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5439Re: [textualcriticism] Re: M. A. Robinson's recent article

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  • Jonathan C. Borland
    Dec 1, 2009
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      Dear Wieland,

      Perhaps I did a poor job summarizing the article. I'm not sure if Dr.
      Robinson is a member of this list. If he is, perhaps now would be a
      good time to chime in. I do not wish to put words in his mouth, but as
      one of his former graduate students, I will briefly make a couple
      points.

      On Dec 1, 2009, at 4:35 PM, Wieland Willker wrote:
      > I have no problem with the fact that, at times, a verse as a whole
      > in the NA
      > is not extant in any surviving manuscript. This can happen. And
      > about 100
      > out of about 8.000 verses is not much.
      >
      The critical issue of the article is whether or not NA27 reflects a
      "'test tube text' which never existed at any time or place" (Aland/
      Aland rule number nine). The article essentially demonstrates that in
      more than 100 whole verses NA27 reflects a "test tube text," i.e., a
      sequence of readings that "never existed at any time or place," or at
      least there is no evidence that it did. In this sense it is a new text
      with no descent, created 1900 or so years after the originals.

      Perhaps 100+ whole verses with zero manuscript support does not sound
      too bad. Yet the presence of this very situation indicates that if one
      were to consider whole verses with only singular, dual, or triple
      manuscript support, the likelihood is that he would find hundreds more
      whole verses with only diminutive support. Opening up to NA27, page
      220 (Luke 18:17-29), e.g., one finds several readings of the text, not
      to mention whole verses, so minutely supported.

      Is current textual theory saying that textual transmission was so
      mixed that sequence of readings in the actual hard evidence
      (manuscript data) is no longer relevant?

      Sequence of readings important to Dr. Robinson (and others) in part
      because the primary argument against the Byzantine Textform is _not_
      that its readings are not old. P45, the oldest witness in Mark,
      appears to agree with the Byzantine Textform at least as often as it
      does NA27 (if not more so). The main complaint of scholars is that the
      Byzantine Textform's sequence of readings is not found in any "early"
      Alexandrian manuscripts. Do they mean the sequence of one or a few
      verses? Of course not, since over half of the verses of the NT in both
      the NA27 (assuming its "initial text" status) and Byzantine Textform
      are identical (excluding orthographic differences). They mean the
      sequence of variants of the entire NT!

      So Dr. Robinson asks: Is sequence of readings important, or isn't it?
      If it is, then only the Byzantine Textform represents a continuous
      sequence of readings based on actual manuscript evidence, while NA27
      does not. If sequence of readings is no longer important, then the
      Byzantine Textform may be assumed to have arisen from a now-lost
      majority of 2nd and 3rd century manuscripts from all over the Empire,
      and claims that its entire sequence of readings is not found only in
      early Egyptian papyri are totally irrelevant.

      Jonathan C. Borland
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