Equitable Eclecticism by James Snapp Jr. (part 1)

 

EQUITABLE ECLECTICISM

The Future of New Testament Textual Criticism

___________________________________________________________________

Part one of a five part series. See the entire series here.

 

The Danger of Circular Analysis

The textual criticism of the Gospels is a scientific task which has two goals.  The primary goal is the reconstruction of the text of each Gospel in its original form, that is, the form in which it was initially received by the church.  The secondary goal is the reconstruction of the transmission-history of the text.  In order to apply Hort’s axiom, “Knowledge of documents should precede final judgment upon readings,” these two goals should be pursued simultaneously.  The consideration of individual variant-units should never be completely detached from the question of the relative values, or weights, of the witnesses, or from the question of how groups of variants became characteristic readings of text-types.  Accurate text-critical judgments will assist in the estimation of the relative values of witnesses, and in the reconstruction of the text’s transmission-history.  Likewise, accurate assignments of relative value to the witnesses, combined with accurate reconstructions of the text’s transmission-history, will assist specific text-critical decisions.

However, the textual critic who proceeds on such grounds must vigilantly avoid circularity.  After observing, on analytical grounds, that certain witnesses seem to consistently contain the best readings, a textual critic might be tempted, from that point onward, to abandon the initial approach which led to that premise, and proceed to use the premise itself to justify a tendency to adopt the readings of those witnesses.  Similarly, a textual critic who notices that a group of witnesses tends to contain the worst readings might be tempted to reject the remainder of the testimony of that group of witnesses.  If a textual critic proceeds to build on both such premises, the premises will virtually determine the results of the rest of the analysis.

Competing Models of Transmission-History

The model of transmission-history adopted by a textual critic has a strong effect upon the values which a textual critic assigns to the testimony of groups, and therefore also upon the final evaluation of variants.  In this respect, the approach which I advocate – Equitable Eclecticism – resembles the approach used by Hort.  However, Equitable Eclecticism yields an archetype which is significantly different from the Revised Text produced by Westcott & Hort, and from the modern descendants of the Revised Text, chiefly the text of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.  This is because research and discoveries subsequent to Westcott & Hort have required the adoption of a transmission-model significantly different from the one used by Hort.

Hort, building on foundational premises developed by previous investigators, reasoned that the Byzantine Text was essentially the result of a recension consisting of variants drawn from MSS with Alexandrian or Western readings; Byzantine variants were derived from the Alexandrian Text, or the Western Text, or both, or, in some cases, came into being during the recension.  Hort therefore rejected all distinctive Byzantine variants.  After the dismissal of the Western Text as the result of scribal creativity, embellishment, and a general lack of discipline (with the exception of a smattering of readings), the Alexandrian Text remained as the only text-type which could possibly be regarded as the depository of the original text of the Gospels.

Hort’s endorsement of the Alexandrian Text was not absolute, but it was so strong that he openly stated that variants shared by the Alexandrian Text’s two flagship codices (B and ?) “should be accepted as the true readings until strong internal evidence is found to the contrary,” and “No readings of ?B can safely be rejected absolutely,”1 while “All distinctively Syrian” – that is, Byzantine – “readings must be at once rejected.”2

Such exceptional favor given to the Alexandrian Text, and such categorical rejection of Byzantine readings, were natural implications of Hort’s model of transmission-history in which the Western Text was derived from the Alexandrian Text, and the Byzantine Text was derived from both the Alexandrian Text and the Western Text.

However, Hort acknowledged that such a clear-cut genealogical model would be out of place if a transmission-model persistently involved readings which all had some clearly ancient attestation.3 This very thing was subsequently proposed by textual critics in the 1900’s.  Eminent scholars such as E. C. Colwell, G. D. Kilpatrick, and Kurt and Barbara Aland maintained, respectively, that “The overwhelming majority of readings,” “almost all variants,” and “practically all the substantive variants in the text of the New Testament” existed before the year 200.4 Nevertheless the Hortian text has not been overthrown.  Only slightly changed, it has become entrenched in NA-27 and UBS-4 as the primary, and nearly exclusive, Greek New Testament used in seminaries.

With the discovery and publication of Egyptian New Testament papyri in the 1900’s – beginning with Grenfell and Hunt’s work at Oxyrhynchus, and continuing to the present day – Hort’s  claim that the Alexandrian readings have a demonstrably greater antiquity than their rivals has eroded.  Harry A. Sturz collected and categorized dozens of distinctive Byzantine variants which were supported by at least one early papyri.5 Sturz’s data does not vindicate the entire Byzantine Text (and we should not necessarily expect papyri found in one locale to attest to readings in a text from other locales), but he persuasively demonstrated that Hort’s main reason for rejecting distinctive Byzantine readings was unsound.  According to Hort’s transmission-model, none of the early distinctive Byzantine readings listed by Sturz should exist.  The fact that they obviously did exist, even in papyri found in Egypt, demonstrated that the Byzantine Text may, at any given point, attest to an ancient distinctive reading.

