New Testament Textual Criticism In The Ministry Of Charles Haddon Spurgeon -- By: Elijah Hixson

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 57:3 (Sep 2014)
Article: New Testament Textual Criticism In The Ministry Of Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Author: Elijah Hixson

New Testament Textual Criticism In The Ministry Of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Elijah Hixson*

* Elijah Hixson is a Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh EH1 2LX, United Kingdom.

More than a century after his death, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) continues to influence generations of Christians. Biographies and dissertations are still being written about the Prince of Preachers.1 However, one aspect of Spurgeon’s thought and ministry has generally been overlooked: Spurgeon’s views on textual criticism. Admittedly, most of Spurgeon’s readers are not reading him for his treatment of textual variants. Nevertheless, one of the most paradigm-shifting events in the discipline of NT textual criticism happened during Spurgeon’s ministry: the publication of Westcott and Hort’s NT in the Original Greek.2 The Revised NT (RV) was also released that year, bringing Westcott and Hort’s departures from the textus receptus (TR) to the men and women in the pews.

Westcott and Hort were not without their critics, but their work had a lasting impact on NT textual scholarship. E. C. Colwell described Hort’s achievement: “He dethroned the Textus Receptus. After Hort, the late medieval Greek Vulgate was not used by serious students, and the text supported by earlier witnesses became the standard text.”3 A similar shift is occurring in contemporary textual scholarship, though certainly the changes are happening on a much smaller scale than that of Westcott and Hort. The United Bible Societies’ 3rd and 4th editions of the Greek NT and the 26th and 27th editions of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece have all contained the same Greek text, but the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece has adopted the updated text of the Catholic Epistles in the available volumes of the Novum Testamentum Graece Editio Critica Maior, introducing changes to the text.4 For the first time in thirty years, the standard text of the Greek New Testament is changing. In light of textual changes happening today, it is appropriate to ask how Spurgeon dealt with the scholarship behind the revisions to the New Testament that happened during his ministry.

In his recent biography, Tom Nettles describes Spurgeon’s attitude toward textual criticism as “a robust appreciation.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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