Textual Criticism - Canon 1

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Seven widely accepted "rules" about textual (lower) criticism. Thought we'd open up the subject slowly and have a thread on each, to allow free-flowing discussion (and hate-speech)!

    Canon One: Generally speaking, the older reading is to be preferred over a reading found in later manuscripts.

    Caveat: Some "older" compilations were rapidly produced or used for personal study, NOT of the same caliber as scrolls for synagogue use. Isaiah 1 scroll at Qumran (1QIsa) is an example of such.

    Reason: The older the manuscript, the less likelihood there is of deviation from the reading of the original autograph.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. skanwmatos

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    It is not the age of the manuscript itself, but the quality and antiquity of the text it contains which is the real item of value.

    Professor Robinson puts it this way:

    Most early manuscripts in existence today have been affected by the uncontrolled nature of textual transmission which prevailed in their local areas, as well as by the persecutions which came continually against the church. The whole matter of early copying practices is hypothetical, regardless of which textual theory one prefers. We know nothing beyond what can be deduced from what survives. In the early papyri, we may have only personal copies, and not those which were generally used by the churches themselves. Also, the papyri all come from a single geographic area, and reflect a good deal of corruption, both accidental and deliberate. One should not summarily question the integrity of all early manuscripts because of the character of this limited sample from Egypt.

    There is good reason to presume that most early copies -- many made directly from the autographs themselves -- would have been as accurate as ordinary care would humanly permit, especially for Holy Writ. Church sources in particular would not knowingly send forth what they would have considered "defective" copies. At least the first and second copying generations should have been generally secure. Responsible scribes would presumably take general care with their sacred deposits.

    Although a healthy respect for the sacred text generally prevailed, keeping corruption to a minimum, even the orthodox sometimes took the opportunity to alter the text, under the supposition that they were "improving" or "restoring" the text with their corrections. Heretical tampering did occur, as witnessed by the work of Tatian and Marcion, but the church as a whole, and especially its leaders and theologians, were keen watchdogs against such deliberately-perverted manuscripts. It is not without significance that today we know of Marcion's heretical text only from citations in the Church Fathers, and the heretic Tatian's Diatessaron is seen in but one Greek manuscript fragment, despite its early widespread popularity even among the orthodox.

    Yet, even though heretical alterations were not tolerated, nowhere in the early Fathers do we find any indication that in those early centuries a uniformity of text was a concern or demand. Had common scribal alteration been a concern, the Fathers would have spoken out as strongly as they did against the theology and text of the heretics. The evidence of the existing early manuscripts as well as the Patristic quotations of Scripture is plain in this regard. The manuscript text in the earliest centuries had been corrupted to a degree, chiefly through the agency of common orthodox Christians. The Fathers, like all other Christians, had to make do with the manuscripts currently available. They did not actively seek to "restore" the autograph form of that text; such was not their purpose.

    The text found in the manuscripts of the second and third centuries, therefore, is in many cases corrupt, and to that extent somewhat removed from the autograph text. Not all manuscripts showed the same degree of corruption, however, as even the early papyri demonstrate.[32] Only the continual process of manuscript comparison and cross-correction as practiced throughout the centuries would succeed in weeding out early scribal corruption and conflicting variant readings. The same process would later keep the vagaries of individual Byzantine-era scribes in check.

    With the increased cross-cultural communication which followed the legitimization of Christianity, such a practice would slowly but naturally purge manuscripts from both the conspicuous and even the less-obvious corruptions to which they earlier had been subjected, and a truly "older" and purer text would result. This "process" could not be successful were the basic text of all Greek manuscripts not in large measure "secure." A mish-mash of conflicting readings, such as prevailed in the Old Latin tradition, would never allow for the restoration of an older or purer Textform by a natural "process."

    In light of the general uniformity of the Greek text as found in the later Byzantine-era manuscripts, it therefore appears more rather than less likely that these later manuscripts would preserve a form of text closely approximating the autograph. Certainly this would be far more likely than the chances for the autograph readings to survive only in a conflicting handful of second- and third-century manuscripts which were copied under less-than-favorable uncontrolled conditions.

