Friday, December 05, 2008

SBL Boston, Hernández on Andrew of Caesarea as Textual-Critic


The next paper of the NTTC session on Saturday was presented by Juan Hernández, Bethel University. Unfortunately, my notes at this point are in a bad state, probably because this was the paper just before my own. Therefore I will first post Hernández' abstract and then Hernández final remark (which he has shared with me), and finally my own comments:

Juan Hernandez, "A Forgotten Early Byzantine Textual-Critic: Andrew of Caesarea on the Apocalypse"

"Textual critics today attend to a variety of pressing questions related to the transmission of the Greek NT. No longer limited to the quest for the 'original' text, current practitioners pursue a variety of interrelated interests. Scribal activity, theological variation, the NT canon, and the socio-historic worlds of manuscripts are now commonplace in text critical discussions. These questions, however, are not altogether new. Neither have they been evenly applied to the full corpus of the NT. The text of John's Apocalypse remains an area in desperate need of attention. Ironically, the past may hold the key to the future in this case. Writing at the threshold of the early Byzantine era, Andrew of Caesarea already displays an awareness of competing variants within the Apocalypse's MS tradition, comments on their theological significance, and even anathemizes those scribes who 'atticize' the biblical text. In fact, Andrew"s Greek commentary reflects the very integration of issues that characterizes today"s text-critical research. This paper will explore the relevance of Andrew"s use of the Apocalypse for discussions of its textual history and interpretation."

Hernández' final remark: "We are often elated when we come across a significant variant, especially if it can be conscripted into a greater cause. These often serve as “windows” into another time and place, when things were still in flux and being fought over. If Andrew teaches us anything, however, it is that what fascinates us may not be what fascinated the ancients. We find significance in theological variation and imagine the communities that would espouse or even create such variants. With Andrew, however, textual variation was only an opportunity to certify what was already known to be true. The potential threat of a textual difference was easily mitigated by appeals to Origenic modes of exegesis, the sayings of the Fathers and the dictates of Chalcedon. Even Andrew’s complaint about “atticizing” appeared to be more about cultural pretension than about the text of the New Testament. And although Andrew cannot be credited with proffering any additional canons for our use in the quest for the “original,” we can nonetheless gain much from him as we explore the appropriation of the New Testament by various communities of faith."

My additional comments:

On the very first page of his recent monograph, Scribal Habits and Theological Influences in the Apocalypse (WUNT 218; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), Hernández cites a passage from Andrew's interpretation of Rev 22:18-19:

"Dreadful is the curse upon those counterfeiters of the divine words, capable of depriving the arrogant of the good things of the coming age, since their rashness is bold indeed. Therefore to keep us from suffering, [John] warns us his hearers, lest we add or take something away. But those who regard writing in the Attic style and the language of syllogisms more reliable and more dignified are rejected."

The reactionary linguistic movement known as "Atticism," is a reversion to classical Attic grammatical and lexical standards, that set in toward the end of the first century CE and which was to heavily influence many Church Fathers. However, there was resistance, as reflected in Andrew of Caesarea's seventh-century commentary on Revelation (which often accompanies Revelation in the MSS).

The second-century writer Phrynicus of Alexandria had banned 424 non-Attic terms in his Ekloge. Nineteen terms on his list appear in Revelation. However, according to Hernández, only four are changed from a non-Attic to Attic terms in some MSS.

Significantly, however, apart from atticism/non-atticism Andrew seems to reflect an attitude similar to Origen on textual matters, in that he accepts more than one reading when he knows more. In the time for questions, Hernández was asked whether there are explicit references to manuscript variation by Andrew, and the answer was positive. He had found one or more references.

A funny thing was that Hernández had translated portions from different chapters in the commentary, leaving out some parts temporarily, because of his too optimistic schedule for this work, which he could not keep up with. Instead of revising the schedule he had skipped ahead, so he could now share various observations also in the latter part of the commentary.

Hernández has been working on a translation and monograph of Andrew of Caesarea's Greek commentary on the Apocalypse. Recently, it turned out that someone else is also working on a translation of Andrew soon to be published in another series. I am confident, however, that Hernández' work on Andrew will eventually make a valuable contribution to the scholarly community in one way or another.

Update:: I have updated the post according to some remarks sent to me by Hernández.

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