Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Free Codex Vaticanus (amended)

On Wieland Willker's excellent list textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com there is discussion of a PDF facsimile of Vaticanus that can be downloaded free. Earlier the URL for this download was posted on this blog, but it has been deleted since the legal position of the facsimile is unclear.

I would strongly encourage those experienced in TC who are not members of Wieland's list to consider joining it.

Internal evidence in a text-critical edition of the GNT

Quote: "I think the aim of the NA28 in deleting such notes [i.e. on conjectural emendations - GV] would be that it is a text based on the documentary evidence for the NT text, not for the history of the study of the NT." (Peter Head, under "Conjectural emendation")

Should the printed text (including text in apparatus) of a text-critical edition be based solely on the documentary evidence (= external) or on internal evidence (intrinsic + transcriptional) as well? If internal evidence is to be excluded, references to parallel passages (as in the NA app. with Col. 1:14) should also be left out.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Earliest Gospels

Just arrived on my desk: Charles Horton, ed., The Earliest Gospels: The Origins and Transmission of the Earliest Christian Gospels - The Contribution of the Chester Beatty Gospel Codex P45 (JSNTSS 258; T & T Clark, London, 2004). Essays by Sean Freyne, Martin Hengel, Harry Gamble, Graham Stanton, William Petersen, James Robinson, Martin McNamara, Barbara Aland, Keith Elliott, Larry Hurtado, Charles Horton.

To Ephesus?

The first verse of Ephesians reads:
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus...”
(NIV, italics mine)

The phrase εν Εφεσωι is excluded from the earliest manuscripts:
P46 א* B* 6. 1739; (McionT,E cf Inscr.)
versus א2 A B‎2 D F G Ψ 0278. 33. 1881 Majority Text latt sy co which have εν Εφεσωι.

Without this reference there is nothing in Ephesians to address the letter. In fact, it would seem to be one of the least personal and more theological of the letters as it does not address problems.

Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:1 and Philippians 1:1 all use the same grammatical construction (ousin en ...) which suggests that it is a Pauline construction... or the type of construction that a scribe would insert thinking that it had been left out. (Note Romans 1:7 is also textually suspect, albeit much less so than Eph. 1)

The irony is that the stronger the argument which a scholar makes for the construction εν Εφεσωι being Pauline, the stronger the argument is for another scholar who argues that it was inserted and then preserved in later documents because of its Pauline nature.

Did they include this solely on the ground of church tradition? Should it be included?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

1 Peter 1:1

I asked a while ago about the title to 1 Peter. It's time now to start going through the text.

The first variant in NA27 is the addition of και, but the Peshitta does not support this variant as claimed. The Peshitta necessarily introduces 'and' in rendering certain types of appositional construction.

The second variant allegedly omits και. Can Augustine (in Latin) really be cited for such a detail?

To what extent is there a genetic connection between the various witnesses cited for each variant in verse 1?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Timpanaro on Lachmann

Sebastiano Timpanaro, La genesi del metodo del Lachmann, (Florence, 1963), translated into German as Die Entstehung der Lachmannschen Methode (Hamburg, 1971) should be available in February 2006 as The Genesis of Lachmann's Method (University of Chicago Press). Further details available here.

More wisdom from the past?

"It will not be necessary endlessly to make the point that readings which we judge to be superior taken by themselves are only to be preferred to others if they are supported by at least a few ancient witnesses. I pay no attention to readings which are supported by no adequate witness, but only by late and worthless ones. However, the more internal indications of its excellence a reading displays, the fewer the witnesses necessary to establish it. In practice, therefore, it can happen that a reading exhibits so many and such obvious indications of its worth that two witnesses, provided that they belong to different types and families, or even a single witness, are enough to support it."

This seems sensible in general, don't you think?
What are the most compelling readings supported by only a single witness?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jongkind on Sinaiticus

A report on Dirk Jongkind's Cambridge PhD thesis, 'Studies in the Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus' is in the Tyndale Bulletin 56.2 (2005) pp. 153-56. Jongkind has developed innovative ways of distinguishing between what the three scribes of Sinaiticus had in their exemplar and the habits of the scribes themselves.

