Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Dirk Jongkind versus Reality: Vaticanus' Scribe

            Dirk Jongkind, editor of the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament, is featured in a series of video-lectures and discussions hosted by the Forum of Christian Leaders (FOCL), with titles such as   
           ● Introduction to the Greek New Testament, and                    
           ● Greek Textual Criticism, and
           ●  Studying the Manuscripts

            In the last-named lecture (uploaded in November of 2017), which is only 23 minutes long,  Jongkind made some claims about Codex Vaticanus which invite clarification.
            The New Testament text in Codex Vaticanus, Jongkind stated, was made by a scribe who almost never made significant mistakes:  “When you’re copying a text, you’re going to make blunders.  The scribe responsible for this one hardly made any.”
            This claim should be considered alongside the observations made by Greg Paulson in his 2013 thesis at the University of Edinburgh, Scribal Habits in Codex Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi, Bezae, and Washingtonianus in the Gospel of Matthew; on page  60 Paulson observes, “There are 97 singular readings in B in Matthew.”  [Let me break that down for newcomers:  “B” = Codex Vaticanus, and a singular reading is a reading which occurs in only a single manuscript.]    Paulson also notes that two of the readings attested exclusively by Codex Vaticanus are adopted into the Nestle-Aland compilation, in Matthew 9:3 and 26:53b.  In the Tyndale House compilation, B’s reading in 9:3 (ειπαν) is rejected in favor of ειπον, and B’s reading in 26:53b (μοι αρτι πλείω) is rejected in the Tyndale House compilation in favor of μοι αρτι πλείους.  Although I have not thoroughly consulted the Tyndale House edition to check the editors’ decisions in all 97 passages where Codex Vaticanus has a singular reading, it seems reasonable to expect that none of them were adopted.
            Most of B’s anomalous readings in Matthew are benign.  But the readings attested exclusively by Codex Vaticanus in Matthew include – just a sample here – the following:
            ● the insertion of εις την χώραν αυτων in 2:13 (repeated from 2:12)
            ● the omission of εργα at the end of 5:16
            ● the omission of μὴ δέξηται in 10:14
            ● the insertion of ουκ before αφεθήσεται (first occurrence) in 12:32
            ● the omission of και δίκαιοι in 13:17
            ● the omission of εις after αγαθου in 19:17
            ● the repetition of πληρωθη το ρηθεν δια του in 21:4
Sifting through three chapters from Mark and three chapters from Luke, more mistakes from Codex Vaticanus’ scribe are observed – and this does not include Vaticanus’ itacistic (vowel-switching) anomalies and unusual name-spelling:
In Mark chapters 6-8:
            ● 6:2:  B adds οι before πολλοι
            ● 6:17:  B* omits την γυναικα
            ● 6:20:  B omits και before συνετήρει
            ● 6:33:  B reads εγνωσαν instead of επέγνωσαν
            ● 6:38:  B transposes to εχετε αρτους
            ● 6:39:  B reads εν instead of επι
            ● 6:54:  B* omits αυτων
            ● 7:4:  B reads ραντίσωνται instead of βαπτισωνται
            ● 7:9:  B reads τηρητε instead of στήσητε
            ● 7:14:  B reads λέγει instead of ελεγεν
            ● 7:15:  B reads το κοινυν instead of ὁ δυναται κοινωσαι
            ● 7:24:  B reads ηδυνάσθη instead of ηδυνήθη
            ● 7:37:  B adds ως after πεποίηκεν
            ● 8:2:  B omits μοι
            ● 8:3:  B reads εισιν instead of ηκασιν
            ● 8:10:  B adds αυτος after εμβας
            ● 8:12:  B omits υμιν after λεγω
            ● 8:20:  B reads και λεγουσιν αυτω instead of οι δε ειπαν
            ● 8:25:  B reads εθηκεν instead of επέθηκεν
            ● 8:35:  B reads εαυτου ψυχην instead of ψυχην αυτου
            ● 8:37:  B adds ὁ before ανθρωπος
            ● 8:37:  B reads εαυτου instead of αυτου

In Luke 1-3:
            ● 1:37:  B* reads οτι ουκ αδυνατήσει twice.
            ● 2:9:  B omits φόβον μεγαν, reading, instead, σφόδρα
            ● 2:19:  B omits ταυτα after ρηματα
            ● 2:22:  B omits του after ημεραι
            ● 2:37:  B reads αφειστα instead of αφίστατο
            ● 2:47:  B omits οι ακούοντες αυτου
            ● 3:8:  B transposes to αξίους καρπους
            ● 3:17:  B reads αβέστω instead of ασβέστω
            ● 3:33:  B omits του Αμιναδαβ

            These are not exhaustive lists.  “His execution is very careful,” Jongkind said of the scribe who produced these readings.  It seems to me that while the scribe of Codex Vaticanus is certainly not the worst scribe ever (a title that must go to the scribe of Old Latin Codex Bobbiensis), his execution leaves something to be desired, and the claim that he hardly ever made blunders must be regarded as an exaggeration.

            In addition, near the end of his lecture on Studying the Manuscripts, Jongkind employed a slide which stated, “This Byzantine Text is the text printed by Erasmus and became the received text.”  That is the sort of oversimplification which Jongkind elsewhere warns his audience against making.
            There are over 1,000 significant differences between the Byzantine Text and the Textus Receptus.  Both the Byzantine Text and the Textus Receptus usually are supported by the majority of Greek manuscripts at points in Matthew-Jude where they disagree with the Nestle-Aland compilation, but the Textus Receptus has some readings which are only supported by a small number of Greek manuscripts (and in a few cases, by none).  A professor who continues to describe the Byzantine Text as if it is one and the same as the Textus Receptus, over a decade after the release of the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, might be vulnerable to the charge of intentionally confusing and misleading his audience.

