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[textualcriticism] Jacobus Petzer on Latin ms significance

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  • schmuel
    Hi, Steven Avery Here, I would like to look at a short section from Jacobus Hendrik Petzer (University of South Africa, Pretoria) on the Latin Bible. This is a
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 24 3:52 PM
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      Hi,

      Steven Avery
      Here, I would like to look at a short section from Jacobus Hendrik Petzer (University of South Africa, Pretoria) on the Latin Bible.  This is a little more abstract that the recent Bruce Metzger studies on the Old Latin, where we were mainly dealing with very specific, unsupported assertions by Metzger.  Here we are talking, and questioning, more the general approach to the textual evidences. 

      Note: I have seen the following section used (and this may not have been Petzer's intention at all) in an aggressive way to simply dismiss Latin evidences !   And this from a student studying under a major textual scholar. Thus I believe the Petzer section warrants careful review, for strengths and weaknesses.  I move ahead on this most happy to be corrected or answered on any points that I raise, as a simple plowman trying to work through somewhat turgid scholastic argumentation.

      First the section directly.  Feel free to look up the pages, too, for more context.

      The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis (1995)
      The Latin Version of the New Testament
      Jacobus H. Petzer
      http://books.google.com/books?id=TxhqBeeAqg8C&pg=PA124
      ...It is in this aspect that one can judge the value of this (Latin) version for the reconstruction of the history of the Greek text. Again Fischer has aptly dealt with the theory of this matter in his brief survey of the Old Latin NT, and I need not repeat it here;
      49 it will suffice to refer briefly to the two main points of the theory. The first is that the Latin version does not have any direct bearing on the "original' text" (autographs) of the NT. It is much too late for that. Its only value as a direct witness, therefore, is to the history of the Greek text, insofar as it had contact with that history.  Second, it is not so much the individual Latin witnesses that are important for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, but rather the text-types because they represent a revision on the basis of (a) Greek MS(S). This point is important, since it is only the text-type that had consistent contact with Greek evidence.  No doubt individual Fathers and scribes did have passing contact with Greek evidence,  and this contact did influence their Latin text on occasion. But that this contact was in passing and inconsistent makes it worthless for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, as it cannot really be evaluated.  Furthermore, in evaluating the evidence of these text-types, it is important to see that each text-type represents only one Greek witness, the one that is assumed to have formed the Vorlage on which the revision was based. 50 ...The Latin version's relation to the Greek text is, as can be seen, fairly complicated, fluctuating between the Alexandrian and Western texts. (p. 124)

      49. See Fischer, "Das Neue Tetament in lateinischer Sprache," p. 259-74
      50. See further B. Fischer, "Limatations of Latin in Representing Greek," in Metzger, Early Versions, 362-74 (=Fischer, "Das Neue Testament in lateinischer Sprache"," 259-274).

      ===========================================

      Next, the same, my comments interspersed.

      The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis (1995)
      The Latin Version of the New Testament
      Jacobus H. Petzer
      http://books.google.com/books?id=TxhqBeeAqg8C&pg=PA124
      ....It is in this aspect that one can judge the value of this (Latin) version for the reconstruction of the history of the Greek text. Again Fischer has aptly dealt with the theory of this matter in his brief survey of the Old Latin NT, and I need not repeat it here;
      49 it will suffice to refer briefly to the two main points of the theory. The first is that the Latin version does not have any direct bearing on the "original' text" (autographs) of the NT. It is much too late for that.

      Steven
      This is stated in an awkward and anachronistic manner.  Nothing past the 1st century has any direct bearing on the autographs.  Not quotes by Justin Martyr or Cyprian, not Codex Vaticanus.  If anyone can explain the relevance of this point #1, I would find it interesting.  Manuscript theory is based on reflections of the autographs, their lineage, not upon influencing the autographs.

      Petzer
      Its only value as a direct witness, therefore, is to the history of the Greek text, insofar as it had contact with that history.

      Steven
      Again, simply an obvious truism if the autographs are Greek.  (Although it should be pointed out that Mark's autograph could just as well have been Latin as Greek, or a Graeco-Latin dialect, or two versions).

      Petzer
      Second, it is not so much the individual Latin witnesses that are important for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, but rather the text-types because they represent a revision on the basis of (a) Greek MS(S). This point is important, since it is only the text-type that had consistent contact with Greek evidence.

