Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wasserman on Jude: More Details

To add some minor points to P.M. Head’s report of the disputation held in Lund ...

Before I attended the disputation, it was clear from a cursory reading of Wasserman's dissertation The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission (Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series 43, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 368 pp. and plates), that his work has substance. Setting as an aim to reconstruct the text of Jude on the basis of all available manuscripts, Wasserman did not only shrink back from a challenging task like that, but even, when asked during the disputation (from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m.), what degree of accuracy would be acceptable?, replied: at least that of the ECM ...

The Disputation in Lund: speaking is Prof. Walter Überlacker, in the middle, the opponent, Dr. P.M. Head, at the right, T. Wasserman.

P.M. Head counter-collated 10 of the most important manuscripts Wasserman had collated, and found 485 positive checks, but no errors. There are some 10 places where the reading was not clear (and where most textual critics would differ in their estimation), but the opponent found no obvious errors in Wasserman's collation.

In his thesis, however, Wasserman virtually gave no insights in his working philosophy. How did he transliterate? What computer-system was involved? Wasserman replied: "I sat down at the Microfilm reader most of the time and collated every single manuscript with a sheet of the base text." Since most of the manuscripts of Jude are Byzantine, Wasserman collated against the Byzantine Text (ed. by M.A. Robinson) and noted the differences, one sheet for each manuscript. Then he used the software "Collate" to feed his computer with the data acquired by the procedure described above. He modeled the general layout of his textual apparatus after the layout of the ECM (Editio Critica Maior). His text deviates at four places from the ECM (vv. 5. 13. 15. 18).

Later in the evening, the party united the "freshly baked" Doctor of Philosophy with his examiners and his opponent. Tasty dishes were served with unleaded beer, accompanied by toasts managed by the toastmaster. A retired Professor of Theology who sat next to me observed that theologians normally do not engage very much in (text)-critical work if they take their faith seriously. "But", he added, "Tommy is different".


  1. I wonder if it is too nosy of me to request that all of the members of this blog provide a bit of their personal info at that page that one reaches when clicking their hyperlinked names?

    I went quite a long time before I realized that sjgathers was Simon Gathercole. And I'm still not sure who several others are, including Martin.

    Of course some people might want to protect their identity for personal reasons. But I'm guessing most wouldn't mind sharing a bit about themselves. As a reader of the blog I'd feel more attuned to some of the comments if I could attach relevant info to each name, such as institution and publications.

  2. Many congratulations, Tommy. A doctorate well deserved.

  3. On this blog we have a mixture of various naming devices, including a small amount of anonymity. Some of the less clear identification devices stem from the first name we typed in when we got onto Blogger. I've known Simon Gathercole for many a year, but I do believe that he has been known by some as 'Gathers' ever since I met him. Martin is the distinguished orientalist Martin Heide, editor of the Ethiopic and Arabic texts of the Testament of Isaac and Jacob, translator of many Akkadian texts, Hebrew inscriptions, etc.

  4. Martin is also, as I found out at the party last night, fairly rare among orientalists in working in a veterinary school!

  5. Yes let me extend my congratulations as well Dr. Wassermann.


  6. Please let me add some observations to the detective work in progress: I did not publish any Akkadian text, and I am not working at a veterinary school, but at the Institute of the History of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Munich.

  7. Eric,

    Sorry for the confusion with my blogging sobriquet: I'd be mortified if anyone thought I was trying to conceal my identity. That certainly wasn't my intention - as Pete W noted, I've been known as Gathers for about 20 years, and am still called such by even such dignified text-critics as Peter Head.

    I would be delighted to provide a link to my university webpage. So far, technical competence and time have stood in the way.


  8. But above all, congratulations Tommy!

  9. "Dignified" - there is something I don't get called very often! Cheers Gathers

  10. Perhaps 'venerable' would be better.

  11. Pardon my breach of forum decorum and allow me to join the quorum in congratulating Dr. Wassermann.

  12. I only now am back from Sweden, following an extended stayover in Denmark; but I also, as one of the examining panel, sincerely congratulate Tommy on the successful defense of his dissertation research.

    I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet various persons of importance at both the defense and/or follow-up festivities; many former acquaintances were present, but in particular I shall remember my first-time meetings with Martin Heide, Rene Kieffer, and Chrys Caragounis.

    I should offer one correction to Martin's excellent summary: although Tommy did say during his defense that he collated from "the Byzantine text", in fact he neither collated from my edition nor from that of Hodges-Farstad; rather (as is usual and certainly more proper within collating circles), he utilized the Oxford 1873 TR. This edition I suppose could be considered "essentially Byzantine," but I would retain a clear distinction on the matter (I found out all this only afterward, since I did not have time to pursue such a minor issue during the interrogation proper).