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Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by gb93433, May 5, 2010.
Thanks for posting such an enlightening and clear summary.
There is another "problem" in so-called Textual Criticism: Biased dating of manuscripts, specifically the papyri.
We all want our pre-determined view to be "the view".
In my early undergraduate days, (although my graduate studies are mainly in the realm of Information Technology - as applied to Scripture related work), I subscribed to the Wescott-Hort methods (oldest, shortest, most difficult) of determing the "best" manuscripts (as opposed to Burgon and company of the superiority of the Byzantine Traditional Text).
Later I saw the bias of each side tainting the evidence (yes, I know, where is my faith).
Here is an example of the difficulty: p66 which contains most of the Gospel of John has even in my own life time been dated as early as AD90, later to be moved up several times and now dated as late as AD200 (a remarkably early date at that).
Why? It seems that after the fact of discovery, collation efforts have found that many of the papyri (not just 66) have Byzantine "conflations". Some even out weighing the Alexandrian best text readings.
This fact is a head on collision with the Wescott and Hort theory that the Byzantine priests and scribes "smoothed out" the ragged raw text adding to the text for readability, etc. of the earliest mss and that it happened in and around the 3rd century.
Therefore, as the reasoning goes, "they (the papyri) must be later than we had first determined".
Many studies are available, one of which is a work by Harry Sturz: The Byzantine Text Type and New Testament Textual Criticism. 1984.
A 300 plus page book mostly devoted to an apparatus showing that there are abundant Byzantine "conflations" in the earliest of the payri (p66 divided 50-50) siding against Alexandrinus and Vaticanus.
Sturz himself appears to be neutral and even biased a bit toward the Alexandrian text types but is honest in his work and claims that these findings go a long way in disproving the 3rd century "conflation" part of the Wescott and Hort theory and even claims that these two text types split and developed at an unknown and much earlier date.
This is not to discredit and/or name-call W&H. Even Burgon said that their intentions were pure but wrong.
There is no need whatsoever to judge motive and pass judgment upon W&H or Burgon. They both seemed sincere (howbeit passionate and vocal) in their attempt to reconstruct the original text of the NT.
Though it is an ongoing problem, additional forthcoming historic evidence will prove/disprove (or a synthesis developed) concerning the validity of these opposing theories of Textual Criticism and that IMO is where it should end minus the ad hominem attacks.
Could you please supply a definition for 'conflations'? I THINK I know what it means but I am not sure. Thanks!
Hi Mexdeaf, in the realm of textual criticism:
From Handbook of Textual Criticism Richard N. Soulen: Pg. 39.
Wescott and Hort surmised that in the 3rd century there was an ecclesiastical movement in the Byzantine Churches to smooth out the text into a "standard text". i.e. Add or substitute words where it helped the readibility or clarity of the text, combine variants into one reading using both words, change the word order, etc...
This, they said, explains why the Byzantine readings (vs Alexandrian) are usually longer because they are "conflations".
Thanks! Now I understand it better with the Textual Criticism book reference.
I failed to mention that the Burgon constituency claimed that the Byzantine text had not been "conflated" but that the Alexandrian texts had been "redacted" or shortened because of the Alexandrian scribal methodologies which caused them to be less careful with the content of the text and its preservation.
e.g. scribal haplography, assimilation, homoioteleuton, etc.
A really short definition of the terms above of which there are different kinds within each definition:
Haplography: Omission of words or lines due to similarities in the adjacent text.
Homoioteleuton: Omissions due to the scribe coming back to the wrong place in the text after copying a word or line of text.
Assimilation:Scribal choice of the less difficult passage in varying texts of a given passage.
Bart Ehrman states, “there is always a degree of doubt, an element of subjectivity.”
Kurt Aland declares that the latest Text of the United Bible Societies is “not a static entity” and “every change in it is open to challenge.”
G. Zuntz admits that “the optimism of the earlier editors has given way to that scepticism which inclines towards regarding ‘the original text’ as an unattainable mirage.”
Dr. Daniel Wallace is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and is considered an expert on ancient biblical Greek and New Testament criticism blogged, "As remarkable as it may sound, most biblical scholars are not Christians. I don’t know the exact numbers, but my guess is that between 60% and 80% of the members of SBL do not believe that Jesus’ death paid for our sins, or that he was bodily raised from the dead."
May I infer that you are an "Ecclesiastical Text" guy along the lines of Theodore Letis?