Evangelical Textual Criticism

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stupid History

I have a desk calendar called "Stupid History" that gives you daily facts on funny and ironic events of history. Today's stupid history describes how in 1716, the Oxford University Press, printed 500 copies of a book titled Translation of the New Testament from Coptic into Latin by David Wilkins. It took 191 years to sell all 500 copies. On the upside, I'm sure Wilkins' book made a huge impact on Oxford University's RAE submission in that year.

7 comments:

  1. Wilkin's Bohairic New Testament is now available online. Contemporary scholars (la Croze and Jablonsky) praised the publication publicly in their reviews, but privately criticized the work in a severe fashion. Some things never change.

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  2. It says a lot about our culture's lack of patience and need for immediacy that we find this stupid. I must be from another planet. I find it noble and inspiring.

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  3. At some point in the early 1970s, William Pierpont obtained from Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht their last "new" and complete 1907-1913 four-volume set of von Soden's Greek NT and Prolegomena (for the original selling price of US$25).

    At the midpoint of that same decade, I obtained from Bernard Quaritch publishers a "new" and complete two-volume set of Hoskier's 1929 Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse (for the original selling price of $13).

    Sometimes there is serendipity in searching holdings of various publishing companies.

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  4. According to listings on Amazon.com, any work currently out of print is worth up to several hundred dollars in fair condition. By that criterion, a local church library recently threw out tens of thousands of dollars worth of 1970's paperbacks.

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  5. Don't trust all the numbers you read at Amazon. Recently I checked the price of a paperback book I'm selling and wanted to know Amazon's price so I could offer my book for a comparable but less expensive price. The Amazon price for this book was -- I kid you not -- $99,999.00. (Oh, they also had it available from "other sellers" for $14.95.)

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  6. Would the following count as "stupid history" or what?

    "Eusebius' reputation as a biblical scholar may be illustrated by the fact that some time around 335 he received a request from the emperor asking him whether his scriptorium could produce 50 luxury parchment Bibles for the churches in Constantinople. THe enormity of this request may become clearer when one considers that the parchment for each of these Bibles would have required the skins of around a hundred cows" (Josef Lossl, The Early Church. History and Memory, 2010, p116.

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  7. "required the skins of around a hundred cows"

    I was aware that it is now possible to distinguish between ovine parchment and bovine vellum, but wasn't aware that the gender of the contributing quadruped could now be distinguished as well.

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