Re: Textual Criticism Theories
- On Mon, 21 Oct 1996, KHGrenier@... wrote:
>Dear all,What a subject to start on right before I go to bed. Oh well, here goes....
>I have been a lurker on this list for some time now and have enjoyed the many
>exchanges of ideas--this summer especially. Things have calmed down recently,
>however, so this seems like a good time to come out of hiding and stir things
[ ... ]
>HistoryI would say that the WH *text* has now been replaced by UBS/GNT, although
>Textual criticism is a relatively new field of study in NT circles. While tc
>has been performed since the Church fathers (as demonstrated by Origin's),
>there was no widespread systematic approach to its practice until Wescott &
>Hort in 1881. Prior to that time, many had posited arguments against mere
>acceptance of the TR, but it wasn't until W&H that a methodology for a
>different selection was proposed.
>Since then, the entire tc world has lived in the shadow of W&H, either
>supporting them or fighting them. However, even though there are some severe
>weaknesses with W&H, no one has yet to dethrone their view, primarily, it
>seems, because no one has been able to come up with a theoretical framework
>to replace it that has met with wide acceptance.
this is largely a "Hortian" text.
>The most recent attempt past the logjam has been the eclectic movement,:-)
>which, it seems, everyone tries to lump everyone but themselves into.
Actually, most people except those who believe in Byzantine priority
are eclectics. (This includes even W&H.) They're just different *types*
of eclectics. Some stress manuscripts (W&H), some internal criteria
(Elliot), some a mixture of the two.
And so everyone tries to "grab hold" of the word eclectic, or label
someone else with the term, because our language is not precise enough.
[ ... ]
>This isn't really a theory of textual criticism, just a theory about the
>Therefore, in the tc world today, we conduct our affairs generally within the
>W&H paradigm whether we agree with it or not. However, there are still some
>very divergent views of the nature of NT textual criticism. I'm sure I do not
>know them all and I've probably missed the mark in some cases. I do know that
>very few people seem to fit well in any category except in cases where their
>view defines the category. Here are the ones I can think of off the top of my
>1. KJV only - the TR was shepherded by God to us through the centuries and we
>should not deviate from it based on what passes for "human wisdom."
text. As Daniel B. Wallace points out, there has never been a legitimate
textual scholar who has held *this* point of view.
>2. Byzantine priority - While the Byzantine text is not present significantlyThis is actually a complicated area, with at least three major sub-groups.
>prior to 500 (?) CE, it does reflect the autographs better than the other
>text types. Maurice Robinson would say (correct me if I'm wrong) that the
>process of copying and cross-checking would generally bring most deviant
>texts back into line with the autographs.
1. The followers of Dean Burgon. Maurice Robinson is a modern example.
They believe that the majority text is always "original."
2. The followers of Hodges & Farstad, e.g. Pickering. They believe that
the Byzantine text is original, but use more complex methods (at times
smacking of internal criticism) to determine the "original" text.
There is also a third group exemplified by Harry Sturz. This group does not
claim Byzantine priority, but rather Byzantine *equality* -- that is, they
deny Hort's claim that the Byzantine text is secondary. They consider it one
of the original text-types, and reconstruct the text on this basis.
This is actually close to the views of Von Soden, although Sturz values
the Byuzantine text above all others while Soden considered it the least
of the text-types.
>3. Alexandrian priority - Although there are far more Byzantine witnessesI would be inclined to call this category "Single text-type priority."
>than any other type, the earlier witnesses must be given priority by virtue
>of their date and quality.
For W&H, the Alexandrian text was the best -- but, as someone has already
noted, there are scholars (e.g. Vaganay, Amphoux, also Clark) who consider
the "Western" text the best. For that matter, Streeter apparently regarded
the "Caesarean" text as best. The crucial point is that all of these
people choose *one* text type as "best" and follow that.
Of course, most of them have chosen the Alexandrian text as best, but this
is not universal. It should also be noted that what was considered Alexandrian
in Hort's time now appears (at least in Paul, the Catholics, and the
Apocalypse) to break down into multiple text-types (e.g. in Paul we have
p46-B verses Aleph-A-C-33; so Zuntz, and I independently verified this).
>4. Eclectic - The best way to determine the nature of the autographs isAgain there are at least three schools here. Various terminologies have
>through an eclectic process examining each significant issue on its own
>merits. The decision for which reading is best is based on the internal
>evidence and the external evidence, however, it is up to the textual critic
>to determine in each instance which evidence has the most weight in each
been applied to this; I'll use my own (influenced by Epp)
1. Internal eclecticists (Kilpatrick; Elliot; earlier Weiss and Lagrange).
These stress the internal evidence of readings. Manuscripts carry
relatively little weight.
