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Re: tc-list Comfort's new book

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  • Troy DeJongh
    ... In a way, this discussion reminds me of computer book publishing. Typically, very popular computer science texts with many source code examples are in
    Message 1 of 30 , May 20, 1999
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      Dave Washburn wrote:
      >
      > The point is not whether the book has transcriptional errors; the
      > point is that we don't know where they are, and a scholar who
      > depends on a book with this kind of inaccuracies in it may, and
      > probably will, end up with some erroneous conclusions that render
      > all his/her work, if not useless, then severely flawed. As a
      > researcher who uses reference works profusely, I naturally expect
      > those works to have been proofread at least several times, checked
      > against the primary sources, and corrected to the highest possible
      > accuracy before being released on the unsuspecting research
      > community. At the very least I expect an errata page to correct the
      > errors that were discovered post-printing. If this hasn't been done
      > then, yes, for all practical purposes it does render the book virtually
      > unusable, because we don't know where the errors are or how
      > badly they are going to affect what we're doing with the book. For
      > those of us on a severely limited budget (i.e. me) this kind of book
      > with this percentage of transcriptional errors would be, frankly, a
      > poor investment. Knowing what I know from Maurice's post, I
      > wouldn't give the book a second glance.
      >
      > Dave Washburn
      > http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur


      In a way, this discussion reminds me of computer book publishing.
      Typically, very popular computer science texts with many source code
      examples are in their umpty-umth printing before 99% of the typos and
      errors are eliminated. Several prolific authors offer $1.00 per
      legitimate error/typo, plus an acknowledgement in the errata (either on
      the book's or author's web page or in the book itself). This seems
      like a good idea for publishing works like Comfort's as well, except
      for the fact that many scholarly volumes only _have_ one printing
      because of the significantly smaller audience. :-)

      On a slightly different note, I remember a time when I picked up a copy
      of Metzger's _The_Text_of_the_New_Testament:_Its_Transmission,
      _Corruption,_and_Restoration_ from my local Barnes and Noble, and I
      had to return it because every other page was missing in the first
      few chapters. The clerk at the return counter got a kick out of
      that, given the book's title. :-)

      --
      Troy DeJongh http://pobox.com/~troyd
    • Nelson D. Roth
      From: Jean Valentin To: Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 1999 7:03 PM Subject: Re: tc-list Comfort s
      Message 2 of 30 , May 20, 1999
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        From: Jean Valentin <jgvalentin@...>
        To: <tc-list@...>
        Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 1999 7:03 PM
        Subject: Re: tc-list Comfort's new book


        > >As I read a segment of your message I wondered if you
        > >would elaborate upon the term "infallible" in relation to Biblical
        > >literature and
        > >also share your perspective on the concept of inspiration.
        > OFF TOPIC!!!
        > (Pls, I don't want my mailbox to be submerged by dogmatic discussions)
        >
        > Jean V.

        I was just wondering since you had initially mentioned it?!
      • Wieland Willker
        I think generally speaking a book like this is outdated. What we need is a transcription of the manuscripts in DIGITAL FORM. On a website (preferred) or on a
        Message 3 of 30 , May 21, 1999
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          I think generally speaking a book like this is outdated.
          What we need is a transcription of the manuscripts in DIGITAL FORM.
          On a website (preferred) or on a CD. Improvements and corrections can then
          be made very easily.
          I think that these transcriptions are only of value if they are EXTREMELY
          accurate, otherwise you have to refer to the originals or photos.

          Best wishes
          Wieland
          --------------------
          PS: I have transcriptions of the Egerton papyrus and the Secret Gospel of
          Mark at:
          http://www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/ww_tc.html
        • M A Robinson
          ... I would consider P66 and P75 major papyri, and I did point out C/B errors in regard to those MSS as well. There are other errors which still could be
          Message 4 of 30 , May 21, 1999
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            On Thu, 20 May 1999 07:45:41 -0400 Jim West <jwest@...> writes:
            >At 09:30 AM 5/20/99 +0200, you wrote:

            >The ms I examined were different than those looked at by Maurice. My
            >main interest is the "major papyri". When I looked at those I did not
            >discover the egregious errors pointed out by Maurice.

