The Importance of Trying to Determine How Ancient MSS. Were Used

Over on Larry Hurtado’s blog there is an interesting short article about textual transmission.  The article reports on studies in ancient classical Latin texts by a scholar named James Zetzel.  It is worth reading because it recognizes that understanding the purpose and use of a manuscript will help determine the degree of reliability of the manuscript, or at least the chances of it being changed.

I remember reading Kurt Aland’s opinion that it is imperative that textual critics become conversant with the history of the Early Church.  This article reinforces that belief by showing the important connection between usage of a text and the integrity of its transmission.

Zetzel’s Observations on Textual Transmission

4 thoughts on “The Importance of Trying to Determine How Ancient MSS. Were Used”

  1. Dr. Henebury,

    I appreciated reading this note very much. Zetzel makes a very interesting point, that the most protected and best preserved ancient Latin texts were the ones that were extensively used in universities/academies, and that in the NT world those texts best preserved would analogously be the ones commonly used in the churches. This argues for the Traditional Text of the New Testament (the so-called Textus Receptus) as being the best preserved text of the Greek NT—a conclusion with which I would heartily agree!


  2. Dr. Henebury, are you intending to make an argument for the TR with this post? Looking at Larry Hurtado’s site, it does not appear that he takes that position.

    1. Good question Paul.

      No. While I do advocate an MT (not a TR) position, I am not of the opinion that there is enough in Hurtado’s article to prove that position. However, it does “fit” the view nicely.

      God bless,


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