Wednesday, October 19, 2022

When a marginal note becomes the text


Towards the end of his Apology against Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples (English translation in Collected Works of Erasmus vol. 83; here if you have institutional access), Erasmus criticizes his friend for not understanding the need of doing textual criticism. What struck me more than anything is the example Erasmus gave for why textual criticism is necessary. Here is the relevant paragraph:

Another thing which is constant in your examinations is that whatever your Greek manuscript had in it, you ascribe unhesitatingly to Paul, as though Greek manuscripts do not sometimes vary, or are never corrupt, when I myself discovered in a particularly fine manuscript copy the following words written in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians: δεόμενοι ἡμῶν τὴν Χάριν καὶ τὴν κοινωνίαν τῆς διακονίας τῆς εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους δέξασθαι ἡμᾶς· ἐν πολλοῖς τῶν ἀντιγράφων οὕτως εὕρηται, καὶ οὐ καθὼς ἠλπίσαμεν. What we have here, of course, is a case of several words being transferred by an illiterate scribe from the margin to the body of the text. In order to make this clearer to those who do not know Greek, I shall translate as follows: 'Asking that we receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints; in many manuscript copies appears the following: "and not as we hoped"' It is clear that the words 'in many manuscript copies appears the following' represent someone's marginal annotation. It is risky, therefore, to place immediate trust in your manuscript and to make pronouncements before examining all the manuscripts. (trans. Howard Jones; CWE 83, p. 105)
[Note: there's something there to be said about trusting God's Word as it is, ontologically, as opposed to trusting our access to it through our copies and translations (or trusting that our access is always and in every place equal to what it is, ontologically) but that's another discussion.]

I wondered if this manuscript was still known. A footnote (the annotations for this Apology were written by Guy Bedouelle) says that this manuscript is "MS Greek suppl 2 of the National Library in Vienna, loaned to Erasmus by the monastery of Corsendonck, near Turnhout," and it refers the reader to ASD IX-3 193:2567n. That refers to ordo 9 (=IX), tome 3 of the Amsterdam edition of Erasmus' works, page 193, and specifically, the note that corresponds to line 2567. Conveniently, that volume is available through open access, here. A little lower on p. 193 for the note corresponding to lines 2569-2572 (continuing on to p. 195) of ASD IX-3, we read:

The Greek manuscript to which Erasmus is referring is minuscule 3 of the Greek New Testament, now in Vienna, National Library, Gr. supp1. 52. It contains the four Gospels, Acts, the Catholic Epistles and Paul's Epistles. It belonged once to a convent at Corsendonck near Turnhout and was lent to Erasmus for his second edition in 1519, as he testifies on the first leaf; see F.H.A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, Cambridge 1883, p. 179; C.R. Gregory, Textkritik des Neuen Testaments, Leipzig, 1900, p. 128. Cf. J.J. Wetstenius, ed., Nouum Testamentum Graecum, Amsterdam, 1751-2, II, p. 197 and H.J. de Jonge, ASD IX, 2, p. 191, n.l. 461.

It still exists! It's minuscule 3, dated to the 12th cent. The note is at 2 Cor. 8:5. The variant seems to be the presence or absence of δέξασθαι ἡμᾶς (I checked the NA28 and Swanson), which occurs before the words ἐν πολλοῖς τῶν ἀντιγράφων οὕτως εὕρηται. Let's have a look:

Someone (Erasmus?) has underlined the words in the manuscript, but there it is: the marginal note that became the text. The Comma Johanneum (at 1 John 5:7–8) almost certainly came into the text this way, and it's always good to find specific examples of this type of thing happening. The more we know, the better equipped we are to catch scribal error.

For more on reader's notes, see:


  1. This has been discussed earlier … see Dirk Jongkind at ETC (2009!) and me ate the Amsterdam NT Weblog (2010!). As you might expect, I give some more information on Erasmus …

    1. Oh wow; I didn't think to check. Thank you so much!

  2. Wise words from Erasmus. Other notes or additions that came into some texts are in Revelation 21:24 (TR) and Matthew 27:49 (WH).