~continued in part 2
_______________
Footnotes:
1Introduction, p. 225, § 303. Although Hort used the terms “Neutral” and “Syrian” I have adopted the normal, less tinted nomenclature.
2Introduction, p. 119, § 169.
3Introduction, p. 286, § 373.
4 – As cited by James Ronald Royse in Scribal Habits in Early Papyri, p. 20, from Colwell’s Method in Establishing the Nature of Text-Types, p. 55, and Kilpatrick’s The Bodmer and Mississippi Collection, p. 42, and Aland & Aland’s The Text of the New Testament, p. 295.
5 – See the lists in Sturz’s 1984 book The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism.

Author:
James Snapp, Jr. preaches and ministers at Curtisville Christian Church in central Indiana. The church’s website includes an introduction to textual criticism and links to other resources, including a detailed defense of Mark 16:9-20. A graduate of Cincinnati Christian University (B.A., 1990), where his professors included Lewis Foster, Tom Friskney, and Reuben Bullard, James has studied New Testament textual criticism for over 20 years.

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17 thoughts on “Equitable Eclecticism by James Snapp Jr. (part 1)

  1. Bob Hayton October 19, 2010 / 9:56 am

    My thanks go out to our frequent commenter, James Snapp Jr., for putting down some thoughts on his approach to textual criticism for our audience. I plan on posting this in five parts over the next several days, finishing next week.

  2. Nazaroo October 19, 2010 / 1:21 pm

    Dear James:

    Notes on Paragraph 1:

    TC should indeed be a scientific endeavor. Currently this has not been demonstrated. Instead, what we have seen, is an endless loop of subjective and biased behaviors, motivated by agendas that are plainly not scientific at all.

    You distinguish two goals, reconstruction of the text, and reconstruction of the history of transmission.

    But we see that these two issues are currently confused, both separately and together.

    (1) Reconstruction of “the text”, when “the text” (i.e., the goal) has not been unambiguously defined. If you check for instance, Stephen Carlson’s latest blog post, he raises just this issue:

    “Often, in other [non-Biblical] fields of textual criticism, it is supposed that what the text critic ought to be interested in is the last authorial version of a text. But if this is the case, we should acknowledge that our usual [NT TC] canons for selecting readings may not work.” – Carlson.
    http://hypotyposeis.org/weblog/

    What Carlson means is clear. You have to know which text you are pursuing before you can find it. IN NT studies, people are pursuing all kinds of texts, but not even acknowledging, perhaps even knowing what texts they are pursuing, and what texts their methods result in.

    Transmission-history is indeed secondary. It can only be a case of the text being essentially preserved (no loss) or corrupted (loss of text and meaning). But in *either* case the transmission history is boring and irrelevant on its own. If the text has been preserved, who cares? And if the text has been corrupted, who cares? In that case, we really don’t want it.

    The only reason to study transmission-history is to try to get past it to the original text. And by original text, we had better mean something like what Carlson mentions, the *latest edition of the author*. We don’t want Mark’s rough notes, or John’s sources, or Matthew’s committee meeting minutes. We want the finished texts as their authors intended them and as they issued them.

    The single most important observation about transmission-history is that it is not a history of the text, but what happened to it AFTER it left the hands of its authors. As such, its irrelevant to any questions or issues of authenticity, because on the one hand, if anything could have happened to the text (no Providential Preservation), then it cannot tell us anything about the authenticity of a passage. On the other hand, if the text *was* Providentially preserved, then again, the transmission-history has nothing to say.

    But today’s critics can’t seem to distinguish anything at all in a logical, rational framework, let alone tell transmission-history from autograph.

    You mention “text-types” in the first paragraph. But no one has yet shown why Scholz’ single “text-type” theory isn’t the best we’ve got right now. That is, there is really only one clearly distinguishable and concrete “text-type”, the Traditional Text. The other loose groups of readings shared by a handful of self-contradictory MSS clusters hardly qualify as a “text-type”, unless we drastically euphemize, qualify, and nebulize the idea. Cardinal Martin’s discussion of the supposed “Alexandrian” T-T is a great start on this foolish subject:
    http://adultera.awardspace.com/AA/Martini-Alexandrian.html

    Most remarkable is your mention of “relative values, or weights, of the witnesses”. I think here you are acknowledging the difficulty and also necessity of some kind of universal scale with quantitative and deterministic measure. I’ll comment on that mathematical question in another post.

    peace
    Nazaroo

  3. James Snapp, Jr. October 19, 2010 / 10:43 pm

    Dear Nazaroo:

    Regarding the question of the definition of “original text” raised by Carlson at Hypotyposeis (where you can read some of my interaction in the recent comments there), Carlson is just pursuing a point raised earlier by D. C. Parker. And the solution is simple: “original text” should be defined as the text which existed when a composition’s production-stage ended and its transmission-stage began. And in the case of the NT, the composition in question = each individual NT book.

