“The Byzantine Textform is not the Textus Receptus”

Regarding the textual criticism of the New Testament, I hold to the Byzantine Priority position, which has been most ably articulated by Maurice Robinson of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Someday I’ll write about how I arrived at this position.

The Byzantine Priority position is often associated with the “Majority Text,” the “Traditional Text,” and sometimes the Textus Receptus, or even the King James Version. In the opening paragraphs of his “The Case for Byzantine Priority,” Robinson sketches out the landscape including a footnote in which he clearly disassociates himself and the BP position from the TR and its proponents:

“From the beginning of the modern critical era in the nineteenth century the Byzantine Textform has had a questionable reputation. Associated as it was with the faulty Textus Receptus editions which stemmed from Erasmus’ or Ximenes’ uncritical selection of a small number of late manuscripts (hereafter MSS), scholars in general have tended to label the Byzantine form of text “late and secondary,” due both to the relative age of the extant witnesses which provide the majority of its known support and to the internal quality of its readings as subjectively perceived. Yet even though the numerical base of the Byzantine Textform rests primarily among the late minuscules and uncials of the ninth century and later, the antiquity of that text reaches at least as far back as its predecessor exemplars of the late fourth and early fifth century, as reflected in MSS A/02 and W/032.

Certainly the Textus Receptus had its problems, not the least of which was its failure to reflect the Byzantine Textform in an accurate manner. But the Byzantine Textform is not the TR, nor need it be associated with the TR or those defending such in any manner. [footnote: This includes all the various factions which hope to find authority and certainty in a single “providentially preserved” Greek text or English translation (usually the KJV). It need hardly be mentioned that such an approach has nothing to do with actual text-critical theory or praxis.]

Rather, the Byzantine Textform is the form of text which is known to have predominated in the Greek-speaking world from at least the fourth century until the invention of printing in the sixteenth century. The issue which needs to be explained by any theory of NT textual criticism is the origin, rise and virtual dominance of the Byzantine Textform within the history of transmission. Various attempts have been made in this direction, postulating either the “AD 350 Byzantine recension” hypothesis of Westcott and Hort, or the current “process” view promulgated by modern schools of eclectic methodology. Yet neither of these explanations sufficiently accounts for the phenomenon, as even some of their own prophets have declared.

The alternative hypothesis has been too readily rejected out of hand, perhaps because, as Lake declared, it is by far the “least interesting” in terms of theory and too simple in praxis application: the concept that the Byzantine Textform as found amid the vast majority of MSS may in fact more closely reflect the original form of the NT text than any single MS, small group of MSS, or texttype; further, that such a theory can more easily explain the rise and dominance of the Byzantine Textform with far fewer problems than are found in the alternative solutions proposed by modern eclectic scholarship.”

Here’s a pdf of the entire article: Robinson, _Byzantine Priority_

Here’s the TC: A Journal of Textual Criticism posting

(Photo by Danika Perkinson on Unsplash)

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Top Ten Posts of 2018

Here are the top posts of 2018, and they reflect some of the variety of my interests. What I’m now calling “The Dabney Project” clearly dominated the list with over half of the top posts:

  1. Charles Spurgeon and Textual Criticism (2017)
  2. Doug Wilson on R.L. Dabney (2018)
  3. Karl Barth: Integrating the “Theology of the Cross” and Deus Absconditus (2015)
  4. John MacArthur on R.L. Dabney (2018)
  5. On Censoring Dabney and Denying Sola Fide (2018)
  6. Why I admire Spurgeon’s position on cigars and brandy (2018)
  7. “The crucifixion was clearly a first-century lynching” (2015)
  8. What’s So Bad About R.L. Dabney? (2018)

(Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash)

עבד: “work/service/slavery” in the Torah

“Slavery” is a bad word, especially in 21st century America. Given our own nation’s gruesome history with a particular form of race-based chattel-slavery, it can be disconcerting to be reminded the the Scriptures permit, regulate, and seem to even approve of slavery. This semester, in my intermediate Hebrew class, I did a word study that examines every occurrence of the terms associated with עבד in the Pentateuch.

Here’s the pdf: Hebrew Slavery

(Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)

The Edwardseans and Immediatism

From Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 622:

“New England Congregationalism showed a moral intensity that could be traced back to Edwardseanism. ‘It is only when we have in hand the puzzle piece of the ethics of disinterested benevolence,’ write Sweeney and Guelzo, that we can grasp ‘the fiery urgency of William Lloyd Garrison and John Brown. Indeed, it was on the topic of slavery that the Edwardseans became known for their radicalism. By 1771, [Samuel] Hopkins was preaching against the slave trade. By 1773, he was attacking slavery itself. Hopkins’s moral radicalism and theological intransigence prepared him to be the preacher of abolition in Newport, Rhode Island—the epicenter of the American slave trade. He won a following in among African Americans in Newport, as well as enduring hostility from slave ship owners. For Hopkins, slavery was a flagrant offense against benevolence and the result of a ‘most criminal, contracted selfishness.’ The only remedy was immediate emancipation, as Hopkins argued in A Dialogue Concerning the Slavery of the Africans (1776). Similarly, Jonathan Edwards Jr. wrote in The Injustice and Impolity of the Slave Trade and of Slavery (1791) that ‘I conceive it [the slave trade] to be unjust in itself’ and ‘contrary to every principle of justice and humanity.’ Nathanael Emmons also denounced slavery from the pulpit. ‘Immediatism’—the demand for immediate, unconditional emancipation of all slaves, rather than gradual or partial solutions—was the socio-political correlate of Hopkins’s view of conversion and his call for ‘immediate repentance.’”

(Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash)