Thursday, May 26, 2011

Interview with Textual Critic William Warren

Dr. William Warren
Brother Liam has an interview with William Warren at his Into This Grace blog about his work in Textual Criticism on the Scriptures. This is an important topic that I just recently realized has been greatly ignored in the Church to our own detriment.

Here's a snippet of one of the questions Warren answers that should show anyone who is concerned with the accuracy of their understanding why this field is worthy of our attention.

Question: How does textual criticism affect the translation process?

Dr. Bill Warren: Whenever someone picks up an English translation (or one in any other language for that matter), they become the recipients of a huge amount of "hidden" work that has been done to make that translation feasible. First, the manuscripts had to be studied to compile their data. Then that data had to be evaluated based on what seems to have happened in the transmission history of the text. And then the best Greek text is determined from these sources, a text that we would say as conservative Christians is virtually identical to the original form of the text, although of course there are some in the larger field of textual criticism that would highlight where the "virtually" part applies so as to say that it is not equal to the original text (like Bart Ehrman), but I'll say more on that below. After the resulting Greek text is published, that is what translators use as the foundation for their work. So all translations are built on the shoulders of textual critics who did the work that undergirds the Greek text on which the translations are based. One more facet of making a translation is that sometimes the translators don't agree with the textual decisions reflected in the published Greek text, in which cases they build the translation on their own conclusions about the right Greek text at a given point in the text. 

1 comment:

Liam Moran said...


It is great to see you desiring to learn more about this interesting subject. The amount of research and labor behind the texts of our modern translations is so extensive and many are not aware of the process of it all. Westcott & Hort spent 28 years working on their text which is the Greek text behind our modern translations.

I think more evangelicals need to know some basics of the translations process, the work behind translations and how textual criticism affects it all.