecting them here both to remind myself later and for anyone who might otherwise miss them.
  • “The Ways that Parted in the Library: The Gospels according to Matthew and according to the Hebrews in Late Ancient Heresiology” by Jeremiah Coogan
    Coogan argues that Matthew and the Gospel according to the Hebrews are just two versions of Matthew but with differentiated titles. This one I did read and it’s good. Go read it. I did wonder about the comparison between Matthew and GHebrews and Acts in the Alexandrian text and the “Western” text (is there some point at which we can drop the scare quotes?). The fact that the “Western” text never got a distinct title whereas the GHebrews did may be the evidence we need that the latter two were conceived of differently by more than just the heresiologists. (The comparison with Marcion’s Gospel is also helpful.) Either way, it got me thinking afresh about when one text is changed so much that it becomes a different work. And congrats to Jeremiah on the Eusebius Prize!
  • “A Note on GA 2311” by David Lincicum
    GA 2311 has moved to Notre Dame from private ownership. That’s as far as I could read.
  • “The Construction and Contents of the Beatty-Michigan Pauline Epistles Codex (𝔓⁴⁶)” by Brent Nongbri
    Brent has done further work on the contents of single-quire codices and has concluded that P46 could have contained the Pastorals. I haven’t been able to read the article, but his blog summary says, “The upshot of this is the possibility that there were more missing pages at the end of P46 than we have generally thought, which opens up the possibility that the quire did originally contain all of the fourteen letters of Paul that we find in later Greek manuscripts of Paul’s letters.” I especially like that he says, “I did not at all expect to reach this conclusion, but I suppose that is why we do the research!” Indeed.
  • Kelsie Rodenbiker and Garrick Allen have edited a special issue of Religions on paratextual issues. It includes seven essays on “Titles, Paratexts, and Manuscript Communication: Jewish and Christian Literature in Material Context.” The range from Coptic titles to iconography. Especially interesting—from what I was able to read so far—is Mina Monier on the endings of Mark and paratextual features. The articles are all open access.
  • Speaking of Markan endings, the Text & Canon Institute posted two new articles this month on the Longer Ending. The first, by James Snapp, gives a condensed version of his argument in favor of authenticity and the second, by our own Peter Head, gives a rejoinder. These are intended for a fairly wide audience, so keep that in mind.
  • The CSNTM conference last month was a great time. Thanks to the whole CSNTM crew for their work putting it together. James Snapp has been posting summaries of some of the papers at his blog here, here, here, and here.
That’s all I’ve got. If you know something I missed, drop it in the comments.

Hixson reading Burgon as a youth. Credit

Friday, June 17, 2022

“Guest Post” from the Grave: William G. Pierpont on E.F. Hills


With the permission of Maurice Robinson, I am making available one of Pierpont’s unpublished papers, an evaluation of E.F. Hills’ defense of the textus receptus. Some formatting may have changed a bit, but I include here both text (to make it searchable) and images of the paper itself (for transparency).

Edward F. Hills’ Views on the N.T. Text

[by William G. Pierpont]

Dr. Hills’ agenda is openly and clearly expressed in the title of the four editions of his book “THE KING JAMES VERSION DEFENDED,” of which this reviewer used the first (1956) and the second (1973), together with several items of personal correspondence (the last dated 10 June 1981, shortly before his death). During this period his basic premises and conclusions remained resolutely unaltered, although expressed in somewhat different ways.

His reverence, sincerity, integrity and scholarship are unquestioned. His presentation of facts is balanced, fair and precise, and often interestingly made. It is his interpretation and use of the facts, as well as certain presuppositions which we must examine.

Starting from the confidence that God is the God of truth, he lays out his two primary principles as:

a) the autographs of the NT were Divinely inspired, and therefore in­fallible, and that
b) because of this God must see that they were providentially preser­ved. (The logic for this step rests on Mt. 5:17+, 24:35, etc.)

Therefore, textual criticism of the Scriptures is different from that of other books. Its principles must be drawn from Scripture itself—and from creeds and other Church writings which are in agreement with Scripture—and used in constructing theories for criticism itself.

Providential Preservation (PP) forms the center about which his further presentation revolves. Summarizing his "axioms", he declares that:-

1) The purpose of PP is to preserve the infallibility of the autograph­ic text, and that God must have done so in a public way, i.e., so that all may know where and what it is-- not hidden somewhere among the MSS and requiring to be searched out.
2) It is the Greek text which is thus preserved, not a translated ver­sion of it. (God never promised that a translation would be kept free of errors, great or small.) Further, there may not be competing authorities.
3) During the long centuries of hand copying, PP operated through the Greek-speaking Christian community, who understood and used the language.
4) PP operated through the testimony of the Holy Spirit: only through Bible-believing universal Christian preiesthood [sic], those who have taken a supernatural view of the text, applying to it standards of judgment di­rected by the Holy Spirit, and were thus enabled to distinguish the true from the false. This was not only through the Spirit’s testimony to the individual’s soul, but also in the collective priesthood of believers through the ages (continuing onward into the Protestant period). Thus errors entering were weeded out by Divine Providence and guidance.
5) From the very first, PP supplied a multitude of trustworthy copies which were read and recopied, while faulty and untrustworthy ones fell out of use and passed into oblivion. Thus the genuine text was kept safe in the vast majority of MSS.
6) Thus the consensus agreement of this vast majority of copies forms the Traditional Text (TT), which accurately represents the originals and is the Standard Text.