    Even more to the point, later manuscripts may often preserve an "early" text. This was one of the main considerations of Hort's genealogical hypothesis. A manuscript of the twelfth century may have been copied directly from a manuscript of the third century. There is no way of knowing this directly, except where a scribe makes mention of such a fact in a colophon (closing written comment).[33] Most colophons, however, do not address the issue of the type of manuscript (papyrus, uncial, or minuscule) from which they were copied, but only those items of pressing concern to the scribe, many of which are insignificant to us, being devotional in nature (we should dearly love to have even the date when each manuscript was copied, but most scribes did not consider that to be of major importance).

    We do know that, after the 9th century, almost all manuscripts ceased to be copied in the uncial style (capital-letters), and were systematically replaced by the "modern" minuscule style (cursive-letters) which then predominated until the invention of printing This "copying revolution" resulted in the destruction of hundreds of previously-existing uncial manuscripts once their faithful counterpart had been produced in minuscule script. Many truly ancient uncials may have vanished within a century due to this change in the handwriting style. Those palimpsest[34] manuscripts which survive provide mute testimony to the fate of many of those ancient uncials, the remnants of which, having been erased and re-used to copy sermons or liturgical texts, might simply have perished or been discarded once those texts were no longer considered valuable.

    Since Kirsopp Lake found only genealogically-unrelated manuscripts at Sinai, Patmos, and Jerusalem, he concluded that it was "hard to resist the conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed their exemplars."[35] If strictly applied to all copying generations, this view would lead to a number of logical fallacies. Some of these have been discussed by Donald A. Carson and Wilbur Pickering.[36]

    However, the real explanation of Lake's comment revolves around the "copying revolution": scribes apparently destroyed uncial exemplars as they converted the Greek text into the then-standard minuscule format. Thus, the apparently unrelated mass of later minuscules may in fact stem from long-lost uncial sources far older than the date of the minuscules containing them. This in itself adds a significant weight to the testimony of the minuscule mass, especially those copied in the ninth and tenth centuries, at the height of the copying revolution.

    For modern researchers summarily to neglect the text of the minuscules because they mostly reflect a Byzantine type of text is to suggest that their text is all one and all late, in accord with Hort's thesis concerning the ultimate origin of the Byzantine Textform. Yet Von Soden and subsequent researchers have clearly shown the internal diversity found among the manuscripts of the Byzantine Textform -- a diversity which cannot be accounted for genealogically. An unprejudiced consideration of the present hypothesis will impart a value to (at least) the earlier minuscule testimony which ranges far beyond that allowed by modern critics. This factor now makes the complete collation of all known minuscule manuscripts an important task which should be completed as rapidly as possible.[37]

    32 See Colwell, "Scribal Habits," where he compares the relative accuracy of the scribes of P45, P66, and P75.

    33 The post-Apostolic document, The Martyrdom of Polycarp, has a colophon which states it was first copied by Gaius from the writings of Irenaeus. It was then copied in Corinth by one Socrates, and later by one Pionius, who had diligently sought out this document and "gathered it together when it was almost worn out by age" (Martyrdom 22 2). This is a clear case of a "new" copy reflecting a text which was already quite old.

    34 From the Greek, "to rub again." The term denotes a manuscript from which the original text was erased and a second, differing text placed on top of the original writing. Through the use of various methods (e.g., ultraviolet light), the original text can often be recovered with extreme accuracy.

    35 Lake, Blake, and New, "Caesarean Text of Mark," p.349.

    36 Donald A. Carson, The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), pp. 47-48, note 5. Pickering offered a clarification and rebuttal of Carson's critique which differs at points from the present hypothesis; see Pickering, Identity, pp. 230-231, note 30

    37 See further W. J. Elliott, "The Need for an Accurate and Complete Collation of all known Greek NT Manuscripts with their Individual Variants noted in pleno," in J. K Elliott, ed., Studies in New Testament Language and Text [G. D. Kilpatrick Festschrift] (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976), pp. 137-143.

