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RE: [textualcriticism] Analogy

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  • Bart Ehrman
    I m sorry, but I still don t see how you come up with a percentage (99%, 75%, or any percent). Can you explain how you know how B (the NA27, e.g.) is 99% the
    Message 1 of 104 , Nov 4 4:22 AM
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           I'm sorry, but I still don't see how you come up with a percentage (99%, 75%, or any percent).  Can you explain how you know how B (the NA27, e.g.) is 99% the same as A (the original text of, say, John) if you have never seen A?  I can't help but think this is just wishful thinking, unless you give me some basis for the judgment.  To say that the early transmission of the text is pristine is really a blind leap of faith -- blind especially for anyone who has ever collated the early manuscripts!  (Which I and many others on this list have done.  They are *very* different from one another!)
      -- Bart Ehrman
      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 malcolm robertson
      Sent: Monday, November 03, 2008 5:15 PM
      To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Analogy

      Dr Ehrman,
      Lets suppose St Matthew took notes during Jesus' ministry on earth.  After all, this would be in accordance with his own scribal habits as a tax-collector/ notary.  This idea was fowarded by the late John H. Skilton.  Let's further suppose that St. Luke in investigating and gathering his historical data made notes.  After all, he was a physican and doubtless could write quite well as is evidently displayed.
      Neither individual's notes constitute a draft.  They are simply notes.  This love/facination/ obsession of some with the hypothetical pre-literary unknown variables amuses and at the same time annoys me.  It is a pretext to doubt a priori the testimony of the NT.  Just like the OT scholars who doubt the Hebrews could have possessed FIRE (the art of literary composition) prior to the post exilic period is to me ludicrous.  The Greeks, we know, could write as early as 3000 B.C., but oh no no never could the Hebrews at the time of David or Solomon, much less the well educated Moses, write.
      The analogy I prefer, based on a posteriori observation, is that of a mountain stream flowing down.  No NT manuscript supports the idea of redacted texts or literary stages of composition by the authors.  Only the less erudite and quips of the profane entertain such notions.
      So what if this stream has a autumnal leaf or two or three floating atop?  It hardly warrants such a radical maneuver and shift of posture as to call forth such a grand scheme of doubt and dismay.  The nature of the stream remains water - constant, pure, pristine.  So too the NT text.
      Metzger et al are correct.  The NT text is 99% pure (restored).
      ____________ __

      --- On Mon, 11/3/08, Bart Ehrman <behrman@email. unc.edu> wrote:
      From: Bart Ehrman <behrman@email. unc.edu>
      Subject: [textualcriticism] Analogy
      To: textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com
      Date: Monday, November 3, 2008, 1:47 PM

          Thanks to Wieland for stopping us in our former foolishness.  I hope the following passes muster with his keen editorial eye!
          It has to do with the substance of the original query.  I thought of an analogy that may be relevant to the claim that we can say with relative certainty that we have faithfully reconstructed the "original" words of the NT 99% of the time.
          What if somebody told you that one of my books -- say, the Orthodox Corruption of Scripture -- as it was published, was 99% the same as the first draft?  And someone else said that no, the printed version was 30% different from the original draft.   And supposing neither scholar had actually seen the  draft.  How could you decide whether either (or neither) scholar is right?
          Most of us would think it's rather silly to make either claim, without having seen the "original."  Mutatis mutandis....
          (Someone may well reply that the analogy is not exact, because in the case of my own book, I would be the one who changed the later drafts [as opposed to a copyist]; by reply I would say the analogy holds: if we say that product A comes from product B and we want to say that product B is 99% or 70% or any other % exactly like A, without ever having seen  A, then we're just making it up!)
      -- BDE
      Bart D. Ehrman
      James A. Gray Professor
      Department of Religious Studies
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

      From: textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:textualcrit icism@yahoogroup s.com] On Behalf Of Wieland Willker
      Sent: Monday, November 03, 2008 12:29 PM
      To: textualcriticism@ yahoogroups. com
      Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: Question for BART D. EHRMAN

      Folks, please!
      Moderation had to be heavy today.
      This list is not for the discussion of Ehrman's books
      possible audiences and also not for Ehrman bashing and also
      not for triviality.

      This thread is closed.

      Best wishes
      ------------ --------- --------- --------- ---------
      Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
      mailto:wie@uni-bremen. de
      http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie
      Textcritical Commentary:
      http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie/TCG/ index.html

    • 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 2:26 PM
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        Bart Ehrman wrote:

            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

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