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The Multivalence of the Term “Original Text” in New Testament Textual Criticism*

  • Eldon Jay Epp (a1)

One hundred and ninety-one years ago, in 1808, Johann Leonhard Hug's Introduction to the New Testament carried statements that, in part, may strike textual critics as being far ahead of their time. Hug laments the loss of all the original manuscripts of the New Testament writings “so important to the church” and wonders: “How shall we explain this singular fact?” Next, he observes that Paul and others employed secretaries, but Hug views the closing salutation, written in the author's own hand, as “sufficient to give them the value of originals.” Then, referring to the further role that scribes and correctors must have played after such a Christian writing had been dictated by its author, he says:

Let us now suppose, as it is very natural to do, that the same librarius [copyist] who was employed to make this copy, made copies likewise for opulent individuals and other churches—and there was no original at all, or there were perhaps ten or more [originals] of which none could claim superiority.

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1 Hug Johann Leonhard, Hug's Introduction to the New Testament (trans, from the German 3d ed. by Fosdick David Jr with notes by Moses Stuart; Andover, MA: Gould & Newman, 1836) 7071 [German original, 1808; 3d ed., 1826]. I have not found the 1808 ed., but I have checked the 2d (1821) and 4th (1847) German eds., where the language is identical t o that translated in the English ed.

2 Ibid., 85.

3 Ibid., 86.

4 See the extensive discussion in Tov Emanuel, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress; Assen/Maastricht:Van Gorcum, 1992), esp. chap. 3B on “The Original Shape of the Biblical Text,” 164–80. Note Tov's comments elsewhere: “Textual criticism deals with the origin and nature of all forms of a text, in our case the biblical text. This involves a discussion of its putative original form(s)…” (1); and “…the concept of an ‘original text’ necessarily remains vague” (11). For various views of “original” text, with critique, see Sanders James A., “The Task of Text Criticism,” in Sun Henry T. C., Eades Keith L., et al., eds., Problems in Biblical Theology: Essays in Honor of Rolf Knierim (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997) 315–27, esp. 319-22; 325; and idem, “Stability and Fluidity in Text and Canon,” in Norton Gerard J. and Pisano Stephen, eds., Tradition of the Text: Studies Offered to Dominique Barthelemy in Celebration of His 70th Birthday (OBO 109; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1991) 205–6; 213-14; 217. It would be fruitful to compare these views with those in New Testament textual criticism, but that is beyond the scope of the present discussion.

5 I was struck by one of Fenton John Anthony Hort's emphases in his three-page description of textual criticism: “textual criticism is always negative, because its final aim is virtually nothing more than the detection and rejection of error” (Westcott Brooke Foss and Hort Fenton John Anthony, The New Testament in the Original Greek [2 vols.; Cambridge: Macmillan, 1881-1882; 2d ed., 1896] 2. 3. Perhaps this statement or at least such sentiment—repeated too often—has contributed to the morosity of some practitioners and to the view of many outsiders that textual criticism is a dull if not moribund discipline.A subsidiary purpose of the present paper is to demonstrate the broad relevance, the deep vitality, the high excitement, and the positive reach forward of current New Testament textual criticism.

6 Nolan Frederick, An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text of the New Testament: In Which the Greek Manuscripts Are Newly Classified, the Integrity of the Authorised Text Vindicated, and the Various Readings Traced to Their Origin (London: Rivington, 1815) 23.

7 Birks Thomas Rawson, Essay on the Right Estimation of Manuscript Evidence in the Text of the New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1878) 1; compare v. Also, in the strongly apologetic, biased writings of John William Burgon (and of his followers up to the present time), clear-cut definitions are to be expected. Burgon writes, “The object of textual criticism… is to determine what the Apostles and Evangelists of Christ actually wrote—the precise words they employed, and the very order of them” (Burgon's posthumous work, Miller Edward, ed., The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels Vindicated and Established [London: Bell, 1896] 19). Elsewhere Burgon refers to establishing “the true text” (p. 6).

8 Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek, 2. 1. Further on the relationship between autograph and original text, see 2. 66-68. The progress of textual criticism, Hort says, consists “in approximation towards complete ascertainment of definite facts of the past, that is, towards recovering an exact copy of what was actually written on parchment or papyrus by the author of the book or his amanuensis” (p. 3).

