Monday, October 24, 2022

About that Dan Wallace quote


The quote

A line from Dan Wallace's foreword to Myths and Mistakes has been making the rounds on the internet, usually in the context of people who want to discredit textual criticism. If you've not seen it, here is what usually gets shared (Update: Thanks to Jeff Riddle, who caught my typos, which I think came from accidentally hitting cmd+x instead of cmd+c when copying the phrase to search on other sites; it has been corrected, as have the mis-phrasing in the first sentence, which I am not sure how I got wrong.):

“We do not have now – in our critical Greek texts or any translations – exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it. There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain.” —Daniel B. Wallace, "Foreword" to Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, edited by Elijah Hixson and Peter J. Gurry (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019)
One website has it this way:
The quote according to one website (below a picture of Bozo the Clown).
UPDATE: A coworker of mine found this site down, so here is the site as of July 5th 2021.

In a recent book about the textus receptus, This quote shows up more than once, quoted by contributors Dane Johannsson (p. 112), Pooyan Mehrshahi (p. 174), and Christopher Sheffield (p. 212). In each of the three instances, the contributor gives the Wallace quote [update: "substantially exactly", by which I mean without the context; Johannsson and Mehrshahi add the word "thereof", which is not in the original quote] exactly as I quoted above (Update: the words are as I typed, not in all-caps as the screenshot has them).

This quote—again, exactly as I quoted above—is the very first one given in this list of "quotes that everybody should copy and paste" to try to discredit textual criticism. In fact, when I search that site for the phrase "Even if we did, we would not know it," I get 72 hits.

The quote even gets its very own page all to itself, here (with an interesting URL, I might add). I'm sure there are other examples as well. [Update: the URL has been corrected to give the quote in context.]

If this is all you've heard, it wouldn't be surprising—perhaps you would even be justified—if your reaction was something like this:
A normal Christian, new to textual criticism, hears the scary Dan Wallace quote out of context and reacts understandably.

The context

That sounds scary, but it's rare (if it ever happens) that it gets quoted in context. Here it is; I highlighted in yellow the sentences that you typically don't see when people share the quote—what Wallace says immediately before and after the words that usually get repeated:

Notice Wallace's point: "we also do not need to be overly skeptical." Wallace explicitly rejects "radical skepticism". What exactly, then, is Wallace describing? We can shed some light on that by looking at things he has said elsewhere. When we do, we see that in the spectrum between radical skepticism and absolute certainty, what Wallace is describing is much closer to the certainty end than to the skepticism end (which is near where E.F. Hills lands in the spectrum—like Wallace, Hills also rejects absolute certainty in every place).

E.F. Hills rejects absolute certainty of the text of the New Testament
(Believing Bible Study, 2nd ed. [1977], p. 217)
Hills continues with a statement that I can agree with: "In other words, God does not reveal every truth with equal clearness. Hence in New Testament textual criticism, as in every other department of knowledge, there are some details in regard to which we must be content to remain uncertain. But this circumstance does not in the least affect the fundamental certainty which we obtain from our confidence in Gods special, providential preservation of the holy Scriptures. Through this believing approach to the New Testament text we gain maximum certainty, all the certainty that any mere man can obtain, all the certainty that we need."

To take Wallace in his own words, here he is saying "The New Testament Text in all essentials and in the vast majority of particulars is absolutely certain."
Dan Wallace, saying something that doesn't look like radical skepticism to me.

What about the "many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain"? That might sound like it is a free-for-all in those places, where anything goes and anything is possible. Is that accurate though? [To be clear, I don't know if anybody made that inference from the quote, but in case they did:]

Here is a recent interview Wallace gave in which he says something that I have tried to point out to people when they ask me about it, and I think Wallace frames it helpfully. Here, he is talking about those places of uncertainty. Wallace says (screenshot and link below):

There's a few passages I could talk about, but understand that scholars have known what is in the original Greek New Testament for well over 150 years, because we have it above the line or below the line. It's not ... like um if you have a multiple choice it's either Text A, Text B, or Text C—it's never Text D—"none of the above." Never.

