Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text -- By: Daniel B. Wallace

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 146:583 (Jul 1989)
Article: Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text
Author: Daniel B. Wallace


Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text

Daniel B. Wallace

Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies
Dallas Theological Seminary

1 In his engaging volume, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861–1961, Neill remarks, “In historical research there are few axioms; and it is good that periodically every alleged conclusion should be challenged and tested in the light of fresh evidence, or of a change in the premisses [sic] on the basis of which the evidence is weighed.”2 He was speaking of the Synoptic problem, but his words may justifiably be applied to the field of New Testament textual criticism today—at least in the United States.

In the last decade a handful of scholars has risen in protest of textual criticism as normally practiced. In 1977 Pickering advocated that the wording of the New Testament autographs was faithfully represented in the majority of extant Greek manuscripts.3 This view had been argued in one form or another since John W. Burgon in 1883 sought to dismantle single-handedly the Westcott-Hort theory.4

What was new, however, with Pickering’s approach was perhaps a combination of things: his theological invectives were subdued

(especially compared with those of the Textus Receptus-advocating fundamentalist pamphleteers); his theological presuppositions regarding preservation were also played down; his treatment appeared sane, reasonable, and thorough; and he was a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. This last point is of no small significance, for in the last several years some if not most of the leading advocates of the majority text view have received their theological training at Dallas Seminary.5

In 1978 Gordon Fee mounted a frontal attack on the majority text view, especially as articulated by Zane Hodges.6 The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society then staged a battle between Fee and Hodges, in which Hodges wrote “Modern Textual Criticism and the Majority Text: A Response,”7 to which Fee responded with “Modern Textual Criticism and the Majority Text: A Rejoinder,”8 to which Hodges responded with “Modern Textual Criticism and the Majority Text: A Surrejoinder.”9 Fee and Hodges have continued to interact ...

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