BIBLICAL TEXTUAL CRITICISM
Located at Shepherds Theological Seminary in Cary, North Carolina, the Center for Research of Biblical Manuscripts and Inscriptions provides advanced teaching and research in biblical textual criticism and manuscript studies. What is biblical textual criticism? Biblical textual criticism is the science of studying the texts of ancient manuscripts of the Bible to understand the Bible’s transmission history. Because it requires knowledge of a broad number of disciplines, it is one of the more challenging fields of biblical study. Why is biblical textual criticism important? The traditional goal of textual criticism applied to any literary work (including the Bible) has been to reconstruct the text of the author(s) based on surviving copies of these works. We do not have the “original” autographic manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments; errors and alterations to the biblical texts took place throughout the history of copying these works. The importance of biblical textual criticism has thus traditionally been to reconstruct those initial texts.
The scope of the teaching and research conducted by the center primarily involves textual criticism of the Greek and Hebrew Bible, including cooperative participation with external projects involving the textual transmission history of the Bible. Additional projects of the center may include the study of ancient extra-biblical manuscripts or inscriptions that inform our textual research of the Bible. These cognate studies (e.g., Hebrew orthography and lexicography or paratextual elements of Greek manuscripts) may indirectly answer questions about the transmission history of the text. The CRBMI will engage MA, MDiv, and ThM students at Shepherds Theological Seminary in scholarly activity that advances the research goals of biblical textual criticism by establishing the textual and reception history of the Bible.
The CRBMI offers MA, MDiv, and ThM students at Shepherds Theological Seminary a number of courses in the area of New Testament and Old Testament textual criticism. These courses provide students with knowledge of manuscripts as the vehicles for the biblical texts (palaeography and codicology) as well as the ability to evaluate variant readings of the biblical witnesses. Students gain confidence in critically engaging the written artifacts of the Christian church and the transmission of her sacred texts. Students who excel in their studies may be eligible to participate in educational and research opportunities both local and abroad; funding is often available for such trips/courses.