            I would consider P66 and P75 "major papyri," and I did point out C/B
            errors
            in regard to those MSS as well. There are other errors which still could
            be listed, though I deliberately kept the list to a minimum. Add to the
            list if you like a few more examples from "major papyri":

            P66 - Jn. 3:2 (leaf 6 verso, line 5): C/B read hO QU [sic!], but the
            photo clearly shows the normal hO QS.

            P66 - Jn 7:41 regarding ELEGON, 2nd occurrence: note in C/B mentions
            first corrector adding ELE supra linea, but fail to notice that 2nd
            corrector erased the ELE in that position and inserted it into the main
            line of text\ when changing the ALLOI {ELE}GON into OI DE ELEGON.

            P66 - Jn 13:23, hO IS -- C/B fail to note that hO is supplied by a
            corrector who squeezed it in tightly between HGAPA and IS.

            P66 - Jn 13:30 - C/B EXHLQEN in photo appears to be EXELQEIN (sic).

            P66 - Jn 13:34, C/B read INA KAI, while photo shows clearly INA K/ (K
            with slash as abbreviation for KAI, which C/B normally note with a
            specific character).

            P46 - Col. 2:1 C/B have EORAKAN TO PROSWPON MOU, while the photo clearly
            has EORAKAN MOU TO PROSWPON MOU.

            P90 - Jn 19:3 (verso, line 5) C/B have HR]X[ONTO PROS AU, while it should
            be HR]X[ON]TO PROS AU, since the photo clearly shows TO PROS AU present.

            How many more examples of error in the C/B volume are necessary to
            establish the point?

            >Perhaps C/B were more focused on the more interesting papyri while
            >spending less time on the others. Who knows but them.

            Even were this the case (and it isn't, since in line with their theories,
            C/B consider all pre-4th century papyri as important and thus
            "interesting"), there is no excuse for errors in a book which purports by
            its very nature to give an exact transcript of the text of the earliest
            MSS of the NT.

            >In any event, I do think that Maurice is being a little hard on them.

            Hard? I would prefer the terms "fair" and "precise".

            >Percentage wise the C/B book contains less scribal errors than most of
            >the Byzantine mss---- and yet Maurice seems to have no problem with
            them.

            Apples and oranges; irrelevant and non-sequitur. The nature of the
            aggregate Byzantine Textform has no relation to this point. Were I
            intending to produce an exact and accurate transcript of any single
            Byzantine MS, it had better be _exact_ or my transcription would lose all
            credibility. I would have had precisely the same criticism had C/B
            produced a book containing erroneous transcriptions of several
            12th-century Byzantine MSS.

            >For example- the C/B book contains much more accurate transcriptions
            than
            >it does inaccurate- but Maurice doe not bother to point these out. In
            >fact, the bulk, the vast majority of the book is quite accurate.

            I noted that at least 98% of the book was exactly correct. The problem is
            that _you_, the reader, has to guess which parts belong to that 98% and
            which do not. Without comparison against the photographs or _editio
            princeps_, I can not discern which parts are accurate. I do know that
            unless I compare every line against some other source, I cannot be
            certain at any given point that C/B have reproduced accurately the
            precise text of any given MS.

            >So perhaps something else is afoot here in Maurice's comments? It is
            well known
            >that Comfort and Robinson do not see eye to eye...

            Unless you have stopped beating your wife, Jim, I would avoid _ad
            hominem_ imputation of motives. Most modern eclectics (reasoned and
            rigorous) would differ sharply from Comfort's theory, methodology, and
            text-critical preferences (which he has espoused strongly in several
            previous publications); but all this is irrelevant to the point at issue.


            Had this book been _accurate_ (as I had hoped it would from all the
            pre-publication blurbs) in those places where I did my initial spot
            checks, I would have praised it as strongly as you did initially, and it
            would have been a welcome resource for the textual critic of whatever
            persuasion. The book instead had egregious errors scattered throughout as
            I reported (as well as others such as those listed above which were not
            mentioned in my brief comments).

