Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Westcott Manuscript (addressing 2 Peter 3.10)



  1. Wow, and I thought my writing was chicken scratch! I can barely make out ANY of it.

  2. What in the world? I thought the majuscules were tough... Can we get an English translation of this somewhere?

  3. My best endeavour at transcribing:

    6 Scrope Terrace
    Nov 9 1883

    Dear Sir
    It is indeed of the deepest interest to Dr Hunt and myself to know that our work has received a warm welcome across the atlantic and that it has, as we trust, contributed in some degree to further that study of Holy Scripture in simple truthfulness and reverence which is (joy?) and blessing our our life.

    The reading in 2 Pet iii 16 is of considerable interest, but I do not think that it can be held to be doubtful. ais is the reading in the Sinaitic, Vatican and Alexandriane MSS and is adopted, I think, by all recent editors.

    The "Companion to the Greek Testament and English Version" which has lately been published at New York by Dr Schaff would, I feel sure, greatly interest you, and the book would probably be found in any public library.

    I need hardly add how great a pleasure it is ??? times to form acquaintance with American students and where can we find another meeting-place than in the study of the New Testament?

    ??? ??? ???

    Yours most faithfully
    BF Westcott

    Jefferson R Taylor Esq
    [this is the person the letter is addressed to]

    The addendum at the top reads

    This is a curious illustration of the tendency of scribes to error that I write ois by inadvertance for ais

  4. Sorry it should be Dr Hort -- not Dr Hunt, I think

  5. Thanks, Margaret, for the transcription. It is not easy, is it? My few suggestions:

    p. 1
    is (joy?) and blessing ] is the surest blessing

    p. 2
    doubtful. ] doubtful:
    and Alexandriane ] & Alexandrine

    p. 3
    is **** times ] is at all times (?)
    students and ] students. And
    another meeting-place ] a nobler meeting-place
    *** *** *** ] Believe me to be, dear Sir, (?)

    p. 2 addendum
    This is ] It is
    write ] wrote (?)

    On p. 2, Westcott wrote οἷς (the Byzantine reading!) first, then corrected it to αἷς. The addendum comments on this error.

  6. 2 Peter 3:10 is definitely the harder reading here; it is much more difficult to enclose the loop in the perfect oval of a zero than to make a six with a variety of size allowed in the enclosed space.

    Looking at other enclosed spaces in the scribe's handwriting, I see that he typically fails to quite connect his 8's and 9's. Most of his a's are also left open. Furthermore, external evidence favours a date of 1883 over 1803, so I'm inclined to take scribal habits over lectio difficilior potior here and adopt 2 Peter 3:16.

  7. If one will think carefully, the exchange between Margaret and Jans is a study in itself of how textual corruptions transpire.

    Margaret's historical background knowledge and English are corrected back to the original reading by Jans (a Dutchman!).