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More Text-Critical Commentary

April 25, 2016

For those able to handle Koine Greek, there is an additional resource dealing with text-critical matters, Wieland Wilker’s “Online Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels,” here.  Like the Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (edited by Metzger) mentioned in an earlier posting, Wilker provides details and analysis.  But “online” means that Wilker didn’t have to deal with space/page limitations, and so he provides a much fuller presentation of the data, such as full quotations from early Christian writers (“Church Fathers”).

And his judgements broadly reflect those of the great majority of scholars who have worked with the relevant data.  I think that James Snapp was unkind and inaccurate to describe the Metzger textual commentary as “terrible” in the way it handles the questions about the ending of Mark a recent comment.  But it is limited, mainly by the purpose of the commentary, which was essentially to give the basic data and the rationale of the committee in judging which variants to print as primary and which as secondary.

P.S. After Snapp protesting that in his statement that the Metzger commentary was “terrible”he meant to say that it was “terribly one-sided and selective,” I modified this posting.  But he still objects that I’m somehow distorting him.  I’ll let people read his comment to this posting and judge.  “Terrible” or “terribly one-sided and selective,” both seem rather unkind and inaccurate.  But, for the record, Snapp meant to say “terribly one sided and selective.”  OK.

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  1. Again: You’re quoting a typo. My statement, “Metzger’s commentary is terrible one-sided and selective” was intended to say “Metzger’s commentary is terribly one-sided and selective.”

    I’ve told you this twice now. Treating that sentence as if I said that Metzger’s commentary is “terrible” is a misrepresentation of the intended meaning of my sentence. But I guess since so many commentators have a gift for doing that sort of thing to some patristic statements about Mark 16:9-20, perhaps it’s to be expected.

    • James. I’ve modified my posting in light of your comment. But do try to get ahold of your intemperate attitude.

  2. Timothy Joseph permalink

    Dr. H.,
    Thanks, this is exactly what we need, access to more scholarly resources that relate to textual criticism. The more opportunities a non-specialist has to see how text-critical decisions are made the better. I have also used Wieland’s online resources. Do I agree with every decision, of course not, but the ability to see how a particular decision has been made is invaluable. This is also the greatest value of Metzger’s work.


  3. For clarification: the sentence in my earlier comment — “Metzger’s commentary is terrible one-sided and selective” — was intended to say “Metzger’s commentary is terribly one-sided and selective.” My bad.

    Metzger’s Textual Commentary *is* terriblY one-sided. (See, for a brief critique, Kenaga’s “Skeptical Trends” essay, a free download at . Part 22, in particular. (Note: this is not an endorsement of every sentence Kenaga wrote.)) Metzger made it no secret that he approached the data with the working premise that the Byzantine Text is almost always wrong when it disagrees with both the Western and Alexandrian Text: for proof, just consult his 1963 essay on “The Critical Value of the Lucianic Recension” — for all his diplomatic wording, his position was as follows: “The possibility should even be left open that a reading which happens to be preserved in only the Lucianic recension may commend itself as the original.” That is the mindset, and the transmission-model, that Metzger brought to the UBS table.

    Suppose the sentence ran, instead, “The possibility should even be left open that a reading which happens to be preserved in only the Alexandrian Text may commend itself as the original.” Would we not conclude that the umpires had already decided which team was going to win the game?

    • James, YOu fail to note that the strong presumption in favour of the “Alexandrian” text/witnesses is not a whim or ignorance or perversity, but based on 200 years of scholarly work, including classic studies such as Westcott & Hort, and onward down the years, in which time after time, judged by principles of “internal” evidence, these witnesses are found to have superior readings.
      I know that you take your own position, against the stream of critical opinion, but stop accusing others of being bloody-minded. Your preferred view is different. Just leave it at that.

  4. I have used Wieland’s online resourses for several years, and heartly recommend them.

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