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."
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)"
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.”
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.”
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.
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.