Saturday, June 30, 2018

Myths About Autographs

 A book to look out for in the coming year or so (I am not sure of the release date) is Elijah Hixson and Peter Gurry's new book, "Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism," Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, Academic, Forthcoming

Hixson and Gurry are the editors of this multi-author volume and they both contribute (excellent) articles. In a post-Bart Ehrman era of textual uncertainty, popular level books, articles, blogs, and apologists give various arguments for the textual reliability of the New Testament. Unfortunately, in the midst of this necessary and well-motivated apologetic are bad reasonings, misinformation, and factually incorrect arguments that actually work against the objective of confirming the reliability of the text. New Testament Textual Criticism by nature is a complex and technical discipline. The goal of this volume is NOT to provide an introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, but to correct some of these bad and factually incorrect arguments floating in the Christian apologetic and theological landscape.

I had the opportunity to contribute a chapter to this book, "Myths About Autographs: What They Were and How Long They May Have Survived." This chapter addresses assumptions about the autographs or original documents of New Testament books by considering the historical context of ancient publication. It surveys how long these autographs may have lasted and it discusses how many autographic copies there may have been. In addition, this article engages the opposing claims of recent scholarship by Matthew Larson on the one hand which claims that the New Testament writings were never finalized and those of Craig Evans on the other that claim the New Testament autographs survived for centuries and were probably used as a “check” on the transmission process thereby ensuring accuracy.