Review Article: “The Reliability Of The New Testament: Bart D. Ehrman And Daniel B. Wallace In Dialogue”, Edited By Robert B. Stewart -- By: James Leonard

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 10:2 (Fall 2013)
Article: Review Article: “The Reliability Of The New Testament: Bart D. Ehrman And Daniel B. Wallace In Dialogue”, Edited By Robert B. Stewart
Author: James Leonard


Review Article: “The Reliability Of The New Testament: Bart D. Ehrman And Daniel B. Wallace In Dialogue”, Edited By Robert B. Stewart

James Leonard

James Leonard is Assistant Registrar at Leavell College and Visiting Scholar at the H. Milton Haggard Center for New Testament Textual Studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart D. Ehrman and Daniel B. Wallace in Dialogue. Edited by Robert B. Stewart. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011. 220 pages + indices. Softcover, $22.00.

Fortress Press has again published a volume associated with the Greer-Heard Counterpoint Forum hosted by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, designed to promote civil and productive dialog between evangelicals and non-evangelicals. In addition to Ehrman and Wallace, participants at this 2008 event included Michael Holmes, Dale Martin, David Parker, and Bill Warren. The book is further enhanced by essays from K. Martin Heide, Craig A. Evans, and Sylvie Racquel. The Ehrman-Wallace dialog and audience questions entail 47 pages, about a quarter of the book, making the title somewhat inadequate for this collection of text-critical essays.

Robert B. Stewart introduces the book by outlining the crucial work done by text critics which put Bible readers in their debt. He then brings to bear his own philosophical expertise by assessing the truth claims of those who reject the textual reliability of the New Testament. This anticipates the presentations of Ehrman and Parker later in the book. Stewart asserts that textual criticism is, above all, an evidentiary discipline, and thus he questions the logic of pessimistic assertions about the original text based upon no evidence:

We must therefore insist not only that one must note general evidence of corruption over time but also that one’s conclusions concerning any variant must be based upon specific evidence for a particular reading, rather than allowing evidence of alterations to lead one to a radically skeptical position with regard to the possibility of recovering the original wording (9).

Stewart’s philosophical expertise brings a fresh perspective deserving of a hearing within the textual criticism guild.

Ehrman’s 40-minute lecture would be a very fine popular introduction to textual criticism, if his skepticism were tempered. From his portrayal, one gets the impression that the textual

tradition is in utter chaos. Readers need to interpret Ehrman’s argument in light of his concession that the number of variants would be reduced by

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