    THE NEW TESTAMENT IN THE ORIGINAL GREEK ACCORDING TO THE BYZANTINE / MAJORITY TEXTFORM

    THE TEXT REVISED BY MAURICE A. ROBINSON AND WILLIAM G. PIERPONT

    INTRODUCTION AND APPENDIX BY THE EDITORS

    EXECUTIVE EDITOR WILLIAM DAVID MCBRAYER

    THE ORIGINAL WORD PUBLISHERS ATLANTA 1991
     
  3. Archangel7

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    The key phrase for this or *any* of the so-called "canons of textual criticism" is "generally speaking." These rules cannot and must not be applied mechanically, because there are a host of variables which pertain to any given decision on the best reading where there are variants in the text. It's not just the canon of "the older reading" on its own which is decisive -- it's the canon of "the older reading" along with *other* canons that commends a reading as best.

    As skanwmatos rightly comments in an earlier post in this thread, "It is not the age of the manuscript itself, but the quality and antiquity of the text it contains which is the real item of value." So the real issue in terms of transmissional corruption is not so much the age of a particular MS as the number of copying generations behind the text. It is theoretically possible that a 4th C. MS might be a 10th generation copy of the original (in other words, a copy of a copy of a copy x10) while a 10th C. MS might be a first generation copy of the original. The problem is, we have no way of knowing how many copying generations underly any given MS. That being said, the age of the MS is important because it provides datable documentary evidence for the age of a particular reading as well as the age and state of its particular text type.
     
  4. Anti-Alexandrian

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    This is one of many myths passed down from generation to generation by the funnymentalist;the ol' "the older somthing is,the more accurate it is" routine. Of course,they do a complete 360 from that baloney when it comes to English Bibles.According to the funnymentalist,the older the English Bible,(AV1611 for example)the worse they are.


    Wild and crazy stuff!!!
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    OLDER IS PREFERRED, more accurate to original. Generally speaking.

    So I checked my Hymnal this Christmas. Hark the Herald Angels Sing, 1833. That is old. MUST BE accurate, the way Wesley wrote it in 1739 (not a hundred years earlier).

    But then I found a manuscript printed in 1739, the year Wesley wrote this song! Was it the same?

    Which is better? Which is more accurate? Which actually reflects Wesley's original draft (now lost)?

    An older reading, closer to the time of the original writing, is preferred to modern. Call me a "funnymentalist", but this one actually makes sense.
     
  6. gb93433

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    There is more to it than the age of the manuscript. There is both the internal and external evidence to consider before considering what the actual text is.
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    This is one of many myths passed down from generation to generation by the funnymentalist;the ol' "the older somthing is,the more accurate it is" routine. Of course,they do a complete 360 from that baloney when it comes to English Bibles.According to the funnymentalist,the older the English Bible,(AV1611 for example)the worse they are.


    Wild and crazy stuff!!!
    </font>[/QUOTE]Inaccurate on two counts:

    1. It is not a myth. EVeryone recognizes the validity of this principle by trying to chase a rumor to its original source to find out what was said. When someone tells you something that they heard from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone, we all recognize that multiple transmissions introduces possibility (and probability of corruption). Archangel's comment that a 4th cen ms might be as 10th generation copy while a 10th cen ms might be a first generation copy is technically true, but so unlikely as to be statistically negligent.

    2. With the advent of English Bibles and the printing press, this principle is less of a factor, by simple virtue of consistency of the printed page compared to the consistency of handwritten copies.

    In English Bibles, age is not the issue. Accuracy and textual basis is. It is comparing apples to oranges. And you must realize that the opposite is true as well. You like the old stuff (i.e.,. KJV) until it comes time to talk about texts. Then you like the new stuff. So you are just as inconsistent as we are. The difference is that ours is based in solid evidence. Yours is based in wild and fanciful wishes.
     
