Evangelical Textual Criticism

Friday, May 22, 2015

Poll: What’s the Goal of Textual Criticism?

“Original text”?
Not long ago I read the entry on New Testament textual criticism in a very good dictionary that claimed that the goal of textual criticism has shifted so that today the quest for the “original text” has been displaced by a quest for the “initial text.” The article left the impression that this was now a settled matter.

When I read this it struck me as an exaggeration. True, the most widely-used edition (Nestle-Aland) has shifted its stated aim to the initial text, but have any other editions or editors shifted with it? I wondered.

So I asked several editors who have edited or are editing a Greek New Testament (all reasoned eclectics for what it’s worth) and the answer back was basically no. They’ve aimed their editions at the earliest attainable text, a text which they thought was substantially identical to the original (no scare quotes).

But I’m curious what readers of the blog think. Hence the poll: What is your preferred term for the goal of textual criticism? Vote below and then define (and defend) your preferred term in the comments. We’ll see if there’s any substantial shift afoot among the blog readers. (Note: the question is not whether you think such a goal is always attainable.)

What is the goal of textual criticism?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why Peter Williams Does Not Believe in the Septuagint

If you hang around Peter Williams long enough you will learn not to speak of the Septuagint unless you want a short lesson on the history of the translation of the Old Testament into Greek. In a recent lecture, Peter gave his reasons why he doesn’t believe in the Septuagint and why you shouldn’t either. You can watch the video on YouTube.

New article: Evans on Books, Autographs and NT Textual Criticism

1 comment:
Craig A. Evans, ‘How Long Were Late Antique Books in Use? Possible Implications for New Testament Textual Criticism’ Bulletin of Biblical Research 25 (2015), 23-37.
Abstract: Recent study of libraries and book collections from late antiquity has shown that literary works were read, studied, annotated, corrected, and copied for two or more centuries before being retired or discarded. Given that there is no evidence that early Christian scribal practices differed from pagan practices, we may rightly ask whether early Christian writings, such as the autographs and first copies of the books that eventually would be recognized as canonical Scripture, also remained in use for 100 years or more. The evidence suggests that this was in fact the case. This sort of longevity could mean that at the time our extant Greek NT papyri were written in the late second and early to mid-third centuries, some of the autographs and first copies were still in circulation and in a position to influence the form of the Greek text.
This is a very interesting article which raises some good questions. Essentially, basing himself on the work of Houston on Roman Libraries, Evans thinks that normal papyrus bookrolls in antiquity would have been in use for a long time (an average of 150 years, p. 26). This suggests to Evans that the NT autographs would probably have survived several hundred years (this he takes to be supported by Tertullian’s knowledge of autographs of Paul’s letters kept in the churches to which they were written). The implication for NT textual criticism is that ‘the longevity of these manuscripts [i.e. the autographs] in effect form a bridge linking the first-century autographs and first copies to the great codices, via the early papyrus copies that we possess.’ (p. 35) I’m not convinced by any of the steps in this argument, but it may be helpful to have a conversation about this in the coming days.

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Article: Batovici on Hermas in Sinaiticus

1 comment:
Dan Batovici, ‘Textual Revisions of the Shepherd of Hermas in Codex Sinaiticus’ ZAC 18 (2014), 443-470. [academia.edu]
Abstract: The last two books in what has survived of the fourth century biblical manuscript Codex Sinaiticus are the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. This article is an investigation of the correctors’ treatment of the text of the Shepherd of Hermas in this codex, and advances our knowledge at various points of both Codex Sinaiticus and its textual revisions of the Shepherd of Hermas. Furthermore, it attempts to assess the relevance of the corrections for the reception history of the Shepherd of Hermas.
This is an interesting article, taking account of the two (fragmentary) leaves of Hermas among the New Finds, and investigating the four strata of corrections to the text of Hermas in Sinaiticus (S1, ca & cc, d, corr). Well done Dan!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Historic Editions of the Greek New Testament online

