Over at his website, Dr. Michael J. Kruger has responded to my review of his essay. I respond here with a few additional comments.
Dear Dr. Kruger, Thank you for your response and for clarifying some of the points raised in my review. In my view, the Galatians and Barnabas examples you provide (which are listed under the main section titled “Early Testimony Regarding the Reproduction of New Testament Texts”) do not prove (or even necessarily support) your thesis, which is that “early Christians, as a whole, valued their texts [=NT texts] as scripture and did not view unbridled textual changes as acceptable” (79). We simply cannot, in my opinion, cite only a few passages to prove that early Christians “as a whole” considered their texts (now part of the NT canon) to be scripture and to function as scripture. Indeed, you use appropriate caution on p. 71 when you say that “this all too brief survey of only a few selected sources is by no means definitive…Thus, it is difficult to know how representative the above sources are for Christianity as a whole (my emphasis).” I would argue, as most do, that we must use the same caution when assessing attitudes about NT textual reproduction.
As for the Barnabas reference I will quote you at length here (from p. 75):
“While exhorting Christians in the ‘path of light,’ Barnabas 19.11 declares, ‘Guard (φύλαξεις) the injunctions you have received, neither adding (προστιθεὶς) nor taking away (ἀφαιρῶν).’ The author—again drawing clear parallels to Deuteronomy 4:2 —continues to affirm that early Christians were concerned to pass along their tradition with care not to make alterations or changes. It is unclear whether Barnabas is referring to the preservation of oral or written tradition (or both), but, as argued above, the author likely cites from written Jesus tradition, ‘It is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.’”’
I take your point that you are simply referring back to your previous discussion. That makes sense. However, based on the way you word this paragraph, I think many readers (like myself) will understand you as arguing that, since Barnabas cites from written Jesus tradition, the exhortation to “guard what you have received” refers to guarding received written Jesus tradition. My reference to Foster was only to show that he says something very similar in his essay.
On a positive note, I am glad to see that you have collected various texts that speak to the re-appropriation of the Deut. 4:2 principle within early Christian circles. These passages are interesting in and of themselves. The main difficulty that I find with your essay is your move from a few select passages that do not refer to attitudes toward reproduction of the NT text, to the conclusion that early Christians “as a whole” had a strict attitude to NT textual reproduction, and that only “some early Christians changed the NT text and altered its wording” (p. 79, emphasis mine). Christian "attitudes" toward textual reproduction is one thing, but what scribes did in actual practice is another. I would argue that the NT manuscripts themselves offer a completely different story, even if we do have a handful of statements to the contrary. That is, at the end of the day, there is more evidence suggesting that early Christian scribes changed their text at will, or, as Zuntz put it, “The common respect for the sacredness of the Word, with [Christians], was not an incentive to preserve the text in its original purity. On the contrary, [it]…did not prevent the Christians of that age from interfering with their transmitted utterances” (Text of the Epistles, 268-269).
UPDATE: Kruger offers a final response here.