Wednesday, October 07, 2020

More Guest Lectures on TC


We’ve uploaded two more videos to our TCI YouTube channel from my ThM TC course. You can find all the guest lecture videos here (not all are recorded).

The first new video is from Joey McCollum on identifying textual clusters and is based on his recent AUSS article on the same topic. The second is by Clark Bates on the origin of Greek minuscule. Clark is soon headed off to Birmingham and we wish him and his family well, especially as they adjust to life with no sun and temps below 110°F. Thanks to both for sharing their research with us.

Joey McCollum

Clark Bates

Friday, October 02, 2020

Sung: How Kurt Aland Got Two Votes on the UBS Committee

The following is an email sent to me by Felix Sung and shared here with his permission. I have confirmed the gist of this second-hand account with another student of Dr. Bob Lyon. I would be happy to have others add any firsthand knowledge.
I read with interest your Aug 4, 2016 post on Kurt Aland’s opposition to voting in the ECM and the comments on the apparent inconsistency between his stated opposition to voting and his membership on the UBS editorial committee. I think I can shed a little light, albeit second hand, on the backstory.

I was a M.Div. (academic track) student at Asbury Theological Seminary from 1985–1988, during which I took five or six courses (several of which were independent studies) in NT TC with Robert W. Lyon [MA (Princeton) in NT TC under Metzger; Ph.D. (St. Andrews) in NT TC under Matthew Black (Diss. A Re-examination of Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, 1958)].

Dr. Lyon—Bob, as he insisted we call him—served as Recording Secretary for the UBS Committee from 1957–1961 and claimed to have been present for the negotiations that led to a “gentlemen’s agreement” (Bob’s phrase) that resulted in UBS and NA printing the identical text.

The story, as Bob recounted it, is that during the runup to publication of UBS 1, Metzger and Black got wind of a rumor that Kurt Aland—without having informed either Nida or the Committee—was preparing a new edition of NA that he planned to publish after the UBS was published, but which would reflect his critical judgments alone, without regard to whether or not those judgments agreed with those of the Committee.

When confronted by Metzger and Black, Aland admitted that that was indeed the case, at which point Metzger and Black demanded that the NA text be identical to the UBS text, believing (probably rightly) that, since the NA text, with its fuller critical apparatus, was at the time—and in many circles still is—considered the “scholarly” text, it would reflect negatively on their competence if the NA text differed from the UBS text, i.e., Aland would be saying, in effect, “Here’s what the UBS text should have been, except I was outvoted by those other incompetent boobs.”

Aland refused.

Metzger and Black went to Eugene Nida (American Bible Society’s Executive Secretary for Translations, who organized and oversaw the workings of the UBS Committee, “who also took part in Committee discussions, especially those relating to major decisions of policy and method,” Preface to UBS 1) and threatened to resign from the Committee.

Nida, who to this point knew nothing of Aland’s plan, and seeing years of work, planning, and tremendous expense about to go up in flames, put the screws to Aland and got him to agree to publish a text identical to that of the UBS … but not before Aland had extracted his “pound of flesh”—Matthew Black’s expression, according to Bob, for the concession Nida made to get Aland’s agreement. That is, Nida agreed that Aland’s view would be printed in the body of the text whenever the Committee deadlocked on which variant represented the “original” or “best” reading. In effect, Nida gave Aland two votes in those instances, meaning that whenever the Committee was evenly divided on a reading or split 3–2 with Aland in the minority, Aland’s view ended up in the text, because he could use his second vote to break the tie or force a deadlock. (This naturally raises the question of whether or not the other Committee members ever “ganged up” against Aland to ensure that one of his pet readings didn’t make it into the text.)

Incidentally, Bob—whom Metzger arranged to have fill in for him at Princeton while Metzger was on sabbatical in 1964 to work on the Textual Commentary—speculated that the phrasing “Some members … others” and the “A majority of the Committee … a minority …” in the Textual Commentaries was Metzger’s way of indicating the places where Aland exercised his second vote to prevail against the simple majority of the Committee.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Brief Update on the UBS6 from Florian Voss

Over on Twitter, Florian Voss gives a short update on updates being made for the UBS6.

Readers may remember that last year at SBL Holger Strutwolf gave 2022 as a possible date for the NA29 with the UBS6 following after that.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Brief Guide to Good Typography


Good communication is clear. It’s more than that, but never less. To be clear, the language we use matters. All of us know that. 

But, if typography is what language looks like (according to Ellen Lupton), then the type we use also matters. Maybe you know that too, but you don’t know what to do about it. 

