Note: This is the first of a five part series offering review and analysis of Dan Wallace’s "Challenges in New Testament Textual Criticism for the Twenty-First Century" (JETS, Vol. 52, No. 1: pp. 79-100).
The theme of the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society held last November in Providence, Rhode Island was on the Text and Canon of Scripture. There were four plenary speakers, with two addressing issues of text and canon respectively for the OT and two for the NT.
Dan Wallace was chosen to address the topic of NT text. This appointment indicates that he is considered by many to be the foremost evangelical authority in the field of NT text criticism. In his address, Wallace mentioned only two other society members who hold the requisite credentials to be considered NT text critics (William Warren at NOBT and Maurice Robinson at SEBTS).
Wallace teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary and is the founder and director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. He is also an outspoken advocate for "reasoned eclecticism" and promoter of the modern critical Greek text.
I heard his remarks in person during the meeting and recall having my feathers ruffled by what I heard. His address was published in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society [JETS] (pp. 79-100). I got around to reading his address more closely in JETS last week and wanted to compose some responses.
Wallace’s address/paper has five major sections:
II. Postmodern Intrusions into New Testament Textual Criticism
III. The Role of Theology in New Testament Textual Criticism
IV. Desiderata: The Task that Remains
V. Conclusion: Why Evangelicals Need to be Involved in New Testament Textual Criticism
Wallace’s address deserves close scrutiny and response. I will offer a general outline of Wallace’s paper with some analysis (often in italic) provided:
Wallace frames his remarks as an evangelical response to recent "dramatic" and "drastic" changes in the field relating to "a new skepticism about recovering the wording of the autographa" of the NT by Epp, Ehrman, and Parker (p. 80).
He cites Ehrman’s "masterful tome" The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture as the watershed (p. 79, n. 3). Wallace also overestimates the impact of Ehrman’s more popular work Misquoting Jesus, claiming that the book created a "Chicken Little effect" causing "countless people to abandon the faith" (p. 79). Aside: I would like to meet even one person who "abandoned the faith" due to this book, not to mention the fact that no authentic believer ever would or could do such a thing!
"Wallace mentioned only two other society members who hold the requisite credentials to be considered NT text critics."
Frankly that sounds like snobbery. One needs skills to be a NT text critic. Credentials are not essential.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
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