Evangelical Textual Criticism

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

David Parker Seminar

We had a nice seminar yesterday from David Parker (as previously noted here). It was a discussion of some of the difficulties involved in editing the NT and some of the opportunities provided by digital presentation of material. I didn't take detailed notes (it wasn't that sort of talk), but I promised Tommy a picture instead.
Among the many interesting issues raised were: 'which came first, the text or the manuscript?', 'to what extent has NT studies worked with a modern concept of authorship projected back onto the past?', 'what is the impact of the fact that the ways in which the authors imagined their work quickly disappeared in the face of new innovations?', 'where can we place the distinction between authorial stage and transmission history, for example, for the fourth gospel?', 'to what extent do digital editions imitate and illustrate the textual fluidity of the tradition?'
David wasn't really trying to answer these questions, more just help people realise that they are questions.
Two best tips: a) look at Tischendorf, not just NA27; b) have a look at Wasserman on Jude to see what you get from a complete collation of all the available evidence for a NT book.

16 comments:

  1. One of the eye openers for me was the question Parker asked when looking at the correction in Sinaiticus at Rom 5:1. Is this a correction or an alternative reading? Great question, and one that I certainly had never asked myself before for any 'correction' in a manuscript.

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  2. This is nothing new.
    It has been argued before for several readings that they were meant as explanations/alternatives in the margin and later crept into the text.
    The problem is: We cannot know.
    And since we don't know if the corrector really meant this as an alternative we are not allowed to label it such. The only thing we know is that he approved the reading with Omicron.

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  3. This is a very rare case, in which the scribes of 01 and 03 agreed on a reading contra the majority, and NA27 went with the majority--this despite the widespread support for ecwmen amongst Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine mss.

    In the end, the reading of ecomen seems to have been decided on internal grounds by every editor that preferred it--including, from what I can see, all, or at least the vast majority of, the correctors.

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  4. DJ: "Great question, and one that I certainly had never asked myself before for any 'correction' in a manuscript."

    One of the innovations of the Editio Critica Maior is to make such distinctions. I will make a separate post of that, because I faced that issue with it when I collated Jude. One problem with the ECM is that different collators were involved and they have sometimes made different judgments on very similar features in MSS. I will give a few examples of inconsistencies to illustrate that this level of detail in transcriptions, which is highly desired, at the same time runs the risk of creating inconcistency.

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  5. Peter, thank you very, very much. You could work in a court of law and draw images of the defendants when pictures are not allowed.

    Those two best tips, are those Parker's or Head's? I guess Head's since you are so fond of my book!

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  6. WW: "The problem is: We cannot know.
    And since we don't know if the corrector really meant this as an alternative we are not allowed to label it such."

    I personally did not use T/A very much (T=text, A=alternative reading). I preferred T/Z (T=text, and Z=an additional reading which is either a correction or an alternative reading).

    I classified all interlinear and marginal readings as such additional readings, unless they were unequivocally erroneous, or if there was a special sign known to be used for corrections.

    I think that labeling is helpful, if the editor is consistent in definition and application.

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  7. WW: 'The problem is: We cannot know.'

    ... which is the whole point. If you do not know you cannot claim either, correction or alternative.

    In most cases I readily admit that we do know, as the corrector strikes the old reading out or marks it for deletion. But what if the corrector provides an extra reading without marking the old one? Then he may well act as most prudent editors do nowadays: he provides an alternative reading. This is certainly not an anachronistic way of looking at things, as many patristic exegetes are happy to discuss alternative readings and elucidate how, in many cases, both readings testify to the over-arching Christian truth.

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  8. DJ: "If you do not know you cannot claim either, correction or alternative."

    And that is why I chose in my edition of Jude to use T/Z most of the time, where Z stands for "additional reading = either correction or alternative reading."

    Sometimes, however, we do know, e.g., if the scribe uses a special symbol like the gamma-rho ligature which signifies an alternative reading (in other codices...).

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  9. DJ: "If you do not know you cannot claim either, correction or alternative."

    Agree, but the normal apparatus (like NA) notes only that 01-c supports ECOMEN, nothing else. It doesn't make a judgment if it is a correction or alternative. Since one does not know if 01-c also supports ECWMEN, it is not noted for this reading.

    DJ: "But what if the corrector provides an extra reading without marking the old one? Then he may well act as most prudent editors do nowadays: he provides an alternative reading."

    Possible, but we don't know.
    In my view it would clutter up an apparatus unnecessarily, if one always notes *possible* alternatives. I agree though that it deserves careful study of the scribes' habits to evaluate these issues.

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  10. WW: "Agree, but the normal apparatus (like NA) notes only that 01-c supports ECOMEN, nothing else."

    Not so.
    If I may make an attempt to get to the authorial intention from the Introduction to NA, 'c identifies a correction ...'
    Alternative readings are not in view here (though if confronted with the issue, the editors of the apparatus might well concede that the clause 'or alternative reading' should be inserted at various points in the Intro).

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  11. Tommy,
    thanks for the generous comments on the drawing.
    On the two best tips: they both came from DP, but they didn't come as 'two best tips', they were just comments made in passing.
    So they are authentic DP tradition, but the precise wording, the rhetorical placement and the labelling are redactional.

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  12. Thanks Peter. It is very apparent where Lizzy Head got her artistic talent from.

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  13. Ok Dirk, perhaps one should change this into 'c identifies the reading of a corrector ...'

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  14. "Two best tips: a) look at Tischendorf, not just NA27"

    A good idea, IF you know Latin.

    Ironic that Tischendorf was German, but wrote about Greek in Latin. Since his time, German acquired a status right next to Latin as one of THE languages of Textual Criticism. I would propose, however, that the time for both Latin and German hegemony has passed.

    Now, at a time when a ground-breaking NTTC thesis at a Swedish university in Scania is authored in English; when the authoritative work on OTTC, composed in Hebrew, is actually published in English--why should a student of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures have to be directed to a TC resource still published only in Latin and/or German?

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  15. "-why should a student of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures have to be directed to a TC resource still published only in Latin and/or German?"

    You will be able to gain much from this editon without a knowledge of Latin, because it is a major critical edition of the Greek New Testament.

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