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a 20th century Russian scribe

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  • Mr. Helge Evensen
    The following message is included in this post for two reasons: a) First, it is quoted as a test message (to see if my computer problems are solved, if anyone
    Message 1 of 1 , May 21, 1997
      The following message is included in this post for two reasons:

      a) First, it is quoted as a test message (to see if my computer problems
      are solved, if anyone will report it back to me).

      b) Second, it is included in the belief that at least some on the list
      will benefit from it.

      This is something I received from the Majority Text Society. It is a
      report from a Russian Pastor, by the name of Dimitry Deriagine. I quote
      it in full:

      (I am not sure that I am doing the typing right in this post, if my
      computer problem has not been fixed. But I am now aware that the
      apostrophe has been converted into a code in my messages on some
      computers, and that where
      my program (Netscape 2.02) shifts lines of itself, the "=20" sign has
      showed up on some computers. In this post, therefore, I break the lines
      myself (or at least I try to be consistent in it) and avoid the
      I would appreciate if someone could tell me if the appearance of this
      post is any better than that of my previous messages).

      "A Testimony of the 20th Century Russian Scribe

      Before the political reforms in Russia started the Greek text of the New
      Testament was unavailable even for a student of the Philological Faculty
      of the University. It was impossible to borrow the text from the
      University Library or to make a photocopy of the same as it was
      prohibited. The only possibility to get the text was to rewrite it from
      a copy in the reading-room of the Library. And it was a very painstaking
      task. When later examining my own scribal habits I noticed that my
      tendency as a scribe was to shorten the text especially at the parallel
      passages of the Synoptic Gospels. The text of the Russian bible was also
      unavailable. So the people made handwritten and typewritten copies of
      the same. Very often they copied the text not from a printed edition, but
      from another typewritten or handwritten copy. People also corrected these
      copies in accordance with what they memorized (and often wrongly) to be
      read from the Scripture in the Church. Very often they created a more
      difficult reading instead of a more easier one. The type of errors
      incorporated into the text of the Scripture often was of the same kind
      which can be found in the early papyri.
      Works of dissident (underground) poets were never published in
      Russia during the period of communist dictatorship. So, these circulated
      in handwritten or typewritten form. But the fans of the poets (by whom
      these poets were nearly deified) corrupted their works. It was very
      difficult to prove the fact of the corruption at that time as printed
      editions containing the works under question was unavailable.

      Using the data of copying of Sacred and secular writings in the
      XX century in Russia and the data of transmission of the Old Church
      Slavonic text of the New Testament (in XI-XVI AD) it is very easy to
      demonstrate, for example, that a "harder reading" is usually not the
      original one".

      (Signed) Dimitry Deriagine

      - Mr. Helge Evensen
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