Sunday, March 12, 2006

Still, What Are We Trying to Recover?

The question raised by Mike Holmes on this blog on 2 March is indeed one we ought to consider well. I wish to offer another side to this same question with the hopes of some profitable discussion which will not veer off course on the thread.

Mike’s problem concerned emendation, but mine is more basic. What I am interested in is how literary criticism can be used by evangelical textual critics and theologians alike in the pursuit of establishing and preserving ‘the Word of God.’ (Tov: “Literary criticism deals with…the stage of development of the biblical books, whereas textual criticism operates within the second stage, that of the books’ copying and transmission.”) The evangelical positions on Scripture have insisted on the autographa, but I wonder if we would really want them if we could get them! For example, LXX and Qumran scholars have argued that LXX Jer and 4QJerb,d reflect an earlier version of Jeremiah, and MT is a second version that is more expansive than the first. For the sake of argument, let us grant the point made (it is compelling enough anyway) and ask then, would we really want that ‘first edition’ of Jeremiah if what we have come to know of the ‘canonical’ Jeremiah is what we have in MT? Another: do we really want the actual autographa of the Pentateuch (from Moses himself???), in which Moses’ death would not have been recorded at the end of Deuteronomy (not to mention other such cases as place name updates)? Are we not more interested in the finished form of the book?

So then, how do we work with literary criticism as evangelicals who believe in Divine revelation? Is it wrong for us to ‘allow’ for the literary development of a book of Scripture, or must we insist on an 'original' that came from the hand of the inspired author? To me at least, there seems to be room in our doctrinal definitions for some sort of ‘canonical’ starting point, rather than the unknown, and perhaps undesired, autographa.

25 comments:

  1. A few issues:

    1. I think it counterproductive to use the term "inspired author" precisely because of the questions you are raising. 2 Tim 3:16 uses the term "God-breathed" as a property of texts, not authors.

    Perhaps the unfortunate identification of "inspiration" with "author" is why there is an unwillingness on the part of some to acknowledge redactional activity in biblical compositions.

    2. I also think it counterproductive to use the term "canonical" when dealing with different textual forms; see in particular Eugene Ulrich on this point.

    Michael Lyons

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  2. Are we making too much out of the alternate text forms of Jeremiah/Samuel/Daniel/etc... I think Evangelicals should be highly suspicious of the redactions and later datings assumed in mainstream scholarship.

    Something motivated the so-called Jamnia council to codify the proto-Masoretic set of writings... it makes sense to assume that they thought these were the texts that went back to the autographa, and I am apt to follow them in lieu of modern (liberal) scholarship which is often based on no evidence or evidence that could be read in a variety of fashions. The inability of these first century Jews to use toilet tissue does not render them unable to make some valuable inferences about the background to these texts. It may be reasonable to believe that there was a series of autographa, even if they developed shortly after the death of Moses, Jeremiah, etal... AND to believe that these Jamnia Jews preserved them using their instincts and the evidence available.

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  3. Anonymous said, "2 Tim 3:16 uses the term "God-breathed" as a property of texts, not authors."

    But this is not the only verse bearing on the doctrine on inspiration. Others like 1 Pet 1:12 and 2 Pet 1:21 talk about a work of the Holy Spirit in guiding the prophets themselves. Part of what is behind the usual emphasis on autographa is the expectation that inspired texts could only come from the hands of certain saints specially enabled with the necessary prophetic gifts to produce such texts. This assumption may need clarification, but we should surely be cautious before rejecting it. I think even with allowance for inspired later editions of Scriptural books, there must still be certain rules that would allow or disallow certain changes. And inspired changes can't have come from the pens of just any old scribe who, along the lines of Fishbane's proposal, sees himself as an aid to the author when he alters the text to support his own pet doctrines.

    I need to review some things about Jamnia before I might reply to Christian Askeland's remark. But I'm skeptical about the idea that Jamnia recognized the proto-Masoretic text-type as original for a few reasons. First, the idea of a proto-Masoretic text-type is a modern notion that only makes sense when we can look at the DSS in light of the Masoretic text type proper, which of course the rabbis at Jamnia didn't have. Second, the break down of text types is different for each book of the OT, which circulated in separate scrolls for their entire history prior to the Christian period. This is very different than the NT mss we are used to. Third, I think Jamnia concerned questions of which books to accept, not which text-types. Fourth, Jamnia was a convention of non-Christian Jews decades after the birth of Christianity. So why should their conclusions be authoritative to Christians?We should instead rely on the view of the OT held by the Lord and His apostles (which may or may not agree with Jamnia).

