It was at Moody Bible Institute that I first became interested in the textual criticism of the New Testament. Let me stress a definitional point that some readers on the blog have not gotten or understood (I’ve said it a lot, so apologies for those who have gotten it! But even though I keep saying this, some people still don’t get it). Textual criticism is NOT the study of texts to see what they mean. For the last time (well, probably not): it is not the interpretation of texts. Textual criticism, instead, is the attempt to determine what an author actually wrote if we do not have his one and only original copy. It is independent of the question of what the author might have actually *meant* by what he wrote.
Textual criticism is done on all texts – even modern ones. There are textual critics who work on Wordsworth. They try to determine if it’s possible to know the actual words of his original poems (given the fact that we have different editions and manuscripts of them). Textual criticism is very important for someone like Shakespeare, where we don’t have his original plays. We have different printed editions of them, sometimes highly different from one another (Hamlet!), and textual scholars and editors try to determine which words to print given the options (say, the differences between the Folio and the Quarto editions).
My wife is one of the premier Shakespeare scholars in the country – in the world, I suppose – and she is NOT a textual critic. She is an interpreter of the texts, not one who determines which text to print in a published edition. She more or less (except when necessary) leaves the technical text-critical debates to those highly trained in, and interested in, textual criticism. She is principally interested in understanding the texts, not reconstructing them.
So when I say it was at Moody that I became first interested in textual criticism, I mean it was there that I realized that we have a big problem when it comes to the texts of the New Testament. There are places where we are not sure what the authors actually wrote.
The kind of fundamentalism we embraced at Moody was not one that advocated the use of the King James Bible, and that only. On the contrary, we did not use the King James. We thought that the people who used only the King James were ignorant radical fundamentalists, as opposed to us enlightened reasonable fundamentalists! That’s the thing about fundamentalists. Even if you are one, you don’t think you’re crazy like those people to the right of you! *They* are the nut cases.
We used the …
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