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M. A. Robinson's recent article

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  • Jonathan C. Borland
    Dear List, I just read a recently published TC-related article. I have written up a brief summary for everyone s benefit. In my opinion Dr. Robinson proves his
    Message 1 of 12 , Nov 30, 2009
      Dear List,

      I just read a recently published TC-related article. I have written up
      a brief summary for everyone's benefit. In my opinion Dr. Robinson
      proves his basic thesis. Has anyone else read the article? Any
      comments, arguments for, or arguments against his criticisms in the
      article?

      Maurice A. Robinson, "Rule 9, Isolated Variants, and the 'Test Tube'
      Nature of the NA27/UBS4 Text: A Byzantine Priority Perspective," pages
      26-61 in _Translating the New Testament: Text, Translation, Theology_
      (ed. Stanley Porter and Mark Boda; Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans,
      2009).

      Robinson begins by noting the general belief that most people regard
      the text of NA27 as the closest representation of the "Ausgangstext"
      or "source text," and that its apparatus has become the standard most
      scholars use in making their textual decisions. He cautions against
      such possible over-reliance, noting that the NA27 apparatus fails to
      cite Byzantine Textform variations, e.g., 31x in Mark 11, 23x in Luke
      7, and 18x in John 7.

      The main thrust of Robinson's article is to demonstrate the current
      text's apparent violation of Aland/Aland rule number nine, which
      states, "Variants must never be treated in isolation, but always
      considered in the context of the tradition. Otherwise there is too
      great a danger of reconstructing a 'test-tube text' which never
      existed at any time or place."

      Robinson shows that the NA27 text violates the critical rule in more
      than 100 whole verses by proposing a text that "never existed at any
      time or place." He notes that John 9:4 is supported in all only by
      Vaticanus; Mark 11:3, on the other hand, has no ms support. Thus, "On
      a _de facto_ basis, the NA27 main text _as printed_ for this verse
      becomes a matter of _conjecture_, differing in its own manner very
      little from the acknowledged conjecture at Acts 16:12. The only real
      difference here is that the conjecture is spread among more than one
      variant unit."

      Robinson notes that the text of NA25 also had zero support readings
      (John 7:46; 1 Pet 3:18), which were subsequently changed in NA27,
      suggesting that the editors do not wish to be perceived as presenting
      a text with "zero support" ("_sine test._").

      Robinson gives examples of how zero support verses are found, namely,
      by using only the "positive apparatus" and the "negative apparatus" of
      the NA27 edition in sequential variations of single verses. Where the
      mss supporting one variant in a verse are absent from those supporting
      sequential variants within the same verse, zero support verses result.
      Examples given of increasing numbers of variants cited within single
      "zero support" verses include Luke 17:23, John 5:2, Matt 19:29, Acts
      2:7, Rom 2:16, and Rev 6:8. An appendix cites over 100 such zero
      support verses. In addition, it is suggested that because of the
      selectivity of variants cited in the NA27 edition, it is likely that
      there are other zero-support whole verses that cannot be determined
      merely from the NA27 data.

      Robinson mentions the highly circular nature of the "local-
      genealogical" theory producing such a text, and notes the admission of
      such by B. Aland and G. Mink. Robinson argues that such a method fails
      not only because it is circular, but also because it "continues to
      consider variant units in isolation, ignoring their sequential
      connection."

      Using the theory that produced the NA27 text, "one finds not only a
      purported _Ausgangstext_ that contains conjectures in specific single
      variant units (NA27 Acts 16:12; ECM 2 Pet 3:10), but a text that in
      sequence has created numerous _de facto_ whole-verse conjectures in
      its connected pattern of variant readings. Yet such a pattern of
      readings cannot be demonstrated ever to have had any real existence
      within the transmissional history of the New Testament text . . . ."

