On October 15, John Warwick Montgomery and Jeffrey Kloha engaged in a debate about the theological implications of the text-critical method known as thoroughgoing eclecticism. However, while Dr. Kloha seems to have intended to describe thoroughgoing eclecticism and explain how it is consistent with conservative Lutheran theology (including the doctrine of inerrancy, which Dr. Kloha specifically affirmed), Dr, Montgomery seems to have approached the debate with the goal of questioning Dr. Kloha’s role as a Lutheran professor, asking, “How realistic is it that someone with his biblical orientation teach future pastors of that church body?”
|Dr. Jeffrey Kloha|
(Concordia Seminary, St. Louis)
Inasmuch as Kloha affirms the doctrine of inerrancy, and is, as far as I can tell, doctrinally a Lutheran’s Lutheran, what is it that caused Montgomery to accuse Kloha of promoting a text-critical approach that is “deadly,” and which poses “great dangers” for the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy”? My impression is that
accusations are completely based on Montgomery’s
misunderstanding of Kloha’s positions, Montgomery's misunderstanding of thoroughgoing eclecticism, and Montgomery's inaccurate ideas about text-critical praxis in
Let’s take a closer look at two of Kloha’s treatments of the New Testament text which
● Kloha rejects the Alexandrian reading of First Corinthians 7:33-34, which, Montgomery states, is “based on the foundational
Furthermore, when one consults these three “foundational
in I Cor. 7:33-34 – as Kloha did in painstaking detail in his dissertation,
reviewing not just one, or four, but eight Greek variant-units within these two
verses – one observes that they disagree with each other in these two verses. Codex B, for example, does not have the words
τα του κοσμου (“of the world”). So which
one of these three disagreeing manuscripts does Montgomery
consider “foundational” in this two-verse passage? And how does he intend, I wonder, to make a
case that its readings are “archetypal” without giving internal evidence a
decisive role in his considerations?
● Kloha advocates a view which, if accepted, would mean that “no pastor should preach I Corinthians 8:6 as if it were the Word of God,” or so
Montgomery claimed. In real life, however, Montgomery
has misquoted and densely misunderstood Kloha’s statement (in his dissertation,
Part Two, p. 717), “only after a highly-developed Trinitarian theology took
hold could the addition at 8:6 have been made.”
Montgomery misquoted this
sentence by replacing the word “at” with the word “of.” Compounding his error, he then concluded
(which he would never have done if he had carefully read Kloha’s comments about
I Cor. 8:6 in the section in Part One that focuses upon the passage) that Kloha
meant that I Cor. 8:6 is not an original part of the text.
|Dr. John Warwick Montgomery|
But what about Kloha’s analysis of Luke ? Kloha has offered a text-critical case that the original text of Luke had no proper name after “And said” (Και ειπεν), which would mean, (1) all the known Greek manuscripts of Luke contain a scribal corruption at this point, and (2) it was Elizabeth, rather than Mary, who spoke the Magnificat. Somehow this single variant-unit became the focus of much of the Kloha-Montgomery debate. I intend to take a closer look at that, and at thoroughgoing eclecticism, in my next post.
Nice article, sir. I think we have communicated before. Where else do you write?
Thank you for this!! Excellent comments & helpful references. Looking forward to your thoughts on thoroughgoing eclecticism. Blessings from the God of all grace.
Here is an archived version of the debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqrZ62-jHDo.
So appreciate your evaluation and attention to this debate!
This approach to textual criticism is problematic in that it opens a Pandora's box of possible emendations. What if we didn't have these few ancient Latin mss? Suddenly support for Elizabeth would be restricted to patristic evidence. Are we willing to conclude that a reading current in the 2nd or 3rd century, that has gone completely extinct in every NT ms of every language, could be original? If so, we have several to choose from, such as a nontrinitarian Matthew 28:19.
But where do we stop?
Would you say that thoroughgoing eclecticism is problematic even when practiced with a guideline in place that precludes the adoption of readings that do not have Greek manuscript support?
Yes, I would still say it is problematic; less so, to the degree that such a restriction limits the possibilities. But any approach to textual criticism has its problems. I prefer to take the larger view, and consider how each perspective would approach a problem. Take Luke 1:46 for example. It's impossible to make a informed decision about this variant without taking into account at least two demonstrated tendencies of the early church:
1) Scribes tended to make the implicit or ambiguous explicit by adding names. This is well demonstrated by singular readings, not even taking into account the alleged tendency of Byzantine scribes to do this with divine names. Thus the presence of a name here could well be attributed to this tendency.
2) A veneration of Mary took hold very early on, and this had an effect on the transmission of the text. This can be seen in variants such as those in Matthew 1:25 and Luke 2:22. This veneration could have driven the specific insertion of Mary's name in order to attribute this eloquent magnificat directly to the Theotokos.
These two tendencies work together to make a strong case for the original omission of 'Mary'. At this particular variant, the thoroughgoing eclectics may well have the strongest case, able as they are to seriously consider evidence from outside the Greek corpus.
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