Book Plunge: Myths and Mistakes of New Testament Textual Criticism

What do I think of Peter Gurry and Elijah Hixson’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Textual Criticism is a fine science. There are many nuances to it and it’s easy to make mistakes in it. Fortunately, this book has been written to address many of the myths that one finds out there so that the apologist, scholar, and pastor can be better equipped.

About time isn’t it? Yep. Bart Ehrman has been putting some misinformation out there. It’s great to know that a work has been written to address his mistakes. Right?

Well, no. Ehrman is mentioned, but if anyone is in the sights of these authors the most often, it’s fellow Christian apologists! Does that make any sense? Why would a book devoted to errors in textual criticism be targeting people who are on their side?

Because many people today who are apologists and scholars and pastors are getting things wrong and if we want to be people of truth, we have to be willing to call out our own.

You could think that textual criticism is a big field, and you would be right. You could think that no one can be a specialist in everything out there in this field, and you would also be right. You could then think that two people couldn’t write a book addressing those areas, and you would again be right. That’s why Gurry and Hixson have gathered a team to write about these myths, each person having a specialty study in the field.

I am so sure of the importance of this field that I went to my father-in-law, who many of you know is Mike Licona, and told him that he needs to read this book before he goes anywhere and answers a question on textual criticism again. Many great scholars have bought into these myths. I even found some that I have held before, such as the idea that you could re-create a strong majority of the NT from the writings of the church fathers alone.

The reader will find several other topics here. Exactly how many manuscripts do we have and how does that compare to classical works? Are earlier works really necessarily better? Were the texts of the NT copied by amateurs who just weren’t competent as scribes? How many variants are there and how do we date manuscripts?

If you have spoken on textual criticism at any time and go through this book and don’t find you’ve made a mistake somewhere along the way, you are a very rare person indeed. I would recommend every apologist and scholar out there read this before speaking on the topic. We will still make mistakes, but let’s not make these mistakes again.

If you want to know how to avoid mistakes in the field, buy this book. If you want to know better information about how we got our text and its reliability in transmission, buy this book. If you just want to be better informed, buy this book.

Bottom line. Buy this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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