Saturday, January 11, 2020

The New Testament As We Have It Today Accurately Conveys What The Apostles Wrote

"The situation with New Testament textual criticism is entirely different: Virtually no conjectural emendation is required because of the great wealth, diversity, and age of the materials we have.5 Most New Testament scholars would say that there are absolutely no places where conjecture is necessary. Again, this is because the manuscripts are so plentiful and so early that in almost every instance the original New Testament can be reconstructed from the available evidence.

For example, Kurt and Barbara Aland, the first two directors of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany (Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung or INTF) co-authored one of the standard textbooks on NT textual criticism. At the INTF, over 90% of all Greek NT manuscripts are on microfilm. For the past forty-five years, the Institute has been more influential than any individual, school, or group of scholars anywhere else in the world for determining the exact wording of the original NT. In short, they know their stuff. Hear the Alands: “…every reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition is stubbornly preserved, even if the result is nonsense…any reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition, from the original reading onward, has been preserved in the tradition and needs only to be identified.”6

The Alands go so far as to say that if a reading is found in one manuscript it is almost surely not authentic: “The principle that the original reading may be found in any single manuscript or version when it stands alone or nearly alone is only a theoretical possibility.”7 Further, “Textual difficulties should not be solved by conjecture, or by positing glosses or interpolations, etc., where the textual tradition itself shows no break; such attempts amount to capitulation before the difficulties and are themselves violations of the text.”8 Their opinions in these matters should be considered as that of expert witnesses. Further, it is shared by most others in the discipline.9

What are the implications of the non-need to guess about the wording of the original? Only that in virtually every instance the original reading is to be found somewhere in the manuscripts...Further, since the original reading is not something to be merely guessed at, we have an actual database—the pool of variants found in the manuscripts—that can be tested for any theological deviations."

J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, p. 106-107

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