New Testament Textual Criticism in the 21st Century

Daniel B. Wallace discusses the challenges facing New Testament textual criticism in the 21st century. Join us for this interesting discussion of this fascinating discipline. Many listeners will be familiar with Dr. Wallace from his introductory textbook and his textbook on intermediate Greek grammar. Dr. Wallace is the senior New Testament editor of the NET Bible and coeditor of the NET-Nestle Greek-English diglot. He has also founded The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, an institute with an initial purpose to preserve Scripture by taking digital photographs of all known Greek New Testament manuscripts.

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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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11 years ago

Hey, guys. Dr. Wallace is a remarkably accomplished scholar in the fields of NT text criticism and NT Greek; he deserves our thanks for his work. Interestingly, he published an essay in which he denies the doctrine of preservation. It’s called “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism” and can be found here:


Any light on whether he still holds to the thesis he presented there?

Camden Bucey

10 years ago

I don’t really know. I’d have to look into it.

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John Coleman

10 years ago

He does not hold to the cultic doctrine of preservation. He explains this is depth in his lecture last year (look for audio online). He holds to the Christian doctrines of truth and inspiration, which are not compatible with the cultic and anti-scientific doctrine of preservation.


10 years ago

I have the dvd of that lecture, it’s really good.

I don’t know what you mean by “cultic” but if you’re referring to “god preserved his word in an english bible translation” or “god magically made all of the manuscripts match!” yes…i’d say that was a false statement, but…

I’d say that God DID preserve His word in the NT manuscripts by making available so many witnesses scattered over such a broad area geographically, that we can be assured of having “essentially” what was written originally.

How do you see it?


10 years ago

I wish I could edit my previous post…yes..I read what Dr. Wallace had to say and he was denouncing the “God inspired a particular family of manuscripts” andor “God inspired one English bible version”

I would agree that that’s lunacy.

I think that Dr. Wallace would agree that God preserved his word in the rich abundance of manuscripts available….he calls it an “embarrassment of riches”….

Did I get that right?


10 years ago

The download and player only plays or downloads 19 seconds of the file…


10 years ago

hmmm. it works now. nevermind…

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10 years ago

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John D. Chitty

10 years ago

I read Dr. Wallace’s article and even discussed it online with a KJV onlyist (or TR onlyist) and Wallace believes, as he said on Christ the Center, that the classic proof texts for the confessional doctrine of preservation (see WCF) are misinterpreted. He believes the doctrine of preservation was invented during the Reformation. He does believe it was preserved, just not that the Bible revealed that it would be, or how. He does not believe in the preservation of every word, as he said on CtC, and that’s based not on Scripture, but his research of the evidence. If you’re listening for it, it’s all very clear on CtC. I tend to agree that the context of those classic preservation verses make other points. But I’m staying on the fence until I learn more, as I aspire to be faithful to the system of doctrine contained in Scripture as expressed in the WCF. By the way, just posted about it. But I guess my post will show up in this thread anyway.

Jesse T

10 years ago

Since the Scriptures are not infallibly preserved, what part should Catholic Tradition play in doctrine?

Jeff Riddle

10 years ago


I’m a regular listener and enjoy the program, but don’t you think there are some major problems with some of the things that Wallace said from a Reformed/orthodox perspective?


He reinterprets the doctrine of divine preservation of Scripture (contra article one of the WCF and 2LBC).

He makes the old claim that contemporary text criticism has no impact on doctrine. How about the doctrine of providence (preservation) and the doctrine of the canon of Scripture. Canon involves not only books of the Bible but also the text of the Bible (e.g., Mark 16:9-20 is roughly the same length as 2 John). While we’re on the issue of canon, what would happen if Dr. Wallace discovered an ancient copy of Romans in a library somewhere that omitted chapters 9-11, and the world’s best academic text critics (neo-evangelicals among them) decided this was the most ancient text of Romans. Would we then remove these chapters from our Bible?

He says that the Gospel record of Christ’s words contain merely the ipsissima vox and not the ipsissima verba of the Lord. Do you concur?

He drives an artificial wedge between Jesus and the Bible, claiming that he does not want to make Jesus the handmaiden of the Bible but the Bible the handmaiden of Jesus. But, from where does he learn about Jesus but from the Bible? The two are not at odds.

I was glad that someone challenged his views on the “incarnational” approach to inerrancy, but I wish some of these others issues had also been raised as well.


John D. Chitty

10 years ago

I agree that many issues relevant to Reformed theology should have been probed more deeply.

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10 years ago

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