Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A.C. Clark (1914) on homoeoteleuton (Pt. 2)

Continuing from A.C. Clark's first book, The Primitive Text of the Gospels and Acts (Oxford, 1914):
"Chapter 1 (p. 1fwd):

'I referred to homoeoteleuton as a frequent cause of omission.  The word strictly means similarity of termination, but it is often used for any similarity, e.g., at the beginning of words, which would more appropriately be called homoeoarcton, or for the repetition of the same word (repetitio or geminatio [=dittography]).  In all such cases, the copyist was liable to pass from one similar word to the other, omitting the intervening words [and one copy of the doubled word].   The most frequent cause of omission is the repetition of the same word. 
I now proceed outline the method which should be followed by anyone who embarks upon a similar inquiry.  The first task is to ascertain the content of a line in the archetype.  For this purpose 'telescoped' lines are of primary importance.  In all probability the common unit will be at once revealed.  The next step is to tabulate the omissions of the rival families, arranging them in order of magnitude.  It will then appear when multiples of a unit figure among the omissions.  The separate families should be treated in the same manner. 
The information thus acquired must be combined with that furnished by transpositions, dislocations, migratory variants, and corruptions of all kinds.   The most minute flaws are often the most important for the purposes of investigation. 
Above all the inquirer must not shrink from the labor of counting the letters.  No shorter method, such as that of numbering the lines of a printed text, can have any cogency which is possessed by the actual figures. 
I have seldom carried out a long numeration without being richly rewarded.  I imagine the reason to be that in the long passages occasional irregularities correct each other, and the average remains clearly visible.  Also, it is only in them that we can hope to find indications of the longer divisions, viz. columns, pages, and folios in the archetype.'

 Chapter 2 (p. 11 fwd)

"...I thought it well to prepare myself by making some examination of the Oxyrhynchus papyri.  ...I had to satisfy myself whether the lines exhibit regularity in content similar to the Old Latin MSS.  I found that this was so.  The papyri are of all shapes and sizes, sometimes written in long lines, but more commonly in columns of various breadth.  Sometimes they contain some 40 letters or more to the line, sometimes about 35, more frequently about 28, 24, or 22, very frequently 16-19, while a fair number, ...are written in very narrow columns, averaging 10-12 letters, or even less.  In all, however, although abnormally long or short lines occur, the general average soon asserts itself. 
In my work upon Latin MSS, I have found that where there are two or more columns in a codex, the tendency is for one column to be squeezed.  If there are three columns, it is generally the middle one that suffers; if there are two, the column on the left is often a little broader than the one on the right.  
The papyri are particularly free from abbreviations apart from a particular class, viz., nomina sacra.  ...
Also some of the Uncials, especially B and D, are chary in the use of abbreviations beyond IS XS THS PNA OUNOS PR US ANOS.  However on the whole, the bulk of the evidence is on their employment, and, as I do not wish to avail myself  of any license, I have treated this as normal.   There is some uncertainty as to the use of letters to express numerals.  ... The Uncials vary greatly in this respect.  On the whole it seems safest to suppose that the numerals were written in full, but the other possibility has to be taken into account.   
On examining the papyri I found many phenomena similar to those which I had observed in Latin MSS. "

A.C. Clark (1914) on homoeoteleuton

A.C. Clark produced two important works on NT TC, the first being The Primitive Text of the Gospels and Acts (Oxford, 1914), and the second, his Critical Text of Acts (1933).  Although his continued investigation resulted in modifications and additional details, his basic position remained committed.

