Hull’s New Book on NT Textual Criticism
At the big Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting I picked up a copy of a brand new book that will be of interest esp. to serious NT students (budding NT scholars) and others with a serious interest in NT textual criticism: Robert F. Hull Jr., The Story of the New Testament Text: Movers, Materials, Motives, Methods, and Models (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010).
The book is specifically directed to those who are not text critics, and it largely does an admirable job of conveying accessibly and accurately the fascinating (to me) field of NT textual criticism. It’s much more user-friendly than most of the standard “introductions” to the subject. Hull introduces key scholars of past and present, key manuscripts, and developments in theories and methods. Most importantly (to my mind), he correctly conveys the sense of dynamic developments in the field. It has to be stated clearly: NT Textual Criticism is today more exciting than at any previous time in the last century.
In a very quick reading of it, I spotted only a very small number of errors: e.g., contra p. 120, since my published study, Codex W in Mark is no longer seen as reflecting an early stage of the so-called “Caesarean” text. Cf. L. W. Hurtado, Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text (Eerdmans, 1981). And contra p. 185, the tau-rho device used in some early Christian manuscripts as part of an abbreviation of the Greek words for “cross” and “crucify” is not “uniquely Christian” but a distinctively Christian use of a device previously used (e.g., as a symbol for “thirty” or “three”). See my book, The Earliest Christian Artifacts (135-54), and/or read my essay, “The Staurogram” on the “Essays, etc” page of this blog site.
But such minor slips do not give me any hesitation in recommending the book for anyone willing to give Hull a chance to show how interesting NT textual criticism is.