      Robinson criticizes Aland's appeal to historical ignorance regarding
      the surmise that singular readings may have once been found in the
      "great mass" of mss now lost, noting Royse's similar critique.
      Robinson, certainly not without some humor, suggests, "But, by
      applying Barbara Aland's argument regarding singular readings, the
      Byzantine Textform itself well may have existed in the pre-fourth-
      century era; it may have been widespread among a now-lost majority of
      mss." He continues, more seriously, "Such theoretical speculation
      differs from that of Aland, however, in the sense that the Byzantine-
      priority hypothesis represents a _reasonable inference_ based upon the
      _actual state_ of the _existing_ post-fourth-century textual evidence,
      and not upon a hypothetical assertion regarding what one cannot know
      due to historical ignorance."

      Robinson notes that the earliest demonstrably Byzantine father is
      Basil of Caesarea (ca. 330-379), with later fathers Gregory of Nyssa,
      Chrysostom, etc., generally more Byzantine than anything else. "Since
      no evidence exists to support the notion that any of these fourth-
      century fathers _created_ the Byzantine Textform, it must rather be
      presumed that they simply used an earlier form of the text _already_
      current and readily obtainable in that specific region in which Greek
      was the primary language (from which region versional evidence
      necessarily did not exist and from which region _all_ definitive pre-
      fourth-century patristic textual evidence is lacking)."

      Robinson, in continuing to suggest "An Alternative Hypothesis,"
      summarizes: "Since more than 100 whole verses as printed in NA27/UBS4
      _lack_ extant manuscript support in the aggregate, to at least that
      extent the NA27/UBS4 text is based on conjecture and speculation, and
      not upon a logical inference from the actual data. In contrast, within
      the Byzantine Textform, nearly every verse of the NT steadfastly
      retains well over 90 percent general agreement among its component mss
      regarding its text, one has to wonder _how_, under any putative theory
      of historical transmission, the presumed _Ausgangstext_ (NA27/UBS4/
      ECM) ever could have existed in actuality, let alone have given rise
      to all other forms of text while totally losing its own original
      identity among the extant manuscript base. Lack of perpetuation in
      this regard strongly suggests a lack of prior existence."

      In his concluding paragraph, Robinson notes: "Zero-support conjecture
      and a pattern of readings found in _no_ extant manuscript, version, or
      patristic writer indeed creates the very 'test-tube text' warned
      against by two of its own editors. . . . In contrast, the overall
      pattern of readings that underlie the Byzantine Textform is _not_
      merely 'a "test tube text" which never existed at any time or place,'
      but a text with a demonstrable historical existence and a potential
      transmissional originality."

      Robinson's basic proposal is simply stated: "If one is willing to
      reexamine long-standing scholarly opinion, the Byzantine-priority
      hypothesis becomes at least reasonably plausible, particularly in view
      of its actual historical existence when contrasted with the
      conjectural claims underlying the NA27/UBS4 text."
    • Wieland Willker
      I have no problem with the fact that, at times, a verse as a whole in the NA is not extant in any surviving manuscript. This can happen. And about 100 out of
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
        I have no problem with the fact that, at times, a verse as a whole in the NA
        is not extant in any surviving manuscript. This can happen. And about 100
        out of about 8.000 verses is not much.
        How one can infer from that, that "the NA27/UBS4 text is based on conjecture
        and speculation, and not upon a logical inference from the actual data" is
        pure polemics. I don't like that.

        Nevertheless I agree that there are a few cases where the break-up of larger
        units of variation into microscopic smaller units is a bit too much for my
        taste.

        An example is Jo 6:23, where HLQEN PLOIARIA has no manuscript support. Ok,
        they put it in brackets, but a little bit more courage or decisiveness would
        be appropriate here (and at some other points), I think.


        > Robinson mentions the highly circular nature of the
        > "local-genealogical" theory producing such a text,

        Why is it circular?
        What IS circular is the CBGM, the "Coherence-Based Genealogical Method", I
        agree, I have noted this myself repeatedly.


        Best wishes
        Wieland
        <><
        --------------------------
        Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
        mailto:wie@...
        http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
        Textcritical commentary:
        http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/
      • Tommy Wasserman
        WW: Robinson mentions the highly circular nature of the local-genealogical theory producing such a text, Why is it circular? What IS circular is the CBGM,
        Message 3 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
          WW: "'Robinson mentions the highly circular nature of the 
          'local-genealogical' theory producing such a text,'

          Why is it circular?
          What IS circular is the CBGM, the 'Coherence-Based Genealogical Method', I
          agree, I have noted this myself repeatedly."

