ETS2017 Paper on Later Manuscripts and the Stability of NT Textual Tradition

This afternoon I had the privilege of participating in a session at the meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society entitled “Growing up in the Ehrman Era: Retrospect and Prospect on Our Text-Critical Apologetic.”

The session was moderated by my friends Peter Gurry (now teaching at Phoenix Seminary) and Elijah Hixson (studying at Edinburgh); the three of us spent a week in Oxford a few years ago studying Greek palaeography. They are editors of an upcoming book with IVP Academic (Myths and Mistakes: Correcting Common Misconceptions about the Text of the New Testament) to which I am contributing a chapter, so this session was a bit of a preview of the work.

Gurry introducing the session

Peter and Elijah kicked off the session by pointing out a few ways where those who desire (as we do) to make a sound case for the reliability of the NT text can make unsound use of data, statistics, and arguments. I then delivered a presentation dealing with one common ‘myth’: namely, that later manuscripts are generally bad. The recording of my presentation is available here. The last formal presentation was by Jacob Petersen (studying at Edinburgh), who discussed the challenges of using arguments based on numbers of NT manuscripts.

The highlight of the session, however, was the panel that kicked off after the presentations. We invited six prominent scholars who have greatly influenced us ‘younger guys’:

  • Peter Williams, from Tyndale House, Cambridge
  • Michael Kruger, from RTS Charlotte (my own mentor)
  • Chuck Hill, from RTS-Orlando (my colleague)
  • Peter Head, from Wycliffe Hall, Oxford
  • Timothy Paul Jones, from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Daniel Wallace, from Dallas Theological Seminary


They provided some responses to our presentations, and from there the discussion ranged across a variety of topics including textual apologetics, inerrancy, and more.

We were also pleased to see Holger Strutwolf and Klaus Wachtel (from the INTF in Münster) in the audience!

All in all it was a good session with a packed house.

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