Readers are invited to check the data in this post.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book Review: To Cast the First Stone

            Last year, Princeton University Press released To Cast the First Stone, a book by Tommy Wasserman and Jennifer Knust about the story of the adulteress (John 7:53-8:11).  Tommy Wasserman (academic dean at Örebro Theological Seminary in Sweden, about 120 miles west of Stockholm) is perhaps best known to American scholars as the author of The Epistle of Jude:  Its Text and Transmission (2006), and as the General Editor of the online TC-Journal.  He is also involved in the International Greek New Testament Project.  Jennifer Knust is a professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, and is the author of Unprotected Texts.
            Back in 2014, Wasserman and Knust were among the participants in a symposium on the pericope adulterae (“section about the adulteress”) at Southeast Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina – a symposium which concluded with an affirmation by all of the participants that the pericope adulterae should be proclaimed in churches.  Instead of a Perspectives-style volume in which all symposium-participants present their views, we have, five years later, To Cast the First Stone:  The Transmission of a Gospel Story.
            This is not the text-critically focused volume that some readers might expect.  Nowhere in its 344 pages (440 if the bibliography and indices are counted) is there a straightforward list of Greek manuscripts in which John 7:53-8:11 follows John 7:52, and of Greek manuscripts which have nothing at all between John 7:52 and John 8:11, and of Greek manuscripts which move all twelve verses to another location (after John 21, or after Luke 21:38, for example), and of Greek manuscripts which have only part of the passage (either John 7:53-8:2, or John 8:3-11).  Readers must reach the table on pages 280-281 to find a presentation of how the passage is treated in uncial manuscripts.  In a book which Bart Ehrman has predicted to be “definitive,” this is a major shortcoming, especially when one notices how much of the book dwells upon minutiae.  The description of patristic evidence presented by Wasserman and Knust is likewise insufficient. (Prosper of Aquitaine?  Faustus?  These names do not appear.)
            Readers are sure to learn much, however, about a wide variety of peripheral subjects.  For example, Marcion (an infamous heretic of the second century) is thoroughly rehabilitated; Wasserman and Knust declare that he was actually “a modest rather than a radical redactor” (p. 113).  Several pages (pp. 185-191) address the question of the provenance of Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus – inconclusively.  Mark 16:9-20 comes up again and again, although Wasserman and Knust avoid going into much detail about the voluminous support this passage receives.  They affirm that the passage should be viewed as “unquestionably canonical” (p. 19). 
            Other subjects covered in the first half of the book include Julius Africanus’ rejection of the book of Susanna, singular omissions in early Greek manuscripts of John, the significance of asterisks and obeloi in Origen’s Hexapla, the story of Judith, the prayer of Sarah in the book of Tobit, an episode in the “Martyrdom of Peter,” the Roman story of the rape of Lucretia, the debauchery of Claudius’ wife Messalina, and even Cleopatra.  Readers may find the first half of the book rather padded.
            Things get better after the first 200 pages.  Chapter 6 begins with an account of fourth-century references to the pericope adulterae in Latin patristic writings.  Unfortunately, little care has been taken to differentiate between quotations and allusions and possible quotations and possible allusions.  A statement by Hilary of Poitiers is called an allusion although it may be a case of coincidental uses of the same common terms.  The authors describe the statement of the monk Gnositheos, including the phrase, “if anyone is without sin,” as “a brief allusion to the adulteress” (p. 203) although the similarity to John 8:7 may be entirely coincidental. 
            Wasserman and Knust go into detail about two pieces of evidence which will doubtlessly be of interest to many readers, for these important details have not been covered in popular materials such as Metzger’s Textual Commentary:  (1)  the Greek base-text of Ambrose’s quotations of the pericope adulterae, and (2) the support given to the pericope adulterae as part of the text of the Gospel of John following 7:52 and preceding 8:12, in the Old Latin capitula, or chapter-summaries.   
            Ambrose, the authors observe, “appears either to have translated directly from the Greek or to have consulted diverse Latin witnesses or, as is more likely, both options” (p. 220).   They point out that Ambrose’s term amodo, in his quotation of John 8:11, has no support in Latin manuscripts, and should be considered “a calque, that is, a new Latin word designed to match the Greek phrase ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν (or ἀπ’ ἄρτι)”  (p. 222).
            The Latin capitulaa subject I have visited previously – were collected, compared, and published by Donatien De Bruyne in 1914.  Wasserman and Knust present De Bruyne’s data showing that the Latin capitula exist in multiple forms that in one way or another mention the account of the adulteress.  Two of these forms of the capitula are especially interesting:  “Form Cy” (“Cy” stands for Cyprian) was assigned by De Bruyne to the time of Cyprian or shortly thereafter, that is, to the mid-200s.  It has the phrase ub adulteram dimisit at the beginning of a chapter-summary, stating that after Jesus dismissed the adulteress, He testified that He is the light of the world, speaking at the treasury in the temple, etc.  Wasserman and Knust also point out that another form, “Form I,” uses the Greek loanword moechatione; this may confirm that the Old Latin text(s) of the pericope adulterae was translated from Greek.           
            Somewhat surprisingly – considering that Wasserman and Knust repeatedly affirm their belief that the pericope adulterae is not original – the authors grant that if De Bruyne is correct in his dating of the Old Latin capitula forms, and also correct in his view that ub adulteram dimisit is not an interpolation (and Wasserman and Knust present nothing to support any other view), then “the pericope adulterae was present in John in a Latin context by the third century” (p. 263).  This admission – basically conceding that the Old Latin capitula constitute plausible evidence that the story of the adulteress was in the Greek text of John from which Latin translations were made in the 100s (“by the third century”) – renders the earliest evidence for the inclusion of the passage practically contemporary with the earliest manuscript-evidence for its non-inclusion.  (I see no way to reconcile this with the authors’ statement on page 268 that “It seems likely that the Johannine pericope adulterae was interpolated in the early third century.”)
            Other evidence is also covered:  the treatment of John 7:53-8:11 in Codex Bezae and its marginalia, Jerome’s reference to the inclusion of the story of the adulteress in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, the assignment of a chapter-heading to the passage in some medieval manuscripts, the support for the pericope adulterae in most Old Latin manuscripts, and corrections of some misinformation that has been spread about the passage.   Regarding this last subject, some readers may be shocked by the mercifully brief critique the authors supply as they test the accuracy of a paragraph from Metzger’s Textual Commentary on page 251.  For those who have trusted D. A. Carson’s claim that “All the early church fathers omit this narrative,” or Steven Cole’s claim that no early versions include the story of the adulteress, the data provided by Wasserman and Knust should be illuminating, the way being struck with a cattle prod is illuminating.     
            Some readers may be exasperated by the amount of information in this book that does not pertain directly to the text of the story about the adulteress; it pertains instead to what may be called “ancient Christian book culture.”  The tour of ecclesiastical treatment of the New Testament text is far too scenic.  Yet this may be advantageous to readers who might appreciate being told things such as the following:
            Codex Bezae might have been copied from a third-century bilingual exemplar (p. 236).
            ● Eighteen papyri manuscripts from the 100s and 200s with text from the Gospel of John have been found, but only two of them (P66 and P75) contain John 7:52 and 8:12. (p. 67)
            ● “In the case of the Gospel of John, a circle of friends added a series of postresurrection appearances to the end of the Gospel.” (p. 91, footnote, referring to John 21.)
            This last data-nugget may serve as a sort of model for the authors’ solution to the question, “What should be done with the story about the adulteress, and why?”.   It would have seemed heavy-handed if they had said, “The passage is not original, but it should be retained because the Council of Trent said so,” or, “The passage is not original, but it should be retained because it has been declared “inspired, authentic, canonical Scripture” by the Orthodox Church.”  Instead, Wasserman and Knust affirm that the pericope adulterae is not original, but offer a more nuanced basis for an argument for its inclusion:  on balance, ancient Christian book culture affirmed the passage and proclaimed its message.  Can a convincing case be made that John did not write the pericope adulterae as part of the Gospel of John?  Yes, say Wasserman and Knust – but similarly they are convinced that John, anticipating his death, did not write the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of John; the embrace of the supplemented text in ancient Christian book culture may be considered a better guide, when it comes to defining the canonical text, than strict matters of authorship.

