The Oxford Debate on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament: Held at New College on May 6, 1897 ; with a Preface Explanatory of the Rival Systems

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G. Bell, 1897 - Bible - 43 pages

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A transcript of an 1897 debate on New Testament textual criticism, in which leading advocates of the traditional (Byzantine) text and advocates of the revision of Westcott & Hort politely discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their views and their theories about the transmission of the New Testament text. The debate did not reach any firm conclusions, but it drew attention to the issue of the date of the Peshitta.
The Prefaces succinctly describe Hort's analysis of the evidence, and Burgon's analysis of the evidence. These are very useful summaries, and may helpfully answer those who might oversimplify or misrepresent one view or the other.
The debate itself is more like a scholarly joust-before-dinner than a sustained debate. Some of its most memorable lines are Miller's "Dr. Hort’s theory is an Inductive Theory without induction," and Sanday's description of the Peshitta as the "sheet-anchor of Mr. Miller's theory," and his statement, "It is all hypothesis."
(And, readers should notice the significance of Headlam's observation about the Peshitta; Headlam argued that the uniformity of the text in early copies of the Peshitta implied that they emanated from a chronologically nearby source. Arthur Voobus' examples of mixture in the early copies of the Peshitta tends to tear apart Headlam's case for the Peshitta's later date.)
(Also, as a sort of sequel to this debate, F.C. Burkitt presented an analysis of quotations of the Gospels in the writings of Ephrem Syrus, attempting to show that that the Peshitta did not exist until the early 400's. But this view has been opposed and rejected more recently by Voobus.)

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Page 26 - Susiana, and lived in the latter part of the third or the beginning of the fourth century, AD...
Page xii - It must be grounded upon an exhaustive view of the evidence of Greek copies in manuscript in the first place ; and in all cases where they differ so as to afford doubt, of Versions or Translations into other languages, and of Quotations from the New Testament made by Fathers and other early writers.
Page viii - ... near Antioch, and is known as the " Syrian " text. The type found in the second of the groups above described, that headed by D, the Old Latin and Old Syriac, is called the " Western " text, as being especially found in Latin manuscripts and in those which (like D) have both Greek and Latin texts, though it is certain that it had its origin in the East, probably in or near Asia Minor. There is another small group, earlier than the Syrian, but not represented continuously by any one MS. (mainly...
Page 42 - One thing, I think, ought to be borne in mind that the ideal may be understood. If the qualities mentioned...
Page 40 - ... matter whatever shall be finally decided to be the law of the Church." And, again, a few months later (on July 6, 1875): l — " No sensible man who has to do with legislation, whatever he may desire in the abstract, thinks of proceeding to legislate if public opinion is entirely against his doing so. That is exactly the position in which we are with regard to this question. It is not the wish of the Church or country that we should legislate. ... I therefore think that, looking to the nature...

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