    A sub-issue is raised when, instead of defining the composition as an individual book, we define it as a collection of books – such as the Four Gospels, or the Epistles of Paul – thus extending the production-stage so that the producers include not only the initial author and, if any, editor, but also the subsequent collectors who contributed to the formation of the collections. (Something like what is assumed for some OT books, such as Psalms and Proverbs.) Because of the high probability that the copies used by the collectors varied from the autograph, the unavoidable consequence of defining “original text” in this way is that the later re-issued text effectively becomes the thing to be reconstructed, instead of the autographs of the earlier individual books.

    You wrote, “The only reason to study transmission-history is to try to get past it to the original text. And by original text, we had better mean something like what Carlson mentions, the *latest edition of the author*.”

    I disagree with both statements. Another reason to study transmission-history is to track historical data and measure whatever effects external factors had upon the text and its distribution. And I think Carlson will eventually see the need to adjust his definition to include the contributions of not just a book’s primary author but everyone involved in the production of the autograph. For example, there is a pretty good chance that II Cor. is a composite of two epistles; adopting that theory (let’s say, for the sake of the argument), the autograph of II Cor. is not two epistles; the autograph is the document that contained the single text that existed when the production-stage of II Cor. – the producers of which included someone other than Paul – ended and its transmission-stage began. The two earlier epistles are source-documents, not the autograph.

    N: “If anything could have happened to the text (no Providential Preservation), then it cannot tell us anything about the authenticity of a passage. On the other hand, if the text *was* Providentially preserved, then again, the transmission-history has nothing to say.”

    Is that really what you meant to write?? Obviously things have happened to the text, and obviously the best way to try to find out what happened is to study the evidence at hand. Your first sentence seems tantamount to saying that the study of the transmission of rival variants can’t tell us anything about them! As for the second sentence, however could a claim of providential preservation be scientifically verified or refuted, if not by studying the evidence and tracking the transmission-history of individual variants?

    N: “There is really only one clearly distinguishable and concrete “text-type”, the Traditional Text. The other loose groups of readings shared by a handful of self-contradictory MSS clusters hardly qualify as a “text-type”, unless we drastically euphemize, qualify, and nebulize the idea.”

    No; first of all, the Byzantine Text has its share of sub-sets. Second, it’s arbitrary to use Byz as the standard by which the integrity of the other text-types is measured. Mixture has diluted the testimony of most representatives of the other text-types, but account for that mixture, and the picture becomes clearer. (Suppose we had four or five different colors of sand, and for each color of sand there was a different grain-size. Would it make sense, after a filter had separated out the largest grains in a single-colored pile, to conclude that there is no relationship between grain-size and color in the rest of the sand? Or should we try a finer filter?)

    N: “Cardinal Martin’s discussion of the supposed “Alexandrian” T-T is a great start on this foolish subject.”

    I don’t see the connection between what Martini wrote and anything you’ve said here. Martini was not denying the existence of text-types; he was denying that the early Alexandrian Text (attested by B P75 Sah) is the result of the “Alexandrian recension” posited by some earlier scholars to have occurred in the 3rd-4th centuries, and raised the question of whether there really is a later Alexandrian text or if the “Alexandrian” text as defined by Hort is simply the result of mixture and a smattering of readings which could develop without an “Alexandrian recension” in the equation.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    • Nazaroo October 20, 2010 / 2:05 am

      Dear James:

      You said: ‘…the solution is simple: “original text” should be defined as the text which existed when a composition’s production-stage ended and its transmission-stage began. And in the case of the NT, the composition in question = each individual NT book.’

      I’m having some difficulty making the distinction, not between the two “editions” of Stephen’s clause, but between production-stage and transmission-stage.

      If Paul originally issued his epistles/letters separately at different times, it would seem that this marks the transmission stage. They are in the public domain in 40-50 A.D.

      Now, perhaps by Paul in prison, or after Paul’s death, many are gathered into a collection and re-issued. This seems to me like a collection of articles re-issued (sometimes with corrections & notes) as a book summing up the state of the art on a subject.

