Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism -- By: Daniel B. Wallace

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 12:1 (Spring 1991)
Article: Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism
Author: Daniel B. Wallace

Inspiration, Preservation,
and New Testament Textual Criticism

Daniel B. Wallace


The Bible has always been of central importance to evangelicals. It not only defines what we are to believe; it also tells us how we are to behave. A clear and faithful exposition of the scriptures has, historically, been at the heart of any relevant pastoral ministry. In order for a particular passage to be applied legitimately, it must first be understood accurately. Before we ask “How does this text apply to me?” we must ask “What does this text mean?” And even before we ask “What does this text mean?” we must first ask, “What does this text say?” Determining what a text says is what textual criticism is all about. In other words, textual criticism, as its prime objective, seeks to ascertain the very wording of the original. This is necessary to do with the books of the Bible—as with all literary documents of the ancient world—because the originals are no longer extant. Not only this, but of the more than five thousand manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament no two of them agree completely. It is essential, therefore, that anyone who expounds the Word of God be acquainted to some degree with the science of textual criticism, if he or she is to expound that Word faithfully.

The relevance of textual criticism, however, is not shut up only to those who have acquaintance with Greek, nor only to those in explicitly expository ministries. Textual criticism is relevant to every Christian, precisely because many of the textual differences in Greek can be translated into another language. Thus the differences between the

Daniel B. Wallace (B.A., Biola University; Th.M., Th.D. candidate, Dallas Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.
This article is a reprint of the author’s chapter by the same title in New Testament Essays in Honor of Homer A. Kent, Jr., edited by Gary T. Meadors (Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 1991). The Grace Theological Journal editorial committee felt that Professor Wallace’s article was worthy of wider circulation and that it would benefit the readership of the Journal.

New Testament of the King James Version, for example, and that of the New American Standard Version are not just differences in the English; there are also differences in the Greek text behind the English—in fact, over 5,000 differences! And with the publication of the New King James New Testament in 19791 (in which the KJV was rendered in modern English), the translational differences are diminished while the textual differences are...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()