The Face of New Testament Studies, part 3

Here are my first and second posts on the book.

The next chapter is on textual criticism and it is by Eckhard J. Schnabel. To start off, it is worth quoting his definition of textual criticism which is in turn a quote of Gordon Fee, “Textual criticism is ‘the science that compares all known manuscripts of a given work in an effort to trace the history of variations within the text so as to discover its original form.'” (p. 69) “He starts out by discussing new manuscripts and then some of the versions of the Greek New Testament on the market. Next, he discusses theories of the transmission of the New Testament text, and that is where things get interesting.

He says that Hort was basically correct in saying that the Egyptian text is carefully preserved and not a recension. Next, he points out that “there is no consensus at present concerning a coherent view of the transmission of the [Greek NT] text.” (p. 67) However, none of that entails (or even comes close to entailing) that text critical decisions are without basis. He then sketches a few proposals concerning the transmission of the text, but his main point is that the matter as a whole is quite complicated and, later on, that one should take a reasoned eclectic approach when it comes to textual criticism. A reasoned eclectic approach is “an approach that seeks to combine the documentary method and the eclectic method, taking into account both the manuscript tradition as well as all relevant internal criteria.” (p. 71) On those two points, I agree.

Finally, he discusses the reasons for discovering the original text and how some have been challenging the very idea of discovering the original text. With that, he concludes his chapter.

Next up is Stanley Porter’s insightful chapter on Greek Grammar and Syntax. Stay tuned and feel free to weigh in below.


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