A Question of Patience
- (Oh great; more snow!!!)
Earlier this week in Indiana, there was a lot of snow and ice. Within a few days, though, the roads were cleared and the sidewalks were shoveled and the ice was hacked away with shovels, bit by bit. **Within a few days.**
How long should it take to correct mistakes about text-critical matters once they are identified? I'm not really referring to mistaken text-critical decisions on finely balanced points, but plainly incorrect statements. How long should it take before a person is shown that he has written an error, and neglects to correct it, before other people may feel justified in drawing a lot of other people's attention to the mistake?
For example: in the first (1964) edition of Text of the New Testament, Bruce Metzger wrote that Mk 16:9-20 is lacking in "a number of manuscripts of the Ethiopic version." Later, Metzger corrected that claim, and went so far as to publish a detailed study of the treatment of the ending of Mark in 16:9-20, proclaiming that all the undamaged continuous-text Ethiopic copies of Mark either have, after 16:8, the Shorter Ending followed by 16:9-20, or 16:9-20; none of them stop the text at the end of 16:8. Progress, right?
Yes of course. But what do we find in the third edition of The Text of the New Testament on p. 226? It still says that Mk. 16:9-20 is lacking in a number of manuscripts of the Ethiopic version! And, even after advice was given that the section about Mk. 16:9-20 needs to be thoroughly revised, the 4th edition of TotNT still contains the same false statement.
Another example, again involving Mk. 16:9-20: the online NET's text-critical note states the Shorter Ending is "usually included with the longer ending (L Ø 083 099 0112 579 al)." In that list, 083 and 0112 are listed as if they are two distinct witnesses, although one is a component of the other. This was been told to an editor of the NET years ago but the note remains uncorrected. Similarly, the NET lists 2427 as a witness for 16:9-20, even months after it has become clear that 2427 is a forgery.
Another example: a member of the CBT (the committee responsible for translating the NIV) has informed his blog-readers, "Aleph is seen as the best and most authentic Greek manuscript we have, and its readings are almost always accepted." How many of his readers should we let him mislead (however innocently) before we prevent them from repeating his false claim? The same CBT-member told his readers that he doesn't see why Majority Text advocates would claim that the underlying text of "fasting and" in I Cor,. 7:5 would be original. Wouldn't a few seconds' thought show that the phrase is vulnerable to parablepsis?? The same individual, in the same discussion, said that the Majority Text is the basis for the KJV. He also said that most textual critics today would reject "fasting and" in I Cor. 7:5 because it is not in the original hand in Aleph and was not added to Aleph until the 7th century, and that they would do so "on this basis alone."
In the course of researching the ending of Mark, I sometimes came across writings that virtually echoed other writings. I have found it is very hard to convince the echo-writers that their sources are mistaken. Matt Slick, for example (at the CARM website), has been informed repeatedly that the claim that some Ethiopic MSS lack Mk. 16:9-20 is incorrect, and has been referred to Metzger's retraction of the statement, but Matt Slick still refuses to correct his statements about it. What can one person do against such obstinance?
Probably nothing. But maybe the participants of this discussion-list, working together, can do something. Maybe we could all agree that when we found a plain miscitation on a text-critical question being popularized online, or some obviously false claim being spread, we would write to the mistaken person and gently point out the mistake, and convey our hope that it will be corrected quickly so that we will not feel obligated to draw attention to in on various Bible-related blogs.
If this were done for all mistakes, there would be no end to the undertaking, since there are so many online writers blissfully promoting false statements about issues related to NTTC. I don't think anyone here wants to try to turn glass into diamonds. But in cases where there seems to be a real possibility that a writer is spreading misinformation because he himself is a victim of misinformation, a lot of confusion might be prevented by a few concerned e-mails, if people care enough to write them.
Can it be an entirely bad idea, to shovel someone else's sidewalk?
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.