9 Gregory Casper René, Canon and Text of the New Testament (International Theological Library; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1907) 485.

10 Souter Alexander, The Text and Canon of the New Testament (1913; 2d ed., London: Duckworth, 1954) 3. Similarly, Kenyon Frederic G., The Text of the Greek Bible: A Student's Handbook (2d ed.; London: Duckworth, 1953) 12: “If the author's original manuscript had survived, it would of course be unnecessary to trouble about later and less accurate copies of it, or the work of revising editors.…” This sentiment is echoed, for example, in Greenlee J. Harold, Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism (1964; rev. ed.; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995) 2.

11 Greenlee J. Harold, Introduction, 11.

12 Kenyon Frederic G., Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (1912; 2d ed., London: Macmillan, 1926) 12. A qualified statement appears in his Text of the Greek Bible, 9.

13 Lagrange Marie-Joseph, Critique textuelle, II: La critique rationnelle (2d ed.; EtB; Paris: Gabalda, 1935) vii.

14 Aland Kurt and Aland Barbara, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism (trans. Rhodes Erroll F.; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans; Leiden: Brill, 1989) v.

15 Ibid., 280. This principle is reminiscent of Hort: “Where there is variation, there must be error in at least all variants but one; and the primary work of textual criticism is merely to discriminate the erroneous variants from the true” (Westcott and Hort , The New Testament in the Original Greek, 2. 3).

16 Aland and Aland , Text of the New Testament, 291–92.

17 With the discovery and publication of sixteen additional New Testament papyri from Oxyrhynchus (?100-?115), of which thirteen date at or prior to the turn of the third into the fourth century (?100-?104; ?106-?109; ?111; and ?113-?115), this important group of early papyri now numbers sixty-one. For the forty-eight listed in 1989, see Aland and Aland , Text of the New Testament, 5657; 93. For the new papyri, see the listing in Bericht der Hermann Kunst-Stiftung zur Förderung der neutestamentlichen Textforschung für die Jahre 1995 bis 1998 (Munster: Hermann Kunst-Stiftung, 1998) 1418; for the texts, see vols. 64 (1997), 65 (1998), and 66 (1999, forthcoming) of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (Greco-Roman Memoirs 84-86; London: The British Academy by the Egypt Exploration Society).

18 Aland Kurt, “The Twentieth-Century Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism,” in Best Ernest and Wilson Robert McLachlan, eds., Text and Interpretation: Studies in the New Testament Presented to Matthew Black (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979) 11.

19 Aland Kurt, “Der neue ‘Standard-Text’ in seinem Verhältnis zu den frühen Papyri und Majuskeln,” in Epp Eldon J. and Fee Gordon D., eds., New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis: Essays in Honour of Bruce M. Metzger (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981) 274–75.

20 Bruce M. Metzger on behalf of and in cooperation with the Editorial Committee of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (1971; 2d ed., Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1994), orig. ed., xiii; 2d ed., xv.

21 Metzger Bruce M., The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (1964; 1968; 3d ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).

22 Ibid., 150.

23 Ibid., 186.

24 Ibid., v.

25 Tregelles Samuel Prideaux, An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament; With Remarks on Its Revision upon Critical Principles (London: Bagster, 1854) 174. Tregelles's preface is less cautious, however: through textual criticism “we know, on grounds of ascertained certainty, the actual words and sentences…in the terms in which the Holy Spirit gave it” (viii [italics in original]). Yet, on the first page of his large handbook, a rewriting and revision of Home's Thomas HartwellAn Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (11th ed. by Home , Ayre John, and Tregelles S. P.; 4 vols.; London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860) 4. 1, Tregelles defines textual criticism as “that species of criticism which has to do with the ascertainment, as far as is practicable, of what it was that the writer of any ancient work actually wrote.” Tregelles's work appeared earlier and separately, with the same definition, in An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: Longman, Green, et al., 1856) 1.

26 Westcott and Hort , The New Testament in the Original Greek, 2. 1; my emphasis.

27 Warfield Benjamin Breckinridge, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (1886; 7th ed., London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1907) 15; my emphasis. The omission of the italicized portion may be found, as a random example, in Childs Brevard S., The New Testament As Canon: An Introduction (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985) 522(see n. 108 below). Warfield also speaks of the need to restore the texts “substantially to their original form” (11).