    I'm not prepared to take a stand on which edition of Jeremiah is primary or any of the other major literary critical questions in OT studies in this post. I am committed to the genuineness of every book that internally claims any particular authorship (including much of the Penteteuch, Isaiah, Daniel, etc.). But this doesn't rule out later additions to any given book that may exist in our received text.

    There are some things we know about the state of the OT at the time of Jesus that should inform us: We know that parts of the Penteteuch came later than Moses, and that you don't have to be a scholar to find them because they are clear on their face; Jesus knew about them, so did His followers, and so did everybody else who studied the text carefully--as a great many did. We have no indication that these obviously secondary portions were held on any less authority. We also know that for some books of the Bible, the DSS have multiple copies that sometimes differ widely from eachother. The Jews who deposited these libraries must have been aware that such differences existed and were apparently unphased by them. It seems almost as if they were aware that some books came in more than one edition and were happy to accept variants regardless of which edition originated them. This would not be unlike you and I alternatively using F.F. Bruces older Acts commentary and the NICNT version without being bothered by the differences. To be sure, some editions of some books were not acceptable either to Essenes or Christians, like the Samaritan Penteteuch. We also know that inspired NT authors gladly and often used the LXX, even when it has important differences from the original. Moreover, even some OT quotations in the NT of Hebrew originals have differences from the MT that could result from use of mss that had a different text.

    It seems like we are obligated to accept two things: 1. Sometimes secondary parts of texts are inspired. 2. We need to be flexible enough on our emphasis on the autographa to receive the authority of the texts we have even when we haven't established the identity of their text with that of the autograph.

    There are still some practical things that really need to be worked out. If we accept the received secondary ending of Deuteronomy, why shouldn't we accept the received long ending of Mark, even if it's secondary? We don't know who the author of Mark was with certainty. We can accept the traditional view that it was written by John Mark based on Peter's preaching, which we would accept on the basis of the reception of Mark by the early church. But the early church also accepted the long ending, whose author we also don't know. But nor can we rule out it having been penned under apostolic authority in a way similar to the rest of the book. Might we then accept both versions of Mark the way the Essenes accepted both versions of Jeremiah? Might the same approach be taken with the Western text of Acts, a la Zahn? Of course these problems require us to figure out where to make the boundaries, or else we'll be stuck asking why not to accept a Marcionite NT.

    I realize I've raised alot of bothersome questions. Unfortunately I don't know how to answer them yet. I eagerly await the solutions to come from those of you who already have your PhD's.

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  4. Eric,

    "Fourth, Jamnia was a convention of non-Christian Jews decades after the birth of Christianity. So why should their conclusions be authoritative to Christians?"

    If we assume that Jesus and the early Christians were essentially Pharisaic in their take on Judaism and the Tanakh, then Jamnia would be the closest thing to a Christian view of the Hebrew corpus. I would also suggest that the period of decades that you mentioned is actually a brief amount of time considering the entire history of the text.

    IMO, you either accept Jamnia or you end up with the "final form" of the Septuagint which was the Bible of the early Church.

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  5. We seem to be having all this debate about whether the author or redactor is inspired (meaning that God is speaking his words through them in some sense), but why does it matter that our texts are inspired, and what does it mean to us as evangelicals that they are? Tom Wright has written a brief book on "Scripture and the Authority of God" in which he basically says that to be inspired means that scripture speaks to us today with the authority of God, ie it is as if God is speaking to us today when we read the Bible. This seems reasonable

    But then the issue becomes whether we can have multiple versions of inspired texts - can God be speaking one thing through the text as it was written at the time, and another thing (different in some cases?) in later times. What about where we have two versions of the text today - is God saying two different/contradictory things?


    Mark

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  6. CA said, "IMO, you either accept Jamnia or you end up with the "final form" of the Septuagint which was the Bible of the early Church."

    I think we may be working with 2 different understandings of what happened at Jamnia. I know they discussed the canonicity of Ecclesiastes and Songs. But I am not so sure that those discussions were so much for the purpose of establishing a canon as they were to come to agreement among those present about the canon as it had already existed in Pharisaism.

