Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Forte Reviews NA28

A.J. Forte, 'Observations on the 28th Revised Edition of Nestle-Aland's Novum Testamentum Graece' Biblica 94 (2013), 268-292.

This is an interesting review or set of observations about the NA28, largely positive, and full of information. Among other points, he does suggest that the basis of the new parts of the text on the so-called coherence based genealogical method should have been explained better within the edition.
Without a proper understanding of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method, the 28th revised edition of Nestle-Aland will remain enigmatic and even problematic. (p. 273)
He discusses James 1.20; 1 John 3.7 and Jude 5, comparing the text and apparatus of NA27 with that of NA28. This is a frustrating operation since there is nothing in the evidence cited in the apparatus which would explain the changes, it is all about a different method and a different way to evaluate witnesses: 'The textual choices of the editors can only be understood in light of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method.' (p. 276) Indeed he suggests that the apparatus should include the abbreviation TP (for Transcriptional Probability) 'to indicate those instances where the lectio difficilior, although supported by fewer witnesses, is probably the original reading' (p. 278 n 15).

He shows how the fuller apparatus of the NA28 is generally much more easily understood than the more compact apparatus of NA27. This expansion comes at a cost though, in a hundred more pages (p. 282), and a much higher proportion of each page given over to the apparatus and less to the actual text (I have noticed this a lot recently).

He closes with three suggestions for future revisions: i) discontinue single square brackets (p. 288). [I doubt whether this will happen immediately, I think they will be discontinued as the ECM is produced, uncertainties in ECM sections can be signalled with black diamonds.]; ii) use VL instead of Itala; and iii) include the umlaut/distigmai from Vaticanus in the apparatus. [This would be radical, especially in the supposed [but nonsensical] compound form of the distigme-obelos previously known as the bar-umlaut. But it is interesting that he thinks there is 'a consensus among textual critics and codicologists that text-critical signs can be dated to the time of the writing of Codex Vaticanus' (p. 289).  I'm not sure whether it is a consensus or not; I would regard the suggestion of Payne and Canart as interesting and flawed. They are most likely from the sixteenth century.]


  1. Hmm. Proposals for the future include the discontinuation of square brackets, cessation of references to "it" (itala), and mention of the distigmai in B? Steps already taken in the Greek Uncial Archetype of Mark -- plus greater specificity in listings of patristic writers, mention of internal evidence, and symbols to indicate ht and other variant-producing mechanisms. Perhaps the format of the GUAM is the format of the future NTG, if they keep printing them.

    Regarding the distigmai: why the 1500's instead of a century or two earlier?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  2. Interesting that he proposes the symbol TP. In my edition of Jude I use the following symbols at each variation-unit:

    {e+i} External and internal evidence unequivocally support a variant reading.

    {e>i} External evidence favors a variant reading, whereas internal evidence is ambiguous.

    {e<i} External evidence is ambiguous, whereas internal evidence favors a variant reading.

    {e=i} External and internal evidence are balanced or, alternatively, external evidence favors one variant reading, internal evidence another.

  3. I think something along your lines would be very useful Tommy. Obviously a textual commentary (once upon a time promised within the ECM) would be helpful; but your sigla would be helpful in acknowledging the role of the editor.

  4. Of course you'd need another category c for coherence (trumping e +/- i)

  5. Thanks Pete, I don't know about the need for "c" since coherence is very much related to i (transcriptional probability). The idea with CBGM is to gain a refined knowledge of both i and e.

  6. Several editions of the Hebrew Bible now include abbreviated notes to indicate editors' reasons for textual decisions. They tend to be more specific than simply "i" or "e," often formulaically stating exactly what the editors thought was the cause of textual variation. Perhaps some of these could be useful to consider as well.

  7. Looking at my own edition of Galatians in my dissertation, I settled on the approach of letting the external evidence speak for itself (but arranged in descending order of weight) and noting the most common internal reasons against the variant not adopted in the text. For example, I indicated all cases where I suspected harmonization with p) followed by a fairly precise indication of the parallel. I also indicated itacisms and the like.

    I also decided against using square brackets, under the naive idea that the job of the editor is to edit the text. I indicate doubt by putting the evidence that proves me wrong into the apparatus.

  8. Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but did not some of the discussions on bar-umlauts say that *some* of them have to be from the fourth century, since they were not reinforced with ink in the later centuries, but showed the apricot color of the original text of the manuscript. Or is my memory faulty nowadays?-)

  9. to my mind there is no such thing as a bar-umlaut. The bars are simply paragraphoi, they signal paragraphs. It is a complete coincidence that sometimes they coincide with the double dots.