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RE: [textualcriticism] Question for BART D. EHRMANN

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  • Larry Swain
    ... 3x in 200 pages? You have a great deal of faith in your readers, surprising considering you teach students, notorious for missing details like that in
    Message 1 of 104 , Nov 3, 2008
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      >
      > Actually, I thought that if something was said three times anyone who
      > could read carefully wouldn't miss it.

      3x in 200 pages? You have a great deal of faith in your readers, surprising considering you teach students, notorious for missing details like that in books where the detail is mentioned briefly.

      >
      > I'd be delighted if anyone would like to write a book about all the
      > insignificant variants. They, as it turns out, matter too.
      >
      > As to the title and subtitle, I didn't choose those.

      I suspected as much, but given the title and subtitle, it can hardly be surprising that the impression given the non-professional by the title and subtitle is as George characterized. And that's my point: whether the impression is accurate or not (it isn't) or should be what is carried away from the book, it is hardly surprising and I marvel that you can claim that you do not understand where people get that impression from. Its kinda obvious where they get it from.

      Larry Swain
      University of Illinois-Chicago

      >
      > -- BDE
      >
      > Bart D. Ehrman
      > James A. Gray Professor
      > Department of Religious Studies
      > University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      >
      >
      > _____
      >
      > From: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Larry Swain
      > Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2008 3:59 PM
      > To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: RE: [textualcriticism] Question for BART D. EHRMANN
      >
      >
      >
      > Bart Ehrman wrote:
      >
      > >
      > > A lot of people have said this about Misquoting Jesus, but >I've never
      > quite understood it:
      >
      > Seriously? Really? I find that hard to believe. Let's see, there's the title
      > and subtitle;
      >
      > I say at the very outset of the book that the majority
      > > of the variant readings in the tradition are "immaterial and
      > insignificant."
      >
      > But considering that you have chapter upon chapter of significant variant
      > readings, most of them attributed to deliberate change and 3 statements, one
      > in parentheses (pgs. 10, 69, and 207) to contextualize it a bit, is it
      > really surprising that people who are not textual critics might come away
      > with a somewhat skewed picture of the situation?
      >
      > > I think maybe that since I end up speaking about significant variants,
      > > rather than dealing at length with insignificant ones (and wouldn't *that*
      > > be an interesting book to read! One that dealt with insignificance!),
      >
      > For the text critic, absolutely!
      >
      > > people forget that I've already emphasized that most variants >don't
      > matter
      >
      > I would argue with the word "emphasized." Yes, you say it in the book a few
      > times, but saying it and *emphasizing* it are not synonymous. I would
      > certainly not say that you in any way *emphasize* that the majority of
      > variants are insignificant.
      >
      > > for much apart from showing us that scribes in antiquity could spell no
      > > better than most people can today.... So in reply to your comment -- I
      > > completely agree (I'm not an idiot!) and I thought (in fact I think) that
      > I
      > > did make the distinction you're asking for. I guess people wanted me to
      > say
      > > it over and over again (maybe to reassure readers?)
      >
      > Considering its a book aimed at a non-professional audience, saying it
      > thrice in the space of some 200 pages devoted otherwise to pointing out
      > significant variants is hardly a balanced presentation. To reassure readers?
      > No, but to educate readers, so that when they finish the book they come away
      > with a properly and realistically contextualized view of the situation.
      > Perhaps you avoided saying it more often to make readers unsure?
      >
      > Larry Swain
      > Univ. of Illinois-Chicago
      >
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    • Larry Swain
      ...       Well, I don t find this kind of polemical shotgun back and forth (he said / she said, on multiple fronts) to be all that useful as a mode of
      Message 104 of 104 , Nov 30, 2008
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        Bart Ehrman wrote:


        >>Larry,
         
            Well, I don't find this kind of polemical shotgun back and forth (he said / she said, on multiple fronts) to be all that useful as a mode of discourse.<<

        Nor do I and I wish you'd cease from engaging in it. I made 2 points. That's all. In both, you've been quite defensive and even petulant.

