The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Readings for November 2012

I am full of self-loathing for my slow rate of reading, falling ever more behind on periodicals.

Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, ed. David Black

I more-or-less randomly decided to read this old college text. Textual criticism is more than a passing interest of mine, seeing as it was a major topic in my master's thesis. This collection of essays does a good job presenting the basic arguments of several schools of New Testament textual criticism. The read was rather stimulating and worth my time.

It is worth noting that I believe textual criticism of the New Testament is entering something of a crisis phase. The rate of major new discoveries is fairly modest, and there has not been much movement in the theory or practice of TC. Indeed, the editors of Nestle-Aland making a few textual changes in the pastoral epistles was big news. Internal evidence has been shown to be quite subjective, except in the least significant cases. External evidence is ambiguous in its own way, because even assuring ourselves of the provenance of ancient manuscripts, we cannot agree on the significance of said provenance. In other words, I fear the field is stagnant. Perhaps NT textual criticism will receive a shot in the arm in the form of its own Qumran-esque trove.


  • Scientific American August 2012: Joseph R. Dwyer and David M. Smith present a fascinating article on the inner workings of thunderclouds. Gamma rays and anti-matter? Sweet.
  • Harper's November 2012: Victoria Collier's very important expose on the problems of electronic voting and other ballot-access issues turned sour when the piece shifted to an unconvincing attack on Republicans.
Category: books Tags: readings