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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baljon (1898) on PA: State of Art and state of confusion

J.M.S. Baljon

In 1898, J. M. S. Baljon attempted to give the public a corrected, lean and mean version of Tischendorf's epic 8th edition Greek NT.  Tischendorf's original major critical edition was under-printed and overly expensive, as well as being massively cluttered with patristic citations which, unfortunately as Tregelles had shown, were simply carried over from previous collators and so were both unreliable and useless (for accurate patristic citations Tregelles' GNT is preferred).
Baljon's solution was to drop the bulk of the superfluous notes and present the readings of the main Uncial MSS and important minuscules and versions.

Interestingly, Baljon's approach to the Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11) reflects both the state of the art, and the state of confusion surrounding the passage at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries.

Facsimiles of the relevant pages of Baljon's Greek New Testament regarding the PA can be found here: Baljon on the PA  < - - click here.
"The edition of J. M. S. BALJON is in the main an abridgment of Tischendorf's octava maior. He avails himself, however, of later discoveries, such as the Sinai-Syriac Palimpsest for the Gospels, and the Syriac version published by Gwynn for the Apocalypse. In Acts, Blass's restoration of the so-called Forma Romana is regularly indicated. No other edition, for one thing, shows more conveniently where recent scholars recognize glosses or other interpolations, or propose transpositions or conjectural emendations and such like. So far, therefore, it may be commended to those who do not possess an edition with a more copious critical apparatus. But even Baljon's New Testament fails to realize the ideal of a practical edition."
In Baljon we see a repeat of earlier editors' approach to the textual problem (such as that of Tregelles, Wordsworth,  and Tischendorf): He simply presents a recap of the discussions in almost impenetrable Latin as a three-page footnote, then presents the two best attested textual versions of the passage, (1) that of the TR (Traditional Byzantine text), and (2) that of Codex Bezae (4th cent. bilingual MS D/d).
 His detailed apparatus for the text itself is however helpful, and represents a clearer but earlier precursor to the apparatus of von Soden (1913), who later extensively collated the Byzantine MSS themselves in this passage.  von Soden's apparatus, while providing a more detailed view of the Byzantine text-type, suffers from a complex and cumbersome system of notation which is most difficult to interpret.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Scholz and MacMichael (1831-1854) on the PA

Scholz (1830), Roman Catholic professor of Sacred Literature in Bonn*, searched extensively all over Europe, and discovered an additional 600 manuscripts of the NT.  He personally collated many of these in full, and prepared a new edition of the Greek NT based on Griesbach's earlier (1806-1818) work.

Scholz, like Griesbach, was convinced of the authenticity of John 7:53-8:11, although he was well aware of the difficult textual problems surrounding the passage.

MacMichael (1854) republished a newer and almost completely corrected final edition of Scholz' Greek text, spending nearly 20 years carefully checking and correcting Scholz.   He tells us:
"In a few instances, where deliberate consideration of the text and readings led to the adoption of some other reading than that of the original text [Scholz], the latter is presented in the notes.  These deviations, however are very rare; their number, it is believed, will not be found to exceed twenty." (MacMichael, Preface, iii)
MacMichael adds extensive English notes to the text of Scholz in the lower margin (apparatus).  On the PA he states:
"The genuineness of the text from 7:53 to 8:11 (both inclusive) has been much questioned: see Olsh., following Beza, Grotius, Hammond, Wetst.  It is defended by Whitby, Mill, Selden (d Uxor. Heb.), Bloomfield.
Of its antiquity there can be no doubt (it is noticed by Tatian, A.D.160), and its authenticity, or truth as a genuine fragment of the Gospel narrative, handed down from Apostolic times, has hardly been questioned.  Its position here, unconnected as it stands with what precedes or follows it, has suggested the idea that it was originally inserted in the margin, as an incident illustrative of our Lord's words, εγω κρινω ουδενα (8:15)."
MacMichael, although properly allowing for the weakness of connection of the three adjoining sections, comes in on the side of the essential authenticity and integrity of the passage.

It may be noted that many sections in John are weakly joined, and John's gospel does not purport to be a continuous and complete narrative, but rather a collection of key incidents in Jesus' ministry, often vaguely connected. (cf. John 20:30-31).
* John Martin Augustine Scholz (b. at Kapsdorf, near Breslau, 8 February, 1794; d. at Bonn, 20 Oct 1852), the German Catholic Orientalist and exegete


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cambridge U., A. Plummer, and the PA

We previously discussed Plummer's misquotation (1889) of Godet (1860s) on the number of variants in the PA and the significance (none) of this 'false positive'.

