For a very long thread now, I have talking about the textual criticism of the New Testament. As I said early on, “textual criticism” is a technical term. It does not refer to any kind of analysis of the texts of the New Testament; that is to say, it is *not* about the interpretation of the New Testament texts. It is specifically about how one goes about evaluating the surviving manuscripts (and versions, and church father quotations) of the New Testament in order to reconstruct what the authors originally wrote: (that is, it does not ask what the authors *meant* by what they wrote; it is instead concerned with establishing what, exactly, they did write. Textual criticism needs to be applied to every surviving writing – from Homer’s Iliad to Wordsworth’s poems to … the Bible. Without textual criticism you would not know what an author said.
All of this discussion has been preliminary to answering the question asked by a reader concerning what I had in mind when I wrote my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, over twenty years ago now. To explain what I was doing in that book, I’ve had to set the stage by explaining what textual criticism is and what it does – how scholars use the various textual witnesses (Greek manuscripts, early versions, quotations of the text) – in order to reconstruct the text.
My book was written in large part to challenge and even dethrone two standard views/assumptions held by textual critics. These views/assumptions had been around for a very long time indeed, and were simply the views that virtually every textual had back when I got into the field in the late 1970s and the 1980s as a graduate student. These views were that:
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