Textual Criticism of the Bible: Revised Edition
WHAT IT TEXTUAL CRITICISM?
Not surprisingly there are many who do not understand what the field of textual criticism encompasses. In part, this is due to a misunderstanding of the word criticism. In the modern world, criticism is often associated as something negative. Most conservative Bible readers would not want to actively involve themselves in the practice of criticizing the authenticity of scripture. Fortunately, this is not what the field of textual criticism is. Although the field is called textual criticism; it is better to think of it along the lines of textual analysis. As a discipline textual criticism examines manuscripts to determine how close they are to writings of the original authors; think, manuscripts that are closest to their original meaning.
As an introduction to the field of textual criticism A. Anderson and W. Widder have produced a helpful resource for the serious student of the scriptures. The book proves to be an excellent resource for those who may not be well versed in the field of textual criticism. Anderson and Widder do a superb job of defining what textual criticism actually does and does not do. Chapter one and two provide an excellent overview of the function of textual criticism, and how it is different from biblical translation. One of the strengths of the book is the focused effort to introduce common terminology that is used in this field of study. Additionally, the authors provide a very handy glossary of terms that can easily be accessed for future reference. Although the book is an excellent introduction for beginners there are points where it may be difficult for beginners to work their way through. In particular, the “how-to” sections may be a challenge for those who are not familiar with a Nestle Aland or UBS Bible. Not to be overlooked is the introduction to some of the more important manuscripts such as the Codex Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Bezae that are used for many of our modern Bible translations. The book proves to be a great starting point for anyone wanting to have a better understanding of manuscripts, their variants, and how translation committees choose to use them.
For the beginner who is first delving into the world of textual criticism, you will find Textual Criticism of the Bible to be an excellent introductory resource. Pastors would benefit immensely from this book – especially in regard to the discussion of manuscripts and how they affect Bible translation. Indeed, a cursory understanding of textual criticism would help the pastor or serious student of the Word to be better prepared to enter into a discussion regarding modern Bible translation, and the historicity of the Bible.