Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism

Article excerpt

Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism. By Eldon J. Epp and Gordon D. Fee. Studies and Documents 45. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993, $39.99.

Although some might quibble whether Eldon Epp and Gordon Fee are in a class by themselves regarding matters text-critical, it is indisputable that-as Bum Phillips once said of running back Earl Campbell-whatever class they are in, it takes little time to call the roll. These two North American scholars have followed in Colwell s train: They have both refined the methods employed (especially Fee) and have criticized the guild from within (especially Epp). Their presence in the field of NT textual criticism is ubiquitous, and deservedly so, for their judgments are consistently sober.

The book has 17 chapters (seven by Epp, ten by Fee) organized under six different headings: General and Historical Overview (two chapters), Definitions (two chapters), Critique of Current Theory and Method (six chapters), Establishing Textual Relationships (two chapters), Papyri and Text-Critical Method (two chapters) and Method and Use of Patristic Evidence (three chapters). A bibliography and complete set of indexes conclude the tome. The beginner will gain much from the introductory chapters, as well as the six chapters on theory; seasoned scholars will benefit the most from the latter chapters on method.

There is almost nothing new in this volume. Sixteen of the seventeen chapters have been published elsewhere (chap. 4, "On the Types, Classification, and Presentation of Textual Variation" [Fee], being the exception), though not all the original publications have been easily accessible. Chapter 10, "The Majority Text and the Original Text of the New Testament" (Fee), is the only chapter substantially reworked, being a collation and revision of four separate articles. Although the essays were published separately, the present volume is generally coherent with few lacunae.

The value of a book such as this can be measured in the classroom: In an elective course I teach on NT textual criticism, most of these essays have been part of the core reading material for years. …