    In Revelation 21:24, several minuscules included commentary in the Bible text: "καὶ *τα εθνη των σωζομενων τω φωτι αυτης* περιπατησουσιν τα εθνη δια του φωτος αυτης" (254, 2186, and 2814, and maybe more that are a small part of group M^e). Erasmus, seeing a problem, did not copy it that way; he shortened it because it was apparently wrong, and the majority of manuscripts confirm that it was wrong—but his modification (καὶ τὰ ἔθνη *τῶν σωζομένων ἐν τῷ* φωτὶ αὐτῆς περιπατήσουσι) did not end up matching the vast majority of the Revelation manuscripts (Καὶ περιπατήσουσιν τὰ ἔθνη διὰ τοῦ φωτὸς αὐτῆς). (Later, the text of Erasmus or Aldus might also have been copied into Minuscule 2049 [formerly 141] but that is a copy, not a source, of the TR.)

    In Matthew 27:48, some Alexandrian manuscripts include "αλλος δε λαβων λογχην ενυξεν αυτου την πλευραν και εξηλθεν ϋδωρ και αιμα" in the story before Jesus died (there are some interesting notes about it at "Lessons from GA 2437" ). These words were likely in the Alexandrian archetype since they are agreed upon by the main Alexandrian witnesses א, B, C, (L), and they are also in a couple other uncials and 33-plus minuscules. Westcott and Hort included these words in their GNT in double brackets, but more recent GNTs omit them, and most Bible translations from Greek texts that give a lot of weight to Codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Ephraemi Rescriptus don't even mention that they omit a sentence that was in the manuscripts normally considered the purest and best, and thus likely in the Alexandrian archetype (or, as John W. Burgon thought, it might have come from Tatian's Diatessaron).

    So 1 John 5:7 and Revelation 21:24, from Erasmus, are not without more recent counterpart (not that it legitimizes any of them).

  3. Somewhere in 034

  4. The heavenly witnesses as originally a margin note?

    A very difficult theory, without any real evidence.

    The Theory:
    A random Latin scribe (call him Clunk the Interpolater)

    a) places in a note in the margin a beautiful syntactic parallelism
    This becomes a full new verse! That:
    b) improves the three witnesses by adding that they are earthly witnesses.
    c) is totally Johannine including the Word as in John 1:1 1:14 and Rev 19:13
    d) fixes a Greek gender solecism when translated over from the Latin! Amazing:)
    e) supplies the “witness of God” referred to in verse nine
    f) breaks up a wooden redundancy from verse six to the three witnesses
    (And more.)

    Then, this beautifully crafted, majestic new verse is pulled in neatly to the text, improving John. And is noted by Jerome in his Vulgate Prologue and is used by 400 orthodox, as clearer than the light, contra the ‘Arians’ (homoians) in the Council of Carthage in AD 484.

    And all this margin-to-text creation happens before Cyprian utilizes the verse twice, applying “the three are one” to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    Myths of Modern “Scientific” Textusl Criticism


    Steven Avery
    Dutchess County, NY USA

    1. It sounds like you're starting with the presumption that the original text would normally be "good" , I.e. posessing qualities such as proper grammer, logical flow, poetic style, etc., while later variants would normally be "bad" , I.e. violating the style and flow of the original text, etc.
      In fact, if a variant managed to successfully spread through the manuscript tradition, it was usually because it had the appearance of being the better text. It was, in fact, that appearance of goodness that allowed it to be accepted by scribes and spread through the manuscript tradition.


    2. Hi Ryan, while I do have a high view of the Holy Spirit inspired scripture text (an ‘Evangelical’ position) that was not my point.

      Also the lectio difficilior approach can be totally wrong as astutely pointed out by Martin Litchfield West in Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique (1973) p. 51.

      “When we choose the 'more difficult' reading, however, we must be sure that it is in itself a plausible reading. The principle should not be used in support of dubious syntax, or phrasing that it would not have been natural for the author to use. There is an important difference between a more difficult reading and a more unlikely reading.”

