Thursday, July 29, 2010

SBL Tartu, Working With Biblical Manuscripts (TC) 2

On Wednesday it was time for the second session in the Working With Biblical Manuscripts (Textual Criticism) unit. The focus was on NTTC and the room was really crowded (which means just over 20 people attended the session). Although I am clearly biassed, the quality of the papers was high in my opinion.

David Trobisch, whom I had not previously seen at the conference (though he had been there) presented the first paper "'From Dresden to Timbuktu' Working with Electronic Editions of Manuscripts.” In fact I was a bit worried that David would not show up, but on the other hand I would not be surprised if he had arrived in a helicopter from Timbuktu (he is a real globetrotter). David's paper described experiences and insights from the several projects to digitize MSS, in which he has been directly or indirectly involved; Codices Boernerianus, Boreelianus and Sinaiticus, and, finally, the effort to digitize ancient MSS from the University of Timbuktu. This university is older than most European universities (Africa has a long history!), and the MSS dealing with astronomy, medicine, music, theology, etc, I think ranged from the 9th century and onwards. More about this collection here.

The next paper was by Klaas Spronk, ”A New Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts."

Abstract
In textcritical research Byzantine manuscripts are usually regarded as being of less importance, because they are relatively late and often contain only parts of the Biblical texts. To do justice to the this material it is important to take into account the own context and purpose of these manuscripts as part of a very old and still ongoing liturgical tradition. One should also realize that this liturgical embedding of the Biblical texts is more authentic than the view of modern scholars on the Bible as something on itself. At the Protestant University of Kampen an ambitious project has started to describe the field from a codico-liturgical perspective. An important source for researchers is the Byzantine liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, in which one can still find these same codex forms in use today; the forms of the printed editions closely resemble the manuscript forms. From here one can trace the tradition of those factors that contributed to forming the codices. The corpus of Byzantine manuscripts is characterized by diversity, but within this, standard codicological forms can be distinguished; those containing text items from the Greek NT or OT corpora, or both, and those containing biblical texts combined with other specific liturgical and patristic books and texts, that comment on the biblical monuments in an extremely rich and varied way. The codico-liturgical approach can redirect the study of the Byzantine manuscripts to a system of cataloguing that allows for a far more complete and inclusive picture of the state of affairs of the codex forms in which the biblical and other ecclesiastical texts were handed down to us.

My loose notes from this presentation:

Scope: A catalogue of all Byzantine MSS (not necessarily Biblical). Codexbased. Integrate and co-operate with scholars from the East.

The total of extant Byz. MSS from 4th to end of 19th cent. is estimated to be 60.000 codices. For example, Athos alone holds 16.000 codices.

Good to use existing catalogues. In the early work of Gregory (Textkritik) he took the liturgical content more seriously than later (also Aland, and Rahlfs). Subsequently they became more ”practical”. The liturgical components were left out.

The Bible as a liturgical text: where East and West can meet. Their codicological forms were closely related to the liturgical function of these texts.

In how far can/should we see biblical texts themselvelse as liturgical texts? Cf. Neh 8:5-8.; 2 Tim 3:14-17; Luke 24:27-32. A text to be read aloud, explained and applied.

Then it was time for my presentation on "The 'Son of God' Was in the Beginning (Mark 1:1)"


Abstract
The text-critical problem in the very beginning of the Gospel of Mark is much debated. The main question is whether the phrase “Son of God” was accidently omitted from an original or added by some scribes in order to expand the divine name or the title of the book? The disputed words are enclosed in square brackets in UBS4 and NA27. Most modern translations and commentators include the words. Several scholars, however, have argued for the shorter version of Mark 1:1. In consideration of external evidence, including items that are not acknowledged as New Testament manuscripts, as well as internal evidence, this paper will defend the longer version including the words "Son of God."

After a much needed coffee break, it was time for Stephen Carlson to present his paper, ”’For Sinai is a Mountain in Arabia’: A Note on the Text of Galatians 4:25.”

