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After almost two years of planning, and six months after the first public announcement, the editors of TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism are pleased to be able to offer our first articles. An abstract for each article can be found on the Table of Contents page. We are beginning with two articles, but others are on the way. Our current plan is to offer each article in at least four different formats: text (ASCII), HTML (for viewing on the World Wide Web), SGML (for viewing with an SGML browser), and Postscript (for printing). However, articles will be posted as soon as they are available in HTML format.
The TC home page contains additional details about the journal, but I would like to comment here on the rationale behind the journal. First, a little history: I first encountered the discipline of textual criticism while a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I took New Testament textual criticism courses with James Brooks on both the Master's and Doctoral levels. Although the primary focus of my overall studies was the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, I remained fascinated by the study of the New Testament text. I also began reading everything I could get my hands on concerning the text of the Old Testament, and I had the good fortune to be able to take up the study formally a few years later with Johann Cook at the University of Stellenbosch. I immediately noticed the differences in approach evident in the two disciplines, differences occasioned not only by the differences in the preservation of the data but also by significantly different methodologies. It was also interesting to me that there seemed to be very little interchange across the canonical divide when it came to textual criticism, but I was convinced that scholars on one side could benefit from a greater awareness of and interaction with scholars from the other side.
It was also evident, however, that the interchange of ideas in a traditional print journal was not possible, both because of the relatively small number of scholars interested in the subject (in comparison with scholars who studied the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible or New Testament as a whole) and because of the prohibitive costs of producing a print journal. The advent of the Internet, and particularly of the World Wide Web, changed all that. Electronic journals are not limited by the size of the field of interested scholars and students, nor are they as expensive as print journals (though they are not free either!). Hence the idea of an electronic journal of biblical textual criticism arose. I was encouraged by several people along the way (see the acknowledgements at the bottom of the TC home page), and I got some very helpful advice from Charles Prebish, editor of the first electronic journal in religious studies, the Journal of Buddhist Ethics.
As a preliminary step in creating the electronic journal, I first recruited an outstanding international editorial board, who serve as peer reviewers of every article submitted to the journal (even my own!). The editors include many of the most recognized biblical text critics in the world, and I feel fortunate that so many were willing to serve in this venture. Others who were unable to serve for one reason or another also offered their encouragement.
A second step toward creating the journal involved organizing an online community of scholars and students interested in biblical textual criticism to discuss the biblical text, methodological issues, and many other related topics. This community is the tc-list e-mail discussion group, and members of this community have been conversing for the past six months (details about the discussion group are available on the TC home page). Many of the TC editors are active participants on the list.
With the publication of our first articles, TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism is now a reality. More articles, as well as several book reviews, are on the way. TC is, as far as I know, the first peer reviewed electronic journal dealing with biblical studies on the Internet, although I am sure that many more will follow. Will leading scholars in the field begin citing electronic articles in their work, and will tenure committees look favorably on work done in an exclusively electronic environment? The answer is surely yes, although some scholars may take longer than others to recognize the value of this new medium. The quality of the articles in any journal is only as good as the scholarship represented by the editorial board and as good as the editorial policy that the board establishes. The quality of both is high for TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, and, with the support of others in the scholarly community, I hope that this journal will contribute positively to the discussion of the fascinating discipline of textual criticism for years to come.
James R. Adair, Jr. General Editor