Grantley McDonald - BCEME - Daniel Buck and James Snapp Amazon reviews

Steven Avery

D. Buck
4.0 out of 5 stars Meticulous--Yes. Valuable--Yes. Reliable? Remains to be seen.
Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2016

This is a meticulously researched book. No one claiming to be informed on the Johannine Comma can afford to ignore it--although the price is an unreasonable obstacle, and keeps me from commending it any further. A book costing over a hundred dollars should not contain such scribal errors as "we conclude from recent contests over the authenticity of the comma show that . . ." The fact, however, that even a book going into great detail on variants in handwritten copies would contain such an error as those under discussion, is of some value in itself.

Furthermore, the author's own biases come through rather strongly--although that they do, in such a pinnacle of objective scholarship, is a valuable lesson on none of us being able to be free of our own biases, or slipping them into anything we do. For example, he writes, “Some are led by such suspicions to dismiss and even revile academic biblical studies, in order to justify their rejection of scholarly criticism of the textus receptus." This is a bald statement of his biases, imputing motives to an opponent rather than allowing him to speak for himself. This is not to say that most of his opponents are innocent of this, but one would expect him to claim the higher moral ground, and simply provide us with quotes from which we can draw our own conclusions. It's not as if there aren't enough pages in the book to include an extra line or two.

SA Note: Lots of anxiety psycho-babble
"Hague revived the anxiety that had motivated Erasmus’ opponents. Biblical criticism, he asserted, “threatens the Christian system of doctrine and the whole fabric of systematic theology."12
12 Hague, 1910,110.

Mr. McDonald was a little more careful when writing for a scholarly audience--he didn't include the above sentence in his dissertation--but even therein, he wrote of Dyson Hauge, (correction Hague) "There was a lot of good sense in what Hague had to say, but much of his argumentation is based on nothing firmer than prejudice." Readers of Mr. Hauge's quotes which follow may well come to a differing conclusion. And here is the problem: after spending hundreds of pages showing how the Johannine Comma came to be regarded as original Scripture, he almost totally fails at identifying why it was that, decades after the Comma had been given a decent funeral and laid to rest, it experienced a resurrection in the writings of the new fundamentalists. To chalk it up to anti-intellectualism and a revolt against science itself is to miss most of the picture. Perhaps he will go back to his research and write another 400 pages on the history of the Comma since 1900. There he will probably discover that John Burgon--no anti-intellectual, he--predicted back in the 1880's that the rash rewriting of the English Bible to which he meticulously objected would provoke the very anti-intellectual reaction that came into full flower a century after his death. Or that the first person to promote King James Onlyism was not Jasper Ray in 1955, but Benjamin Wilkinson a full quarter-century earlier.

So, while I am very impressed at Mr. McDonald's meticulous research into the early-modern-period development of the Johannine Comma, I do have to take his word on most of it, as the discussions about which he so powerfully enlightens us nearly all took place in Latin. But when he brings his presentation down to the modern era, where I can actually check on his research, I find much less evidence to back up his conclusions--and that which he does present, is frequently mishandled to make it fit his conclusions. Am I then to assume that the first several hundred pages of his book are likewise unreliable? This temptation could have been avoided, had the author been content to merely lay the results of his tremendous research before us, and kept his opinions to himself. But alas, had the Comma remained tucked away in the grave into which the opponents of Hauge and Burgon thought they had safely laid it, we never would have had this book.
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Steven Avery

James Snapp, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Meticulous Historical Research of High Quality
Reviewed in the United States on August 27, 2016

This meticulously researched, clearly written book has a very specific focus -- one phrase in the text of one New Testament book in the compilation of one Reformation-era scholar. Yet in this grain of sand the world of the Reformation can be seen -- the interacting tides of theology, politics, and personalities. It is to be hoped that this volume will be obtained by every seminary library in America.
McDonald's dissertation-book is not quite perfect -- he claims at one point that the Syriac Peshitta does not contain Mark 16:9-20, which it most certainly *does* contain -- but its flaws are tangential (I wish there had been more about Zegers), its narratives are substantial and detailed, and its style is efficient and engaging.
May yet more fruit come from this tree.
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