One of the reasons I wanted to respond to this question is to grab an
opportunity to question the established wisdom of the text-critical
community on one point. Do we have any reason to think that scribes
copying the NT documents were as well-versed in grammatical
subtleties as today's scholars are? Take today's college students,
for example. As a teaching assistant, I once discovered that two
students submitted identical papers for a particular assignment.
Since I was taking textual criticism that semester, I took up the
challenge of comparing the two papers carefully to see if I could
determine which was original. I found two differences, both of which
involved the substitution of homonyms so that one paper was
grammatically correct and the other was not. The question was, did
the better student write the original paper or copy the inferior
paper and introduce the improvements? One would expect, in this
context, that the better student wrote the original paper (which
turned out to be true), and the analogy to the copying of NT
documents breaks down somewhat at this point, since the copyists
weren't cheaters. Still, I find myself haunted by the question: how
can we be sure that the scribes were more likely to correct bad
grammar than to corrupt good grammar?
I realize that this is just one of the "canons of textual criticism"
that must be balanced against other considerations and that it can
frequently be overruled. I get the sense, though, from reading the
discussions in Metzger's Textual Commentary, that this canon may in
reality tend to overshadow all others, and I question its legitimacy.
Any discussion? I've heard that there is a textual criticism list,
and someone may wish to shunt this discussion over in that direction.
That's fine, but remember, it was Carl Conrad who raised the
question! Well, I guess he didn't. He raised another question, which
I hijacked. So I'll shut up if nobody wants to talk about this one
In Love to God and Neighbor,
Bob Jones University