Abstract
Ever since Richard Bentley, textual critics and exegetes have been perplexed by the note in Galatians 4:25a that Sinai was a mountain in Arabia. Early and important witnesses are divided as to its reading, and this clause is problematic not only in terms of its grammar but also in its relation to Paul’s argumentative discourse. This paper revisits this textual problem and comes to the following conclusions. The external, transcriptional, and intrinsic considerations all suggest that v.25a should read "to gar Sina oros estin en têi Arabiai" (“for Sinai is a mountain in Arabia”), so this reading ought to be adopted in the critical text. Moreover, other evidence suggests that v.25a was originally a marginal note in the archetype of Galatians, so this clause ought to be enclosed in double brackets to indicate that it was not originally part of the autograph of Paul’s letter.

My loose notes:

A crux interpretum. Syntax error – word order, neuter article.
Many theories try to explain one obsurity with another (e.g., Hagar, Arabic for Iraq).

Bentley suggested a conjecture, but then abandoned it [did he explain why?]

My questions in the time for questions: Has Stephen constructed a stemma of the different readings? This stemma should take into consideration that even if the two subvariations: γαρ / δε and Σινα / omit are related, it is nonetheless more likely that the interchange between γαρ / δε would occur independently in the tradition (lower ”connectivity” to use the vocabulary of the CBGM), whereas the second variation is not as likely to have happened independently.

Stephen agreed on my point that he should construct a stemma, and that the change of γαρ / δε more likely could happen by chance. I suggested that with this in mind I assumed that the text attested to by A B D et al (note all traditional text-types) would end up at the top of the stemma, and that it is the lectio difficilior (but is it impossible?).

Interestingly, Stephen also told us, in this connection, that he had in fact noted that most likely the exemplar of D (06) had had a γαρ, an inference that had to do with the sense line divisions – an insight gained by examining the manuscript itself. The related MSS F and G both have the γαρ. So we see in practice how this interchange of conjunctions could easily happen.

Two additional observations: note the very nice Japanese podium that Stephen used. What you cannot see in this picture is that Stephen's wife was present – she got to hear a lot of papers these days. She apparently has her roots in Estonia, and it was very nice to make her acquaintance.

Then it was time for the last paper, delivered by my co-chair Jan Krans, ”Conjectural Emendations in New Testament Textual Criticism.”

Abstract:
As in previous centuries, many scholars today use conjectural emendation as a tool within the textual criticism of the New Testament. Yet many others neglect or even reject conjectural criticism altogether. This paper will take stock of these conflicting tendencies, and explore the current developments in the field. In the end, the paper will defend the legitimate and natural place conjectural emendation has in New Testament textual criticism.

My notes:
The several citations, some of which we have included in our ”Conjectural Emendation Quiz” shows the varying attitude to conjectural emendations in New Testament textual criticism during different eras. It is often been viewed as the last resort. Jan suggested that this reluctance could be ”theological” or ”text-critical” (or both). Classical scholars have a different attitutde.

Then Jan demonstrated how the recording of conjectures in a succession of Nestle-Aland editions is often problematic. The apparatus may record only a part of conjecture, or a conjecture under wrong name, or some scholarly suggestion which is not a conjecture but rather reflects source criticism. With these inconsistencies in mind Jan asked ”Whose conjecture is it?”

Further, Jan presented his new project to create a computer database of conjectures, a project in co-operation with the work done by INTF/ITSEE (the latter under the auspices of the IGNTP) on the Editio Critica Maior. This included special PhD projects focused, e.g., on the Dutch school.

In the time for questions I pointed out that, in my opinion, conjectures should remain the last resort, not because of ”theology” but mainly because of a general methodological consideration – Occam’s razor: If we have manuscript evidence and a valid textcritical principle that says we should prefer the difficult reading (lectio difficilior), then we should be very hesitant to look for other ”smoother” solutions. On the other hand, I agree that there is a thin line between what is a lectio difficilior and a nonsense reading. (I particularly remember a variation in Luke 2:14 with a construction, ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας, that seemed impossible, before some Hebrew manuscript showed that the underlying ”impossible” Greek construction reflects a Hebraism.)