      And the short text is dubious syntax And unnatural phrasing.

      My main point:
      The theory of a bumbling multi-step margin-to-text creation is extremely unlikely weak, and was invented in order to give an ‘accidental’ veneer to the supposed interpolation. If a person really was against heavenly witness authenticity, a far more textually sensible theory would have the text carefully juggled and improved, by a singular sharp scribe, c. AD 100-150. In time to maybe get into Cyprian’s Bible and a number of Confessions. Got the text-crit, this would be analogous to their theory on other major variants, including the Mark ending and Acts 8:37.

      Steven Avery

    3. Appendix D to the Cambridge Bible’s commentary on the Epistle of 1 John says this about the place of internal evidence:

      Let us assume that the passage, though making sense without the words (as is indisputably the case), makes far better sense with the words. Let us suppose that the sense of the passage when thus enlarged is so superior to the shorter form of it, that it would be incredible that anyone to whom the longer form had occurred would ever write the shorter one. Can all this prove, in the teeth of abundant evidence to the contrary, that the longer and vastly superior passage was written, and not the shorter and inferior one? If twenty reporters quite independently represent an orator as having uttered a very tame and clumsy sentence, which the insertion of a couple of short clauses would make smooth and far more telling, would this fact convince us that the orator must have spoken the two clauses, and that twenty reporters had all accidentally left just these two clauses out? The fact that in a few out of many editions of the orator’s collected speeches, published many years after his death, these two clauses were found, but not always in exactly the same words, would hardly strengthen our belief that they were actually uttered at the time. No amount of internal probability, supplemented by subsequent evidence of this kind, ought to shake our confidence in the reports of the twenty writers who took down the speaker’s words at the moment. Where the external evidence is ample, harmonious, and credible, considerations of internal evidence are out of place.

      That commentary also says:

      The addition ‘and these Three are one,’ though exactly what was required by the interpolators for controversial purposes, is exactly what is not required here by the context. What is required is, not that the Three Witnesses should in essence be only One, which would reduce the value of the testimony; but that the Three should agree, which would enhance the value of the testimony.

      Then that section concludes with a note (referring to the fact that from before 1500, only one original-language manuscript out of 500 that we have contained 1 John 5:7 in the text):

      Jerome’s famous hyperbole, “The whole world groaned and was amazed to find itself Arian,” fades into insignificance compared with the supposition that long before Jerome’s day the Arians had acquired influence enough to expunge a decisive passage from every copy of the Bible in every language [except Latin], so that neither Jerome, nor any Christian writer of his time, or before his time, had any knowledge of its existence! Where was the passage lying hid all those centuries? How was it rediscovered? Those who have been endeavouring upon critical principles to obtain a pure text of the Greek Testament have been accused of unsettling men’s minds by shewing that certain small portions of the common text are of very doubtful authority. ***But what profound uncertainty must be the result if we once admit, as a legitimate hypothesis, the supposition that an heretical party in the Church could for several hundred years rob the whole Church, and for many hundred years rob all but Western Christendom, of the clearest statement of the central doctrine of Christianity. What else may not the Arians have expunged? What may they not have inserted?***

      Question: Who wrote that note?

    4. Hi Anon,

      That note goes back to Alfred Plummer (1840-1912) in his Epistles of John in the 1880s.

      Epistles of John (1884)
      Alfred Plummer

      Let's put aside the weak analogy with secular writings, and his raising the always controversial question of ontological interpretation. Then we see the Internal Evidence case is largely based on countering the weak pro-authenticity argument that the reason the verse vanished from the Greek manuscripts was Arian expunction. However, far stronger arguments involving an earlier drop cover topics like homoeoteleuton, the Sabellian controversies and the disciplina arcani.

