Pictures of my textual criticism activity

Yesterday, I mentioned that I’m experimenting with a new activity that is designed to teach my students the basics of textual criticism. Honestly, this year’s a bit of a test run. I haven’t built many lessons around the activity but I had an extra day in my calendar that allowed me to try something new. One class did the exercise yesterday and three more will do it today.

In this post, I want to share some pictures of my preparatory work so you can visualize it. Yesterday, I (1) printed the translations (see that there’s some diversity so the wording is different); (2) tore the edges; (3) went outside and rubbed the paper in the mud; (4) tore up the paper further and put them in baggies that I hid around my classroom area. Each group needed to find a baggie, reconstruct the paper the best they could, type out what they think the text says (I chose Mark 16 so some with have the longer ending and some the shorter), and then they had to compare and contrast their results. Here are the pictures:

Five different translations to simulate various manuscripts with their differences in wording, including one text in Spanish that represents a ‘Latin’ translation of a ‘Greek’ (English) text.
The initial damage.
Rubbed in mud.
Further damage!
Baggies to be hidden.

Finally, as a class, I wanted them to create their own standardized version from their different manuscripts but I ran out of time. In future versions of this class (Spring 2021!) I may add a class period prior to this exercise to talk more about the development of the Bible and then one afterward so we have time for them to create their standardized version.


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