      Steven
      It this text-type assertion is questionable.  Even more so since text-types are very fluid, especially in Old Latin manuscripts, which also have a small manuscript count to contend with.  Petzer is obviously aware of this, so why is he channelling research into text-type concepts that barely function ?

      And, practically speaking, what does this assertion mean, and can it ever be given a meaningful application ? What text-types are Petzer referring to, and how are they to be represented ?  Are there some special, secret Critical Texts that exist that we do not know about ? And why are these text-types more meaningful than their component elements ?

      In other words, why is Petzer implying that, while it may make sense to talk about some Old Latin manuscripts, text-type glasses is in some way superior to, and even necessary ?  Rather than sharing precisely what is in each Old Latin manuscript.  After all, often in a study there are only 10 Old Latin manuscripts involved anyway and they are virtually impossible to classify in any regular system.

      And it is unclear to me at this point also if Petzer is trying to apply this to the Vulgate. Petzer does mention the Peregrinus, Alcuin and Theodolf revisions, but what he considers textually significant is not stated.

      Let us remember what Petzer is not saying.  The Old Latin line was developed way before, and largely independent of, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and any precursor Alexandrian papyri.  Petzer is also not mentioning that Jerome's textual analysis would have included Greek and Latin manuscripts from before B and Aleph. 

      So I wonder, why all the effort to awkwardly hand-wave their significance ? (at least in this section of this paper).

      Petzer
      No doubt individual Fathers and scribes did have passing contact with Greek evidence,

      Steven
      This I believe is a major understatement.  In the early centuries bilingual skills were commonplace among the early church writers.  Petzer mentions the case of Tertullian where even today it is unclear whether he was quoting Greek or Latin manuscripts.  Such bilingual elements are commonplace.

      Petzer
      and this contact did influence their Latin text on occasion. But that this contact was in passing and inconsistent makes it worthless for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, as it cannot really be evaluated.

      Steven
      This is a conceptual category confusion by Petzer.  The issue of such influence is not so much that it can be pin-pointed, but simply that it adds to the authority of the Latin text, since it was not being read and copied in isolation.  There was not individual vectors of transmission as might be theorized say for the major Syriac versions, where, after each version was translated, the textual transmission was largely uninfluenced by Greek.  Thus the Petzer hand-wave is what is itself "worthless".

      Petzer
      Furthermore, in evaluating the evidence of these text-types, it is important to see that each text-type represents only one Greek witness, the one that is assumed to have formed the Vorlage on which the revision was based
      . 50

      Steven
      This is another strained exposition. First, I would like a list of the text-types. Second, with all the Latin-Greek interplay (including dual-language manuscripts like Bezae, why would you impose an artificial limit.

      However, the most puzzling aspect is this.  Say you count three Old Latin text-lines and have them "represent" 3 Greek witnesses of, say 200 AD.  This would make the evidence incredibly significant, far more important than any Greek manuscript, Vaticanus included. So why not state that truthful understanding ?

      Petzer
      The Latin version's relation to the Greek text is, as can be seen, fairly complicated, fluctuating between the Alexandrian and Western texts.

      Steven
      And this is of course circular to the famous Hortian Box-out of the majority Greek evidences.  Which has been artfully dismembered by Professor Maurice Robinson and other writers and is barely worth more than a circular :) .

      Shalom,
      Steven Avery
    • Steven Avery
      Hi Folks, On 4-24-2012 I placed an post on this forum: [textualcriticism] Jacobus Petzer on Latin ms significance Steven Avery 4-24-2012
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 24, 2012
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        Hi Folks,

        On 4-24-2012 I placed an post on this forum:

        [textualcriticism] Jacobus Petzer on Latin ms significance
        Steven Avery 4-24-2012
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/textualcriticism/message/7158

        The post was a discussion of this section from Jacobus Petzer.