      As I understand it, Stephen Carlson poses that we only have appropriate textual evidence to reconstruct *the later collection*, not the individual letters (all copies of Paul are apparently post-collection). If so, the only TC that *can* be done is to reconstruct the text of the collection, not the autographs. The question of the autographs either remains speculative, or else belongs to a different field, namely source/form/literary criticism.

      Secondly, to what purpose shall our reconstructed text be put? It will naturally be assumed, that people will use it to re-issue updated Bible texts, and this means that TC can only really offer the Christian public a “production-stage” text of the collection, not the letters. There is no real choice at all.

      We are in the same boat with John’s Gospel. The only copies we have are post-chapter-21. That is the only edition we can legitimately reconstruct using TC. For a conjectured earlier edition or even privately circulated community “gospel”, we can only appeal to source/form/literary crit.

      Even if some literary critic were to publish an attempt at reconstruction of an earlier “gospel”, he would have to include the later additions or some sort of footnotes explaining his text. Bingo, we are back to the form found in most continuous MSS, only with brackets and font-sizes added.

      peace
      Nazaroo

    • Nazaroo October 20, 2010 / 2:24 am

      continuing…

      Nazaroo: “If anything could have happened to the text (no Providential Preservation), then it cannot tell us anything about the authenticity of a passage. …”

      James: ‘Is that really what you meant to write?? … Your first sentence seems tantamount to saying that the study of the transmission of rival variants can’t tell us anything about them!’

      Take a second look: I’ve highlighted the key-word here to help make my point clear.

      Let me illustrate again with an analogy:

      A ballerina executes in her performance many essentially flawless and very distinct, specific, deterministic, and well-rehearsed movements.

      Now, a child watching on TV, dances in the livingroom, and makes some rather imprecise, imaginative, but clumsy attempts at mimicking the ballerina, without any training, or even clue what she is doing.

      By pure accident, we may speculate that at some point in time, the child and the ballerina are in exactly the same relative position and extension, and even gesture. At other times, there is little correspondence.

      This can be likened to the remarkable mathematical theorem that if you crumple a piece of paper and place it on top of another, at least one identical point on each paper will be directly located vertically above the other.

      The point is that this copying has no effect whatever on the performance of the ballerina. And if we videotape the child dancing, it can tell us absolutely nothing about the actual performance of the ballerina, in spite of its direct dependence upon it.

      Where the child fails to copy is random, arbitrary, and out of everyone’s hands. And so are the places where the child ‘miraculously’ successfully mimicks the ballerina. Even with both performances available, a detailed comparison between them cannot tell us when the ballerina has performed her own moves flawlessly, and when not.

      The study of the copy is of some interest no doubt to child psychologists, but has no useful bearing on judging the performance of the ballerina.

      And without the videotape of the actual ballerina, the child’s videotape cannot reliably tell us anything at all about the content, perfection, and purity of the ballerina’s performance.

      But the same could be said for a rival, exceptionally good ballerina, copying the first. There will be mistakes, differences, brought about by unfamiliarity, stylistic habits, and limitations in skill of the copyist.

      But these differences tell us more about the copyist than the original ballerina. In fact, the differences themselves, even if we could identify them without a copy of the original performance, tell us nothing about the purity and quality of the original.

      peace
      Nazaroo

      As for the second sentence, however could a claim of providential preservation be scientifically verified or refuted, if not by studying the evidence and tracking the transmission-history of individual variants?

  4. Nazaroo October 20, 2010 / 2:37 am

    continued…

    James: “As for the second sentence, however could a claim of providential preservation be scientifically verified or refuted, if not by studying the evidence and tracking the transmission-history of individual variants?”

    This invokes precisely the circularity which concerned you in your original post:

    the textual critic… must vigilantly avoid circularity.”

    Providential preservation of the NT text cannot be established or refuted by a study of the transmission stream at all.

    It must be inferred by independent means, namely a study of God’s behavior elsewhere, in other matters, using independently verifiable means. From that independent data, we could by induction or deduction infer that the text was providentially preserved.

    Even if one could study providential preservation through a study of the NT documents (something of which I am extremely doubtful as a scientist), it would involve a lot more than mere preservation of the text in a given group of MSS.

    (1) You would have to successfully identify the parties to whom the message was delivered in its purity.

    (2) You would have to verify the message was received (understood).

    (3) You would have to show the message was not subsequently lost.

    These issues involve deep matters of the identification of the “true church”, the people of God. Without this, any talk of Providential preservation would have to take on a different meaning altogether:

    Suppose instead that all mankind were the target of God’s providential preservation of the text. We would now have to show that God provided this text in an easily accessible form to everyone at some point at least in their life, and that they were able to understand and receive the message.