Wallace appearing on Preston Sprinkle's Theology in the Raw podcast.

I do think it would be helpful if we were more clear about these places of uncertainty—it's never "we have no idea what the original text is." Instead, it's "we are confident that in this place, it's one of these two [or rarely, three] options, but we're not completely sure which one. It can often be as simple as "Did Luke use one word for 'and' or a different word for 'and' here?"

Technical paragraph with examples of such 'uncertainty':
[9 of the 155 split line readings in ECM Acts is the 'uncertainty' between whether δέ or τέ is correct—at Acts 3:10, 12:17, 13:11, 13:52, 14:11, 15:6, 21:18, 22:23, and 24:27, and many others make about the same amount of difference as δέ/τέ. Similarly, 11 of the split line readings in the ECM Mark are transpositions involving all the same words: Mark 2:10, 3:27, 4:41, 5:19, 6:2, 6:38, 13:29, 13:30, 14:5, 15:29, and 15:34. That is to say, if we follow ECM Mark, there are 11 places where we can be sure which words belong in the text though we can't be sure if they should be in one order or a different order. Admittedly, not all of them are this inconsequential, but it would be inaccurate to say that none of them are.]

The problem

Now admittedly, one need not agree with Wallace to represent his own views fairly. One may genuinely think that modern textual criticism leads to radical skepticism in which we can't have any confidence in the NT text (though how many of its actual practitioners think so is perhaps a different discussion). One may not be able to distinguish between 0.1% uncertainty involving a choice between two knowns and 100% uncertainty in which anything is possible. And one might even think that having to choose between two readings where editions of the Textus Receptus differ is somehow categorically different from having to choose between two readings at an ECM split line.

That being said, is it really accurate to represent Wallace's words to mean something he explicitly rejects? What is hard for me to understand is how so many people can fail to mention what Wallace explicitly said, both immediately before and immediately after the section that gets quoted. The problem does seem to be quite pervasive.

When I go back to the website that had 72 hits for the phrase "Even if we did, we would not know it," I get zero hits when I search the words immediately prior ("must be avoided when we examine the New Testament Text"). The same is true of the words immediately following ("But we also do not need to be overly skeptical")—zero hits. Clearly, quoting Wallace in context doesn't seem to matter there.

Not one of the three quotations in the TR book gives the Wallace quote in the context of his rejection of radical skepticism. One even does the opposite: Christopher Sheffield (pp. 211–212) writes:

Daniel Wallace is one of the most prominent proponents of the modern Critical Text. In a foreword to the book Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, he declares:

We do not have now – in our critical Greek texts or any translations – exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it. There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain" (xii) [sic]

There you have it. We do not have the whole Word of God and even if we did, we wouldn’t know it. Listen carefully to what he is saying, “There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain.” (emphasis mine). Could there be anything more harmful to the child of God than to have some scholar take a proverbial Sharpie and write a giant question mark over every page of his Bible? That is what the modern Critical Text method does, and it can bear no good fruit in the child of God or in the church of Christ. Such a mindset does not provide patience, comfort, and hope (cf. Romans 15:4), but rather exasperation, anxiety, and despair. It will not produce stable believers with a growing confidence in their Bibles and willingness to labor and suffer for its proclamation, but only the opposite.
[I added the bold for my own emphasis. The italics are Sheffield's.]

Here, Sheffield's remarks seem to be in stark contradiction to what Wallace affirms both in his foreword to Myths and Mistakes and also in his interview that I posted. Admittedly, the interview was more recent than the publication of this book, but in a way that underscores my point—this confidence in the text was Wallace's position back when Sheffield was saying it wasn't. It seems to me that in most cases, the Wallace quote is given to 'prove' that Wallace (and by extension, modern textual criticism) is hopelessly uncertain with an implication that any verse is up for grabs—even though this type of uncertainty is explicitly what Wallace rejects.

