New Testament Textual Criticism – NGRK 650

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 06/30/2022

Course Description

A study of the materials, history, theories, and principles of textual criticism with application to selected textual problems.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.

Rationale

This course will provide the student with an overview of the discipline of New Testament textual criticism. In light of the foundational role of the New Testament writings in the life of the church and in the development of Christian theology, the textual basis for these writings is of great relevance. The study of the discipline of textual criticism will enable the student to become knowledgeable of the process by which the writings of the New Testament have been preserved and the various ways that scholars have sought to determine the earliest form of the text.

Course Assignment

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (7)

Students will complete 7 Discussions in this course. For each Discussion, you will read the prompt and then respond by creating a thread that addresses the questions/issues raised by the prompt. After you have posted your own thread in response to the prompt, you must log back in and respond to the threads of at least two of your classmates, affirming where you agree, stating your reasons why you disagree, and/or offering new insights or raising new questions unanticipated in your classmates' threads.

In each Discussion, you must address an assigned subject or answer an assigned question. Unless otherwise noted, your response to each question/subject should contain at least 500 words. For each Discussion assignment, you must also submit replies to two separate classmates, each of which should contain a minimum of 150 words. The replies should be posted in the classmate’s thread. Any sources used, including assigned readings, videos, and narrated PowerPoint presentations, must be properly documented in current Turabian format. You may use either footnotes/bibliography or parenthetical citations/bibliography, but not both in the same post. Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation must be used. See the Discussion Grading Rubric for the grading criteria.

For all Discussions scheduled between Modules 1-7: Weeks 1-7, the student will post their thread by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday of the assigned module. The student must then post at least 2 replies of at least 150 words by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday of the assigned module. Because Module 8: Week 8 concludes on a Friday, the student must post a thread in the Discussion by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, and the replies must be posted by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday.

This course utilizes the Post-First feature in all Discussions. This means you will only be able to read and interact with your classmates' threads after you have submitted your thread in response to the provided prompt. (CLO: A, B, C, D, E)

Quiz: Textual Criticism Essay: Initial Selection

Students must complete this quiz in order to indicate the passage they intend to address in the Textual Criticism Essay. The passage must contain a textual variant listed in the textual apparatus of the latest edition of the United Bible Society’s Greek New Testament that is assigned a rating no higher than a “B” by the editors (i.e., “B” “C” or “D”). In other words, the passage is to contain a significant textual variant in which there is dispute about the most probable original reading. After the quiz is submitted, the instructor will either approve the passage selected by the student or instruct him or her to select an alternative passage.

Textual Criticism Essay: Passage Overview Assignment

The purpose of this assignment is to present a preliminary overview of the textual variant(s) that relates to the passage selected for the Textual Criticism Essay: Final Edition.

In the first portion of the essay, students are to briefly identify each of the variant readings related to their chosen passage, how each reading impacts the meaning of the passage, and how the passage is rendered in English translations of the New Testament The purpose of this portion of the essay is not to assess the arguments for or against each variant reading, but simply to identify the nature of the textual issues that will need to be discussed and evaluated in the final essay. The overview of the textual variants should contain roughly 600–900 words.

In addition to the overview of the textual issue related to the selected passage, the essay is to contain a preliminary bibliography of at least 10 relevant sources that directly address the textual matters related to the chosen passage. General works related to the discipline of textual criticism or the biblical writing in which the passage occurs (e.g., commentaries that do not address textual matters) may be consulted but should not count as one of the 10 sources. Students are encouraged to include scholarly journal articles, exegetical commentaries that discuss the relevant textual issues, and specialized studies such as doctoral theses and monographs. For journal articles, students are encouraged to consult the ATLA database which is available on all students through the Jerry Falwell Library website. Doctoral theses may also be obtained using the ProQuest database which is also available through the library website.

The essay must contain a title page, should be double-spaced, typed in 12-point Times New Roman font, contain one-inch margins, and should follow current Turabian formatting. (CLO: B, C, D)

Textual Criticism Essay: Final Edition Assignment

Students will complete an essay of between 15–20 pages which analyzes a specific passage in the Greek New Testament with a significant textual issue. The paper should include the following sections:

Introduction

In this section, students will provide a brief overview of the objectives of their essay and briefly summarize the nature of the textual problem in their selected passage. The purpose of the introduction is not to survey the evidence for each reading but simply to explain the nature of the textual issue and why it is significant. If helpful, students may note in their introduction how English translations have rendered the passage.

Analysis of the External Evidence

In this portion of the essay, students are to provide an overview of the external evidence in support of each reading. This may include, for example, Greek manuscripts, the versions, lectionaries, and the writings of church fathers. Rather than simply listing witnesses contained in the textual apparatus, students are to weigh the evidence, discussing how decisive the external evidence is in favor of one variant or another. In your judgment, does the external evidence point to a particular reading as the most likely original, or is the evidence indecisive? Is there a particular reading supported by multiple text-types? Is there support for multiple readings within a single text-type? Does the extant evidence indicate when each reading may have emerged? These are the types of questions students may wish to address in this section.

Analysis of the Internal Evidence

In this section, students are to consider the arguments for and against the possible readings based upon internal criteria such as the author’s style, the immediate context, grammar, theological considerations, parallels with other passages, possible mistakes made by scribes, etc. On the basis of these considerations, students are to evaluate whether the internal evidence favors a certain reading or if it is largely indecisive. Students are encouraged to consider if there is a reading that best fits the literary context and the style of the author and if there is a reading that best explains the origin of the other variants.

Conclusions

Having examined a number of external and internal factors, students will articulate their position regarding the textual issues in their selected passage. Students are to explain why they believe a certain reading is to be preferred, what may have led to alternative readings, and the significance of their conclusions for the interpretation and application of the passage.

Bibliography

In addition to the overview of the textual variants, the essay is to contain a bibliography of at least 10 relevant sources that directly address the textual matters related to the chosen passage. General works related to the discipline of textual criticism or the biblical writing in which the passage occurs (e.g., commentaries that do not address textual matters) may be included but should not count as one of the 10 sources. Students are encouraged to include scholarly journal articles, exegetical commentaries that discuss the relevant textual issues, and specialized studies such as doctoral theses and monographs. For journal articles, students are encouraged to make use of the ATLA database which is available on all students through the Jerry Falwell Library website. Doctoral theses may also be obtained using the ProQuest database, also available through the library website.

The essay must contain a title page, should be double-spaced, typed in 12-point Times New Roman font, contain one-inch margins, and should follow current Turabian formatting. (CLO: B, C, D)

Quizzes (7)

Students will complete seven open-book, open-notes quizzes on the assigned material. The purpose of the quizzes is to ensure that students have carefully read the assigned material and are familiar with its contents. Quizzes must be completed in 3 hours, and submitted by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on final day of the module they are due. Each quiz includes 20-40 questions, the sum of which will equate to 30 total points. (CLO: A, B, C, D, E)