Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Conjectural Emendation Quiz

This is a quiz in co-operation with the Amsterdam NT Weblog.

Below are five citations by five different scholars from the 19-21th centuries, three against and two in favour of conjectural emendation in New Testament textual criticism (presented in no particular order).

Who said:

#1. "Not long ago philologists evinced such a fondness for conjectural emendation that the question might not unreasonably be asked why they did not rather themselves write the text that they took in hand to explain."

#2. "It is now agreed among competent judges that Conjectural Emendation must never be resorted to, even in passages of acknowledged difficulty."

#3. "Knowledge of authors should precede judgement of their conjectures."

#4. "It is a sobering experience to observe what flights of fancy Biblical scholars indulge in order to discredit a conjecture."

#5. "No authority could be attached to words which rested upon conjecture; and a critic who should devote himself to editing the Scriptures on conjectural lines would be merely wasting his time."

Tomorrow [update: On Thursday] Jan Krans over at the Amsterdam New Testament Weblog will give the answers to this quiz here.

First, however, he will present his paper on "Conjectural Emendation in New Testament Textual Criticism" in the Working with Biblical Manuscript section – unfortunately no MSS there, however ;-).

Update: the answers to the quiz can now be found here.


  1. Not knowing the answer to any of these my instinct or innate knowledge, and not wanting to google the quotes (since that needs no intelligence or co-operation whatsover), I fear we must resort to attempting to figure some of these out. So, assuming these are all quotations in English (rather than translations), I begin with chronological considerations.

    No. 1 by refering to "philologists" possibly reflects a nineteenth-century perspective. that would fit with "not long ago" - since once loads of mss began to be published (i.e. most of the 19th cent.) conjectural emendation fell away. So I would say this is a 19th cent. NT scholar not classically trained (since otherwise would not be dismissive about philologists).

    No. 2 reflects 20th cent confidence (presumably over-confidence to JK).

    No. 3 must post-date 1881 (since it cleverly rewords Hort's dictum). Someone perhaps influenced by Hort. Clever with words. English (not American).

    No. 4: someone not a "biblical scholar". But writing in an era (or soon after) when biblical scholars bothered to discredit specific conjectures (rather than rubbishing the principle). Possibly 18th Cent.

    No. 5. not sure about this. Clearly writing at a time when critics might consider editing the Scriptures - hence between 1850 and 1950. Language of "authority" for readings suggests someone writing in the nineteenth century.

  2. Don't you give it away by the Jan Krans tag? I have absolutely no idea but I would guess Krans.

  3. OK, I'll take a wack at it: mostly guesses:

    1) Kenyon
    2) Scrivener (I'm certain of this one only)
    3) Bentley (Actually quite unlikely, but I don't have another guess).
    4) Bowyer
    5) Alan

  4. Stephan, no I don't give it away because Jan Krans is responsible for the other blog which will supply the answers, probably during tomorrow. (But I can now reveal that one of the citations is actually by Jan - which?)

  5. #3 is Jan Krans. I had the great pleasure of reviewing his excellent monograph Beyond What is Written which is far more interesting than I could ever have imagined that a book on TC and conjectures could be.

  6. So we are at 2 out of 5 (#2 is Scrivener and #3 is mine). Let us give it some more time before the answers are given.

  7. Great quiz!

    I'm not sure about any of them, but I think #4 sounds a little too modern to be bowyer.
    In #5, the reference to authority could indicate age, or it could indicate a more theological perspective (i.e. the authoritative scriptures...).


    *Jan Krans*, I tried to send you an email about your SBL paper, I just wanted to check if you received it? Thanks,

  8. OK, well we have to get at least half, so...

    1) is Nestle


  9. #5 perversely has a semicolon where one would expect a comma. I wager that it was written by an Australian.

  10. I'm not sure there has ever been an Australian text critic.

  11. Our comment from Anon in this case has the smell of PMH. Oder?

  12. A Roma if you prefer. I see that you neither confirm nor deny my allegation.

  13. "allegation" is a bit strong.

  14. So according the this blog:

    1. Nestle wasn't classically trained.
    2. Scrivner was from the 20th century.
    3. Jan Krans is an American.
    4. Luck is an 18th century non-biblical scholar.
    5. Kenyon was an Aussie.

    bob "practising the fine art of misquoting PMH though not at the level perfected by TW" relyea

  15. Well, I think the fact that I was partly (mostly) wrong (see comment 1) only goes to show how little we can rely on such conjectural thinking.

  16. The answers to the quiz are now found at http://vuntblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/conjectural-emendation-quiz.html