28 See, for example, the following: Scrivener Frederick Henry Ambrose, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testamentfor the Use of Biblical Students (2 vols.; 4th ed. by Miller Edward; London: Bell, 1894) 1. 5; Nestle Eberhard, Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the Greek New Testament (trans, from 2dGerman ed.; London: Williams and Norgate, 1901) 156: “The task is to exhibit what the original writer intended to communicate to his readers, and the method is simply that of tracing the history of the document in question back to its beginning, if, and in so far as, we have the means to do so at our command.” Nestle's CompareEinführung in das griechische Neue Testament (1897, 1899; 1909 [p. 168]; 4th ed., Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1923, ed. by Ernst von Dobschiitz [p. 118]); Jacquier E., Le Nouveau Testament dans I'église chrétienne, tome second: Le texte du Nouveau Testament (2d ed.; Paris: Gabalda, 1913) 1; Vogels Heinrich Joseph, Handbuch der Textkritik des Neuen Testaments (1923; 2d ed.; Bonn: Hanstein, 1955) 1; Robertson Archibald Thomas, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1925) has no direct, introductory statement, but see p. 173 and esp. p. 221; Lake Kirsopp, The Text of the New Testament (6th ed., rev. by New Silva; Oxford Church Text Books; London: Rivingtons, 1928) 1; Taylor Vincent, The Text of the New Testament: A Short Introduction (2d ed.; London: Macmillan, 1963) 1; Vaganay Leon, An Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism (2d ed., rev. by Amphoux Christian-Bernard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) 1: textual criticism “aims to retrieve the original form of a text or at least the form closest to the original” (compare. 1st English ed., 1937, p. 9; French eds., 1934; rev. ed., 1986, p. 15); Black David Alan, New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994) 12: “…to recover the original text of the New Testament from the available evidence”; Elliott Keith and Moir Ian, Manuscripts and the Text of the New Testament: An Introduction for English Readers (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995) 1.

Finally, the life-goal of Lobegott Friedrich Konstantin von Tischendorf, as stated in a letter to a patron in 1844 (after he had outlined his plans to collect and to publish pre-tenth century manuscripts, ancient Latin manuscripts, and the Patristic quotations), was to form “a text that will approach as closely as possible to the very letter as it proceeded from the hands of the Apostles” (cited in Black Matthew and Davidson Robert, Constantine von Tischendorf and the Greek New Testament [Glasgow: University of Glasgow Press, 1981] 7).

29 I am not surprised now to discover that I used the term in quotation marks already in 1966 (though not consistently) in The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis in Acts (SNTSMS 3; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) for example, 13bis, 18bis, 36.

30 See discussion on “The Relation of an Elusive, Multivalent‘1’to the Concept of 'Canon'” and “Textual Variants as Canonical/ Authoritative” later in the article.

31 The conference papers were published in Petersen William L., ed., Gospel Traditions in the Second Century: Origins, Recensions, Text, and Transmission (Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity 3; Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989).

32 Koester Helmut, “The Text of the Synoptic Gospels in the Second Century,” in Petersen, ed., Gospel Traditions in the Second Century, 1937. It is of interest that among the nine conference participants (from six nations) only Koester, though he works in the text-critical field (for example, “The Text of I Thessalonians,” in Groh Dennis E. and Jewett Robert, The Living Text: Essays in Honor of Ernest W. Sounders [Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1985] 219–27) would not be first identified as a “textual critic”; he chooses the term “exegete” (Ibid., 219).

33 To ?52 (a fragment of John) now should be added the fragmentary ?90 (P.Oxy. 3523, second century, John); 104 (P.Oxy. 4404, second half of the second century, Matthew); and probably?98 (second century[?], Apocalypse of John). Three other papyri date “around 200”::?46 ?64+67 and ?66 while two others (both with portions of Matthew) stem from the late second/early third century: ?103 (P.Oxy. 4403) and ?77 (P.Oxy. 2683+4405). [For ?103 and ?104, see n. 17, above].

34 Koester , “The Text of the Synoptic Gospels in the Second Century,” 19.

35 Ibid., 21, 30-33.

36 Ibid., 37; compare idem, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (London: SCM; Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990) 275–86, 295-302, 360-402. A description and assessment of Koester's view may be found, for example, in Sellew Philip, “Secret Mark and the History of Canonical Mark,” in Pearson Birger A., et al., The Future of Early Christianity: Essays in Honor of Helmut Koester (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991) 242–57. Note that Sellew proposes terminology for four stages in Mark's history that, in three cases, have parallels to my proposed “dimensions of originality”: Original Mark, Augmented Mark, Secret Mark, and Canonical Mark (243, n. 6). For a critique of Koester's view, see Parker David C., The Living Text of the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) 107–10.