          I don't see why you regard the CBGM as circular but not the local-genealogical method (or theory).  The CBGM is a refined version of the local-genealogical method. I would describe it as a bootstrapping procedure (not just circular), that you seem to accept yourself since you appeal to external evidence that is largely based on internal evidence. You arrive at this external evidence by accumulating data in a large number of passages, working from clearer cases to more complex. 

          Tommy Wasserman


          <-----Ursprungligt Meddelande----->
            From: Wieland Willker [wie@...]
          Sent: 1/12/2009 9:35:10 AM
          To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: M. A. Robinson's recent article 


           

          I have no problem with the fact that, at times, a verse as a whole in the NA
          is not extant in any surviving manuscript. This can happen. And about 100
          out of about 8.000 verses is not much.
          How one can infer from that, that "the NA27/UBS4 text is based on conjecture
          and speculation, and not upon a logical inference from the actual data" is
          pure polemics. I don't like that.

          Nevertheless I agree that there are a few cases where the break-up of larger
          units of variation into microscopic smaller units is a bit too much for my
          taste.

          An example is Jo 6:23, where HLQEN PLOIARIA has no manuscript support. Ok,
          they put it in brackets, but a little bit more courage or decisiveness would
          be appropriate here (and at some other points), I think.

          > Robinson mentions the highly circular nature of the
          > "local-genealogical " theory producing such a text,

          Why is it circular?
          What IS circular is the CBGM, the "Coherence-Based Genealogical Method", I
          agree, I have noted this myself repeatedly.

          Best wishes
          Wieland
          <><
          ------------ --------- -----
          Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
          mailto:wie@uni-bremen. de
          http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie
          Textcritical commentary:
          http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie/TCG/

          _______________________________________________________________
          Vinster p� �ver 40 miljoner i Betssons Casino!

        • Wieland Willker
          ... that you seem to accept ... That s not circular. It get s circular if you repeat this procedure more than once. Best wishes Wieland
          Message 4 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
            Tommy Wasserman wrote:
            > I would describe it as a bootstrapping procedure > (not just circular),
            that you seem to accept
            > yourself since you appeal to external evidence
            > that is largely based on internal evidence. You
            > arrive at this external evidence by accumulating
            > data in a large number of passages, working from
            > clearer cases to more complex.


            That's not circular.
            It get's circular if you repeat this procedure more than once.


            Best wishes
            Wieland
            <><
            --------------------------
            Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
            mailto:wie@...
            http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
            Textcritical commentary:
            http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/
          • Tommy Wasserman
            Wieland, I don t know exactly what you mean, we probably talk through each other. I just wanted to point out that your own method ( repeating WH ) as applied
            Message 5 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
              Wieland, I don't know exactly what you mean, we probably talk past each other. I just wanted to point out that your own method ("repeating WH") as applied in your textual commentary looks as "circular" as the CBGM to me (as you apply your external evidence in every passage you comment on), but, as I said, I don't think the term "circular" is the best description. 

              I have blogged on this three years ago:

              http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2006/09/textual-circularity-unavoidable.html

              And as Stephen Carlson nicely put it in one of the comments:

              "There's no real circularity, but more of a question of working from the known to the unknown.

              Some readings are more clearly right or wrong on internal grounds than others. The idea is to use our knowledge about the variation units where the application of internal criteria is clear to identify which witnesses to use in conjunction with the external evidence for when the internal evidence is not so clear.

              This is more like a bootstrapping process than a circularity."


              Tommy Wasserman

              <-----Ursprungligt Meddelande----->
                From: Wieland Willker [wie@...]
              Sent: 1/12/2009 11:34:28 AM
              To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: M. A. Robinson's recent article 


               

              Tommy Wasserman wrote:

              > I would describe it as a bootstrapping procedure > (not just circular),
              that you seem to accept
              > yourself since you appeal to external evidence
              > that is largely based on internal evidence. You
              > arrive at this external evidence by accumulating
              > data in a large number of passages, working from
              > clearer cases to more complex.