            Some readers (myself included) may be disappointed that Wasserman and Knust did not spend more time engaging Maurice Robinson’s theory (presented at the 2014 symposium) that the pericope adulterae is an original segment of the Gospel of John which fell out of the text in an early influential transmission-stream.   Robinson proposed that in an early lection-cycle, the annual reading for Pentecost was John 7:37-52 with 8:12 attached (as it is in the Byzantine lectionary).  An early copyist, either deliberately adjusting the text to make the lector’s job easier, or accidentally misinterpreting marginalia that told the lector to skip ahead to 8:12, omitted 7:53-8:11.  Thus, the theory goes, the pericope adulterae was dropped from the text – not due to anyone’s desire to suppress it, but as a conformation of the form of the text used in a rudimentary lection-cycle. 
            Wasserman and Knust attempt to refute Robinson’s theory by citing the Typikon of the Great Church – a ninth-century liturgical book in which, among other things, Gospels-segments are arranged for each day of the year.  The authors grant that in this source, the Gospels-segment for Pentecost was indeed John 7:37-52 with 8:12 attached.  They also observe that in this Pentecost-lection, there are no instructions to skip from the main segment (John 7:37-52) to the closing segment (8:12), although such skip-from-here-to-there instructions appear for other lections which consist of more than one segment of text.  “This evidence,” Wasserman and Knust state on page 298, “suggests to us that the Johannine pericope adulterae was simply missing from copies available in Constantinople when the Pentecost lection was assigned,” and (p. 299) “It seems fairly certain that the pericope adulterae did not enter Byzantine copies of John until the close of the fourth century, or even later.” 
            Explanations for the Typikon’s non-use of skip-from-here-to-there instructions for the Pentecost lection can easily be imagined, but the thing to see is that the authors’ proposal that the pericope adulterae was not in the text at Constantinople when the Pentecost lection was assigned does not really touch Robinson’s model, in which the basic Byzantine lection-cycle echoes an earlier lection-cycle in which the loss of the pericope adulterae had already occurred.    
            Wasserman and Knust do not adequate address Robinson’s point that it is difficult to picture a Byzantine scribe deciding to insert the pericope adulterae within the lection for Pentecost, when simpler options existed, such as putting it at John 7:36 (so as to immediately precede the Pentecost lection).  They simply acknowledge, “This aspect of Robinson’s argument is convincing.”  So how do they explain the presence of the pericope adulterae within the Pentecost lection in over 1,400 manuscripts of John?  Similarly they offer no explanation for the first sentence of the pericope adulterae:   as Robinson asked in 2014, what kind of freestanding story begins with “Then everyone went home.”???
            A more satisfying explanation is given for the migration of the pericope adulterae to a place after Luke 21:38 in family-13 manuscripts (et al).  As Chris Keith has already shown, the insertion of the pericope adulterae to follow Luke 21:38 is an effect of treating the passage like a lection; the movement to this location made the lector’s job easier; the lector could thus find the lection for Oct. 8 (the Feast of Pelagia) near the lection for Oct. 7 (the Feast of Sergius and Bacchus).  Everything you have read or heard to the effect that the pericope adulterae is shown to be a “floating anecdote” by its appearance after Luke 21:38 in family-13 manuscripts can be safely ignored.

