Book Review – The Story of the New Testament Text

Robert F. Hull, Jr., The Story of the New Testament Text:  Movers, Materials, Motives, Methods, and Models, (Leiden and Boston:  Brill, 2011)

Hull NT TextThis wonderful monograph tells two stories simultaneously:  the story of the New Testament text and its transmission from the earliest extant copies up to the latest scholarly Greek editions, and the story of the development of the discipline of New Testament textual criticism from early figures such as Origin and Jerome, to the emergence of the modern critics like Erasmus and Westcott and Hort, to the latest shapers of the discipline like Bart Ehrman, Kim Haines-Eitzen, and David Parker.  The development of the discipline is indeed the primary emphasis, as author Robert Hull (recently retired Dean and Professor of New Testament, Emmanuel School of Religion) focuses attention on movers (significant figures in the discipline), materials (important sources and documents), motives (the goals of various movers), methods (criteria by which certain movers made decisions), and models (examples of methods in practice).

Although the primary audience is seminary, divinity, and grad students of New Testament, this book would also be useful in undergraduate bible courses or even for the lay reader, provided that the reader has enough New Testament background to understand the general idea of textual criticism.   Although Hull provides some preliminary material explaining the reasons that textual criticism is necessary and the general goals of the discipline, this is certainly not an introductory level book.  I would think the most natural place for this book would be in a seminary or graduate level course on textual criticism, alongside readings from Westcott and Hort, Metzger, Epp, Ehrman, Haines-Eitzen, and Parker.  Unfortunately, as Hull laments, such courses are difficult to find.  I certainly was unable to take one over the course of my graduate career (all of the authors mentioned above I read independently), and found that interest is quite low even at the Ph.D level.

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