              That's not circular.
              It get's circular if you repeat this procedure more than once.

              Best wishes
              Wieland
              <><
              ------------ --------- -----
              Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
              mailto:wie@uni-bremen. de
              http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie
              Textcritical commentary:
              http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie/TCG/

              _______________________________________________________________
              Vinster p� �ver 40 miljoner i Betssons Casino!

            • Wieland Willker
              ... I think the method as described by Carlson is sound. It is used for generations already. There is no other choice than work like this, IMO. But in the
              Message 6 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
                Stephen Carlson:
                > Some readings are more clearly right or wrong on internal
                > grounds than others. The idea is to use our knowledge
                > about the variation units where the application of internal
                > criteria is clear to identify which witnesses to use in
                > conjunction with the external evidence for when the
                > internal evidence is not so clear.


                I think the method as described by Carlson is sound. It is used for
                generations already. There is no other choice than work like this, IMO.
                But in the CBGM, they enter the external evidence, process again, from this
                get new external evidence, process again and so on. This is circular.


                Best wishes
                Wieland
                <><
                --------------------------
                Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
                mailto:wie@...
                http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
                Textcritical commentary:
                http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/
              • Tommy Wasserman
                WW: But in the CBGM, they enter the external evidence, process again, from this get new external evidence, process again and so on. This is circular. The
                Message 7 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
                  WW: "But in the CBGM, they enter the external evidence, process again, from this
                  get new external evidence, process again and so on. This is circular."

                  The "external evidence" that enters the process at the outset is called "pre-genealogical." This data has to do mainly with the quantitative relationship between the manuscripts (how closely related are they in terms of conformity of readings). This data will be used later in order to assess how genealogically significant any agreement between two witnesses is. For example, if two MSS have a very similar text, any individual agreement between them is more unlikely to be coincidental (therefore "connective"), and vice versa. The other type of pre-genealogical evidence has to do with the character of variants - the same type of data you use when you speak of "clearly secondary readings". When you view them as clearly secondary you have made a decision on the genealogy of variants. For your evaluation of external evidence you have picked out (I suppose) as many clear cases as you could find and applied a local-gen. method. To use the CBGM-terminology you have decided that variants in those particular variation-units are highly connective, one reading is derived from the other (or perhaps you have more readings than two, but the relationship is clear). In other variation-units where the relationship between the variants is unclear, the connectivity is low. 

                  In your own circular movement, if you allow me to use that phrase, you move around the circle once in order to find "clearly secondary readings" and then in the next round you dealt with clear cases (right?). The question is if all of these cases in the first round are as clear, or if you could have devised a method to go through the circle twice or thrice (perhaps corresponding to your own rating system). What if you had a computer program to help you accumulate the genealogical data along the way? 

                  BTW, at this point the INTF is doing a revision in light of the accumulated genealogical data for the whole of the Catholic Letters. 

                  Tommy Wasserman


                  <-----Ursprungligt Meddelande----->
                    From: Wieland Willker [wie@...]
                  Sent: 1/12/2009 12:06:13 PM
                  To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: RE: [textualcriticism] Re: M. A. Robinson's recent article 


                   

                  Stephen Carlson:

                  > Some readings are more clearly right or wrong on internal
                  > grounds than others. The idea is to use our knowledge
                  > about the variation units where the application of internal
                  > criteria is clear to identify which witnesses to use in
                  > conjunction with the external evidence for when the
                  > internal evidence is not so clear.

                  I think the method as described by Carlson is sound. It is used for
                  generations already. There is no other choice than work like this, IMO.
                  But in the CBGM, they enter the external evidence, process again, from this
                  get new external evidence, process again and so on. This is circular.

                  Best wishes
                  Wieland
                  <><
                  ------------ --------- -----
                  Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
                  mailto:wie@uni-bremen. de
                  http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie
                  Textcritical commentary:
                  http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie/TCG/

                  _______________________________________________________________
                  Vinster p� �ver 40 miljoner i Betssons Casino!