Bovon François, “The Synoptic Gospels and the Noncanonical Acts of the Apostles,” HTR 81 (1988) 1936, provides a new perspective on “the alterations of older sources made by the Evangelists as well as the subsequent modifications of their work made by those who came later” (21) by comparing such literary activities with their parallels in the transmission of the Christian apocryphal literature. In the process he relies on codicological data; citation, imitation, and adaptation techniques; redactional tendencies; the witness of early church writers; etc. to conclude, for example, that “perhaps Matthew and Luke used a version of the Gospel of Mark that was earlier than, and different from, our canonical Mark” (27).

Very recently and (like Bovon) by using noncanonical gospel material, Robinson James M., “A Written Greek Sayings Cluster Older than Q: A Vestige,” HTR 92 (1999) 6177, demonstrates from a textual variant in P.Oxy. 655 (supported by the first hand of N), namely ού ξαίνει for αύξνει, that this Oxyrhynchus fragment of the Gospel of Thomas carries a text that is not only pre-Matthew and pre-Luke, but clearly pre-Q as well. Thus, a “very ancient tradition” is exposed that “obviously originated prior to Q and the canonical gospels written in the last third of the first century” because it was “not contaminated by the scribal error that made its way already into Q and thus into the canonical gospels” (67). This evidence, not insignificantly, also confirms that “Q was indeed a written Greek text, behind which stood an older written Greek text as Vorlage” (61). Compare Robinson J. M. and Heil Christoph, “Zeugnisse eines schriftlichen, griechischen vorkanonischen Textes: Mt 6, 28b N, P.Oxy. 665 1,1-17 (EvTh 36) und Q 12,27,” ZNW 89 (1998) 3044.

37 Koester Helmut, Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 2: History and Literature of Early Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982) 182. Koester more recently (Ancient Christian Gospels 206-16) endorsed the argument of J.B. Daniels's dissertation that the synoptic parallels in P. Egerton 2 represent “a separate tradition which did not undergo Markan redaction” and that the author of the papyrus “did not make use of the Gospel of John in canonical form” (207).

38 It is obvious to me that Koester's Notre Dame paper also was a direct influence on Petersen's William L. views in his “What Text Can New Testament Textual Criticism Ultimately Reach?” in Aland Barbara and Delobel Joel, eds., New Testament Textual Criticism, Exegesis, and Early Church History (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology; Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1994) 136–52, esp. 136-37, inasmuch as Petersen edited the volume of conference papers (see n. 31, above) and uses similar examples. Also, Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes were among the very few nonlocal attendees at the Notre Dame conference. Holmes twice refers to Koester's views from that conference in his extremely brief discussion of the emerging issue of what really i s meant by terms such as “autograph” and “original” in his chapter, “Reasoned Eclecticism in New Testament Textual Criticism,” in Ehrman Bart D. and Holmes Michael W., eds., The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis (SD 46; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995) 353–54.

39 Ehrman Bart D., The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (New York; Oxford University Press, 1993).

40 Ibid., 15, compare 275.

41 Ibid., xii (italics in original); compare 276.

42 Review of Ehrman by Parker David C., JTS 45 (1994) 707.

43 Ehrman , Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 280 (italics in original).

44 Ehrman Bart D., “The Text as Window: New Testament Manuscripts and the Social History of Early Christianity,” in Ehrman B. D. and Holmes Michael W., eds., The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis (SD 46; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995) 361 and n. 1 (italics in original).

45 Petersen , “What Text Can New Testament Textual Criticism Ultimately Reach?” 136–37.

46 Maas Paul, Textual Criticism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958) 1.

47 Petersen , “What Text Can New Testament Textual Criticism Ultimately Reach?” 136–37.

48 Ibid., 138-39. Petersen's claim concerns the 27th ed. of Nestle/Aland = 4th ed. of UBSGNT.

49 Ibid., 139-40 (italics in original).

50 Ibid., 148.

51 Ibid., 140-47.

52 But see n. 33, above.

53 Petersen , “What Text Can New Testament Textual Criticism Ultimately Reach?” 148; compare 150.

54 Ibid., 149.

55 Epp Eldon Jay, “Textual Criticism in the Exegesis of the New Testament,” in Porter Stanley, ed., Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament (NTTS 25; Leiden: Brill, 1997) 4597; the “Excursus” occupies pp. 73-91.