    5. "lying hid"??
      • Considering the fact that we have only 3 manuscripts with I John 5 for the first 8 centuries, and they are all three from Alexandria and the manuscripts date only to the 4th century and that these three manuscripts were (more than likely) products of Eusebius' commission? ...
      • With these facts made plain, how is it so unlikely that the passage was expunged by the Arian (which appeared in the fourth century)?
      • Could the author of the Appendix really be ignorant of the fact that Cyprian and Tertullian were bilingual (knowing both Greek and Latin)? I had hoped that such assessments as the one presented here in the Cambridge would be better informed.
      • We could add to the evidence Victor of Capua's affirmation of Jerome's Prologue in the Fuldensis manuscript. The prologue that informs us of the evident existence of the verse in Greek manuscripts being expunged by certain translators.
      • This Appendix is simply regurgitating out dated and ill-informed assumptions that have been repudiated long ago.

    6. "Only in Latin"
      Here are two wonderful allusions to the Heavenly Witnesses from the early "Greek" fathers.

      Clement of Alexandria (150-250 AD)
      • ”By two and three witnesses every word is established.” By Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, by whose witness and help the prescribed commandments ought to be kept. (Clement of Alexandria. Prophetic Extracts. 13.1; ANF, vol 8)
      o Greek: Πᾶν ῥῆμα ἵσταται ἐπὶ δύο καὶ τριῶν μαρτύρων, ἐπὶ πατρὸς καὶ υἱοῦ καὶ ἁγίου πνεύματος, ἐφ' ὧν μαρτύρων καὶ βοηθῶν αἱ ἐντολαὶ λεγόμεναι φυλάσσεσθαι ὀφείλουσιν. (Clement of Alexandria. Eclogae ex Scripturis propheticis. 13.1; Migne Graeca PG 9, 703-704)

      Origen of Alexandria (184–253 AD)
      • Scholia on Psalm 122:2 “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress.”The Spirit and the body are servants to their masters (the Father and the Son); the soul is the maiden to her mistress (the Holy Spirit); and the Lord our God is the three [persons], for the three are one. So, the eyes of servants look at the hands of their masters while they issue orders through gestures. It could also be that the hands of the masters, who are the Father and the Son, are the angels belonging to them both, while the hands of the mistress, who is the Holy Spirit, are the powers that are proper to the Holy Spirit. (Origenis Selecta in Psalmos CXXII)
      ○ Greek: Ἰδοὺ ὡς ὀφθαλμοὶ δούλων εἰς χεῖρας τῶν κυρίων αὐτῶν, ὡς ὀφθαλμοὶ παιδίσκης εἰς χεῖρας τῆς κυρίας αὐτῆς, οὕτως οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἡμῶν πρὸς Κύριον Θεὸν ἡμῶν, ἕως οὖ οἰκτειρήσαι ἡμᾶς, κ. τ. ἑ. Δοῦλοι κυρίων Πατρὸς καὶ Υἱοῦ πνεῦμα καὶ σῶμα· παιδίσκη δὲ κυρίας τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος ἡ ψυχή. Τὰ δὲ τρία Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν ἐστιν· οἱ γὰρ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν. Ὀφθαλμοὶ γοῦν δούλων εἰς χεῖρας κυρίων ὁρῶντες, ὅτε διὰ χειρῶν νεύοντες κελεύσουσιν. Ἤ χεῖρες κυρίων μὲν Πατρὸς καὶ Υἱοῦ οἱ ἑκατέρου ἄγγελοι· κυρίας δὲ τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος αἱ οἰκεῖαι αὐτοῦ δυνάμεις. (Origenis Selecta in Psalmos CXXII, Migne Graeca, PG 12.1633).

    7. If those words by Clement and Origen show a knowledge of the Comma Johanneum (either ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, πατήρ, λόγος, καὶ πνεῦμα ἅγιον. καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, or, ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, πατήρ, λόγος, καὶ πνεῦμα ἅγιον. οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι. καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ, depending which manuscript from before Erasmus you think is better), then one would have to conclude from a few OT verses that the Old Testament prophets were fully aware that the Gentiles would be part of the kingdom of God on earth in equal shares with the Jews.

