The Early Text of the New Testament

Today we welcome Dr. Michael J. Kruger to speak about New Testament textual criticism and the early text of the New Testament. Dr. Kruger has co-edited an excellent book with Dr. Charles E. Hill, titled The Early Text of the New Testament and published by Oxford University Press.

The book aims to examine and assess from our earliest extant sources the most primitive state of the New Testament text now known. What sort of changes did scribes make to the text? What is the quality of the text now at our disposal? What can we learn about the nature of textual transmission in the earliest centuries? In addition to exploring the textual and scribal culture of early Christianity, this volume explores the textual evidence for all the sections of the New Testament. It also examines the evidence from the earliest translations of New Testament writings and the citations or allusions to New Testament texts in other early Christian writers.

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Justin Andrusk

7 years ago

What are your thoughts about the inspiration of Scripture and a number of the modern textual critics not being Christians? I know it was mentioned on the show, but no one seemed to have an issue with it.


7 years ago

Great show! What more can be said. I would like to hear somebody answer Justin’s question above. Frankly I do not have any objection to unblieving scholars contributing to such a work. Would like to hear somebody with more knowledge expound on why it should not be an issue.

Mark G

7 years ago

I don’t see secular scholarship of means God used to produce scripture as we have it as being much different than secular scholoarship of means God used to produce and sustain the world around us. Although the unbeliever is corrupt in his thinking and denies God, the unbeliever is still created in the image of God and there are no bare facts. An atheist can know a lot about creation while at the same time denying providence. The truth of the facts witness to the believer and against the unbeliever, but the truth remains none-the-less. An unbeliever can learn biblical Hebrew and Greek and know Pauline theolgy inside and out. The truth of Scripture is independant of the person studying it. I think one could say it is analogous to preaching. How is it that people can be saved by the ministry of the gospel through a preacher who turns out in the end to be an unbeliever? Unbelieving scholars can make beneficial contributions to understanding the Bible. Christian scholars can hold views that are detrimental to a right understanding of the Bible.

Justin Andrusk

7 years ago

Thanks for the reply. Although I do believe in your view of the world in relation to Common Grace, I do not think the same approach works for translating God’s Word. My concern is over the presuppositions that they bring to the table as well as Psalm 50:16: “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?”

Mark G

7 years ago

Psalm 50:16 seems to be a rebuke of covenant people who talk the talk but do not walk the walk. It’s like in Romans 1 where unbelievers know the truth about God but refuse to acknowledge him. They don’t need to stop knowing the truth, but instead need to live in accordance with it.

I would think one would want to be aware of the presuppositions and agendas behind any translation whether it was done by unbelievers or Christians. This becomes even more critical with study Bibles and certain translations put out by cults, etc. I don’t think one can assume that a Christian translator is more faithful to the text than an unbelieving translator.


7 years ago

Thank you for producing an episode on the subject of textual criticism. There is a lot of confusion in some churches regarding this issue. But it is so encouraging to know what a mountain of evidence there is to support our confidence in the accuracy of our Biblical texts. It certainly is no surprise to us who know the Bible is God-breathed, and it is a great blessing to know more about the history of our Scriptures.

Nick Batzig

6 years ago

Justin, I have the same question that you do about unbelievers (or even professing believers who skewed theology) embarking on textual criticism. Our presuppositions do effect what conclusions we come to, and the closer we are to drawing conclusions about what man is, who God is and what God’s word says, the more epistemological antithesis is shown. Men love to suppress and pervert the Scriptures by nature. The common grace issue is difficult because while it is possible for an unbeliever to give accurate assent to the truth of the text of Scripture and the teaching of Scripture, more often than not, God withhold even this from unbelievers. To deny this would put us in more with Warfield on “right reason” than Van Til on epistemological antithesis. So…great question. We proceed extremely slowly with secular scholarship on theology.



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