In conclusion

1. Dan Wallace gets quoted out of context.
2. Quoting out of context is bad, so we should be extra careful to avoid it.

Final note:
No, Wallace did not ask me to write this. Yes, I do work for him, and I would have liked to get a response from him directly, but he wouldn't, as he typically doesn't respond to things like this. He did read a draft of this post though and agreed with how I represented him.


  1. I should add: the same thing happened to Jeff Riddle in the book he co-edited abut preaching from the Received Text. In a review at the Puritan Board, a reviewer claimed that Riddle and McShaffrey misstated the purpose of the book—the reviewer portrayed the purpose as the defense of the KJV, not a defense of the textus receptus. Riddle quoted his own introduction to show that the purpose of the book was to defend the textus receptus, not the KJV. I am inclined to agree with Dr. Riddle that the reviewer misstated the purpose of the book. It seems clear to me that the intended purpose was to defend the TR, not the KJV, though perhaps there's a discussion to be had as to how well someone might think the book aligned with this intended purpose.

    That being said, Dr. Riddle had this to say about why people take quotes out of context (source: "I think one can see why these reviewers do not desire to provide this extended quotation, because it does not fit the narrative they would like to promote about this book."

    1. Timothy Joseph10/25/2022 2:55 pm

      As soon as I read this article, which was before any comments, I wondered why you took the time and effort. I fully agree that being accurate is essential, yet I also realized that the people who misquoted DW, were not going to care. Even when they admitted they misquoted him; they still don’t care. Not a single CT Only, KJV Only proponent CAN admit any error in anything related to TC, even when it is not directly related, as in this case. As another has said, Elijah, you are too kind and compassionate to just realize these proponents of TR only ism and KJVO will attack whether you write the truth or not.

  2. You are too kind, Elijah.

    The quote from Wallace is so obviously true before even looking at the context, that it boggles the mind that there are people who disagree with it at all, much less consider it somehow shocking.

    What's the alternative? That there is some edition of the New Testament that we should be able to point to that we know for sure has "exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote," as in word-for-word exactly what they wrote from beginning to end? This is utterly indefensible nonsense.

  3. Agreed, contextomies can be bad. The highlighted sentences have therefore been added to the post with the interesting URL.

    1. That is honorable; thank you! Regarding the URL itself, I would say that I agree with every word that Hills said in the quote I put in the caption to the screenshot ("In other words...that we need"). The only clarification I would add is that Hills seems to think that a "believing approach" excludes my own, and I don't think it does; hence why I can agree with what he said. If that's me admitting the uncertainty inherent to my method, then that's Hills admitting the uncertainty inherent to his method as well.

    2. While we are all correcting contextomies, here is the very next sentence in Dr. Hills’ book:

      “Embracing the common faith, we take our stand upon the Traditional text, the Textus Receptus, and the King James Version and acknowledge these texts to be trustworthy reproductions of the infallibly inspired original text.”

      Conclusions are probably just as important as context - right?

    3. I never thought Hills' conclusions were anything but that (and certainly never meant to give that impression—I assumed people were familiar with Hills enough to know where he stood), hence why I clarified that I disagree with Hills that my approach is not a believing one.

      True, you may think that modern textual criticism necessarily leads to radical skepticism, but it's worth noting that some actual practitioners of it (e.g. Wallace) do not. I don't claim to know Byzantine priority and its ramifications better than someone like Maurice Robinson, so it might be that Wallace simply understands his own method and its ramifications better than his detractors.

