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Date of reconstructed texts

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  • gentile_dave@emc.com
    Tim wrote: No, I was not suggesting that the Gospel of Mark postdated either Matthew or Luke. I was asking if, having better and/or earlier witnesses to the
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 11, 2008
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      Tim wrote: No, I was not suggesting that the Gospel of Mark postdated
      either Matthew or Luke. I was asking if, having better and/or earlier
      witnesses to the texts of Matthew and Luke, whether our
      reconstructed/critical text of Mark (NA27) more likely reflected a later
      text than what we have been able to do for Matthew & Luke. I.e. whether
      our reconstruction of Mark gets us, say, a reasonable mid-3rd century
      resemblance, while our reconstructions of Mt & Lk push us half a century
      or so earlier? Has anyone made use of such an argument before? Perhaps
      this is more so a text critical question which would better suit a
      different E-list?



      Dave: I don't know of anyone publishing anything about this, but I
      completely agree with the idea, as I think you know, although it is a
      hard question to phrase adequately. What are we asking? You yourself use
      "reasonable resemblance" which may be what we are after here, but which
      may be too vague to be very helpful.



      Assume we are looking at the NA version of Mark, and this differs from
      the autograph of Mark. Are we asking about the origin date of the last
      change in our NA text when compared to the autograph? This could be a
      quite trivial change, and would mean very little. Moreover it would
      probably just reflect a place where NA is wrong in its choice of which
      surviving text to follow. So I think rather than the actual NA, we have
      to refer to a hypothetical "perfect reconstruction", that is one that is
      perfect in its choices based on surviving texts, but still presumably
      different than the autograph. We would then want the latest date of any
      unique feature of this "perfect" text which is not in the autograph.



      My own suggestion of how to describe that comes, again, from the
      biological analogy. The question is then 'What is the date of the "Last
      Common Ancestor" of all surviving copies of the gospel of Mark?' I might
      guess that it is mid-to-late second century. This copy of Mark would
      have had certain features that are not contained in any previous copy of
      Mark. It would then be the case that one way or another this 2nd century
      copy of Mark left its unique features in every surviving copy Mark.
      There need not have been anything all that exceptional about this text,
      just the accidents of history conspired to give it this position.
      Again, appealing to the biological analogy, the LCA date for Mark would
      quite probably be later than the LCA date for Matthew and/or Luke.



      The advantage here is that we are asking about the date of a physical
      document rather that the date of a text like NA, which in its exact form
      never existed historically.



      One problem with this, it that even once an "LCA" is explained, I think
      many are convinced that the LCA is the autograph. Whereas I would argue
      this is quite unlikely to be the case.



      Dave Gentile

      Riverside, IL



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW; Eldon Epp In Response To: Dave Gentile On: Date of Reconstructed Texts From: Bruce I think Dave s clarifications are very helpful.
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 11, 2008
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        To: Synoptic
        Cc: GPG, WSW; Eldon Epp
        In Response To: Dave Gentile
        On: Date of Reconstructed Texts
        From: Bruce

        I think Dave's clarifications are very helpful. Just a note to his last
        paragraph:

        DAVE: One problem with this, it that even once an "LCA" is explained, I
        think many are convinced that the LCA is the autograph. Whereas I would
        argue this is quite unlikely to be the case.

        BRUCE: At least the two are different in principle. I might take the subject
        back out of biology and bring it back into the province of the textual
        sciences. For LCA, I would suggest substituting A for "Archetype." This
        means, the ancestor of the manuscripts we actually have. It is indeed not
        the same (though even text critics will sometimes take this shortcut) as the
        author's final manuscript, which I would like to call F (for "final").

        [Lachmann, very properly as I think, did not claim that his critical edition
        represented the authors' autographs. He thought that it represented the
        texts as they were at the earliest date to which manuscript comparisons take
        us, that is, the archetype in the above sense. This, Lachmann thought, was
        the 4th century, not the 1st. It seems that only in certain spots and places
        can we say that the 4th century text (by and large, Vaticanus) can be
        attested one or two centuries earlier].

        We could then ask Tim's question this way: Is the archetype behind Mark the
        same as the one behind, say, Luke, and if not, which one is older?

        I think Peter (to whom also thanks) has already spoken to this, so
        presumably Tim's question has been answered as well as it is going to be at
        this date. I note Peter's comment that the century of the papyri hasn't made
        all THAT much difference in our sense of the texts in question. Eldon Epp in
        1974 (JBL; but see now also the 2004 update notes appended to the reprint in
        Epp Perspectives, Brill 2005) pointed to an "interlude" in progress on this
        subject; I take it he was referring to the same fact. All in all, it begins
        to seem that our sense of the respective archetypes is probably about as
        good as it is going to get, and that further progress in Synoptic (or NT)
        understanding, if in fact it can be achieved, is going to have to come from
        better processing of what we now have.

        [Which surely does not include letting the Western Non-Interpolations back
        into the text; on this retrograde movement I fully share Metzger's evident
        pain].

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst

        -----

        PHILOLOGICAL PS:

        I have left uncorrected a scribal, or in this case very probable authorial,
        error in Dave's quoted paragraph. For the fifth quoted word [it], read
        rather "is." The substitution of t for the intended s is not likely to be a
        matter of phonological compatibility; it is in all probability an
        anticipation of the next letter scheduled by the authorial mind to be
        written by the authorial finger, namely the t of "this." I mention this not
        because it is difficult, but because it is possible to reach this conclusion
        without a second manuscript of Dave's message which is identical with the
        one he sent save for reading "is that" rather than "it that."

        Manuscript variants are very helpful to call our attention to problem
        places, but the variants of themselves do not solve the problems to which
        they point. The problems are solved by the same sort of experienced
        judgement that we apply to problem passages where, as in this case,
        manuscript variants do NOT exist, and where we become aware of the problem
        not by collation, but simply by noticing the irregularity.

        Second moral: not all imperfections in a text are the work of later scribes.
        The author is also part of the text formation process.
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