Queen Anne Resurrected? A Review Article -- By: Richard A. Taylor
JETS 20:4 (December 1977) p. 377
Queen Anne Resurrected? A Review Article
“The Textus Receptus is as dead as Queen Anne,” A. T. Robertson used to say.1 But if that judgment is accurate, Queen Anne must be experiencing something of a resurrection. Certainly there is a revival of interest in the Greek Textus Receptus (TR) today, and at just such a time as most scholars were convinced of its “death” and “burial.” But the ghost has arisen! This, at least, is the indication one gets from Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text (Nashville/ New York: Nelson, 1977). This modern defense of the TR takes up where John William Burgon left off and argues that in accepting the Westcott-Hort text and the textual theory it presupposes, NT scholars made a serious mistake that has hampered NT study for almost a century. True progress can be made, Pickering feels, only when scholarship returns to the “majority” Greek text as (usually) represented by the printed TR. Other recent writers have also called for a return to the TR; one thinks immediately of Edward F. Hills, Zane C. Hodges (who wrote the foreword to Pickering’s book), T. H. Brown, D. A. Waite, J. J. Ray and David Otis Fuller. But Pickering’s work is likely to find greater appeal than the writings of any of these. It is an attractive volume, for the most part well-written and carefully documented, and it has a publisher with an extensive marketing outlet.
There are certain premises of the book that are well taken. For example, a large part of the book consists of a presentation (pp. 31-40) and critical evaluation (pp. 41-92) of the mainstays of the Westcott-Hort textual theory. Such criticism of weaknesses in a foundational work is not only necessary but welcome. But Pickering adds little here that is new. NT scholars have long been aware of the inadequacies of the Westcott-Hort terminology, the limitations of the genealogical argument, the speculative nature of Hort’s “Lucianic Recension,” the somewhat arbitrary make-up of Hort’s text-types, and the limited number of clear examples of confiation in the Byzantine text-type. These are areas that have received attention almost from the appearance of the Westcott-Hort text. Surely Pickering does not think that a relisting of these problems argues ipso facto for a return to the TR.
Also well taken is Pickering’s criticism of the excesses of eclectic methodology, which have played such a prominent role in recent NT textual study. The use of pure eclecticism to the minimization of the testimony of the manuscripts, versions and fathers is a highly subjective and potentially misleading guide to the recovery of the original text. A plea for caution in this area, therefore, is in order....
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