So I just finished reading the first essay of Fee’s in his wonderful To What End Exegesis? I’ve owned this book for about six years now and I’ve read most of the essays but hadn’t read this one – “One Thing is Needful”? (Luke 10:42). The article was originally published in 1981, which is probably why I never read it. The textual issues regarding Luke 10:42 have become, in many ways, a “non-issue” in most popular textual works that I’ve read, so I guess I was simply uninterested as I hadn’t considered some of the issues that Fee brings up.
Anyway, I really enjoy most of Fee’s works; I greatly respect and enjoy this phenomonal NT scholar; plus, his form of “Pentecostalism” I could easily consider to represent closely to my understanding of the work of the Spirit. And finally, his Pauline Christology is still glowing on my bookshelf. I’ve read it 1.5 times 🙂
Anyway, this essay takes the task of arguing for the “longer” reading of the text in question. Most translations follow the “shorter” reading:
“but one thing is necessary”- ESV
“but one thing is needed” – KJV
“but only one thing is necessary” – NAU
“but only one thing is needed” – NIV
Fee makes a rather strong case for the “longer” reading (“few things are needed – or only one”). As the NET notes, “The textual problem here is a difficult one to decide. The shorter reading is normally preferred, but it is not altogether clear how the variants would arise from it.” So while Fee argues for the longer reading, all modern translations that I check follow the shorter reading. And yet I find Fee’s points to be pretty interesting and convincing. I’m not going to list them all here, but I was curious of anyone else has had the opportunity to study this textual issue out more…
Textual criticism is a rather fascinating art/science. For some reason I really enjoy reading pretty much anything on the subject. I believe it has a lot to do with the concept of determining not only the authorial intent of Scripture but to also determine the author’s text!
What say you?
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.