                • Wieland Willker
                  I remain skeptical regarding global stemmata. I don t know enough about the Catholic Epistles, perhaps there it is possible? But regarding the Gospels, I think
                  Message 8 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
                    I remain skeptical regarding global stemmata. I don't know enough about the
                    Catholic Epistles, perhaps there it is possible? But regarding the Gospels,
                    I think it is not possible. If relationships are there, they can be found
                    without the CBGM, IMO.
                    Even if we assume that the method is ok, the result or output is basically
                    not different from what we get by the established method: What are the
                    better witnesses and what are the worse (compare 1st page of ECM,
                    Installment 2). There they call them manuscripts closest to the Ausgangstext
                    (initial text).

                    I wouldn't invest too much time into this. Once the top manuscripts are
                    clear, one should go on along the route of Bernhard Weiss and James Royse:
                    Investigating these manuscripts IED, in every detail, to understand more
                    clearly what the scribes did. This helps refining the external evidence more
                    than creating a vague global stemma.

                    Best wishes
                    Wieland
                    <><
                    --------------------------
                    Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
                    mailto:wie@...
                    http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
                    Textcritical commentary:
                    http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/
                  • Tommy Wasserman
                    Wieland, in the Catholic Letters the result is a bit different. On the one hand, Codex Vaticanus comes out as the best witness in every letter! (I take it that
                    Message 9 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
                      Wieland, in the Catholic Letters the result is a bit different. On the one hand, Codex Vaticanus comes out as the best witness in every letter! (I take it that this would not surprise you). On the other hand, the CBGM reveals several relatively unknown minuscules among the top witnesses, some of which are actually cited as "Codices Byzantini" in the Editio Critica Maior.

                      Yes, it will be interesting to see what happens in the Gospels. 

                      One thing that I have found when I have worked with the CBGM is that it helps evaluating transcriptional evidence. As I explained in an earlier message, the method reveals if an agreement between two witnesses is genealogically significant (if they are close on the whole). This means that the resulting local stemma in a variation unit can reveal whether a reading has appeared several times independently in the textual tradition. If that is the case, it may confirm a judgment made on strictly philological grounds, e.g., that a reading is a harmonization that could have arisen several times...

                      Tommy Wasserman


                      <-----Ursprungligt Meddelande----->
                        From: Wieland Willker [wie@...]
                      Sent: 1/12/2009 3:06:28 PM
                      To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: M. A. Robinson's recent article 


                       

                      I remain skeptical regarding global stemmata. I don't know enough about the
                      Catholic Epistles, perhaps there it is possible? But regarding the Gospels,
                      I think it is not possible. If relationships are there, they can be found
                      without the CBGM, IMO.
                      Even if we assume that the method is ok, the result or output is basically
                      not different from what we get by the established method: What are the
                      better witnesses and what are the worse (compare 1st page of ECM,
                      Installment 2). There they call them manuscripts closest to the Ausgangstext
                      (initial text).

                      I wouldn't invest too much time into this. Once the top manuscripts are
                      clear, one should go on along the route of Bernhard Weiss and James Royse:
                      Investigating these manuscripts IED, in every detail, to understand more
                      clearly what the scribes did. This helps refining the external evidence more
                      than creating a vague global stemma.

                      Best wishes
                      Wieland
                      <><
                      ------------ --------- -----
                      Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
                      mailto:wie@uni-bremen. de
                      http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie
                      Textcritical commentary:
                      http://www.uni- bremen.de/ ~wie/TCG/

                      _______________________________________________________________
                      2 lotter gratis till alla nya kunder p� Betsson!

                    • Jonathan C. Borland
                      Dear Wieland, Perhaps I did a poor job summarizing the article. I m not sure if Dr. Robinson is a member of this list. If he is, perhaps now would be a good
                      Message 10 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
                        Dear Wieland,

                        Perhaps I did a poor job summarizing the article. I'm not sure if Dr.
                        Robinson is a member of this list. If he is, perhaps now would be a
                        good time to chime in. I do not wish to put words in his mouth, but as
                        one of his former graduate students, I will briefly make a couple
                        points.

