Thursday, May 31, 2018

Differences between ECM Acts and NA28

I need some help from your collective wisdom ...

On pp. 34*-35* of ECM Acts we find a table of Textual Changes, listing differences between ECM and NA28. This is followed by a list of passages with a split guiding line. Many of the textual changes are straightforward, but there is a grey area, signaled by the presence of two distinct lists rather than one.

(1) The entry 2,33/43 says ECM -, NA28 [και].
This is a textual change. The text that is printed is different in the two editions, though the two are not miles apart. It is not that ECM has adopted a reading that was offered as an equal possibility in NA28, which mistakenly we might assume given the square brackets around και in NA28, but the omission of και is signaled in the text. It is good to remember that square brackets do not give a full alternative but rather 'reflect a great degree of difficulty in determining the text', and 'the reading given in the text shows the preference of the editors' (NA28, 54*).
This change is slightly 'bigger' than the change in the next example.

(2) The variant unit 1,11/16 is not given as a textual change:
ECM εμβλεποντες, ΝΑ28 [εμ]βλεποντες
Both ECM and NA28 show the - identical - preference of the editors, though NA28 signals that its editors had a great degree of difficulty. There are no square brackets in the ECM, but do we have a split guiding line? Not here. The difficulty of the past was not large enough to result in a split reading in the present. Technically this is not a textual change. Still, even though there is no difference in the printed text, there is certainly a perceived difference in confidence.

(3) Now take 2,7/5, also not given as a textual change in the ECM list, though here I think there is in fact a change:
ECM - ♦ παντες, NA28 -
To me this looks like a change. A split guiding line means that the editors 'could not determine one variant which most likely represents the initial text' (ECM, 18*), which is close but not identical to the NA28 definition of the square brackets. The split guidance line is a material change to the text of NA28.

(4) The final example is 5,28/4
ECM ου ♦ -, ΝΑ28 [ου]
Since the definitions of square brackets and split guiding line differ subtly, I think technically there is a change here too. The ECM split line signals that there is no reading that is 'most likely', whilst the bracketed [ου] still signals the preference of the editors of the NA28 for the printed reading. Of course, most of us would be tempted to read ECM and NA28 as telling us the same, but I do not think they do.

Example (1) is found in the listing of textual changes in the ECM, example (2) is not listed in the print edition, and (3) and (4) are found in the listing of passages with a split guiding line.

My question after all this is, what is more accurate, to say that ECM differs from NA28 in 52 places and presents a split reading in a further 155 places, or that the text of ECM differs in 207 places from NA28? [warning: I counted the list manually, so I may be a little off, but I hope you get the question.]


  1. I think the more correct position is to affirm the latter: 'ECM differs in 207 places from NA28' (assuming the numbers are correct). If you say that the ECM differs in 52 places from NA28 then you are (wrongly) interpreting the split readings as if the decision to mark one of the readings as the a-text (and to print that text, we assume, in NA29 with a diamond) reflects a deliberate textual choice or preference. My understanding is that split readings represent places where the editors, within the constraints of the method/s they are using, declare themselves unable to decide on a single Ausgangstext. The two readings are, from the editors' perspective completely equal, and the decision to default the a-text to the NA text is made only with a nod to history, not as a textual preference. Therefore all these places are important changes to the NA28 text. Hence 207.

    1. I see the logic of this, but where there is a split reading, there is no stated ECM Ausgangstext. So what is there for NA28 to differ from?

    2. You are reversing the chronology here. The ECM differs from NA28. So if ECM decides against presenting an initial text it makes a decision against the practice of the earlier NA28, right?

    3. Re Peter Gurry's comment: Within the ECM, when there is a split reading, there is still a labelling of one of them as an a-text and the other as a b-text (or sometimes c-text or some other letter depending on presumed local genealogies). Of course here the a-text is not the Ausgangstext (but I'm presuming that it is the NA28 text).

  2. This is similar to the question of what to do about lacunae when comparing two manuscripts quantitatively: it's easy to count disagreements where both manuscripts preserve the text, and clearly variation units where both lack the text can be ignored, but what if only one of the two is lacunose? Since uncertainty on the part of the editors is functionally a "lacuna in the Ausgangstext," we could apply approaches to that problem here.

    If you want the most conservative measure of the differences, you would consider only the places where both have known readings (which, in this case, amounts to leaving out all of the four cases shown above). You might say, "There are 52 differences in the text, with another 155 in the apparatus," and follow this up with any necessary clarifications.

  3. Paolo Trovato6/02/2018 8:02 pm

    What about making (also) a typological distinction between polygenetical and monogenetical variant readings? To the first list would surely belong the following variants: a) insertion, omission, substitution, paleographical change of a single grapheme or of an abbreviation mark. b) insertion, omission, replacement of monosyllabic empty words (articles, conjunctions, prepositions, modal verbs, etc.), c) insertion or omission of prefixes that do not significantly modify the sense of a verse; d) graphic or phonomorphological variants and the like. Different variants are in many cases monogenetical, that is they do not depend on the scribe, but on the exemplar ,and as a rule are more relevant

    1. Klaus Wachtel6/04/2018 8:36 am

      It is certainly important to distinguish between poly- and monogenetical variants. In the transmission of the Greek NT, however, inconspicuous variants often have remarkably coherent attestations. This means that a variant that appears to be polygenetical is often proven to be monogenetical by its attestation. In NTTC it is good practice to take internal *and* external evidence into account when assessing a variant.

    2. Paolo Trovato6/04/2018 1:31 pm

      I fully agree. The same happens in a significant number of cases (maybe 10%, maybe little more) in the transmission of Dante's Commedia (580 MSS.). When we finished to collate all the witnesses we realized that some apparently polygenetical variants were almost certainly monogenetical. Nevertheless, I think that such a distinction in your lists could be of use also for further research

  4. Joey is exactly right to use the term “lacuna in the Ausgangstext” here, and I think that Peter Gurry’s question is to the point: If there is a lacuna in the Ausgangstext, “what is there for NA28 to differ from?”