Textual Criticism Argumentation

From: Clayton Bartholomew (c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Wed Oct 22 1997 - 10:00:15 EDT

I don't suppose that there is anyone else on the b-greek list that
is occasionally troubled by the what passes for argumentation in
text critical literature. I find that much of this argumentation is
what John M. Frame (Westminster Seminary/Calif) has called
"broadly circular."

A broadly circular argument imbeds the conclusion in the
presupposition in a way that is not readily apparent without close
scrutiny. The result of this is a argument that looks logical
enough but where the whole battle is over when you accept the
presupposition. You really don't need to even consider the rest of
the argument because if you accept the presupposition then you
have accepted the argument.

A single example will illustrate this kind of reasoning.

Ground rule: *the shorter reading is to be preferred*
Observed fact: Codex Bezae has predominantly long readings
Conclusion A: Codex Bezae is an inferior manuscript
Conclusion B: A reading in Codex Bezae which is attested in a
shorter form in Aleph or B is a secondary reading.

I am not a logician but this kind of argument looks suspect to me.
Primarily because I don't see anyone challenging the ground rule.
All the text critical discussion seems to accept the ground rule
without question. When the ground rules are taken as unassailable
*givens* then the whole process of textual discussion revolves
around weighing the implications of one ground rule against the
implications of another ground rule. But there is precious little if
any rigorous critique of the rules themselves.

Looking this over again, I am not sure that this is what John Frame
means by "broadly circular" reasoning. This is really a case of
uncritical acceptance of the implications of presuppositions in

Clay Bartholomew
Three Tree Point

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