Original Manuscripts of Shakespeare

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Shakespeare wrote prolifically 400 years ago. Find it interesting that there are NO COPIES OF ANY ORIGINAL poem, play, sonnet, etc from the Bard of Avon.

    These were written in modern English, after the printing press. But for each play, there are HUNDREDS of variants in the scripts.

    How do we know what Shakespeare REALLY wrote in his originals? A friend in the English/Drama department said that they follow guidelines. Many copies of copies of copies exist, all compounding the same errors, additions, etc.
    </font>
    • They seek the oldest texts verifiable</font>
    • They seek shorter readings that were not emended by additions, explanations, etc</font>
    • They seek the best word choice in context</font>
    • They seek common/consistent text of that era, not words or phrases popular a generation later</font>
    • They seek the same style, vocabulary, etc as other works</font>
    It is said that there are an average of 25 variants of spelling, word choice, additions/omissions of words, phrase, sentences and even whole dialog PER PAGE in an average Shakespearean play.

    Our dilemma with the "missing" original autographs and textual variants from 2000 years ago are often LESS than Shakespeare.

    Just putting it into perspective.
     
  2. Ransom

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    Add to this that the so-called First Folio of 1623 was itself the product of extensive textual criticism. Only 7 years after Shakespeare's death, his actor friends corrected the corrupt quarto editions of his plays with the older and more authoritative prompt copies they had used on stage.

    Then on top of that, Shakespeare's original work was nearly lost during the Restoration period when they didn't go for his kind of drama - so if they didn't ignore it outright, they edited it heavily or even rewrote it to reflect contemporary sensibilities (e.g. giving the tragedies a happy ending!).

    As Bob says - if you had to choose between textual criticism of the Scriptures, and textual criticism of Shakespeare, the former is the easy one.
     
  3. tinytim

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    This may sound KJVO but there is a great diff between preservation of Shakespeare and the preservation of God's Word. The Bible is inspired and God did promise to preserve it. Although, I appreciate the topic and the points raised, but comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges
     
  4. doulon

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    To this I must say a hearty---Amen!

    Marty
     
  5. Forever settled in heaven

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    To this I must say a hearty---Amen!

    </font>[/QUOTE]n may i ask HOW God did promise to preserve it? BCV, pls. [​IMG]

    btw, isn't Shakespeare preserved as well, w differences betw its Alexandrian n Byzantine strands, its indiv extant MSS, its printed editions n revision today?

    i can see the difference betw the inspiration of Shakespeare n that of the Bible. however, how is textual criticism for the two different--how diff was the task for Roman Catholic Erasmus n today's Shakespeare textual critics?
     
  6. HankD

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    How about the "canon" of Scripture?

    Upon what BCV were those choices made?

    This and the preservation of the Scriptures lies within the realm (dare I say it) of TRADITION! EEK! of the apostolic Churches of Asia Minor and Europe.

    1 Timothy 3:15 ... the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

    Before the total apostasy of Rome however.

    HankD
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    Apples and oranges? How so?

    Nobody is likening the CONTENT of either, but just the process of preservation.
     
  8. paidagogos

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    Apples and oranges? How so?

    Nobody is likening the CONTENT of either, but just the process of preservation.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Dr. Bob, you are simply obscuring tinytim’s point. You are probably the better at word fencing but the poster does have a point.

    Whether we have an accurate rendering of Shakespeare’s originals or not is of little consequence. A faithful copy of the Scriptures, however, is vital for orthodox doctrine and faith. After all, the words of Shakespeare were not Divinely inspired but ALL Scripture is inspired of God. It matters little, except for sentiment and scholarly curiosity, whether we have Shakespeare’s original words or not as long as it works for us. On the other hand, every word from God is of paramount importance and infinite worth as the very words were given to men. (BTW, don’t read Dictation Theory here.) After all, we do accept plenary verbal inspiration—do we not? In sum, the significance of preservation does depend on content!

    Again, the process of preservation is vastly different. Shakespeare’s works were preserved by those interested in his genre whereas God’s Word is preserved by the Author Himself. Even your friend, Brooke Foss Westcott, in his little book, The Bible in the Church, gave God the credit for preserving His Word. Westcott posits that God preserved His Word primarily through the church but He also employed historical events and the actions of men for His purposes. However, I find it ironic that the good ole Westcott found it necessary to exercise his theory of textual criticism and so-called scholarship to preserve and restore the Word. Seems he thought that God needed a little help in preservation.

    To sum it up, your nice little illustration is cute and irrelevant. It is like comparing apples and oranges. After all, apples and oranges do have some similarities—they are generally spherical in shape, both are fruits, etc. However, the comparisons end and they are found to be quite different. The same is true of your illustration. I suppose your HS English teacher would have called it inappropriate.

    What do you think, Dr. Bob?

    Thanks for your reading, time, consideration, and kind reply.
     