Conjectural emendation

In TC some of the insurmountable gaps between scholars have to do with a very different appreciation for some of the witnesses to the text of the NT (Codex B, the Majority text, vg, quotations in church fathers etc.). Transcriptional reasoning seems much less problematic, at first glance. The purest form of transcriptional reasoning is done by those who suggest conjectural emendations (cj) to the text.
I have noticed Evangelical scholarship tends to be quite reluctant to allow for cj.
Let me raise a question here: is cj compatible with a high view of Scripture? Personally I cannot see why not. In my article “Paul’s Use of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 1-4 and Conjectural Emendation in 4:6.” (Analecta Bruxellensia 9 (2004): 102-122) p. 108-115 I have suggested 10 criteria for evaluation of a conjectural emendation. I would appreciate your response. Here they are:
  1. The emendation does justice to the style or the idiom of the author, or at least more justice than the traditional reading.
  2. The emendation solves the problem in the text.
  3. The emendation does not introduce new difficulties or riddles.
  4. The extant readings are – either directly or indirectly – explicable as corruptions of the emended reading.
  5. Few early witnesses are available for the passage.
  6. The reconstruction of the original text has been contested in an early stage.
  7. The development from the conjectured original of at least one of the extant readings could have taken place in an early stage.
  8. The emendation requires only a minor intervention.
  9. Textual critics are not removing or softening elements in the traditional text that offend their logic, culture or ideology.
  10. The derivation of the traditional reading from the emended one may not require procedures that were not current in the earliest formative stage of the NT text.

Gie Vleugels

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Eph 1:1 update

D.A. Black (dbo) links to a paper of his on Eph 1:1 (found here) which discusses the textual problem (including conjectural readings, see page 61, note 5). He also refers to a paper of his on conjectures in Matthew (no reference yet).

Further Reflection on Ehrman

I've been thinking a little bit more about the Wright vs. Ehrman exchange at SBL. I think that it is probably worth observing that Ehrman was in fact the only person who maintained that there was a logical link between any doctrine of inspiration and the need to have particular words from God for such a doctrine to work. Thus, though in other respects he may seem the furthest from the classic evangelical position, in this respect he was the closest.

I'm now a third of the way through his book Misquoting Jesus. He has had to suffer what many an author has experienced, which is to find that the publisher has managed to put the Hebrew on the cover upside down. Fortunately, it is only the background and so it does not stand out too badly. The Hebrew is obviously a Dead Sea Scroll (CD?), but, unusually, nothing is said about the cover design.

I disagree with much of the general picture that Ehrman is painting, in particular the quantity of change that he suggests went on in the text early on (e.g. suggestions that there may have once been versions of John that lacked 1:1-18 or ch. 21). However, there is good coverage of much material. He emphasises the importance of written scripture for early Christians (even if they couldn't all read it) and affirms that 1 Tim. 5:18 does cite Luke 10:7 as scripture (p. 31).

Strangely he seems to think that since Galatians was written to a number of churches Paul must have made multiple copies so that there was no single autograph (pp. 58-60). I find it rather unlikely that the letter carrier would actually carry multiple copies when the letter could be reproduced locally. Do we have any evidence of multiple copies of letters being carried by a single individual?

[Addition on 3 Jan 2006: my review of Misquoting Jesus is available here.]

SBL Final Report

The last SBL session on NT TC was on Monday 21 November. It featured Holger Strutwolf, who has replaced Barbara Aland as director of the INTF in Münster. His paper 'The Transmission of the New Testament between Christian Philosophical School and Scriptoria: Some Observations concerning the "Sitz im Leben" of Christian Textual Traditions' argued that in the second century there were two styles of copying the text, a looser and a tighter style, and that the looser style was to be connected with Christian philosophical schools, which were prepared to emend the text, because these schools were modelled on pagan philosophical schools which did such things to secular texts. During the question time he also expressed support for Trobisch's theory that there was a single canonical edition of the NT made during the second century.