    This also poses some serious difficulties as to scientific verification.

    peace
    Nazaroo

  5. Nazaroo October 20, 2010 / 3:24 am

    Dear James: You objected to Scholz’ theory as follows:

    James: ‘No; first of all, the Byzantine Text has its share of sub-sets. Second, it’s arbitrary to use Byz as the standard by which the integrity of the other text-types is measured. Mixture has diluted the testimony of most representatives of the other text-types, but account for that mixture, and the picture becomes clearer.’

    (1) We must object here to your claim that use of the Byz as a standard is arbitrary:

    a) There clearly IS a difference in quality and integrity between text-types, even if we allow their existance. The Byz is represented by some 5,000 MSS covering a 1,000 year period (say 500-1500 A.D.), and they show a remarkably homogeneous text. How do we know that? by comparison to each other, and other MSS groups, which clearly show less homogeneity among themselves.

    Thus, the Byzantine Text massively over-represented, it is relatively homogeneous, and its text is also relatively self-consistent in content. If finally shows less quantitative damage by homoioteleuton and similar errors than other text-types.

    Its a superiorly executed copying stream, plain and simple. This means the later MSS of the Byz can be trusted to represent essentially the same text that copyists started with at the beginning of the transmission era. Thus we also have homogeneity over time, another important observation. The Byzantine text can be shown to have been essentially providentially preserved over the well-known period of its own execution. 15th century copies have the same text as 8th century copies etc.

    This obvious difference in quality must be acknowledged, whatever its final significance.

    All text-types are not created equal, and no amount of hand-waving or complaining about the ‘arbitraryness’ of using it as a standard can overcome this overwhelming and blatant fact.

    The Alexandrian text-type is hopelessly corrupt on two levels:

    a) Many of its most significant common readings are known to be homoioteleuton blunders.

    b) Where the MSS diverge, they must also be exhibiting absurd and clumsy blunders too.

    The “Caesarean Text-type” is worse:

    a) Its unique readings can hardly be identified, except as a small, loose set of readings that meander in and out of the supposed representative MSS.

    b) Many textual critics doubt its very existance.

    The “Western Text” is also a clumsy partial ghost.

    a) it seems to only have a significant existance in Luke/Acts, if at all. It cannot be defined for the whole NT.

    b) It appears to represent an early Latin recension or group of favourite readings, but critics can’t agree upon the actual set.

    How can any of these (the only known ‘text-types’) be used as an alternate standard to the homogeneous text used by Greek-speakers for some 1,000 years?

    The very premise that the “Greek” text is ‘original’ and has precedence over other languages dictates that the Byzantine Text be chosen as its standard.

    Otherwise, forget the Greek, go with the Latin.

    (2) Identifying Mixture as present in other text-types does nothing to ‘equalize’ them.

    This doesn’t excuse their horrible inconsistency, their manifold blunders, their lack of homogeneity. It can in no wise recommend any one or all of them as an alternate standard for comparison of texts.

    It sounds as if you would not adopt any text at all as a ‘working standard’ or base text, but of course some base-text must be adopted to start with.

    The modern ‘critical text’ adopts the “Alexandrian” text of Westcott/Hort (Aleph/B). This is obviously the wrong standard, and it is difficult to see how adopting the TR or Maj would have resulted in anything worse.

    Adopting no text as a base doesn’t even get us out of the starting gate.

    Your analogy with balls and colors seems to miss the mark on a few key points:

    On the one hand, there is a distinct difference between initial sorting of MSS into “text-types” or groups with similar readings.

    The act of identifying high-probability blunders and removing them from the working-text is an entirely different type of activity, and can’t be simulated with a different sized ‘sieve’ as if these were simply two instances of the same operation.

    I would rather liken the problem, not to sorting different-colored balls, but a mixture of balls and dog-poop. You really want to remove the dog-poop entirely, and not play with it too long.

    “Stoop and Scoop” should be law in TC, just as it is in every major city nowadays.

    peace
    Nazaroo

  6. Nazaroo October 20, 2010 / 3:35 am

    Dear James:

    You stated:
    “I don’t see the connection between what Martini wrote and anything you’ve said here. Martini was not denying the existence of text-types; he was denying that the early Alexandrian Text (attested by B P75 Sah) is the result of the “Alexandrian recension” posited by some earlier scholars to have occurred in the 3rd-4th centuries, and raised the question of whether there really is a later Alexandrian text or if the “Alexandrian” text as defined by Hort is simply the result of mixture and a smattering of readings which could develop without an “Alexandrian recension” in the equation.”