            A few shortcomings of To Cast the First Stone may be covered briefly:
            ● There is no variant-by-variant treatment of the text of the pericope adulterae.  An opportunity has thus been missed to show readers the differences in the forms in which the pericope adulterae appears in various sets of witnesses.  The interesting distinctive readings in the passage in the family-1 manuscripts are never given a spotlight.  In a book that gives two full pages to the Lothair Crystal, this was neglectful. 
            ● Asterisks were discussed briefly but the authors seem to have given up any attempt to analyze their use by scribes producing Gospel-manuscripts:  “The precise meaning of asteriskoi in Byzantine Gospel manuscripts remains opaque,” they acknowledge on page 128.  But what would have been a better occasion to shine a strong light upon copyists’ use of asterisks and other marks than when investigating the pericope adulterae?
            ● Only slight attention is given to the pericope adulterae in the Armenian version; no attention is given to the Georgian version.  No explanation is offered for the treatment of the pericope adulterae in a small group of Georgian copies in which the passage appears after John 7:44.  This is unfortunate, inasmuch as the Christian Standard Bible has a footnote which mentions this dislocation; CSB-readers are bound to think (incorrectly) that the footnote describes Greek manuscripts.             
            ● Wasserman and Knust treat Jerome’s affirmation (in Against the Pelagians 2:17) that the story of the adulteress is found in many copies, both Greek and Latin, with unwarranted skepticism:   “The existence of many copies of John “in both Greek and Latin” with the pericope adulterae,” they write on p. 236, “though presupposed by Jerome, cannot easily be confirmed.”  This is certainly true once one no longer considers a statement (not a presupposition but an assertion) from the supreme scholar of his age to be confirmation.  It seems bold – not in a good way – to look back 1,600 years, squint, and say that Jerome’s claim “may have been an exaggeration.” 
            ● Too little attention is given to Codex Macedonianus; unless readers consults a detail in the footnote on pages 280-281, below the two-page table, they could get a false impression from the table.  Codex Ebnerianus should have been featured, and more attention should have been given to the Palestinian Syriac lectionary’s dislocation of John 8:3-11 to the end of the Gospel.  Also, readers could have benefited from some acknowledgement that dozens of the manuscripts in which the pericope adulterae does not appear are copies of the same medieval commentary, and thus boil down to a single relatively late source.
            ● Codex Fuldensis is erroneously assigned to 569 on page 230; the correct date (546) is stated in a footnote on page 4.  Also, it is difficult to explain the description of Codex Fuldensis as “a fifth-century Latin Gospel harmony” on page 260.
            ● No detailed analysis of the lacuna in Codex Alexandrinus was provided; this would have been helpful.
            ● Annotations found in 039 and in minuscules 34, 135, 1187, 1282, and 1424 should have been included in the discussion of critical notes on pages 279ff.
            ● The description of GA 1333’s secondary inclusion of John 8:3-11 between Luke and John is insufficient.
            ● Didymus the Blind stated in his commentary on Ecclesiastes that there had been found, “in certain Gospels” – ἔν τισιν εὐαγγελίοις – an account in which Jesus says, “Whoever has not sinned, let him take up a stone and cast it” regarding a woman the Jews had accused of sin.  The authors’ case for their view that Didymus was referring to some extra-canonical composition as “Gospels,” rather than to copies containing Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is not solid at all. 
            ● No foundation is given for the recurring claim that Eusebius “omitted the passage” (see p. 11, p. 23, 176ff. 181, 284) when preparing his Canon-tables.  However reasonable it may be to assume that Eusebius preferred a form of John that did not have the passage, Section 86 looks the same in the Eusebian Canons with or without the pericope adulterae.  
            ● The index is somewhat spotty.

            In closing:  Wasserman and Knust have provided a fascinating and valuable portrait of the ancient Christian book culture in which John 7:53-8:11 was accepted as a canonical part of the Gospel of John.  Their proposal that a non-original reading – one which, they argue, was not part of the text of the Gospel of John until a century after John’s death – should be considered canonical because of that ecclesiastical acceptance invites some problems.  For instance, if widespread ecclesiastical acceptance can veto text-critical analysis, why not simplify the text-critical enterprise by accepting all readings upon which the Vulgate, the Peshitta, and the Byzantine Text agree?  Or, even more simply, if ecclesiastical acceptance is decisive, why not accept, as a matter of course, all readings in the Byzantine Text which are supported by over 85% of the extant manuscripts?  
             To Cast the First Stone contains a lot of helpful data; nevertheless, important aspects of the evidence have been overlooked.  This is far from what a definitive book about the story of the adulteress ought to be. 

To Cast the First Stone:  The Transmission of a Gospel Story is Copyright © 2019 by Princeton University Press. 

P.S. I have written a book, A Fresh Analysis of John 7:53-8:11, maintaining that the pericope adulterae was originally part of the Gospel of John.  It is available as an e-book on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Luke 11:33 - Don't Put Your Light Under a Bushel

            When someone asks, “What’s a text-critically interesting verse in the Gospels?” the typical answer is not likely to be “Luke 11:33.”  The differences between the meanings of the rival variants in this verse are not very consequential:  basically, some manuscripts have the phrase, οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον, that is, “or under a bushel-basket,” and some do not; also, near the end of the verse, in some Greek manuscripts the Greek word rendered “light” in English is φῶς, while in other manuscripts, it is φέγγος. 
            Yet it is probably safe to say that Luke 11:33 is a strong contender for the title “Verse Most Likely to Be Changed from One Critical Edition to Another.”  Here is how some recent Greek compilations have treated Luke 11:33:
            ● Nestle-Aland NTG 27:  brackets οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον and adopts φῶς.
            ● Robinson-Pierpont 2005:  includes οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον and adopts φέγγος.
            ● SBLGNT 2011:  includes οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον and adopts φέγγος.
            ● Tyndale House GNT 2017:  does not include οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον and adopts φῶς.      
            The vast majority of Greek manuscripts, including the two flagship representatives of the Alexandrian Text, Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (ℵ), and the best Greek representative of the Western Text, Codex D, support the inclusion of οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον.  Exploring the evidence more closely, we see that ℵ A B C D K M W X Δ Θ Π Ψ and the Curetonian Syriac, the Peshitta, the Bohairic, and all Latin witnesses, are allies of the Byzantine Text; they all support the inclusion of οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον.  (The Gothic version, alas, is not extant for this part of Luke.)
Luke 11:33: at the end of col. 1
and the start of col. 2.
The main witnesses for non-inclusion are Papyrus 45, Papyrus 75, L (019), Γ (036), Ξ (040), 070 (Greek-Coptic), 700*, 1241, family 1, 69, 118, and 788, and the Sinaitic Syriac, the Sahidic version, and the Armenian and Georgian versions.  While this array of witnesses may appear negligible in terms of quantity when set alongside the mountains of witnesses which favor the other reading, the age and diversity of its members are interesting:  P45 and P75 are the earliest manuscripts of this part of Luke, and the Alexandrian (P75, L, Sahidic), Western (Sinaitic Syriac) and Caesarean (f1, Armenian) forms of the text are represented.                 
            Let’s examine the text nearby in search of similar arrays of variants supporting shorter readings.   

