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Re: tc-list text criticism of Mark

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  • Robert B. Waltz
    ... I can t say anything about the articles cited, since I haven t seen them and don t recall ever seeing the journal. But I have noticed a terrible tendency
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 12, 1998
      On Mon, 12 Jan 1998, "Vinton A. Dearing" <dearing@...> wrote:

      >The November issue of Literary and Linguistic Computing (vol. 12, no.
      >4) has two items of interest.
      > 1. "Measuring Genre Differences in Mark with Correspondence
      >Analysis," by David Mealand. This seems mostly an exellent
      >example of statistical analysis--all the data are given and the
      >results are fully diagrammed--but I wonder whether it is enough to
      >decide that a sample size which has "worked" for others is
      >satisfactory for one's own work. Also, the statistical methods are
      >simply named, never explained.
      > 2. A review of Richard J. Finneran, ed., The Literary Text in the
      >Digital Age, University of Michigan Press, 1996.
      > If any listers or lurkers have explored the question of sample size
      >I should be interested to know their opinions.

      I can't say anything about the articles cited, since I haven't seen
      them and don't recall ever seeing the journal.

      But I have noticed a terrible tendency among TC professionals to use
      inadequate sample sizes. (E.g. the Alands' "Thousand Readings" use
      only three or four readings in some of the shorter Pauline Epistles.)

      The sample size one needs depends on the nature of the data one
      is trying to extract. But the Central Limit Theorem -- one of
      the basic rules of statistics -- only applies when one uses "large"
      numbers, which in practice means a minimum of thirty to fifty
      meaningful points of data.

      What this means for TCers is that if they want to determine the
      affinities of two mixed manuscripts, they need to find at least
      30 to 50 readings for which both manuscripts are unmixed (non-Byzantine).
      Even for overall affinities, they need 30-50 readings. This
      can render many results (e.g. the Alands' for the shorter books,
      but also some methods such as the Claremont Profile Method)
      invalid if they don't use enough text.

      I hope I will be able to offer more information on this subject
      at a future time.

      -*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

      Robert B. Waltz
      waltzmn@...

      Want more loudmouthed opinions about textual criticism?
      Try my web page: http://www.skypoint.com/~waltzmn
      (A site inspired by the Encyclopedia of NT Textual Criticism)
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