3895Re: [textualcriticism] Variants again, can you tell I'm frustrated
- Aug 2, 2008Eddie, I just saw this thread and noticed that you mentioned my blog post on the number of variants. you said that the math didn't work, but you gave no specifics. May I ask you to clarify this? Also, you stated, "By the way, just about every known Greek ms is available in a word
processing software." I don't know where you get this information, but it's demonstrably not true. Part of the reason we don't know the exact number of variants is because the vast majority of GNT MSS do not have published collations. And almost every time a new MS is discovered, a few more variants are added to the pool.
A little patience and charity on your part, without the diatribe, would be most helpful at this stage.
Daniel B. Wallace, PhD
Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts
----- Start Original Message -----
Sent: Fri, 01 Aug 2008 23:00:25 +0200
From: "A. Dirkzwager" <dirkzwager@...>
Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Variants again, can you tell I'm frustrated
>I don't understand the importance of the list or the number you are
> Dear Eddie,
Textual criticism is an art, not a modern science that works with
numbers, "objective" criteria etc.
The amount of differences in the manuscripts is enormous but that is due
to the enormous amount of textual witnesses for the NT. And there are
still lots of work to do to discover all the "variants" in the known
You ask "A variant against what?" Against *all* the other readings, not
against a standard text, for that does not exist. Every reading is a
variant reading, if there is another reading of the same text.
If I am giving a silly answer, I have not understood your question.
Please clarify what you want to ask then.
Eddie Mishoe schreef:
I give up. It is impossible.
No two scholars calculate or define "variants" the same way. It gets
even worse when you ask, "A variant against what?"
I've now read: Epp, Fee, Wallace, Aland, Elliott, Metzger, Ehrman,
Comfort, the "living text" scholar (can't remember his name),
Robinson, and many other articles by "unknowns." Anyway, I am so
disappointed that nobody can clarify this, explain it, agree upon it,
give us the actual numbers, compared to what, etc.
I can see us all not agreeing on what is a 'meaningful' variant, or
other tertiary issues. But the simple fact that we can not produce a
list of variants in such a way as to confirm or deny the wild numbers
thrown around (75,000, 100,000, some as high as "a half a million,"
etc.) is wrong.
Since the famous Luke project has been completed. I'm assuming there
are some pretty accurate numbers there as to how many variants are in
a particular chapter. I'd be happy with taking that information and
extrapolating it out to give us an accurate number (making necessary
adjustments) of the whole GNT. Somebody ought to be able to get
within a couple of thousand. And here's the good news. It doesn't
even have to be CORRECT. It just needs to be the BEST VARIANT COUNT
we can surmise based on the available data.
This is my final plea for help. If you want me to read a book or an
article, I've probably done it. But I'm willing to read it again.
I was sent a blog by a friend (a blog written by Dr. Daniel Wallace
of Dallas Theological Seminary on a web site called Reclaiming the
Mind.). I'll be honest, I got excited as I watched him straighten out
Dr. Geisler's take on this subject. But, then he got into the math or
calculations. I got very frustrated when I reworked the math 20 times
and his formula didn't work. I noted one lady even responded to him,
"The math seems off, but thank you..."
I gave this blog to some of my mathematically inclined parishioners
(one taught math at Va. Tech). All three concluded that there
appeared to be problems with the formula as stated. Unfortunately,
they asked me a few questions that might have helped them with some
assumptions but I was not up to the challenge (I didn't know the
Then again, maybe I'm just going crazy.
Any help would be appreciated. I promise never again to bother the
members of this list with a question on variants again. Remember, I'm
only looking for a mathematically demonstratable formula that
produces the currently known total variant count in extant Greek NT
mss. Why am I satisfied with the Greek NT mss ONLY, because I can
assure you trying to include Church Fathers and Ancient Versions is
still light years away.
By the way, just about every known Greek ms is available in a word
processing software. We don't have to "eye ball" this. We just need a
person who can align these texts and highlight Variants (however they
are determined. I'm at the point in my life where if someone will do
that, I'll count them. It will take me years, but I'll do it, God
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