Here are some exerpts from the first book (Primitive Text..):
...Whenever the readings of two MSS ...are compared, of them does not contain passages which occur in the other.   In all such cases there are two possible explanations, viz., that the words are spurious, ...inserted by an interpolater..., or that they are genuine, and have been accidentally omitted by the other [copy].  The hypothesis of accident [omission] is highly probable, when there is a reason which will account for the omission. 
One such reason is universally recognized, viz., homoeoteleuton. [h.t.]  When a similar ending, or word occurs twice in the same sentence, a copyist [could have] easily passed from the first passage to the second, omitting the intermediate words.  This saut du meme au meme ["jump from meme to meme"] is the most prolific cause of omissions. 
There is another reason which is not infrequently suggested by editors, viz., that the scribe has accidentally omitted a line, or several lines, of his model.  When we have two MSS, one which is known to be a transcript of the other, we find actual instances of such omissions.  In the vast majority of cases however, we have only the copy, not the [exemplar].   Since all scribes [copyists] are subject to the same errors, it is reasonable to suppose that omissions in a particular MS may represent a line or number of lines [skipped] in an ancestor... the problem is to find an objective detect line-omissions. 
...[groups of] short passages...doubted on the ground of their omission by a MS or family, frequently contain the same, or nearly the same number of letters.  Longer passages in the same way [are] multiples of this unit.  The natural inference is that the unit [and longer omissions] correspond to [physical] lines in [the layout of] an ancestor.
Ancient Uncial MSS are written with few abbreviations and no space between words [with] the number of letters per line ...a more or less constant [average] quantity.
It was also easy for a copyist to omit other divisions in his [exemplar], viz., a colum, page, or folio [folded sheet].   Since it is usual for MSS to have the same # of lines per page, it follows that the contents of columns, pages, & folios are similar [in size]. 
The chief result of my investigation has been to show the falsity of the principle brevior lectio potior ("prefer the shorter reading").  This was laid down by Griesbach as a canon of criticism in the words:
"Brevior lectio, nisi testium vetustorum et gravium auctoritate penitus destituatur, praeferenda est verbosiori.  Librari enim multo proniores ad addendum fuerunt quam ad omittendum." 
 "The Shorter reading, unless the authority of the witnesses completely lacks a weight and age, is preferable to the verbose. Copyists were  much more prone to add than to omit."
[But] this statement has no foundation in facts.  I may also observe that it is not so easy to invent as it is to omit. 
I had been brought up to look on the Revised Text as final, to smile at persons who maintained the authenticity of St. Mark 16:9-20 or St. John 7:53-8:11, and to suppose that the 'vagaries' of the 'Western text' were due to wholesale interpolation.   The object which I had in view was merely to study the mutual relations of the oldest Greek Uncials, notably, the Vaticanus (B), Sinaiticus (Aleph), and Alexandrinus (A).  I was however, soon dislodged from this arrogant attitude, and irresistibly driven to very different conclusions. 
Nowhere is the falsity of the maxim 'Prefer the shorter reading' more evident than in the New Testament.  The process [over time in copying] has been one of contraction, not expansion.  The primitive text is the longest, not the shortest."
(- Clark, 1914,  Preface, iii-vii)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Houghton (2011) on Scribal Habits

Recently H.A.G. 
Houghton in his review, has noted some of the advances found in new literature on scribal habits and the papyri, which we excerpt below:

Houghton, H.A.G. (2011) Recent developments in New Testament textual criticism. Early Christianity, 2 (2). pp. 245-268.
'The study of scribal habits reflects ongoing interest in individual documents. Recent publications focus on P45, (50) P66, (51) Codex Sinaiticus, (52) the major manuscripts of Revelation, (53) and a detailed survey of six important New Testament papyri. (54) One resulting observation is that material is more commonly omitted than added in extant papyri, reinforcing the fact that the text-critical canon of lectio breuior potior must not be applied indiscriminately. (55)
Although the identification of scribal practice has traditionally proceeded on the basis of 'singular readings' peculiar to a manuscript, the number of genuinely unique readings (not taking into account nonsense forms) is being diminished as more manuscripts are transcribed in full. The current definition adopted for a singular reading as one "which has no Greek support in the critical apparatus of Tischendorf's 8th edition" (56) will have to be reviewed with the publication of the ECM.
A further methodological issue is that, given the gaps in our knowledge of the tradition, the presence of a particular form in the first-hand text of a given manuscript cannot necessarily be ascribed to the copyist's choosing but may have been inherited from the exemplar: the characteristics isolated by the study of singular and sub-singular readings apply not so much to the scribe as to the form of text found in the manuscript. Only the study of corrections and other annotations provides firm evidence for the intervention of individuals. This also poses problems for accounts of theologically-motivated alterations to the biblical text, made popular by Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.(57)
While certain variants may be interpreted theologically, only if a consistent pattern can be identified within a single manuscript are there grounds for identifying a particular bias – which was most probably not introduced by the copyist but by an editor during the preparation of the text for copying. The claim that "some scribes" modified the text by independently introducing identical variants is implausible (unless the separate emergence of the readings can be demonstrated) and fails to take account of the nature of the copying process.' (58)

50.  J.K. Elliott, "Singular Readings in the Gospel Text of P45," in The Earliest Gospels ed. Charles Horton (JSNTSupp 258, London: T&T Clark, 2004), 122–31.

51.  Peter M. Head, "Scribal Behaviour and Theological Tendencies in Singular Readings in P. Bodmer II (P66)," in Textual Variation ed. Houghton and Parker, 55–74.