            >Certainly it is no dishonor to make errors. Most of us do.

            Sorry to differ, but in a work which purports to present an exact
            transcript of specific MSS, the errors _do_ matter. The Westcott-Hort
            text cannot be used as an exact transcript of Codex Vaticanus, even
            though there may only be a few hundred differences between the two,
            probably less than 2%..

            You wrote to Ulrich,

            >My point has been missed. My point is this- the Byzantine family of mss
            is,
            >on the whole, less reliable than the Alexandrian- just as the majority
            of
            >Comfort's book is reliable, in spite of the few errors.

            > My point in intentionally stating something so clearly inaccurate was
            to
            > evoke a mental image: if the Byz mss should not all be lumped together
            and
            > considered inaccurate for a few readings, why should Comfort's book?

            Following your analogy, since the Byzantine Textform and the Alexandrian
            MSS tend to agree on approximately 90% of their text, you would have no
            problem using the Byzantine Textform exclusively for all your research
            and study, since for the vast majority of the text we both agree that
            100% agreement with the original exists, and a small amount of
            "inaccuracy" really doesn't matter, correct? Of course not.

            I stand by my initial comments.

            ==============================================================
            Maurice A. Robinson, Ph. D.
            Professor of Greek and New Testament
            Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
            Wake Forest, North Carolina, USA
          • M A Robinson
            ... It is not a matter of like , but of facts versus errors. The case obviously becomes cumulative if there are clear errors of fact in the introduction as
            Message 5 of 30 , May 21, 1999
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              On Thu, 20 May 1999 12:27:26 -0400 Jim West <jwest@...> writes:

              >If Bart doesn't like the introduction to the book- why does the rest of
              >the book thereby become worthless?

              > why should the whole of his book be demonized as useless?

              It is not a matter of "like", but of facts versus errors. The case
              obviously becomes cumulative if there are clear errors of fact in the
              introduction as well as clearly identified errors in the transcriptions.
              The errors in the introduction might not nullify the transcriptions, nor
              would the errors in the transcriptions nullify the introduction. But when
              a pattern of error tends to emerge in both cases, I would have serious
              concerns about the accuracy of the whole. To this end Dave Washburn's
              concise summary statement is quite well expressed:

              >The point is not whether the book has transcriptional errors; the
              >point is that we don't know where they are, and a scholar who
              >depends on a book with this kind of inaccuracies in it may, and
              >probably will, end up with some erroneous conclusions that render
              >all his/her work, if not useless, then severely flawed. As a
              >researcher who uses reference works profusely, I naturally expect
              >those works to have been proofread at least several times, checked
              >against the primary sources, and corrected to the highest possible
              >accuracy before being released on the unsuspecting research
              >community. At the very least I expect an errata page to correct the
              >errors that were discovered post-printing. If this hasn't been done
              >then, yes, for all practical purposes it does render the book virtually
              >unusable, because we don't know where the errors are or how
              >badly they are going to affect what we're doing with the book. For
              >those of us on a severely limited budget (i.e. me) this kind of book
              >with this percentage of transcriptional errors would be, frankly, a
              >poor investment.

              On a positive note, let me say there are two good uses to which this book
              can be put:
              (1) It will serve excellently in the classroom as a tool by which to
              train beginning collators before they tackle the more
              difficult-to-decipher photographs first-hand. The book does reflect the
              scribal habits which appear in the MSS themselves, with extra errors from
              C/B typical of the same types of scribal blunder. So long as no one uses
              the book to make "exact" collations of an ancient MS and then use those
              results as sufficient to establish a reading, then no harm will be done
              (the danger is that this is precisely what most people will assume the
              book is intended for).

              (2) Students also can then be asked to collate the text against the
              photographs or _editio princeps_ of the various MSS and compile a list of
              all the differences between C/B and the actual MSS or editor's original
              readings. Eventually this would result in the deisred list of errata
              necessary for proper scholarly use of the volume.