  4. Ummm... I'm confused. In the first paragraph, the first quote you offer is not the one that appears on p. xii of Myths and Mistakes (Among other things, it omits the sentence, "Even if we did, we would not know it."). The second quote (from the website) is also wrong (The punctation is incorrect and so does not match up exactly with p. xii). You then say that all three of the Wallace quotations in Why I Preach From the Received Text follow one of these first two quotations (but don't tell us which) "exactly as I quoted above." You might wish that more context was given for the quotations by the authors in our anthology, but can you at least offer the correction that the three citations in Why I Preach from the Received Text accurately quote the words they cite as they appear in Myths and Mistakes, p. xii? Thanks.

    1. Mr. Riddle, would it be a fair representation of your own view to say that you are in full agreement with the quotes from Dan Wallace as they are given both by Elijah in the blog post above and in your comment here?

      I.e. the various editions of the Textus Receptus that you support are not all exactly the same, and if I understand correctly, there is not a single one that you would point to and say that you know for sure that this is the one edition that has exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote.

      If I have misunderstood your position, then which specific edition of the Greek NT is the one that you know for sure has exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote?

    2. Dr Riddle, thanks for catching my typo. I fixed it above with an explanation of how I am pretty sure it happened. Regarding the second quote (if I understand what you mean by second quote)—that's a screenshot. As you can see, I captioned it as the quote according to that website.

    3. I hate to be a stickler for details but the screenshot quote is still incorrect, beyond its use of all caps. It does not use the two dashes in the original quote from p. xii and adds the words "any of." To say that the authors of our book used the quote "exactly" as it appears in this screen shot is, therefore, not accurate. Can you please add a correction noting that our authors correctly quoted Wallace's words as they appear in Myths and Mistakes, xii? Thanks.

    4. With respect, I would think everyone would agree there is a world of difference between variations in the printed editions of the TR and the overall perspective of what I see as "textual agnosticism" in mainstream modern textual criticism. I therefore see the "Which TR?" objection to the Confessional Text position as a tu quoque logical fallacy. I discussed this in a recent talk:

    5. Thanks for this. No correction is needed because you seem to have missed the detail in which I updated it to be clear that I wasn't referring to them quoting as in the screenshot—unless you did see it and still think it's not clear enough. ("Update: the words are as I typed, not in all-caps as the screenshot has them"). I never claimed that the screenshot *exactly* represented the book either, which is why I qualified how I referred to it ("One website has it this way..." and "The quote according to one website"). I also fixed a couple of other typos in my quote and added that two of the contributors do not, in fact, quote it exactly correct because they each added a word, but clarified that what I meant was the quote was without context.

      But if details are settled, what about the larger problem of quoting Wallace of context? Christian above seemed to understand the importance of the larger issue and addressed it even before you caught my typos.

    6. I added the sentences simply to foil an accusation (not because I thought there was an issue). Even with the added context, I still see the quote as a damning admission of maximal uncertainty.

    7. I appreciate your response. But you didn't actually answer the questions.

      Please correct me if I'm wrong. But, as a matter of fact, you are in full agreement with all of the quotes from Wallace presented here both by Elijah and you. Are you not?

      I infer from your response that I am correct in thinking that, and you for some reason seem hesitant to come right out and admit that. But I don't want to misrepresent you, so again, if you actually do believe that there is an edition of the New Testament that you believe you know for sure is exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote, by all means say so, and identify which specific edition that is.

    8. I still think your article is confusing, both in its original and amended forms. One might think you are charging the authors of our anthology not only with not providing enough context for the quote but also of misquoting it--or even just lifting it from some incorrect online source. It seems one who only cares about the facts would want to correct that. Just weights and measures and all that. At least the correction is made here in the comments, for those who read them. As for context issue, I don't hear Wallace denying the substance of this quote as it stands in use by our authors. Even if the whole paragraph was cited I don't think it dulls the points they were making. Many who have read the entire Foreword have reported that it raised concerns for them about evangelical appropriation of modern textual criticism. So, it ended up serving a purpose that was not originally intended. Interesting.