(1)  In Luke 11:11, P45, P75, and B, 1241, and the Armenian version, along with the Sinaitic Syriac, support the non-inclusion of ἄρτον μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ; ἣ καὶ ἰχθύν, which has very abundant support, with some slight variations, in A C D (which, with 124, adds αἰτήσει after ἰχθύν) F G Y K M U W X Γ Δ Θ Λ Π Ψ f1 f13 1 1582* 1424 (in ℵ, L, 28, 157, and 700, ἄρτον μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ; ἣ ἰχθύν, lacking the καὶ) – “bread, will he give to him a stone? And if a fish.” 
            The minuscules 69 and 788 (along with 565) do not include the second part of the verse, that is, they have ἄρτον μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ but not the rest of the verse, as if they echo an ancestor-manuscript in which the copyist’s line of sight drifted from this occurrence of ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ to the recurrence of the same words at the end of the verse, skipping the words in between.
            Upon comparing the witnesses for the main shorter reading in 11:11 and 11:33, we see that several of them are the same:  P45, P75, 1241, Sinaitic Syriac, Sahidic, Armenian.  And a couple of witnesses for the other shorter reading in 11:33 (69 788) also support the shorter reading in 11:33.
            It should not be overlooked that 157 omits all of 11:12, and 579 omits everything before μὴ.  Also in 11:12, where the normal reading is ᾠόν (egg), P45 reads ἄρτον (bread).

(2)  In Luke 11:14, P45 P75 ℵ B A* L 1 33 157 788 1241 1582* Sinaitic Syriac and the Armenian version are among the group of witnesses that support the non-inclusion of καὶ αὐτὸ ἧν (and it was).

(3)  In Luke 11:44, P45 P75 ℵ B C L 33 f1 157 579 and the Sinaitic Syriac, Curetonian Syriac, and the Armenian, Georgian, and Sahidic versions do not include γραμματεις καὶ Φαρισαιοι, υποκριταί (Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites).  Most manuscripts (such as A K M Γ Δ Θ Π Ψ 69 157 565 579 700 788) include the words, but D omits υποκριταί.

(4)  At the end of Luke 11:48, P75 ℵ B D L 579 do not include αυτων τα μνημεια (“their tombs”).  Family 1 and 157 read instead τους τάφους αυτων.  (P45 is not extant for this verse.)

(5)  In Luke 11:53:
            P75 reads Κακειθεν εξελθόντες αυτου
            ℵ B C L 33 69 579 788 1241 read Κακειθεν εξελθόντος αυτου
            P45 reads Κακειθεν εξελθόντος (apparently without αυτου); Willker mentions that the manuscript is damaged but space-considerations rule out the inclusion of αυτου.
            A K M Π W Γ Δ Ψ f1 565 read Λέγοντος δε ταυτα προς αυτους, which is supported by most manuscripts. 
            D Θ 157 agree with A but continue with ενωπιον παντος του λαου; this reading has considerable Old Latin and Armenian support; especially interesting is that this reading is also supported by the Curetonian Syriac and the Sinaitic Syriac. 
            Meanwhile 69 and 788 simply read Και before ηρξαντο.

(6) and (7)  In Luke 11:54:
            P45 P75 B L f1 579, with Coptic support, begin the verse with ενεδρεύοντες αυτον before θηρευσαι.
            ℵ begins the verse with ενεδρεύοντες before θηρευσαι.
            Most manuscripts, including C K Π M  f1 157 565 700, with support from the Vulgate and the Peshitta, read ενεδρεύοντες αυτον ζητουντες at the beginning of the verse, and read ινα κατηγορήσωσιν αυτου at the end of the verse.  A W* Δ f13 differ only slightly at the end of the verse, reading ινα κατηγορήσουσιν αυτου. 
            D’s text is quite different:  ζητουντες αφορην τινα λαβειν αυτου ινα ευρωσιν κατηγορησαι αυτου.  This is supported by the Sinaitic Syriac and Curetonian Syriac, and is imperfectly supported by the Old Latin.
            Θ reads ενεδρεύοντες before τι θηρευσαι at the beginning of the verse; it agrees with most manuscripts at the end of the verse.

            Without attempting to offer a full analysis of all seven of these textual contests here, I offer brief explanations vindicating the longer reading in six cases:

(1)  In Luke 11:11, the shorter reading originated when a copyist skipped a line of text but nevertheless produced a coherent sentence; the reading of P45 in verse 12 (ἄρτον instead of ᾠόν) is a vestige of the scribe’s recollection of the original longer reading.  Harmonization to Matthew 7:9 was limited to the addition of αυτου after υιος mainly in Caesarean witnesses.

(2)  In Luke 11:14, the shorter reading in P45 P75 ℵ B 1241 et al is a slight stylistic refinement; as Metzger noted, καὶ αὐτὸ ἧν  κωφόν “appears to be a Semitism in the Lukan style.  The chance seems low that a scribe would sense a need to shift from “He was casting out a dumb demon” to “He was casting out a demon and it was dumb,” and happen to fit Lukan style.  

(3)  In Luke 11:44, the shorter rreading – that is, the removal of the explicit identification of the scribes and Pharisees – originated when a scribe wondered why the lawyers would feel that they were being criticized by a rebuke specifically aimed at others. 

(4)  At the end of Luke 11:48, the Byzantine reading makes explicit what is implied without an object.  Family 1 and family 13 do likewise, but their wording is different.  The shorter reading here is original. 

(5)  In Luke 11:53, the Alexandrian Text has non-Lukan wording; κακειθεν appears only here in Luke, and εξελθόντος appears elsewhere in Luke only in 11:14 (contested by εκβληθέντος in A C L f13 69) where a demon’s departure is being described.  Willker suggests that the Byzantine reading was introduced because it avoids raising the question of where was the “there;” the exact location being unmentioned in the lection that begins at 11:47.  However, the Byzantine reading raises a question of its own, that is, who is the “them” – for at 11:46, Jesus begins criticizing not the scribes and Pharisees, but the specialists in the Law.  The Alexandrian way around this problem was to rewrite the introductory phrase, which happens to correspond to the beginning of Mark 9:30.
            The Western Text’s inclusion of ενωπιον παντος του λαου echoes Luke 8:47; this reading must be extremely early (as demonstrated by support from the Sinaitic Syriac and Old Latin Codex Vercellensis), and shows that some copyists had a tendency to expand later parts of the Gospel with verbiage taken from earlier parts.     
(6)  In Luke 11:54a:  the shorter reading originated when an early copyist’s line of sight drifted from the letters –οντες in ενεδρεύοντες to the same letters in ζητουντες.  In most copies descended from the exemplar that contained this mistake, it is partly corrected (via the addition of αυτον – but 28 and 1424 read instead αυτω) but not in ℵ and Θ.

