Re: number of NT MSS.
- Re Ron Minton's query about the precise number of NT MSS:
I doubt if anyone knows the exact number, for it is constantly changing.
For example, among the Oxyrhynchus papyri, about 10 small fragments have
just been identified as perserving parts of the gospels (all are *small*
and will be released in October, as I recall [they were viewed and
discussed in the textual criticism seminar of the SNTS, meeting in
Birmingham in August]). While it may be that one or two of these papryi
belong to known (and, therefore, numbered) papyri, some appear to be
"new"--or are at least tought to "stand on their own" (as opposed to being
parts of another papyrus).
Further, research often is known only to those working on the find (e.g.,
the editor of these Oxyrhynchus fragments knew of them, as did selected
experts he consulted in the UK), until it is announced. Therefore, even if
one could stipulate the number *publicly* known at noon today, that number
would be inaccurate, for somewhere in the world, someone is probably
working on preparing an edition of fragments or manuscripts which will
change this number.
Additionally, the number changes as MSS are reconsidered: an example given
me by Tjitze Baarda is MS 372, which Hatch dates to the XV or XVI cent. It
may well be, however, that MS 372 is actually a *manuscript* copy of a
*printed edition*--that is, a *BOOK*--of the gospels, perhaps one of the
early editions of Erasmus. Variant readings suggest this, as does
Gregory's remark that it "sieht wie ein gedrucktes Buch aus." The question
then arises: Is this a "manuscript" of the NT? Or is it simply, from a
text-critical perspective, worthless, with no textual tradition behind it
at all, but simply a copy by a scribe from a *printed* edition? Depending
on how one decides this matter, the number of NT MSS will be one MS greater
It is because of this sort of constant discovery--and sometimes
reappraisal (these two papryi, now numbered separately, are actully from
the same MS; this is not a MS from antiquity, but a copy from a printed
edition)--that fixing the *exact* number of witnesses is impossible.
Having said this, I cannot imagine what possible value there could be to
knowing (or wanting to know) the *exact* number of extant NT MSS...
--Petersen, Penn State University,
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies
- I will not be replying in detail to the diatribe regarding my own position
(even though I could provide answers, which, if not persuasive to all
concerned, would at least reflect a reasonable application of praxis
within the "normal" parameters of NT textual criticism in a manner which
Evensen's non-logical faith-position does not attempt to do).
My non-reply comes about for various reasons, some of which should sound
quite familiar to the regular readers of the tc-list:
(a) I was requested to provide a one-word comment rather than discuss the
issues. I did precisely that.
(b) "It would take me more than a month of research to prepare an adequate
response", and I certainly would not want to be speaking off the top of my
head, or I might make other typos like leaving the -um off "argumentum"
(the hyphens were there to keep the Latin terms together).
(c) "We textual scholars have better things to do with our time".
(d) I leave for my sabbatical in Muenster next Wednesday and will be
occupied with more pressing and significant matters of research beyond
rehashing points of my theory to those who really do not care an iota
about such; also my current occupation with packing luggage for such an
extended stay precludes much more time to be spent on the computer.
Yet for the record, I happen to _agree_ with Petersen on the following
items (written to Waltz), even if Petersen might not think I do:
>The textual critic should have *no* personal investment in whether theThose who at least attempt to understand my theory of Byzantine-priority
>"original" is "veil" or "power" in I Cor. 11:10; nor should the textual
>critic care (from a personal or theological point of view) whether the
>"Great Commission" is part of the original text of Matthew or not.
>A textual critic, however, begins with "I don't know what is going on;
>let me assemble the evidence and see if it points in a direction; it
>may, or it may not." And if the evidence points in a particular
>direction, that direction should have *no* relevance for the critic's
>life (otherwise he/she will be tempted to shape the evidence to fit
will also realize that the "personal faith" issue has NO bearing on which
text I support (and I freely acknowledged that my position originally was
within the "reasoned eclectic" model, which similarly was unrelated
text-critically to my own personal faith).
In the same manner, the theory regarding Byzantine-priority and a history
of transmission model was first developed before engaging in praxis with
the data of the variant units and modifying the theory whenever the data
required. There was _no_ "patent cutting of the evidence to fit
pre-conceived theories of textual transmission", whether one prefers to
think so or not.
It is true that, once the theory became established and was set into
place, the evaluation of data did take place within the framework and
perspective of that theory; but the theory itself did not depend on a
preliminary "cutting of the evidence".
I, along with many of the eclectic critics, happen _not_ to think that a
versional or patristic reading standing alone without Greek MS support is
likely to be original. This is no reason for objection regarding bias in
methodology, but the method instead reflects a reasonable conclusion held
by many different textual theorists and practitioners.
So even if one considers "veil" to have been in the actual main text of
some now non-extant Greek MS which found its way into the main text of a
number of Latin MSS, this still does not overturn the point that no known
Greek MS extant today (or even mentioned patristically) seems ever to have
had such a reading in its main text. Similarly, there is no reason why a
true marginal gloss in a now-lost Greek MS may have been the source of the
reading in the Latin copies.
The argumentum-ex-silentio (correct this time, but still with my favored
misplaced hyphens) is just as severe regarding the speculation that one,
some, or many Greek MSS "must" have had such a reading for it to have
spread among the Latins, when in fact the alteration may have been made
directly into the first Latin copy bearing it by a scribe who asked
someone "what is this _exousia_ supposed to mean?".
Merely because one does not choose to accept certain degrees of evidence
within his own approach to NT textual criticism does not invalidate the
method. (Seems like some time ago the discussion went this very direction
in regard to conjectural emendation, which many of us similarly reject due
to the amount of evidence preserved to us).
I will acknowledge that my response regarding Helge's (admittedly)
non-scientific, non-logical views regarding the text are strong, but
"absurd", "ridiculous" and "non-sensical" are correct terms to use when
describing non-logical positions. ("Crock" I will grant may be
pejorative, though any offense taken should be from Helge, who has not
complained either publicly or privately to me about that post; if so, I
For those who have not seen the type of language which normally comes from
the TR/KJV-only crowd, my comments come out as tame indeed, especially
regarding an illogical, absurdist "faith-based" position claiming some
affinity with legitimate textual criticism. Such a position I utterly
reject. Helge, to his credit, does _not_ write like a Waite, a Riplinger,
or a Ruckman (names which to those in normal text-critical circles are
unknown), and this at least is to the good; if he wrote like them, I would
wager not one person on this list would bother replying.
Petersen further asks:
>Should I note this vocabulary, and use it the next time I hear theFeel free, since it seems this objection previously was stated fairly
>Byzantine text being projected back into the early centuries, *without
>any manuscript, versional, or patristic support*?
strongly, but without the same words (which perhaps you wanted to say in
the first place). My answers will remain the same in any case.
One point of final agreement:
>I am a very dumb man, and--esp. on this list--have never been sure who isI confess I fit the first part of that statement quite well, and am in
>a textual critics and who is not.
agreement with the second part.
>against Evensen: "With absolutely NO evidence regarding the supposedAs stated in my one word response: NOT. But as promised at the beginning
>'thousands of MSS' which perished"; but is this not the same argument I
>used against Robinson, pointing out the empirical dearth of evidence for
>the Byzantine text before the fourth century?
of this post, I am not going to bother with the detailed response for the
Maurice A. Robinson, Ph.D. Professor of Greek and New Testament
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Wake Forest, North Carolina