52.  Dirk Jongkind, Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus (TS 3.5, Piscataway NJ: Gorgias, 2007).

53.  Juan Hernández Jr, Scribal Habits and Theological Influences in the Apocalypse. The Singular Readings of Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Ephraemi (WUNT 2.218. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006).

54.  James R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (NTTSD 36. Leiden: Brill, 2008).

55.  See also Peter M. Head, "The Habits of New Testament Copyists. Singular Readings in the Early Fragmentary Papyri of John," Bib 85.3 (2004): 399–408.

56.  E.C. Colwell, "Scribal Habits in Early Papyri: A Study in the Corruption of the Text," in The Bible in Modern Scholarship ed. J. Philip Hyatt (Nashville TN: Abingdon, 1965), 372–3.

57.  Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (New York & Oxford: OUP, 1993); see also Wayne C. Kannaday, Apologetic Discourse and the Scribal Tradition. (SBLTCS 5. Atlanta GA: SBL, 2004).
58.  On this, see especially Ulrich Schmid, "Scribes and Variants – Sociology and Typology" in Textual Variation ed. Houghton and Parker, 1–23, and other papers in the same volume; Michael W. Holmes, Text of P46: Evidence of the Earliest 'Commentary' on Romans?" in New Testament Manuscripts ed. Kraus and Nicklas, 189–206.
Certainly, Hernández (2006), Jongkind (2007), and Royse (2008) have gathered and analyzed a vast amount of detailed data from the papyri, and these three works stand out especially high above their contemporaries,  and must be considered highly recommended reading.    It is hard to see however, what value Bart Ehrman's work can be granted, given his crippling atheistic bias in regard to the Bible text,  - or what little there is remaining that can be milked out of Colwell's acknowledged pioneering (pre 1965), but now hopelessly out of date study.   

Better choices for new readers in this field would be probably be Zuntz' study on the Epistles, Sturz' foundational work on The Byzantine text-type, and Dr. Maurice Robinson's valuable article on the same topic.   In regard to key passages of the NT relevant to Textual Criticism, the work of James Snapp Jr. on The Ending of Mark must be considered essential reading to those wishing to avoid confusion and the inevitable disinformation now rampant in the current literature on T.C.

Houghton also notes the findings of Schmidt and Holmes, regarding the unlikelihood of coincidental but identical readings by independent copyists.  But this can be very misleading, as a large number of significant cases of homoeoteleuton involve extensive segments of duplicate strings of letters, allowing sometimes hundreds of different line alignments and 'situations' which would generate identical outcome-texts even though the scribes skipped at different places. (See many of our posts here illustrating this).

click to enlarge


Friday, August 19, 2011

E. Mitchell (1896) and Royse (2008) on homoeoteleuton

Because of the sometimes shocking lack of skill exhibited by 19th century textual critics in being able to recognize rather compelling homoeoteleuton (h.t.) errors, one gets the impression that they were wholly ignorant of them, or else had no real grasp of how to go about finding and positively identifying them.

We suspect that there is some kernel of truth to the overwhelming incompetence of textual critics, particularly in the period between 1830 to 1880, encompassing the labours of Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Alford & Hort. 

In particular, the many apologists and promoters of the 'new text-critical methods' seem perpetually unable to comprehend the ramifications of their own words.  It appears that they readily lifted explanations and descriptions of the text-critical process (repeatedly), and yet failed to see the consequences of their own statements.

Another case in point here is Edward Mitchell, author of The Critical Handbook of the Greek NT (Harper, 1896).  This is again not a true handbook at all, for it does not train, equip, or even introduce the actual methods of TC in a way that would enable someone to reliably practice it.   Instead it is a reassuring promotional introduction to the popular (by the 1890s) views of Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf and Hort.   Although providing several pages on TC methods, it lacks even proper illustrations of popular canons.

It also misleads badly as to the applicability of various rules.  When Mitchell turns to various TC problems, we find the following seemingly reasonable and sensible statement:
" para. 9The Nature of Various Readings

Since no manuscripts are extant which date earlier than the 4th century, it is obvious that all now existing are the result of transcriptions from previous copies, and are liable to such variations and imperfections as are incident to all copies...
3.  Frequently a clause is lost by what is called homoeoteleuton (Grk: ομοιοτελευτον), where two clauses happen to end with the same word, and the transcriber's eye passes from one to the other.  Omissions from this cause occur in the Sinaitic MS in the New Testament - according to Scrivener, no fewer than one 115 times - though many of them are supplied by a later hand."
Clearly Mitchell shows himself well aware of the potential problem of h.t. errors in even the most ancient manuscripts, like Aleph  and B.   Yet, happily and uncritically following the claims of Lachmann, Tregelles, and Hort, Mitchell sees no conflict at all between this observation (above) and his third Textual-Critical Canon (p. 122 fwd):
"3.  We may next mentions the canon of Griesbach, Brevior lectio praeferenda est verbosiori, 'The briefer reading must be preferred to the longer.'   The reasonableness of this rule results from the tendency of scribes to incorporate marginal notes or fuller parallel passages, or to amplify OT quotations.  And yet it must be modified by the consideration that words and clauses are sometimes omitted to remove difficulties (see Bengel's canon, 2. above), or through Homoeoteleuton. [!!]"