    If you want to look to the events of Jamnia as one bit of evidence about Jesus' Bible, then I join you whole-heartedly. To this small bit of evidence must be added must larger masses of evidence from the NT, the DSS, Josephus, Ben Sirach, 4 Ezra, and the Rabbinic corpus. On the other hand if you want to treat Jamnia as some sort of canonical council that should be authoritative for us, I ask why?

    And again, I am not aware (though I confess I don't have my books with me now to check) that Jamnia made any claims as to the authority of any particular edition of a book, just the books themselves. The problem of identifying the true canon (which is the delimitation of inspired books and nothing more) is separate from the question of identifying which edition/s of each separate book we are to accept. The failure to keep this distinction was one of the problems with Theodore Letis's otherwise sophisticated defense of the KJV.

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  7. ER: The problem of identifying the true canon (which is the delimitation of inspired books and nothing more) is separate from the question of identifying which edition/s of each separate book we are to accept.


    Excellent point, Eric.

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  8. As far as I know, Jamnia (as a conference closing the canon) is a myth of the 19th/20th century;
    see esp. J.P. Lewis, "Jamnia after 40 Years", in HUCA 70/71, 233ff.
    You might find additional stuff in the volume Mikra
    ("Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum ...").
    Interesting ideas are also to be found in Brevard S. Childs' Canonical Approach.
    The OT Canon MAY well have been fixed in the first century BCE.

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  9. Thanks Martin, that was my understanding as well. But I don't think it's a myth that a rabbinic gathering at Jamnia did happen near the end of the 1st century, only that is was at all important in establishing the Hebrew canon. I also agree that the canon we have today for the OT may date from the first century, but I'm tempted to push it back much earlier, even to the close of the prophetic period in the 4th century BC. Unfortunately, the early evidence doesn't get specific enough, and I have to confess my view of Scripture has alot to do with this assumption.

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  10. NB my original use of "so-called" to describe the Jamnia council.

    ER,
    Indeed there are two issues with the OT... text form and text. My guess is that both were codified by this point (so-called Jamnia) recognizing something that had been in place even before the 4th century for some. Do we have any evidence for non-proto-Masoretic text types within the Jewish tradition after so-called Jamnia?

    My point is this: thre were forms of the text which were recognizable as accurate representatives of the autographa in the first century CE. The text forms and the canon of the MT were not a development of centuries later.

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  11. CA: My point is this: thre were forms of the text which were recognizable as accurate representatives of the autographa in the first century CE. The text forms and the canon of the MT were not a development of centuries later.

    Do you have any evidence of this? Is there anything that indicates that the text-type preserved for us via the Jewish scribal practices between the time of the DSS and the Masoretes was selected via any kind of evaluation of their nearness to the autographa? And if we do, is there any further evidence that their means of making this determination was well-informed?

    I should hope that our adoption of a particular reading in the OT can be based on something other than an assumption that there was a non-Christian Jewish council in the 90's AD added to an assumption that the council considered canonical questions added to the assumption that they included rescensional questions within these canonical ones added to the assumption that their criteria were good. One thing we know for sure is that even if some such council occured and even if it met these assumptions, it clearly would have had to reflect some exceptions to requirement that their texts resemble the autographa because, of course, the Masoretic text does include the obviously secondary portions of the Penteteuch that were mentioned in the original post of this thread; and the secondary nature of these portions was just as plain to the 1st century rabbis as they are to us. Another thing we know for sure is that the use of the OT texts by the inspired NT authors relied on none of these assumptions about so-called Jamnia.

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  12. Eric Rowe:
    "each book of the OT, which circulated in separate scrolls for their entire history prior
    to the Christian period."

    Well, other than the smaller books, which were combined with others. Such as the Minor Prophets; some would solve an couple of Bible difficulties (one textual) by hypothesizing Malachi bound with Isaiah, or Zechariah with Jeremiah.

    Christian Askelund:
    "Do we have any evidence for non-proto-Masoretic text types within the Jewish tradition after so-called Jamnia?"

