The Wallace/Ehrman Debate on the Question of the “Original” Text of the New Testament

As part of the new series of posts I am writing about New Testament textual criticism and the question of the original text, I thought it might be fun to share a debate that took place in 2012, on my birthday no less.

In one corner, we have the man who has been responsible for bringing text-critical issues to the attention of the American population through his many best-selling books. He is the author of the now classic work in textual criticism, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, and he can’t wait for your kid who grew up in church to take his intro to New Testament class. It’s Bart Ehrman!

In the other corner, we have one of Ehrman’s most vocal opponents. He is famous among textual critics for founding the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts and for writing that Greek textbook students sometimes pretend to read, but among the citizens of Dallas he is known best as that guy who always wears Hawaiian shirts to his lectures. It’s Daniel Wallace!

I have learned a lot from the work of both of these men, and I hope you will learn something from this exchange between them. The debate covers a lot of the basic problems involved within this broader scholarly conversation, and it doesn’t hurt that both participants regularly pepper their presentations with typical professorial humor. Enjoy!


*Incidentally, this is also the debate wherein Wallace first mentioned the now-famous alleged first-century manuscript of Mark’s gospel (see 1:14:36), which has since been revealed to be a papyrus fragment discovered by dismantling a mummy mask, raising several questions about the means of dating ancient manuscripts (paleography and radio carbon dating, for example) as well as a fair amount of concern from scholars about how ancient artifacts are handled by Christian apologists, especially those who have no background or expertise in papyrology.

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