Friday, November 7, 2014

NT Textual Criticism

I'm becoming more and more interested in NT Textual Criticism.

I've been reading a lot of articles and essays by Dr. Maurice Robinson as well as a book that has been sitting unread on my Kindle for some time: Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views.

Let me preface this before I go any further. I am at least ten steps below an amateur Textual Critic. My grasp of Greek at this point is below elementary. I haven't taken Greek yet -- everything I know thus far has been self taught using Interlinear Texts, Accordance Bible Software and watching Dr. Rob Plummer's excellent free videos (Thank you Dr. Plummer!!!).

As I have blogged about previously, I grew up in a KJV-Only environment. Not in that I'm old enough that the KJV was only what was around, but the true "believe that the KJV is the only preserved English Word of God" kind of stuff. I still love the KJV -- it's beautiful and majestic. The Psalms are the epitome of beautiful poetry. However, it is not the same English language as today.

As I was exposed to new, more modern translations I learned of the different Greek text types. The first difference I noticed was the end of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew being in a footnote of the ESV I purchased (my first non-KJV Bible). As I explored translations, I learned more. My own curiosity drove me to learn more about the different text types. It wasn't long before I noticed the long ending of Mark and the Pericope Adulterae in brackets. Then I noticed Acts 8:37 either in brackets (NASB, HCSB) or missing, demoted to a footnote (ESV, NIV).

Right now, I'm at a big fat point of "I don't know." However, Dr. Robinson (and others) make good points, and they are based on scholarly research rather than screaming that translators are "perverting" the Word of God (yes, I've heard the terms: New International Perversion, the Revised Standard Perversion, the New American Standard Perversion...well, you get the idea). I also never understood the difference between the MT and the TR until recently.  I simply find it interesting. Perhaps Dr. David Allan black has the correct view, as he states in his chapter of "Perspectives on the Long Ending of Mark", perhaps that none of the text types are superior to the others and they have all been preserved for us to use in resolving textual issues.

Another thing I find interesting is the New King James Version. I totally dismissed it when I started reading new translations a couple of years ago. I think because I didn't want anything with King James in the name, but I read in one of Dr. Robinson's articles how the NKJV specifies which manuscripts contain variances, rather than just saying "other-MSS have..." -- I think that is very helpful. I never have really read from the NKJV but I've been reading from it more lately. It's a very good translation, and the footnotes are outstanding. There are some places where I'm not crazy about how it translates, but it won't be my primary Bible anyway. I agree with Dr. Robinson, however that it would be nice to see a modern translation that tracks fully with the MT.

I'm thankful that Dr. Robinson is at SEBTS, perhaps I'll be able to take him for a class one day. I find all of this fascinating! I can't wait to learn more.


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