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.


  1. And where might one read these papers online?

    It seems to me all these academics spend a lot of time talking to each other, but no time informing the wider church about their research. So the papers rot away in the far corner of some theological college and do the church no good at all.

    Instead of investing so much time in researching these papers, why not spend a bit of extra time setting up a web site and uploading the thing so we can all enjoy?

  2. to anonymous,
    One of the functions of reading papers at conferences like SBL is to vet out the papers that you wouldn't or shouldn't enjoy. Some of these papers may be the early stage of something that will become a published article or book. Others will (hopefully) not, once their authors' are put through the gauntlet of questions they will get. Besides, as much as I like the growing use of the internet to create access to scholarship, the limitting factor in my own studies of textual criticism has never been a lack of published works out there for me yet to read, many of which are better than SBL papers. That being said, if these papers are made available online, I would love to take a peek. The Wachtel one looks the most interesting (present company excluded of course, Pete). I know he wrote a monograph on the byzantine text of the catholic epistles several years ago. But my German isn't good enough for scholarly monographs yet. So everything I know about that work is via the positive reviews it received. I'm sure that others who, like myself, think the byzantine text is too maligned in most scholarship, but who are not full-fledged MT adherents, would be most interested in the thoughts of someone like Wachtel, a true text-critic.

  3. I agree that it's a pity that Wachtel's important work on the Byzantine text is not available in English. See: