Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Carlson on the CBGM and Jude 5

At the SBL when I bumped into Stephen Carlson I was delighted to hear that he has chosen as topic for his dissertation to investigate stemmatic methods in NT textual criticism, specifically the Coherence Based Genealogical Method. A few days ago Stephen posted an article review about the CBGM on his blog Hypotyposeis.

Carlson refers to Klaus Wachtel's example in Jude 5 (see Carlson's bibliography) where the ECM adopts Ιησους. Since I have dealt a lot with Jude over the years I am of course very interested in this crux. First, it is important to note that the evidence is not clear cut in this passage even with the CBGM (as far as I know), although the coherence might be better for Ιησους than κυριος. Therefore, in the installment κυριος was printed with bold dot below the main line reading.

Further, I note that a minuscule witness like 1501 which is basically a Byzantine witness yet attests to Ιησους, and none of its 10 closest potential ancestors have this reading, which is also an indication that this reading could also emerge independently, i.e., the adopted reading in the ECM does not have perfect coherence, so I suppose that this particular criterion is not entirely decisive. (Minuscule 93 is another witness which four closest potential ancestors have κυριος.) The program "Genealogical queries" on the website of the INTF can generate a textual flow diagram for Jude 5/20 involving the subject of the verb which looks like this. Just click on the image to get a larger version in your browser. One can note the line up to 1501 from 424 attesting to reading n (with κυριος). Unfortunately, I am not sure which all of the readings are in this stemma (although it can be inferred from the attesting witnesses), because the variation unit (Jude 5/20) does not correspond with the ECM apparatus that gives the larger stretch of text Jude 5/12-20, involving several distinct textual problems.

In any case, Carlson concludes in regard to the CBGM in general:
To its credit, the CGBM appears to be more rigorous and precise about evaluating external evidence than the heuristic rules of thumb currently employed in reasoned eclecticism. Its main drawback is that this promised precision may be more apparent than real. The theoretical basis for the CGBM is the work of one man, and the technique has been applied only to the Catholic Epistles. It has not been tested for other texts and its operation is still poorly understood outside of Muenster. Indeed, it has not borrowed its concepts from classical stemmatics or even from phylogenetics in biology, which have been tested and found to be robust over many different applications. It is still very much an unproven method; time will have to tell as more people gain experience with it.


  1. Stephen, I need to send you a promised article ... can you send me an email?

  2. Um.. I was wondering why B and 81 are not in that diagram? They read Ιησους.

  3. Timo,
    that is because Tommy chose 'Coherence at Variant Passages' with the option 'Qualified: All Interrelations'. The resulting diagram contains just those witnesses that are related to witnesses of other variants. To see all witnesses you can either choose 'Full' as display mode in 'Coherence at Variant Passages' or use the module 'Coherence in Attestations' on our 'Genealogical Queries' website

  4. Thanks Klaus. You said it. I was going to reply that all witnesses that attest to Ιησους (selected as the initial reading) are basically in that box with A (initial reading), only some witnesses are specified for certain reasons, e.g. 1501 because the reading a seems not to be inherited from A.

    Klaus, perhaps you can answer another question: why is reading "n" in the box to the right where e.g., 424 belongs. Reading n must mean that there are many readings, and this implies that the variation-unit is really Jude 5/12-20, but the diagram shows only Jude 5/20. How can this be explained? Is coherence here really calculated just for the variation in the subject?

  5. Thanks to Tommy for the posting, and to Stephen for undertaking his well-conceived investigation. One comment re the statement that the CBGM "has not borrowed its concepts from classical stemmatics": perhaps this is because classical stemmatics (as exemplified, e.g., by Paul Maas or M. L. West) works well with a "closed" or uncontaminated tradition, but is not capable of dealing with an "open" or contaminated tradition. As Maas acknowledged,"Gegen die Kontamination ist noch kein Kraut gewachsen” ("No cure has yet been discovered against contamination") [Maas, Textkritik (2d ed., 1950), 31]. The CBGM has been developed (w/awareness of, and at least some conversation with, those employing phylogenetic approaches) as a means of overcoming precisely this weakness in classical stemmatics. We will look forward with interest to Stephen's investigations, even as we appreciate what the CBGM is trying to accomplish.

  6. Thank you Klaus for that clarification.

  7. Tommy, just a slight clarification. I'll probably be working more with stemmatics than the CBGM, per se (though it will be important for me), specifically to address the issues with stemmatics that Mike has identified.

  8. Ok. Stephen. We'll see what you come up with.

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  10. Tommy, the ECM apparatus shows no fewer than 30 variants on the five words ὑμᾶς ἅπαξ πάντα ὅτι Ἰησούς (Jd 5/12-20). The most interesting question is, of course, whether Ἰησούς or κύριος or θεός is the subject of the ὅτι-clause. I therefore tailored the relevant database table so that witnesses are subsumed under the appropriate variant as follows:
    Jd 5/20
    a ιησους 02. 03. 6. 33C. 81. 93. 323. 424C. 665. 1241. 1501. 1739. 1881. 2298. 2344
    c ο ιησους 33*. 88. 915
    d κυριος ιησους 1735
    l θεος χριστος P72
    m κυριος 01. 044. 180. 468. 1729. 1838T. 1875
    n ο κυριος 61. 69. 94. 104. 181. 218. 254. 307. 321. 326. 378. 431. 436. 453. 459. 467. 629. 630. 642. 720. 808. 876. 918. 945. 1067. 1127. 1292. 1359. 1409. 1505. 1523. 1524. 1563. 1611. 1678. 1718. 1751. 1832. 1836. 1837. 1838Z. 1842. 1844. 2138. 2147. 2186. 2200. 2243. 2374. 2412. 2541. 2544. 2652. 2774. 2818. Byz [424*]
    b' ο θεος 04C2. 5. 442. 621. 623. 1243. 1270. 1297. 1595. 1845. 1846. 2492. 2805
    (cp. my "Towards a Redefinition of External Criteria" in D.C. Parker/H.A.G. Houghton (eds.), Textual Variation: Theological and Social Tendencies? (Texts and Studies III,5) Piscataway: Gorgias Press 2008, 109-127, here 122ff)

    For 5/20 I retained the letter identifiers of the variants at 5/12-20 where the varying subject occurs first. I now see that I could easily have avoided confusion by using independent letter addresses (a-g) in 5/20.

  11. KW: "For 5/20 I retained the letter identifiers of the variants at 5/12-20 where the varying subject occurs first. I now see that I could easily have avoided confusion by using independent letter addresses (a-g) in 5/20."

    Yes, I realized that you had used the letter addresses from 1:5/12-20. I was therefore a bit uncertain whether relationships in that whole sequence had any influence on the local stemma in 1:5/20, but I now understand that it didn't. This was drawn up separately.