Friday, May 06, 2016

First Use of the Term Ausgangstext

So far as I know, no one has written more trying to tease out the term Ausgangstext (translated as “initial text”) than Eldon Epp in his essay for J.K. Elliott’s Festschrift.

There (p. 54) he suggests that the earliest official definition is found in the second fascicle of the ECM1 in 2000. (The term is not used in the first fascicle on James published in 1997.) Later in the essay (p. 61 n. 61) Epp notes that J.K. Elliott reports having heard Barbara Aland use the term in a 1999 German broadcast they were part of together. If so, that would be the first recorded use (yes, we text critics can be pedantic).

What I was doing in 1993.
So for the two people who care, I can report that Gerd Mink defined the term way back when I was still watching cartoons. It’s in his 1993 NTS essay (p. 482):
The Ausgangstext is the text which the entire tradition originates from and which directly precedes the first relationship in various branches of the tradition. When textual criticism speaks about the original text, it typically means this Ausgangstext. It is only with this text that genuine text critical methods are dealing. Textual stages that may have been situated between the autograph and the Ausgangstext, are not accessible to text critical means. We would then be dealing with a linear path between the autograph and the Ausgangstext, which had left no trace in the manuscript tradition. (my rough translation)
After that, the next use I’ve found is in Klaus Wachtel’s 1995 dissertation (p. 45). There may be other early uses which I haven’t found.

I know you’ll all be able to sleep better this weekend knowing that.


  1. I doubt it. Google books straight away came up with one from 1990 and one from 1986.

    1. The question is not "When did Germans, writing in German, use the German word Ausgangstext (referring to the text being translated) that was later borrowed into English (with a related but entirely different meaning)?" but "When did someone writing in English first use the German word Ausgangstext as a word with a specific meaning in English?" Thus quoting from a German book on translation theory doesn't count. Now, one could question WHY we typically retain the German initial capital, whether or not we italicize the word (as witnessed above), but that's a different question entirely.

  2. Do you mean you don't watch cartoons any more? What about with the kids?

  3. It's good to know the backstory of our technical terms. Thanks for digging into that, Peter. I for one will sleep a little more soundly now!

    From the looks of the other blog comment with the earlier dates, might we hope for a part 2 post with additional info and/or datings?

  4. To clarify...

    PMH: "In NTTC" was implied in the title of the post. Also that link causes me stress.

    PJW: Of course I did not mean to imply that. Though I will say that they don't make them like they used to.

    Tim: see above. It may be worthwhile looking at how the term has been used elsewhere but I kind of doubt it since Mink has been pretty consistent in what he means by it.

  5. I would think that the real issue in interpreting other uses of the term is whether they comport with what was eloquently stated by Mink, and which seem to distinguish the Ausgangstext within NT textual criticism from what might exist in other literary realms:

    "Textual stages that may have been situated between the autograph and the Ausgangstext, are not accessible to text critical means" (emphasis added).

  6. Indeed there may have been stages between the initial text and the published (ausgangtext) yet, they may also be exactly the same text. Without both to compare, for text critical and theological purposes we can treat them as one and the same.
    I continue to believe that the goal of TC is to establish the original text as near as possible.

  7. Question: Does anyone know where I might find a list of the different forms of or evolving text criticism method?