Someone else pointed out that classical scholars of course have access to very different material (sometimes perhaps merely one inferior MS, and conjectures become necessary). Jan wanted to compare the NT textual tradition with Homer [although that tradition, I think, consist of 90% less MSS].

Further, I pointed out that the conjectures, although most will remain unnecessary, can nevertheless be significant, not least in order to highlight difficulties in the text. They can surely help us in the exegetical process (just as can the existing secondary variant readings).

Finally I posed another question to Jan which is just interesting to think about: ”Whose error is it?” If we assume hypothetically that the archetype of the tradition is equal to the autograph, does this archetype have to be inerrant? Can, for example, Paul or his amanuensis have made a grammatical mistake? (that could result in a nonsense reading.) Would the conjecture in that case be what the author intended to write ... it is an interesting question. (From a theological perspective, one can of course postulate that the autographs are inerrant, but this cannot be proven with scientific means.)

The gentlemen on this picture all enjoyed this year's sessions. Thanks to Ronald van Bergh (to the left) who presided the second session. I had the opportunity afterwards to discuss with Ronald some ideas for his PhD project on OT quotations in Codex Bezae.

41 comments:

  1. Thanks Tommy,
    Great to have pictures. Sounds like a great session.

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  2. In his abstract, Stephen Carlson says
    "Moreover, other evidence suggests that v.25a was originally a marginal note in the archetype of Galatians, so this clause ought to be enclosed in double brackets to indicate that it was not originally part of the autograph of Paul’s letter." I had to read this paragraph twice in order to realize what was amiss. I think that "moreover" should be replaced by "however". If "moreover" is used, the reader expects another argument along the same lines. But what follows is contrary to what one expects.
    Did anyone else had the same impression which I had?
    E. Contac

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Tommy, thanks for this report; when on earth did you manage to do this (or was it on the airplane)?
    One minor thing: please correct a Dutch name: it is Klaas Spronk (also in the tags).

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  5. Was Bentley really the first to conjecture that the phrase in question was originally a gloss? Somehow I thought the idea went back to Beza. (I would double-check but I thought it might be quicker just to ask.)

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

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  6. James,
    It is always difficult to be certain about the original author (of a conjecture). Anyhow, the one on Gal 4:25 was not made by Beza. In his earlier editions, he proposed to omit 'Hagar' in the Greek text (though he did not do that) and translated likewise. He thought that it had crept in from the margin; in doing so, he preferred the Vulgate tet. In later editions, he choose to maintain 'Hagar' and changed his translation (and annotation).

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  7. Thanks Jan. What shall we do with these Dutch people?

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  8. JK: "when on earth did you manage to do this (or was it on the airplane)?"

    The flight was delayed one hour, and I did it on the airport, surrounded by a host of not angels (or perhaps some which I didn't notice), but of biblical scholars.

    Finally I am home after 10 hours of travelling. I came home 2 hours after schedule because those Estonian Air/SAS personell could not deliver our bags after landing until 30 minutes, which meant we missed our bus with 10 minutes, and had to wait for an hour for a new bus, and then for an hour for a train, sigh.

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  9. PMH: "Sounds like a great session."

    Actually it was one of the better Int. Meeting TC sessions I have experienced, and Stephen remarked that this could well have been an Annual Meeting session, so he must have thought the same. (Of course, both of us were presenting, so this is just a wee bit subjective.)

    And, btw, I am almost sure that I managed to persuade everyone in the room (even those without any knowledge of TC) that the long reading has priority in Mark 1:1 (contra Head, Ehrman and Collins) – even Jan Krans after some hard argumentation in the QA ;-)

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  10. TW: What shall we do with these Dutch people?
    Perhaps kindly ask them only to engage in biblical studies when they have easy-to-spell-and-pronounce names such as Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Eimert Tigchelaar, Gustaaf Adolf van den Bergh van Eysinga, Willem Hendrik van de Sande Bakhuyzen, Caroline VanderStichele (she is actually Belgian), and the like.