              ==============================================================
              Maurice A. Robinson, Ph. D.
              Professor of Greek and New Testament
              Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
              Wake Forest, North Carolina, USA
            • M A Robinson
              On Thu, 20 May 1999 15:55:21 -0500 (Central Daylight Time) Prof. Ron ... will ... Thank you for the suggestion, Ron, but I will demur, since there is no time
              Message 6 of 30 , May 21, 1999
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                On Thu, 20 May 1999 15:55:21 -0500 (Central Daylight Time) "Prof. Ron
                Minton" <rminton@...> writes:
                >On Thu, 20 May 1999, Jim West wrote:

                >Here is a comforting solution: Have Maurice Robinson do a thorough
                >critique of the Comfort text and have Baker re-issue it (free to all
                >who had to pay something for the trial edition). For his work, which
                will
                >be as hard as putting together the original text, Baker will split the
                >rewards to give Robinson one third.

                Thank you for the suggestion, Ron, but I will demur, since there is no
                time available for such an extensive project, and insufficient
                inclination to do such (though a list of errata may well be limited
                enough so as not to become a major publishing burden if issued as a
                supplement, should anyone be inclined to compile such) .

                I do suspect Baker will _not_ be inclined to offer any free reissues to
                anyone, however, especially with a limited and specialist-oriented market
                for this book.

                ==============================================================
                Maurice A. Robinson, Ph. D.
                Professor of Greek and New Testament
                Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
                Wake Forest, North Carolina, USA.
              • Robert B. Waltz
                ... This brings up the strong suggestion that somebody make up a web site containing these lists of corrections. As noted, the good thing about this volume is
                Message 7 of 30 , May 22, 1999
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                  On 5/21/99, M A Robinson wrote, in part:

                  >(2) Students also can then be asked to collate the text against the
                  >photographs or _editio princeps_ of the various MSS and compile a list of
                  >all the differences between C/B and the actual MSS or editor's original
                  >readings. Eventually this would result in the deisred list of errata
                  >necessary for proper scholarly use of the volume.

                  This brings up the strong suggestion that somebody make up a web site
                  containing these lists of corrections. As noted, the good thing about
                  this volume is its compact collection of all the data. By supplying
                  a compact collection of errata, we might actually make it useful. :-)
                  -*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

                  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)
                • Carlton Winbery
                  Maurice replied to this bit of tripe; ... What we have gotten from Maurice is an informative look at the problems that make a purported exact transcription
                  Message 8 of 30 , May 22, 1999
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                    Maurice replied to this bit of tripe;
                    >>So perhaps something else is afoot here in Maurice's comments? It is
                    >well known
                    >>that Comfort and Robinson do not see eye to eye...
                    >
                    >Unless you have stopped beating your wife, Jim, I would avoid _ad
                    >hominem_ imputation of motives. Most modern eclectics (reasoned and
                    >rigorous) would differ sharply from Comfort's theory, methodology, and
                    >text-critical preferences (which he has espoused strongly in several
                    >previous publications); but all this is irrelevant to the point at issue.
                    >
                    What we have gotten from Maurice is an informative look at the problems
                    that make a purported "exact transcription" of some important mss useless
                    if used by itself in an effort to establish the text. He, as always, cites
                    exact evidence and has drawn a clear conclusion from it that cannot be
                    ignored. As far as making a list of errata to make the book useful in all
                    phases of TC, why should anyone do that? It falls to the authors and
                    publishers to furnish such a list if they want us to use their book. If
                    anyone were to go to that much trouble, they could more easily publish
                    their own book without the weight of the problems in this one.

                    Thanks again to Maurice for using his capabilities to inform us all.


