Thursday, March 27, 2008
All of these things are of course well-known, but when Hengel comes to the implications for textual criticism he only mentions the "widespread freedom" in dealing with the Gospel writings in the second century; "in this early period the texts of the Gospels could still be changed." At the same time, however, he is optimistic in that "nearly all the alterations and interploations can be picked up in the multiple textual tradition" (p.19).
When I read this part of the essay, I wondered if there was not another important implication for textual criticism: In the second century there was not only a harmonistic tendency, but also a strong anti-harmonistic tendency (cf. Irenaeus) and I wonder to what degree such a tendency is reflected among early scribes. In a review of David Parker's The Living Text of the Gospels, co-blogger Peter Head criticizes Parker for over-emphasising the freedom of the manuscript tradition. PH points out: "We might say that it is precisely because not all scribes acted in a free manner that we are now able to study those which did, and to rank readings, when possible, in an order of historical development."
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
- whether the Caesarean text identified by Streeter is really identifiable (pp. 284-288);
- Burkitt’s disagreement with Streeter on Luke 3.22 and 11.2-4, and hence on the reconstruction of Q (pp. 288-292);
- whether Streeter is always right in his application of textual criticism to the minor agreements, especially Mark 14.62 (cf. Matt 26.64//Luke 22.70) and Mark 14.65 (cf. Matt 26.67f // Luke 22.64) (pp. 293f).
‘On a careful reconsideration of the evidence I feel inclined to maintain that the special value of the textual part of Dr Streeter’s book consists in the light that it throws on the psychology of Origen. Origen had used a very good text of the Gospels, but he was quite willing later on to acquiesce in a much worse text which he found current, and even to expound it. Indeed he does not appear to be conscious of the difference, except that there and there where it is a question of some quite striking variant he seems to remember that he has seen manuscripts which had another reading. There does not seem to be any evidence that he ever compared any MSS of the New Testament together.
After all, this textual work is only one part of Dr Streeter’s volume, and it would be out of proportion to stress it too strongly either by praise or blame. …’ (p. 294).
So what about this strange phrase "the special value of the textual part of Dr Streeter’s book consists in the light that it throws on the psychology of Origen" - is this an insult? Origen had no critical principles, Origen didn't know a good text from a bad one, Origen never compared any manuscripts. It sure sounds like an insult to me.
Monday, March 17, 2008
3rd Century Shema in Greek from Austria, in gold:
ΣΥΜΑ ΙΣΤΡΑΗΛ ΑΔΩΝΕ ΕΛΩΗ ΑΔΩΝ Α
note large .jpg for viewing at the bottom of page.
"The auction does not include the three most valuable and controversial segments of Ferrini's disputed collection. An ongoing legal battle has yet to sort out the true owner of these items, worth millions:
- A batch of biblical artifacts that include fragments from the Book of Exodus and the Letter of Paul to the Colossians. It also includes part of the controversial Gnostic manuscript known as the Gospel of Judas.
- A large marble Assyrian relief believed to have belonged to Alexander the Great.
- Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, whose display at the John S. Knight Center in 2004 devolved into a contentious public squabble, with court injunctions and lawsuits over missing money, unpaid bills and claims of fraud."
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Of the manuscripts photographed only a few details have been provided so far:
- Codex Beratinus (043), a purple codex (Matt & Mark; VI).
- Codex 1143, a purple codex, gospels, IX.
- Codex 1709, early member of family 13, XII.
- Albanian National Archive (ANA) 15, XI-XII; four gospels (lacks pericope adulterae, except for later addition).
- ANA 92, XIII-XIV; lacks pericope adulterae.
- ANA 85, XIV; pericope adulterae at the end of the four gospels.
- ANA 4; pericope adulterae at the end of the four gospels (but different scribe); "quite a few family 13 readings, although it does not appear to be strictly family 13 in its nature".
So, congratulations to the CSNTM for managing to photograph all this material, we look forward to images on the web-site (hopefully), and to some fuller analysis of the new material.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Here is an abstract of the most interesting bits:
"In May, he'll start a sabbatical to embark on his most ambitious expedition yet.
He and a team of assistants are planning a 15-month trip to Albania, the island of Patmos, Turkey, several European and Russian cities, Mount Sinai in Egypt and several cities in the United States.
In expedition to Albania last summer yielded new excitement: His team found a treasure trove of manuscripts. The group had expected to work with 13 known manuscripts – but instead found that the National Archive in Tirana listed 47 New Testament manuscripts. At least 17 were unknown to Western scholars."
I sure which I could take 15 months off and go with them ...
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
"Since scribes would frequently bring divergent passages into harmony with one another, in parallel passages (whether quotations from the Old Testament or different accounts in the Gospels of the same event or narrative) that reading which involves verbal dissidence is usually to be preferred to one which is verbally concordant." Metzger, Textual Commentary, 13*.
Does anyone know any discussions of this principle?
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Sometimes, new comments are added to older posts, which are unlikely to be read by many, so I thought I would respond to Todd with this new post.
The knowable truth is what we would like to pursue on this blog, and therefore we seek to struggle with the evidence all the time. Let me take a brief example from the Epistle of Jude which makes me hesitate in relation to Ehrman's thesis of "orthodox corruption" that has been discussed on several occasions on this blog.
When I examined the complete Greek textual tradition of Jude, I found that some witnesses in Jude 5 said that "Jesus" saved the people out of Egypt ("the Lord" or "God" are among other readings). Was Jesus thought to be present in these Old Testament days? Well there is a similar problem in 1 Cor 10:9, where Ehrman thinks the reading "the Christ" (other readings "the Lord"/"God") is a doctrinal alteration attributing divine characteristics to Jesus Christ (Orthodox Corruption, 89-90). Interestingly, the MSS A (02) and 81 are among the very few witnesses that attest "God" here, but in Jude 5 they are among the few witnesses that attests to "Jesus". Now, if a theological tendency in one single direction were possible to detect on the level of individual MSS, one would not expect MSS A and 81 to be among the witnesses that read "God" in 1 Cor 10:9.
In conclusion, it is easy to attribute various variants to this or that orthodox tendency, citing various manuscripts (at best) without paying close attention to what manuscripts are cited when. What is necessary, however, if such a thesis is to be proven is to examine the evidence in closer detail, even on the level of individual manuscripts, unless one want to be guilty of "misquoting manuscripts." I have the greatest respect for Bart Ehrman, and I regard several of his works in textual criticism as very valuable, but on this major issue I simply think he is wrong. I do not deny that there are single manuscripts with a detectable theological tendency (two examples of early witnesses are P72, of which I have written at length myself, and Codex Bezae), but I do not think that "orthodox corruption" was ever a programmatic, large-scale phenomenon in the textual tradition.
As announced several times on this blog, there will be a debate in New Orleans in April 4-5 on the "Textual Reliability of the New Testament," featuring among others Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace. I hope we will have a report of how that proceeds. I also know that audio-files will be made available. Read more here.