    9. I've noted many times in writing and speaking that I am in agreement with the TBS statement on the Doctrine of Holy Scripture, and that for practical purposes Scrivener's TR is the standard. For a recent talk I did on this you can look here:

    10. In reply to Jeffrey Riddle: And you are also in full agreement with the quotes by Dan Wallace provided in the above blog post and your comments. Correct?

      Again, if not, it shouldn't be a problem for you to say that directly.

    11. Sorry Eric, I am kind of slow sometimes. But I have no idea what point you are trying to make. My Bibliology does not agree with that of the Bibliology of Dan Wallace as reflected in his Foreword to the Myths and Mistakes book. It doesn't seem you took the time to listen to the resources I sent, but here's another, my review of the whole book:

      I have an appointment to make so I am bowing out of the conversation, Cheers!

    12. Mr. Riddle, please notice how in each of your responses, you have avoided answering the questions I've asked, which are fairly clear.

      I don't doubt that you have many disagreements with Dan Wallace.

      However, one point on which you are in total agreement is in what he expressed in the quote that has been discussed in this blog post. If you do not, then I see no reason why you would have kept refusing to say so.

      But what is also noteworthy is the fact that, even though you are in full agreement with that quote, you also are unwilling to say that.

      The appearance is that you want to have it both ways.

    13. I see nothing in the TBS Statement on the Doctrine of Holy Scripture that contradicts the quote from Dan Wallace that is under discussion here.

      So, since what he said is consistent with the TBS Statement on the Doctrine of Holy Scripture, what actually is the problem with it?

      Again, the issue here is not anything else that Wallace has written or said, but just this particular quote making a point that you yourself agree with 100%, and which has nonetheless apparently caused some controversy in certain circles, seemingly among people who don't have the level of awareness that you do that what Wallace said here is indisputably true.

    14. //One might think you are charging the authors of our anthology not only with not providing enough context for the quote but also of misquoting it// I would hope only the former since that is the overall thrust of the entire post—quoting in context and accurately representing what Wallace thinks of his own position instead of using his words to support an interpretation he does not support.

      //As for context issue, I don't hear Wallace denying the substance of this quote as it stands in use by our authors.// I did mention at the very end (in those small details) that he does not usually respond to things like this but that he read a draft and agreed with how I represented him. I hoped that would be enough—it should be if one assumes I was telling the truth and understood him correctly. Do you think I misunderstood him when he told me I represented him correctly? Do you think I lied about it?

      //Many who have read the entire Foreword have reported that it raised concerns for them about evangelical appropriation of modern textual criticism. So, it ended up serving a purpose that was not originally intended.// If someone has already decided what the conclusion is, confirmation bias can make it hard to read the data in any other way. I'm not surprised that many have gotten the wrong impression, but it seems at least possible that they may have done so by having already decided what Wallace must have meant instead of looking to clarify.

    15. Not “tu quoque” at all, but “apples and oranges.” TR-onlyism can and should be interrogated regarding its own claims, just as modern textual criticism should be, and those claims happen to be very different. The former claims a degree of certainty (absolute or almost absolute) that the latter does not. The point about internal TR variations is raised given the TR-onlyist claim of certainty, and should be obvious within that frame. Within a modern text-critical position however such a point – like asking “Which modern edition?” – is pointless if it is meant to problematise the modern endeavour, since the differences between the editions do not pose a problem, but are almost a positive sign.

    16. This is my issue, Jan. If the TR-defender’s claim is that his text has less uncertainty due to variation, I’d be fine with it. But the claim is more often that his position gives certainty all the way to the jots and tittles. At that point, I have a problem since jots and tittles are pretty small little things and the TR editions do not agree in all those little things.

  5. Daniel Wallace quoted by Elijah Hixson:
    "we are confident that in this place, it's one of these two [or rarely, three] options, but we're not completely sure which one. It can often be as simple as "Did Luke use one word for 'and' or a different word for 'and' here?"

