Friday, September 22, 2006

Scots NT without John 21

I've just been reading through W.L. Lorimer's The New Testament in Scots (1983). Lorimer was Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews and his translation of the NT is characterised by a number of independent textual decisions. At the end of the NT he gives four 'spuria', which are not found in the main body of the translation: Mark 16:9-20; John 7:53-8:11; 21:1-25; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.

To give you a taste of the translation, here's John 18:18: 'The servans an Temple Gairds hed kennelt an ingle an war staundin beikin forenent it, for it wis cauldrif; an Peter stuid wi them an beikit an aa.'

As far as I know this is the only printed NT that seeks to exclude John 21.


  1. This exclusion of John 21 does not represent a concensus opinion within textual criticism, correct? On what basis does Lorimer exclude John 21? With merely a cursory glance through my Nestle-Aland, it appears that there are a number of variants and disagreements throughout John 21 but not necessarily anything that would call the entire passage into question.

  2. This is one of those cases that's on the boundary between textual criticism and redaction criticism. For that matter, so are the other three passages mentioned.

  3. The only manuscript evidence that anyone might use to argue that John 21 is secondary is mentioned here.

    As far as I know, however, few textual critics regard John 21 as secondary. However, amongst Johannine scholars it is often widely held that John 21 is secondary. This is because Johannine scholars are often working with a model in which they posit multiple authorial entities capable of writing with a similar style.

    There are numerous grounds for not supposing the John 21 is secondary.

    1) The transmission history is most simply explained by its consistent presence within the mss.
    2) There are many stylistic and thematic elements in common between ch. 21 and the rest and it still has not been convincingly shown that anyone in antiquity was capable of careful imitation of the style of another writer.
    3) If John ended with ch. 20 it would leave readers without an adequate portrayal of what it means, in Johannine terms, to 'believe'. 21:19 is much closer to this than 20:28.

  4. R.H. Lightfoot notes that the chapter is omitted in one Syriac MS lacking John 21 (Lightfoot, Comm., 339); Leon Morris says: 'he does not say which it is, and other authorities do not appear to mention it' (Comm. John., 858 note 1).
    Any ideas what he was thinking of Pete?

  5. I don't know which Syriac manuscript this is. Further details would have been nice. Not mentioned in the Pusey-Gwilliam edition. However, all Syriac mss known fit into categories of Old Syriac (2 mss), Peshitta or post-Peshitta versions. Since we know that the ms omitting Jn 21 is not one of the two OS witnesses (one has it, the other is not extant) then it must be a Peshitta ms or one from a later version. Since the Peshitta and particularly later versions are revisions towards Greek texts and show fewer variants than the OS ones the suggestion that one of these mss preserves such a striking variation from the beginning of transmission history would not be to me very plausible.