  8. Askjo

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    Some textual critics said the TR readings did not exist prior to 400 A.D. The fact is that 76 Church Fathers died before 400 A.D. showed the TR readings did exist prior to 400 A.D. They favored the TR -- 70%!!!! Praise the LORD! The TR won over the W/H text.

    Remember:

    The TR supported the KJV.
    The W/H text supported these modern versions.
     
  9. robycop3

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    Some textual critics said the TR readings did not exist prior to 400 A.D. The fact is that 76 Church Fathers died before 400 A.D. showed the TR readings did exist prior to 400 A.D. They favored the TR -- 70%!!!! Praise the LORD! The TR won over the W/H text.

    Remember:

    The TR supported the KJV.
    The W/H text supported these modern versions.
    </font>[/QUOTE]REMEMBER:

    The TR wasn't made until 1516, which was a L-O-O-O-NG time after 400. And if the TR edition used for the KJV(one of Beza's, which was the umpteenth edition made since the original), the mss from which it was made, and the KJV itself were translated into a common language, none of these translations would match any other one.

    Nothing like standards & uniformity, right?
     
  10. gb93433

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    The TR was more political than anything else. It was the received text by the politicians of that day.
     
  11. Askjo

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    You misunderstand what the TR means.
     
  12. Forever settled in heaven

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    Some textual critics said the TR readings did not exist prior to 400 A.D. The fact is that 76 Church Fathers died before 400 A.D. showed the TR readings did exist prior to 400 A.D. They favored the TR -- 70%!!!! Praise the LORD! The TR won over the W/H text.

    Remember:

    The TR supported the KJV.
    The W/H text supported these modern versions.
    </font>[/QUOTE]1. why champion Minority readings prior to 400 AD? grasping at straws perhaps?

    2. what's the big deal abt 70%? i thot the AGREEMENT betw the TR n WH is gter than that.

    3. how does "Praise the LORD! The TR won over the W/H text" explain the triumph of MVs?
     
  13. Dr. Bob

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    Okay, Askjo - I'll bite. HOW are you going to rewrite history and make the TR (which did not exist until a decade AFTER the AV1611) be the Bible of choice of the anteNicene fathers (some 12 CENTURIES earlier)???

    I will wait for this one.
     
  14. skanwmatos

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    The Textus Receptus is made up of several editions of the text "commonly received by all" and considered by all competent text critics to have been the common text from the 6th century onward. To say the TR didn't exist until the Elzevir's put the words "textus receptus" on the the cover leaf of their 1633 edition is simply dishonest and on a par with the Ruckmanites and Riplingerites saying the Alexandrian text originated with Westcott and Hort, or that all those who prefer the Alexandrian text type are members of the "Alexandrian Cult." Such disingenuousness has no place on a Christian forum.
     
  15. Charles Meadows

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    So when are we saying that the TR came into being? Please don't say the first century AD! Is 1516 not an accurate answer? [​IMG]
     
  16. Charles Meadows

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    I guess I should :D add that we all know that the Elzevir brothers edition came out in 1633 but 1516 gives them the benefit of the doubt even though there were umpteen revisions since Erasmus' first edition.
     
  17. skanwmatos

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    The Traditional text, the TR being one small representative of that text, is witnessed to by manuscripts dating to at least 350 AD and readings from that text type can be dated much earlier. See http://bibleviews.com/robinson.html
     
  18. Askjo

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    Okay, Askjo - I'll bite. HOW are you going to rewrite history and make the TR (which did not exist until a decade AFTER the AV1611) be the Bible of choice of the anteNicene fathers (some 12 CENTURIES earlier)???

    I will wait for this one.
    </font>[/QUOTE]You forget one word -- Traditional .

    The Traditional family of MSS.

    The Traditional readings.

    The Traditional Texts.

    That's why 76 Church Fathers showed the Traditional readings -- 70%!!! They are TR!!!
     
  19. Baptist in Richmond

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    Alas, thou hast forgotten to answer the question posed to thee.........
     

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