Thursday, October 26, 2006

Textual criticism and rhetorical criticism

One of the subjects that is all the rage now in NT studies is rhetorical criticism. It is frequently proposed that some rather elaborate rhetorical structures can be found in Paul's letters or in other epistles in the NT. I have been wondering how much research has been carried out on the relationship between this and textual criticism.

Often the proposals for rhetorical units do not correspond to units indicated in the earliest manuscripts. Now that could be because the early scribes simply failed to recognise the units, but is there a case for saying that the widespread failure of early scribes to recognise rhetorical structures which are claimed to be widespread in the first century actually undermines the view that the structures themselves were so widespread? What bibliography could one recommend?


Peter M. Head said...

It is a good question, but I wouldn't presume a negative answer necessarily (i.e. just because mss don't show knowledge of macro-rhetorical structures doesn't mean they were/are not really there).
Numbering and sub-dividing texts in mss tends to be for convenience of reference and summarising content (or for comparison in the case of the Eusebian/Ammonian system). It is a fairly straightforward and relatively uncomplicated system.
For micro-rhetorical structures you'd need to look at H 015 in particular (unfortunately spread around in about six different libraries via the bindings of other mss - probably more to be discovered).
The whole Euthalian system could do with careful study.