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Conclusions Drawn from My Study of Didymus

Once I had solved the textual problems presented by the quotations of the New Testament in the writings of Didymus I could get to work on my project. It was painstaking. Very painstaking. One needs to be able to handle massive doses of boredom in order to do a project like this, many, many long hours looking at and dealing with mounds of textual minutia, day and week and month after day week and month. I don’t recommend it generally, unless you’re passionate for this kind of thing, as I was. The many volumes of Didymus’s newly discovered writings had been very carefully produced and indexed. I could look up every quotation or paraphrase of the Gospels in all his writings. For each one I made an index card (this was before any of us had computers). Hundreds of these cards, obviously. And once I had made up a card for every quotation or paraphrase, then the real fun began.   FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a member. If you don't [...]

Problems with the Textual Evidence from Didymus

I indicated in my previous posts that there are serious methodological problems with using patristic evidence in NT textual criticism.   That was no less true for the church father I chose for my dissertation, Didymus the Blind, than for any other.   But there are always ways to deal with problems, and that proved to be the case here as well. For one thing, I noted in my earlier post that scribes of the Middle Ages often changed the texts of the church fathers that they were copying in order to make their quotations of scripture coincide with the form of text known in their own (the scribes’) day.   With the OT commentaries of Didymus that was not so much a problem, because the manuscripts discovered in Egypt of his writings dated from the sixth century, not much later, and they may well have been copies of the originals, or of early copies of the originals.  And there is evidence that the quotations were not much changed: these quotations agree quite strikingly with the readings found [...]

Didymus the Blind and Patristic Evidence

As I have indicated, my PhD dissertation was written in the field of textual criticism, with a focus on the patristic evidence; my topic was the quotations of the Gospels found in the writings of Didymus the Blind, a famous teacher/theologian who was active in Alexandria Egypt in the middle and at the end of the fourth century. Possibly by explaining what the dissertation was I can help show why patristic evidence can be so valuable for understanding the history of the transmission of the text of the NT. I have already shown how Patristic citations can help us determine if a variant reading (that is, a way of wording the text that differs from the way it is worded in other witnesses) may well be original (thus my posts on Luke 3:22). That is obviously one of the most important goals – many would argue that it is THE important goal, or even the ONLY important goal, though I think this is too extreme – of textual criticism, namely, to know what the author [...]

Autobiographical. Metzger and Me: Finishing the Dissertation

SOME MORE ON MY RELATIONSHIP WITH BRUCE METZGER, ON FINISHING THE DISSERTATION Different dissertation advisors have different approaches to supervising a dissertation. Some are extremely hands on, to the point of working over every thought and every sentence. Not too many are like that, because if they were, they would never do anything else with their life. Plus, the idea is for the student to figure it out and get good at it. That takes some trial and error. Other advisors go for the big picture and like to talk over the big ideas. Others basically don’t give a rip how the dissertation is coming along – they want to see it at the end, and when it’s done, they’ll tell the student whether it’s good enough or not. Others … well, there are lots of other approaches. Sometime I’ll explain mine, which is not quite any of the above. Metzger took an approach that other students may have found frustrating, but that was absolutely perfect for me.  He basically let me do my own [...]

2020-12-29T00:56:04-05:00August 14th, 2012|Bart’s Biography, Book Discussions, Reader’s Questions|

Autobiographical. Metzger and Me: The Dissertation

THIS POST RESUMES MY RECOLLECTIONS OF MY INTERACTIONS WITH BRUCE METZGER, MY MENTOR. When I entered my PhD program at Princeton Theological Seminary, I knew already that I wanted to specialize in the study of the Greek manuscript tradition of the New Testament. As I indicated in my earlier posts, that’s why I went there, because Metzger was the country’s leading expert in this field, and one could argue the leading expert in the world (some Germans would contest the point!). While doing my Master’s thesis for Metzger I read widely in the secondary literature on textual criticism, and came to be highly influenced by a scholar named Gordon Fee. Fee is an interesting and important figure. As it turns out, he is a very committed Pentecostal Christian, who preaches and evangelizes. But when he’s not doing that, he’s doing scholarship, and he’s an amazing scholar. He is also the author of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth and Discovering Biblical Equality, among other works. At the time of my master’s work, [...]

2020-12-29T01:04:50-05:00August 8th, 2012|Bart’s Biography, Reader’s Questions|

Autobiographical: Metzger and Me. The Seminar on the Canon

THIS RETURNS TO MY SERIES OF POSTS ON MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MENTOR BRUCE METZGER. EVENTUALLY, MANY POSTS FROM NOW, I'LL GET BACK TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION: WHAT HE THOUGHT OF MY MOVE AWAY FROM THE FAITH. THAT'S WAY DOWN THE LINE. I return to the early years of my relationship with Bruce Metzger.   That graduate seminar that I took with him, my first semester in my PhD program, was exhilarating, and in some senses life changing.   To be sure, most of the work we did for the seminar was difficult and detailed.  Every week we had to translate from Greek or Latin an ancient “canon list” – that is, a list of books that this or that author thought should be considered canonical scripture – lists and discussions of canon from Origen, Eusebius, Codex Claramontanus, Athanasius, and so on.  One of the students in the course, as it turns out, was a Greek orthodox priest studying for a PhD.  He obviously knew Greek extremely well, better than any of us (except, of course, Metzger).  [...]

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