Editor's note: Earlier in this issue of TC 8, Kent D. Clarke wrote a Rebuttal to William L. Petersen's review of his article "The Construction of Biblical Certainty." Petersen's review of Studies in the Early Text of the Gospels and Acts, in which the article by Clarke and K. Bales appeared, was published in TC 7.
1. The first thing anyone interested in this matter should do is read the chapter in question, read my review, and then draw his or her own conclusion. Clarke's "Rebuttal" imputes to my review something that is not found in it. He says that I have accused him and his coauthor of "omitting" "information." He writes:
One can only infer from Petersen's comments that he failed to read the entirety of our article; in it, Bales and I provide in unambiguous detail the very information Petersen accuses us of carelessly omitting: [Clarke then quotes from his and Bales' chapter, where they paraphrase the differences between the definitions of the letter rankings in GNT3 and GNT4] [par. 3 in Clarke's "Rebuttal"].This simply is not so. At no point in the two paragraphs [pars. 8-9] of my review devoted to Clarke and Bales' chapter do I accuse them of "omitting" information. As Clarke himself should realize--especially since he reproduces the passage in his "Rebuttal"--I charge him and Bales with having "failed to ascertain whether the definitions used in GNT3 to assign the A, B, C, and D rankings are identical with those in GNT4." Apparently Clarke does not understand the difference between "ascertaining" (my word) and "omitting" (his word).
2. Even more curious is the fact that, if Clarke feels I have mischaracterized his and Bales' chapter, he does not address the central point of my review--even though, once again, he reproduces part of the passage in his "Rebuttal." What makes Clarke and Bales' work utterly pointless is either (1) their failure to understand (one can read and even put something into print without understanding it) that the letter-ranking definitions in GNT3 are completely different from those GNT4, or (2) their failure to understand the logical consequences of these differences for their enterprise. Which of these--or both--is (are) the problem(s) is impossible to determine without knowing how the authors devised their research plan.
3. The flaw in Clarke and Bales' study is precisely as stated in my review (and quoted--apparently without understanding it--by Clarke in his "Rebuttal"):
They [Clarke and Bales] have failed to ascertain whether the definitions used in GNT3 to assign the A, B, C, and D rankings are identical with those in GNT4. If they were the same, then a comparison could, conceivably, be made. But if they were different--as they are--then any comparison is meaningless. [par. 9 in my review; Clarke quotes it in par. 2 in his "Rebuttal"; emphasis now added on the last two sentences; the rather substantial remainder of par. 9 in my review is devoted to presenting and comparing quotations of the definitions in order to demonstrate, logically, why Clarke and Bales' enterprise is stillborn].The definitions of the letter rankings in GNT3 are completely different from the definitions in GNT4; therefore, meaningful comparisons are impossible (Clarke passes over this matter silently in his "Rebuttal"). Any modestly literate reader possessed of a modicum of logic will understand both why it is impossible, and why Clarke passed over it in silence.
© TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 2003.