(7)  In Luke 11:54b, the shorter reading originated when an early copyist’s line of sight drifted from the αυτου after στόματος to the same word after κατηγορήσωσιν, accidentally skipping the words in between.
            The inclusion of ευρωσιν in D’s text here is interesting; D thus echoes (albeit inexactly) the end of Luke 6:7.  This again illustrates some scribe’s tendency to expand later parts of a book by introducing elements they had encountered in earlier parts.

Luke 11:33 in GA 1241.
Having reviewed the above seven textual contests, and  having seen that in six out of the seven, the longer reading is reasonably defensible, we return now to Luke 11:33.  This is Luke’s record of a saying of Jesus very similar to the one in Matthew 5:15, where the μόδιον is mentioned; a closer parallel, however, is in Luke 8:16, where the reference is to hiding the lamp under a σκεύει (“vessel”), rather than a μόδιον (bushel-basket).  In 28 there is a clear attempt to conform 11:33 to Luke 8:16; minuscule 28 reads καλυπτει αυτον σκεύει η before εις κρύπτον.  In 579, the text is conformed to Matthew 5:15 toward the end, reading και λάμπει πασιν τοις εν τη οικια.  And in 118 f13 69 788, at the end of the verse, the words are transposed so as to correspond to the end of Luke 8:16.   
            In short, except for minuscule 28, the harmonizations that appear in Luke 11:33 look like they have been based on Luke 8:16, not Matthew 5:15.  If a copyist were to introduce “under the bushel-basket” into a form of Luke 11:33 that did not have the phrase, the natural place to put it would be before the reference to putting the lamp in a secret place, thus corresponding to the gist of Mark 4:21 and the gist of Luke 8:16; I mean that in both Mark 4:21 and Luke 8:16, the reference to the lamp being covered precedes whatever else is said.
            If οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον is not a partial harmonization to Matthew 5:15, it is original – in which case, how does one account for its absence in P45 P75 L 788 et al, while also accounting for its presence in ℵ B A C D K Π W?  There are two factors which do this:  (1)  Scribes’ recollection of Luke 8:16, in which τίθησιν is followed immediately by αλλ’ επι λυχνίας.  (2)  A simple homoioteleuton error.  Single-letter homoioteleuton is rare but it does sometimes happen:  all that is needed for οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον to disappear is for a scribe’s line of sight to drift from the ν at the end of τιθησιν to the ν at the end of μόδιον.  Adding to the ease of such an occurrence is that the scribe would have written τίθησιν αλλ’ επι λυχνίας  (or, τίθησιν αλλ’ επι λυχνίαν) a few chapters earlier.  

            There is still the other variant-unit in Luke 11:33 to consider:  φως or φέγγος?  Φως looks like a harmonization to Luke 8:16, especially in 118 f13 69 788.  Φέγγος is the rarer word, and considering the presence of φως in the parallel-passages, there would be little impetus to replace φως with φέγγος; meanwhile familiarity with Luke 8:16 would tend to elicit a harmonization from φέγγος to φως.  The reading of P45, φέγγος, should be adopted.  Here we have an ancient reading which is not Alexandrian (for P75 ℵ B 33 read φως) nor Western (for D also reads φως) nor Caesarean (for freads φως and f13 also reads φως, transposed).  The Byzantine Text, and the Byzantine Text alone (but with support from the back-up team of L, Γ, 124, 565 and 700), besides the usual Byzantine witnesses Α Κ Μ W Δ Λ Π etc,, displays the original reading here, defying the theory that it is merely an amalgamation of the other text-forms, and supporting the theory that the Byzantine Text contains a stratum of ancient and independent readings. 

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Five Bad Reasons to Use the Textus Receptus

            The Nestle-Aland text of the Greek New Testament is over 95% Alexandrian at points where the Alexandrian and Byzantine manuscripts meaningfully disagree (i.e., where they disagree in both form and meaning, not in mere matters of spelling and transpositions).  This means, among other things, that this modern critical text almost always adopts readings found in a small minority of manuscripts – the “oldest and best manuscripts” that the ESV’s footnotes refer to – and almost always rejects the readings in the vast majority of manuscripts, including the manuscripts upon which the New Testament in the King James Version (and other Reformation-era versions such as Tyndale’s version and the Geneva Bible) was based.
            This poses a problem for some individuals in the Reformed tradition, which in several creeds (such as the 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith) affirms that the original Hebrew and Greek text of the books of the Bible have been, by God’s singular care and providence, “kept pure in all ages.”  The New Testament text that the formulators of this doctrinal statement had in mind was not theoretical:  it was in their hands, in the forms of the Textus Receptus which had been published up to that time.  The editions of the Textus Receptus that had been made by Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza had some variations (at Romans 12:11 for example) – but not much. 
            It has been proposed that inasmuch as (a) the Greek text of the New Testament was kept pure in the age of the Reformation, as in all other ages, and (b) the Textus Receptus is pure, it follows that other forms of the text – especially in cases where the form of the text is so thoroughly changed as to mean something that the Textus Receptus does not mean – must be corrupt.  This logically leads to a rejection of the UBS/Nestle-Aland compilation.
            It also leads to a complete embrace of the Textus Receptus, minority-readings and all.  For those who believe that divine authority rests in the original text, and not in readings created by copyists, this is not a good idea.  Here are five reasons why a dogmatically-driven adherence to the Textus Receptus – Textus Receptus-Onlyism, one might say – should be avoided.

ONE:  God has promised to make every word and letter of the original text available to me. 