                    Dr. Carlton L. Winbery
                    Foggleman Professor of Religion
                    Louisiana College
                    winbery@...
                    winberyc@...
                    Ph. 1 318 448 6103 hm
                    Ph. 1 318 487 7241 off
                  • Jim West
                    ... Carlton has obviously chosen to ignore, for whatever reason, the evidence of Comfort s competence that I have been offering for a bit now. Why? And be
                    Message 9 of 30 , May 22, 1999
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                      At 03:56 PM 5/22/99 -0500, you wrote:

                      >What we have gotten from Maurice is an informative look at the problems
                      >that make a purported "exact transcription" of some important mss useless
                      >if used by itself in an effort to establish the text. He, as always, cites
                      >exact evidence and has drawn a clear conclusion from it that cannot be
                      >ignored. As far as making a list of errata to make the book useful in all
                      >phases of TC, why should anyone do that? It falls to the authors and
                      >publishers to furnish such a list if they want us to use their book. If
                      >anyone were to go to that much trouble, they could more easily publish
                      >their own book without the weight of the problems in this one.
                      >
                      >Thanks again to Maurice for using his capabilities to inform us all.
                      >

                      Carlton has obviously chosen to ignore, for whatever reason, the evidence of
                      Comfort's competence that I have been offering for a bit now. Why? And be
                      sure, I am not impunging your motives or the like. I am asking an honest
                      question. So please answer. What do you make of the places where Comfort
                      has accurately transcribed the text? Why dont yo mention those examples?

                      Jim

                      +++++++++++++++++++++++++
                      Jim West, ThD
                      email- jwest@...
                      web page- http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
                    • Vincent Broman
                      ... Hash: SHA1 ... The entmp.org site would be a natural, except that it hasn t been maintained for the last few years. I could put stuff up on my WWW site,
                      Message 10 of 30 , May 24, 1999
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                        > This brings up the strong suggestion that somebody make up a web site
                        > containing these lists of corrections.

                        The entmp.org site would be a natural, except that it hasn't been
                        maintained for the last few years. I could put stuff up on my
                        WWW site, if someone else does the maintainance effort.
                        I'm afraid shepherding responsibilities have crowded a number of
                        things off my to-do list in the last year.


                        Vincent Broman San Diego, California, USA
                        Email: broman at sd.znet.com (home) or spawar.navy.mil or nosc.mil (work)
                        Phone: +1 619 284 3775 Starship: 32d42m22s N 117d14m13s W
                        === PGPv2 protected mail preferred. For public key finger me at np.nosc.mil ===

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                      • Phil Long
                        I am looking at the UBS4 revised text for Acts 17:13, and notice that for the first variant E is cited, and for the third variant E is again cited. Since
                        Message 11 of 30 , Oct 27, 1999
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                          I am looking at the UBS4 revised text for Acts 17:13, and notice that for the first variant E is
                          cited, and for the third variant E is again cited. Since there is no superscription I do not know
                          if one is a marginal or corrected reading and the other is the text reading. I realize there are
                          two E texts (07 = e / 08 = a), but that not be a factor here. I am not all that familier with E,
                          other than whay Aland / Metzgar have to say.

                          I looked at a copy of UBS3, and the citation of E does not appear for the first variant. Can anyone
                          explain why UBS4 has E cited twice?

                          Phillip J. Long
                          Asst. Prof. Bible & Greek
                          Grace Bible College
                          Grand Rapids, MI
                        • Robert B. Waltz
                          ... There is only one manuscript E extant for Acts; it s E/08. The reason it s cited twice is simple: It s a typographical error. :-) According to NA27, the
                          Message 12 of 30 , Oct 27, 1999
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                            On 10/27/99, Phil Long wrote:

                            >I am looking at the UBS4 revised text for Acts 17:13, and notice that for the first variant E is
                            >cited, and for the third variant E is again cited. Since there is no superscription I do not know
                            >if one is a marginal or corrected reading and the other is the text reading. I realize there are
                            >two E texts (07 = e / 08 = a), but that not be a factor here. I am not all that familier with E,
                            >other than whay Aland / Metzgar have to say.
                            >
                            >I looked at a copy of UBS3, and the citation of E does not appear for the first variant. Can anyone
                            >explain why UBS4 has E cited twice?

                            There is only one manuscript E extant for Acts; it's E/08. The reason it's
                            cited twice is simple: It's a typographical error. :-)

                            According to NA27, the correct reading of E is the short reading
                            tous oclous. In other words, it has the Byzantine reading, not the
                            Alexandrian.

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

                            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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