    Kennicott and de Rossi found a lot of mss that deviated from the Majority Text of the MT. But what constitutes a text-type? If 70% agreement on a list of variant readings (69% if you want to call Vaticanus an Alexandrian ms) is the minimum, what's the maximum? Can mss that are 95% in agreement with the majority constitute their own text-type? If so, how closely do the dissenting mss have to agree to each other?

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  13. After reading Michael Holmes' entry and T.M. Law's entry, it looks to me like the question can be at least partly resolved by a strict separation of Higher Criticism and Lower Criticism.

    If we use, as a starting-point for a TC-investigation, the form of text approved for use (either by Trent-like decree, or by longstanding usage) by the church, then we automatically have the outline of a canon -- we are handed something to place in the TC-crucible, so to speak. The general form of text-to-be-reconstructed should, istm, be an ecclesiastical decision, rather than a purely scientific one.

    After the text has gone through the TC-crucible and the archetype of a particular book has been reconstructed, we may continue to reconstruct the autograph via conjectural emendation where it seems to be required. By this simple approach we may thus reconstruct the original text.

    But it should be emphasized that this will be the original text of the canonical text of a book -- not the original text of the source-documents which eventually became a book after a redaction-process. This is most relevant for OT books, but it may apply, in theory, to some NT books that may have gone through some redaction too.

    For example, the canonical text of the Gospel of John includes John 21. Even if some higher critic can extrapolate, from internal evidence and a quotation from Tertullian, that at some point the Gospel of John circulated without John 21, and even if a strong case can be made for that theory, the textual critic's job still includes the reconstruction of the autographic text of John 21, because it's part of the canonical text of John. Knowing that there was an earlier form of the Gospel of John is interesting (as is knowing that there was a Q, or a Signs-source, and so on) but it's a concern of Higher Criticism, not of TC.

    In other words, if we use an ecclesiastically established outline to define the basic shape of the archetypical text we are attempting to reconstruct via TC, then what we're doing assumes that there's no problem having the autograph consist of a redacted text. (Indeed, regarding some OT books, istm that we must conclude that the autograph is quite a thoroughly redacted text.) Using this approach, any composition actually written by Moses would not constitute the "autograph" of the Pentateuch; it would be source-material. Similarly, if some archaeologist found Ithamar's record-book or a stone inscription of the Song of Deborah, it would be source-material, not autograph.

    Law asked, "Is it wrong for us to ‘allow’ for the literary development of a book of Scripture, or must we insist on an 'original' that came from the hand of the inspired author?"

    My view is that it is not wrong to allow for the literary development of a book of Scripture. This is not drastically different from the idea of co-authorship. If two authors can produce an inspired text in the same place and time, there's no reason to preclude the idea that two authors (or one author and one redactor, or even several authors and redactors) can produce an inspired text as the end-product of their work, which occurred in stages at different places and times.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

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  14. Jim,
    I like everything you said except for your use of the word "canon," such as when you say, "the textual critic's job still includes the reconstruction of the autographic text of John 21, because it's part of the canonical text of John." The canon is only the delimitation of which books are Scripture. Thus, the adjective "canonical" only applies to the book; that is, it either is or is not "canonical." There is no such thing as a canonical text of a book. I still get what you mean. And, while you have identified something that allows us to get around the idea of the autograph when it really doesn't apply, the term "canonical" is not really an adequate qualifier.

    Perhaps some other term can be used to define an authoritative later recension of an earlier book. And, while you've given us a good, start, I think we still need more rules to distinguish why the endings of our received Gospel of John and Deuteronomy should be treated differently then our received ending of Mark. Is it merely the presence of manuscript evidence that allows us to call the latter lower criticism and the former higher criticism? Would the situation change if we had a complete copy of John without chapter 21?

    Indeed, sometimes higher and lower criticism get blended together without clear definition of which is being practiced? Take, for example, critical study of the two ways source that appears in the Didache, Barnabas, the Didascalia, and other sources. These are each simultaneously textual witnesses and independant recensions of the original. And perhaps this gets to another crucial point in solving the problem of the autographa. Perhaps we can distinguish between those textual changes that are "scribal" and those that are "recensional." Unfortunately, I'm not sure this will get us to the final solution. Because, when a book did exist in multiple recensions, it seems likely that scribal copying of one recension will tend to accumulate material that belonged to the other, thus mixing the readings of the two in our extant mss, perhaps irrecoverably. This is precisely Eugene Ulrich's understanding of the text of Isaiah and several other books (except that he's perhaps more optimistic about the possibility of sifting the recensions out from one another).