    I can agree with most of what you are saying here. But I think its a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

    While Martini’s notion was to deny an “Alexandrian recension“, the result exposed far more than he probably intended, vis.:

    (1) Textual Critics had no real idea of what they meant by “Alexandrian text”.

    (2) There was no unique “Alexandrian Text” identifiable at any time between 200 and 500 A.D.

    (3) The texts (plural) show that in spite of characteristic readings, a process was occurring in which the “text” randomly bifurcated with virtually every copy made by the Alexandrians.

    (4) The Alexandrians just couldn’t keep their hands off the text, and made a long convoluted mess of it.

    (5) There is no Alexandrian Text-type, if by that we mean an actual deterministic text.

    peace
    Nazaroo

  7. James Snapp, Jr. October 20, 2010 / 11:28 am

    Nazaroo,

    There’s so much to disagree with in your preceding five consecutive comments that I don’t know where to begin. The post that was repeated at Hypotyposeis was coherent. I’m not sure what to make of the rest, such as the whole ballerina-analogy and everything you’ve said about providential preservation, none of which pertains to the intro to Equitable Eclecticism. The sentence “If anything could have happened to the text (no Providential Preservation), then it cannot tell us anything about the authenticity of a passage” still doesn’t make sense to me, whether “authenticity” is highlighted or not.

    I don’t seem to have adequately conveyed my point via the comparison of grains-of-different-sizes-of-sand to text-types. Let me try another illustration:

    In an elementary English class, 18 students are given the assignment of writing a five-page essay, without help from any other students. Ten of them proceed to hand in exactly the same five-page essay, cut-and-pasted from Wikipedia. Five others hand in five-page essays which contain five paragraphs which are exactly the same. And the remaining three students hand in essays in which only five sentences are exactly the same and which occur at approximately the same points in each essay.

    Now, obviously the essays by the final group are not as homogenous as the essays by the first group. Nevertheless the similarities justify the teacher’s suspicion that there is some sort of a relationship behind them — more subtle than what is displayed by the first group, but still there. Similarly, relationships among witnesses (such as witnesses to Alex or f1) cannot be precluded merely on the basis that some other witnesses’ relationships to each other are closer or less complex.

    And Martini is still not saying what you seem to think he was saying. At all. And your claim that “some base-text must be adopted to start with” is simply not true; one starts with the variants; then comes the isolation of variants into groups, and so forth.

    Maybe we should wait until the entire introduction to Equitable Eclecticism is posted and a little time has elapsed to consider it as a whole before revisiting your claims about the non-existence of text-types.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    • Nazaroo October 20, 2010 / 2:35 pm

      Dear James: Thank you for your prompt consideration and considerate reply to my comments.

      I am sure there is (or appears to be) much to disagree with in our views.

      I am sorry my emphasis of “authenticity” has not yet made clear my point.

      I prefer you new English-class analogy much better than the balls and sieve. I will discuss it momentarily.

      I am at a loss as to how or why you feel you can avoid adopting a base-text entirely. I have a suspicious feeling you are adopting one without knowing it.

      One cannot “start with the variants” without a base-text that highlights these differences and defines Variation units.

      That is, the 60-80% of the text in which essentially all MSS agree, *is* the base-text, with lacuna where the Variation Units sit.

      This text, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, is identical with and derived from the Majority Text. It is not a mere coincidence that it is identical with the Maj. Text. It has been copied and edited and printed from it.

      You and other textual critics may argue that you have chosen this text in spite of it being the Majority Text, although it won’t be convincing.

      You may say it was selected on entirely different principles than the reading of the Majority of Greek MSS, but no critic living or dead has articulated any other method for selecting this base-text or reconstructing it, which would produce the same result.

      In other words, the denial is empty. The bulk of the NT text has indeed been selected, and most importantly, is agreed by all not to be in serious dispute, because it is found in the Majority of MSS, including early Uncials, papyri, and even damaged, tampered-with and heretical documents.

      Thus we can by observation establish both that a base-text has in fact been selected by all textual critics, even if only for convenience and a starting-point, and that the method of selection has historically been its presence in the majority of MSS.

      One simply cannot “start with the variants”, because without a base-text having areas of agreement without variation, we cannot know where and what the variants are.

      Yours in Christ,

      Nazaroo

    • Nazaroo October 21, 2010 / 5:20 am

      Dear James:

      I feel moved to explain further my thinking on base-texts, for those who may be struggling with the ideas and wondering what the substance is.

      The Cookie Cutter Analogy

      Let me begin with a simple analogy: If I want to make cookies of a certain shape (gingermen) I use a cookie-cutter, a re-useable metal blade, shaped in the outline I want.

