New Text and Canon Institute Website Makes the Bible’s History More Accessible

This morning, Phoenix Seminary’s Text and Canon Institute (TCI) launched a brand-new website, The institute, which is led by Drs. John D. Meade and Peter J. Gurry, seeks to illuminate the history of the world’s most amazing book, the Bible. This unique mission is accomplished through 3 means:

In keeping with TCI’s unique mission and strategy, the new website has been designed to be a place with engaging academic content and church resources. It will serve as the hub for TCI’s digital resources.

“Over the last few years, Drs. Meade and Gurry have established themselves as reliable guides for biblical scholars, theologians, ethicists, and pastors on issues related to the canon and the text of Scripture,” said Phoenix Seminary President Brian J. Arnold. “All theological and ethical inquiries should be rooted in Scripture. It is, therefore, imperative that we can trust the Bible and be confident in its origin. Now, with the launch of the Text and Canon Institute’s stunning website, people all over the world can access and be illuminated by the best of Christian scholarship on how we got the Bible.”

At, students, pastors, teachers, and laypeople will be able to find new articles every month on subjects that include the textual history of the Bible, its canonization, translation, and more—all written by those with expertise in their fields. To help readers with different levels of knowledge, The Text and Canon team has organized articles as either beginner, intermediate, or advanced. 

“The Text and Canon Institute fosters and produces academic research and then turns around and serves the church and wider culture by making that research accessible and engaging to students and pastors,” said Dr. Meade. “This new website with articles written by respected scholars in their fields will provide a wonderful resource for any Christian or seeker wanting answers to their questions about the Bible.”


Dr. Gurry also shared his excitement about how the new website will help the institute illuminate the Bible’s story, “Our new site gives us the ability to reach a wide audience with the incredible story of how we got the Bible. Anyone should be able to find something to help them better understand how the Scriptures were copied, canonized, and translated.”

In addition to producing articles in the areas of textual criticism and canon studies, the new TCI website will highlight upcoming events such as Academic Colloquia and the traveling Scribes and Scripture conference—an event aimed at equipping churches and college ministries to better understand the Bible’s history. The site will also feature information about the TCI Fellowship.

For more information about the Text and Canon Institute, visit, where you can subscribe to the TCI newsletter, a resource that will help you to keep up to date with news, events, and the latest articles from TCI.

Where Does Death Come From?

When we look for the cause of death in the Scriptures, we find something that may be surprising. Death is first announced by God’s own lips. God told Adam in Genesis 2 that he could surely eat of any tree but one, and that on the day he ate from the one forbidden tree, he would just as surely die. This means, counterintuitively, that death is God’s idea.

After all, Adam didn’t come up with the idea of death. What did Adam know of death? The Genesis account says that all of creation was good, in fact “very good,” when God finished it. If death is bad then there was no death in the garden. Death was not Adam’s idea. It wasn’t even the serpent’s idea. It was God’s.

Why? God established death as the punishment for sin. The answer from the Bible is that we die because of sin; we die because of rebellion against God.

Sin Causes Death

As punishment for sin, death is perfectly in keeping with the crime. To understand why this is the case, we must understand the nature of sin. God did not punish Adam and Eve for something trivial, like picking from the wrong fruit basket; death is not about our dietary choices! No, when Adam and Eve sinned, when they disobeyed God, they were, in essence, turning away from God and, worse, putting themselves in his place. 

And who was this God? He is the Lord and Giver of life. He is the one who “breathed into his [Adam’s] nostrils the breath of life” so that he “became a living creature” (Gen 2.7). This means that no life is really self-sustaining; God is its ultimate source. Adam and Eve didn’t create themselves any more than we gave birth to ourselves. This helps to explain the fittingness of death as the promised judgment for rejecting God. 

It’s only right that disobedience from God brings death. “The wages of sin is death,” as Paul says in Romans 5:8a. When you turn from the only source of life, the only thing there to meet you on the other side is death. No coroner can truly say that someone died of “natural” causes. The reality is that everyone dies from one ultimate cause: sin—rejecting the Giver of life. It is anything but natural.

Adam’s Sin Causes Death

But it’s not sin in general (or even our sins in particular) that are the ultimate cause of death. When we look at the line of death in Genesis 5, we can and must say something more. We not only die because we rebel against God; we die because our first parents rebelled against God, and we are all the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. 

With Cain and Abel out of the picture, Genesis 5 begins to focus on Seth. Notice what the text says about Seth’s relationship to his father, Adam. 