        Nor is this present a mere "he said/she said" disagreement: its a "Bart said vs. Bart said" disagreement that you keep attempting to slide past. The best thing it seems to me to do would be either clarify the apparent contradiction, or just simply admit that your response to my comment responding to Tommy Wasserman was a bit overstated and in need of qualification. Easily done. In such a format, everyone makes statements that need qualification.

         >> But if you have a specific issue you'd like me to address, I'd be happy to.<<

        I believe I've already raised them. And let's recall that it was *you* who responded to my response to Tommy Wasserman regarding ancient and medieval scribal practices.
         
        >> I will, though, deal with the final question you raise.  Just to recount the conversation up to this point, to make sure we're on the same page.  You indicated that I claimed that there had been a "wholesale, seamless rewriting of the original" somewhere in the manuscript tradition; I asked you what gave you the idea that that was something I claimed, and your reply (below) is that you got the idea from me.  And you would like me to clarify.<<

        Good so far.

        >>  So to clarify: I don't know where you are getting the idea from that I think there was a wholesale seamless rewriting of the original;<<


        In hind sight, perhaps I overstated it. Are you not introducing the possibility that such happened when you claim that our ignorance is such that we have no inkling what happened after the autograph was made. Further you stated: "If someone can explain to me the logic of appealing to an author's style when you don't think you can get back to his words (hence his style), I'll eat my Westcott and Hort!"

        This suggests that it the author's text is unrecoverable in any real sense: i. e. that it was changed, that we can not recover it, and that such change is undetectable since we can not make appeals to the author's style etc. Now you state that "seamless rewriting" is not what you had in mind, ok, fair enough. But it doesn't let you off the hook. Your statements that you can't get back to the author's words and so therefore can't appeal to an author's style suggest that a) the process of reconstructing a text can not get back to the author and b) if we can not get back to the author, its suggests a stage or stages of more than mere interpolation and a few changes. If we take seriously the notion that in the period between author's copy and initial text considerable changes may have taken place that left no trace in the textual tradition, then we have to apply other tools, such as authorial style. If that isn't applicable, however, then we have to posit that those changes between authorial copy and initial copy were so thorough and complete as to be indistinguishable on close study of style, syntax, vocabulary etc. Possible, but given again what we know about ancient scribal practices (and even those making personal copies), is this likely on anything except a theoretical level?



        >> I don't recall ever saying such a thing, and don't recall ever thinking such a thing, and so I don't know what you're referring to.  If I *did* say this, I guess I'll have to defend it!<<

        That's illogical. There are many other responses possible besides defense.

        >> I just don't remember ever being certain that we know what happened in the early stages of the tradition.  So does that clarify it?<<

        It does somewhat, but not entirely. Certitude, however, was not what I was suggesting or after. Certitude isn't possible. Probabilities however are.

        >>  I don't *know* what happened in the earliest decades when the text was being copied (I certainly don't know that their was a wholesale seamless rewriting of the autographs; and I equally don't know that there wasn't).  And I don't believe you know either!  *Do* you think you know?  If so, how do you know?<<
         
        Do I know? Of course not. But I don't know that the planet on which I dwell will continue to rotate on its axis in the same motion and the same speed so that the sun will give the appearance of "rising" in the morning over what is to me my eastern horizon. But based on the current evidence available to me, I can make a probable prediction that no appreciable change will occur between now and then as to change the nature of that rotation. Likewise, given what we know, we can speak in probabilities about textual reconstructions too. With Dr. Wasserman, I think the best and simplest explanation is that there is no significant difference between authorial copy and initial copy, and that it is more likely that redactional activity between authorial copy and initial copy are detectable...and hence appeal to an author's style remains a valid tool.

        Larry Swain
        UIC

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