Tuesday, September 10, 2013
New Word Magazine (9.10.13): Review: Dan Wallace on Preservation.Part 2
I recorded and posted another Word Magazine today, continuing my review and response to Dan Wallace's article Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism.
In this episode I take issue with several provocative and bold statements made by Wallace in the article like this one: "Furthermore, for the letters of Paul, there is no majority text manuscript before the ninth century."
With regard to this statement I raised the following challenges:
1. I asked what evidence Wallace had to prove this assertion, noting that the statement is made with no footnote to supporting evidence.
2. I noted that there was probably less difference between the traditional text of the Pauline epistles and the texts used in the reconstruction of the modern critical text and a comparison of these same textual traditions in the Gospels where more major issues (e.g., Mark 16:9-20; John 7:53--8:11) typically exist.
3. I noted that just because there are many manuscripts from the ninth and later centuries which support the traditional text, this does not mean that the traditional text only began at that time. Rather, we might well assume that these later manuscripts were based on much earlier manuscript traditions which they copied.
4. I noted that there seems to be directly contradictory evidence to the assertion that "there is no majority text manuscript [of the Pauline epistles] before the ninth century."
I pointed to two pieces of evidence:
First, in the introduction to the Nestle-Aland 27th ed. the editors list the "constant witnesses" for the Pauline epistles. Among these is listed the uncial manuscript C (for all the 13 Pauline epistles except for 2 Thessalonians).
Second, in Bruce Metzger's The Text of the New Testament, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 1968), he offers a description of C, also known as Codex Ephraemi (pp. 48-49). Metzger dates C to the 5th century A.D. He offers the following description of the text of C: "Though the document dates from the fifth century, its text is of less importance than one might have assumed from its age. It seems to be compounded from all the major text-types, agreeing frequently with the later Koine or Byzantine type, which most scholars regard as the least valuable type of New Testament text" (p. 49). Metzger's obviously biased description of the Byzantine tradition aside, his assessment is that C dates to the 5th century and it provides a witness to the Byzantine text of the NT (including the Pauline epistles).
Conclusion: Wallace's statement that there are no manuscripts that support the traditional text of the Pauline epistles until the 9th century is misleading, and, in the case of C, in particular, it is proven outright to be mistaken.