You’ll remember from Genesis 1:26–27 that God imprinted on humanity his own image, the mark of his own character and likeness. We hear that repeated in Genesis 5:1–2. But then we learn something more. Look at 5:3: 

When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

Do you see the point? Not only is Seth made in the image and likeness of God by virtue of being human, he is also made in the likeness and image of Adam. But what kind of image is it? It is one that is terribly and devastatingly marred by sin. It is an image that is doomed by the sting of death. 

I suspect this explains the otherwise curious reversal of the terms “likeness” and “image” in verse 3 when compared with Genesis 1:26. And this dual bearing of both God’s image and Adam’s image also explains something otherwise very hard to accept. It explains why we can be held responsible for Adam’s sin.

Perhaps you have wondered about the Christian doctrine of original sin. This doctrine teaches that we are held responsible for Adam’s sin. But why? After all, I wasn’t there. You weren’t there either. What has Adam got to do with us? The answer from Genesis is everything. 

The reason is that he is our father, and we are his children. We are all—like it or not—sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. Not merely in the sense that we belong to the same species as them with arms and legs and brains and eyes and ears and all the rest. But we are Adam’s children in a legal and spiritual sense. As a result, what he did defines, marks, and affects us all.

Christians have long recognized both how offensive this belief is and, yet, just how essential and inescapable it is as well. The famed French theologian and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, recognized this when he wrote in his Pensées:

Certainly nothing shocks us more deeply than this doctrine. Nevertheless without this most incomprehensible of all mysteries we are incomprehensible to ourselves. Within this gnarled chasm lie the twists and turns of our condition. So, humanity is more inconceivable without this mystery than this mystery is conceivable to humanity 

Pascal is saying that as difficult as original sin is to accept, it is the only thing that finally explains why we are the way we are. Without it, we become inexplicable. I think we realize this most when we have sinned in some way that shocks even ourselves. When we do something deeply out of character. In those moments, we must feel like David who said, after sinning with Bathsheba, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. … Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:3). We begin to realize that sin has been with us since the beginning.

It’s not that David was illegitimate or conceived out of wedlock, but he realizes that his sin runs deep in his veins. It was there even at his birth because it had been there from the beginning—from the garden. 

We are then, as humans, a great contradiction. As Daniel Migliore writes in Faith Seeking Understanding:

We human beings are a mystery to ourselves. We are rational and irrational, civilized and savage, capable of deep friendship and murderous hostility, free and in bondage, the pinnacle of creation and its greatest danger. We are Rembrandt and Hitler, Mozart and Stalin, Antigone and Lady Macbeth, Ruth and Jezebel. “What a work of art,” says Shakespeare of humanity. “We are very dangerous,” says Arthur Miller in After the Fall. “We meet … not in some garden of wax fruit and painted leaves that lies East of Eden, but after the Fall, after many, many deaths.”

Death is universal, and it’s personal. It is also very bad. And now we know where it comes from. Death comes as the punishment for our sin. Even more devastating, it comes from the sin of our father Adam who cast us all into deep depravity and guilt.

This post is part two of three in a series on “Death’s Refrain.” You can read part one here.

Peter Gurry joined the Phoenix Seminary faculty in 2017 and teaches courses in Greek Language and New Testament literature. His research interests range across the history and formation of the Bible, Greek grammar, and the history of New Testament scholarship. He has presented his work at the Society of Biblical Literature, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the British New Testament Conference. He and his wife have six children and are members at Whitton Avenue Bible Church.

Dr. Meade Completes 10-Year Research Project

The following is an interview with Dr. John Meade, Associate Professor of Old Testament and Co-Director of the seminary's Text & Canon Institute. Dr. Meade recently completed a major 10-year project on the text of Job and we are excited to celebrate this major achievement with him.

John Meade with his new edition of the Hexeplaric fragments of Job

PS: How did you take an interest in the Hexapla and how long did you work on this Edition?

JM: I first became exposed to the Hexapla in a seminary course on Hebrew exegesis of Proverbs. Peter Gentry required us to work on problems in the wording of the text of Proverbs, and we became acquainted with the sources for doing such work. In addition to the well-known sources of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, Aramaic Targums, Latin Vulgate, and Syriac Peshitta, he also taught us about the fragmentary remains of Origen’s Hexapla. He also said that we don’t have very good critical editions of these remains but that the Hexapla Institute was committed to rectifying this situation. I was hooked!

When I became a PhD student, I was still unsure what my dissertation would be, but fairly soon, I settled on Job 22–42. That was in 2008, and I began work on the edition in 2009-2010. A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22–42 was finally published by Peeters in January of 2020.

PS: What is a Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments?

