1002Re: [Synoptic-L] Alternating Primitivity (Method)
- Mar 24 11:30 AMBruce,
Excellent thoughts that challenge long-held assumptions of mine.
I have always placed much weight on the text critical principle of preferring the more difficult reading, the thinking being that a scribe is more likely to smooth a passage than make it more difficult.
This is the main reason I have been reluctant to buy into emending texts in the absence of textual variants: we become the very scribes that we've been cautioned about!
But I have another, much more significant issue with proposing variant readings in the absence of manuscript evidence. The absence of variant manuscript evidence is evidence for the absence of variation!
For example, a significant number of Pauline scholars believe that I Thess. 2:15-16 is a later interpolation, despite the absence of textual variants. So here is what had to have happened. One scribe inserted the passage into one copy of I Thess. And then all of the other copies of I Thess. had to perish from the earth while this one copy became the single progenitor for all manuscripts of I Thess. from that day forward. I have a pretty big problem with the plausibility of that scenario.
Not sure how this contributes to our discussion, which I am much enjoying.
Rev. Chuck Jones
E Bruce Brooks wrote:
CHUCK: While you raise an interesting, legitimate point, I am not certain
how we can proceed in literary analysis based on possibilities for which
there is no evidence. It seems to me we must analyze the literature we
have, recognizing it limits our results.
BRUCE: Evidence in one text is not "no evidence." Let me illustrate.
(1) As we read the newspaper (to borrow an example from Metzger), we
spontaneously correct misprints in the newspaper. If we see "thesef" we do
not need a whole second edition of the paper, identical save that this word
appears as "these," to judge that the compositor has let her finger rest
improvidently on the F key (its home key) before thumbing the spacebar. The
whole layout of the standard keyboard could probably be recovered with a
fair degree of accuracy by collating fifty thousand errors of this sort.
It's not as good as salvaging an actual 20th century keyboard, but it's not
mere speculation either. It has a basis in evidence.
(2) Suppose we have two manuscripts B and C, containing the same passage,
but B is longer by a sentence. The existence of the difference focuses our
attention on this situation, and we therefore are compelled to decide
between them. C is shorter. Do we follow an "iron rule" and rule it
preferable? Not if we have read Griesbach, who seems to have formulated the
"lectio brevior" guideline in great detail. Griesbach does in fact lay it
down that the shorter reading is better, since (as he says) scribes do
abbreviate. But he they proceeds to give even more examples of cases where
scribes do NOT abbreviate, but expand. Whence we get the opposite rule,
sometimes also cited, that the longer reading is preferable. The truth of
the matter, fully evident in Griesbach's examples (for which see Metzger
Text of the New Testament 3ed p120), is that neither the longer nor the
shorter reading is a priori preferable. We have no recourse, in this or any
other case, save to examine, on their merits, the two particular passages.
We might, as one possibility, find that the sentence found only in B is also
*interruptive* in B; that it does not articulate well with what comes before
and after it, and that when it is experimentally removed, the material
before and after it joins together in a satisfactory sequence. Then the line
standing only in B is very likely to be an interpolation, and we rule in
favor of C as preserving the original reading.
Or, to take the opposite possibility, suppose that the line in B makes the
context work concinnitously, but that the sequence in C is bumpy and
unsatisfactory. Then text C is somehow defective, and its defect is cured by
the existence of the B line. In this case, a line has been lost from C and
can be confidently supplied from B. Here, it is B that preserve the original
ONE TEXT EQUIVALENTS
Now suppose we had only text C. If it reads satisfactorily, there is no need
to pay further attention to it. If it reads problematically, such that the
connection at one point is faulty, then we can conjecture that a word, or a
line, or a page, has dropped out, but we have no way to restore the missing
material, or even to estimate its extent. The cure here is either
conjectural emendation (and there are famous cases where conjectural
emendation has succeeded), or simply to indicate a lacuna and move on. We
recognize a problem by considering the nature of the text, and solve it, or
mark it, as best we can.
Or, suppose we had only text B. If it reads satisfactorily, there is no need
to pay further attention to it, and in all probability, no attention, in
fact, would ever have been called to it. But if there is an inconcinnity, a
sense of non sequitur, a feeling of resumption after disturbance, as we read
the text, we may find on inspection (and inspection is implicitly called
for) that one sentence is causing all the trouble, and that if we remove it,
the text is fine. In this case, we judge that we are dealing with an
interpolation, identify the line in question as such, remove it from our
idea of the original, and pass on. We do not have the support of an
independent manuscript containing the text as we have conjectured it, but we
do have a solution, and a solution based on the evidence in the text.
Divergent manuscript readings serve to focus attention on passages that may
be problematic, whether from scribal dropouts or from scribal additions or
from a host of other things. Divergent readings help to accelerate the
process of discovery by focusing attention on problem places. But we *solve*
those passages, once we have been led to consider them, not by the fact of
the difference, which of itself only identifies that a problem exists. We
solve them by considering the local merits of each single text. Those
determinations are such as could also be made (though if a line has dropped
out, not equally well made) by sufficiently careful attention to the
evidence within the single text.
It is the evidence of the single text that decides the problem. That
evidence is thus not properly "no evidence." It is just this sort of
evidence that is ultimately relied on by text criticism. Noting the
attestation of the several readings in other manuscripts merely gives the
history of dissemination of the correct and/or the incorrect readings. It
does not of itself say which reading *is* the correct one; at most, it puts
you in good company. The attestation pattern may itself be used as a
substitute for local judgement, and if the preferred pattern includes
Vaticanus, the result may often be successful. But it is ultimately local
judgement that establishes Vaticanus in the first place as something worth
betting on, when you have no other ideas in a given case.
Thus, in effect, Westcott and Hort, or a rule of thumb that derives from
their colossal labors. But I give them full marks for recognizing that there
are cases, albeit seemingly few of them, where Vaticanus itself stands a
little off to one side of the line of descent from the archetype. They did
this by considering the merits of the local situation. So should we.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
http://www.umass.edu/wsp/philology/typology/index.html (still recommended)
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