Weighing Textual Evidence (Outline)

Textual criticism puts the original text more within the reach of the interpreter, even if absolute certainty remains elusive. The textual critic must balance external and internal evidence in the process and avoid giving too much weight to any single argument among a larger number.

Blomberg & Markley, 19

Evaluating External Evidence

  • Prefer the reading attested by the earliest reliable manuscripts
  • Prefer the reading that occurs across a wide geographical spread in a number of different text types or kinds of sources.
  • Prefer the reading that originates from the more accurately preserved textual traditions

Evaluating Internal Evidence

Transcriptional Principles

  • Prefer the more difficult reading (the lectio difficillor) as original.
  • Prefer the shorter reading.

Intrinsic Principles

  • Prefer the reading that most easily fits with the author’s style and vocabulary.
  • Prefer the reading that best fits in the context and in the author’s overall theological and narrative framework.
  • Where parallel passages with variants exist (such as in the Gospels), prefer the less-harmonious reading.

Reference: Blomberg, C. L., & Jennifer Foutz Markley. (2010). A handbook of New Testament exegesis. Baker Academic.

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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