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RE: tc-list Collations

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  • Robert B. Waltz
    ... There are several responses to this. First, this is a function of the original collations, not the collation base or the database. Second, if such a
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 14, 1998
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      On Sun, 13 Sep 1998, "Perry L. Stepp" <plstepp@...> wrote:

      >Both your and Robert W's description of how the computer can do the
      >cross-comparisons sound fascinating. But won't itacisms, movable nu's,
      >lacunae, visually obscure readings, etc., present problems that will be
      >difficult to adequately address without a scholar going through the
      >comparisons letter by letter? Handling such phenomena turned out to be a
      >significant part of my project.

      There are several responses to this.

      First, this is a function of the original collations, not the collation
      base or the database.

      Second, if such a question *does* arise, then of course one must refer
      to the original manuscript. But these problems are only a small minority
      of variants (or, rather, they are problems only in a small minority
      of genetically significant variants).

      Third, the original context of this discussion was quantitative
      analysis -- determining the genetic relationship between manuscripts.
      For this, lacunae do not matter. Visually obscure readings are to
      be read if they can, and treated as lacunae if not.

      The argument could be made that itacism, movable nu, etc. might
      have genetic significance. But the keyword is *might*. This depends
      on the scribe and the manuscript. Some scribes copy by letter; these
      scribes will usually transcribe spelling and all. Others copy
      by syllable; these will be slightly less reliable in this aspect.
      Still others copy word by word. With these scribes, itacisms, etc.
      mean very little; they will frequently spell the word the way *they*
      spell the word. This might even extend to varia such as first or
      second aorist ending.

      On this subject I suggest that you read the relevant section (pp. 33-43)
      in W. L. Richards's _The Classification of the Greek Manuscripts
      of the Johannine Epistles_. This is a work marred in all sorts of
      places by conceptual defects, but it did do one useful thing: It
      initially included every variant in its manuscript base, then divided
      them into "questionable" and "non-questionable" variants. The
      "questionables" were things like nu-movable. Richards found that
      the inclusion of such variants merely decreased the relationship of
      closely related manuscripts, without making a significant difference
      for less-closely-related manuscripts. I interpret this to mean that
      his "questionable" variants are more a product of the scribe than the

      Thus, the policy of the IGNTP is, IMHO, correct: Collate against a
      standard, then compile the collations into one master file and
      work from that. Collating every manuscript against every other is
      just a way to increase your work exponentially -- with an actual
      *loss* of useful data.

      Of course, this does require that you have the right computer program
      on the job. :-)

      Bob Waltz

      "The one thing we learn from history --
      is that no one ever learns from history."
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