This vast majority of MSS thus contains an essentially uniform text, al­though hardly any two MSS agree exactly throughout by reason of little individual variations and errors. Their differences are often hard to detect, being rare and small. This verifies that each descended indepen­dently from its own ancient ancestor, and therefore the text itself is ancient and not medieval in origin.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

A Fourth-Century Witness Excluded from NA28


The other day I was looking at the textual variation in 1 Peter 5:7 between ἐπιρίψαντες an ἐπιρίψατε: “... casting/cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Now if one compares the apparatus of NA28 to NA27, the likely attestation of επιριψατε – (the imperative like in 1175 and Augustine) in 0206 has been removed from the apparatus. Apparently, in the ECM of 1 Peter, 0206 is cited for either επιριψατε/επιρριψατε. 


I was very surprised to learn that 0206, a fourth-century uncial (which may be dated even earlier, as proposed by Don Barker who thinks that it may be as early as the late second century) is not included in NA28. As the apparatus stands now, minuscule 1175 is the only attesting Greek witness. In my opinion, it is significant that 0206 almost certainly support this reading (seventh line in the image below where you see -ΨΑΤΕΕΠΑΥ). I hope it will be reinstated in NA29!



Pierpont’s unpublished papers

Thanks to the generosity of Maurice Robinson, one of my recent projects at CSNTM (where I have been a full-time Research Fellow since August 2020) has been scanning the unpublished papers of William G. Pierpont (1915–2003; see his obituary by Robinson in the TC Journal, here). Robinson is now the custodian of the papers, which include many short studies, remarks, letters, etc. It is a fascinating group of papers, and it seems like there’s a little bit of everything in there (there is even a very interesting one-pager in which Pierpont [who knew something like 20+ languages] analyzes a 13-second recording of an instance of glossolalia, transcribing it, breaking it down into syllables, making observations on frequency of sounds, etc. It’s remarkable!).

William G. Pierpont (photo c. 1980)
Eventually, I hope to put much of the material online at CSNTM. We’re working on adding a section to our website for materials relevant to the text and textual history of the New Testament that aren’t Greek manuscripts or printed editions (e.g. the manuscript of Legg’s unpublished edition of Luke’s Gospel, which J.K. Elliott allowed us to digitize a couple months ago).

While I am not a Byzantine prioritist myself, I have the greatest respect for both Robinson and Pierpont and have deeply enjoyed reading much of the material. The reverence for God’s Word these men had while preparing their edition (2018 edition available here) is both convicting and encouraging. In his unpublished papers, Pierpont is thoroughly Christian in everything he writes, and I can’t express how much I appreciate that.

With Robinson’s permission, I am preparing a “guest post” by Pierpont (assuming they don’t kick me off the blog first for stirring the pot too much!). In the next few days, I’ll post here one of Pierpont’s unpublished papers. They are almost all very short—this one is one of the longer ones at about 4 pages long. I hope Pierpont's writings are as edifying to you as they have been to me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Reprint of Sturz’s The Byzantine Text-Type


I have good news to report today. For years I’ve looked in vain for an affordable used copy of Harry Sturz’s The Byzantine Text-Type & New Testament Textual Criticism. It looks like that will not be a problem anymore as Energion Publishers is producing a reprint of the original with a new preface by David Alan Black. 

I first learned about Sturz’s book from my course on NTTC with Dan Wallace at Dallas Seminary and then again in reading through Klaus Wachtel’s work on the Byzantine text in the Catholic Letters. Here’s some sense of the book’s argument from the new publisher:

Should the Byzantine text-type be considered valuable in determining the original text of the New Testament? Does it bear independent witness to ancient readings? Dr. Harry Sturz, in a book published in 1984, maintained that it should be valued and that it could help with finding older readings and thus contribute to our knowledge of and confidence in the text of the Greek New Testament. His position, that the Byzantine text-type should be weighed along with other witnesses to the ancient text, differs from those who dismiss Byzantine manuscripts, which were largely copied later, but also from those who hold that the Byzantine text has priority or even is determinative of what the final reading should be. He uses carefully laid out arguments and numerous specific examples in making his case. This book is divided into two parts. The first outlines the positions both for relying on the Byzantine text and for largely ignoring it. Part two examines the evidence and outlines an argument that neither side of this debate should win the field, but rather that the Byzantine text should be valued, but not made exclusive.

This is an especially good time to reprint the book given the renewed interested in and esteem for the Byzantine text from the folks producing the ECM. My advice? Go get the book.