Re: [textualcriticism] Variant reading vs Variant unit
I'm going to take a stab at part of this, but my description might be vetoed by those in the know.
A "variant unit" corresponds to a syntactical unit, such as a prepositional phrase (in the beginning - is one unit), a subject with its modifiers (the big, fat man - is one unit), a verb with its helping verbs (might be vetoed - is one unit), and so on. A "variant reading" is 1) when a multi-word unit [in the base text of course] is given in a different order in a ms copy (in the beginning versus the beginning in), or 2) when one of the words within a multi-word unit is added, omitted, misspelled, changed, etc. (such as, in a beginning, or near the beginning), or 3) when a single word in the base text is added, omitted, misspelled, changed etc. (such as "This is the genealogy..." in the base text compared to "This is the list..." in a ms copy)
Well, that's my take on it anywho. It is probably more complex than my simple definition and too few illustrations, but if nothing else, it will get a scholar or two to correct me.
Speaking of correcting me, I said in my last email that Dr. Epp does not count a singular reading as a variant. What I should have added was that Dr. Epp only counts "significant" or "meaningful" variants as variants. He does not recognize singular readings as significant or meaningful.
Sugar Land, Texas
--- On Wed, 4/8/09, Eddie Mishoe <edmishoe@...> wrote:
From: Eddie Mishoe <edmishoe@...>
Subject: [textualcriticism] Variant reading vs Variant unit
To: "Text Criticism" <email@example.com>
Date: Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 7:38 AM
I'm still not sure how to define, and limit my definition so as to put a fence around the differences between these two TC concepts. Can someone provide comprehensive, yet clear definitions for:
1. Variant Reading
2. Variant Unit
And is one contained within the other? This may be one of the reasons I'm seeing different numbers tossed around; some are giving numbers of variants, but not specifying whether or not they are variant 'readings' or 'units.'
Can someone point me to a very comprehensive URL for TC?
- Hi Eddie,
You can see my take on these things at the beginning of chapter two in the following. (Chapters four and five aren't finished yet.)
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Eddie Mishoe <edmishoe@...> wrote:
> I'm still not sure how to define, and limit my definition so as to put a fence around the differences between these two TC concepts. Can someone provide comprehensive, yet clear definitions for:
> 1. Variant Reading
> 2. Variant Unit
> And is one contained within the other? This may be one of the reasons I'm seeing different numbers tossed around; some are giving numbers of variants, but not specifying whether or not they are variant 'readings' or 'units.'
> Can someone point me to a very comprehensive URL for TC?
> Eddie Mishoe
- Eddie Mischoe:
TW wrote: "For clarification, read Eldon J. Epp's chapter 3, "Toward the Clarification of the Term 'Textual Variant'" in Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism."
Yes; read that carefully. Chew, but do not swallow! Epp's definitions are problematic in all kinds of ways. It is simply not clear communication to avoid identifying a variant as a variant. The suggestion that singular variants should not be called variants, and the proposal that nonsense-readings should not be called variants, invite the production of needlessly jargon-enriched gobbledegook, imho. Epp's proposals are comparable to a proposal to clarify the definition of "bird" as a winged creature with feathers that is capable of flight. What shall we call penguins and ostriches and wounded eagles?
To touch the problems in Epp's proposals: implicit in his proposal is the premise that singular readings should be rejected /a priori/. Why? What if a singular reading elegantly explains its rivals? Or what if a singular reading, though not original, explains *some* of its rivals? (If a conjecture is to be seriously considered at II Pet. 3:10, how can singular readings be rejected /a priori/??) Also, Epp proposes that nonsense-readings should not be called variants. But (a) knowledge of some nonsense-readings can still be useful data, especially in versions, and (b) nonsense-readings are, obviously, variants, and (c) there are degrees of nonsensicalness, so Epp's categories introduce an inevitably subjective factor: who decides what is "nonsense"? Plus, some variants (like Siniaticus' reference to Antipatris) are singular and nonsense, but they are nevertheless interesting and significant.
Eddie, here are the simplest ways I can think of to define the two terms you mentioned:
Variant Reading = a variant = Among Greek MSS, a reading in the extant text of one MS which is not found in the extant text of at least one other MS. Among versions, a reading in the extant text of one non-Greek MS which disagrees with the extant text of at least one other non-Greek MS in a way which very strongly indicates that they are not based on a single base-text.
Variant Unit = a point in the text at which witnesses disagree.
EM: "And is one contained within the other?"
Yes; several variants can rival one another at a single point in the text. (Example: at James 1:12, some MSS say "which the Lord has promised," and some MSS say "which Lord has promised" (without the "hO"), and some MSS say "which God has promised," and in some MSS the subject is not supplied, so the verse runs, "which He has promised." This is one variant-unit, where we observe four variants.)
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
- Tim Finney is right on in his definitions on these in his work for which he supplied the link. A variation unit is any place in the text where variant readings are found, with the scope of the unit being decided somewhat differently by different editors. A variation unit can include anywhere from 2 variant readings (the minimum) upward (a few have more than 10 variant readings, especially when titles of books are included). A variant reading is any place where a given manuscript has a different reading from the other witnesses (of course, multiple witnesses can share the same variant reading).On Apr 8, 2009, at 10:33 PM, yennifmit wrote:
- Of course it is possible to define about variant units, but the problem is that editors/composers of a textcritical apparatus are free to decide about the content of the unit. For example the lesson of the present Thursday of this Holy Week, 'Washing the Diciples'Feet', John 13,10. In TGNT/UBS4, 1993, the variant unit (nr.3 in the chapter) is: |ouk eichei chreian ei m^e tous podas nipsasthai|. I count a dozen variant readings. In NA 27, 1993 there are two units: |eichei chreian| and |ei m^e tous podas nipsasthai|. To make a big jump in history: in Griesbach/Schulz, 1827, are two units: |ou chreian eichei| and |^e tous podas nipsasthai|. Nota bene in NA27 is the Byzantine |ou| in stead of |ouk| out of sight, so not in the first unit.
I wonder at the cling to the idea of making rules for variant units to achieve more grip on the material.
Teunis van Lopik
Leidschendam, The Netherlands