Saturday, September 30, 2006

More on "Apparatus Criticism"

In the post Kearfott on Washingtonianus the thesis referred to apparently identifies "1520 discrepancies that occur in the critical apparatus of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece with respect to the biblical manuscript Codex Washingtonianus". In the comments, Jan Krans makes reference to the volumes by Reuben Swanson which I thought I would highlight.

In an appendix to his volume on the New Testament Greek Manuscripts on 2 Corinthians, Swanson refers to problems in the apparatus of Tischendorf (169), UBS4 (51), Nestle-Aland27 (148), and those in Kenyon's transcription of the Chester Beatty Papyri, all in relation to 2 Corinthians. A large number of these problems/errors occur in areas where the editors of UBS4 and NA27 try to fill in blanks in the lacunae in the manuscripts. It is this "filling-in" which Swanson seeks to question. Swanson also claims to have identified 129 misleading and incorect variant readings in Kurt Aland's Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung. Text und Textwert der Griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments. II. Die Paulinischen Brief (Walter de Gruyter: Berlin/New York, 1991).

In a comment about Kearfott's thesis on Washingtonianus, Peter Head makes a good points that one should take into account the aims of the apparatus in certain editions (e.g. deliberately not comprehensive and attempting to simplify the evidence at points). I would add that speculating about lacunae is fine, as long as you tell people that you're speculating. This raises the question of whether Kearfott and Swanson have misread the strategy and aims of the apparatus in NA27 and are simply being pedantic, or whether the apparatus that we are accustomed to using really do need to be double checked, more detailed, or overhauled.

One thing I do like about Swanson's volume is that he chooses Vaticanus as his base text rather than an eclectic text and he (rightly) questions the assumption that "an eclectic text is superior to an actual manuscript text that had been scripture for an early Christian community" (p. xvi).

6 comments:

  1. I haven't had the opportunity to use Swanson much except occasionally in my seminary library. But I recall claims on the TC-list that it is only 95% accurate. Does anybody know what if anything is behind that claim? Do we need to develop a sub-field of Swanson criticism?

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  2. Eric Rowe:
    "But I recall claims on the TC-list that it is only 95% accurate. Does anybody know what if anything is behind that claim? Do we need to develop a sub-field of Swanson criticism?"

    On Wieland Willker's website www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/ you will find an entry called something like "Swanson errata list".
    From that it appears that Swanson has improved as his series progressed, i.e. comparatively bad in the Gospels and Acts but better in the Paulines.

    At times it seems that Swanson had rather poor reproductions at his disposal and/or was not very good at reading some (e.g. 565 as far as I recall).

    Ulrich Schmid

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  3. MB: "Swanson also claims to have identified 129 misleading and incorect variant readings in ... Text und Textwert der Griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments
    ...
    This raises the question of whether Kearfott and Swanson have misread the strategy and aims of the apparatus in NA27 and are simply being pedantic, or whether the apparatus that we are accustomed to using really do need to be double checked, more detailed, or overhauled."

    There are probably some "errors" in Swanson's list that could be defined differently, but some will remain errors, and it is not surprising that there are errors, but the question is the rate of errors. The Text und Textwert is a positive apparatus that present the evidence in detail, so most of the errors that Swanson claims to have found are probably errors, but they could also represent his different interpretation.

    If I were to present such an "errata list," I would instead split it into two lists. One with plain errors (over which there could hardly be any discussion), and one as a list of differences as to the interpretation of the evidence.

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  4. I wouldn't want to conflate Swanson and Kearfott on this subject. Swanson is doing something useful.
    I also agree with TW that we need to distinguish between outright errors and differences of judgement/reading/approach.

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  5. Ulrich Schmid wrote:
    From that it appears that Swanson has improved as his series progressed, i.e. comparatively bad in the Gospels and Acts but better in the Paulines.

    Personally I doubt this. I have simply given up keeping track of the inaccuracies I find in Swanson. Swanson gives a good indication of what is going on in the tradition, but is at times prone to mistakes, just as we all are. That does not take away my tremendous appreciation for what he does.
    Isn't it Clines who is reported to have said when somebody criticised his Hebrew dictionary:
    I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.

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  6. Clines following D.L. Moody, who may have had some earlier source.

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