Saturday, February 25, 2006

Two Early Editions of the Pauline Corpus?

In the comments to an earlier post on 0220 and Romans 5.1, Ulrich Schmid (after Pete Williams’ prompting) posted a summary of his view of the textual history of Romans. Considering Ulrich’s request for comments and the importance of the topic I’ve just lifted his comments up to the main blog (with his permission of course!). Note that this material has previously been tucked away in his Marcion und sein Apostolos: Rekonstruktion und historische Einordnung der marcionitischen Paulusbriefausgabe [ANTTF 25; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995], 284ff.

So, now in Ulrich’s own words:

In my view, the textual history of the letter of Romans is best explained by assuming two major editions of Paul's letters with different versions of Romans that later on produced the conflated versions we now have.

The one edition had the core version Rom 1,1-16,23 (full version), the other one Rom 1,1-14,23 (abridged version). Rom 16,24 and 16,25-27 are secondary endings, the former to Rom 16,23 and the latter to Rom 14,23 (with no 15,1sq, of course). Thus, the abridged version acquired and distributed the doxology (16,25-27).

To me that scenario proves to be the most elegant solution to explaining especially the various positions of the doxology.

The evidence for the abridged version hardly needs to be rehearsed (cf. Gamble, The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans, 1977). Scholars differ, however, on the questions (a) how the abridged version came to influence the textual history of Romans so profoundly, and (b) what was the reason for the abridged version.

Gamble says about the abridged version: "such forms must have had an earlier existence and continued for a long time to affect the textual tradition which even now preserves their traces" (Textual History, 121), to which I fully agree. However, I don't buy his point that the abridged version "emerged prior to the Corpus as a whole, during the period when this letter circulated independently" (ibid.). To my mind, an abridged version of Romans as an individually circulating entity hardly carries enough "weight" to impose itself to an editor, who is confronted with two (or more) versions of Romans. After all, the abridged version looks conspicuously incomplete and in itself not very appealing. It seems far more likely to assume that the abridged version once was part of an ancient and venerated edition of (a number of) Paul' letters.

There is undisputable evidence that the abridged version once was part of an ancient edition of Paul's letters, namely the edition that is associated with Marcion (Origen, Commentary on Romans 10,43). It is, however, virtually certain that Marcion was not responsible for the abridged version, i.e. he simply took it over as part of the 10-letter-edition he has used and edited for the purpose of his church. Why is this "virtually certain", despite the claims of such eminent scholars like, e.g., Kurt Aland and Eduard Lohse that it was Marcion who excised the last two chapters of Romans?

Tertullian repeatedly observes that Marcion's version of the letter to the Romans lacks considerable parts of the text (e.g., in chapters 2, 8 and 9-11). The fact that none of these omissions has left any trace in the textual history of Romans is the most glaring evidence AGAINST Marcion's edited version as being responsible for the severe impact of the abridged version. Thus, Marcion's edition inherited the abridged version, it did not start it!

There is more evidence that an ancient 10-letter-edition circulated outside marcionite circles and more could be said about what caused the abridged version. But I should pause here not the least because I never had any reaction to my last point (against Marcion's edited version as being responsible for the abridged version of Romans). Comments are welcome, especially on the validity of this last point.


  1. 'So, now in Ulrich's own words:'

    Not unlike an editor trying to punctuate John chapter 3, I can easily tell where the quotation begins--but where does it end?

  2. Tertullian doesn't accuse Marcion of taking scissors to the text, does he? (It's been a while since I've looked it over) I think that if T. suspected this, he would have said so.

  3. How do the various text-types of Paul relate to the two editions?

  4. As I have said, it will be some while before I get a chance to read Ulrich's work. The one observation I would make is that there seems a pretty clear use of inclusio between the opening verses of Romans and 16:25-27.

