Tuesday, June 23, 2020

WM 166: Wasserman & To Cast the First Stone




I have posted WM 166: Wasserman & To Cast the First Stone.

This is the first WM on text criticism I have posted since April.

In the first part of this episode, I offer a "historical" review of some previous conversations had on this blog, which began in WM 163: Gurry, Parker, Text, & Postmodernism.

In the comments of the WM 163 article, Swedish Baptist scholar Tommy Wasserman offered this rejoinder:


You cited me (and Jennifer Knust) again in your last comment, so perhaps I should emphasize again that it is not an either-or for me. I think that polarization is so unfortunate.


1) I do not believe the pericope adulterae belongs in the initial text of the Gospel of John, it entered in the early third century.


2) Our focus in this book was not on the initial text ... we did not find the pericope there. The focus was on the available textual objects, etc.

3) I am very interested in the reconstruction of the initial text and wrote another book with Peter Gurry whom you debate here. I think the easiest hypothesis is the assumption that the initial text is the authorial text.

4) I think the position that the Textus Receptus is God's word exclusively is completely untenable from both a logical–scientific and a theological viewpoint. I have no desire to debate with proponents of the Textus Receptus (I have done my share of that, and urge those who want more knowledge to first study the manuscripts and read an introduction to New Testament textual criticism).


Wasserman then offered a post on The Goal(s) of New Testament Textual Criticism on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, in which he again lamented the insistence of an "either-or" approach to text criticism.

The conversation continued in WM 164: Has there been a "major shift" in the goal(s) of text criticism?

Here also is a link to the audio of my debate with Stephen Boyce on the authenticity of the PA.

In the second part of this episode I offer a draft of my review of Jennifer Knust & Tommy Wasserman, To Cast the First Stone: The Transmission of a Gospel Story (Princeton University Press, 2019).

Enjoy!

JTR


9 comments:

Tommy Wasserman said...

I just noted this post, and I am sorry but I have apparently expressed myself unclearly, perhaps partly it is because I am not a native speaker, because you have clearly misunderstood some of the points I wrote in the comments on your blog. I have not listened to your review yet, just the first few minutes where you brought up the points I made, so I will reiterate them and clarify my standpoints:

"1) I do not believe the pericope adulterae belongs in the initial text of the Gospel of John, it entered in the early third century." You noted that we are much more careful in our book. Yes, you are right. I wrote a quick comment on a blog and should have said, "I think that the pericope intered into John in the early third century" and I could have added that I think it entered in the West, but in Greek. I think we present rather strong evidence for this in our book.


"2) Our focus in this book was not on the initial text ... we did not find the pericope there. The focus was on the available textual objects, etc."

You cited me wrongly here in your "magazine" (it did not sound to me as if you understood this point). What I mean is that in the book we focus on the available textual objects – mostly manuscripts, but also art.


"3) I am very interested in the reconstruction of the initial text and wrote another book with Peter Gurry whom you debate here. I think the easiest hypothesis is the assumption that the initial text is the authorial text."

You interpreted this as a reflection of postmodernism. I don't know about that. It is complicated to know exactly the earliest stages of production. This also depends on which book or corpus is under consideration. For example, Günter Zuntz has argued that the goal of textual criticism is to restore not the text of Paul’s letters as he sent them to various destinations, but the text of the collected edition, from around 100 CE (G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition upon the Corpus Paulinum [London: OUP, 1953], pp. 274–283). Today, many scholars prefer to talk about the "initial text". In my opinion, it is a theoretical development in the field and I don't think it reflects postmodernism, but I can grant that it is a step away from positivism (consider also the foreword of Nestle-Aland 26 and 27, respectively).


"4) I think the position that the Textus Receptus is God's word exclusively is completely untenable from both a logical–scientific and a theological viewpoint. I have no desire to debate with proponents of the Textus Receptus (I have done my share of that, and urge those who want more knowledge to first study the manuscripts and read an introduction to New Testament textual criticism)."

Here you misunderstood me. I mainly want to say that to me it is is completely untenable from both a logical–scientific and a theological viewpoint to hold up the Textus Receptus as the exclusive Word of God on the expense on other versions or manuscripts. I think the Textus Receptus is a pretty good text – yes, Erasmus did his best and used manuscripts at his disposal. But judged against what we know today, the riches of manuscripts we have today, we can do much better. Nestle-Aland 28 is totally superior to the TR. It is complete nonsense for me to defend the TR as the exclusive word of God – that is what I meant.

Tommy Wasserman said...

Here is my next comment to your "magazine". It concerns the link I posted to my blog. I was not intending to debate the TR on neither your nor my blog. You can check my blogpost again:

http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2020/04/the-goals-of-new-testament-textual.html

This is not a debate about the TR. Again I have no desire to debate the TR. Yes, I have done my share of that. There were endless debates on the old TC discussion list. I regard the evidence very differently. Yes, I urged people who are curious to read introductions and engage the manuscript evidence. Those who do that in general come to the conclusion that the Textus Receptus is an inferior text. That is it. There are exceptions, like Maurice Robinson who does not defend the TR specifically but rather the Byzantine text. I think you are well aware of that. But, as I said, I will not debate the TR. I just have no interest in that.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Tommy, thanks for your feedback. BTW, I did try to send you an email to let you know about this post, but I must have an old email address (maybe from when we met at SEBTS?), so it bounced back to me. If you care to do so, please send me an updated email address to info.crbc@gmail.com.

I hope you will be able to listen to the rest of the podcast which includes a review of the book. Though I disagree with your assessment that the PA is not original to John, I did try to express in the review my appreciation for, as Ehrman put it, your "massively researched" book. It is indeed quite a scholarly accomplishment and resource of which you can and should be justifiably proud. I'll probably submit the written review to Puritan Reformed Journal.

Tommy Wasserman said...

Let me now comment on one further item you bring up in the review. We make the point that some Christians apparently regarded the PA as "gospel". Let me take just one concrete example. The scribe who copied the PA (ca. 400 CE) apparently regarded it as gospel, and very likely did the subsequent users of the manuscript through centuries. There is more along these lines in our book (and in my chapter in the symposium volume The Pericope of the Adulteress in Contemporary Research).

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

In your book your write that the PA was “probably missing from most copies of John and therefore less widely known,” but “it was always ‘gospel’ to some community of Christians somewhere” (171).

Given that you do not think that the PA was original to John and that it was only added in the early third century in the West in Greek, then I assume you do not believe that it was given by inspiration (2 Tim 3:16). What then do you mean that some scribe (as in your comment) or some "community of Christians somewhere" (as in your book) took it as "gospel"? Do you mean that the inspiration and canonicity of the PA is dependent upon its reception by a scribe or community? Can one ever then objectively say that the PA either is or is not inspired? Or can one only say that everything is "relative" to its reception? It is these kinds of statements that lead me to conclude your approach is affected by postmodernism, though you have rejected my assessment of this. I will leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions.

Tommy Wasserman said...

Thanks for trying to contact me in advance. Yes, my old e-mail is defunct. The new is tommy.wasserman[at]altutbildning.se.

As for inspiration and authority, and "gospel" ... what I tried to say is that some Christians (like the scribe who copied Bezae) regarded it as gospel (and a word from God) and I think that in the early Christianity there were several stories circulating that were regarded as gospel (I have given examples of apocryphal material including agrapha in the textual transmission in my chapter in the symposium book).

But, I personally do not regard it as part of our canonical text but it is in that regard really on the margin (as implied by double brackets in the dominant handeditions). Further, to me the question of inspiration and authority in this regard is a complicated issue. If you remember the final discussion at the symposium at SEBTS we were asked whether the PA should be preached and I said it should be preached. I also drew the attention to the references in Jude to apocryphal books, specifically the author refers to how Enoch prophesied followed by a citation from 1 Henok. This created some difficulty for church fathers – some doubted the canonicity of Jude because of the references to apocrypha, others wanted to include 1 Henok in the canon...

Well, well, our book was not focused on these issues.

Thank you for kind words about our book even if you do not agree with the conclusion to which the massive evidence led us.

Tommy Wasserman said...

And do note that I cited G√ľnther Zuntz in a publication from 1953 (based on an earlier lecture) where he discusses the problem of what the "autograph" is when it comes to the letters of Paul in part to demonstrate that these issues are not new and not typical of a postmodern shift. On the other hand, I agree that we have definitely seen a trend away from positivism that characterized some of the scholarly work in the field.

Howie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Howie said...

Thanks for the discussion Dr's Riddle and Wasserman.

To Dr. Wasserman, it almost appears self-injurious to your position to suggest you are done debating TR proponents.

I now hold that a restoration of a supposed corrupted-upon-corrupted text to approximate the inspired autograph (if, as some say, they even existed?) runs in opposition to Scripture itself. It’s also contra to those who framed the Westminster Confession of Faith / London Baptist Confession of Faith, to the Reformers, and hostile to men such as: Tyndale, Stephens, Beza, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, John Owen, Matthew Henry, John Gill, CH Spurgeon, Burgon, Edward F Hills, Lloyd-Jones, Theodore P. Letis, Trinitarian Bible Society translation teams, Riddle, Truelove, Malcom Watts, John A Day, Alan J. MacGregor, Alan Cairns, Pooyan Mehrshahi, Joel Beeke, Peter Masters, Dane J√∂hannsson , Taylor DeSoto, Christian McShaffrey, and a host of other godly preachers, godly scholars, and godly academic giants that Dr. Riddle references prolifically throughout Stylos at www.jeffriddle.net.

True, all these men mentioned are absolutely authoritatively subordinate to Scripture (hence my naming the Word of God first) but, Dr. Wasserman -- and I ask you this respectfully -- don't you think that if you forgo debating charitable and scholarly TR proponents, who are contending for Sola Scriptura, that you end up indirectly jettisoning all the groups and members listed above?

Before Another Bible, consider what the Bible itself reveals: “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). "Every word of God is pure” (Prov 30:5) and "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides (i.e. continue/endure/remain) forever (i.e. perpetuity)" (1 Peter 1:23).

Blessings in Christ,

Howie