I have gotten through 4+ hours of the Text and Canon conference from last weekend. A great deal to talk about as time permits, but two things right now:
First, to my fellow apologists who do not buy into TROnlyism and who seek to give a defense of the NT against atheists, Muslims, etc., in the public square (something that to my knowledge the TR Only position has yet to attempt in any major way), you will need to tune into the arguments being put forward by the TR Only guys, because *they will be taken up and used against you by the atheists and Muslims.* Why? Well, TR Onlyism is just KJV Onlyism moved one step backwards. I have wanted to avoid having to point this out quite that blandly, but listening to these recordings, there really is no other way to put it. Same motivations, slightly different reading list. As such they are seeking to establish the normative, superior authority of a particular tradition and, therefore, they muster arguments against the majority position. So, you will have atheists and Muslims, in particular, quoting these guys in their favor against you. So, Dr. Riddle cannot say the word “papyri” without using the term “vaunted” beforehand. He gives an entire diatribe seeking to diminish the value of the papyri. Now, it is horrifically shallow, grossly biased, and ignores the reality of the papyri’s value in rooting the text in the second century (a vitally important reality for those of us active in the public square rather than in “Reformed” FB groups), but it will be cited nonetheless. There are a few lines of argumentation like this presented thus far in the materials that apologists will need to be ready for.
Second, you can start calling me PIA, for “Popular Internet Apologist.” So far I have had numerous barbs thrown my direction by both Truelove and Riddle but, so far, my name has been assiduously avoided. And there is a reason. Remember, I challenged them to debate prior to the event. Offered to fly myself out, put myself up, no cost to them. They declined. I think I know why. You cannot light up a straw man when the real guy is standing there with a microphone, and he gets equal time. I am simply stunned at the lack of integrity that has been shown in not just the cheap, off-hand shots at “certain popular Internet apologists” (yes I know it is in reference to me—one time reference was made to “waving a 1550 Stephanus around,” and I only know of one other person who has one, and he hasn’t addressed this topic even once) but at the consistent misrepresentation of my own views and positions. You can do this in your own conference without someone responding, or in your closed and moderated FB forums, but that approach really comes apart in public debate. So, Riddle, clearly making reference to me, attributed to me the position that the papyri gave rise to the modern critical editions, and then pointed to Westcott and Hort, who, of course, worked before the major papyri finds in the first half of the 20th century. I’m sure his listeners nodded approvingly, except for maybe the one or two who have actually listened fairly, and ready my work, who realized, “He’s never said that.” What I have said is that all the discussions about the “most primitive text” that were written prior to the discovery of the papyri are irrelevant, of course. How can you have a meaningful discussion of whether we should read ⲑ̅ⲥ̅ or ⲩ̅ⲥ̅ at John 1:18 without reference to P66 and P75, and, specifically, what the most primitive reading is? The papyri established (esp. in the now famous P75/B genealogical intersection) the primitive nature of key readings in the uncials and demonstrated, against Sturz, that there is no specifically Byzantine papyri (there are Byzantine readings, but not a consistently Byzantine papyri). They are vitally important to the establishment of the consistency of textual transmission from the uncials through to the primitive period. No one can possibly dispute this assertion, so, Riddle just attributes a view to me that I have never enunciated. Easy to do in a conference with folks Amen-ing any shot at He Who Shall Not Be Textually Named, but a lot harder if I am actually there to shine the light on the facts.
Oh, just one other thing as I was not intending to start a review as yet. I had to chuckle when Dr. Riddle sought to suggest that the reading I mentioned above, where the earliest manuscripts we possess for the Gospel of John (P75, P66, Aleph and B) all have “God” (ⲑ̅ⲥ̅) at John 1:18. He attributed this to an Arian sentiment, misreading its meaning as “a god,” as Arius would call Jesus. Aside from how horrific a misreading that is (given the parallel in John 1:1 and the very meaning of 1:18 and the role of the Logos as the perfect representation of the Father), the fact is the presence of the reading in P75 shows it was extant a century before Arius was born. The controversy then was modalistic monarchianism, not Arianistic subordinationism. I suppose he could say “Well, the Arians would like that reading,” but that would not only be begging the question, it would likewise run directly against the historical reality of the text. Of course, you can concoct a reason to reject any reading you like as long as you have no concerns about holding to a consistent form of handling the text. And our TR Only brothers are truly unconcerned about that. They share with their KJV Only brothers a willingness to clearly say, “Yes, God did something special in the 16th century (KJVOists would say early 17th) and produced a stable text, isn’t it wonderful!” The fact that, for example, the battle over the Christological formulations of the 4th and 5th centuries were fought without such a “stable text” does not seem to bother them in the least.
A citation was given from a modern scholar (I have to check the sources) that basically said that TR advocates have to adopt a view of the text “completely opposite” to that of the Reformers. This was ridiculed, of course. Only problem is, for those with ears to hear and a willingness to reflect, that statement is exactly right.