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8202RE: [textualcriticism] does the Vaticanus overwriting accurately represent the scribe of the 4th c?

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  • Steven Avery
    Nov 24, 2013

      Tim Finney
      Hi Steven, I transcribed the Letter to the Hebrews from Codex B using Martini's 1968 photographic facsimile for images of the manuscript. You can see my transcription notes on pages 79-101 of part 2 of my PhD dissertation: http://www.tfinney.net/PhD/PDF/part2.pdf I don't doubt that the retracing gives an accurate representation of the writing underneath. Reading my transcription notes for Codex B should give you a sense of how often there is doubt about the underwriting.

      Thanks Tim.  Nice to see some feedback and discussion!
      If possible, could you help out a bit more? 

      First, I think we can agree there is a major difference between variants that have:

      1) added or subtracted text
      2) alternate text - especially when
      2a)   ................         the difference is only an alternate letter or two within in word. 
      3) word order

      Some of these variants will change the number of letters underneath, others will not. And often we see a 1-to-1 letter correspondence between the overwrite and the underwrite.

      From my earlier posts, Mark 7:19, Luke 2:22, and additional examples like Romans 5:1, can fit under 2a. (And I mentioned 1 Timothy 3:16 however Vaticanus only has that in the later text, Codex 1957).  From looking at pictures, it seems that discerning the underneath text can be nuanced and complex, if it is indeed possible. 

      The basic issue on such variants is whether the underwriting text is determined by sight, or by deduction.

      Note that these alternate letter variants can be among the most important variants.  The many rejected omissions in Vaticanus, the tendency to such omissions from an abbreviated or compendium text, can make its evidentiary value for omissions in general virtually nil.  Depending on your textual paradigms and consistency. This is especially heightened with the scholarly turnaround in recent years to the common sense understanding that omissions are, overall, the easier occurrence.

      Now, lets go to your studies, Tim, and let us look at the word that gets a lot of attention from Hebrews 1:3, the fool and knave spot. 

      And I can work here with the pic from Wieland's fool and knave page, showing Vaticanus for Hebrews 1:3 and a bit more.

      Codex Vaticanus Graece 1209, B/03
      A textcritical complaint

      The first line is the full word, the second line lacks the last letter but, enlarged, gives a far better picture of the underneath. 

       (pic section)
      (pic section end)

      My question is fairly straightforward:

      Do the scribes from Tischendorf on decide the original 400 A.D. text as fanerwn (as in your article, and line 4 in the small 9 line pic) by actually clearly making out the seven letters underneath the current fanerwn?

      Or does deciding the original text involve a deduction based on the number of letters and a perceived 1-to-1 correspondence of total letters? 

      Note that I am not particularly concerned about the disagreements here, that you document, about what was written by intermediate scribes. That is another story. And it is interesting in that it shows that the scholars disagree, but it does not address the basic question of reading the underwriting.

      You can see, I hope, that, at least from this pic, making out the original letters (taking away the overwriting) is far from intuitively obvious. So this is why I ask the question.  In fact, from a simple look at the pic, it seems that there is lots of float possibility in the original text, and even the 1-to-1 correspondence is not definite, especially around letter #2.

      Again, though, I am asking you to read the underneath without drilling down the overwrite.


      In Hebrews 1:1 there is a two-letter variant (not of great significance translationally, yet helpful because it is right at the beginning of the section you studied) that fits under 2a above, where the readings are:
        epoihsen (TR)
        escatou (Byz-Alex)

      Now we may know from deduction that the second text, the overwrite, is also the underneath text. 
      Again, though, the real question:

      Are the scholars, from Tischendorf until today, able to see the same letter text underneath?

      Or is the original text often decided more by a burrowing down deduction (combined with external knowledge) than by actually discerning each individual faded or washed letter?  Remember, if we can not make out the underneath writing, we do not know if the 2nd millennium instaurator was able to make it out either.

      Some additional interesting examples.
      Hebrews 1:12, 2:1, 3:5, 3:9 and more - spelling differences, which can have similar questions to our two examples above.


      One last question, for any reader.
      When Tregelles noted 2,000 differences in Vaticanus collations:

      An account of the printed text of the GNT: with remarks on it revision upon critical principles:  together with a collation of the critical texts of Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, and Tischendorf, with that in common use - (1854)
      Samuel Prideaux Tregelles
      "One principal object which I had in going abroad was to endeavour to collate for myself the Vatican MS. (B). This important document was collated for Bentley by an Italian named Mico, and this collation was published in 1799; it was subsequently collated (with the exception of the Gospels of Luke and John) by Birch. A third collation (made previously to either of these, in 1669,) by Bartolocci, remains in MS at Paris. As this is the most important of all New Testament MSS, I had compared the two published collations carefully with each other: I found that they differed in nearly two thousand places; many of these discrepancies were readings noticed by one and not by the other. I went to Rome, and during the five months that I was there, I sought diligently to obtain permission to collate the MS accurately, or at least to examine it in the places in which Birch and Bentley differ with regard to its readings."

      Is it possible that Birch and Bentley had a different approaches to the original text / overwrite question?
      Could that account for the huge number of differences?



      Steven Avery
      Bayside, NY
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