The next paper was by William L. Petersen (Penn State - world expert on the Diatessaron) arguing that Second Clement shows that the text of parts of the NT that it cites were not verbally fixed during the second century.

The third paper, by Thomas J. Kraus, treated 'manuscripts' of the Lord's prayer. Apparently there are a number of texts of this that are not usually listed in manuscript lists: early versions of the Lord's prayer on amulets, pieces of wood, pottery, papyrus, parchment, and even inscribed on stone. These show considerable variety amongst themselves (and are not strict textual witnesses). A number of the texts show some of the Lord's prayer alongside parts of Psalm 90.

I had to leave before Juan Hernández, Jr, spoke on 'Scribal Tendencies in the Apocalypse: Starting the Conversation'.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Diatessaron book

I'd like particularly to draw attention to Ulrich Schmid, Unum ex quattuor: Eine Geschichte der lateinischen Tatianueberlieferung (Herder, 2005). Entitled 'One out of four: A history of the Latin tradition of Tatian', this work explains the history of running harmonies of the four Gospels in the West. Tatian had originally rolled the four Gospels into one account in the second half of the second century, but his harmony no longer survives. Textual critics argued that daughter versions in Western languages (e.g. Middle English, Old High German), when they agreed with daughter versions in Eastern languages (e.g. Arabic, Persian), could give us important information about the text of the second century. In a meticulous study Schmid shows that all of the Western harmonies could go back to a single Latin manuscript. All of their 'agreements' with Eastern witnesses would then become coincidental. From initial reading it seems a brilliant demolition job on a whole load of previous scholarship. The whole textbook story about reconstruction of the Tatian's harmony (the Diatessaron) being essential for study of the early Gospel text is shown to have elements of the mythic about it.

Text-Critical Software?

Do any of you have any handy software for doing textual critical research? Perhaps some of you have some novel uses for word or excel in tracking textual phenomena.

I have enjoyed using the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible (http://www.logos.com/products/details/1981). It is less expensive to buy in the US and Canada than on the other side of the ditch. The SESB is the only electronic Bible software that currently has the critical apparatus in it, if I am correct. Logos is working on one, though. It also has the LXX and Vulgate as well as the major Bible versions in French, German, Dutch, and English, rather than the lesser known ones you tend to get with the other software.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Live (and Late) from SBL

Here's a belated report on yesterday's panel discussion with Bart Ehrman, Tom Wright, Dominic Crossan and Dale Martin on the authority of the Bible. The panel was reviewing Ehrman's and Wright's latest books. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus is (it is said) the first ever layperson's introduction to textual criticism. It begins, unusually, with Ehrman's 'testimony' of how he was brought up in a church-going, but not very religious family, got 'born again', went to the Moody Bible Institute, then Wheaton (where doubts began), then Princeton (where he was finally flipped by the difficulty of Abiathar in Mark 2:26). Nothing so personal has yet appeared from Ehrman in print to my knowledge. I'd say that Wright and Ehrman came off about equal. Tom has brilliant verbal skills; Crossan came across as weak; Martin tried to pursue the line that Bart and Tom were making category errors by connecting history and theology too closely.

Bart clearly came across as the only one who knew about textual criticism and his premises were not challenged. The audience was about 500 and there was a lively debate in which various people were involved from the floor, including David Parker (against Tom) and Voelz (against Bart). Tom was the only one who defended anything like a traditional Christian approach to the Bible, though he explicitly distanced himself from speaking about 'God's words' as a designation of Scripture. The whole panel seemed agreed that verbal inspiration was moribund and only a belief maintained by the 'ultra-conservative'. Historically, of course, it is mainstream.

Overall I think that it is a pity that some of the premises of the discussion were not challenged, but I think that classic evangelicals have to do a bit more work on honing arguments before such a public debate would be at its most profitable.

[Update 3 Jan 2006: my review of Misquoting Jesus is now available here.]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Live from SBL Philadelphia 2005

Opening day of SBL:

I had the privilege of giving the opening paper at the SBL textual criticism section. No one came up with a 'show stopper' question to my paper 'A re-evaluation of the role of the Early Versions in New Testament Textual criticism', but obviously it's hard for me to come up with an objective evaluation of what I said.

