Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Elliott’s Doctoral Thesis on the Text of the Pastoral Epistles

At some point in college, I remember looking through J. K. Elliott’s The Greek text of the epistles to Timothy and Titus, a detailed textual commentary on those books from a thoroughgoing eclectic perspective.

Recently, while putting a bibliography together I discovered that the two-volume Oxford DPhil that lies behind this book is freely available online from Oxford. As I don’t have a copy of the published version, I don’t know if there are any significant differences. But, if it’s like most published British dissertations, it is probably very similar. If someone can check, let me know. [Update: Elliott emails to say, “Very few changes were made.”]

Here’s the first part of the abstract:
To my knowledge there has been no thoroughgoing eclectic study of the text of any New Testament book, although the principles of eclectic textual criticism have been applied to individual readings. This thesis attempts to provide a study of all the known variant readings in the Greek text of the Pastoral Epistles. To this end, a full critical apparatus has been compiled and a discussion on each variant reading is provided with the object of establishing the original text and of explaining how variants arose.

The theory, on which these discussions are based is found in an introductory chapter. This introduction begins by arguing that previous methods of textual criticism based largely on the “cult of the best manuscript” are untenable and unreliable nowadays due partly to the growing realisation that no one manuscript or group of manuscripts contains the original text. Many scholars realise that the original reading may be found in any given manuscript. The implication of this is of course that the peculiar readings of every manuscript must (ultimately) be examined. 


  1. I'm using the published version as a reference for my Pastoral Epistles ECM work, but I haven't looked at the dissertation itself. I'll download it and take a look. Given the formatting of the published edition, I would be surprised if there were differences; the published edition appears to have been produced straight from a typewriter. (For those who are too young to know what a typewriter is, I suggest you Google it and then give thanks that you have access to word processors and printers.)

  2. Thanks. Do you have a link to the online publication?

  3. Here is the link:

    1. Thanks, Ken. I forgot that. I’ve added it in the main post.

  4. I learned *a lot* by reading the published version about 15 years ago. I still have photocopies (don't tell the library!) that I refer to from time to time. I can't imagine it changed much from the PhD. Thanks for mentioning it and pointing us to it.

  5. Richard Putman2/26/2019 2:35 am

    None of the appendices seem to be included in the digital version of the dissertation.