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Western text of Jn

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    Greetings, all, Recently, I ve been reading a new book by Philip Burton, _The Old Latin Gospels: A Study of their Texts and Language_, Oxford UP, 2000, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2002
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      Greetings, all,

      Recently, I've been reading a new book by Philip Burton, _The Old Latin
      Gospels: A Study of their Texts and Language_, Oxford UP, 2000, and it's
      quite an interesting study. Some of his conclusions seem quite
      revolutionary for the whole field of Textual Criticism, because they allow
      a much better understanding of the origins of the Western text, which many
      critics believe was the oldest text of the gospels. Has anyone read this
      book yet?

      Here are a couple of reviews that are quite positive,

      Review of Burton, "The Old Latin Gospels",
      http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/vol06/Burton2001rev1.html

      Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.05.01
      http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2002/2002-05-01.html

      In regard to GJohn, Burton finds that all Old Latin MSS of GJohn can be
      divided into two groups. The oldest MSS are a d j q r1 e, which are quite
      close to the "African" text, which is generally considered as the more
      primitive Old Latin text. And the MSS aur b c f ff2 l are the ones that
      are the closest to the Vulgate, which represents a later Byzantine
      text-type (very similar to KJV). Among all these Old Latin MSS, the
      earliest text of Jn is probably represented by e (MSS Palatinus). But also
      Codex Bezae's text is very important, and Bezae contains both a Latin and
      a Greek version of Jn.

      Based on Burton's data, it seems like all Old Latin MSS of Jn basically
      depend on one and the same Old Latin textual tradition -- an earlier
      version of John's Gospel in Latin. Thus, these would not have been
      independent or haphazard translations into Latin.

      All this implies a very considerable degree of centralisation. In other
      words, that original Latin text of Jn was probably issued by a high
      ecclesiastical authority with a considerable power to impose their views.
      Rome springs to mind as the best candidate, and this would have been done,
      in my opinion, around the year 170, or just before Irenaeus.

      Then, the later edition akin to the Vulgate was probably issued
      considerably later by the same authority, and the Old Latin texts
      gradually went into disuse.

      I assume that, originally, the main purpose of gospel texts would have
      been for public reading during believers' assemblies. Thus, they were
      primarily didactic and inspirational texts. From this point of view, each
      of the gospels would have been produced by a Church, i.e. a community of
      believers, and not by some individual writers.

      As to current mainstream text of Jn, it's of Alexandrian type. It's quite
      different from both the Western and Byzantine texts in many particulars.
      But there's no conclusive evidence that the Alexandrian text is
      necessarily superior to the Western or even to the Byzantine text. And, of
      course, Western text also has a very large amount of close parallels with
      the Old Syriac texts, which are the closest to the language of Jesus.

      All the best,

      Yuri.

      Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

      It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than
      to put out on the troubled seas of thought -=O=- John K. Galbraith
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