on the occasion of J. J. Griesbach’s birthday

Johann Jakob Griesbach was an 18th century biblical scholar who did pioneering work in the textual criticism of the Greek New Testament. His work was a major advance in the field, applying principles developed by earlier scholars in a systematic way so that variants in the manuscripts could be compared and evaluated as to their likelihood of faithfulness to the autographs.

His work contributed to his work on the literary relationships of the Synoptic Gospels. His name became associated with a solution that proposed the two larger Synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Luke, as the source for Mark’s Gospel. After several decades of dominance of some variation of the two-source theory in synoptic studies, a development of Griesbach’s hypothesis has been advocated by William Farmer and his successors, though with limited acceptance. Still, his careful textual work and detailed argument repay consideration, for which we should be thankful on his birthday.

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