Difficult Readings

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Rippon, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    Some have grossly mischaracterized the principle of using difficult readings as "using the most absurd and illogical readings." Of course their misinformed understanding is itself ridiculous.

    I offer the following quote from Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts. It is taken from their book:
    Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism.
    "It is typically acknowledged that the most difficult reading that still makes sense is to be regarded as closest to the original. That is, the reading that appears initially to be difficult to grasp, but when studied in greater detail makes good sense, is probably closer to the original. The logic behind this principle is that scribes tended to correct/change what was difficult to them. There is also a connection between this principle and the genetic principle, since the most difficult reading can often explain the other variants as clarifications of the most difficult reading. The qualification that the most difficult reading must "make sense" is intended to account for readings that are most difficult because an error makes the text unintelligible. So, if a reading is most difficult because it makes no sense, that reading is not likely original even though it may be the most difficult reading." (pages 116,117)
     
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  2. Van

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    The most difficult reading only carries weight if the alteration was intentional. Someone trying to fix something. If the alteration seems unintentional, for example a reversal of letters, then the most difficult reading is just as likely to be bogus.
     
  3. Rippon

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    Continuing with the topic, Porter and Pitts state:
    "The criterion of difficulty can be illustrated in weighing the evidence supporting the reading in Acts 20:28. The NA27 text reads: ...('to shepherd the church of God which he purchased through his own blood'). Some of the early manuscripts...have ('Lord') instead of ('God'). One of the most substantial reasons that [God] is preferred to [Lord] here is that it is the more difficult reading and therefore can explain the origin of the variant [Lord]. It is plausible that a scribe would correct the text from 'God' to 'Lord' since it may have raised questions in certain scribes' minds how God has blood. It would seem much more natural to talk about the church being purchased with the Lord's own blood rather than God's blood. The question may be considered negatively as well. Why would a scribe change the text from what would seem very natural (Lord) to the more (seemingly) unnatural (God)? Therefore, reading 'God' here would be more difficult for the scribe and, therefore, is more likely to be original." (p.117)
     
  4. TCassidy

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    Or "God" could be a gnostic interpolation. :)
     
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  5. banana

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    Yeah that example is kinda dumb. Imo the "most difficult reading" criteria should be the last one used and only when 2 or more readings seem equally viable. Then again it's possible God and Lord there have equally as good manuscript support.

    edit: according to the NET's notes they both have equally good manuscript support:

    The reading “of God” (τοῦ θεοῦ, tou qeou) is found in א B 614 1175 1505 al vg sy; other witnesses have “of the Lord” (τοῦ κυρίου, tou kuriou) here (so Ì A C* D E Ψ 33 1739 al co), while the majority of the later minuscule mss conflate these two into “of the Lord and God” (τοῦ κυρίου καὶ [τοῦ] θεοῦ, tou kuriou kai [tou] qeou). Although the evidence is evenly balanced between the first two readings, τοῦ θεοῦ is decidedly superior on internal grounds. The final prepositional phrase of this verse, διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου (dia tou {aimato" tou idiou), could be rendered “through his own blood” or “through the blood of his own.” In the latter translation, the object that “own” modifies must be supplied (see tn below for discussion). But this would not be entirely clear to scribes; those who supposed that ἰδίου modified αἵματος would be prone to alter “God” to “Lord” to avoid the inference that God had blood. In a similar way, later scribes would be prone to conflate the two titles, thereby affirming the deity (with the construction τοῦ κυρίου καὶ θεοῦ following the Granville Sharp rule and referring to a single person [see ExSyn 272, 276-77, 290]) and substitutionary atonement of Christ. For these reasons, τοῦ θεοῦ best explains the rise of the other readings and should be considered authentic.
     

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