I just finished listening to three dozen half-hour lectures by Dan Wallace on textual criticism. They were masterful, absolutely superb. And they’re free online at Credo House.
Wallace is an engaging lecturer with incomparable (among evangelicals) direct experience with the study and practice of textual criticism. All Christians owe him a debt, even the crazy guy who once told me that the only thing Wallace’s grammar is good for is for target practice…
Wallace will educate you and increase your faith in Scripture, a faith he shares. He goes toe-to-toe repeatedly with Bart Ehrman and KJV-Onlyism in particular (left toe against Ehrman, right toe against KJVOs). Highly recommended.
In which I take students through How to Think about Others’ Exegetical Fallacies and then talk through some portions of my dissertation that focused on ἀγάπη (agape) and what it “really” means. No, like, for real this time.
My respected, long-time friend Joel Arnold has set up the Asia Center for Advanced Christian Studies, an online school aimed at men who don’t have access to PhD-level courses but who can benefit from them. ACACS uses live video in Zoom.us meetings. And multiple other respected, long-term friends are involved, such as Kevin Oberlin, Brian Collins, Randy Leedy—well, pretty much everybody you see on that site.
I applaud what Joel is doing, and I applaud it enough that I got up at 4:40 a.m. on Memorial Day to deliver the first lecture of his newest course, Advanced Hermeneutics. I love Prolegomena, and I volunteered for this lecture. Other friends will teach other two-hour lectures in coming weeks. I’ll be speaking on the following schedule (all lectures take place from 8–10 am Eastern Time):
Monday, May 29: Prolegomena
Monday, June 5: Original Languages
Thursday, June 15: Using Tools: Grammars, Lexicons, Translations, Commentaries, Software
I’m working on a textual critical project aimed at laypeople, and I need help from volunteers. I want to show English speakers, using English, the differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle-Aland text.
Differences between the TR(s) and the various critical texts are locked not only in Greek but in complicated textual apparatuses which don’t give anyone but the most attentive readers a good overall picture of the actual differences between the texts. I want to put those differences on display in an accessible way.
And in a neutral way. I believe my brothers in Christ within KJV-Onlyism are wrong in their preference for the TR and wrong in their insistence on the exclusive use of the KJV, but I believe in God’s power to sanctify their thinking on this issue. He can use authorities and arguments, and he does. But he can also use a simple presentation of the facts, without any arguments and interpretations.
That’s what I’ll provide (though the About page will carry some brief interpretations from me and from a TR advocate): in one column of KJVParallelBible.org will be the KJV as it stands in the 1769 Blayney edition most people use; in a parallel column will be the KJV as if someone had gone back in time and given the KJV translators an NA28. All differences between the two resulting texts will be bolded.
I am aiming the project at KJV-Only Christians, but the tool could be useful for teaching textual criticism to any layperson (or even as a cheatsheet for those of us who ought to be using our textual apparatuses). I have nothing to hide from them: a TR-Only school should most definitely be using my site to try to teach TR-Onlyism to their students. Let those students see how big and how significant the differences actually are. A critical text advocate should be able to use the site to show students how big and how significant they actually aren’t. I hope people will conclude that my side is right, but I won’t force them. The site is just the facts, ma’am.
If people who cannot read Greek look at the New Testament in an ESV and in a KJV, they have no way of knowing which differences between the two are due to textual variants and which are due to any number of other factors: changes in English, advances in Greek understanding, differences of translation philosophy or interpretation, variations in style. Into that huge gray area of totally understandable ignorance (why should nonspecialists know these things?) comes a totally understandable fear: are modern translations changing the Bible?
As long as the facts of textual criticism remain locked in Greek, everybody with an opinion on the matter is forced to trust someone else who can read Greek and has formed an opinion. However, most people in pews don’t have easy access to such a person. They have pastors, but my impression is that most pastors are stuck trusting authorities, too: namely their peers, their crowd, their Bible college professors, their favorite writers, etc. The problem is that everybody has to have some kind of opinion, even implicit, if they’re going to pick up a translation at all, because every translation has a base text. And basically, you’re going to use the TR (KJV, NKJV, MEV, KJ2000, etc.) or the critical text (ESV, NASB, CSB, NIV, NET, etc.).
I am looking for people to help me complete the New Testament. I’ve done about ten chapters, and I have a new friend at a KJV-Only Bible college who is doing the book of John. That leaves over 200 chapters to be worked on. I have made a training video for you, and I will share with you a Dropbox folder with text files for whatever portion of the Bible you want; you just need Logos or BibleWorks and copies of NA27/28* and Scrivener’s 1881 or 1894 TR (which are textually identical). Your job is basically to indicate which differences show up in translation by bolding them.
I will also need checkers to look over the work of others. There is plenty of work to do.