If so, you may be interested in my “Brief Guide to Good Typography.” It’s designed for busy students, so it’s brief. It’s not designed for professional designers, so it only covers the basics. I try to cover those elements of good typography that are the easiest to use and make the most improvement. If you find it  helpful, I’m very happy for you to share it far and wide.

A brief guide to good typography

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Some notes from fun reading: Erasmus, Original Text, Shorter Reading, Spurgeon, Al Capone(!)


I’ve been trying to read a few works that have been around for a few years that, for some reason, I haven’t read until now. What follows are some thoughts that are probably old hat to everyone else. It’s a longish post with some tangents and random thoughts.

I. Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, ed. David Alan Black

Book coverA solid little book. The essays are certainly valuable in themselves, but I wanted to point out a couple of things from Moisés Silva’s response at the end. Silva describes himself as “an unrepentant and unshaken Hortian” (p. 142), but makes the helpful observation that Hort was really not doing anything new. Silva writes (p. 142):

“Keep in mind that what Hort did—in collaboration with Westcott and, less directly, Lightfoot—was primarily to synthesize and logically articulate nineteenth-century text-critical scholarship, which was itself the culmination of intensive work tracing its lineage back to Bengel in the eighteenth century, Bentley in the seventeenth century, and Erasmus in the sixteenth century. Yes, Erasmus, because even the creator of what would later be known as the textus receptus was absolutely committed to the very principles that lie at the foundations of WH’s accomplishments.” 

Silva’s words here stuck out to me because it’s something I’ve been saying for a little while. Was Erasmus doing the exact same thing as text critics today? Well, not exactly the same thing. However, the more I read his annotations, and assuming I have at least a working understanding of how textual criticism is done today (a premise to which I am sure somebody somewhere might object), the more difficult it is for me to escape the conclusion that Erasmus was very much in the same trajectory of what we are doing today. One difference is that it is clear from Erasmus' annotations that it was not always his intention to give the original text [see note at the end of this post]. Some might claim that this is not a goal today [Warning: tangent coming], but 1. it certainly is for some of us, and 2. Even some scholars who might not affirm the importance of the original text still function as if that is something we’re after and also something that basically can be obtained. On this point, Silva points to Ehrman’s Orthodox Corruption of Scripture to demonstrate this point (p. 149):

Although [Orthodox Corruption of Scripture] is appealed to in support of blurring the notion of an original text, there is hardly a page in that book that does not in fact mention such a text or assume its accessibility. ‘Why is such-and-such a reading in Mark a later corruption and not original? Because Mark (authorial intent!) would not likely have said such a thing.’ Indeed, Ehrman’s book is unimaginable unless he can identify an initial form of the text that can be differentiated from a later alteration.

Monday, September 14, 2020

New Open Access Handbook of Stemmatology


De Gruyter has just published a major new handbook on stemmatology, i.e., the study of textual relations. The full title is Handbook of Stemmatology: History, Methodology, Digital Approaches. I sampled a few chapters over the weekend and I am looking forward to reading further. The format recalls another major open access introduction, Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction. Like that volume, this one is organized by subject areas that each have their own subeditor and contributors. Many of the names I recognize as leaders in the field. As with most handbooks, the goal is not to break new ground so much as to give the lay of the land. 

Here is the publisher’s description:

Stemmatology studies aspects of textual criticism that use genealogical methods to analyse a set of copies of a text whose autograph has been lost. This handbook is the first to cover the entire field, encompassing both theoretical and practical aspects of traditional as well as modern digital methods and their history. As an art (ars), stemmatology’s main goal is editing and thus presenting to the reader a historical text in the most satisfactory way. As a more abstract discipline (scientia), it is interested in the general principles of how texts change in the process of being copied. Thirty eight experts from all of the fields involved have joined forces to write this handbook, whose eight chapters cover material aspects of text traditions, the genesis and methods of traditional “Lachmannian” textual criticism and the objections raised against it, as well as modern digital methods used in the field. The two concluding chapters take a closer look at how this approach towards texts and textual criticism has developed in some disciplines of textual scholarship and compare methods used in other fields that deal with “descent with modification”. The handbook thus serves as an introduction to this interdisciplinary field.

– First systematic coverage of stemmatology as a field within textual criticism.
– Written by 38 experts in fields from various philologies to biology and information theory.
– Illustrations and many practical examples from a wide range of disciplines are provided to render the content more accessible.

H/T: Georgi Parpulov 

Monday, September 07, 2020

Shao on the Codicology of GA 2860


Last week in my textual criticism course we had a nice lecture from Jessica Shao on GA 2860. It’s a manuscript she worked on through the Green Scholars Initiative with Amy Anderson and her students at North Central University. They had multiple leaves from 2860 which turned out to match those at the Holy Land Experience in Florida.