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  15. ER:
    Is there anything that indicates that the text-type preserved for us via the Jewish scribal practices between the time of the DSS and the Masoretes was selected via any kind of evaluation of their nearness to the autographa?

    Barrera, Julio Trebolle. The Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible p. 280 According to Numbers Rabbah (11:3), a Torah scroll was kept in the temple which were deemed authoritative. The Jerusalem Talmud (Ta‘anit 4:2) says there were three scrolls of the Torah were kept in the temple from the time of the return from exile. Any differences in other scrolls were considered errors… Aristeas suggests there were authoritative works kept around. Although these references predate Jamnia, they evidence that there was an institutional concern by Jews in the centuries leading to the so-called Jamnia council toward the integrity of the text of the scriptures (particularly the Torah).

    ER:
    One thing we know for sure is that even if some such council occured and even if it met these assumptions, it clearly would have had to reflect some exceptions to requirement that their texts resemble the autographa because, of course, the Masoretic text does include the obviously secondary portions of the Penteteuch that were mentioned in the original post of this thread;

    You and I may have different concerns at hand. The "secondary" part(s) of the Torah IMO are of a different substance than those of Jeremiah, Samuel, Daniel, etal... Deuteronomy as we have it may have been the first publication of the text completed by people close enough to Moses to grant it Mosaic authorship and claim to inspiration. It may also have been a republication completed shortly afterwards. Jeremiah etal. have substantially different texts which appear to be redactional. It is this group with which I am primarily concerned as they provide the greatest evidence for textual fluidity in the centuries BCE which I hold as problematic for inspiration and propositional to TML question in this thread.

    I do not see (1) the necessity to date Deuteronomy or the first complete work of (e.g.) Jeremiah much later than the actual author OR (2) the feasibility of holding to a view of inspiration of those scriptures if they are later. Incidentally, I am not trying to put either of these views on Eric... I assume that we probably agree on the generalities of these things, and even if not that is probably ok : ) I appreciate the discussion.

    DB:
    Thanks for your references. I think they were to Greek texts in the Christian tradition. Are there any from the Jewish tradition to suggest that the Jamnia council (whatever it was) did not decisively decide on the text forms?

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  16. Incidentally, I do not think that there was no textual fluidity in the BCE centuries. It does seem possible that our current manuscripts are reliable witnesses to the autographs.

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  17. A few random points during a break in Münster:

    Why on earth would any evangelical think that Moses wrote the Pentateuch? What's the evidence? Overreading of John 5:47? Moses is source of Pentateuchal material and wrote some things (for instance, Deuteronomy is mainly his words), but he is not the author of Deuteronomy by our modern definitions of author. The author of Deuteronomy is anonymous and not datable with precision. I can't see any reason why anyone should think that Deuteronomy has later 'additions'. There is no evidence for this. There is, however, evidence that the author of Deuteronomy used a large quantity of source material from Moses and added his own material to that. If one were to talk about 'autograph' it would obviously be talking about the autograph by the anonymous author of Deuteronomy.

    There's no biblical suggestion that Daniel wrote the book of Daniel. It is merely that many words from the book are attributed to him.

    The kaige material of the OT alongside proto-MT material in the DSS suggests ascendance of something like MT well prior to Jamnia.

    We should avoid saying that the church ever accepted the LXX as authoritative. Some parts of the church accepted some parts of the LXX as authoritative. However, 'LXX' is a slippery concept, now including things (like Sirach) that were never originally suggested by the term.

    We need to have a proper evaluation of claims about the textual development of Jeremiah. The cautions of van der Kooij and Lundbom suggest that we should beware of treating the alleged priority of a short form of Jeremiah like the LXX (and what people extrapolate from 4QJer-b) as a proven fact.

    I am personally sceptical that our present Hebrew mss descend from only 1 (or 3) exemplars. Jews were widespread before AD 70 and it is likely that at least for the Pentateuch there were multiple copies in different geographical locations. I don't know enough to be sure, but my initial 'hunch' is that the Hebrew text did not go through the 'bottle neck' that is sometimes suggested.