    What a diversion. If we are allowing that the Textus Receptus and Byzantine Greek texts are alternatives to the Westcott-Hort recension, Critical Text editions, then we have about 40 full verses that are omitted in the Critical Text and definitely hundreds of major variants, thousands overall (and sometimes one word or one letter, as in 1 Timothy 3:16, can be a huge difference, affecting fundamental Christology).

    One trick that began with Fenton Hort was to assume the Critical Text as the true text and then claim 99.5% consistency, simply ignoring the huge differences from the historic TR bibles to the Vaticanus-primacy text..

    The idea was to assume that e.g. the Mark ending is known to be not scripture, after all it is given an A in the A-B-C-D-E probability system! Who cares about 1600+ Greek manuscripts and many thousands of Latin and many hundreds of Syriac, 99.9% of the mss. in those languages, and also Ante-Nicene ECW references. . It is "certain" that the 12 verses are not scripture... it is claimed. Circularity, the jewel.

    Why do Daniel Wallace and/or Elijah Hixson try to point us to mini-differences, such as transposition variants?

    That type of "look, over here at the tiny differences" shell game is Critical Text apologetics that is out of context. Which is a far greater problem than the quibbles about the Daniel Wallace quote possibly being used without full context.

    Btw, I have never used the Wallace quote simply because it is better to actually explain the probability system mentality of modern "scientific" textual criticism.

    Including the 100+ verses that have no support, as verses, anywhere in the textual manuscripts, the point made by the paper by Maurice Robinson.

    Steven Avery
    Dutchess County, NY USA

    1. To be clear, what you say is Dan Wallace as quoted by me is not Wallace—that's my own way of stating the same concept as him regarding 'uncertainty'—that it isn't "anything goes" but a choice between known options, much like differences among TR editions.

  6. An Evangelical position. Any theory that conjunctions and articles and prepositions are not important should be rejected. The pure Bible is pure in the details. Here is an example.

    Matthew 9:1 (AV)
    And he entered into a ship,
    and passed over,
    and came into his own city.

    πλοῖον - TR and Byz Majority - "ship"
    τὸ πλοῖον - Critical Text - "the ship"

    The ultra-minority definite article in the Critical Text creates translations that are chronological to the eighth chapter, and this is a hard error. They translate it as the ship of the previous chapter by using "so" or "after", wrongly connecting the two chapters.

    e.g. Here is the NWT trying to be faithful to the critical text.
    So boarding the boat, he traveled across and went into his own city

    Thus, articles and conjunctions should not be given short shrift. For those who have an high evangelical position on the inerrancy and infallibility of the word of God, every word is pure!

    Proverbs 30:5 (AV)
    Every word of God is pure:
    he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

    More detail:

    Pure Bible Forum
    hard errors in the Critical Texts - list
    Matthew 9:1 - chronology error in Critical Text versions, also NKJV


    Steven Avery
    Dutchess County, NY, USA

    1. My error above, apologies. I had looked at it 17 years back, and had the text backwards in my mind today, as the Byz-TT reading has the article. And it really just shows the flexibility of the Greek article, that does not necessarily map to the English article.

      It is true that many English modern versions that make the text chronological create a hard apologetics error, but that is unrelated to the Greek article..

  7. Maurice A. Robinson10/25/2022 3:14 pm

    My much simpler solution would be to rephrase that portion of Wallace's extracted quote : "For the vast bulk of the New Testament we already have – in our critical Greek texts and translations – exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. The relatively few variant units in the New Testament where the text is relatively uncertain (i.e. a choice between one or a few possible alternatives) pales by comparison to the general integrity of the text as a whole.”

    1. Maurice, thank you so much for this. What a wonderful way of putting it. Maybe if they let us do a second edition we could suggest this (or at least try to clarify it somewhere). I would hope that the TR advocates would also love the way you put it because it does accurately and honestly summarize Wallace's position (and we should of course desire to represent our 'opponents' accurately and honestly) but even does so in a way that is much less likely to bring about unnecessary doubt in regular Christians who aren't manuscript specialists. Because what Christian who is walking not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit would desire to exploit another believer's statements so as to cause regular Christians to doubt the copy of God's Word in his/her hands (e.g. the ESV or NIV)?