Over on Facebook it was observed that Brill was offering a collection of historic editions of the New Testament for sale.
The Critical Editions of the New Testament Online
The Greek Text, Versions, and Transcriptions of Manuscripts
This series, earlier published in a microfiche collection by IDC Publishers, makes available for the first time in a single online collection the principal critical editions, lists of variant readings and collections of manuscript transcriptions and collations from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century. In addition, a number of the most useful editions of the ancient versions and of ancillary materials have been included. It begins with the first large collection, compiled by John Mill and published in 1707, and ends with von Soden’s huge work of 1902-13.
The most surprising thing was the price:

As Brill notes, this was previously published (before Brill’s acquisition of IDC Publishers) in a microfiche collection - contained in 853 fiche (Brill uses the same brochure):
But most of them are available for free somewhere on the internet, so I thought it would be helpful to see how many links we could collect here (with help from commenters): (I’ll start with abbreviated titles):

Greek New Testament

Erasmus (1516) (on later editions see Krans): Basel (e-rara): images & pdf; cspmt (pdf); images CSNTM

Complutensian Polyglot (vol five = NT) (1520?): cspmt (pdf)

Aldine (1518): cspmt (pdf)

Colines (1534): cspmt (pdf)

Stephanus (1550): cspmt (pdf); images CSNTM; Bibles online (nice images but fiddly orientation)

Beza: for links to the different editions (and other works of Beza) go here (Jan Krans).
Beza (1588): good individual images at CSNTM
Beza (1598): cspmt (pdf)

Elzevir (1624): cspmt (pdf)

Elzevir (1633): cspmt (pdf)

Mill (1707) good individual images at CSNTM
Mill (rev. by Kuster) (1710) [Google Books] (BSB images & pdf) (SLUB: nice images and pdf) [HT Jan Krans]
Mill (2nd ed. Kuster) (1723) Google Books (BSB images & pdf)

J. A. Bengel (1734) at archive.org (google books) (NB. 1763 Apparatus criticus also at archive.org)

J.J. Wettstein, Prolegomena In Novum Testamentum: Cum Quibusdam Characterum Graecorum Et Latinorum In Libris Manuscriptis Exemplis (1730) [pdf at archive.org] (1764 rev by Semler at Google Books [images & pdf @ mdz])

J.J. Wettstein (1751-2), vol one (1751) at Marburg: images & pdf; vol two (1752) at Marburg: images & pdf [HT Jan Krans]; vol one at archive.org; vols 1(?) & 2 at Stanford/Google Books; hathitrust

J.J. Griesbach, Synopsis Evangeliorum Matthaei, Marci et Lucae. Textum Graecum ad fidem codicum versionum et patrum emendavit et lectionis varietatem adiecit Io. Iac. Griesbach (Halle: Io. Iac. Curt., 1776)  (Synopsis = NT vol 1) [Google Books]
J.J. Griesbach,  Libri historici novi testamenti graece: Epistolas Omnes Et Apocalypsin complectens. Novum Testamentum Graece Volumen II (Halle: Curt, 1775) [GB]
J.J. Greisbach, Novum Testamentum Graece. Textum ad fidem codicum versionum et patrum emendavit et lectionis varietatem adiecit Io. Iac. Griesbach (Halle: Io. Iac. Curt., 1777): vol 1 Evangelia et Acta Apostolorum (= Gospels & Acts) [Google Books]

J.J. Griesbach, Symbolae Criticae ad supplendas et corrigendas variarum N.T. lectionum collectiones (Halle) vol. 1 (1785) [Google Books]; vol. 2 (1793) [Google Books]

