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5513Re: [textualcriticism] Dean John Burgon's collection of citations

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  • Tony Zbaraschuk
    Feb 6, 2010
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      On Fri, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:54:36PM +0000, Richard Mallett wrote:
      > Going back to the question of patristic citations, how valuable are
      > they, given that (if I'm not putting my foot in it again) the
      > manuscripts of their writings are much later than the earliest NT
      > manuscripts, and also exhibit variant readings ?

      As Lorenzo de Valla pointed out with Jerome's commentaries on the
      Vulgate, they have often been copied fewer times than the Biblical
      text, and therefore have had less chance for errors to be made.

      They can be very valuable as indications for presence/absence of
      a particular verse or passage (regardless of the exact reading, if
      someone mentions a verse, or mentions its absence in their commentary,
      you have a pretty good indicator). Frequently the original text
      of the patristic author is older than any of our manuscripts.
      Mentions such as "most codexes have reading X" or "a few codexes
      have reading Y", while necessarily impressionistic, are very
      useful for probing the state of the text at particular periods.

      You are correct about the need to examine the patristic text
      carefully to see what they originally wrote and what variants
      have crept into _their_ text over the years. As far as I know
      this is still a largely incomplete process.

      Tony Z

      The arithmetic average of a bimodal distribution is not a useful number.
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