Monday, April 22, 2019

Robinson and Bordalejo on the CBGM and 1 Peter 4.16

A recently posted article on Academia by Barbara Bordalejo and Peter Robinson spends some time on the interesting change in the NA28 at 1 Peter 4.16. There, the ECM and NA28 read ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ instead of ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ. The change is noteworthy because μέρει is somewhat awkward but much more so because it’s only attested in the 9th century and later. All the early evidence—Greek and versional—is on the side of ὀνόματι. Hence the many editions and commentators that prefer ὀνόματι.

Bordalejo and Robinson are interested in this change because they see it as a case where
the effect of the CBGM is to act as a kind of sleight of hand, with the textual flow diagram suggesting that all the older manuscripts and versions amount to a single line of descent, and so (indeed) having no more stemmatic weight than the single line of descent represented by the Byzantine text (p. 22).
The problem they have is in the textual flow diagram which shows 01, 1739, and P72 deriving ὀνόματι  from 03.

As they explain,
the change appears first in Vaticanus (03) and thence descends to Sinaiticus Alexandrinus [sic; they seem to think the “/2” after 01 means 02 but it doesn’t] (01 02) P72 and 1739. This is in accord with the way in which the CBGM shows textual flow working. Because Sinaiticus has more variants from the Ausgangstext (350) than has Vaticanus (280), the textual flow shows the text of Sinaiticus as descended from Vaticanus. But this is simply not true. Sinaiticus is comprehensively not a copy of Vaticanus or descended from it. It is here that the exclusion of sub-ancestors from the textual flow diagrams becomes a problem. [Andrew C.] Edmondson’s representation of the textual flow appears to show all of 01 02 [sic] P72 and 1739 descending from 03. But this is not the case. Not one of these four [sic] manuscripts is a descendant of 03.
The problem here is that they read the textual flow diagram exactly the way it should not be read, namely, as if it were a traditional stemma. A textual flow diagram is not and should not be read as if it is telling us what the actual, historical ancestors were. Instead, it shows us the most closely related witness that has more ancestral readings (i.e., the closest potential ancestor in CBGM terms).

Because of this, they are exactly right to note that “It is possible that there might have been an exemplar below the archetype from which all of the uncials, P72 1739, and all the versions, might have descended.” This is indeed a possibility, especially given the loss of NT manuscripts. But what the coherence shows is that no matter which reading we set as initial (ὀνόματι or μέρει), the coherence suggests that the text probably did changed from μέρει to ὀνόματι in the course of transmission. As Tommy and I have written
This suggests that, if reading b was the original source of reading a, reading a must have nevertheless developed from b a number of times as the text was subsequently copied. The simpler explanation, in light of the transcriptional evidence already discussed, is that it also developed in this way in the first place. (New Approach, p. 73)
To be sure, anyone is welcome to set aside the evidence of coherence at this point in favor of what they might consider weightier, alternate evidence. The CBGM never forces our decision, it only provides additional evidence, evidence that must be interpreted. But it is to misread the evidence from the textual flow diagram to think that they suggest that 03 was the historical exemplar of P72, 01, and 1739. This is precisely what Tommy and I warn against in our book (see p. 92).

Bordalejo and Robinson also seem to think there is some difficulty with the reading ὀνόματι but I don’t see it and their appeal to the CEB and Good News Bible is a bit odd—as is their citation of the ETC blog as an example of “groups of fundamentalist Baptists with the motto ‘King James Only’, and a group of well-qualified scholars who assert the value of the Byzantine text under various labels: as ‘textus receptus’ or the ‘majority text’” (p. 18)!

Robinson and Bordalejo have long been at the forefront of so much in the field of digital stemmatics and I have profited from reading so much of their work. In this one case, however, I think a misunderstanding has led to wrong conclusion about the CBGM.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

From Cairo to the Cloud: The World of the Cairo Geniza

I received an email this morning about a 92-minute documentary telling the story of the Cairo Geniza from discovery to upload on the cloud. I've not seen it, and the DVD does not appear to be too cheap. But the trailer (posted below) certainly makes me want to view it soon.

Here's a little more from the website:
In 1896, Talmudic scholar Solomon Schechter entered the sacred storeroom - or geniza - of an ancient synagogue in Cairo and discovered a vast collection of manuscripts that has revolutionized our understanding of Jewish history. 
Composed of religious texts and medical prescriptions, literary treasures and love letters, marriage contracts and business reports, magical amulets and children’s drawings, the Cairo Geniza reveals every aspect of society, from the impoverished beggar to the celebrated scholar. Among the most striking of the Geniza’s many discoveries are hand-written drafts written by Moses Maimonides himself, the legendary 12th century rabbi, scholar, philosopher, and physician.
Larger, more varied and, arguably, more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls, the half million fragments of the Geniza open a window into a vanished civilization that illuminates over a thousand years of Jewish, Christian and Muslim life at the heart of the Islamic world and testifies to a “golden age” of relative religious tolerance nearly unimaginable today. 
After their discovery, the documents were dispersed among seventy different libraries and collections world-wide. Today, however, thanks to an unprecedented international effort, these archives have been digitally re-united. After a thousand years of silence, the Geniza has journeyed from Cairo to the cloud where it is freely accessible online to everyone, everywhere.
From Cairo to the Cloud tells this extraordinary story, the vital society the Geniza reveals, and the efforts taken by an international consortium of archivists and digital experts to bring these ancient manuscripts into the modern world.

From Cairo to the Cloud - Trailer from D-Facto Filmstudio on Vimeo.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Articles on Textual Criticism

It’s hard to keep up with everything that’s published even in one’s own discipline these days. At any rate, here are a few articles I’ve read recently. Feel free to let us know in the comments what I’ve missed or what you’re reading (or writing).

Jonge, Hank Jan de. “Erasmus’ Novum Testamentum of 1519.” NovT 61, no. 1 (2019): 1–25.

Abstract. Erasmus’ Novum Testamentum of 1519 is an improved and enlarged edition of his Novum Instrumentum of 1516. The chief component remained his new version of the NT in more cultivated Latin than that of the Vulgate. But the 1519 edition also includes several Greek paratexts not yet printed in 1516. This article discusses the Greek witnesses which were used for the new edition and points out Greek and Latin readings in which it differs from 1516. The importance of the 1519 Novum Testamentum is that it constitutes the consolidation of Erasmus’ humanistic programme for promoting the study of the NT as an essentially philological discipline. The work is Erasmus’ self-confident vindication of this programme against advocates of the Vulgate and scholastic theology.
As to be expected from de Jonge, this is a well-informed look at Erasmus’s second edition with plenty of good info on the first edition and how the second differed.

Miller, Jeff. “Breaking the Rules: Lectio Brevior Potior and New Testament Textual Criticism.” BT 70, no. 1 (2019): 82–93.

Abstract. Though the principle regarding a preference for the shorter reading is often still included in descriptions of text-critical method, it has fallen out of use. The maxim lectio brevior potior (“prefer the shorter reading”) should not be, and in fact is not, a factor in the modern practice of New Testament textual criticism. This article briefly states reasons for the maxim’s inapplicability and then surveys a large amount of contemporary text-critical and exegetical literature to demonstrate the maxim’s demise.
I’m not convinced that lectio brevior is actually dead, but I am convinced that it should be.

Johnson, Nathan C. “Living, Active, Elusive: Toward a Theology of Textual Criticism.” Journal of Reformed Theology 12, no. 2 (2018): 83–102.

Abstract. Although the doctrine of scripture is central to systematic theology, one aspect of Christian scripture is rarely engaged, namely, the ongoing presence of textual variants. And although the reconstruction of the earliest form of Christian scripture is the primary object of textual criticism, text critics have rarely given a theological rationale for their discipline. Across the disciplinary divide, this essay attempts a rapprochement. For systematic theology, the essay underscores the challenges of the variable, fluid text that is Christian scripture. For textual criticism, it calls attention to two useful theological concepts and retrieves the bivalent reading strategies of two premodern scholars, Origen and Augustine, who artfully blended theology and nascent textual criticism.
This one isn’t as recent as the others, but, having mentioned my excitement about Dirk’s chapter on theology in his new book, I was reminded of this article from Nathan Johnson that I read last year. In the end, I’m not convinced that “bivalence” is the way forward but it’s refreshing to see serious theological reflection on TC happening at this level. This article probably deserves its own blog post really.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Mark Ward: A New Tool for Teaching Textual Criticism to English Speakers

Today’s guest post is from Mark Ward. Mark received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the Church as an Academic Editor at Lexham Press, the publishing imprint at Faithlife, makers of Logos Bible Software. He has written hundreds of articles for the Logos blog, and his most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, a book “highly recommended” by D.A. Carson.

Though my efforts to grasp the CBGM have made me wonder if I should return all my biblical studies diplomas in shame, I am deeply grateful for the work of Evangelical Textual Criticism. I love to nerd out on all the asterisks and obelisks, and my stock method of impressing people at parties is to recite from memory all the NA28 sigla. (Not true.)

But I humbly suggest that believing textual critics ought to keep insisting to the church, for the good of the church, that most of their work is a tempest in a rather small teapot—and not the one Mother sets out when company comes over. Precisely because of my love for it, and after following it all these many years, and while acknowledging that textual criticism has chronological priority in exegesis, I insist that ETC is the etc. of biblical studies. It is the tithe on mint, dill, and cumin.

No, probably just the cumin.

And I have built a textual criticism teaching tool that, I hope, will help everyone see just how inconsequential the vast majority of textual decisions are: After two years of labor, and helped along by numerous skilled volunteers, the site launches with the complete New Testament (plus study tools!) today.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Dirk’s New Book on Textual Criticism

Since Dirk probably has better things to do than publicize his own book, I’ll take the liberty here to alert our readers of his book coming out next month from Crossway.

An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

By Dirk Jongkind

Is the New Testament text reliable?
What do we do with textual variants?
How do I use the Greek New Testament?

This short book, written as a companion to The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge, provides crucial information about the Tyndale House edition in particular and the Greek New Testament in general.

Dirk Jongkind, one of the principal scholars behind this groundbreaking project, answers critical questions for understanding the biblical text so that you can have clarity and confidence as you engage with the New Testament in the original Greek.

Table of Contents:

  1. Your Greek New Testament and the Manuscripts
  2. Practicalities
  3. Manuscripts
  4. How Decisions Are Made
  5. Why Not the Textus Receptus?
  6. Why Not the Byzantine Text?
  7. Biblical Theology and the Transmission of the Text
  8. Where to Go from Here?
I really like that Dirk has a chapter on theology. Many of the great text critics of the past included theology in discussions of their method and approach and its nice to see that happening here. You can see the endorsements here. I just pre-ordered mine today. Looking forward to it.