  9. paidagogos

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    Dr. Bob, I disagree. You did not put the picture into perspective but you blurred it entirely out of focus. Your illustration is poor and irrelevant. What does it matter about the original words of Shakespeare? After all, every author, except for God Himself, revises his own work. There were undoubtedly infinite variants created by Shakespeare himself. What original words are you trying to reclaim? The first draft? The fourteenth draft? The first published? After all, what is the significance if the author made revisions to the works himself? Evidently he thought it could be improved upon. Many authors make subsequent revisions to their works in later editions even after publication. The original words of Shakespeare, therefore, are of no lasting consequence and the term “original words of Shakespeare” is trite and meaningless. Furthermore, variants of spelling, etc. are trivial and not worth mentioning. These do not affect the sense or meaning.

    Dr. Bob, as you well know, the extant copies of Shakespeare’s works are many times more plentiful than Biblical manuscripts. The body of available data is many times that of Biblical manuscript data (i.e. We know in many cases of who printed what of Shakespeare, etc.). Shakespeare is much more recent as well. Manuscripts have a way of becoming lost over time. Also, Shakespeare’s works had the benefit of the printing press that early Biblical manuscripts did not have. Again, I doubt that the printers took as much care and attention to detail with Shakespeare as copyists of Scripture who believed that they were handling the Word of God. Finally, one cannot verify that we have Shakespeare’s original words. So, you are right in one respect—textual criticism of both Shakespeare and the Bible are both hocus-pocus. No one really knows the originals.

    Thanks for your ear….uh……..I suppose I should say eyes. Bye. [​IMG]
     
  10. robycop3

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    Differences between WS's works & Scripture:

    1. WS's works were meant for entertainment, while Scripture is history and instruction.

    2. WS was merely a man, with no more power than any other man, while GOD...

    3. WS is dead, & when he died his works were frozen in time. No one who followed, even if named William Shakespeare, could write a "Shakespeare play" nor rightfully alter any of them. On the other hand, God is very much alive & in charge. He can present His word any way he chooses.

    4. WS's works were written in English for an English audience while God's word is for all mankind.

    This is but a short list.
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    Let me type this slowly - NO ONE is trying to draw and analogy between the CONTENT of the Word of God and the words of the Bard! That is ludicrous.

    What we are talking about is what happened to the words AFTER they were written. We KNOW that God has promised to preserve them (the Word of God, not Shakespeare!)

    In evaluating the Greek variants from AD50-AD1000, Erasmus through today have sought to make sense of which was the correct (original) reading.

    ALL this simple (obviously complex to some) illustration makes is that similar guidelines had to be established for the more mundane plays and sonnets.

    Remember, there is no original Greek NT anywhere, and no single Greek NT document that, by itself and without lots of additions/substractions, blending/melding with other NT Greek, is used as the base of ANY ENGLISH TRANSLATION. AV or ESV.

    Simple point was to realize that there is more debate, dissention and confusion over documents written in English just 400 years ago than we have in our "debate" over variants in the Greek for our precious New Testament.
     
  12. robycop3

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    Well, I typed SWIFTLY, & therein was my prob-I didn't really expound on the point I was trying to make, which was-

    There are KJVOs who accuse us of not hesitating to "change the word of God" while we wouldn't change one punctuation mark of Shakespeare, point being that WS's death froze his works in time, while God has placed no such constraints upon His word.
     
  13. Dr. Bob

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    Amen, and it is ALIVE - it can be translated into any tongue and it is STILL THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION!

    [​IMG]
     
  14. USN2Pulpit

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    Well, Dr Bob, I get your illustration. I think it's a good one. It is useful to compare/contrast the guidelines used. I think people enjoy getting worked up over nothing...and in so doing miss the whole point.

    (I got your illustration because I read slowly, as you exhorted.)
     
  15. paidagogos

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    WRONG! It was a horrible illustration since it was prejudiced to Dr. Bob's agrument for an eclectic approach to textual criticism. There is no room for Divine preservation in Billy's scriblings. We are comparing apples and oranges which are both fruits and round but the similar ends there. Dr. Bob's illustration could not allow for his opponents' position--i.e. Divine preservation via the Received Text.

    It was an oversimplification. However, debates are not won on neat illustrations.
     
  16. Dr. Bob

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    Well, Paid, it's sure obvious that YOU did not get it. An analogy, illustration, etc is not meant to "walk on all fours".

    Homiletics 101.
     
  17. Baptist in Richmond

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    Perhaps you should take a deep breath, lower your heart rate, and read the initial post again.

    The proof to support Dr. Bob's point can be found simply by comparing the differences between the 1611 Authorised Version and the 1769 Revision.

    Nobody is disputing Divine Preservation.
     
  18. paidagogos

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    Perhaps you should take a deep breath, lower your heart rate, and read the initial post again.

    The proof to support Dr. Bob's point can be found simply by comparing the differences between the 1611 Authorised Version and the 1769 Revision.

    Nobody is disputing Divine Preservation.
    </font>[/QUOTE]SORRY! You evidently didn't understand my point. Please restate my point if you understand it.

    BTW, my BP is fine, my heart rate is steady, and I do breathe deeply. Furthermore, I have good comprehension--check your own understanding.

    The changes between 1611 and 1769 have nothing to do with my points and the changes really don't prove Dr. Bob's point. Textual criticism of Shakespeare is not comparible to textual criticism of Scripture and it has nothing to do with content. Must I explain point by point?

    Hope that I'm not too brusque but I'm in a hurry. Happy dreams! Bye! [​IMG]
     

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