Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Question for Cambridge Scholars

It is well known that Westcott and Hort supplied pre-publication fascicles of their in-progress Greek New Testament to the members of the English Revision Committee during the period 1870-1881, specifically as follows (from Hort, Introduction, p. 18):
The Gospels, with a temporary preface of 28 pages, were thus issued in July 1871, the Acts in February 1873, the Catholic Epistles in December 1873, the Pauline Epistles in February 1875, and the Apocalypse in December 1876.
These preliminary fascicles obviously were subject to comment and criticism from the Revision Committee, with the accepted and reasoned results of such being implemented into the final 1881 W-H edition. Hort notes (p. 18 once more) that “many corrections dealing with punctuation or otherwise of a minute kind, together with occasional modifications of reading, have been introduced into the stereotype plates within the last few months” prior to actual publication.

The question I have (knowing that certain of W-H’s letters and papers are stored within the Cambridge University Library) is whether any of these preliminary fascicles also are part of the Cambridge collection. If so, it would seem a fascinating study for someone first to reproduce in full the text of their “temporary preface”, and then to compile a collation of differences between the Greek text of the preliminary fascicles and that which actually was published.

(An added bonus would be the record of any handwritten notes that may have been placed on those fascicles by either Westcott or Hort).

Sounds like a good project for someone at Tyndale House to undertake.


  1. I respectfully disagree.
    What advantage would this give?
    I would say that there are more important jobs to do atm.
    Major MSS are waiting for analysis.
    When all these are done, perhaps then one can delve into the finer details like the history of TC. But since the laborers are so few I would say, do the necessary things first.

    Having said this I admit that I would certainly buy a book that describes the prehistory of the WH edition.

  2. Jan Krans presumably would differ, as shown by his careful investigative work on Easmus and Beza in relation to their Greek NT editions (Jan Krans, Beyond what is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament. [Brill, 2006]).

    I also suspect that the further analysis of major MSS will be unlikely to alter anyone's textual theory or preferences, even while perhaps providing some new and useful information regarding textual and scribal minutiae.

    Nevetheless, both issues present valid areas for further historical investigation, and for those interested in the prehistory of a given edition, such research in itself would be of value.

  3. Well, ok, each to his own.

    But I think much basic work has to be done.
    Just think about the errors still in Metzger's "fourth". E.g. "The text of Jo 1-5:11 [of W] ... is mixed". No! W-sup is a first rate Alexandrian!

    Or the block mixing in codex L: How can a Mr. Racine take codex L as an Alexandrian witness for comparison with codex W in Mt, when L is clearly block mixed? L is Byz in ch. 1-17!

    No study on L since Tischendorf.
    Noting on 892.
    Etc., etc. ...
    Basically one needs a "Royse, Scribal habits" on all of these codices!
    Only then authoritative statements can be made.

  4. Wieland, to which study are you referring to when saying that W-sup is Alexandrian? Who has shown that Metzger is wrong here?

  5. This is the result of my own studies.
    W-sup is in a group with C and L. I wouldn't call these "mixed" in John.
    I would perhaps call A mixed, or Psi in John.
    Have a look here:
    Principal Component Analysis

  6. thx Wieland, that was interesting. I will, however, call it a C-type text with B-text and D-text variants. It's not a B-text, nor a D-text witness (and definitely not an A-text witness :)).

  7. I think Westcott material is mostly up at Durham. There is not much Hort material in Cambridge - his correspondence was 'sorted' and recopied out in a hand-written manuscript-book.

  8. PMH: I think Westcott material is mostly up at Durham. There is not much Hort material in Cambridge.

    Perhaps N.T.Wright should be persuaded to investigate his predecessor's material for the benefit of all....

    However, should it not be the case that at least one copy of the pre-publication fascicles of the developing W-H Greek text would be preserved within the Cambridge library? Has anyone ever checked?

  9. Stay tuned, MAR... You might get your wish.