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The Relation Between Textual Criticism and Systematic Theology


Scripture is central to our theological disciplines. But do the disciplines of Systematic Theology and Textual Criticism ever touch one another? Some text-critics hold that the activity of establishing the wording of the Biblical text is not - or at least not much - affected by the conclusions of systematicians. Reversely, systematicians happily repeat the adage that Systematic Theology is not affected by textual criticism. Either side is content that one can ignore the existence of the other. Are there places in the New Testament where textual variants do become relevant for Systematic Theology? This talk engages a range of well-known textual variants that have an increasingly material impact on how we think about Christ (Mark 1:1; John 1:18; Luke 23:34a), and also mentions a textual variant that has been conveniently ignored in the ethics of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:38). Apart from these places where text-critics should have a conversation with their theological colleagues, there is also an area where theologians ought to have a conversation with text-critics. And this conversation revolves around the question of what does it mean that the church has to engage in textual criticism? How does this fit into how we think about the Bible, providence, and the church?