Saturday, August 08, 2009

Review of Dan Wallace: Part 5 of 5

Note: This is the fifth 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).

V. Conclusion:

Wallace concludes with a summary of his affirmations. He argues that evangelicals should do text criticism because we have a high view of the text and should want to determine the wording of the originals.

We should be involved out of a concern for history and to rebut epistomological skeptics.

Finally, we should be involved because of the incarnation. He ends with this challenge: "We should have a no-holds barred approach to the problems the text. And we must pursue truth at all costs, rather than protect our presuppositions" (p. 100).

Final Analysis: Dan Wallace is considered to be perhaps the most influential evangelical scholar in the field of New Testament text criticism. There are many issues raised in this paper, however, that elicit grave concern. We may summarize them as follows:

1. "Traditional" text criticism has completely shifted. Mainstream academic text critics are no longer pursuing the reconstruction of the original text (autograph). Future evangelical text critics are likely to follow suit. Wallace is caught defending last generation’s scholarly goals for this generation. Perhaps what is needed is a return to the pre-critical Christian view of the Scriptures and defense of the received text of the church.

2. Wallace offers a vision of text criticism that would supposedly be free from doctrinal presuppositions. This cannot be done. Even Wallace’s desire to eliminate presuppositions is itself a presupposition. Textual criticism is not an a-theological discipline. Why would we want to approach this task without clear confessional convictions?

3. Wallace naively sees the growing ecumenical control of the modern critical Greek text as a positive movement and fails to understand the erosion of a distinctively traditional Reformation understanding of the text of Scripture.

4. Wallace demonstrates the limits of defending the inerrancy of the autographs of Scripture without also defending the inerrancy of the apographs of Scripture. Will this approach ever be able to sustain an affirmation of the authority of Scripture against its cultured despisers?

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