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[textualcriticism] Jacob Petzer, Carlos Martini and the Hortian neutral text

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  • Steven Avery
    Hi Folks, In 1978, Carlo Maria Martini (1927-2012) wrote an article. Is there a late-Alexandrian text of the Gospels? NTS 24 (1978) 285-296 Carlo Martini
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 17, 2012
      Hi Folks,

      In 1978, Carlo Maria Martini (1927-2012) wrote an article.

      Is there a late-Alexandrian text of the Gospels? NTS 24 (1978) 285-296
      Carlo Martini

      Jacobus Hendrik Petzer compliments this article some, and references it in discussing the amazing "neutral text" of Hort.

      Emphasis added.

      New Testament Textual Criticism, Exegesis, and Early Church History: A Discussion of Methods (1994)
      The History of the New Testament Text - Its Reconstruction, Significance and use in New Testament Textual Criticism- p. 11-36
      Jacob Petzer
      These text-types have various names ... the Alexandrian text as the Original text, the Neutral text or the proto-Atexandrian text.  (p. 15) Because of the many names used for this text, such as proto-Alexandrian, Alexandrian, Egyptian, Neutral, it is firstly necessary to say what exactly we refer to when speaking of the Alexandrian text. For the sake of this article the Alexandrian text is the same as Westcott and Hort's Neutral text, Metzger and other's proto-AIexandrian text and the Munster theory's original or Strict text. (p. 25)

      Already there are problems. We have the same common error of misrepresenting Hort, now from Petzer. The Neutral text of Hort was essentially his perfect text, and thus includes, in the Hortian economy, at least one major non-Alexandrian element, the western non-interpolations (so-called).  And this simply is not the same as the other Alexandrian texts referenced by Petzer as "the same".  Petzger is simply wrong to claim that Hort's Neutral Text == the Alexandrian Text.  More on this below.

      Back in 2011 on this forum I showed some of the problems and tricks and traps in the Hortian fabrication of the "neutral text".

      [textualcriticism] Fenton Hort, western non-interpolations, the pure (true) text and the neutral text 
      Steven Avery - March 13, 2011
      HORT - Neutral Text == True text

      And I showed there that Hort had been severely misrepresented and/or misunderstood, even by his own supporters.
      Now returning to Jacobus Petzer

      Jacob Petzer
      Although acknowledging that all of these terms refer to texts with different positions and features in the theories where-in they are used - as was so dearly explained by Carlo Martini with regard to Westcott and Hort's Neutral text, see CM. Martini, Is there a late-Alexandrian text of the Gospels? NTS 24 (1978) 285-296 - the fact that all of these texts work with the same manuscripts (basically P75, Aleph, B and the Sahidic version), means that these texts can be referred to with one single name from the point of view of their constituent parts. (p. 25).

      This is a bit more sensible, by trying to generalize. However it has the same problem. P75, Aleph, B and the Sahidic versions do not support the "Western non-interpolations" and those are a major element of the Neutral Text of Hort.

      Understanding that Petzer has the neutral text basics upside down, I do wonder about the Carlos Martini article, referenced above:

      Is there a late-Alexandrian text of the Gospels? NTS 24 (1978) 285-296
      Carlo Martini

      Gerald J. Donker discusses this nicely:

      The Text of the Apostolos in Athanasius of Alexandria - (2011)
      Gerald J. Donker
      As Martini points out, however, the term 'Neutral' as intended by Hort does not refer to another text type as distinct from the Alexandrian and also present in Egypt (or elsewhere for that matter) nor is it to be associated with certain manuscripts since its primary characteristic is not positive but negative.
      7 That is to say the term "Neutral" applies to those variants which cannot be characterized either [emphasis his] as Syrian or as Alexandrian or as Western." Rather the 'Neutral' text represents a relatively pure line of descent from the original but since it is not a text type in its own right 'Neutral' readings can be found in any of the other text types though they are found predominantly in old Alexandrian manuscripts.