JM: Good question. Many people will be immediately confused by the words in the title of my book. Let’s start with the word “Hexaplaric.” The Greek word “Hexapla” (pronounced Hex.u.pla) means “six-fold” or “six-columned.” Around 235 AD, Origen of Alexandria (d. 254) compiled six Jewish editions of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament into his six-parallel-columned edition: (1) the Hebrew text, (2) the transcribed Hebrew text in Greek letters, (3) Aquila (Greek), (4) Symmachus (Greek), (5) the Septuagint, and (6) Theodotion (Greek). The Hebrew text and the Greek Septuagint had been around for a very long time, but in the first and second centuries AD, Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus had also revised the earlier translations to conform more closely to the Hebrew text and also to reflect more contemporary ways of reading the Hebrew. The Hexapla would have been a monstrosity when Origen first compiled it, and I’ve said more about it here. It was probably never copied in its entirety, and that’s where the work of textual criticism becomes essential.

What was the original wording of the Hexapla? A “Critical Edition” is necessary to tell that story. A “Critical Edition” refers to the scientific nature of the text. My edition incorporates all extant evidence of manuscripts, church father citations, and ancient translations in order to establish the original wording of the remains of the Hexapla and also report the variants to that reading in a series of apparatuses. There were past editions which I’ve written about here.

PS: Do the hexaplaric readings of Job affect our English Bibles?

JM: In short, yes. The hexaplaric readings usually agree with the Hebrew text upon which our English translations are based. But in some cases, they differ and preserve an older text. I'll limit myself to two examples where the ESV has based its translation of Job on Hexaplaric versions, but you may not have known it.

PS: What are your next Projects?

JM: Well, I’m in the midst of working with Peter Gentry on a History of the Hexapla, that is, writing the story of its origins, use, and afterlife. The Text & Canon Institute will be hosting a related Colloquium on Origen as Philologist this November. I’m also working with Peter Gurry on a more popular book explaining how we got the Bible. So there’s plenty to do.

PS: Thanks for taking some time with us, Dr. Meade!

JM: My pleasure.

Interested in studying with Dr. Meade and our other faculty? Our ThM in Biblical Studies is an advanced post-graduate degree for in-depth study of the Bible. The Text & Canon Institute Fellowship is a one-year scholarship and mentoring program for qualified ThM students who intend to pursue doctoral studies in Old or New Testament textual criticism, canon studies, or ancillary disciplines.

Inaugural Text & Canon Institute Colloquium

The Phoenix Seminary Text & Canon Institute is pleased to announce its first academic colloquium November 18–19, 2020. Drawing together scholars from around the world, the Origen as Philologist Colloquium will explore the rich history of one of Christianity's greatest textual scholars, Origen of Alexandria (184–253).

Well known for his theological work, Origen was also a prolific textual scholar. His six-columned edition of the Old Testament known as the Hexapla inspired the preparation of subsequent scholarly editions of the Greek scriptures that impacted the text and exegesis of the Scriptures in their Greek and Hebrew forms across the Roman empire. Hosted on the Phoenix Seminary campus, this event follows 25 years after Oxford’s Rich Seminar sparked a renaissance in Origen's textual scholarship and follows the first publication in a new edition of Origen's Hexepla fragments by Dr. John Meade.

This conference is part of the seminary's larger commitment to scholarship with a shepherd's heart and fulfills the Text & Canon Institute's mission to encourage research and publication of scholarly work on the history of the canon and the text of the Bible. This colloquium in the Fall of 2020 complements the Institute's lay-directed Sacred Words conference happening in early 2020.

For more information on the colloquium, including speakers, visit

Origen as Philologist Colloquium logo

The Text & Canon Institute’s Inaugural ThM Fellow

The Phoenix Seminary Text & Canon Institute is pleased to introduce its inaugural recipient of its ThM Fellowship award. The Fellowship is a one-year scholarship and mentoring program for a ThM student worth up to $10,000.

This year's recipient is Clark Bates. Clark has been serving the local church in various ministries for more than a decade. He has acted as an interim pastor and guest speaker for churches along the Southern Oregon Coast in addition to speaking on apologetics and theology in Oregon, California, Michigan, Missouri, and Illinois.

Clark holds a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Liberty University, graduating magna cum laude, as well as a Master’s of Divinity degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has studied Greek paleography at the Lincoln College Summer School with the University of Oxford and is now pursuing his Masters of Theology degree with Phoenix Seminary. He plans to seek his PhD with the University of Birmingham in the UK, studying under professor Hugh Houghton. His current research interests include the origin of minuscule Greek script common to medieval manuscripts and their use of ligatures (abbreviations) as a means of dating manuscripts.

