Western text of Jn
- 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
Here are a couple of reviews that are quite positive,
Review of Burton, "The Old Latin Gospels",
Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.05.01
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 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