BTBD: Week 10 – Canonicity and Textual Criticism

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Blogging Through Biblical Doctrine
Have you wanted to read a theology book, but haven’t known where to begin? In this series, Jess is blogging through John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue’s book, Biblical Doctrine. Print the study guides at the bottom of each post (or on the Resources page) and follow along!  Also, be sure to join the associated women’s Facebook page to discuss the study with other Christian women.  Finally, if you want to go back and start at the beginning you may find the Introduction article here.

The two main elements to preservation are canonicity and textual criticism. Here’s a brief introduction to these terms to help get your feet wet before you dive into the reading.


Canonization is “the process of recognizing the canon of Scripture” (926). As you read this section, you will find the answer to this question, “How can one know which supposed sacred writings were to be included in the canon of Scripture and which ones were to be excluded” (119). When it comes to evangelism, the answer is something you want to have in your tool belt. Like inerrancy and authority, canonicity is foundational to trusting and understanding God and His Word.

Textual Criticism

“Through the centuries, the practitioners of textual criticism, a precise manuscript science, have discovered, preserved, catalogued, evaluated, and published an amazing array of biblical copies from both the Old and New Testament” (126). Plainly, textual criticism is a “method used to determine what the original manuscripts of the Bible said” (gotquestions).

You know what I love most about textual criticism? There are scholars who have been, through the centuries, extraordinarily gifted in this field of science. And I don’t have to do it!

As a side note, I often wonder about these scientific, math-brained, and engineer minds. These are the minds I have most trouble evangelizing. These are the minds that want to figure everything out. They want all the answers to all the things! These are the minds that seem to attempt to arrive at saving faith through mental ascent. And I never know if their questioning on these topics is sincere seeking, or curious skepticism. Perhaps it’s a bit of both at times. But what is most stunning to me, when I read on these topics, is that we have a scientific, math-brained, and engineer minded God (the same God who created the bee and his geometrically perfect honeycomb hive) who has made man in His image to think on these things. And He, by His sovereign hand,  has scientifically preserved  His true Word through all of time.

Here is your study guide for this week Bibliology 7.

There will be no Theology Thursday post next week, but I’ll see you the week after that for our last bibliology discussion on the teaching and preaching of Scripture. After that, we move on to Theology Proper!

Happy Thanksgiving!

For your convenience, you may download this or previous study guides from the Beautiful Thing Resources page at any time.

About the Author
Jessica Pickowicz

Jessica Pickowicz

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Jessica is the founder and lead writer of Beautiful Thing. She is wife to pastor/ church-planter Nate Pickowicz, and mama of two.