External Evidence in Textual Criticism

When I realized that I did not want to spend my life as a text-critical technician – collating and classifying Greek manuscripts – it became obvious to me the way to go.   Textual critics at the time generally understood that there were two major tasks in the discipline: to establish the original text (that is, the text in the words written by the actual authors, as opposed to the changes of the text made by later scribes) and to write the history of its transmission (seeing how it had been modified over the years in different times and places).   And I realized that through no tragic fault or brilliant plan of my own, I had been trained to do both things: the first requires substantial expertise in exegesis (the interpretation of texts), and the second requires a knowledge of early Christian history.   These were the two areas I had focused on in my graduate training, in all those years when I wanted, instead, simply to be trained in reading manuscripts. I think it is widely [...]