    8. How about these witnesses?
      Manuel Calecas (d. 1410 AD)
      • Καὶ ὁ Εὑαγγελιστὴς Ἰωάννης,”Τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, ὁ Πατὴρ, ὁ Λόγος καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον.”(1 Jn. 5:7) (Manuelis Calecae, Principiis Fidei Catholicae de Principiis Fidei Catholicae; Migne Graeca, PG 152.516B)

      Joseph Bryennius (1340-1431 AD)
      • Θεὸν δὲ ὅταν εἴπω, λέγω Πατέρα, Υἱὸν καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμά, τὴν ὑπέρθεον καὶ ἀνωτάτην Τριάδα. Πατήρ, Υἱὸς καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, μία Θεότης τρία ἰδιώματα· μία οὐσία, τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις· μία φύσις, τρία πρόσωπα· μία μορφή, τρεῖς χαρακτῆρες· ἓν εἶδος, τρία ἄτομα. (ΛΟΓΟΣ εἰς τὴν Ἁγίαν καὶ ζωαρχικὴν Τριάδα συνερανισθεὶς ἐκ διαφόρων πρὸς Αὐτὴν λόγων τοῦ ὁσίου πατρὸς ἡμῶν σοφωτάτου Ἰωσὴφ τοῦ Βρυεννίου. )

      • Καὶ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐλθὼν, δι’ ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος καὶ Πνεύματος ἁγίου, Ἰησοῦς Χριστός· οὐκ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι μόνον, ἀλλ’ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι καὶ τῷ αἵματι. Καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμά ἐστι τὸ μαρτυροῦν, ὅτι ὁ Χριστὸς ἐστιν ἡ ἀλήθεια· ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες εν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ ὁ λόγος καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον· καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι. καὶ τρεῖς εἰσὶν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ, τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα. (Bryennius. Concerning the Holy Trinity. edited by Eugenius Bulgaris, 1768, vol 1, p. 241)

    9. Maybe you can explain how Latin prepositions "in caelo" and/or "in terra" became Greek prepositions ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς and/or ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ [Note the articles !!!] in Ottobonianus 298? Note the use of articles in the Greek!
      • Codex Ottobonianus 298 (1300-1399 AD) : Minuscule 629 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), α 460 (von Soden)
      12 οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐλθὼν
      13 δι’ ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος IHS XRS.
      14 οὐκ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι μόνον, ἀλλ’ ἐν τῷ
      15 καὶ ἐν τῷ αἵματι; καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα [ἐστι] τὸ
      16 μαρτυροῦν ὅτι ὁ XRS ἐστιν ἡ ἀλή-
      17 θεια; ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν
      18 οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἀπὸ τοῦ
      19 οὐρανοῦ; πατήρ, λόγος καὶ πνεῦμα ἅγιον·
      20 καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσι. καὶ
      21 τρεῖς ἐστιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες
      22 ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς: τὸ πνεῦμα, & τὸ ὕδωρ, καὶ
      23 τὸ αἷμα· εἰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν
      24 τῶν ἀνθρώπων λαμβάνομεν, (f. 105v [Image 216])

    10. Here is a Byzantine MSS from Euthymius' time
      And there are many instances of "Πάτερ, λόγε καὶ πνεῦμα" in the Eastern Orthodox church from the 4th century and were transcribed in the 6th to 9th century. You can see a sample of this in my paper on

      • Code Chronology: Leninop. Iffrentl. Bibl. 100 (olim Paris. Bibl. Nat. Fonds Coislin 212)
      • Note Date: May 1, 1111
      • Πάτερ, λόγε καὶ πνεῦμα· τριάς, φύσις μία.

  5. How difficult would it be to create a feature for this blog to search its archives by scripture reference?

    This would ideally be more than just a search for the reference as a text string, since varying ways that references may be presented (i.e. with or without book abbreviations, or in the midst of lists of references where book names don't get repeated) would not always be hits on that kind of search.