                        On Dec 1, 2009, at 4:35 PM, Wieland Willker wrote:
                        > I have no problem with the fact that, at times, a verse as a whole
                        > in the NA
                        > is not extant in any surviving manuscript. This can happen. And
                        > about 100
                        > out of about 8.000 verses is not much.
                        >
                        The critical issue of the article is whether or not NA27 reflects a
                        "'test tube text' which never existed at any time or place" (Aland/
                        Aland rule number nine). The article essentially demonstrates that in
                        more than 100 whole verses NA27 reflects a "test tube text," i.e., a
                        sequence of readings that "never existed at any time or place," or at
                        least there is no evidence that it did. In this sense it is a new text
                        with no descent, created 1900 or so years after the originals.

                        Perhaps 100+ whole verses with zero manuscript support does not sound
                        too bad. Yet the presence of this very situation indicates that if one
                        were to consider whole verses with only singular, dual, or triple
                        manuscript support, the likelihood is that he would find hundreds more
                        whole verses with only diminutive support. Opening up to NA27, page
                        220 (Luke 18:17-29), e.g., one finds several readings of the text, not
                        to mention whole verses, so minutely supported.

                        Is current textual theory saying that textual transmission was so
                        mixed that sequence of readings in the actual hard evidence
                        (manuscript data) is no longer relevant?

                        Sequence of readings important to Dr. Robinson (and others) in part
                        because the primary argument against the Byzantine Textform is _not_
                        that its readings are not old. P45, the oldest witness in Mark,
                        appears to agree with the Byzantine Textform at least as often as it
                        does NA27 (if not more so). The main complaint of scholars is that the
                        Byzantine Textform's sequence of readings is not found in any "early"
                        Alexandrian manuscripts. Do they mean the sequence of one or a few
                        verses? Of course not, since over half of the verses of the NT in both
                        the NA27 (assuming its "initial text" status) and Byzantine Textform
                        are identical (excluding orthographic differences). They mean the
                        sequence of variants of the entire NT!

                        So Dr. Robinson asks: Is sequence of readings important, or isn't it?
                        If it is, then only the Byzantine Textform represents a continuous
                        sequence of readings based on actual manuscript evidence, while NA27
                        does not. If sequence of readings is no longer important, then the
                        Byzantine Textform may be assumed to have arisen from a now-lost
                        majority of 2nd and 3rd century manuscripts from all over the Empire,
                        and claims that its entire sequence of readings is not found only in
                        early Egyptian papyri are totally irrelevant.

                        Jonathan C. Borland
                      • Daniel Buck
                        One reading that s clearly right on internal grounds is QS in i Timothy 3:16. The most common and widespread alternative, OS, is easily explained as a deletion
                        Message 11 of 12 , Dec 1, 2009
                          One reading that's clearly right on internal grounds is QS in i Timothy 3:16. The most common and widespread alternative, OS, is easily explained as a deletion of the jot and tittle either through wear, scribal oversight, or theological motive. Besides, it's not even grammatically correct, leaving the sentence without a subject. QS, on the other hand, fits perfectly. There's no reason whatsoever why Paul wouldn't have written "God" when he clearly meant "God."
                           
                          But against the clear internal evidence for QS is the paucity of external evidence. IIRC there is absolutely no evidence for QS in the first three centuries of extant Gk or versional mss (leaving aside the patristic evidence for the moment). It's hard to imagine that QS could have so universally replaced by OS before being brought back into the ms stream centuries later.
                          Rule Number Nine should guard against things like reading QS on internal grounds, or just because it's found later on in a ms stream that was faithfully copied for centuries. But it we are allowed to throw out rule number nine whenever it gets in our way, QS should be one of the first readings to benefit.
                           
                          Daniel Buck


                          From: Wieland Willker <wie@...>
                          To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 6:06:13 AM
                          Subject: RE: [textualcriticism] Re: M. A. Robinson's recent article

                           

                          Stephen Carlson:

                          > Some readings are more clearly right or wrong on internal
                          > grounds than others. The idea is to use our knowledge
                          > about the variation units where the application of internal
                          > criteria is clear to identify which witnesses to use in
                          > conjunction with the external evidence for when the
                          > internal evidence is not so clear.