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  11. I was surprised to see the claim that the U. of Timbuktu had been in operation since the 9th century (since I was pretty sure that the U. of Bologna was supposedly the oldest as was not that old). So I checked, and it appears that it has actually only been since the 11th century.
    http://www.timbuktufoundation.org/history.html

    Perhaps Dr. Trobisch said (or meant to say) that it had been operating for 9 centuries, and not since the 9th century.

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  12. Jan, the length and awkward spelling of those names is weighed up by their wonderful sound when pronounced. That goes for the whole Dutch language.

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  13. Tommy, you already said that there were only 20 people in the room.

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  14. ER:
    "I was surprised to see the claim that the U. of Timbuktu had been in operation since the 9th century"

    TW:
    "the MSS dealing with astronomy, medicine, music, theology, etc, I think ranged from the 9th century and onwards."

    Eric, note he did not say the U of T was older than any European universities--only than most. And he dated the mss to the 9th century, not the university itself.

    I wouldn't doubt that Oxford and Cambridge hold some mss that date back to the days when Oxford consisted of little more than a ford and Cambridge hadn't yet got its first bridge.

    Not to mention that 11th century + 9 centuries does not equal 21st century, which we are far enough into now to keep it straight from the last century.

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  15. E. Contac: I wasn't trying to emphasize the contrast between the two conclusions (which was why I avoided "however"), but I appreciate knowing that my wording was confusing. Thanks.

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  16. "Eric...he dated the mss to the 9th century, not the university itself."

    Ohhhh. I see you're right. My mistake.

    "Not to mention that 11th century + 9 centuries does not equal 21st century, which we are far enough into now to keep it straight from the last century."

    It's a moot point now, given my complete misreading of the original post. But with rounding off it would work. The website doesn't say exactly what year the U. of Timbuktu was founded, it only says the 11th century. But if the U. of Bologna is older, and was founded in A.D. 1088 (which is the date wikipedia gives), then the U. of Timbuktu would have to have been founded some time in the range of A.D. 1089-1100, or 910-920 years ago, roughly 9 centuries.

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  17. The external, transcriptional, and intrinsic considerations all suggest that v.25a should read "to gar Sina oros estin en th Arabia" (“for Sinai is a mountain in Arabia”

    Sounds like an interesting textual transmission theory. I wonder, though, how it accounts for the phenomenon whereby mss that read GAR AGAR SINA tend to read DE META farther down in the verse, rather than the other way around.

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  18. Hi Daniel, could you clarify how you see the δουλεύει δὲ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων reading relates to the Byzantine reading of v.25a?

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  19. White Man and Eric, to tell you the truth, I actually revised the text very slightly after Eric made his remark, so, no, Eric you did not misread (and neither did White Man who read a new version). I am sorry. It feels awkward to always put "Update" when some detail is changed. I am glad we have careful readers, keep it up please!

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  20. Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
    Hi Daniel, could you clarify how you see the δουλεύει δὲ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων reading relates to the Byzantine reading of v.25a?

    I don't have much to go on, but according to the UBS apparatus, there's a phenomenon at work that I've run across several other places, in which the UBS and Byz texts are transpositions of each other; there's no mention in the apparatus of how the mss themselves individually read at the 2 junctures.
    UBS reads:
    τὸ δὲ Ἁγὰρ Σινᾶ ... δουλεύει γὰρ μετὰ.
    Byz reads:
    Τὸ γάρ Ἅγαρ Σινᾶ ... δουλεύει δὲ μετά.

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  21. Thanks, Daniel. I'll try to look out for such examples in the future.

    In this case, however, there's no real Byzantine reading for v.25c, since many (and many early ones, e.g. K L etc.) have νῦν instead of either δέ or γάρ. Furthermore, the variants occur in different, non-contiguous clauses, so it's hard to see how one variant affects the other.

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  22. Tommy, I just noticed that you had asked: Bentley suggested a conjecture, but then abandoned it [did he explain why?]

    I was probably overly concise in the presentation, but my feeling is that Bentley later dealt with the problem in the text that he perceived by adopting the reading of C and the Vulgate, which omitted "Hagar" (as his own later edition of Galatians shows). Without the "Hagar," the problems he identified go away.

