Evangelical Textual Criticism

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Editio Critica Maior: How Big Will it Be?

The Editio Critica Maior, the definitive edition of the Greek New Testament, has been promised in five volumes:

I. Gospels
II. Acts
III. Pauline Letters
IV. Catholic Letters
V. Revelation

Now, the recently completed Catholic Epistles, although initially published in eight separate fascicles, is basically containable in a single physical volume (649 pages in my calculation); but the rest of them are not going to be. You would have to think that the Gospels, although ostensibly a single "volume", will no doubt require at least two physical volumes each (perhaps Mark may be able to be presented in a single volume); and probably something similar could be said for Acts (i.e. at least two physical volumes); while Paul’s letters will certainly also need to be published in up to six volumes, with Revelation requiring perhaps two. This would mean the total might be nineteen physical volumes - NINETEEN. And I am not counting the additional volumes of supplementary studies and textual commentary which are also promised.

By way of comparison, the Catholic Epistles take up 43 pages in NA27 (out of 680 pages in total); if this was representative and proportional we might expect the whole NT to take up 680/43 or 16 volumes. But the Catholic Epistles were chosen (I seem to remember this) partly because there are fewer manuscripts and fewer harmonistic type variants so the whole show is simpler in the Catholic Epistles. There are almost four times as many manuscripts of John than of the Catholic Epistles! So perhaps nineteen is an underestimation.

Anyway, I'm going for nineteen: you heard it here first, the ECM will take up NINETEEN physical volumes. Or do you have a better estimation?

10 comments:

  1. maurice a robinson6:12 pm, May 08, 2007

    I can only rejoice that I will be long gone before the ECM reaches completion in 2085. I neither will have to make room for all those volumes and ongoing fascicles, nor will I have to pay the prices that will be asked for such over the next 78 years....By that time I hope to have direct access to accurate representations of the autographs themselves.

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  2. I give my two cents for twenty volumes. Nineteen for the ECM and the last one as a massive errata :)

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  3. I just got my copies of ECM IV/1 installments 1-4 and they look crisp, but I wonder if they'll break up Acts and the larger Pauline epistles into just as many parts. And then of course an errata volume! So I'm going for 25 volumes.

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  4. Peter M. Head:
    Anyway, I'm going for nineteen: you heard it here first, the ECM will take up NINETEEN physical volumes. Or do you have a better estimation?""

    This is truely hard to estimate! There are a number of parameters that contribute to the estimation. But some might not be as decisive as one is inclined to think.

    E.g., the issue of the sheer number of Gospel manuscripts when compared to the Apostolos mss (Catholic Epistles and Acts)is likely to be less significant than suggested. The number of ms witnesses that make it into the apparatus is dependent on the numbers needed to represent the textual history of the first millenium. It may turn out that the ms witnesses needed, e.g. for the Gospel of John, are not four times as many as for the Catholic Epistles, just because there are four times as many mss available.

    In contrast, the number of Church Father citations drastically increases for any part of the NT other than the Catholic Epistles (excluding Revelation). Anticipating how to deal with that in future installments depends on a number of parameters as well.

    In general, I think that
    the Muenster products are usually also geared towards economic ways of presenting as much information as possible. The new format of the ECM is already very well conceived towards that goal, but they are likely to improve on that, i.e. the saving space issue.
    Moreover, the increasing use and familiarity with electronic media might provide new opportunities to economically optimize the printed product.

    Ulrich Schmid

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  5. Moreover, Ulrich, as one of the editors of the ECM of John, will no doubt do his utmost to ensure that it suits our desks.

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  6. Thanks Ulrich. I agree that sheer number of mss is not critical.
    Probably we'll need a middle-sized edition, more like a Tischendorf equivalent - two big volumes with compact and extensive apparatus - filling the chasm between NA42 and ECM when it is complete.

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  7. NA42? Surely the rate of NAs is decreasing, although I'm not sure it would be possible to find an equation to match the pattern their distribution over time makes.

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  8. No, I think the rate will increase. The text will change with new ECM volumes, and there won't be any incentive to merely reprint with corrections between 'editions'. Hence with each new ECM there will be a strong reason to print a new edition of the NA.
    E.g. we should have NA 28 fairly soon - 2010? (which will incorporate all the ECM proposals for the Catholic Epistles). Then in 2013 we'll have the John volume finished with a new text of John. There simply won't be any point re-printing NA28 without incorporating the new text of the ECM/IGNTP John. Hence NA29 by 2015. And so on ...

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  9. Peter M. Head:
    "No, I think the rate will increase. The text will change with new ECM volumes, and there won't be any incentive to merely reprint with corrections between 'editions'. Hence with each new ECM there will be a strong reason to print a new edition of the NA.
    E.g. we should have NA 28 fairly soon - 2010? (which will incorporate all the ECM proposals for the Catholic Epistles). Then in 2013 we'll have the John volume finished with a new text of John. There simply won't be any point re-printing NA28 without incorporating the new text of the ECM/IGNTP John. Hence NA29 by 2015. And so on ..."

    Interesting speculations (both about the mechanics and the time frame). But there is, again, one more parameter to consider, i.e. NA 28 will come online. Among the many interesting features that will come with it, there is one which may produce more and more gravity towards the ECM.

    The feature I'm having in mind is a new apparatus kept seperately from the usual Nestle apparatus. This second apparatus includes the evidence of a selection of manuscripts that are presented comprehensively and not just for the selection of variant passages that the NA apparatus consists of. In other words this apparatus is conceived in exactly the same way as the ECM apparatus. Moreover, it will be linked to the electronic transcriptions of the mss it cosists of. If you want to have a sip, just check the INTF website under NT transcripts and follow the links.

    The interesting thing to experience is how people react to the diffferent apparatus(es). There are certainly those who fancy the NA 28 version with the familiar array of variant passages and the usually broad ranging testimonies consiting of a considerable number of minuscules, Patristic writers and versional evidence. On the other hand an increasing number of users might be drawn into the other apparatus, which will lead them to the comparatively limited number of mss that are there in complete transcriptions. The more evidence is included in this second apparatus, the more it becomes an electronic version of the ECM, at least for the Greek mss.

    Thus, within the electronic medium NA 28sq and ECM might be converging even more rapidly than we anticipate.

    Ulrich Schmid

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  10. I'm sure you are right Ulrich - digital publication will probably make the development of ECM and NA more difficult to predict. And on-line it will be simpler to have a single point of entry into all the INTF resources.
    But you'd have to reckon with an ongoing demand/market for printed NA editions.
    Anyway, it is interesting to speculate.

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