2. Generalists -- those who use internal and external evidence. Most
editors of critical editions fall into this group, though their
rules and historical reconstructions vary widely. The UBS committee,
for instance, gave great weight to the Alexandrian text; the editors
of the New English Bible applies more internal criteria.
3. External eclecticists. This is a relatively rare breed these days.
I'm one, but I don't count. I understand that Deering is one. People
in this classification always take external (manuscript) evidence
first. So in Paul, for example, if a reading is attested by p46 Aleph
A B C D F G 33 1739, I *must* adopt it no matter what internal
evidence says. Only if the text-types (p46-B-sa, Aleph-A-C-33-bo,
D-F-G-latt, 1739-0243-1881-424**-6) divide am I even *allowed*
to look at internal evidence.
>The Difficulty of the TaskDebatable. It is true that we cannot, for the most part, construct stemma
>Part of the difficulty of the task is that we do not understand with
>certainty how we ended up with the texts that we have. Most agree that the
>majority of variants probably occurred prior to 325 CE., certainly before 500
>(?) CE. During this time, people did not understand the writings as scripture
>and there was little opportunity for comparison of MSS.
>One of the main problems facing the textual critic is that there are no truly
>satisfactory ways to place the different MSS into their place in the family
>tree. First, we don't have enough MSS to really trace out the branches and
>second the nature of the variants is of little help.
(exact family trees). But we *do* find text-types. Everyone concedes the
existence of the Alexandrian and Byzantine texts. Most will concede at
least one or two others (e.g. I find four or five in the Gospels; five
in Paul; four in the Catholics. Zuntz finds four in Paul. Schmidt finds
four in the Apocalypse). Within these text-types we can find sub-text-types
(e.g. in the Gospels, the Alexandrian text has a p75-B-T subtype and an
Aleph-Z subtype). Within these we can possibly find clans, and within these,
at times, families.
However, most eclectic scholars make little use of this information. It
is, obviously, my opinion that we should make *more* use of this data.
Of course, if two early text-types disagree, we still have the same old
problem: Deciding which one preserves the original reading. But at least
we have more tools at our disposal.
>Variants may be categorized in general into 2 categories - intentional andIn principle this is true. But I would stress that it can be *very* hard
>accidental. The intentional variants are those made on purpose by the scribe
>for a variety of reasons. i.e., to correct a "bad" reading, to make it more
>understandable, to harmonize texts, to correct grammar, to push a theological
>point, ad nauseam. Accidental variants include the whole range of scribal
>errors that may occur.
to tell which type is which, and we should not place much stress on
which variants are "intentional" and which "accidental." Indeed, an
variant may be both -- an accidental error caused a scribe to attempt
a deliberate correction. See, for example, 1 Cor. 13:3. The original reading
is probably KAUCHSWMAI (p46 Aleph A B 33 1739* pc). An error converted this
to KAUQHSWMAI (K Psi Byz). This is impossible, so scribes "corrected" it
to KAUQHSOMAI (D F G L al).
[ ... ]
>Dumb Thoughts from a NoviceNo argument there -- although we must be careful to distinguish between
>While the most significant battles in tc will be fought over the
>theologically significant variants, it seems that those are precisely the
>wrong places to understand tc. Just like in Greek we want to learn the
>grammar from the mundane areas so that we can apply it accurately to the more
>theological ones, so perhaps the same is true in tc.
variants that are textually significant and those which are not.
>It seems to me that our critical apparati all seem to focus our attention onI could be sarcastic here, and say that W&H's basic principle was "Prefer
>the significant variants and ignore the large mass of minor variants to
>include slight misspellings and other obvious issues. Maybe we need to start
>grouping readings based on their insignificant variant readings and their
>date. If we do that, the four text types (Alexandrian, Byzantine, Western,
>Whatever) will probably fade away, while the basic principles of W&H would
the Alexandrian reading." Suffice it to say that here I disagree with
you, and agree with W&H. Text-types are not insignificant; they are
our basic tools. (IMHO.)
>I think I've covered that above. If I haven't -- well, there's always
>I'm sure I have said much wrong, much over-generalized, but occasionally a
>few things right. I'd appreciate any comments from others on my
>misconceptions and any thoughts on what type of paradigm, if any, should
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