The following paper was by Luc Herren, Muenster, on the new digital Nestle-Aland (28th edition). It sounds like they will have a complete edition out in about 2 years. The digital edition will also offer links to a dictionary and allow access to detail such as spelling and the original layout of the page in the manuscripts.

Thereafter Klaus Wachtel, Muenster, explained what had made him change his mind on the Byzantine text. Essentially he thinks there are some early elements in it. He also argued for the abolition of the category of 'text-type' (though he had to compress his paper and so this bit wasn't explained fully).

Robert Shedinger was ill, so Amy Anderson read his paper 'Silencing the Syriac Tradition: Evidence and Rhetoric in the Early Versions of Bruce Metzger and Arthur Voeoebus.' I didn't come across many people who agreed with the paper.

I made it to the paper anounced earlier on Barth's take on the transmission of Scripture, but arrived slightly late. The material didn't seem very relevant and, at least for me, was on the incomprehensible side.

Let's hope that Bart is more worth listening to than Barth.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Robinson and Pierpont 2005

I picked up some bargains on the bookstalls at the Evangelical Theological Society in Philadelphia today. Wipf & Stock are doing a particularly good range, e.g. Crum's Coptic Dictionary for 81 USD. One thing I picked up from a bookstall whose name I've forgotten was M.A. Robinson and W.G. Pierpont's The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform, 2005. It differs slightly from previous editions and has more textual information. Books are given in the order: Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Paulines (with Hebrews after 2 Thessalonians), Revelation. 'The Case for Byzantine Priority' is relegated to an appendix. A second version of the pericope adulterae is given in a slightly different form of print from the rest (italic and smaller). The front pages are fun, esp. the non-copyright notice 'All rights to this text are released to everyone'. I might report more on this once I've checked it over more carefully.

Before the preface is an extensive quotation from Tregelles, Account of the Printed Text, 186, which I quote for edification:

'Let it never be forgotten, that just as it is the place of a Christian to look to God in prayer for his guidance and blessing in all his undertakings, so may he especially do this as to labours connected with the text of Scripture. The object sought in such prayer is not that the critic may be rendered infallible, or that he may discriminate genuine readings by miracle, but that he may be guided rightly and wisely to act on the evidence which the providence of God has preserved, and that he may ever bear in mind what Scripture is, even the testimony of the Holy Ghost to the grace of God in the gift of Christ, and that thus he may be kept from rashness and temerity in giving forth its text. As God in his providence has preserved Holy Scripture to us, so can He sic vouchsafe the needed wisdom to judge of its text simply on grounds of evidence...'

The strong appeal to preservation by Tregelles is interesting, particularly the way preservation is related to evidence.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Luke 22.19b-20

Here is an interesting reading and one that has been much discussed in Cambridge recently, since Luke - Acts is our first year text and an essay on Luke's view (or non-view) of the atonement is a popular one, which hinges, in part at least, on a text-critical decision about what Jesus said at the Last Supper in Luke. Here one can't get away with ridiculous generalisations ("textual criticism never affects theology").

Some years ago I wrote briefly on this, but I remain troubled by the lack of a decent explanation for the shorter reading:

Luke clearly presents the last supper (22.14-22) as a passover meal (vv. 7, 15), and describes traditional passover rituals (including two separate cups: vv. 17, 20). The interpretation of the bread and wine (in 19b, 20) is as follows:
‘This is my body which is given for you.’
‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ This whole passage is omitted in some manuscripts (Codex Bezae, the Old Latin and the early Syriac versions), and thus by some English translations (notably REB). As a consequence, differences of opinion concerning the authenticity of this text have resulted in different views of Luke’s theology (note to Ehrman). In this case, however, the omission is limited to only one branch of Western texts, and the vast majority of manuscripts (both early and of diverse provenance, including P75 and the major uncials) include the long version, and thus recent commentators have regarded its overwhelming attestation as ‘the decisive argument in favour of the Long Text.’[2]