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  23. "In this case, however, there's no real Byzantine reading for v.25c, since many (and many early ones, e.g. K L etc.) have νῦν instead of either δέ or γάρ."

    Thanks Stephen! Does this change the meaning by use of a temporal particle, or is nun just a synonym here?

    I would guess the latter, since νῦν is already in the immediate context.

    But further: there is a Byz and ς reading of δέ here, just as there is a WH and UBS reading of γάρ. Did you mean to say that δέ is not the Majority reading?

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  24. Tommy,

    Great notes, as usual. Thanks for that. I'm sure I can speak for a lot of people when I say that those of us who are unable to attend these meetings have really come to depend upon your summaries in order to keep up with things. It's almost as good as being there!

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  25. That said, while I'm obviously biased, I respectfully disagree with your line of thinking in this comment:

    In the time for questions I pointed out that, in my opinion, conjectures should remain the last resort, not because of ”theology” but mainly because of a general methodological consideration – Occam’s razor: If we have manuscript evidence and a valid textcritical principle that says we should prefer the difficult reading (lectio difficilior), then we should be very hesitant to look for other ”smoother” solutions. On the other hand, I agree that there is a thin line between what is a lectio difficilior and a nonsense reading."

    It seems to me that this position does not reckon with at least two issues.

    First, I'm not sure we can or should consider lectio difficillior exclusive of a genealogical perspective. That is, it may be the most difficult reading and in other respects also commendable, but if it cannot explain the rise of the others and thereby offer a reasonable genealogical reconstruction with itself as the archetype, then I don't see how we can be satisfied with it. Every tradition or line of descent needs a starting point, and if we don't appear to have one extant, then I think we must conjecture it.

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  26. Second, I'm not sure your position fully reckons with manuscript loss. Sure, we have lots of surviving mss compared to other classical fields, but that doesn't change the fact that we likely have only a fraction of all the mss ever produced. In other words, we don't have all the evidence; we have a truncated data base.

    Ockham's razor may favour an extant reading as being a simpler explanation then some hypothesis that a differing original reading was subsequently lost, but ockhams razor speaks only in probabilities, and from an all-things-being-equal perspective at that. In other words, all things being equal, an elaborate hypothesis about readings being lost is not the most probable. But all things are not equal, because the mss have in fact already been lost. We do not have to deal in terms of probability in this respect, because the notion of ms loss is already a certainty. However improbable it may have been a priori, ms loss is now an a posteriori fact.

    (This reminds me of the awesome TV commercial for some accounting firm that shows two accountants walking down the street discussing the percentage probability of various mundane things happening, such as a 33% chance that the blue sedan will run the red light, a 15% chance that the taxi will turn right, etc. Then a man goes by wearing a vintage flying suit riding a galloping ostrich, and the two shocked accountants look at each other and the one says "what are the odds of that?!?" and the other says "100%....now!")

    In the same way, ms loss is a reality now, and so I think we need do reckon with the consequences of that.

    I can't think of any other field of study wherein we could loose a large part, perhaps even a majority, of the evidence but still conclude that all the evidence we need must be extant in the surviving minority. If the police took 10 bags of fingerprints at a murder scene but then lost 8 of them on the way back to the lab, would they conclude that they likely still have the killer's prints?

    It reminds me of a great analogy that Kurt Aland used (not strictly for this question though, but it works):

    "Like a child, who, having picked up stones or shells on the shore and brought them home, then seeks to determine from the collected specimens the kinds of stones or shells which can be found on that particular shore. This child might have had the good fortune to collect specimens of all the important kinds of stones or shells to be found on that shore, so that a thorough examination of this shore would merely add few and unimportant new kinds to those already known. It may be that, in NT textual research, we are in a position similar to that of this child. But who knows it with certainty and who can really take it for granted?"

