Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Post On Textual Criticism

I was reading a post by Jeremy Meyers over at his blog "Redeeming God." He's got some good description of textual criticism in the post. You can read it here. He does write one thing that I want to point out:
"All I am saying is that no matter how much Greek you know, there will always be people who know more than you, and will say that your theology is wrong because you don’t know enough. Even world-class Greek scholars like Comfort 'one up' other world-class Greek scholars by saying that the others didn’t understand the tendencies of the scribes who copied the texts."
It's interesting. It's true we will never know it all, none of us, this side of heaven. There's always someone who will know more, usually lots more, than we ourselves know about any given topic. And  we need to be careful and humble in the work we do as exegetes. Nevertheless, comprehensive and exhaustive knowledge are not prereqs for studying the biblical texts. Thankfully!

The one thing that I would say about Meyers' last couple of paragraphs is this type of work in exegesis isn't just something that "scholars" have to deal with. Textual issues matter for us all. And we should really give people in our local churches a grid by which they can work through these issues on their own. What are you going to do in Matt. 5:22 with the word εἰκῇ for example? Whether or not that word is present or not totally changes what Jesus is saying! Meyers writes, "If you want to know what the Bible says, just study it, read it, pray over it, and ask God to guide you by the Holy Spirit." He's right. I just think when we say "just study it" that such study includes textual analysis.

By the way, the Amazon page for Comfort's book has this subtitle for the text: "An up-to-date commentary on all the significant manuscripts and textual variants of the New Testament." All is a really, really big word. I bet there might be one significant textual variant not discussed in the book. Maybe two. You know what, maybe three.

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