[2] Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, 159. The commentaries by Marshall and Fitzmyer support this; the remaining problem is to explain why the text was omitted: Jeremias suggested that the text was abbreviated in the interests of secrecy, since being a liturgical text the rest would have been well known; Metzger suggests that confusion caused by the mention of two cups led to the omission (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: UBS, 1975) 174).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Barth on Textual Criticism

From the SBL programme book there is news of a session that could be interesting for those looking for interaction between systematics and textual studies:

1.30 p.m., 19 November 2005, Room 103-C, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia

Katherine Sonderegger, Virginia Theological Seminary, 'The doctrine of Inspiration and the Reliability of the Text in Barth'.

Germany, here we come!

There are only four NT mansucripts in Australia: minuscule 662 in Melbourne at the National Gallery of Victoria; and P91 and lectionaries l1968 and l2378 at Macquarie University.
So Australian text-critics will be pleased to hear that Australia beat Uruguay 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out to earn a place at the World Cup Finals next year in Germany (the first time since 1974), where there are many more NT mansucripts of all types.

BBC Report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/4435400.stm

Let's hope we are drawn in the same group as Ingerland.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wettstein on the Shorter Reading

if it was far more often the case (because there were many more compelling factors) that something was added than that something was omitted, then it follows that it is much more plausible that something has been added in one ms than that something has been omitted in the other. I can see really only two reasons for omission: carelessness, which occurs particularly in cases of homoioteleuton; and ignorance, when the scribe, because he did not understand an unfamiliar word, believed that it could be completely omitted without even bothering to weigh up arguments on either side. And it ought to be the case that the effects of both of these factors are restricted to a few mss and to a few passages. For additions, on the other hand, there were far more frequent opportunities: seeing that marginal glosses were at a later stage introduced into the text; that certain words which according to the usage of the church lectionary stood at the beginning or end of the reading in order to express the meaning more fully were added to the text; seeing that (this is by far the most common tendency) one Gospel was supplemented from another Gospel which described the same event a little more fully, or that one passage of Paul was supplemented by the addition of material from a parallel passage.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Brevior lectio - history of the concept

Griesbach wrote in his first canon:
Brevior lectio, nisi testium vetustorum et gravium auctoritate penitus destituatur, praeferenda est verbosiori. Librarii enim multo proniores ad addendum fuerunt, quam ad omittendum.

'A shorter reading, unless it stands completely without the support of ancient and important witnesses, is to be preferred to a more verbose one. Copyists were much more inclined to add than to omit.'

My question is this: what was the basis on which Griesbach maintained that copyists were far more likely to add than to omit? Was it simply his impression, and if so on the basis of how many manuscripts and variant readings? Had there been work on scribal habits within the editing of Classical texts at the time? Or is it rather simply a statement of what Griesbach thought to be intrinsically more likely?

Friday, November 11, 2005


There's a vacancy for someone technologically literate who would be interested in helping with web-design aspects of this site. Co-bloggers were chosen on grounds of scholarship, not familiarity with HTML. Remuneration καιροις ιδιοις, i.e. in the age to come. Write straight to me at the address at the bottom of the blog.

The Authority of the Bible at SBL

There is an SBL NT Textual Criticism session entirely devoted to the theme of 'The Authority of the Bible': 11/19/2005; 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM; Room 114 (Audium) - Pennsylvania Convention Center
This involves a panel review of Bart D. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus (HarperCollins, 2005) and N.T. Wright's The Last Word (HarperCollins, 2005)
Kim Haines-Eitzen, Cornell University, Presiding. Panelists: John Dominic Crossan, Dale Martin, N. T. Wright, Bart Ehrman

I wonder how much textual criticism we will get from Crossan, Martin and Wright?