It is glaringly obvious that Mitchell has no clue about the ramifications of his statements here, or else he is engaging in some kind of deception.

First of all, he misquotes Griesbach, for Griesbach's 'canon' is actually much larger and more complex than stated here.  This is because it was originally given with many limitations and explanations which reveal its unsuitableness and inapplicability to most Variation Units.   This has been noted and expounded by others, including Royse, recently:

Royse on Griesbach's canon  < - - Click here.

Secondly, If his words above are to have any connection to reality, then Hort's text and the whole methodology of elevating "Prefer the Shorter Reading" to a universal canon must be rejected as naive and unrealistic.

The question remains, whether popularizers like Mitchell (and the promoters of the Revised Version etc.) were just dutifully copying what real textual critics had written, or they really understood what they were saying, and thus were engaging in a kind of Orwellian 'newspeak'.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Quote from BibleVersionDiscussionBoard

In review of Nazaroo's lists of h.t. errors, a few comments were posted at the Bible Version Discussion Board in the TC forum there:
"SAWBONES wrote:

This is the very problem with Nazaroo's fancied "homoeoteleuton errors everywhere"; if it were anywhere near as common a cause for the various proposed examples of "dropped" words and phrases as he imagines,

OOGRS>>>[Well Nazaroo is not here to answer for himself anymore, but I will say in his defense that nearly all of his examples of HT,HA on his Masterlist are legitimate cases of (nearly) undeniable corruption by HT/HA. I say this from experience because I have worked nearly everyone of them out and another 70 or 80 more. Most of which was done before Nazaroo gave us the benefit of his list and was done independently of his research. This is the reason I was able to add a couple dozen more instances within the synoptic Gospels. My personal list of HT exceeds 155 instances and this is not counting HA and HM (of which I have found about 30 or so ). I assure you that about 90 percent of these are basically clear cut cases. (i.e. Luke 17:24, Luke 23:23, Matt 10:37, Matt 15:16, Matt 23:4, Matt 9:49, Mark 10:7, Mark 14:68, Luke 24:51, Matt 14:30, John 5:44, Acts 23:28, Rom 14:21, Matt 19:9, Luke 16:21, Acts 2:37, Acts 6:9, I Cor 10:19, Mark 1:40, Luke 19:38, Luke 24:53, Acts 22:12, Luke 5:38,9,  John 6:42, John 11:51 etc.etc.) I do agree with your suspicion though. Not so much of Nazaroo's conclusions but of your suspicions of HT/HA being so prevalent. There are some cases were Ht is one of several internal considerations, therefore which one do we choose? Another thing to remember is that there is no way to know 100 percent that HT/HA has occurred in any place, no matter how much evidence (external) is against such and such omission. It is only probabilities which we can propose, not proof.]

OOGRS>>>[John 11:51 is case in point, P66 and codex D omit  'EKEINOU'  all other available authorities retain. "ENIAUTOU" is the preceding word and now all is clear. A tired or careless (or just human) scribe skipped from ...OU to ...OU. So although we cannot say it is an indisputable fact that HT occurred here, we can say that it is highly probably. ]

Sunday, August 7, 2011

T.S. Green (1856) on homoeoteleuton

Many of those involved in the critically important period in which omissions of 4th century uncials were adopted wholesale as original readings, were fully aware of the likelihood and danger of accidental and non-original omissions. T.S. Green is an example of an analyist who appears to give more than mere lip-service to the problem of h.t. and other accidental omissions:
"The work of [copying] can never be altogether exempt from the corruptions of mere accident, arising from the wanderings of the eye and the slips of the pen. A place affected by various readings should, therefore, be carefully scanned for the detection of any probable mechanical cause of such mischief, anything likely to betray a copyist into unwitting mistakes. Of the endless shapes which these might take two kinds may be especially mentioned, the interchange of words slightly differing in form, and omissions of words and clauses by oversight."   (A Course of Developed Criticism, 1856) intro.