Monday, April 23, 2007

Motivations for Scribal Variants

Last week at the Birmingham Colloquium, the motivation for creating scribal variants was a recurrent theme. As far as I can remember, all the contributors managed to avoid the following two quotes (either in support or refutation), the first of which is more famous than the second. As our TC virtual-pub quiz for the week: Which scholars are responsible for the following two quotes?

i) 'It will not be out of place to add here a distinct expression of our belief that even among the numerous unquestionably spurious readings of the New Testament there are no signs of deliberate falsification of the text for dogmatic purposes.'

ii) 'The current enthusiasm for manuscript variations as contributions to the history of theology has no solid foundation.'

13 Comments:

Peter M. Head said...

The originator of Quote 1 thinks that dogmatic preferences influenced the choice (by theologian and scribe) between rival readings, but did not cause the invention of readings. But the use of "deliberate" here leaves open the idea that accidental alterations did lead to dogmatic changes to the text.

Peter M. Head said...

Also Quote 1 could be plain wrong.

P J Williams said...

I'd hazard that #1 is Hort, but I couldn't locate it during a brief check through his Introduction.

maurice a robinson said...

Indeed #1 is Hort, "Introduction," par. 369 (p. 282). His statement, however, should be considered and tempered in light of what immediately follows:

"The license of paraphrase occasionally assumes the appearance of wilful corruption, where scribes allowed themselves to change language which they thought capable of dangerous misconstruction; or attempted to correct apparent errors which they doubtless assumed to be due to previous transcription; or embodied in explicit words a meaning which they supposed to be implied....The comparison leaves little room for doubt that they merely belong to an extreme type of paraphrastic alteration, and are not essentially different from readings which betray an equally lax conception of transcription, and yet are transparently guiltless of any fraudulent intention. In a word, they bear witness to rashness, not to bad faith."

maurice a robinson said...

The second quote is from Colwell, but not to spoil the fun, I'll let others enjoy trying to locate it.

Clive Govier said...

Hort (s. 370) “Accusations of wilful tampering with the text are . . . not unfrequent . . . [but] they prove to be groundless . . . hasty and unjust inferences.” But cp. this: “. . . The worst corruptions to which the NT has ever been subjected, originated within a hundred years after it was composed.” (Scrivener Plain Intro. Bk II, p 264) no thanks to the Gnostics.

D Jongkind said...

Full marks for Colwell, but only 50% to those who assume it is Hort. Though he was responsible for penning the arguments down, it should be clear that the Introduction is the result of the joint thinking of Westcott and Hort for which they both took full responsibility and as such Hort considered that they were the joint authors of the Introduction.

Why do NT scholars always fuzz about authorship? If we cannot believe a title page that was approved by the authors themselves, what can we trust?

P J Williams said...

I'm happy for this correction.

D Jongkind said...

Just to give the remaining info (which Maurice probably had figured out already): Colwell wrote the quoted words in an article (reprinted in his Studies) entitled "Hort Redivivus" published in 1968.

The closest association this brings to my mind is the Nero Redivivus myth of the first century and I am wondering if anyone was waiting for that to happen (Nero coming back, I mean, not Hort). May have been an unfortunate choice of title ...

maurice a robinson said...

DJ: "...only 50% to those who assume it is Hort. Though he was responsible for penning the arguments down, it should be clear that the Introduction is the result of the joint thinking of Westcott and Hort for which they both took full responsibility and as such Hort considered that they were the joint authors of the Introduction."

I would object, and demand full credit. Even though "For the principles, arguments, and conclusions set forth in the Introduction and Appendix both editors are responsible" (par. 21, p. 18), the Introduction nevertheless acknowledges Hort as the sole writer: "It was however for various reasons expedient that their exposition and illustration should proceed throughout from a single hand; and the writing of this volume and the other accompaniments of the text has devolved on Dr Hort."

If one peruses the Life and Letters of both Westcott and Hort, one also will find that Westcott was quite wearied with the whole project, and basically told Hort to write the theory and method according to his own preferences, and that anything amiss could later be modified or annotated if necessary (a few dissenting remarks signed "W" do occur).

D Jongkind said...

Maurice, you want to say that you disagree with what Hort himself wrote about it?

[That is, what the writer said about the authorship?]
Sorry, still only 50%.

maurice a robinson said...

DJ: "you want to say that you disagree with what Hort himself wrote about it?"

To paraphrase Genesis 27:22,

While in most places the voice well may reflect that of Westcott, yet indeed, the hand remains that of Hort.

Clive Govier said...

A fort. Burgon protested W&H had hijacked the NT Rev. Co. 1881, exceeded their brief, viz., to revise only the “English version,” not the Gk. text. Result? “A first-rate school-boy’s crib, - tasteless, unlovely harsh, unidiomatic: servile without being really faithful . . . an unreadable translation . . . of wondrous little skill.” Rev. Revised, p. 238