56 Dahl Nils A., “The Particularity of the Pauline Epistles as a Problem in the Ancient Church,” in Unnik W. C. van, ed., Neotestamentica et Patristica: Eine Freundesgabe, Herrn Professor Dr. Oscar Cullmann zu seinem 60. Geburtstag Uberreicht (NovTSup 6; Leiden: Brill, 1962) 267.

57 Ibid., 268.

58 Ibid., 269.

59 Ibid., 271 n. 2.

60 Gamble Harry Y., The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans: A Study in Textual and Literary Criticism (SD 42; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdraans, 1977) 1135; 96-142. Compare idem, Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995) 5865.

61 Parker David C., The Living Text of the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

62 Ibid., 3-4.

63 Ibid., 7.

64 Ibid., 132-37.

65 Ibid., 211.

66 Ibid., 208.

67 Ibid., 209.

68 Ibid., 182.

69 Ibid., 203.

70 Ibid., 45-46.

71 Ibid., 70; compare 200.

72 Ibid., 200.

73 Ibid., 209.

74 Ibid., 119.

75 Ibid., 93.

76 Parker David C., “Scripture is Tradition,” Theology 94 (1991) 15.

77 Parker , The Living Text of the Gospels, 9293.

78 Ibid., 183.

79 Ibid., 102.

80 Ibid., 172.

81 Ibid., 183.

82 Ibid., 174.

83 Ibid., 203.

84 Ibid., 212.

85 Ibid., 93.

86 Aland and Aland , Text of the New Testament, 297. See the statement in Der Text des Neuen Testaments (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1982) 298: “Denn die neutestamentliche Textkritik kann iiber den Textbestand der neutestamentlichen Schriften nur urteilen von dem Augenblick an, wo sie durch Abschriften ihre literarische Existenz beginnen, zu dem, was vorher war, hat sie keinen Zugang.”

For a discussion of the task and boundaries of Old Testament textual criticism, see Sanders James A., “The Task of Text Criticism,” 319–22, and his further references; idem, “Stability and Fluidity in Text and Canon,” 205-6; and Deist Ferdinand E., “Text, Textuality, and Textual Criticism,” JNSL 21 (1995) 5967, who treats implications of textual criticism, defined as “text-restoration,” for recent literary theory. See also n. 4 of this article.

87 Aland and Aland , Text of the New Testament, 296.

88 See discussion on Bovon and Robinson in n. 36. Petzer Jacobus H., “Reconsidering the Silent Women of Corinth—A Note on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35,” Theologia Evangelica (Pretoria) 26 (1993) 132–38; esp. 135-37, uses this text to illustrate his view of an “original text” and a later-developed but oldest “received text” of the epistle—indicating, in our present language, two levels of originality.

On the complex issue of interpolations, see William O. Walker Jr., who has suggested both principles for and examples of possibly interpolated passages in the New Testament, always insisting that “text-critical considerations should play a significant role in the identification of interpolations” (Is First Corinthians 13 a Non-Pauline Interpolation?CBQ 60 [1998] 496; but see esp. his The Burden of Proof in Identifying Interpolations in the Pauline Letters,” NTS 33 [1987] 610–18;Text-Critical Evidence for Interpolations in the Letters of Paul,” CBQ 50 [1988] 622–31;1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and Paul's Views Regarding Women,” JBL 94 [1975] 94110; and1 Corinthians 2.6-16: A Non-Pauline Interpolation?JSNT 47 [1992] 7594). For a critique of Walker's views, see Wisse Frederik W., “Textual Limits to Redactional Theory in the Pauline Corpus,” in Goehring James E., Hedrick Charles W., Sanders Jack T., with Betz Hans Dieter, eds., Gospel Origins & Christian Beginnings in Honor of James M. Robinson (Forum Fascicles, 1; Sonoma, CA: Polebridge Press, 1990) 172–78.

89 I offer this definition of the proper sphere of New Testament textual criticism and the descriptions of two subcategories as the first such attempts; they aim to clarify the issues but also to stimulate further consideration of these complex subjects.