J.J. Griesbach, Novum Testamentum Graece. Textum ad fidem codicum versionum et patrum recensuit et lectionis varietatem adiecit D. Io. Iac. Griesbach (Halle: Io. Iac. Curt. & London: P. Elmsly, 1796, 2nd edition): vol 1 Evangelia (Google Books); vol. 2: Acta et Epistolas Apostolorum cum Apocalypsi (Halle: Io. Iac. Curtii Haeredes & Londno: Payne & MacKinlay, 1806, 2nd edition) (Google Books) (BSB images & pdf)
Griesbach, Synopsis (1797, 2nd ed.) [Google Books]
J.J. Griesbach, Commentarius Criticus in Textum Graecum Novi Testamenti (Halle) vol. 1 (1798) & vol. 2 (1811) [bound together] [Google Books]
J.J. Griesbach, Synopsis evangeliorum Matthaei, Marci et Lucae una cum lis Joannis pericopis quae omnino cum caeterorum evangelistarum narrationibus conferendae sunt / textum recensuit et selectam lectionis varletatem adjecit D. Jo. Jac. Griesbach. (Halle: Libraria Curtiana, 1809, third edition). [hathitrust]

(Griesbach NT vol 1, 1809 at archive.org; vol. 2, 1809)
(Griesbach NT vol 1, 1818 and vol 2, 1818)
J.J. Griesbach, Synopsis evangeliorum Matthaei Marci et Lucae: una com iis Joannis pericopis quae omnino cum ... (Halle: Officina Libraria Curtiana, 1822, fourth edition). [archive.org]
J.J. Griesbach,  Novum Testamentum Graece. Textum ad fidem codicum versionum et patrum recensuit et lectionis varietatem adiecit D. Io. Iac. Griesbach (rev. D. Schulz; Berlin: F. Laue, 1827, 3rd edition): vol 1 IV Evangelia  [Google Books] [second volume never published]

Harwood, The New Testament (1776) [GB]
Matthaei (1782-1788) vol. 11: Matthew (1788); vol. 12: Mark (1788); vol 10: John (1786); vol. 1: Acts (1782); vol 5: Catholic Epistles (1782); vol. 3: 1&2 Corinthians (1783); vol. 6: Gal, Eph & Phil (1784); vol. 4: Hebrews & Col (1784); vol. 7: 1&2 Thess and Timothy);  vol.8: Apocalypse (1785).
Matthaei, Novum Testamentum Graece (vol. 1, 1803 [Google Books]; vol. 2, 1804 & vol. 3, 1087 [Google Books]) 

F.C. Alter, Novum Testamentum ad codicem vindobonensem graece expressum (Vienna)
vol. 1 (1787) [Google Books]; vol. 2 (1786) [Google Books] [HT Jan Krans]

K. Lachmann, Novum Testamentum Graece (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1831) [archive.org/Google Books]
Lachmann-Buttmann (vol. 1, 1842 [Google Books]; vol. 2, 1850 [Google Books]) (hathitrust)
Tregelles (1857) good individual images at CSNTM     Tyndale House
Tischendorf (NTG, vol. 1, 1869 [Google Books]; vol. 2, 1872 [Google Books]; Prolegomena (C.R. Gregory, 1890) [Google Books])
Westcott & Hort (1881) text [GB]; Intro [GB]
von Soden (1902-13) good individual images of four volumes at CSNTM: one, two, three, four. Also pdfs at cspmt (vol one, two)

Nestle 1899 2nd edition (pdf)


(list of other catalogues) (BL: early printed Bibles)
Darlow & Moule, Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture (London: BFBS, 1903-1911) (hathitrust)
E. Reuss, History of the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament
E. Reuss, Bibliotheca Novi Testamenti Graeci (1872)
M.Vincent, A History of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament

Major Sites:

E-rara (rare books in Swiss Libraries)

Database of Digitized Greek Manuscripts

No comments:
David Jenkins (Librarian for Classics, Hellenic Studies and Linguistics at Princeton University.) has an excellent database of digital images of Greek manuscripts: Digitized Greek Manuscripts. Currrently this lists 3360 Greek manuscripts which can be searched by date (century) and subject etc. An excellent resource, although could probably do with some more options in terms of Biblical manuscripts (currently though you can search for “Bible”, “Old Testament”, “Gospel Lectionary”, “Synaxarion” etc.).