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.


Phil Brown said...

There are a couple of reasons I can think of concerning the lack of early manuscript evidence for the Byzantine family. The first one is that the climate in Egypt is much more arid and favorable for the preservation of papyrus and other documents. The area of Antioch and the old Byzantine Empire is not that way. It is humid and has wet winters. The second reason is that the old Byzantine Empire was destroyed by the Muslims, and much of the manuscript evidence along with it. Egypt had similar destruction, but some manuscripts were able to be hidden in that arid climate. No such luck in the Byzantine Empire. Either get out of the area, or try to hide a manuscript or two in vain. The only way to preserve the text is through making copies. That is what happened.

I also understand Wallace's skepticism of man's ability to keep a text pure. I have that same skepticism. However, if God preserved His Word, and desires for us to have it, is He not powerful enough to do that? Basically Wallace and the other half-believing scholars are sitting around saying: "I hope we have the accurate Bible text." We can have confidence that God has preserved His word through the ages because He is sovereign and mighty!

Phil Brown said...

Link to the Byzantine-Arab wars and other Muslim conquests



Phil Brown said...

I looked up Wikipedia's site on the Alexandrian family of Manuscripts. It is fairly objective. I heard what you read about the Latin, and I stumbled across the following:

"The earliest translation of the New Testament into an Egyptian Coptic version — the Sahidic of the late 2nd century — uses the Alexandrian text as a Greek base; although other 2nd and 3rd century translations — into Old Latin and Syriac tend rather to conform to the Western text-type. Although the overwhelming majority of later minuscule manuscripts conform to the Byzantine text-type; detailed study has, from time to time, identified individual minuscules that transmit the alternative Alexandrian text. Around 17 such manuscripts have been discovered so far — consequently the Alexandrian text-type is witnessed by around 30 surviving manuscripts — by no means all of which are associated with Egypt, although that area is where Alexandrian witnesses are most prevalent."

"It was used by Clement,[2] Athanasius, and Cyril of Alexandria."

The link is as follows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandrian_text-type

Dan Wallaces knack for using inaccurate speculation and unsupported evidence is very keen. He is a believer in his position, and he is willing to do what is necessary to promote it. I found an edition to Bruce Metzger's book at the following link:


I also noticed that the footnote about the Erasmusian "Roy-Froy" Conspiracy concerning 1 John 5:7 has been updated, and the footnote to the reference is on page 146 and not hidden several hundred pages later. However, the new reference has been written to seem more ambiguous. The old footnote is as follows:

"What is said on p. 101 above about Erasmus' promise to include the Comma Johanneum if one Greek manuscript were found that contained it, and his subsequent suspicion that MS. 61 was written expressly to force him to do so, needs to be corrected in light of the research of H. J. de Jonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies who finds no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion; see his Erasmus and The Comma Johanneum', Epemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, lvi (1980), pp. 381-9."

Cross reference this footnote with the new one on page 146. Very interesting.