                          I think the method as described by Carlson is sound. It is used for
                          generations already. There is no other choice than work like this, IMO.
                          But in the CBGM, they enter the external evidence, process again, from this
                          get new external evidence, process again and so on. This is circular.

                          Best wishes
                          Wieland
                          <><
                          ------------ --------- -----
                          Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
                          mailto:wie@uni-bremen. de
                          http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
                          Textcritical commentary:
                          http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/


                        • yennifmit
                          Dear Jonathan, Thank you for your interesting post. I am inclined to agree with Maurice Robinson s point that the UBS Greek New Testament (= Nestle-Aland text)
                          Message 12 of 12 , Dec 2, 2009
                            Dear Jonathan,

                            Thank you for your interesting post. I am inclined to agree with Maurice Robinson's point that the UBS Greek New Testament (= Nestle-Aland text) is artificial in the sense that, being eclectic, nothing quite like it exists among surviving witnesses of the NT.

                            As you know, I believe that Streeter was right to believe that there were local texts. I've recently finished a paper which sets out an analysis based on the 44 variation units found in the UBS Greek New Testament (4th ed):

                            http://tfinney.net/Mapping/

                            Everything in this paper is provisional, mainly because the number of variation units is so small. (The analysis is restricted to Hebrews alone. Hopefully, it will not be too long before the same kind of analysis is applied to much larger data sets and to other parts of the NT.) That said, it is interesting to note that MDS maps seem to support a geographical reading of the data.

                            Other things being equal, each textual cluster has an equal claim to representing the most ancient recoverable text. (However, other things are not equal, I think.) I discern a number of textual clusters in the MDS maps. Saying how many there is represents a challenge -- the data does not seem to support any particular number of clusters. One possibility follows:

                            1. P46, B
                            2. Sinaiticus, A, C, M33, M81, M436, M2464, cop-sa (Sahidic Coptic), arm (Armenian)
                            3. it-ar, it-b, it-comp, vg-cl, vg-st, vg-ww, cop-bo (Bohairic Coptic), geo-1 (First Georgian)
                            4. D, it-d (two sides of the same Greco-Latin codex)
                            5. K, L, and the rest

                            The kind of analysis upon which this partition is based takes no account of genealogy. It simply shows where texts lie relative to each other in what I call "textual space." So the question of which text gave rise to the others remains unanswered. This is the question that we all need to take a fresh look at.

                            I suggest two different approaches for getting at the earliest recoverable text:

                            1. Choose one local text as prior then use it as the basis of the reconstructed "initial" text (to use the INTF's terminology). (I would but my money on cluster 1, above, for admittedly speculative reasons given in the paper.)

                            2. Distill the hypearchetypes which stand behind the local texts then use these to get back to the initial text.

                            The INTF's CBGM represents a third approach, and I believe that it has much merit. I share WW's concern about circularity when the results of one iteration of the method are used to inform another iteration. The INTF is fully aware of this concern but still thinks it worth doing. Looking at things from a statistical perspective (I'm an amateur), I am reminded of Bayesian analysis where prior knowledge is factored into the decision-making process. In my opinion, some useful information is extracted by the first iteration which can validly be used for another iteration. However, I suspect that there is a law of diminishing returns. It is like the physical law which prevents one from building a perpetual motion machine -- you can't get something from nothing (unless you are God).

                            If all of these approaches come up with the same text then our work will be complete and we can look for something else to do. However, I suspect that a number of the variation units will remain hard cases -- we do not always have enough information to make a confident decision.

                            On the topic of confident decisions, I believe that the UBS approach of assigning A, B, C, D categories to decisions is useful. My (perverse?) approach is to go further and attach probabilistic meanings to the categories:

                            A = beyond reasonable doubt (conf > 95%)
                            B = probable (50% < conf < 95%)
                            C = a few competing possibilities (5% < conf < 50%)
                            D = many competing possibilities (conf < 5%)

                            I think that the ideal of truthfulness calls for us to indicate the confidence held in each textual decision about what reading should be preferred at each variation unit, and the A, B, C, D scheme seems to me simple yet powerful enough to suit.