We ought to get some reports from this session on this blog. Any volunteers?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bloggers at SBL

If anyone who reads this blog and is interested in promoting evangelical engagement in TC is going to the SBL meeting in Philadelphia then it would be good to meet up. Can I suggest 13.oo on 21 Nov 2005 at the Oxford University Press bookstall? Let me know if you'll be there. Adios.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


We've been noticed by other bloggers. Does this mean we can increase our blog-salaries? Stephen Carlson has even read my article in the recent NTS on P4, 64, 67 so that is enthusiasm for you. http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/


Monday, November 07, 2005

Heading of 1 Peter in Vaticanus

NA27 gives the heading of 1 Peter is ΠΕΤΡΟΥ Α' and says that this is supported only by '(B)'. Why are the parentheses on B in this instance? For an image click here. One could ask similar questions about the headings of other books, e.g. 2 Peter, James. What am I missing?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Competition: the best TC links

Our side panel is looking a little bit unelaborate in comparison with that of other blogs. Nominations are therefore invited for the competition of the Top Five TC Links. Please send in your favourites. It would also be appropriate for for the ETC blog (I didn't make this acronym up) to highlight any TC links of merit with an evangelical hue.

One of my own favourites is Wieland Willker's Bible pages.

Friday, November 04, 2005

TC Heresy?

In another blog - http://michaelfbird.blogspot.com/ - Michael Bird (who seems to be a kind of Australian-Scottish reformed baptist braveheart - you know the type) firstly linked to this blog (thus proving that there are at least 2 blogs in the world wide blogosphere) and then asked a question:

I have this insane idea for biblical studies. Why is it when scholars write a commentary on a NT book that they inevitably use either UBS4 or NA27? The fact is that no extant manuscript conforms to the text of UBS4 or NA27 so they are writing a commentary on a manuscript that does not physically exist.

Let me qualify that: (1) I believe that it is worthwhile to comb the various witnesses and try to establish what is probably the original autographs; (2) I'm not advocating the superiority of any one particular textual witness like the Western Text or anything like that. But why doesn't someone take, say, the earliest manuscript on Galatians (p46, ca. 200 I think) and write a commentary on that manuscript and argue in the footnotes passages where they think other readings are to be preferred.

I put this forward because, although I believe in the eclectic approach, at the end of the day there will always be an element of doubt as to our ability to reconstruct the original autographs with any certainty. Alternatively, p46 is a real manuscript not an imagined one, and the question that can be asked is to what degree does p.46 legitimately represent the original autograph. Is using a real manuscript (as opposed to a hypothetical one) as a template for the text of a commentary an act of textual critical heresy; or am I onto something?

It seems to me that the answer is a) that we don't like using the word 'heresy' since W. Bauer ... blah blah blah ...; b) that it is being done with respect to LXX at the moment; c) that we did have commentaries based on a single manuscript tradition for three hundred years (and most of them aren't very interesting on the detailed exegetical material); d) that it would be very interesting to have a series of textual commentaries on important manuscripts - treating them seriously as an artifact and representation of the text in its/their own time; BUT that e) if you want to comment on Paul you need to comment on the text you think Paul originally wrote. You might take P46 as your starting point and then vary from it, but effectively then you are still commenting on an eclectic text. The more disciplined you were in commenting on the manuscript itself, the less sure you would be that you are commenting on Paul.

The great commentaries of the past, thinking of say Lightfoot on Galatians (probably the greatest commentary in the history of NT scholarship), understood that an important part of the commentator's job is to establish (and publish) a critical text alongside the commentary. NT scholars today generally relinquish this job to NA27 and Metzger's Commentary (perhaps thinking that by-and-large the text critical task is complete, or else that the whole field is a bit too complicated) and invest their time and energy in different aspects of the commentators task.

So I'd be all in favour of a series of textual commentaries. Publishers would love it; RAE points for everyone; they would be permanent contributions to scholarship (if done well); helpful for Wirkungsgeschichte; honouring to the memory of the scribes; full of detailed pictures and charts. But I think they would be a lot of work. Sign me up for a little fragment.

What do the rest of you silent co-bloggers think?


The Original Text and the Harder Reading Canon

[This message is posted on behalf of Andrew Wilson. Members of the blog may occasionally post messages from non-members as a means of generating discussion. Nothing is to be infered about the position of the blogger from this.]

Evangelical text critics believe that the Original Text of the NT was without errors due to a belief in the inspiration of Scripture. Many non-evangelical text critics do not hold to such a position, but not simply because of unbelief in the doctrine of inspiration.

