Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kearfott on Washingtonianus

Rod Decker alerts us to the existence of a 2005 PhD from Southern Baptist Seminary (Louisville) by Steven Kearfott, "Codex Washingtonianus as an illustration of the need for the discipline of apparatus criticism."

I googled a synopsis on-line:
"This dissertation documents 1520 discrepancies that occur in the critical apparatus of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece with respect to the biblical manuscript Codex Washingtonianus and calls for the development of the discipline known as apparatus criticism, by which the manuscript evidence contained in the Nestle-Aland critical apparatus would be rendered thorough and accurate.
  • Chapter 1 introduces the discipline of apparatus criticism and establishes its position as a logically prior sub-discipline of textual criticism, as well as its importance to New Testament scholarship in general.
  • Chapter 2 provides background on the manuscript which is serving as the case study for apparatus criticism, Codex Washingtonianus. Both the history of the manuscript and the significance of the manuscript are examined.
  • Chapter 3 is the bulk of the dissertation and offers the strongest proof of the need for apparatus criticism by documenting the 1520 discrepancies, which occur both explicitly and implicitly in currently recorded variation units as well as where no variation unit currently exists. Correction of these variants is also provided.
  • Chapter 4 explores the contributions to be made toward the field of textual criticism by apparatus criticism in general, and this particular exercise in apparatus a criticism. These contributions include accuracy of the critical apparatus, clarification of textual relationships, and knowledge of scribal habits.
  • Chapter 5 concludes the work by summarizing the contents and calling for the discovery of the discrepancies which are likely to exist in the remaining New Testament manuscripts, and, most importantly, the rectification of them."

Rod writes:

  • Over 200 of the 237 pages consist of a catalog of 1,520 "discrepencies" in codex W that are either not recorded in NA27 or which are recorded incorrectly. It appears that the vast majority of these (1,453) are simply instances of textual variations that are not part of a variant unit recorded by NA27. Only 67 are errors of citation. This is presented as a major flaw of NA27 which is "urgently" in need of correction.
  • I'm curious as to the general assessment of this argument (by you and blog members). It seems a bit overdone to me, but I'd be glad for feedback from those in a better position to evaluate the value of this diss.


  1. This reminds me of Swanson. It could make me propose a fundamental criticism of such apparently apparent apparatus criticism. After all, one should judge apparatuses according to the aims and standards they were made with. I would love to see and evaluate the 67 "errors of citation" though. Could someone scan and post these?

  2. I have just had a bit of a look and it does seem strange that NA should be criticised for not being comprehensive when that is not its intended purpose. ["Strange" is perhaps kind considering this is so central to the thesis, which looks like it passed.]

    I think a large number of the 67 errors of citation also reflect, to my mind anyway, a misunderstanding about the way in which NA cite evidence; they very often seem to be places where the editors have simplified the presentation of the evidence a little so as to be able to group manuscripts in supporting a reading, even though there might be minor differences among the witnesses (some of which are signalled by the parenthesis and the information added in an appendix).
    Perhaps the sum of this contribution may be to add one or two parentheses around W in the apparatus.
    I don't suppose anybody who has actually used NA to help read manuscripts (or used manuscripts to help read NA) would think that you could reconstruct the exact wording of a particular manuscript from the information in NA27. But Dr Kearfott seems affronted whenever this is not possible for W.

  3. Do we know who supervised/chaired this dissertation?

  4. Yes. John B. Polhill; Thomas R. Schreiner, Russell T. Fuller.

  5. Looks like the first two are well-published in NT, but not specifically in NTTC. The last is an OT scholar, but again no TC.

    Could they have been unfamiliar with the purpose of the NA27 as described here by PH and in the NA27 (p. 50)?

    I can identify with the desire to make an argument that my research had uncovered something important. If I had collated W against some large amount of other manuscripts, I would be tempted to say something profound. It seems like his work might provide a good analysis of how accurately the NA series is at describing the variants while also staying brief. In particular we have some numbers to describe the amount of variant listed versus those not listed, which is very nice.