                            The question then arises as to how the rating for a reading is obtained. I think that a Bayesian approach, where each piece of evidence contributes something to the result, is worth considering. All of the received wisdom concerning criteria can be applied provided we can find an appropriate reliability rating for each criterion. For example, the "reading which appears in the most diverse places" might be given a reliability rating of 0.75, while the "shorter reading if not likely to have been caused by parablepsis" might get 0.55. (A rating of less than 0.5 means that the criterion is more often wrong than right.) If we can come up with a set of independent criteria and agree on reliability ratings then we could use them as pieces of information to help us choose the best reading for each variation unit. (Independence is important. The "reading which best explains the others" is conditioned by what you believe concerning the development of readings and is therefore not independent of criteria such as "prefer the shortest.") Using a suitable (Bayesian) formula to combine the results would give us a probability that the decision is right (and an indication of which reading best explains the others, all things appropriately considered). The A, B, C, D scheme noted above could then be used to classify each preferred reading.

                            Best,

                            Tim Finney

                            --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Jonathan C. Borland" <nihao@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > Dear Wieland,
                            >
                            > Perhaps I did a poor job summarizing the article. I'm not sure if Dr.
                            > Robinson is a member of this list. If he is, perhaps now would be a
                            > good time to chime in. I do not wish to put words in his mouth, but as
                            > one of his former graduate students, I will briefly make a couple
                            > points.
                            >
                            > On Dec 1, 2009, at 4:35 PM, Wieland Willker wrote:
                            > > I have no problem with the fact that, at times, a verse as a whole
                            > > in the NA
                            > > is not extant in any surviving manuscript. This can happen. And
                            > > about 100
                            > > out of about 8.000 verses is not much.
                            > >
                            > The critical issue of the article is whether or not NA27 reflects a
                            > "'test tube text' which never existed at any time or place" (Aland/
                            > Aland rule number nine). The article essentially demonstrates that in
                            > more than 100 whole verses NA27 reflects a "test tube text," i.e., a
                            > sequence of readings that "never existed at any time or place," or at
                            > least there is no evidence that it did. In this sense it is a new text
                            > with no descent, created 1900 or so years after the originals.
                            >
                            > Perhaps 100+ whole verses with zero manuscript support does not sound
                            > too bad. Yet the presence of this very situation indicates that if one
                            > were to consider whole verses with only singular, dual, or triple
                            > manuscript support, the likelihood is that he would find hundreds more
                            > whole verses with only diminutive support. Opening up to NA27, page
                            > 220 (Luke 18:17-29), e.g., one finds several readings of the text, not
                            > to mention whole verses, so minutely supported.
                            >
                            > Is current textual theory saying that textual transmission was so
                            > mixed that sequence of readings in the actual hard evidence
                            > (manuscript data) is no longer relevant?
                            >
                            > Sequence of readings important to Dr. Robinson (and others) in part
                            > because the primary argument against the Byzantine Textform is _not_
                            > that its readings are not old. P45, the oldest witness in Mark,
                            > appears to agree with the Byzantine Textform at least as often as it
                            > does NA27 (if not more so). The main complaint of scholars is that the
                            > Byzantine Textform's sequence of readings is not found in any "early"
                            > Alexandrian manuscripts. Do they mean the sequence of one or a few
                            > verses? Of course not, since over half of the verses of the NT in both
                            > the NA27 (assuming its "initial text" status) and Byzantine Textform
                            > are identical (excluding orthographic differences). They mean the
                            > sequence of variants of the entire NT!
                            >
                            > So Dr. Robinson asks: Is sequence of readings important, or isn't it?
                            > If it is, then only the Byzantine Textform represents a continuous
                            > sequence of readings based on actual manuscript evidence, while NA27
                            > does not. If sequence of readings is no longer important, then the
                            > Byzantine Textform may be assumed to have arisen from a now-lost
                            > majority of 2nd and 3rd century manuscripts from all over the Empire,
                            > and claims that its entire sequence of readings is not found only in
                            > early Egyptian papyri are totally irrelevant.
                            >
                            > Jonathan C. Borland
                            >
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