Today, we want to look at his work in more detail, and in context.

How and why should Reverend Plummer have become an expert on the PA in the first place?   Of course the answer is that he wasn't an expert on the PA.

Westcott and Hort, and their allies in the 1880s were desperately seeking to promote their new "Revised Version" of the English Bible, which was not a strict revision at all, but actually a substitution of a critically reconstructed NT text, based on the school of Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf, & Hort.

It quickly became obvious that many seasoned scholars and experts would not be going along with the all the changes to the text.  The only way to advance their cause was to raise a whole new generation of students, lacking the that background, and indoctrinate them in the Westcott/Hort viewpoint.

For this, the Cambridge group began a new series of Bible commentaries, specifically targeted for schools and colleges, i.e., the next generation of Bible students.  The principles of the new commentary were transparent
"The General Editor [J.J.S. Perowne, Dean of Peterborough] thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the editors of specific books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed.
On the NT more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and will always differ.
His aim has been in all such cases to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided.
He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of notes, with pointing out omissions, with occasionally suggesting a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages.
Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary [on each book] should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the series." 
- Deanery, Peterborough, 1880."

It is obvious that the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools, (1889) like the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, by the same editors, was from the start to be a wild mix of every theory and notion circulating, intended to expose vulnerable young minds to the fads of recent scholarship.
Looking backward, most of the editors were hardly qualified for the task, and their mediocre works were soon forgotten.   Only a few names are occasionally referenced today, such as A.B. Davidson, and H. C.G. Moule (who wrote Hebrew and Greek grammars respectively).
Plummer became known because he happened to land the job of commenting on John's Gospel and Epistles, always popular and important NT books.  His work was recycled for the later ICC commentary.

Just as remarkable as the charter regarding the commentaries, was the method that was chosen to provide the Greek text to accompany them:
"..the Syndics of the Cambridge U. Press have not thought it desirable to reprint the text in common use [Stephen's text (TR) as published by Scrivener].
To have done so would have set aside all the materials that have since been accumulated towards the formation of a correct text, and to disregard the results of textual criticism...
On the other hand the Syndics were unable to adopt one of the more recent critical texts [copyright?], and they were not disposed to make themselves responsible for the preparation of an entirely new and independent text [no one with the necessary skills on hand, or a budget]:
At the same time it would have been obviously impossible to leave it to the judgement of each individual contributor to frame his own text, as this would have been fatal to anything like uniformity or consistency. [what a startling admission!]
They believed however that a good text might be constructed by simply taking the consent of the two most recent critical editions, those of Tischendorf and Tregelles, as a basis.  ...allowing a determining voice to Stephen's text where the two critical editions were at variance and it agreed with either, and to a third critical text, that of Lachmann, where the three disagreed.  In this manner peculiar readings [lone decisions] would be passed over...while readings having double authority [two critics] would [possess] confidence. all other cases, Scrivener's edition of Stephens has been followed. [So in Acts, Epistles, Rev.]
In the Gospels, a single modification has been rendered necessary by the importance of the Sinai MS (א) [Aleph], discovered too late to be used by Tregelles, except for [John 21 & forward]
Accordingly, if a reading in Tregelles' margin agrees with Aleph, it is given the same authority as his text [i.e., it is assumed that Tregelles would have switched!], and bracketed words omitted by Aleph are treated as rejected. 
The spelling and accents and Iota subscripts and composite forms of Tischendorf are adopted.  The punctuation of Tischendorf's 8th edition is usually adopted, except as mentioned in the notes. Paragraphs correspond to the [Revised Version].  The commentator is free to express other preferences.
It is hoped the text formed will fairly represent the results of modern criticism, and will at least be ...preferable to the Received Text, for use in schools."
 - J.J. Stewart Perowne, 1881.
 It follows that the opinion of two colluding critics, Tregelles and Tischendorf, will take precedence over the Traditional text and the vast majority of manuscripts, versions, and early Christian writers (ECW),  in all cases, and where the two critics differ, a third critic Lachmann will be brought in to outvote the Traditional text in any case.  Its a lose-lose situation with a crude, stacked voting system.  The NT text will be decided by three favoured critics, of the Lachmann school, with all others, equally expert, such as Hug, Griesbach, Scholz,  Scrivener, Burgon, Bloomfield, Wordsworth, Canon Cook, Whitney, Vincent, Godet, Baljon, even Alford, being carefully avoided.  The vote is further prejudiced by altering Tregelles' more cautious choices to conform to Codex Aleph, the most abberant text of the Gospels known.  the result again stacks the deck further toward the Aleph/B (Alexandrian) text-type.