        The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis (1995)
        The Latin Version of the New Testament
        Jacobus H. Petzer
        http://books.google.com/books?id=TxhqBeeAqg8C&pg=PA124
        ...It is in this aspect that one can judge the value of this (Latin) version for the reconstruction of the history of the Greek text. Again Fischer has aptly dealt with the theory of this matter in his brief survey of the Old Latin NT, and I need not repeat it here;
        49 it will suffice to refer briefly to the two main points of the theory. The first is that the Latin version does not have any direct bearing on the "original' text" (autographs) of the NT. It is much too late for that. Its only value as a direct witness, therefore, is to the history of the Greek text, insofar as it had contact with that history.  Second, it is not so much the individual Latin witnesses that are important for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, but rather the text-types because they represent a revision on the basis of (a) Greek MS(S). This point is important, since it is only the text-type that had consistent contact with Greek evidence.  No doubt individual Fathers and scribes did have passing contact with Greek evidence,  and this contact did influence their Latin text on occasion. But that this contact was in passing and inconsistent makes it worthless for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, as it cannot really be evaluated.  Furthermore, in evaluating the evidence of these text-types, it is important to see that each text-type represents only one Greek witness, the one that is assumed to have formed the Vorlage on which the revision was based. 50 ...The Latin version's relation to the Greek text is, as can be seen, fairly complicated, fluctuating between the Alexandrian and Western texts. (p. 124)

        49. See Fischer, "Das Neue Testament in lateinischer Sprache," p. 259-74
        50. See further B. Fischer, "Limatations of Latin in Representing Greek," in Metzger, Early Versions, 362-74 (=Fischer, "Das Neue Testament in lateinischer Sprache"," 259-274).

        On a more careful read of Petzer, and a read of the article "Limatations of Latin in Representing Greek," I want to add a couple of comments,  tweak, corrections, updates.

        My first section discussing the Petzer section above was on
        "the Latin version does not have any direct bearing on the "original' text" (autographs) of the NT" which I pointed out was awkward and anachronistic.  Illogical, or poor writing.  No change there.

        My second section was on the basic theory :

        Petzer
        "the individual Latin witnesses that are important for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, but rather the text-types because they represent a revision on the basis of (a) Greek MS(S)". 

        My critique there remains, and can use additional input, from Petzer, that really shows that the basic theory has great problems. Note the following.
        Text-types are thus identified by means of differences in patterns of vocabulary and diction in the different Latin witnesses as well as differences in their relation to the Greek text.
        This specific definition of text-type used in this research makes the research both easier and more difficult. It makes it easier in the sense that one works with a more defined or fixed definition of what one is to search for. What makes it more difficult, however, is the state of the evidence, since it is clear what is available today represents only a small part of what once existed and that this part does not come from the main line of developments.

        The MSS, representing what is called the direct tradition, are not only fragmentary but also often very late. This makes it difficult to decide where and how particular MSS relate to others. What makes the matter worse is that almost every MS is of a mixed nature. Most probably not one single 'pure' Latin MS of the first millennium has survived. Every VG MS of the period contains OL readings in a greater or lesser extent, and every OL MSS seems to have been contaminated to some extent by Vg readings. Even in the MSS with a predominantly OL text, apparently few contain a text that represents one of the OL text-types 'purely.' They are all mixed."  This mixture takes on nearly every form possible. Some MSS contain block mixture, whereby the textual quality of the MS changes in specific parts, witnessing to different text-types in different parts. In some instances the mixture takes the form of individual readings of a specific text-type incorporated into a MS that has a predominantly different text-type. In other instances one finds a combination of these two kinds of mixture. Not only does the extant evidence therefore reflect only part of what once was. but it also does not represent any part of the mainstream of the history. (Petzer p. 119)
        Clearly much more could be said on this, for now I think it is sufficient to say that with the:

        a) very limited number of Latin evidences before 900 AD, and
        b) evidences being so mixed and hybridized

        You can really doubt whether text-line theory is of any significant help at all, and whether it is of advantage over individual evidence analysis. Perhaps a technique for laying out the Vetus Latina Institute publications has been wrongly thought to be therefore superior in textual analysis. Presentation morphs to analysis.

        Now, clearly, text-line analysis may be of auxiliary assistance in discussing the Latin evidences (really this is the Old Latin, the Vulgate recension history is fairly well understood, even if the Jerome text can only be said to be close to Amiatinus, with many uncertainties).   This understanding that there is a certain amount of text-line categorizing even goes back at least to Frederick Nolan (1784-1864) and Nicholas Wiseman (1802-1865).  However, they did not make any claims that this should replace or supplant individual evidence discussions, which often helps on many elements.

