Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Editio Critica Maior: Review Article

I have written a longish review article on the Editio Critica Maior, which has now been published in the excellent Tyndale Bulletin (feel free to subscribe). Some blog posts in 2007 anticipate a couple of the themes in the published review (see how big?, more thoughts, bold dots).

Here are the details: Peter M. Head, ‘Editio Critica Maior: An Introduction and Assessment’, Tyndale Bulletin 61.1 (2010), 131-152. If you are interested you can find a copy online here.

Up-date: For other NT articles in the same issue see the list with comments at Euaggelion.


  1. Thanks Pete. Three errors in note 10 I am afraid.

    What exactly do you mean with this critique: "This means that the indications of doubt are not a global measure of the extent to which the reconstruction of the text of the NT may be considered doubtful."

    Do you think it ought to be a "global measurement" rather than being an indication of "doubts of the editorial team." I actually prefer the latter.

  2. "On the other hand it remains controversial because of the absence of this reading among any pre-ninth-century witness and because the workings of the CBGM, in terms of the analyses of the claimed genealogical
    coherencies, are not represented in this edition."

    On the latter point, "the workings on the CBGM" have now been applied in this epistle too. The tool is available for anyone to play with on the INTF website ("Genealogical Queries"). I have examined this particular example at length in a forthcoming essay.

  3. "There are twenty five changes when compared with the NA27"

    There will be more changes in the final version (what we have now are a number of facsicles). The bold dots will disappear. Instead I think we will see a number of such places where the editors will not make a decision as to the A-text but leave it open.

  4. "...bold dots probably ought to bracket the whole variant unit [Jude 5]." The point I have been trying to make many times (including a certain καιρος in Lund), is that there are many different sets of variants in this stretch of text. The subject of the verb is by far the most difficult textual crux. The easiest is to choose between παντα/παντας.

  5. "It will also require that users of the edition can follow the editorial decisions as regards the Ausgangstext, especially those that do not at first sight seem to follow from the presentation of the textual data, so the promised textual commentary remains an important part of the overall
    project. This will enable the myriad of editorial decisions to be better understood and doubtless challenged on occasion."

    Good final point!

  6. Note 10 is (admittedly) a bit of a problem. Apologies. I didn't write it like that, but "in Jude the ECM used around 140 manuscripts, whereas Wassermann’s recent study involved a complete transcription of 560 manuscripts of Jude". Sadly I didn't proof-read carefully enough to pick up the change that was introduced (oh dear).
    Are you quibbling with the exact numbers?

  7. Tommy asked:
    "What exactly do you mean with this critique: "This means that the indications of doubt are not a global measure of the extent to which the reconstruction of the text of the NT may be considered doubtful." "

    Well I meant that the dots expressed in-house uncertainty of the editorial team; they can't be used as an expression of those parts of the NT text which are (generally/globally) regarded as doubtful. It follows from the previous sentence.

  8. ...that is concerning note 10.

  9. "in-house uncertainty" - isn't this the general perspective of previous similar attempts to indicate certainty/uncertainty?

  10. Pete, great overview to ECM. I'm just now tackling 1 Pet 4:16 in my thesis and was flummoxed by ECM's lack of clarity here.

    Fortunately, the issue is a tangent for me and I can wait for Tommy's article!

  11. Gary Dykes asks:

    Have the folks in Munster corrected their old databases, which contain hundreds of oddly joined handwritten collations and which are supposedly error-ridden? It is also known that some of their older films are are nearly illegible, are they relying on these old materials? Or, are they simply deleting all old collations, (via discarding them)?
    If so (removal of all old collations) we face an apparatus with a completely new face! And one which will need to be time tested again. I suppose that they will also introduce yet another "new" critical text, to add to the mass of dozens of other existing critical texts (all being expressions of various biases and theories). This will keep some academics busy, but the overall results seem rather pompous. Can you convince me otherwise?

  12. I have experience of examining the complete manuscript data in one book (Jude) in the ECM, and there were relatively few errors, i.e., "error-ridden" is a wholly improper designation. On the other hand, I suppose errors can and will be found in all editions now and in the future.

    When Peter Head asked me, during the examination of my thesis what kind of error rate I would find acceptable (i.e., in my edition), I replied that I would be content if fewer errors were found in my work than in preceding editions.