Currently, Clark transcribes New Testament manuscripts for the Institute of New Testament Research in Münster, Germany, the Museum of the Bible, and the ITSEE at the University of Birmingham, UK, for which he works on the Greek Paul Project and the Editio Critica Maior. Additionally, Clark writes online and has recently published an article in The Expository Times.

Applications for the 2020–2021 school year are now being accepted. Interested students who have applied to the ThM program can apply for the TCI Fellowship here.

Announcing Sacred Words:
History of the Bible Conference

Next year, the Text & Canon Institute plans to host its inaugural, church conference, Sacred Words: History of the Bible Conference on February 21–22 at First Baptist Church Tempe. Learn from internationally known speakers about how the Bible has been copied, collected, and confessed as God’s trustworthy and sacred words.

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time and its influence on Western culture is beyond compare. But how did this collection of ancient books written and then copied over millennia become the Bible we now know? Why were some books included and not others? How has copying by hand affected the text of our Bibles?

To answer these questions, the TCI has assembled a team of Bible scholars to be our plenary speakers: Dr. Daniel Wallace (Dallas Theological Seminary), Dr. Peter Gentry (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), and Dr. Stephen Dempster (Crandall University); and an excellent slate of breakout presentations by Dr. Darian Lockett (Biola University), Dr. Jeff Cate (California Baptist University), Dr. Anthony Ferguson (Gateway Seminary and California Baptist University), and Timothy Mitchell (PhD Student at University of Birmingham), talks that provide further detail about how we got our Bible and why we can trust it.

We expect the venue to sell out, so register soon at the early bird rate of $20 through October 31.

Text & Canon Institute Launches New Fellowship

The Phoenix Seminary Text & Canon Institute is pleased to announce the launch of a brand new program designed in conjunction with our exciting new ThM degree.

The TCI Fellowship is one-year scholarship and mentoring program for a student in the Phoenix Seminary ThM program who intends to pursue doctoral studies in Old or New Testament textual criticism, canon studies, or ancillary disciplines. The Fellowship comes with up to $10,000 in scholarship funding toward the ThM degree.

Text & Canon Institute Fellowship

TCI Fellows work directly with the directors, Dr. John Meade and Dr. Peter Gurry, to implement the vision of the Text & Canon Institute and may participate with them in research, teaching, and other related duties. Fellows must have a previous Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree and must show a strong proficiency in the biblical languages.

Applications for the program are now open for the Fall of 2019. A description of the benefits, expectations, and requirements may be found on the TCI Fellowship page. Completed applications should be sent directly to the directors.

For more information about the Text & Canon Institute, see the directors' recent interview with the Logos Academic Blog or subscribe to the TCI newsletter.

Announcing the Phoenix Seminary
Text & Canon Institute

Today, Phoenix Seminary is pleased to announce the launch of its new Text & Canon Institute. The mission of the Institute is to encourage research and publication of scholarly work on the history of the canon and the text of the Bible (1) by fostering and supporting scholarly research, academic colloquia, conferences, and professional presentations on biblical and related ancient texts, traditions, languages, methods of textual criticism, and the history of the canon and (2) by serving the church through publications and public events that illuminate the integrity of the Bible’s textual history and canonization.

Phoenix Seminary Text & Canon Institute logo

"The launching of the Phoenix Seminary Text & Canon Institute is a significant advancement in the study of the historicity of the Bible for the church," noted Dr. Bingham Hunter, Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Phoenix Seminary. "Too often critics of the Bible’s historicity go unanswered and God’s people are confused. The directors and board members of the Text & Canon Institute are academically equipped to engage in scholarly research and debate at the highest levels. The Institute is well positioned to defend the reliability of the biblical text and foster the church’s confidence in the books of sacred Scripture. I thank God for this new venture."

Directors and Advisory Board

The Text & Canon Institute will be co-directed by Dr. John Meade, Associate Professor of Old Testament, and Dr. Peter Gurry, Assistant Professor of New Testament. With passion and publications that span the textual history and canonization of both testaments, they bring a unique and dynamic leadership.

The Institute's Advisory Board consists of an international team of leading evangelical scholars who will provide critical feedback on its direction and initiatives. Its current members are

Peter J. Gentry
Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Charles E. Hill
John R. Richardson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity
Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando)

Dirk Jongkind
Academic Vice Principal, Tyndale House
Fellow of St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge

Daniel B. Wallace
Executive Director, Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts
Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

P. J. Williams
Principal, Tyndale House
Chair of the International Greek New Testament Project

To follow the Text & Canon Institute's work and be the first to know about upcoming announcements, sign up below to receive occasional email updates. We hope you will pray with us that God would bless the new Institute for the good of the church and the furtherance of his kingdom.

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