90 On interpolations, see n. 88. Extensive literature has developed on the possible interpolation (thus, doubtless non-Pauline) or dislocation of 1 Cor 14:34-35; it is found after 14:40 in Dp 88 et al., is treated as a separate paragraph in ?46 BNADp 33, and is marked in various manuscripts by sigla interpreted by some to indicate either that it was lacking in those manuscripts or dislocated. See, for example, Fee Gordon D., The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) 699708;Walker , “1 Corinthians 11:2-16,” 95 n.6; 109; Payne Philip B., “Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus, and 1 Cor 14.34-5,” NTS 41 (1995) 240–62;idem, MS. 88 as Evidence for a Text without 1 Cor. 14.34-5,” NTS 44 (1998) 152–58. For a contrary view, see Niccum Curt, “The Voice of the Manuscripts on the Silence of Women: The External Evidence for 1 Cor 14.34-5,” NTS 43 (1997) 242–55.

Stewart-Sykes Alistair, “Ancient Editors and Copyists and Modern Partition Theories: The Case of the Corinthian Correspondence,” JSNT 61 (1996) 5364, argues that complex compilation or partition theories regarding the Pauline letters would have been “a virtual physical impossibility” on the assumption that Paul's letters were both written and preserved on rolls—because rolls could not be manipulated in a fashion that would permit such literary rearrangements. Nowhere, however, does he discuss the large issue of the codex in early Christianity, nor does he refer, for example, to the paleographic and codicological work of C. H. Turner, C. H. Roberts, or T. C. Skeat, or to recent work, like Gamble, Books and Readers in the Early Church; compare my The Codex and Literacy in Early Christianity and at Oxyrhynchus: Issues Raised by Harry Y. Gamble's Books and Readers in the Early Church,” Critical Review of Books in Religion 10 (1997) 1537, esp. 15-26.

91 For an earlier, brief attempt to clarify this relationship, see my “Textual Criticism in the Exegesis of the New Testament,” 73-84.

92 Epp Eldon Jay, The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis in Acts (SNTSMS 3; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966) see 1221.

93 Lake Kirsopp, The Influence of Textual Criticism on the Exegesis of the New Testament (Oxford: Parker, 1904) 34.

94 Ibid., 11-12. Compare Lake's earlier, similar, but less well-developed suggestions in The Practical Value of Textual Variation Illustrated from the Book of Acts,” Biblical World 19 (1902) 361–69, esp. 363-64, 369. How forward-looking this view of Lake was in his day can be seen by contrasting it with what Warfield was still saying in 1907 n i the 7th ed. of his Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, p. 11: “The text conveys the sense; but the textual critic has nothing to do, primarily, with the sense. It is for him to restore the text, and for the interpreter who follows him to reap the new meaning.” But when Lake speaks of the “textual critic” and the “exegete,” they are intimately related, if not identified, as he brings the interpretive task virtually into the textual criticism enterprise. Certainly the two tasks become one in the views of Riddle and Parvis.

95 Riddle Donald W., “Textual Criticism as a Historical Discipline,” AngThR 18 (1936) 221.

96 Ibid., 227.

97 Parvis Merrill M., “The Nature and Tasks of New Testament Textual Criticism,” JR 32 (1952) 172.

98 Ibid., 173.

99 Fascher Erich, Textgeschichte ah hermeneutisches Problem (Halle [Saale]: Max Niemeyer, 1953) 12.

100 Colwell Emest Cadman, What Is the BestNew Testament? (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952) 5253.

101 Ibid., 52.

102 On Origen as a textual critic, see Epp, “Textual Criticism in the Exegesis of the New Testament,” 83.

103 For these views of Romans, see Gamble , Textual History of the Letter to the Romans, 1535; 96-129; compare Clabeaux John J., A Lost Edition of the Letters of Paul: A Reassessment of the Text of the Pauline Corpus Attested by Marcion (CBQMS 21; Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association, 1989) 14, for a summary; Schmidt Ulrich, Marcion und sein Apostolos: Rekonstruktion und historische Einordnung der marcionitischen Paulusbriefausgabe (Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung 25; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995) 284–94; andLampe Peter, “Zur Textgeschichte des Romerbriefes,” NovT 27 (1985) 273–77.

