Friday, January 11, 2008

Email Discussion Lists and Blogs: Some Remarks on a Correction

As noted in a recent posting (here), the most recent issue of Novum Testamentum contains a short note with a bit of a story to it (see Stephen Carlson's comments there):
Peter M. Head, Dale M. Wheeler, Wieland Willker, 'P. Bodmer II (P66): Three Fragments Identified. A Correction' Novum Testamentum 50/1 (2008): pp. 78-80.

In 2005 I published a short piece in Novum Testamentum: 'P. Bodmer II (P66): Three Fragments Identified' Novum Testamentum 47 (2005): 105-108. This claimed to place and identify three small pieces of P66 which had hitherto not been identified. Wieland Willker subjected my proposals to some critical attention and wrote a paper, which was distributed on the Textual Criticism email group (the email is in the archives: here, his paper does not seem to be available any more), which called one side of one of my identifications into question (that is a polite way of saying that it was impossible). Wieland did not propose an alternative, but eventually, Dale Wheeler proposed what is I think the correct identification of this small piece (also in the archives, scroll down on the previous link) - which shifted the piece one line up and a couple of letters across (so I wasn't that far off!).

So the email discussion group enabled substantial criticism along with collaborative thinking which led to a resolution of the problem. As we said in a footnote to our jointly authored article:

  • "Willker deserves credit for a thorough study of the physical circumstances of the proposed identification which problematised the proposed identification (in a paper distributed on June 27, 2005 on the Textual Criticism email discussion group). Wheeler suggested the alternative proposal which is advanced here (28th June 2005). Head humbled himself before the evidence, consolidated the alternative proposal and drafted this note, which has subsequently been worked on by all three."
So, is it true, as Stephen Carlson has commented (here)

  • "Nowadays a good blog post on a blog with a robust comment section (like this one) performs much of the same functions the old tclist used to do." ?

Probably that is true. I must say that I miss the old TC-List; but I doubt that there is any element in the email discussion list exchange given above that couldn't be replicated on this blog (or perhaps even has been replicated). The key element was Wieland's willingness to spend time checking the details.

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