      But I still can’t make cookies without rolling out beforehand a large flat piece of cookie-dough, to cut the cookies from.

      When a cookie is cut, the shape of it is as clearly and surely defined by the hole left in the dough, as by the cookie. Either outline (they are identical) is adequate to define the cookie-shape.

      An even better analogy comes from mathematics. We may take “straight lines” and other geometrical objects for granted in daily use, without thought.

      But straight lines cannot be scientifically defined or meaningful without a “space” in which they exist, and in which they can be assigned key properties, like whether they cross if they are parallel. We normally discuss straight lines and other geometrical objects in what is called “Euclidean Space”, meaning a physical “space” in which certain laws and properties hold true, which determine and define the objects in it and their behaviour.

      Although other “Non-Euclidean spaces” are possible, they must be chosen (specified by the mathematician) in order to pose other rules and behaviors which differ from those in Euclidean space.

      We could no more conduct the science of Geometry without an agreed-upon “space” as we could step from a plane without an understanding of wind, gravity, and a parachute.

      Similarly, whatever form we choose to use to express or define a “base-text“, we still have to have one to conduct the science of textual criticism. All operations are performed in a “space” which for all intents and purposes means operating on a base-text.

      It does not matter whether we operate on paper or abstractly, or whether we prefer a printed text with footnotes or a series of Colwell Diagrams:

      http://adultera.awardspace.com/RECON/VU.html

      We must choose some form in which to express the text from which the variation can be detected.

      A base-text gives us not only a way to collate and identify variants, but it also gives these variants a scope and a context, and groups them with related variants in a way that enables us to compare and choose between them.

      We may still be free to choose other ways to tabulate, express, and group variants. Abstract ways that are independent of position in a text, or independent of author, etc., but we must keep coming back to the basic questions:

      Where in the text does this variant occur?

      How do we know its a variant?

      What are the other variants?

      What is the Variation-Unit (or set) to which it belongs?

      All these questions must be addressed and answered through a consideration and expression of a base-text.

      peace in Christ,

      Nazaroo

  8. Nazaroo October 21, 2010 / 6:25 am

    What is Collating? – comparing Manuscripts (MSS), collecting readings.

    All textual criticism should probably begin with the collation of MSS. But what is the procedure? What is needed, what tools, skills, what methodology is best?

    A Tale of Two Critics

    Let us follow two textual critics, Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee, who in no wise resemble any real persons living or dead, like for instance myself and Mr. Snapp.

    They are confronted by the discovery of a completely new text, of which they have found 5 diverse MS copies from different locals.

    They agree that the first thing they must do (before publishing and becoming rich and famous) is to collate these surviving MSS.

    Not only do they intend to reap the glory for discovery, but also they want to be known as the experts who restored the lost original.

    Immediately there is a problem of method: Tweedle-dum says they need to have a base-text from which to work, noting the variants. He suggests they pick the oldest and/or best MS and use this, adding the variants from the other MSS as footnotes.

    Tweedle-dee scoffs at the plan. “Base-text? We don’t need no base-text. In any case, what if you choose the wrong MS for a base-text? You’ll make us both look like fools!”

    Tweedle-dum, unintimidated, says: “Look, there’s no such thing as the ‘wrong’ base-text. It will all come out in the footnotes anyway.” He humphs off to his own room, taking 2 of the 5 MSS with him, in order to create a ‘base-text’ from them.

    Tweedle-dee snickers to himself: “While he’s rewriting that long thing out by hand, I’ll be able to collate the other 4 in the same amount of time!”

    Quickly he sets himself a simple plan: He’ll take the MSS in pairs, and jot down differences. Then combine his notes. When buddy gets back, he’ll add the variants from MS #5, and voila! All done.

    But Tweedle-dum, being a mathematician, is a lazy oaf. He sits down and thinks: “How can I save time and labour? What is the best way to proceed?”

    He formulates an even lazier plan than Mr. -dee. “I’ll just use MS #1 as a base. I’ll note the differences from it in MS #2, then do the same with #3-5. Bingo.” He then begins, but the work is so tedious, that he nods off to sleep before quite finishing.

    Meanwhile Tweedle-dee is furiously compiling 3 lists: “3-4”, “3-5”, “4-5”, which show the differences between each pair of MSS respectively. He is wondering how to proceed to the next step, when Tweedle-dum saunters in.

    Tweedle-dum throws MS #1 & #2 on the table: “I’m done with those. What have you got so far?” Tweedle-dee explains what he’s been doing.

    Tweedle-dum pauses for a moment to think: “Hmmm.. How can I best use your labours, and you best use mine?”