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  18. PJW: Why on earth would any evangelical think that Moses wrote the Pentateuch? What's the evidence?

    Eph. 2:20 ... the church's foundation is the apostles and the prophets with Christ as the cornerstone. Authorship is in some way important. Although I would never argue that Moses was the sole author of the Pentateuch, I would say that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch within his own historiographical construct despite the fact that it was completed after his death.

    I believe Jewish and early Christian tradition recognized Mosaic authorship for the Torah. Is this not true? (John 1:16-17)

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  19. PJW said: "Moses is source of Pentateuchal material and wrote some things (for instance, Deuteronomy is mainly his words), but he is not the author of Deuteronomy by our modern definitions of author..... If one were to talk about 'autograph' it would obviously be talking about the autograph by the anonymous author of Deuteronomy."
    AND
    "There's no biblical suggestion that Daniel wrote the book of Daniel. It is merely that many words from the book are attributed to him."

    The use of the word "obviously" in the first quote above is not ideal. What is obvious to one person may not be obvious to another. And the picture you have painted of the authorships of the Penteteuch and Daniel may be accurate. But I still need a clear definition of "autograph" that obviously fits these pictures, as I still tend to think it is not the ideal term for such recensional productions.

    In the casee of Daniel, the book does internally claim Danielic authorship by the use of the 1st person in chapters 8-12. Granted, this does not apply to the whole book as we have it, but it does to that section. Evangelicals could posit non-Danielic authorship of the rest, provided they do so in a way that is consistent with the historicity of its contents. But even such a view is only one where an inspired text written by an anonymous author is added to an inspired text written by Daniel to make a unified book. The case with Deuteronomy must be similar. To respond to Christian's point that the non-Mosaic portions of the Penteteuch were close to the time of Moses, I would point out that Deut. 34:6 implies that it was NOT close to the time of Moses. But we still have inspired material by an anonymous author being added to inspired material by Moses.

    How are these things different than an anonymous author adding the long ending to Mark's Gospel with the result being our received recension of that text? Why is it that our search for the autograph of Mark must take us to the earliest form of its earliest recension but our search for the autographa of Deuteronomy, Daniel, and John must stop short of that? Is it merely the presence of ms evidence? Would the discovery of mss of earlier forms of the source materials of all of these books not impact our text critical endeavors and force us to clarify what stage was our so-called autograph?

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  20. JS Jr:
    "I think we still need more rules to distinguish why the endings of our received Gospel of John and Deuteronomy should be treated differently then our received ending of Mark."

    If I may say so, the evidence for the abrupt ending to Mark is incredibly weak: two Gk mss that both show evidence that the scribe deliberately left out the longer ending, and some versional mss (and I suppose we could throw 304 into the mix, if such singular late evidence could count for anything). The evidence against the Pericope Adultera is orders of magnitude stronger, especially since the discovery of p66. What makes the Mark Ending such a problem for textual critics is that the very passage in question would have been on the last page of a gospel codex, and was thus highly suspectible to loss. To draw any conclusions from its absence in versional mss is highly speculative.

    Were it not for the extremely high regard in which the 2 aforementioned Gk mss are held, (imho) the ending of Mark would remain a question for higher critics alone to wrestle with--and wrestle with it they do.

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  21. Daniel Buck,

    I think you meant to address Eric Rowe, not me. But since you both have brought up a topic on which I have done a lot of research (the Long Ending of Mark), I'll chime in.

    I think that the evidence for the abrupt ending to Mark is weak too. I also think that if Hort had possessed more accurate (or less inaccurate) data, he might have taken the one extra step of deducing that the Long Ending = a first-century composition that was added to the main text of the Gospel of Mark before the book was published, and that this extra page was later lost.

    DB: "two Gk mss that both show evidence that the scribe deliberately left out the longer ending"

    Neither B nor Aleph shows that. B shows that the scribe recollected that some text -- whether he had in mind the Short Ending or the Long Ending -- belonged after 16:8. That's not the same as showing that the LE was in the scribe's exemplar. As for Aleph, we only have a 4-page replacement-sheet to go by, and if we (fairly) assume that the Lukan contents on the replacement-sheet occupy the same number of columns they did on the pages made by the main scribe, then the preceding columns would not have enough room for the LE unless the scribe resorted to special measures.

    DB: "To draw any conclusions from its absence in versional mss is highly speculative."

