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The Theological Relevance of Textual Variation in Current Criticism of the Greek New Testament

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Chapter Summary

The International Greek New Testament Project can report on 300 manuscript collations of Luke, and estimate for the entire NT perhaps 300,000 variants. The simple fact of massive textual variations is beyond denial or refutation. Textual variation does not imperil belief in God but it can and does contribute to elucidation of the character of God and of his relation to man. Doctrine consists of a multitude of insights which give meaning to every affirmation. There is far more in Christian doctrine than a brief creedal summation, and the exegesis of variant texts contributes to the enrichment of doctrine. Many of the denials that textual variation is harmful to the faith are truly denials of allegations never made. We should welcome the light that may be cast by textual criticism upon the history, upon the theology, and upon the current faith of scholar and layman alike.

Keywords: Christian doctrine; criticism; God; Greek New Testament; manuscript; textual variation; theology



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