        Often, each individual evidence has its own special dynamic, such as an ECW citation from Cyprian showing full comfortable familiarity with a verse, or Casssiodorus being involved in textual analysis, or Augustine commenting on the Pericope Adultera omission.  Or on the heavenly witnesses, Codex Fuldensis also having the Prologue and the Book of Armagh (one of the only Old Latin negatives) including the phrase "in earth" evidence of a copy lineage including the heavenly witnesses. There are many individual significant elements that are simply missed in text-line summaries.

        I would say that a strong case can be made that a more general Burgon-style approach may be far superior than all the nouveau-techie attempts to fit square manuscripts into round peg hole text-lines.  An example of the Burgon approach is on p. 56 of The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels (we can bypass the ongoing dispute about the date of the Peshitta) where Burgon was speaking of weight, one of the Seven Notes of Truth:

        The traditional text of the holy Gospels
        John William Burgon
        http://books.google.com/books?id=ajQ1AQAAIAAJ&pg=PA56
        The first of the above-named Versions (Peshitto)  and some of the Latin arc older,—perhaps by two centuries—than the oldest known copy. From this it will appear that if the only witnesses producible for a certain reading were the Old Latin Versions and the Syriac Version on the one hand,—Codd. B-Aleph on the other,—the united testimony of the first two would very largely overbalance the combined testimony of the last. If B or if Aleph stood alone, neither of them singly would be any match for either the Syriac or the Old Latin Versions, —still less for the two combined.

        Returning to the post from April, and update-correction:

        My third section was from this quote from Petzer: (emphasis now added, this was the emphasis that was originally posited by a student at DTS, under Daniel Wallace, as supporting the idea that Latin evidences are all "worthless"):

        Petzer
        No doubt individual Fathers and scribes did have passing contact with Greek evidence, and this contact did influence their Latin text on occasion. But that this contact was in passing and inconsistent makes it worthless for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, as it cannot really be evaluated.

        Here we have what looks like a total logical blunder by Petzer, so I took it to task, with these quotes:

        Steven
        > awkwardly hand-wave their significance"
        > Thus the Petzer hand-wave is what is itself "worthless".


        Here is where the tweak is necessary.  The fuller reading of this paper, the Petzer paper with an internal evidence analysis of Luke 23:34, and the Bonafitius Early Versions paper shows that while Petzer wrote very poorly, he actually was not arguing against the value of the Old Latin witnesses.  He was simply mangling the paper from Bonifatius Fischer (1915-1997) and essentially "mixing metaphors".  ie. The argument is simply that Old Latin evidences should be viewed through text-line glasses, that it is worthless to try to view them through individual components, since those components are hard to evaluate.  (Personally, I believe this thesis is simply wrong, but that is not the point of the correction, I want to properly represent the Petzer position.).

        Three sources that can show that Petzer actually was not arguing for the "worthless" view of the Old Latin :

        =======================

        1) The Latin Version of the New Testament - Jacobus Petzer (info above)

        the history of the Latin version of the NT in broad terms. .... language and vocabulary of these revisions. ... detect a similar movement away from the Western Vorlage of the African text. It is in this aspect that one can judge the value of this version for the reconstruction of the history of the Greek text. (p. 124)
         
        it is not so much the individual Latin witnesses that are important for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, but rather the text-types, because they represent a revision on the basis of (a) Greek MS(S)..... individual fathers and scribes .. this contact was in passing and inconsistent makes it worthless for reconstructing the history of the Greek text, as it cannot really be evaluated.

        =======================

        2) Eclecticism and the Text of the New Testament - Jacobus Petzer

        A South African Perspective on the New Testament: Essays by South African New Testament Scholars Presented to Bruce Manning Metzger During His Visit to South Africa In 1985
        Eclecticism and the Text of the NT p. 47-61.
        http://books.google.com/books?id=0KHl60Ygr4kC&pg=PA47


        The analysis of the internal evidence of Luke 23:34 makes the high value of the Latin evidences to Petzer very clear.

        Luke 23:34
        Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them;
        for they know not what they do.
        And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

        And you have quotes from Petzer like the following three. The second includes Irenaeus and the versional Diatessaron. The third is discussing the third century evidences for inclusion, from the text-line perspective..
         