    'gospel' (1:1; 16:25)

    'prophets and scriptures' (1:2)
    'prophetic scriptures' (16:26)

    'for obedience of faith among all the gentiles' (1:5)
    'for obedience of faith for all the gentiles' (16:26)

    Thus if one were to hypothesise that 16:25-27 are secondary one would have to suppose that a secondary author had written them with an inclusio.

  5. Daniel,

    The whole thing (apart from the opening paragraph) is Ulrich's own words.

  6. Both Irenaeus and Tertullian criticise Marcion's textual work:

    As Irenaeus saw it, Marcion was ‘the only one who has dared openly to mutilate the Scriptures’ (Adv. Haer. I.27.4). He further said: 'He mutilates the Gospel which is according to Luke, removing all that is written respecting the generation of the Lord, and setting aside a great deal of the teaching of the Lord, in which the Lord is recorded as most clearly confessing that the Maker of this universe is His Father.'

    Tertullian is particularly strident on this point: ‘What Pontic mouse is more corrosive than the man who has gnawed away the Gospels?’ (Adv. Marc. I.1.5).

    From my paper: 'The Foreign God and the Sudden Christ: Theology and Christology in Marcion's Gospel Redaction' Tyndale Bulletin 44.2(1993)307-321. On-line here:

  7. Isaac:
    "Tertullian doesn't accuse Marcion of taking scissors to the text, does he? (It's been a while since I've looked it over) I think that if T. suspected this, he would have said so."

    And that's exactly, what Tertullian did! Cf. Adversus Marcionem 5,13,4: quantas autem foveas in ista vel maxime epistola (i.e. ad Romanos) Marcion fecerit auferendo quae voluit, de nostri instrumenti integritate parebit. mihi sufficit, quae proinde eradenda non vidit quasi neglegentias et caecitates eius accipere. In addition to that cf. Marc. 5,14,6 and 5,14,9-10.

    stephen c. carlson
    "How do the various text-types of Paul relate to the two editions?"

    That remains further to be studied. From a very tiny sample (28 units of variation from Ephesians) I concluded that the 10-letter-edition seems to represent an early stratum of the so-called "Western Text" (D F G + Old Latin text types D I, according to Frede).

    In addition, the textual history of the letter to the Romans suggests in my analysis that apparently all of our extant mss (with the possible exception of 010 012 ?) go back to a conflated version, i.e. 10-letter-edition + 14-letter-edition. Consider the position of the doxology after 14,23 with chaps. 15-16 still to come. This, in my view, is the earliest version of the conflation, because it simply combines the different versions without reshuffling them - and it's the Majority Text version. "Early Alexandrian" witnesses (as some would call them) like P46 (doxology after 15,33 with chap 16 following) and 01 03 (doxology after 16,23) exhibit clearly secondary editorial attempts. "Later Alexandrian" witnesses as 02 33 have the doxology after 14,23 and 16,23, in itself another conflation of the early conflation (as witnessed by the reading of the Majority Text) and the "Early Alexandrian" editorial decision to move the doxology to the end of Romans.

    pj williams:
    "Thus if one were to hypothesise that 16:25-27 are secondary one would have to suppose that a secondary author had written them with an inclusio."

    Why not? Besides, it's not just a matter of inclusio within Romans, but the doxology can be read as a pastiche/echo of various passages from Gal (1,5.16; 3,2.23) 1 Kor (7,6; 14,2) 2 Kor (8,8; 10,5) Eph (1,9; 3,3.4.9) Kol 1,26.27; 2,2). However, points like that usually cut both ways. My contention that the doxology is secondary is based on its unstable position, not on questioning the genuinness of its ideas and terminology nor on structural points.

  8. Ulrich wrote: 'Why not?'

    I agree that a secondary inclusio is possible. If it's pastiche, it's of the very finest kind to involve the paradox that something is now revealed through scriptures that have all along been prophetic (i.e. revelatory). I also like the juxtaposition of 'made known to all the gentiles' and 'to God alone wise'. These are, of course, arguments as to its value, not its history. However, if this is the work of an editor, I think he's done a good job.