In spite of Peter Head’s posting as of yesterday, “SBL Finale” (about the visit to Houghton Library, Harvard), I am still stuck at the conference in Boston. I hope I will be able to finish my SBL report before the new year.
We have arrived at the Monday morning NTTC session (SBL 24-32), which is the book review of David Parker’s An Introduction to the NT MSS and Their Texts (CUP). Apparently, this session was very popular. Someone said they did not want to “miss the fireworks." There were so many people who wanted to attend the session, so when it began there was possibly a larger crowd left outside the packed room than inside! ” I sat so close in that little room (with my computer on my lap), that I could almost reach out and zip a panelist’s glass of water. Peter Head came a bit too late, and couldn’t get in, so instead he went out to find us a good restaurant for the ETC blog dinner that night. And he really did find a perfect place, an Italian restaurant nearby.
After the first speaker, Eldon Epp, however, the session was relocated into a huge hall, and suddenly there was plenty of space so everyone could get in. Again, the following summaries are filtered through me, building on my notes; I may have gotten some things wrong.
Eldon J. Epp
Epp had been asked to give a description of the book (therefore he had asked for extra time). In his judgment the book is not for the beginner, but a treasure trove for the advanced user. Some parts make up small monographs on their own. All will want it on their desk. It is a scholarly and praxis oriented volume. Epp then mentioned Parker’s earlier monographs, especially The Living Text of the Gospels dealing with the controversial issue of the original text (which made some corners of the TC world tremble). This study had inspired his own article on the “multivalence” of the term “original text.” In Epp’s judgment, this third monograph reflects the same scholarly precision.
After a very general description, Epp then devoted the rest of his discussion specifically to Parker’s call that the concept of “text-types” be abandoned. [This is also the standpoint of several scholars at the INTF in Münster]. This seems natural since Epp has been one of the strongest and ablest proponents of the concept. Here he offered a defence of the general concept of text-types, but, at the same time, he was open to modify the specific terminology.
1. Text-type terminology
There are admittedly some inaccurate labels, e.g., “Western.” However, what we name a particular text-type is not the issue (Epp has earlier proposed A, B, C and D-text type). Moreover, the term “type” connotates strong integrity; Epp thinks “constellation” or “cluster” is better (cf. astronomy, prominent stars create a pattern, overlaps in the margins with other constellations).
2. The stagnation of the theory
Parker has stated that the text-type concept has stagnated. But there are undeniably two early streams and one later (Byzantine). Epp thinks the strong evidence speaks against the stagnation of the theory. Moreover, multiple approaches are better than fewer and many scholars have referred to the text-types (continuity in the scholarly discourse).
3. Differences between individual witnesses
Parker says that there are so great differences between the witnesses (e.g., P45, P66, B, D, etc), which calls for an individual focus. However, the issue is not size and quantity, but quality. Epp suggests that various circumstances caused suppression of some texts. Hence many D-text witnesses were altered and conformed to the B-text and the Byzantine text. There are therefore fewer D-text witnesses.
4. Text-type theory and the text of Acts
Parker says the theory does not apply to Acts, where we have two texts in Acts. Epp wonders why this undermines the theory? They are simply the textual clusters in Acts.
5. The inadequacy of comparing Greek MS with only Greek MSS
Epp refers to Parker’s example of 614 where there is so low agreement with D (614 is claimed to be “Western” by some). The problem is the 104 testpassages in Acts. They are not useful for the purpose. Codex D is extant in only 72. One of the papyrus (“proto-Bezan” P38) was not included because it was extant in too few of the selected test passages. It is instead necessary to compare P38 with D in all places of variation. There is a high level of agreement. Clark said the text was almost identical, ignoring those variations that do not change meaning. Those that agree in sense are 24/29. This adjustment is a significant methodological issue.
6. A call for an appropriate method
Then Epp moved on to compare 614 with D with a different method than that used in Text und Textwert (where all variants are counted), which resulted in a higher agreement with D (64%). Parker only compared Greek MSS with Greek MSS. Epp’s, on the other hand, proposed that the D-text is a valid constellation if we include versional and patristic witnesses. All these witnesses are mixed with a D-text nucleus. Barbara Aland says that 614 has not the typical D-interpolations. Epp explains that the longer additions, etc. were the most obvious candidates for omission in the later centuries (when the Byzantine text dominated), but the minor traits were retained. A raw comparison in Teststellen will not be useful to identify the D text-type; it will only reveal agreements/disagreements between mixed texts. The method neither suits mixed material nor the historical development that created it. Neither does the CBGM method (only treating Greek MSS).
We cannot assume that Bezae best represents the D-text in Acts. Epp proposed a more appropriate method to identify the D-text, which he called a “triangulation of witnesses” procedure. The search for the D-text must begin with the common variants (which involves the search in non-Greek witnesses) and the identification of core witnesses. Because of the expansive and paraphrastic nature of the D-text, each variant must be scrutinized for the meaning (the Text und Textwert method only serves to exaggerate the differences). Epp thinks the D-text has several fixed points. He often referred to Tuckett’s treatment of this problem, using this type of method.
(I know that I have not made justice to everything that Epp said about this prodedure, "triangulation of witnesses" or explained why it is termed so. We will have to wait for a publication on the subject.)
My comment: Variants should weighed and counted (cf. par. 9.2 of my article on the Patmos family here). This is also what Epp seemed to suggest in the case of P38 as compared with D (because of limited amount of common text). I think the methods are complementary! It is analoguous to what the Teststellen-method does by first comparing agreements in all places of variation, and in a second phase by counting agreements only in variants deviating from the Majority Text. It is still unclear how to combine the values, but they form a double complementary picture. I think the proposed triangular method must be complemented by the quantitative measurement including all genealogically signifcant variation (only non-sensical errors should be removed). I actually suggest an process going from weighing variants to counting! This likens the procedure that is used when identifying a family of MSS and then, in the next phase, trying to establish the relationship between them. Within a close family of MSS even the errors take on genealogical signficance. (Weighing is crucial in the first phase because of the danger of counting accidental agreement or agreement due to contamination.)