    1. I agree. And to include the text of comments in searches. Somewhere Ryan redefined doing something over and over and expecting different results as "parenting"--but I can't find the comment, even with that specific information. Imagine trying to find a good comment with even more vague recollections.

  6. Cook find!

  7. Evangelical perspective -
    If we are concerned from an evangelical perspective, the letter from Erasmus to LeFevre, in response to LeFevre's published criticisms of Erasmus, has many fascinating elements. Here I am just working with the Erasmus material, using what is available in Google books! :

    Luke as Paul's translator of Hebrews from Hebrew to Greek (this is from Clement of Alexandria through Eusebius)

    Elohim as singular and plural

    can Jesus Christ be called a man?

    Arians embraced and maybe created the term hypostasis

    Paul's letters to Seneca (LeFevre approved)

    Epistle to Laodecia - "feeble forgery" per Erasmus

    Nazarene Gospel (Gospel according to the Hebrews)

    remission rather than forgiveness

    My Lord and my God - John 20:28

    kenosis, emptying, robbery to be equal with God, lower than the angels, all things under his feet

    Jesus as a created being

    Cyprian and rebaptism

    Mary wavers at the crucifixion

    "the view that Christ alone is free from the sin of his birth"


    Erika Rummel

    Tells us that Noel Beda (1470-1537) said that Erasmus and LeFavre were both:
    humaniste theologizantes, (theologizing humanists),

    Erasmus answered Beda (considered a scholastic theologian) in 1527 in:

    Supputationes errorum in censuris Bedae


    1. Oops, apologies, that is my post above.

      Note: I saw the word "Evangelical" in the name of the forum and felt the Erasmus-LeFevre back-and-forth really has been overlooked as a rich mine of evangelical discussion.

  8. 1/4
    I Just now spent an hour or more on the text of II Cor. 8:5 referenced in this topic and, well, for starters:

    How on earth can the average Joe even begin to interact with this important topic without knowing the original languages?

    How can said Joe be expected to engage this topic without the assistance of honest aids, books, teachers, etc.?

    How can he even begin to consider the aids—turning to the “experts”—if his knowledge is limited to begin with; how does he asses the voracity of the sources he chooses?

    These, I believe, are legitimate questions. As I mentioned, I just spent a fair amount of time on the referenced text of the blog post and not only are there elements related to textual criticism but there are ones related to transmission and translation, and to some degree hermeneutics.

    Mind you, I am asking in all seriousness. How is it that someone such as me might genuinely study the topic with any effectiveness, having no background in the languages, only a basic understanding of textual criticism, a decent comprehension of hermeneutics, and limited resources? Well…as a result of my little study, here is what I found and I hope you might provide clarity and/or correction to my findings. Mind you, I am counting on you to have my best interest at heart.

    As to the textual note in the margin, I have no materials with which to study this particular element, nor the resources to obtain them unless free and accessible. The issue here must be a bit more complicated than the short article would make it out to be. Erasmus was perhaps right when he pointed out to his friend that textual criticism is a valuable pursuit and one that necessarily, I would argue, must be done by anyone truly interested in arriving at the truth of the text; however monumental the task, some endeavor must be done to satisfy the claims set before the textual investigator. At the very least the only option before the investigator—besides abandoning the effort altogether—is to accept or deny the claims of the experts on the matter of the text. But how, if they know nearly nothing of even where to begin? Another option is to cast themselves into the daunting task of learning the languages, analyzing the textual records, documenting the variant readings, and etc. Perhaps a spectrum of options are available to the investigator but in any case the work must be done, save taking it on blind faith in the findings of this or that particular scholar. Perhaps, the mass having escaped into the vulgar tongue, a new method must arise to suppress the real text with the truth within? I digress.