    Tweedle-dee says, “I’ll just pair off the other to MSS and make two more lists, then you can help me combine them.”

    Tweedle-dum stops him: “You’re mistaken entirely. If you proceed with your method, you’ll have to make SEVEN more lists to cover all pairs. Then I don’t know how you’ll combine those things. Looks like a lot of work.”

    Tweedle-dee snorts, “You’re just angry that I was right. We don’t need a base-text, – or the bias and false impression that would cause. You’re welcome to use my lists if you want.”

    Tweedle-dum sits down, brows knotted. “You are essentially correct in that if you pair off all the MSS you will have indeed collated every variant. The problem is, no single list properly collates any individual MS completely. All 4 lists with that MS will have to be consulted to be complete. To completely collate and know any single MS, you will have to consult 4 lists.”

    Tweedle-dee responds: “Yes, but my collation will be without any bias. And as accurate as yours, only without an inconvenient form, favouring an arbitrary MS.”

    Tweedle-dum picks up MS #3, and continues. “Very well. I can’t see how using your data can speed up my method in any way. If I use your 3-4 and 3-5 lists, I can certainly have a complete collation of 4 and 5, once I also collate 3 to my base-text, but that saves no time, and invites errors. I can just as easily collate 3, 4, 5 in turn in the same or faster time.”

    Tweedle-dee ponders; “Why faster?”

    Tweedle-dum says, “Compiling my apparatus on the fly, I automatically combine readings supported by more than one MS in the same note. All the readings accumulate naturally and easily. By the time I’m done collating these three MSS, I’ll be ready to publish my text. As I collate, I am making other notes and observations, which I can add to the Introduction.”

    Tweedle-dee looks forlornly over at Tweedle-dum’s wide-margin base-text, with apparatus. “Maybe it would be better if I just cut my losses, and help you collate these three MSS. After we are done, we can remove all singular readings, and simplify the apparatus further.”

    Tweedle-dum smiles at his friend. “Agreed. I think that will be the best use of our time..” Secretly he snickers, knowing he has only had to collate 2 or 3 MSS, and they will publish way ahead of other less astute textual critics.

    peace
    Nazaroo

    • Nazaroo October 21, 2010 / 6:44 am

      The Wrong Base-Text

      As things shape up in the collating, Tweedle-dee notices that a large number of MSS diverge from the Base-Text quite often, and in frequently similar pair-offs.

      “Look at this: I was right, you chose the wrong base-text!”

      Tweedle-dum studies the apparatus. “You are right. The data can be simplified, and more than that, we still did the right thing. For having to switch base-texts is next to nothing, compared to the work you proposed of collating MS pairs 10 times, and then trying to come up with a scheme to combine your incomplete lists.”

      Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum simply copy out MS#4, which looks to be the real “Base-Text”. Then, the apparatus becomes greatly simplified, as instead of noting where 4 MSS diverge from MS #1 (often), they can simply note the singular reading of MS #1 in the margin.

      Tweedle-dum speaks up, as many remaining variants simply re-appear as singular readings. “We can simplify this apparatus immensely, making it easier and more useful, by eliminating all the singular readings.”

      Tweedle-dee says, “Yes. We’ll make a note in the introduction, that singular readings have been ignored, except any unusual and significant cases.”

      Tweedle-dum notes, “Even with the wrong initial base-text, we have saved many many hours of collating, and have an efficient, largely accurate and useful expression of the variants, which now emphasizes the best text!”

      Tweedle-dee says, “Yes, Tweedle-dum. Your mathematical aptitude and sheer laziness has paid off bigtime.”

      Tweedle-dum mumbles, “I think that’s a compliment. Thanks.”

      peace
      Nazaroo

  9. Bob Hayton October 22, 2010 / 11:39 am

    Nazaroo,

    Please know that we have to be careful to address the post at hand and not a bunch of side issues or self-promoting posts in our comments area here. This is James’ article not yours. And you are fine to disagree but the length of all your comments above equals more than the post here of James’. Just provide a link where we can go to read your stuff, don’t reproduce reams of it here and clog up the discussion, please.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Bob

    • Nazaroo October 22, 2010 / 12:08 pm

      Dear Bob, thanks for the headsup regarding your concerns. I am quite happy to provide links to shorten posts and allow people to follow up if they wish.

      My few challenges to Mr. Snapp’s position should not detract from our agreement in many areas, including his presentation of the essential text-critical and historical facts.

      I am mainly concerned with methodology, as should be clear.

      peace
      Nazaroo

    • Bob Hayton October 22, 2010 / 12:37 pm

      Thanks Nazaroo for understanding.

Comments are closed.