            There is no divine promise that God will make His exact written words perpetually available to His people on earth.  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” in Matthew 24:35.  Peter likewise affirmed the words of Isaiah:  “The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”  And in Psalm 12:6, following the statement that the words of the Lord are pure words, Psalm 12:7 says, “You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.”  Specialists might argue that the text of Psalm 12:7 has been miscopied or mistranslated, and that the subject of Psalm 12:7 is not God’s words, but God’s people; this is why the NIV, CSB, et al translate the verse differently.  But even if were granted that God will preserve His words forever, why should anyone interpret this to mean anything except that God’s declarations, emanating from an unchanging and eternal God, do not change?
            Greater consideration should be given, when affirming that heaven and earth shall pass away, but the word of the Lord endures forever, that the material which constitutes copies of the New Testament (whether papyrus, or parchment, or paper) is part of the earth which shall pass away.  But more pertinent to the subject at hand is the point that saying “I will always keep My word and I will never forget what I have said” is not the same as saying, “I will make sure all Christians have every word I revealed to the authors of the New Testament in the exact form in which it was first written down.”  The approach of “Confessional Bibliology,” however, seems to equate the two.
            Historically, there is no evidence that the exact words of the Gospels were ever copied with 100% accuracy in a single manuscript.  If we look at the early versions – the Old Latin, and the earliest known form of the Sahidic version, for example – and reconstruct their base-texts, we can see that they were different.  And if we look at the early papyri, we can observe that that they, too, often differ from one another.  Of course, it can be claimed that the early Sahidic version is corrupt because it was based on Greek manuscripts that were corrupt; it was not (the theory runs) descended from the manuscripts of Christians, but from the manuscripts of second-century heretics in Egypt.  So little is known of the state of Christianity in Egypt in the 100s that it is difficult to prove or disprove such a theory.  But let anyone select whatsoever early version of the Gospels, from whatsoever locale, and see if it agrees with the Textus Receptus in all respects.  He will find that it certainly does not.
            Likewise, if we survey all surviving manuscripts of the Gospels, do we find any which contain the exact words found in the Textus Receptus, 100%, without any deviation?  If very late manuscripts which were based on printed copies of the Textus Receptus are set aside, the answer is No.  There is simply no reason to posit that God has ever promised to make every letter of the original text of the New Testament perpetually available to the church on earth; nor is there evidence that God has actually done so, for if we were to collect half a dozen Greek manuscripts of the Gospels, from whatsoever ages and locales, and compare their texts, we would find some differences.

TWO.  If the Textus Receptus was good enough for the formulators of the Westminster Confession of Faith, it’s good enough for me.

            The discussions of text-critical issues in the Reformation period is often belittled nowadays, as if people in the 1500s and early 1600s had little awareness of controversies involving, for instance, the ending of the Gospel of Mark, or the story of the adulteress in John 7:53-8:11, or the doxology of the Lord’s model prayer in Matthew 6:13.  However, if one were to consider just the comments of one obscure writer of the day – the Roman Catholic scholar Nicholas Zegers – one would see that these textual contests, and many others, were carefully studied. 
            Such research did not suddenly cease when the Westminster Confession of Faith – or any other creed – was formulated and approved by leaders in the Protestant churches.  The Reformers’ belief that the text in their hands was pure did not spur them to stop accumulating evidence (in the form of manuscripts, patristic writings, etc.) that would potentially confirm or challenge specific readings in that text.  James Ussher (1581-1656), an important Protestant scholar of the time, does not seem to have regarded the readings of the Textus Receptus as irrevocable in all respects; as Peter Gurry has observed, Ussher wrote that when it comes to most textual contests, it is clear what the original reading was, but in the cases where  a decision is very difficult, one may maintain indecision without drawing into question any point of doctrine.  Here we may see the application of a less exact, but more realistic, understanding of what was meant by “pure” in the Protestant creeds’ statement about the Greek text:  the point was not that every textual question was settled, or that the Textus Receptus could not possibly resemble the original text more than it already did, but that the still-unsettled points in the Greek text of the New Testament (in which, in some editions, many textual variants were noted) in their hands did not pose any doctrinal danger.
John Mill's 1723 Greek New Testament
- with variant readings.
            In addition, it should be kept in mind that in the late 1500s and early 1600s, the main question about Biblical authority was the question of whether or not the Latin Vulgate should be considered authoritative.  The Council of Trent, in the mid-1500s, had advanced a position that the Vulgate was the “authentic” text, and that no one was to dare to reject it under any pretext whatsoever.  This was commonly understood by Roman Catholics to mean that if the time-honored Vulgate meant something different from the text found in Greek manuscripts, the proper conclusion is that the Greek text, not the Vulgate, should be considered defective.  The Protestant reaction against this decree involved the affirmation that the Roman Catholic magisterium does not have the authority to toss out original Greek readings in favor of non-original readings supported by the Latin text.  Roman Catholic scholars responded, in turn, that the Greek text cannot be trusted because – as the Preface to the 1582 Rheims New Testament asserted – the Protestants’ compilations of the Greek text contained poorly attested readings, occasion retro-translations based on versional evidence, and even the compilers’ conjectures, and were “infinitely corrupted.”     

            The Protestant adoption of the Textus Receptus was primarily an answer to the larger question – Vulgate versus Greek – rather than an answer to the various smaller questions concerning variants in the Greek manuscripts.  When Protestant scholars such as Brian Walton, John Fell, John Mill, and Johann Bengel subsequently investigated textual variants, their conclusions were either scientifically accepted, or they were scientifically challenged; no one responded by saying, “What are you doing, heretic; it has all been settled by the Westminster Confession of Faith.”  The Protestant approach to the text has always been based on evidence, not on the decrees of ecclesiastical assemblies.

THREE.  The Textus Receptus always has the evidence on its side.

          Some modern versions of the New Testament, based primarily on the Alexandrian Text, have drawn many readings into question even though the readings are affirmed in ancient patristic compositions and are supported by the overwhelming majority of manuscripts.  This is true of Mark 16:9-20, which is included in over 99.5% of the existing Greek manuscripts of Mark; only two Greek manuscripts end the text of Mark at 16:8 followed by the closing subscription to the book “The end of the Gospel according to Mark,” and in both of those manuscripts (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus) there are anomalies which strongly indicate that their copyists were aware of the absent verses.  Why are the headings in the ESV and CSB about the ending of Mark so vague and imprecise?  Because if they said, “Two manuscripts from the 300s end the text at 16:8; over 1,600 manuscripts support the inclusion of verses 9-20, including Codices A, D, and W, and Irenaeus, around the year 180, specifically quoted Mark 16:19,” the note would not have the effect upon readers that the translation’s note-writers wanted it to have – that is, it would not induce readers to reject verses 9-20.

            Similarly, if the CSB’s footnote mentioned the age and quantity of manuscripts that support the inclusion of “and fasting” in Mark 9:29 – including Papyrus 45 from the 200s and over 99% of the Greek manuscripts – the CSB’s footnote would not have quite the same effect as its present footnote to Mark 9:29, which only mentions that “Other mss add and fasting.” 