  9. Cont...2/4
    For now we work with the text as inserted, however it came to be there, correctly so or not. In thinking on it for some time now, and having a bit of technological know-how—enough to be dangerous—it occurred to me that process computing might aid much in the area of textual criticism if, and I suppose that’s a big if, the text might undergo a transformation into a digitized format at the stroke, jot, and tittle level. To think of the oversight required of the process to ensure every text comports into an accurate digitized rendering without any error makes one’s head start to throb. Perhaps it’s being done or has been done; if so I can’t wait for the results and/or would like to know where to find them. However, in any case, the processing of all the texts could easily derive a text with all variant readings and further undergo thorough analysis. This, I think, is the point here. If Erasmus encouraged his friend to engage in textual criticism, with all the disparately distributed material to parse through and analyze, just for him in his time, how do we seriously consider he did this? Additionally, do we have a timeline of the texts, including their names, their quantity, and those who were or could have been “doing textual criticism” of the sort Erasmus encouraged of his friend? Was one person at the University of Paris “doing textual criticism” with a group of New Testament texts only and others, elsewhere, with a set of entirely different texts on a single book, chapter, or verse in the either testament? Perhaps there is a resource that sorts out many of these questions, and that would be great; their voracity, however remains another question, as does their accessibility given location and lack of financial means.

  10. Cont...3/3
    Now, the textual criticism questions aside for a moment, let us turn to the translation of the particular passage in question. It has been noted by scholars in this field that no textual variant changes the meaning of the text—paraphrased. I have heard it said it changes no cardinal doctrine as well, which is a bit different, being less inclusive of the text and limited to cardinal doctrines. None the less, when we come to translation, things get a bit more murky. As I looked at the text I came across the following: Both the NIV and the KJV translate the phrase "and not as we hoped," while the YLT (Young’s Literal Translation) and CLV (Concordant Literal Version) had it as, “and not according as we expected.” Now, from the face of it there seems to be no real issue. We see that “as” is given as “accord” and “hope” is given as “expected.” Now when we take the immediate context into account, the NIV and KJV, with the translation of the Greek ηλπισαμεν - Elpisamen into the English term “hope,” makes little sense as compared to the YLT and CLV which translates the Greek ηλπισαμεν - Elpisamen into the English word “expected.” The context is a message to the church(s) in Corinth and at this juncture Paul is relating to them the faith of those in Macedonia, how they, of themselves, gave both to the Lord and to the further service of the saints abroad. Paul further relates that this was not what they were expecting but it is what they experienced. As the text follows, the dialogue again shifts to Paul speaking directly to the Corinthians by stating that because of the encounter with the Macedonians they further encouraged Titus to finish the work entrusted to him and that the Corinthians should consider these works as a means of coming to understand the aspects of giving on a number of levels. Paul in no way would say that the Macedonians did not do what he hoped they would. It just doesn’t make sense in the context, for they actually did more than he expected them to do and therefore, translationally, the NIV and KJV make it sound as if Paul was let down, when in actuality he was beyond pleased at the way the Macedonians over-delivered on his expectations prior to his meeting with them. He was unexpectant-ly surprised.

    ηλπισαμεν – Elpisamen – WE-EXPECT; G1679: II Cor. 1:7, 8:5, 3:12

    Προσδοκων – prosdokOn - TOWARD-SEEMING; G4328: Mat. 11:3; Lu. 1:21, 7:19-20; 2Pe. 3:13-14

    Translation is different than textual criticism but it could be argued that translation is textual criticism of a different ontology. The text must come first but then a translation must follow, and, at that, it must stay in keeping with the most accurate text throughout that translational transmission. If translation is not technically textual criticism it certainly remains inextricably tied to it. Without an accurate text, accurately transmitted through accurate translation, we would find ourselves precariously in the position of the Ethiopian eunuch and, I argue that, with the diffuse light of textual criticism barely penetrating to the outer courts of academia, much less onto the consciousness of wandering weary souls wondering, we cannot even begin to ask, “of whom does the prophet speak.”

    Therefore, let us endeavor to derive the truest text possible, conveying it with utmost care and exuberance, until such a time as any additional, or better yet original, autographs may dawn, shedding greater light across the horizon of humanity who may call out to us as the eunuch to Philip, “how am I able, if someone may not guide me.”