    2. Elijah, Maurice’s suggestion above may well represent what both you and Dan Wallace believe. It is, however, a totally different approach from the one Dan chose in the “Foreword” to Myth & Mistakes. Maurice’s statement emphasizes the positive while Dan’s takes an extremely negative approach. One sounds so close, while the other sound so far. Our critical Greek texts and translations have exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote in most places _versus_ Our critical Greek texts or any translations do not have exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. There is a choice between one or a few possible alternatives _versus_ Even if we had what the New Testament authors wrote we would not know it. A few uncertainties pale by comparison to the general integrity of the whole text _versus_ There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain.

      I don’t think the context or lack thereof is the main problem, but the dark shades with which Dan paints his picture. Additionally, between the extremes that must be avoided ranging from Kurt Eichenwald to someone not named (maybe like Edward Hills) is a canyon deep and wide enough to hold the Great Lakes. If he did not intend “to bring about unnecessary doubt in regular Christians” I can accept that. Nevertheless, such an extreme range coupled with such dire warning is what Dan wrote, and he should own it.

    3. R.L. Vaughn, what (if anything) is incorrect with Wallace's statement in your opinion?

    4. Robert, thanks for your comment. Don't quote me on this (verfify first!) but I think I remember Dan saying in passing once that he does this sort of thing as a rhetorical device in his debates. Because someone like him—a conservative, evangelical, inerrantist Christian who knows this field of study well—can say that and not lose the faith, it takes all the weight out of the same statement when someone like Ehrman makes it. The person who is attacking Christianity has no shock value anymore. Any problems the audience might have with the statement can easily be explained by the fact that they simply don't know textual criticism as well as Wallace does, but the fact that he knows all these objections and is still a Christian anyway is a big argument for why those statements aren't deal-breakers for the faith. I've seen this same type of 'argument' also at a state university where the chairman of the chemistry department was openly Southern Baptist. Of course he knew all the arguments thrown out by the atheists of the department, but he was the department head and wasn't convinced by them—a state university isn't going to promote someone who doesn't know his own area to department head, so for evangelical undergraduates—that's a reason to be encouraged that they didn't need to know every answer to every argument to still be Christians and have faith. Of course, for this rhetorical device to work, the 'audience' has to have the humility to accept that the 'expert' (Wallace or the department chairman in the other case) knows more about the subject area than they do.

      I'm not saying I agree with that approach as taken in a book (I certainly think it could have been worded better), but I do understand it.

      What I do not understand is why so many TR advocates jumped on that statement as proof that textual criticism is evil/destructive/etc. without first assuming that Wallace might know something they don't, and it only sounded scary because they don't understand Wallace's area and position as well as he does. After all, you have *that* statement by an inerrantist, conservative evangelical DTS prof—hardly someone who can easily be accused of theological liberalism. If the statement sounds scary coming from someone like that, surely it must be because the person to whom it sounds scary doesn't know the field as well as Wallace, who apparently doesn't have a problem saying that.

      Yes, Wallace should own the way he phrased things. But I can't say that the people who abused his statement are innocent in the matter, especially given the immediate context of Wallace's statement.

    5. To Elijah Hixson and Matthew M. Rose:

      Elijah, thanks for sharing your further explanations on this. I understand this sort of a rhetorical device in debate. It can work well against a debate opponent, though you also have to accept that it can backfire badly with the audience. Same goes with books, blogs, sermons, and so on. Brother, I think or hope I can have the humility to accept that text critics (whether Ehrman or Wallace or you or other) have expertise in their field of study that means they know more about that field specifically than I do. However, it does not keep me from assessing your claims. Further, when the field of study is the doctrinal teachings of the Bible, I do not submit to the experts for them to decide and proclaim what it teaches based on their field of study. The Bereans may not have had some of the expertise that Paul had, but they were supremely qualified (and of noble character) to search the scriptures to know whether the things Paul said was so.