        "It (the omission reading) appears in some early Western witnesses, notably the early Latin witnesses a and d (both belonging to the European text of the Vetus Latina)" ( p. 55)

        "The material evidence in favour of the long reading is, as has been said, earlier than that of the short reading and reaches into the second century." (p. 55)

        "the Latin manuscripts c and e, which represent the earlier African form of the Vetus Latina"  (p. 56)

        =======================

        3)  "Limitations of Latin in representing Greek"  - Bonatifius Fischer

        The early versions of the New Testament: their origin, transmission, and limitations (1977) p, 362-374, translated from "Das Neue Testament in lateinischer Sprache" p. 80-92 (1972)

        On the other hand, a Latin text-type cannot be ignored if only a single witness happens to be extant, (p. 362)


        The Latin is thus a witness for a second-century Greek text only if we can make contact with the original translation. The Old Latin testimony has a different weight in a Greek apparatus, one which wholly depends upon the nature of its text and which cannot be gathered simply from its individual witnesses. (p. 363)

        =======================

        The difficult wordings in one paragraph Petzer that made it easy to misunderstand his position ... 
        "worthless" or the "Latin version ...  much too late" are not at all in this Fischer paper. What Petzer was trying to do was diss the traditional way of looking at individual evidences, in favor of the text-line method. And I doubt that such wording is in the other Bonifatius Fischer paper either, "Das Neue Testament in lateinischer Sprache,"  However, one of our German-speaking experts would have to give the final answer on that.

        SUMMARY
        While I do believe this Jacobus Petzer article has major conceptual problems, one problem from Petzer was only some very sloppy writing. The idea that Petzer overall devalues Latin evidences to worthlessness (for autographic studies) is simply not the case, even though it could be the conclusion of a partial and superficial reading, focusing on one paragraph, looking at twigs and branches, rather than forests.  While I acknowledge that I probably should have gotten this element pinned down before the April posting, better late than never. For the sake of properly representing Petzer, I believe his position properly gets pinned down in this post.

        In a sense Petzer and Fischer will end up giving high value to the Latin evidences, more than might be common today. If they are consistent in practical analysis to these writings, and move out from under the Horitian Fog.  Since they consider many of the Old Latin evidences to be pointers to a 2nd or 3rd century Greek text. The result should, consistently applied, be quite similar to that of John William Burgon given above. 

        As an example for inquiry, it would be interesting to see how they would discuss the Irenaeus and Cyprian and Pontius the Deacon and Old Latin mss evidences to Acts 8:37, whether they give them substantive weight.  At least to the point of solid consideration of autographic originality.

        =======================

        One final comment.  Another paper from Petzer:

        Text and Interpretation: New Approaches in the Criticism of the New Testament - edited by Bart Ehrman (1991)
        Eclecticism and the Text of the NT - p. 47 -
        Jacobus Petzer
        http://books.google.com/books?id=0KHl60Ygr4kC&pg=PA47

        makes some critically important textual points in looking at the current status of the textual field.

        =======================

        Thanks for your consideration. Your thoughts welcome.

        Shalom,
        Steven Avery
        Bayside, NY

        http://purebible.blogspot.com/
        http://www.purebibleforum.com/

         
      • Wieland Willker
        My view is, similar to Aland, that the Latin version is very valuable if it supports existing readings in Greek. It is normally highly suspect though, if no
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 28, 2012
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          My view is, similar to Aland, that the Latin version is very valuable if it
          supports existing readings in Greek. It is normally highly suspect though,
          if no Greek evidence is found for a Latin reading. Exceptions possible of
          course.

          > John William Burgon:
          > From this it will appear that if the only witnesses
          > producible for a certain reading were the Old Latin
          > Versions and the Syriac Version on the one hand, - Codd.
          > B-Aleph on the other, - the united testimony of the first
          > two would very largely overbalance the combined
          > testimony of the last.

          This was a common view in those days. Also Hort, Nestle et al. thought so, iirc.
          On the other hand, it is a rule in textual criticism that one should resort to a reading supported only by versional evidence only if *extreme* difficulties exist with all Greek readings (cp. 2Pe 3:10 in the ECM). Some think that even in these cases it should not be allowed.

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

          Please check out the TC forum:
          http://tcg.iphpbb3.com
        • Jake
          How would you weight the Syriac versions compared to the Latin? (Kinda wondering whether to tackle Aramaic or Syriac next...) TIA, Jake
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 28, 2012
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            How would you weight the Syriac versions compared to the Latin? (Kinda
            wondering whether to tackle Aramaic or Syriac next...)

            TIA,

            Jake
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