    Nevertheless, internal evidence seems to indicate that 16:9-20 was not written to wrap up the narrative thread left dangling at 16:8.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

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  22. Jim Snapp's proposal for the origin of the long ending is one option that fits the evidence well. For the purpose of this thread I will only point out that his proposal only further highlights the need to improve those inerrancy statements that emphasize the autographa with some clarification that allows for such possibilities where the usual notion of "autograph" doesn't fit. This need for clarification would be even more stark if Jim's proposal were adjusted to include two actual publications of Mark, one with the long ending and one without--which proposal evangelicals should not rule out a priori.

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  23. TML: "I am interested in is how literary criticism can be used by evangelical textual critics and theologians alike in the pursuit of establishing and preserving ‘the Word of God.’"

    Literary criticism which seeks to delve into the compositional stages of works has wasted the time of many a bright person through history. I see it as being a distraction rather than a tool.

    TML: "Another: do we really want the actual autographa of the Pentateuch (from Moses himself???), in which Moses’ death would not have been recorded at the end of Deuteronomy (not to mention other such cases as place name updates)? Are we not more interested in the finished form of the book?"

    Yes, we’re interested in the finished form of the book.

    TML: "Is it wrong for us to ‘allow’ for the literary development of a book of Scripture, or must we insist on an 'original' that came from the hand of the inspired author?"

    I’m sure it is not wrong to allow (notionally) that any biblical text may have a prehistory. However, that is not necessarily in tension with the identification of a single inspired text.

    ER: "the idea of a proto-Masoretic text-type is a modern notion that only makes sense when we can look at the DSS in light of the Masoretic text type proper"

    The name ‘proto-Masoretic text’ is modern, but I understand it to mean essentially the consonants of MT without the vowels. In so far as this is the case it may be an unfortunate name, but concept behind the name (i.e. of a fixed set of consonants constituting the text) is ancient.

    ER: "It seems like we are obligated to accept two things: 1. Sometimes secondary parts of texts are inspired"

    What does ‘secondary’ mean? Of course things that were not there at the very earliest stages of composition may be inspired. Verbal inspiration applies more as a description of the product than of the means by which it was produced.

    ER: "the way the Essenes accepted both versions of Jeremiah? Might the same approach be taken with the Western text of Acts, a la Zahn?"

    The Essenes may have had two versions of Jeremiah in their library, but this does not tell us of their attitude to them. Moreover, we do not have decisive evidence that there were two distinct versions of Jeremiah. There may have been more, and there may have been various attitudes to them that we can no longer access. I don’t think the evidence for 2 edns of Acts is strong.

    CA: "IMO, you either accept Jamnia or you end up with the "final form" of the Septuagint which was the Bible of the early Church."

    See E.E. Ellis in Mulder, ed. Miqra for this question. How would one go about establishing which parts of the Septuagint the earliest church accepted? How was ‘the Septuagint’ defined in the first century?

    Mark: "But then the issue becomes whether we can have multiple versions of inspired texts."

    E.g. Pss: 14 + 53.

    "can God be speaking one thing through the text as it was written at the time, and another thing (different in some cases?) in later times."

    Of course.

    "What about where we have two versions of the text today - is God saying two different/contradictory things?"

    If God were to say two things, both of which cannot be simultaneously true, then he would not be a truthful person, and various fundamental Christian beliefs would fall apart. Need I explain? Of course an inscrutable God may say things that can be reconciled by himself, but not by humans.

    ER: "The problem of identifying the true canon (which is the delimitation of inspired books and nothing more) is separate from the question of identifying which edition/s of each separate book we are to accept."

    I realise these can be separated, though I rather like linking them. They are both, after all, dealing with the definition of the boundaries of Holy Scripture. I like therefore to talk of ‘microcanonical issues’ and ‘macrocanonical issues’. Not separating limits of books and of variants seems particularly appropriate since, for instance, Mark 16:9-20 is not a very different length from 2 or 3 John. The Western text of Acts or the hypothetical Hebrew Vorlage of LXX Jeremiah also involve textual differences of length equivalent to a short book. Why should we say that discussion of the scriptural status of bigger variants is qualitatively different from the equivalent discussion of smaller books?

