Two Passages in Mark: A Critical Test for the Byzantine-Priority Hypothesis -- By: Maurice A. Robinson

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 13:2 (Spring 1996)
Article: Two Passages in Mark: A Critical Test for the Byzantine-Priority Hypothesis
Author: Maurice A. Robinson


Two Passages in Mark:
A Critical Test for the Byzantine-Priority Hypothesis

Maurice A. Robinson

Associate Professor of New Testament
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

A paper delivered at the 46th Annual Meeting
of the Evangelical Theological Society
Chicago, Illinois, November 17-19, 1994

The quest for the original text of the New Testament continues in a state of flux. Although the hermeneutical endeavor presupposes an accurate and authoritative biblical text, the full application of hermeneutical and exegetical principles must remain tentative in those areas where textual criticism has not yet effected total or generally competent certainty.

As scholars, we may be thankful that no doubt whatever exists regarding the precise wording of the autograph text over approximately 85% of the Greek NT. In the remaining 15% of the text where significant variant readings occur, however, diverse methodologies of textual criticism are currently being practiced which in many cases lead to equally diverse results.

Congenital to the text-critical theory promulgated are the resultant readings claimed as original by each of the competing theoretical schools. When the results proffered by one text-critical school are compared with those of another, one finds that certain key words, phrases, or even entire verses are omitted, altered or transposed in the various editions of the Greek NT. The decision in each of these cases is based upon the editors’ own interpretation of the data preserved by the various manuscripts, versions and patristic writers, coupled with various internal and external principles of textual restoration.

The one certain postulate is that the various schools of NT textual criticism cannot all be correct. Perhaps one school is correct; perhaps none; perhaps partial truth resides in each school. For the present, all the competing theories should be allowed to blossom and to be tested by the scientific method, as with any hypotheses which attempt to account for the facts preserved amid the known data. There are currently three primary viewpoints affecting the text-critical arena which possess widely varying methodologies. Each of these merit serious consideration as competing hypotheses:1

  1. “Reasoned eclecticism,” which utilizes a blend of internal and external evidence to determine the best reading per variant in an isolated context;2

  2. “Thoroughgoing” (or “Rigorous”) eclecticism, which utilizes internal evidence alone to e...
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