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  27. Now, you said one other thing which reminded me of something:

    "Finally I posed another question to Jan which is just interesting to think about: ”Whose error is it?” If we assume hypothetically that the archetype of the tradition is equal to the autograph, does this archetype have to be inerrant? Can, for example, Paul or his amanuensis have made a grammatical mistake? (that could result in a nonsense reading.) Would the conjecture in that case be what the author intended to write ... it is an interesting question."

    Westcott & Hort make reference to this as well, and I like to quote them on the issue.

    "There is much literature, ancient no less than modern, in which it is needful to remember that authors are not always grammatical, or clear, or consistent, or felicitous; so that no seldom an ordinary reader finds it easy to replace a feeble or half-appropriate word or phrase by an effective substitute; and thus the best words to express an author’s meaning need not in all cases be those which he actually employed."

    In other words, we can't always rush to propose a conjecture in every place that we find the text deficient, because sometimes the author themselves could have simply composed a deficient text. That's a great caution, and I agree with you that it should be allowed to decelerate conjectural proposals.

    At the same time, Westcott & Hort also point out that we can't just accept a text simply because it makes good sense, because a scribal reading, if it were to gain prominence in the ms tradition, would naturally have to appear sensible:

    "It follows that, with the exception of pure blunders, readings originating with scribes must always at the time have combined the appearance of improvement with the absence of its reality. If they had not been plausible, they would not have existed: yet their excellence must have been either superficial or partial, and the balance of inward and essential excellence must lie against them."

    Between those two poles is, I think, a middle ground on which a healthy practice of new testament conjectural emendation could and should thrive.

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  28. wow. I wrote all that, and when the software told me it was too large to post, rather than consider whether perhaps I might have been a little longwinded, I simply broke it up into multiple posts! I don't know whether to be proud of that or ashamed...

    ah, well, I consider it a valuable service to all those people having trouble falling asleep.

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  29. Ryan: "That is, it may be the most difficult reading and in other respects also commendable, but if it cannot explain the rise of the others and thereby offer a reasonable genealogical reconstruction with itself as the archetype, then I don't see how we can be satisfied with it."

    Ryan, I don't know how you interpreted my loose notes but in fact I agree with what you write here. Do you see that in my text I distinguish between lectio difficilior and a nonsense reading. We cannot be satisfied with a too difficult reading, but if it is just difficult and it explains the origin of the other readings, then we should be careful to look for a "smoother" solution. I point out that in practice there is sometimes only a thin line between a lectio difficilior and a nonsense reading (note the example in Luke 2:14 which was first regarded as too difficult, but then could be explained as a hebraism, and therefore it is the preferred reading). There you have it.

    I am not against conjectures in theory, but I still regard them as the "last resort" – a language which Jan Krans expressed some dissatisfaction with.

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  30. Thanks Ryan for your triple post of comments!

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  31. Don't worry about multiple comments, Peter Head does that all the time (but without filling the space).

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  32. Speaking of Peter Head, if we can just put through another 7 or 8 comments, I'm sure he could manage to get us the rest of the way to 50.

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  33. Peter Head is way too busy to indulge in such things right now.

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  34. Besides, he is still waiting to hear Tommy's argument about Mark 1.1.

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  35. And trying to finish a book chapter.

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  36. On this: The total of extant Byz. MSS from 4th to end of 19th cent. is estimated to be 60.000 codices. For example, Athos alone holds 16.000 codices.

    How does this hold when we are also told that the total number of Greek MSS is around 5750?

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  37. Anonymous,

    I presume the answer to that is found in the paragraph above what you quoted, where it says in parentheses, "not necessarily Biblical."

    The number ~5,750 is just New Testament mss.

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  38. Thank you for that answer. Sorry for asking but I'm a novice at TC but very interested in learning.

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  39. Does anyone have a number for Greek mss of the OT?

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  40. "Conjectural Emendation" you have to be kidding?? This is the first rule of Textual Criticism. Namely "Never to invent new readings"-Burgon

    We cannot fix upon the Text of Holy Writ by mere speculation and dreams?? Unless of course Revelation 22:18-19 fits your fancy.
    If there is no mss. evidence there is no reading.Period.

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