Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cornwall and Textual Criticism: Those were the days ...

F.H.A. Scrivener, although a Londoner by birth and educated at Trinity College Cambridge, spent most of his life and career in Cornwall: from "1846 to 1856 he was headmaster of Falmouth School. He also held the perpetual curacy of Penwerris, which he retained until 1861. He became rector of St Gerrans, Cornwall, in 1862, and prebendary of Exeter in 1874" (DNB).

Cornwall is without doubt one of the loveliest parts of England (my own high opinion of it may be due in some measure to the fact that it resembles the Victorian coastline): sand, surf beaches (click here for surf reports Dave Black take note); rocky coastlines; lovely walks and views (for the view near St Gerrans see here). But it is a long way from decent libraries.

This last was not a problem to Scrivener: 'My other labours relating to textual criticism of the New Testament have been carried on chiefly in a remote corner of Cornwall, whither the liberality of their owners has permitted me to bring many manuscripts for thorough and leisurely examination.' (from the Addendum to the Introduction to his Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis [1864], lxiv).

So I'm just composing a note to the librarian: 'Following ancient scholarly custom I would like to take a couple of priceless fragile biblical manuscripts down to the beach for the summer "for thorough and leisurely examination"'. How do you think I'll get on?


  1. You have a reputation to keep. A text critic with a tan is like a skinny cook. Why go to the beach in summer when so many libraries have spendid basements in which to spend time? Rather, develop a pasty white complexion that screams "I have been looking at a lot of manuscripts" to both students and fellow scholars alike.

  2. This is a good alternative to Fred Field's Otium Norvicense.

    I hope that the comment that Cornwall is part of England will not offend any Cornish readers.

  3. Do you think we have any Cornish readers?