The method certainly delivers a text substantially like Westcott/Hort (without the copyright problems) and is more or less true to its claim:  "the text formed will fairly represent the results of [one school at least of] modern criticism".

But as a method it must be judged crude, unscientific, and heavily biased to favor the opinions and agenda of the Cambridge "Syndics", and not the needs of honest scholarship.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Adam Clarke on the PA

The original "New Edition" (1832) of Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes, as the 1884 preface tells us, reigned for 50 years as the standard commentary, outselling almost all other similar works.  Its continuing usefulness and popularity caused the publishers to sponsor a Revised Edition (1884), supplemented by advances since that time.  The publishers chose only the best scholars in harmony with the original evangelical orthodoxy.  The final editor (Daniel Curry) expressed his own accord with the original work, accepting the Bible as the word of God, itself the revelation of Jesus Christ, and his intent to carry on in the original spirit of this great work. 

In 1825 Clarke had written:

"Bishop Pearce says,
"It would have been strange if Jesus, when he was not a magistrate, and had not the witnesses before him to examine them; and when she had not been tried and condemned by the law and legal judges, should have taken upon him to condemn her. This being the case, it appears why Jesus avoided giving an answer to the question of the scribes and Pharisees; and also how little reason there is to conclude from hence, that Christ seems in this case not enough to have discouraged adultery, though he called it a sin.
And yet this opinion took place so early among the Christians, that the reading of this story was industriously avoided in the lessons recited out of the Gospels, in the public service of the churches; as if Jesus' saying I do not condemn thee, had given too much countenance to women guilty of that crime. In consequence of this, as it was never read in the churches, and is now not to be found in any of the Evangelistaria [Lectionaries], and as it was probably marked in the MSS. as a portion not to be read there; this whole story, from verse 1 to verse 11 inclusive, came in length of time, to be left out in some MSS, though in the greater part it is still remaining." (- Pearce)
Thus far the judicious and learned Bishop. How the passage stands in all die MSS. hitherto collated, may be seen in Wetstein & Griesbach."
Daniel Curry (the 1884 editor) deletes the previous quotation, and substitutes newer material from Horne and Harman. 

After the insertion of T. H. Horne's overview on the PA (from his Introduction), and the opinion of Dr. H. M. Harman (from his Introduction),  The new editor summarizes Adam Clarke's position:

"Dr. Clarke disposes of the matter in this wise:  After weighing what has been adduced in favour of its authenticity, and seriously considering its state in the MSS, as exhibited in the Var. Lect. of Griesbach, I must confess, the evidence in its favour does not appear to me to be striking.   Yet I by no means would have it expunged from the text.  Its absence from many MSS, and the confused manner in which it appears in others, may be readily accounted for on the principles laid down by Bishop Pearce.  It may, however, be observed, that a perfect connexion subsists between verse 52 (ch 7) and 12 (ch 8) - all the intermediate verses having been omitted by MSS of the first antiquity and authority.  In some MSS it is found at the end of this Gospel; in others a vacant place is left in this chapter; and in other it is placed after the 21st chapter of Luke." 

A few comments are in order:

a)  Clarke had at his disposal only the variants and MSS recorded by Griesbach in 1805.   Since that time, thousands more MSS have been discovered, catalogued and collated in regard to the PA, showing its overwhelming inclusion in some 1,240 continuous-text MSS and over 1,000 lectionaries.

b)  Bishop Pearce understood the problematic content of the passage in the light of European morals and nomist concerns.   Indeed, von Soden has accurately collated the features of the passage's removal, reinsertion and interpolation at other locations, and shown how this came about during the later history of copying, due to confusion.

c) The connexion (or rather lack of a jarring discordancy) between 7:52 and 8:12 is not so smooth and close as might be claimed.  "Then again Jesus spoke to them..." (v12) makes no direct sense given Jesus is out of the scene in the previous verses, where the religious authorities are in private talks elsewhere in the temple.   No clear location is indicated, even though there is an obvious change of scene between 7:52 and 8:12.

d)  The vacant spaces provided in some of the most ancient Uncial MSS indicates a clear knowledge of the existence of the passage and an intent to either include it or leave an explanatory marginal note at this point, probably to tell subsequent readers of its omission in the master-copy used.   Thus rather than evidence of its absence, we have in these copies evidence of its existence, but absence only in the master-copy being used.