On 9/5/99, Dave Washburn wrote:
>Bob Waltz wrote:
> > First off, let's please distinguish between gospels and Paul. The gospels
> > were clearly intended for publication; even if only one or two copies
> > were made of AMk, the hope was still that it would be disseminated.
> > And the Gospels *did* achieve independent circulation. P66 contained
> > only John. P75 contained only Luke and John. It is likely that many of
> > the other gospel papyri contained only one gospel.
>Since both are codices and somewhat fragmentary, I'm not sure we
>can say with absolute confidence that these gospels are all the
>actual codices ever contained.
Actually, we can in some instances. If a manuscript is a single-quire
codex, we know pretty well how long it is. That's how we calculate,
e.g., that P46 could not have contained the Pastoral Epistles.
Now that calculation may be off, since the scribe could have
mis-estimated slightly the number of sheets needed to transcribe
a copy of Paul. But a scribe could hardly mis-estimate so badly
as to want papyrus for four gospels, but only pull the number
of sheets for one gospel. :-)
And at least some of the gospel papyri are single-quire codices.
(I'd have to look up which ones, but there are some.) So they
can only have contained so many gospels.
>True, it is possible that some
>manuscripts only contained one or two gospels; the question then
Presumably the cost of writing. But of course we don't know.
But it is also noteworthy that there are lots of papyri of John
and almost none, save P45, of Mark. This is secondary evidence
that the papyri were mostly one-or two-gospel editions. And it
hints at the reason: John was treasured more than Mark (the
situation is less clear for Matthew and Luke, which are
well-enough represented that there may have been as many
copies as there were of John).
> > In Paul, the situation is completely different. The documents were
> > for public use, yes, but had a particular destination. They weren't
> > intended for actual *publication.* It wasn't until they were collected
> > that an actual public edition seems to have been contemplated. To
> > the best of my knowledge, there is only *one* Pauline manuscript which
> > can be shown to have contained only a single book of the Pauline
> > corpus: P13. And that's a double special case, because P13 is a
> > scroll and Hebrews was a disputed book. There is no evidence that,
> > say, Galatians was ever published separately. (Note the term
> > *published.*)
>I don't see how this has anything to do with the question. What
>you're actually saying is that the paulines in fact did have
>autographs. Also, the last part of Colossians indicates that Paul
>intended his letters to be circulated at least somewhat, which
>sounds an awful lot like "publication" of a sort to me. If the
>commentaries are correct that Ephesians was a cyclical letter,
>surely Paul would have assumed the churches to whom it was
>circulated would have made copies and likely disseminated them.
>That also sounds a lot like publication. It would appear then, that
>the matter is not nearly as cut-and-dried as Bob wants to make it.
You're right that it wasn't cut and dried. But I would maintain
that there is a fundamental difference between the Paulines and
the Gospels. The Paulines were, without exception, addressed to
a particular situation. The gospels were intended for public
Now I'm sure neither Paul nor the gospel writers intended their
works for canonization. But they still had different purposes,
and the purposes affected their history.
The case of Ephesians, it seems to me, is not relevant. If it
is indeed to be part of a publication, then it's part of a publication;
fine; that's the first step in the process. But then it's
not by Paul. :-)
> > Thus every manuscript of the gospels presumably goes back to a
> > single stopping point. (It may not be the autograph, because it
> > could, say, be taken from a scribe's fair copy of Mark's autograph.
> > But it is a stopping point consisting of Mark only.)
> > In Paul, in all likelihood, there is no such "single stopping point"
> > for each book. The common starting point is *not* the autograph of
> > Romans and the autograph of 1 Corinthians and the autograph of
> > 2 Corinthians (the last of which never even actually existed). It
> > is the manuscript in which they were all assembled. Or, at least,
> > this is a reasonable assumption.
>How is it reasonable? The fact that the letters were ultimately
>assembled has nothing to do with the question of autographs, at
>least not as far as I can see. The goal of TC is still to discover
>exactly what was in those autographs, so I'm not sure I see the
Create a stemma. I draw one below (for illustration purposes only,
I hasten to add. But the comments which follow apply for *any*
| | | |
D E F G
Assume, for the sake of the argument, that all extant copies are derived
from D, E, F, G (and any number of sisters you care to name). Assume, of
course, that A, B, and C are destroyed. In that case, the earliest
manuscript you can access *directly* is C, the parent of the four
sisters. The process from C to B to A is entirely hypothetical. You
can only proceed from C, the archetype of all surviving manuscripts,
to A *by means of emendation*. You cannot, in fact, prove whether A
and C are distinct! The tree *stops at C*.
This is a simple fact of criticism; there isn't a thing we can do
This means that, *if* the equivalent of C is an edition, such as
a collected edition of Paul, then all we can reconstruct is that
edition. We may wish to go beyond it, but we *cannot*.
Now it is, of course, possible to question whether, in the case
of Paul, the original Pauline edition is "C," or if there is access
to the individual letters before this. I do not believe this
question can be answered. But since it cannot be answered, we
must allow the possibility it is so. And, in fact, I think it
more likely than not.
[ ... ]
>Again, I don't see the point. The church canonized a certain
>corpus of letters it determined to be from Paul, but that has little or
>nothing to do with the quest for the autographs as he originally sent
That's exactly the point! The church canonized what it had (a collection
of letters). It did not canonize the autographs, which it did not
It should also be noted (just to save time down below) that canonization
was not a sudden process; canonicity *evolved*. You refer to the
"earliest know edition... canonized in the fourth century." This is
*not* what I was referring to. By the fourth century, of course,
everyone agreed on the canon. But the collected edition of Paul
was probably in existence by 100 C.E., and all of the books save
Hebrews and perhaps the Pastorals were canonized by 150 C.E. at
This is all incredibly obvious to me. Obviously I'm not explaining
it well. Wish I knew what to say....
Robert B. Waltz
Want more loudmouthed opinions about textual criticism?
Try my web page: http://www.skypoint.com/~waltzmn
(A site inspired by the Encyclopedia of NT Textual Criticism)