In discussing the background to my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture I have so far been talking about the issue of early Christian diversity, so as to explain what the term “orthodox” in the title means. I now want to turn more fully to a discussion of the term “corruption,” and to do that I need to provide some basics about the general field of inquiry that the book is devoted to, the textual criticism of the New Testament.
The first thing to emphasize is that the term “textual criticism” is a technical term with a very specific meaning. Lay people often misuse the term, not knowing that it refers to a particular and highly specialized field of study. The term does *not* simply mean “the study of texts” or “literary analysis of texts” or anything similar. Thus, if someone is engaged, for example, in the interpretation of a text, that is *not* “textual criticism.”
Instead, textual criticism is the discipline that seeks to reconstruct the text that an author wrote when we no longer have his or her original, but only later copies. That is to say, it is the discipline that tries to establish what the original words were – or at least tries to decide which words to print if there are a variety of options. (In fact, it tries to reconstruct the text of the author even if we *have* the original. I’ll explain below.)
Suppose you have….
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