In case you are interested in my answers to the questions you addressed to Dan Wallace...
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Ehrman, Bart D" <behrman@...> wrote:
> Do you think we have already reconstructed the original text?
> Or do you think simply that we *can* reconstruct it?
It is possible that we can reconstruct a close approximation to it. Claude Shannon's noisy-channel coding theorem says "for any given degree of noise contamination of a communication channel, it is possible to communicate discrete data (digital information) nearly error-free up to a computable maximum rate through the channel."
Whether we can reconstruct a close approximation depends on certain parameters that can be estimated from what we have. (We would have to assume that the error rates of the first few generations of copyists are approximately the same as what we determine from the earliest extant copies.)
> If we have not reconstructed it, what is stopping us?
We are a bit slow on the uptake with respect to analysis techniques that will help. (See e.g. the multivariate analysis results presented at my (far from finished) "Views" site at http://tfinney.net/Views/ .) I think that a fruitful place to focus some effort would be in exploring the problem from the perspective of information theory.
> If we have reconstructed it, how can we know that we have reconstructed it?
We can't. But we can make reasonable statements about how close we are.
Apologies for breaking into your conversation.