At ETC, Peter Head has blogged about the recent article by Koester in the Harvard Theological Review. In his overview of the subjects covered by HTR in the last century, one can see a sharp decline in papers on NT textual criticism in this most recent era of scholarship. A snippet:
"New discoveries of manuscripts, particularly of New Testament papyri, brought new excitement to the scene of New Testament study, and American scholars, some educated in Europe, such as James Hardy Ropes, or coming from Europe, such as Kirsopp Lake, played an important role in this discussion. Later, the center of these investigations had moved to the text-critical institute in Munster, where it became streamlined without achieving any significant progress, as J. Eldon Epp (sic) has so aptly argued in several publications."
It will be interesting to see what responses this generates at the ETC blog. On the one hand, Koester is right, and I wager that this statistic applies to other journals as broad in scope as the HTR. But on the other hand, the article ignores the idea that textual criticism has moved out of journals and into emerging databases and research programs that are simply taking a long time to put together. I consider what is happening at Birmingham, Muenster, somewhere in Texas, and in similar organizations to be more intriguing than a few HTR papers. And what percentage of biblical studies blogdom in the last five years or so involves discussion of text-critical matters? Enough to characterize this discussion as active and fruitful.