      7. Martini, "Late Alexandrian Text," 288. Nevertheless Wcstcolt and Hart did consider the 'Neutral' text to be best represented in the two great codices. B and Aleph. See Westcott and Hort. New Testament, 210ff.

      Clearly, Martini tried in some respects to avoid the earlier mangling and errors and blunders of Schaaf, Warfield, Lake, Metzger, etc. on this neutral text Hortian mine-field. Donker is a bit uneasy with one aspect from Martini, and points out this section from Hort: (that has its own strangeness, but totally contradicts the Martini idea that the neutral text is not to be "associated with certain manuscripts")

      The New Testament in the original Greek, the text revised by B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort (1881)

      Hort, contra Martini, does associate the neutral text very strongly with Vaticanus, and secondarily, to Sinaiticus. In addition, there is another problem. Hort simply make the neutral text the original autographic text-line. 

      Here we have an awkward attempt to credit the acclaimed Vaticanus and Alexandrian purity while also explaining all the errors Hort sees in the Alexandrian interpolations (Western non-interpolations):

      .. the text which became fixed at Alexandria, and in due time was partially adulterated by Alexandrian corruptions, was an offshoot from the text which we have called the neutral text, and which had parted company from the earliest special ancestry of the Western text at a yet earlier date;  (p. 176)

      Note that this is in a section on western non-interpolations.
      Other examples of manuscript<--->neutral association, contra Martini, are:

      "B very far exceeds all other documents in neutrality of text...  being in fact always or nearly always neutral, with the exception of the Western element already mentioned (ยง 204) as virtually confined to the Pauline Epistles." (p. 171)

      "the preservation of a neutral text, in approximate integrity in B" (p. 185)
      There are even times when Hort painfully tries to position the Vaticanus text, with neutral readings, as very independent of Alexandrian.
      Here is an example:

      ... we have not been able to recognise as Alexandrian any readings of B in any book of the New Testament which it contains; so that, with the exceptions
      already noticed, to the best of our belief neither of the early streams of innovation has touched it to any appreciable extent. This peculiar character is exhibited to
      the eye in the documentary evidence of those variations in which both a Western and an Alexandrian corruption is present, and one of these corruptions is adopted in the Syrian text, B being then conspicuous in the usually slender array supporting the reading from which both have diverged.  

      Note, it is not the Hort style to try to make anything clear by actually giving examples.  Presumably Hort is simply making an effort here to defend readings from Vaticanus that are singular, or close to singular.  (That may not have the normal limited support like Sinaiticus, Origen and Clement, and a sampling of uncials and cursives).  When a type of Vaticanus veneration takes hold, Hortianism will defend those readings with the most turgid prose. If anybody has another way of looking at the paragraph above (Vaticanus close-to singulars, orphans and lightly-attested readings) share away. 

      Returning to Martini. It would be nice to read his article, that will probably take a university visit where they have Cambridge Journals Online. His general exposition,  that the neutral text is more a term for the pure original readings rather than a textline, is generally sensible. And does help unravel a century of error by Schaff, Lake, Metzger et al.  Schaff even had a graph of transmission of the text-line. Metzger blundered placing the western-non-interpolations as outside the neutral text, totally reversing the Hortian economy, as explained in the previous post.

      Petzger accepts this proper general tweaking of Martini.  However Petzger then turns around and mangles the issue again, by referring to the neutral text as the Alexandrian text, which is simply contra Hort.

      Overall, putting aside the difficulty with the phrase about associating manuscripts, Martini may be the only writer to date in the textual community who read, understood and explained the Hortian usage of neutral text properly.  I would like to know if his article clearly points out that the western non-interpolations are in fact in Hort's neutral text.  And I also wonder if Martini gives a section of examples where the Neutral-Vaticanus text differs from the Alexandrian.

      Your thoughts welcome.

      Steven Avery
      Bayside, NY
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