Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part 5)

Lets proceed further down Hubner's list of points against E. F. Hills:
2.   "The same principle goes for Codex Bezae Cantibrigiensis, which was written from 400-450 AD (compare to P66, B,  א, all of which were written earlier and do not contain the pericope).
3.  The same principle goes for Apostolic Constitutions, which was written from 375-380 AD – again, after the vital manuscript evidence. But more importantly, this source isn’t a biblical manuscript at all."
Hubner proceeds with the same naive and flawed 'textual criticism' of the 19th century.  His whole argument again centers on the actual crude dates of manuscripts.

(1)  However, the dating of most manuscripts is a joke. The 'dates' provided in the literature are guesstimates that have a typical range of plus or minus 50 years, or about a 100 year window, when dated by crude and ambiguous palaeographic assessments of 'style' and scribal technique.   But these factors are not only complicated by the wide range of scripts and styles which existed in every age, but also by the fact that these features could vary between copyists or within the same manuscript, before a manuscript ever left the scriptorium.
Futher, copyists would often deliberately imitate older styles, to give a manuscript a prestigious look, or an authority, which also gives a false impression of the date of manufacture.  

(2)  No one even knows the origin of even the most famous manuscripts.   Copies like Codex B and Aleph are of completely unknown origin, but can hardly be dated earlier than 340 A.D., when such expensive MSS were first made.  But the wild variations between the styles, format, and text of these MSS betrays a time-spread of 50 or 100 more years, pushing the date of Aleph closer to the time of Jerome (c. 400 A.D.) or even later.   (See our examination of the text and dating of Sinaiticus here.)  Manuscripts like Codex Bezae show signs of being in the possession of magicians and alchemists, more interested in fortune-telling and astrology than Christian dogma.

(3)  There aren't enough MSS from the 4th century and earlier to give us a proper sample of the texts in circulation from these early centuries.  It is ridiculous to pretend that less than 4 copies which vary wildly among themselves can possibly represent 4 centuries of copying involving many thousands of manuscripts.  Reports from contemporaries like Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine make it clear that there were many problems with the text.  The narrow geographical area of out of the way Egyptian settlements is not any kind of finger on the pulse of the mainline copying lines of transmission.

(4)  Hubner completely misunderstands the meaning and proper use of patristic and ECW evidence.  For our purposes, it doesn't matter that the Apostolic Constitutions are 'not a manuscript'.  They are a datable record of when the passage was in circulation and viewed as authoritative.  From this data, the reasonable conclusion is that the Pericope de Adultera was found in copies of John going back to the 2nd century or earlier.  This coincides with what can be gleaned from the testimony of other Early Christian Writers (ECW) like Jerome etc.   The first thing that patristic evidence does is establishes the earliest verifiable date for a passage or verse.  For purposes of establishing its existance, it matters not what condition that verse or passage is in the source, or even the credibility or accuracy of the source.

(5)  What Hubner calls "vital manuscript evidence" isn't 'vital' at all.  Its fragmentary, sporadic, undatable, and untraceable anonymous 'testimony' which must be carefully and cautiously evaluated.   We don't actually need it at all to do rational historical research and reach reasonable conclusions about the early text.

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(to be continued...)


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