      Matthew, I think I would say that, for all the hand-wringing, considered from Wallace’s perspective of reasoned eclecticism the statement is not incorrect. (However, RE is not my viewpoint.) He is giving the tails side of the coin in that statement, while Maurice Robinson’s post gives the heads side of the coin. (Since Robinson is a MT guy, he is not stating his own position, but restating Wallace’s in a positive way.) I think there are problems created when some statements like Wallace’s tails (We do not have in our critical Greek texts exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote) seem to contradict other statements made in the text critical realm, such as “we have everything the apostles wrote, either in the text or the apparatus.” (I am not saying that Wallace makes that claim, but others do.)

      Matthew, what (if anything) is correct with Wallace’s statement, in your opinion?

    6. //He is giving the tails side of the coin in that statement, while Maurice Robinson’s post gives the heads side of the coin. //

      However, as the OP explains, Wallace did not give the tails side as a standalone comment. It was in a context in which the tails side and the heads side were both articulated so as to mutually qualify each other.

    7. Eric, what do you consider the heads side in the quote from the comment as explained in the OP? Thanks.

    8. Clarification. Above, I wrote, “Since Robinson is a MT guy, he is not stating his own position, but restating Wallace’s in a positive way.” I made the statement that way based on my knowledge that Maurice Robinson holds a majority text position rather than a critical text position. However, that does not preclude his believing the statement he made about the critical text – “…we already have – in our critical Greek texts and translations…”

  8. I think Elijah's suggestion of a clarification of Dan's statement in the next edition would help. Myths and Mistakes is a complex work, and any work of such complexity is bound to have places that could use improvement.

  9. Not to spend a lot of time making corrections that Dan Wallace will ignore -- has he heeded any of my corrections of his false statements in the past?? -- but -
    << It's not ... like um if you have a multiple choice it's either Text A, Text B, or Text C—it's never Text D—"none of the above." >>

    In which case, why isn't Dr. Wallace protesting loud and long against NA28's new introduction of a conjectural emendation in Second Peter 3:10? The NA28 editors/creators have basically told their readers, "Here, as far as the Greek text is concerned, it *IS* none of the above."

    Did he get so used to embracing conjectures in the OT that encountering one or two in the NT has come to be no big deal?

    And, for that matter, why don't we hear vociferous protests - or even mild-mannered protests - about all the verses in NA28 that are test-tube-verses, i.e., verses that are printed (in a book that readers will treat as if it is the closest attainable representative of the original text) in a form that is found exactly as printed in zero manuscripts?

  10. Regarding the earlier portion of that Wallace quote, "Scholars have known what is in the original Greek New Testament for well over 150 years, because we have it above the line or below the line" — that statement only works if one has a critical apparatus far more extensive than those in common use like NA/UBS, which frequently do *not* include numerous variant units (Byzantine and otherwise), as detailed in my essay in the David Alan Black Fs., "'It's All About Variants' — unless 'No Longer Written.'"

    1. Maurice A. Robinson10/30/2022 11:14 pm

      Sorry, that was by me, not anonymous.

  11. This is your best post yet. (I didn't read the comments so I can't comment on them. Comments are generally not very useful). But this post, just super.

  12. No matter how much Dr. Riddle claims that he supports the TR rather than the KJV, the particular version of the TR that he holds up as the standard is the one that Scrivener purposely conformed, not to any manuscript of previously printed GNT, but the the KJV itself. So to support Dr. Riddle's TR is to support the KJV--or, possibly, Webster's, the 1611 KJV, the NKJV, LITV, KJII or MEV, some other version the the KJV-based TR. But even these differ by jots and tittles from the KJV itself and are thus usually rejected.