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Re: tc-list Darwin's theory

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  • Robert B. Waltz
    On Tue, 27 Jan 1998, Timothy John Finney wrote, in part (I ll only address areas where we have something to say): [ ... ] ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 27, 1998
      On Tue, 27 Jan 1998, Timothy John Finney <finney@...>
      wrote, in part (I'll only address areas where we have something to say):

      [ ... ]

      >A philosophical weakness of this approach is its tautological nature: 'the
      >fittest survives because the fittest survives.' What survives? The fittest
      >reading. Which is the fittest reading? The one that survives.

      The difficulty with this, as I see it, is that many readings survive.
      Yes, the Byzantine reading in all cases dominates -- but not to the
      exclusion of others. Most of the manuscripts of Family 2138 are from
      the fourteenth/fifteenth century. 2427 has a text largely identical
      to B's -- yet it was written in the fourteenth century. Etc.

      Thus this rule would seem to have its strongest application in the
      very earliest centuries -- in the time when we have no data.

      >To get
      >around this we need to break the circle and insert some field data. Test
      >1000 cheating student's assignments (i.e., ones copied from others).
      >Which errors and changes are more likely? Construct textual tests based on
      >the results and apply them to mss.
      >Another question which must be asked is whether this approach provides a
      >testable theory. If you can think of an experiment based upon this theory
      >which would provide verifiable results, do it.

      We couldn't very well test it in New Testament areas, but we could
      test it on medaieval texts and the like. Choose some renaissance text
      for which we have the autograph, and see what scribes and printers
      did with it.

      Or, for that matter, one might even try comparing the various editions
      of the Textus Receptus with those of Erasmus and Stephanus.

      [ ... ]

      >All this leads me to pose a question for a statistician to answer:
      >If we have n judges with reliabilities r(n), what is the reliability of a
      >majority decision? Please give an answer for (a) independent judges,
      >and (b) judges which are not independent. (Many of the criteria tcers
      >use are not independent: they correlate.) Assume that the judges are only
      >judging between two possible states (although they are often judging
      >between more than two in real situations).

      This needs to be clarified. How independent are the judges in case (b)?
      Also, what constitutes reliability? Accuracy in guessing the original
      reading? Or consistency in applying some set of rules?

      >Or, to take a different approach, what are the conditions under which we
      >obtain a decision with confidence limits of, say, (a) > 95% and (b) > 50%.
      >(The A B C reliability ratings of the UBS GNT might one day take on a
      >rigorous meaning.)
      >My suspicion is that we will hardly ever reach decisions with 95%
      >confidence when we use real criteria.

      I am quite certain you are correct. And yet, there are readings about
      which we are in almost universal agreement. To me, this indicates a
      problem with the approach. Sounds like we need to tighten some of
      our definitions somewhere. (And no, I don't have suggestions; this
      is too "internal" for my habits of thought.)


      Robert B. Waltz

      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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