A forum for people with knowledge of the Bible in its original languages to discuss its manuscripts and textual history from the perspective of historic evangelical theology.
It is funny that he can talk about the Press Release as if he hasn't written it! Let's hope the teasing is worth it.I think he is wrong to say that basically any NT manuscript can be called "early" because it is before the invention of printing. To my way of thinking, in relation to NT manuscripts, "early" should be used for pre-Constantinian manuscripts. What does everyone else think?
I agree. "Early" should be reserved for pre-Constantinien manuscripts. There is a shift in textual orientation from that time on (IMO), so lets reserve "early" for those that quite literally are early.
The problem is that pre-Constantinien mss are hardly ever described as "early." They are typically called "earliest and best" as opposed to "some (or 'many') ancient authorities" which apparently aren't quite as early or as good."EarlY" and "EarlIER" are not typically used by textual critics. But in the UBS Textual Commentary for Luke 23:34, the Committee does use "early . . . witnesses" to categorically describe p75, 01c, 03, 032, 038, 070*, and 1241*!On the other side of the reading, however, are such witnesses as 01, 02, and 04!"Early" seems to be reserved for those favoured witnesses of any age whenever they happen not to line up with the "earliest and best" ones.
Actually, Peter, I didn't write it at all. And what I was saying about "early" was simply a way to describe what the press release folks had done. I agree with you on definition largely, though I tend to think that MSS from the first millennium are early, broadly speaking. Your definition would preclude Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, not to mention Alexandrinus, Bezae, etc.
Yes Daniel, that's true. That's why I think textual critics needs a rethink on how to use the word "early". In my work I use it exclusively of the pre-Constantinian manuscripts. I don't consider ms. 1241 early. It may be a good copy, but it is not early. Perhaps this whole thing is a result of seeing a "good" text in later manuscripts. In other words, "earliest and best" does not refer to the manuscript per se, but to its text. And that's way too subjective at times. Hence, I concur with Peter.
I suppose it does depend on the implied audience and on the context. I don't suppose that I am very consistent on this sort of usage.
Peter, you're exactly right. The implied audience is key here. The press release will not be for scholars, but for the general public. But as far as textual critics are concerned, at most only one MS that we photographed might be considered early, yet not by the definitions suggested for this blog. And that MS was already known.
I just got word from the press release folks that the title will now be changed. I suggested "medieval" instead of early; I think they'll go with that.
It might be a good idea to anchor chronological terms such as "early" and "late" to historical events:"Early" = produced before 486 (fall of Rome)."Fairly early" = produced before 814 (death of Charlemagne)"Medieval" = produced after the death of Charlemagne and before 1453 (fall of Constantinople)."Late" or "Late medieval" = produced after 1214 (Magna Carta) and before 1453. "Very late" = produced after 1453.There should be some consideration made for context, though: I think it's okay to refer to an "early copy of the Vulgate" or "an early copy of the Peshitta," and so on, if the copy is within 400 years of the initiation of the version, and to use the term "earliest" in a relative way (like, "our earliest Ethiopic manuscripts are not particularly early").Yours in Christ,James Snapp, Jr.
James, that's an interesting suggestion. The biggest problem I see with it is how to place MSS within the parameters of those specific dates. Not too many are dated, and the rest can usually be dated no closer than within a particular century. And what happened to Constantine and Nicea as key events here? I do think that Peter is right that that is an important signpost for manuscript production.
If a MS's estimated date lands on or close to the borders between the suggested chronological categories, it would probably be best to avoid using any category-terms, and provide the estimated date instead. As important as Constantine and Nicea were, the early 300's just don't seem like a very convenient division-point. If only pre-Nicea witnesses qualified as "early," not a single parchment codex, except maybe Vaticanus, would qualify as "early," and there would be no such thing as an early Old Latin copy or an early Syriac copy. Using 486 would not only correspond to a famous bend in the timeline but it would also allow MSS such as Aleph, A, and W to be described as "early MSS," and versions such as the Gothic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, Peshitta, and Armenian, to be described as "early versions." Yours in Christ,James Snapp, Jr.Minister, Curtisville Christian ChurchTipton, Indiana (USA)www.curtisvillechristian.org/BasicTC.html