            The frustration that some advocates of “Confessional Bibliology” feel, when they discover that the footnotes in the NIV, ESV, and CSB habitually spin the evidence so as to elicit a false impression which induces their readers to adopt an uninformed prejudice against readings in the Textus Receptus, is understandable. 

            However, while it is generally true that in Matthew-Jude, the reading that is found in the Textus Receptus has many more manuscripts in its favor than the alternate reading found in the Nestle-Aland compilation, this is not always the case.  To restate: although most of the time, an overwhelming quantity of manuscripts agrees with the reading in the Textus Receptus, there are some exceptions.  To re-restate:  the Textus Receptus contains some readings which are only supported by a small minority of Greek manuscripts, and some readings for which the Greek manuscript support is negligible, and even a small number of readings which have no Greek manuscript support.
            Consider, for example, the words, “‘It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.  And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me do?’  And the Lord said to him,” in Acts 9:5-6 in the KJV.  The late Bruce Metzger stated in his Textual Commentary on theGreek New Testament, “So far as is known, no Greek witness reads these words at this place; they have been taken from 26.14 and 22.10.”  Some claims that Metzger made have not aged well, but as far as I know, this one remains valid.  Erasmus added the passage known as Acts 9:5b-6a to correspond to the Vulgate, which supports their inclusion.  But if we answer the question, “Vulgate or Greek?” as the Reformers answered it, in favor of the text found in Greek manuscripts, then we should not claim that every part of Acts 9:5-6 as printed in the Textus Receptus is the original text of the passage.
            And consider the word κοινωνία (koinōnia) in Ephesians 3:9.  This word is in the Textus Receptus, and is rendered “fellowship” in the KJV.  But in the majority of Greek manuscripts, what we find is not the word κοινωνία.  The Byzantine Textform reads, instead, οἰκονομία (oikonomia), which means “dispensation” or “administration.”  Most manuscripts, whether Alexandrian or Byzantine, do not support κοινωνία; they support οἰκονομία.  Pickering’s reconstruction of family 35’s archetype has οἰκονομία in Ephesians 3:9.  Antoniades’ 1904 compilation of the ecclesiastical text has οἰκονομία in Ephesians 3:9.  It should not be difficult to see that the Textus Receptus contains a corruption at this point, and quoting the formulators of the Westminster Confession of Faith will not change that.
            More examples of minority-readings in the Textus Receptus could be considered; there are hundreds of them – in Matthew 7:2, Mark 4:18, Luke 7:31, etc., etc.  (A list of the many differences between the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Textform is online.)  I do not mean to suggest that textual critics ought to adopt a policy of the-majority-of-manuscripts-is-always-right; nor am I proposing that there is no such thing as a minority reading for which a persuasive case for genuineness can be made.  What I am saying is that some ultra-minority-readings in the Textus Receptus demonstrate that it is capable of improvement as a representation of the original text.

FOUR.   Treating the Textus Receptus as if it is the original text resolves the question, “If God inspired the New Testament, why didn’t He preserve it?”.

          The advocates of “Confessional Bibliology” are not the only people who have asked such a question.  Bart Ehrman similarly asks, in Misquoting Jesus, “If one wants to insist that God inspired the very words of Scripture, what would be the point if we don’t have the very words of scripture?”.  Instead of concluding, with the Confessional Bibliologists, that we must have all of the original text of the New Testament, and that the Textus Receptus is it, and instead of concluding, with Ehrman, that we don’t have all of the original text, and this somehow renders the extant text unreliable, I would start by asking another question in the “Why didn’t God do it like this” category:  why didn’t God ensure that everyone would interpret the New Testament the same way? 
            If we are to ask, “Why inspire the text without guaranteeing its preservation?”, why not also ask “Why preserve its form without preserving its meaning?”.  For it is indisputable that the meaning of a statement matters more than the form in which it is expressed.  So, if God inspired the New Testament text, why didn’t He guarantee that everyone’s interpretation of it would be identical?  If one is going to pose questions at the intersection of textual criticism and the motives of God, I think this is a much better question.  But people can easily see the answer:  it was not God’s will to compel all interpreters to form a specific interpretation.   Similarly, it was not God’s will to compel all copyists to write a specific text, exactly the same in all details.  God’s will for perfect performance in the task of copying and interpreting is no doubt real, but not at the expense of the autonomy of copyists and interpreters. 
            God values human liberty, to an extent.  And why would God deprive copyists of that liberty if He looked forward in history and foresaw that text-critical problems involving manuscripts used by the church would matter as little as they do?  Inasmuch as God always knows the future, why would He not entrust the ship consisting of His inspired words to a crew of fallible copyists, knowing that while the ship’s hull might many times be scratched, and that barnacles would become attached to it, the net effect of the journey upon the cargo would be benign?  This is not to say that there are not some manuscripts with wildly anomalous texts, such as Codex Bobbiensis and the Sinaitic Syriac, but these “stray cat” manuscripts have not had a consequential influence on the church’s text as a whole.

FIVE.  Using the Textus Receptus as my authoritative standard simplifies sermon preparation.

            No doubt, having an authoritative textual standard – any textual standard – simplifies sermon preparation.  The question is, how closely does that textual standard convey the meaning of the original text?  A preacher with confidence in the Textus Receptus may live in the same city as a preacher with confidence in the Sahidic version, and a preacher with confidence in the NIV may live nearby, next door to a preacher with confidence in the Peshitta.  Does their confidence resolve anything?  No; all that has happened is that we have gone from a situation in which manuscripts disagree to a situation in which preachers disagree.  The confidence of preachers does not make the textual questions go away.
            It is one thing to resort to accepting the text that one has received from one’s trusted elders when one is a novice.  It would be another thing to avoid learning about textual evidence and its implications for simplicity’s sake.  How will the textual contests ever be resolved, if every preacher is content to say, “I embrace the text that was handed down to me, and that is that”?   And which congregation is likely to be more confident that its preacher is sharing the Word of God:  the congregation of the preacher who engages the evidence, and develops the skill to make a scientific case for every textual variant that he endorses, or the congregation of the preacher who tells his flock that he is deliberately wearing blinders to avoid doing so?
            No doubt many occasions may come along when a busy preacher or isolated missionary is compelled by circumstances to utilize a New Testament passage without really taking the first proper step of all hermeneutics – confirming what the text is.  But this ought to be a last resort, not a goal.