Textual Criticism in the 21st Century

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.


P. Smith said...

I do think as more people are acquainted with discourse analysis (DA) the more we should see DA impact TC in upcoming years. I can think of a paper presented by Runge (http://www.logos.com/media/academic/runge/runge-joel2inacts2.pdf) that may get to this topic, but not much has been done, from what I've read on the on TC of late. I imagine this may help the explorations between different readings than what was previously considered. May not be paradigm shifting, but it may standardize the internal evidence beyond scribal tendencies.

I do agree so much leg work needs to be done in order for significant advances to occur. However, I would not want to miss the fact that some, like Colewell, have done a significant help in furthering the detection of scribal tendencies within a particular manuscript. The fruit of which has helped TC. However, it is not the paradigm shifting material Epp et al. may be appealing to. But there has been development on the internal evidence side that I would not want to minimize, whether it be from grammar, lexical work, DA, or scribal habits. That we know far more about the process of transcription and its impact for internal evidence also seems pertinent. I could be off, but I do think things have been furthered.

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