    ER: "I also agree that the canon we have today for the OT may date from the first century, but I'm tempted to push it back much earlier, even to the close of the prophetic period in the 4th century BC"

    Any Roger Beckwith fans out there?

    CA: "Eph. 2:20 ... the church's foundation is the apostles and the prophets with Christ as the cornerstone. Authorship is in some way important. Although I would never argue that Moses was the sole author of the Pentateuch, I would say that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch within his own historiographical construct despite the fact that it was completed after his death."

    The quality of authorship is important, but this is not dependent on us knowing the identity of an author. Anonymous psalms are not worse off than ones with named authors.

    CA: "I believe Jewish and early Christian tradition recognized Mosaic authorship for the Torah. Is this not true? (John 1:16-17)"

    The various references do indeed reveal a close connection between Moses and the Pentateuch, but this does not have to correspond to modern conceptions of authorship. In particular, conceiving of Moses as author of a half-complete Pentateuch, which then has to be completed by redactors is, I would suggest, not a profitable way of thinking about things. The connection between Moses and the Pentateuch can be just as strong without using the term ‘authorship’. Moses’ relationship to the Pentateuch is perhaps somewhat similar to Jesus’ relationship with the Gospels. They contain many of his words but, from a human perspective, he is not their author. The Pentateuch tells us things that Moses wrote, and, no doubt, there were many writings from his time, but I’d prefer to define them as source material not as ‘proto-Deuteronomy’. We have, however, basically no way of reconstructing earlier works or stages that have not survived. That is why we deal with the text completed by the anonymous author who can look back over many years (34:10) and observe that no one has yet risen like Moses (despite 18:14-22).

    DB: "If I may say so, the evidence for the abrupt ending to Mark is incredibly weak: two Gk mss that both show evidence that the scribe deliberately left out the longer ending, and some versional mss (and I suppose we could throw 304 into the mix, if such singular late evidence could count for anything)."

    Steady: ‘some versional mss’ are usually understood as the earliest versions of the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, Armenian and Georgian.

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  24. PJW:
    "‘some versional mss’ [attesting to the abrupt ending of Mark] are usually understood as the earliest versions of the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, Armenian and Georgian. "

    But what's the evidence for that?
    1. Of the two oldest mss of Syriac, one has it, one doesn't.
    2. All but one Latin ms have it, and that one was tampered with in 16:8 to fit in an alternate ending.
    3. Some Sahidic mss have it; some don't. The Boharic mss have it.
    4. Most Armenian mss have it; almost half don't.
    5. The New Georgian mss don't have it. But Old Georgian (Adysh ms) isn't mentioned in my CA as not having it--why not?.
    6. Some Ethiopian mss have both short and long endings; the rest have just the long ending.

    None of the versions are constant witnesses to the abrupt ending. Who is to say that the A. E. is found in the very "oldest" ms of each version?
    Colwell notes that the Armenian mss without either ending 'belong to the early period'. Is that saying that none of the ones with the ending do?

    Is it a matter of paleography, or textual theory, that dates versional mss with the abrupt ending as the earliest representatives of that version?

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  25. Daniel, My objection to your phrase was that I perceived you to be dismissing the versional evidence for omission as if it were something minor.

    I am not in a position to verify the Georgian or Armenian evidence to any great extent and I do not have time to evaluate the Coptic right at the moment. It would be interesting to assess the extent to which the absense of Mark 16:9-20 had played a role in assigning importance to particular mss. However, you have to do the work if you wish to call into question the judgements of a consensus of experts in this area.

    For the Latin and Syriac I can say briefly that:

    (1) the posteriority of the Peshitta to the Old Syriac has been settled since the beginning of (at least) the 20th century. The Peshitta appears to be a revision of the Old Syriac. Recent translation technique analyses have supported this (e.g. by Jan Joosten and yours truly). In general the Sinaitic Syriac is judged to represent an earlier form of the text than the Curetonian Syriac. This, in my opinion, is a useful generalisation based on translation technique. However, the relevance of this for the end of Mark is debatable.

    (2) For the Latin, Codex Bobiensis is judged to be typologically earlier than the other witnesses on the basis of a concurrence between its readings and the citations of Cyprian of Carthage. It has been thought by all investigators of the Old Latin versions (from Jülicher to Burton) in general to represent an earlier text than the 'European' versions.

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