104 The terms “pre-canonical original,” “canonical original,” and “interpretive original” were used in my earlier attempt to describe levels or, better, dimensions of originality (“Textual Criticism in the Exegesis of the New Testament,” 89), but obviously I prefer the terminology and refinements adopted for the present paper.

105 Nolan , An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, 23.

106 Parker , The Living Text of the Gospels, 200, 93, refers to the New Testament “text” in these statements, and it should not be assumed that he would approve my substitution of “canon” for “text.”

107 See “Textual Criticism in the Exegesis of the New Testament,” 91.

108 Brevard S. Childs, New Testament as Canon, applies his “canonical approach” to the entire New Testament, and his excursus on “The Hermeneutical Problem of New Testament Text-Criticism” (p. 521-30) is equally ideological. I cannot do justice to it here (nor am I confident that I understand all of its many nuances), though its relevance to our discussion is frequent and considerable. For example, Childs recognizes that “[t]he selection and shaping of the books of scripture took place in the context of the worship of the struggling church as t i determined canonicity by the use and effect of the books themselves” (p. 31); and he also affirms “…the effect of the canonical collection in its final form on the shaping of the tradition for those who treasured these writings as scripture” (p. 32). In Child's view, “[t]he earliest levels of textual witness reveal a state of wide multiplicity” and the goal of restoring the “original autographs” “seems increasingly one-sided” (p. 524). For him, the term canon also has different uses (p. 41), yet the New Testament canon is “that corpus received as scripture.… The canonical form marks not only the place from which exegesis begins, but also it marks the place at which exegesis ends. The text's pre-history and post-history are both subordinated to the form deemed canonical” (p. 48). And the “canonical vision” involves “interpreting the New Testament as sacred scriptures of the church” (p. 53). As for New Testament textual criticism, it is “part of the larger canonical process” (p. 523), and Childs sees a crucial need to “redefine the task of New Testament textual criticism in such a way as to do justice to the text's peculiar canonical function within the Christian church,” that is, “establishing the church's received and authoritative text” and “to recover that New Testament text which best reflects the true apostolic witness found in the church's scripture” (p. 527). Methodologically, he asserts, this redefinition is accomplished by starting with the textus receptus because it describes “a full range of textual possibilities which actually functioned in the church,” from which one discerns, critically, “the best received, that is, canonical text”—“that text which best reflects the church's judgment as to its truth” (p. 528). Childs recognizes the “element of subjectivity” in this “continuing process,” for “the discipline of text criticism is not a strictly objective, or non-theological activity” (p. 529).

Of course, textual criticism is not a strictly objective exercise, but I differ in thinking that it is preferable to begin the enterprise with the earliest witnesses/texts rather than later ones (though for me that is more a matter of convenience than ideology) and that canon and text should be distanced rather than integrally joined. The many references by Childs, within the last few pages of his excursus, to the text best reflecting “the true apostolic witness” (p. 527), or “the church's judgment as to its truth (p. 528), or “the truest witness to the gospel,” or the best-received text's “purity” (p. 529), or, finally, to “the truest textual rendering” (p. 530), heighten his unification of text and canon as jointly a theological enterprise. I would seek ways, rather, to distance them one from the other as an essential aspect of textual criticism as a scholarly discipline.

Further on “canonical criticism,” including interaction with Childs's views, see the works of Sanders James A., esp. From Sacred Story to Sacred Text: Canon as Paradigm (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987).

109 Bovon François, “The Synoptic Gospels and the Noncanonical Acts of the Apostles,” HTR 81 (1988) 35.

110 Hengel Martin, “Aufgaben der neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft,” NTS 40 (1994) 341. 42. A slightly revised version appeared in Bulletin for Biblical Research 6 (1996) 7686; see p. 79.

* This article is based on a paper presented at the New Testament Textual Criticism Section, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida November 1998. An earlier exploration of several of the issues appeared in an excursus on “The Intersection of Textual Criticism and Canon” (73–91) in Eldon Jay Epp, “Textual Criticism in the Exegesis of the New Testament, with an Excursus on Canon,” in Stanley E. Porter, ed., Handbook to Exegesis of the New Testament (NTTS 25; Leiden: Brill, 1997) 45–97. The author wishes to thank ElDoris B. Epp, Ph.D., for her critique and suggestions at crucial points in the writing of this article.

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Harvard Theological Review
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