The reason such people hold to the idea that the 'original NT text' may have contained errors is that they have become increasingly disappointed by efforts to satisfactorily ascertain what the original NT text was.
The fault largely lies, I believe, at the feet of the lectio difficilior canon. Because of the lectio difficilior canon, the text critic is frequently confronted with a situation of textual stalemate. On the one hand, s/he is told to prefer the reading that makes better sense in terms of the author's intent, theology and context - the superior reading. On the other hand, the lectio difficilior canon dictates that s/he should prefer the inferior reading. The result - unless other factors decide the matter - is textual gridlock.

I believe that the lectio difficilior canon is the real cause of the problem here. Most standard proofs of lectio difficilior involve 'cherry picking' an instance or two where scribes tried to relieve the NT of a difficulty or improve its sense. Others appeal to 'common sense' ("a scribe would be assumed to have removed difficulties rather than to make them") which is really begging the question, isn't it? (See Scrivener for these two approaches, vol. 2, p. 247; read the entire page).

Can anyone think of a way in which it would be possible to put the lectio difficilior canon to the test?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Influence of Warfield

In the comments to an earlier post on Heroes of NT Textual Criticism (no, you haven’t missed the rest of the series, they are still, as they say ‘in preparation’) the question was raised as to whether B.B. Warfield should be regarded as an influential evangelical NT textual critic.

“Peter” was rather dismissive:
Well in my view, Warfield did nothing significant in the field of textual
criticism. Perhaps he did clarify some points of evangelical theology in
relation to the original text, but that was nothing new.
P.J. Williams was rather more positive:
I would agree that Warfield did little by way of research within textual criticism. However, he has had a profound effect on attitudes to textual criticism in the current evangelical constituency. ... If we look at effect on church constituency then Bengel, Warfield and Burgon seem to me to have had the biggest effect ...
Challenged to provide more evidence on this he wrote:
Measuring Warfield’s effect is very difficult, since even if he had published nothing on textual criticism it is certain that many within his constituency would have reached the same conclusions that he did. However, Warfield was the premier theologian of the early twentieth century among the Reformed evangelical constituency, and his favourable, though qualified, acceptance of the scholarly consensus of his day as far as textual criticism was concerned undoubtedly would have persuaded many minds against a more reactionary stance. There is discussion about the relationship between Warfield and the popularity of the doctrinal qualification of the scriptures as ‘inspired as originally given’ (or similar formulations). I haven’t done my homework to see how much is in this.
Well, all that is interesting background to my discovery today of A.T. Robertson’s book, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: H&S, 1925).
Robertson dedicates his book ‘To the Memory of B.B. Warfield’ and describes the great help he had received from Warfield’s book (of the same title) until it went out of print. He tried to get Warfield to revise it, but Warfield refused on the basis that he was teaching Dogmatic Theology. ‘No one else outside of Hort ... had so clearly and fully set forth the principles of textual criticism that the student could readily grasp the science and apply it.’ Then he says that Warfield had urged him (i.e. Robertson) to revise the book. Which eventually he did, although in the end he had to write a new book.
So there is some evidence of the influence of Warfield on someone holding a similar position on Scripture (not presumably on other subjects since Robertson was a Southern Baptist, so no dancing), and who was a rare example of an evangelical scholar engaging in the scholarly endeavour.
PS. There is a rather interesting comment in the preface:
My task would have been greatly simplified if Gregory had carried out his purpose of preparing a new edition of Tischendorf’s Novum Testamentum Graece (1869) instead of going to the front and losing his life.
He continues:
That was a fine exhibition of patriotism for his adopted country (Germany) on the part of a man of seventy, but not the least of the tragedies of the world war.
He later says that he cherishes the hope
‘that some one who reads these words may take up the task that Gregory dropped and carry it on to completion.’
Enough already

The prayers of an evangelical textual critic...

I guess that evangelical textual critics pray, and that some of them pray about their work. Are there any examples of good things to pray for/about if you are an evangelical textual critic?