Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Kloha-Montgomery Debate - Some More Thoughts

          In the recent Kloha-Montgomery Debate, John Warwick Montgomery described thoroughgoing eclecticism as incompatible with the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.  What is thoroughgoing eclecticism?  Jeff Kloha, quoting J. Keith Elliott, described it as “the method that allows internal considerations for a reading’s originality to be given priority over documentary considerations.”  An illustrative example of thoroughgoing eclecticism in practice can be found in Kloha’s essay, Elizabeth’s Magnificat,” in the 2014 volume, Texts & Traditions:  Essays in Honour of J. Keith Elliott (beginning on page 200).
          In that essay, Kloha offers a cumulative case for the theory that the original text of Luke 1:46 had neither the name “Mary” nor “Elizabeth” but only “And said” (Και ειπεν).  This would imply, as I mentioned in the previous post, that (1) all the known Greek manuscripts of Luke contain a scribal corruption at this point, and (2) it was Elizabeth, rather than Mary, who spoke the Magnificat.
A page from Codex
Vercellensis (late 300's)
The external evidence that Kloha amasses, though sparse, has considerable weight.  In two copies of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book 4 (7:1), the Magnificat is attributed to Elizabeth, although in other copies, and in Book 3 (10:2), the Magnificat is assigned to Mary.  If these two copies accurately preserve the text of Irenaeus’ composition then they appear to echo the text of Luke 1:46 in Irenaeus’ text of Luke 1:46, at least in one manuscript known to him in the mid/late 100’s.  A few Old Latin manuscripts likewise support the presence of Elizabeth’s name in the text of Luke 1:46 – including Codex Vercellensis, a manuscript which, according to an ancient tradition, was made by (or under the supervision of) Eusebius of Vercelli in the 370’s.  (If that is so, then this witness is only slightly younger than the famous Codex Sinaiticus.) 
          In addition, in Jerome’s Latin translation of Origen’s commentary on the Gospel of Luke, we find this statement from Jerome embedded in the comments on Luke 1:46:  “In a certain number of manuscripts, we have discovered that blessed Mary is said to prophesy.  We are not unaware of the fact that, according to other copies of the Gospel, Elizabeth speaks these words in prophecy.”
          A little-known contemporary of Jerome named Nicetas of Remesiana (335-414), who read both Latin and Greek, and who was known for his hymn-writing, attributed the Magnificat to Elizabeth.    

          Montgomery argued, “The fact that these authorities are earlier than the authoritative Greek texts (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, early to mid 4th century) is hardly a strong argument for the Elizabeth attribution, since they are non-Greek versions/translations and contradict the Greek texts.”  Montgomery thus does three things:
(1)  he decides that in this case, an older witness should be given less weight than a younger witness,
(2)  he decides that a non-Greek witness should be given less weight than a Greek witness, and
(3)  he decides that patristic evidence is less important than manuscript evidence. 
          Via all three points, Montgomery employs internal evidence as the means by which to gauge the relative weight of the components of external evidence – that is, Montgomery is resorting to a consideration of internal factors even though he proposed that one should “only use the internal considerations where they’re absolutely necessary.”  Why should the second-century composition of a Greek-writer such as Irenaeus, be given less weight than two manuscripts produced 150 years later?  Why should Latin evidence be minimized, unless one can show that it was derived from some non-Greek source or was the result of mistranslation?  Why think that a Latin translator detoured from the meaning of his Greek text?  Why assume that the manuscripts used by a patristic writer in the late 300’s (Nicetas) would be less accurate than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus?  Why should manuscripts known to Jerome be considered lightweight? 
          Perhaps there are sound answers to all these questions – but to downplay them because they imply that “the Greek texts” contain a scribal corruption is to pretend as if our present situation (in which all the Greek manuscripts affirm that Mary spoke the Magnificat) is the same as the situation in the 300’s and 400’s.  However, the external evidence indicates that if we were to situate our perspective in the fourth century, we could not so easily settle the question via a cavalier appeal to “the Greek texts” because the Greek manuscripts at that time did not all agree in Luke 1:46.  We can either ignore this external evidence (as if disagreement with the Nestle-Aland compilation is a sufficient reason to consider a reading incorrect), or else we can analyze it and evaluate its possible implications.
          Dr. Kloha has taken the second option, in a somewhat tentative way, declaring at the outset of his essay that he was making a suggestion about the text of Luke 1:46.  He reaffirmed this at the debate, stating, when answering a question about his everyday treatment of Luke 1:46, that he never even brought up the text-critical question when teaching lessons from Luke chapters 1-2:  “My judgments by themselves,” he stated, “are not decisive.”     
         This is a longstanding conservative approach to conjectural emendations – Greek readings imagined by the textual critic, which the critic suspects to be original, but which are not extant in any manuscript.  Ever since the 1500’s, scholars have made calculated guesses about hypothetical readings which are capable of explaining extant rival readings, especially in passages where such hypothetical readings interlock well with the context.  For example, Erasmus suspected that the original text of James 4:2 might have said “you are jealous” (φθονειτε) instead of “you commit murder” (φονεύετε), in light of the reference to jealousy in 4:5.  (This theory seems to have been adopted by Luther when he made his German translation.) 
          Theodore Beza, similarly, was convinced that in Revelation 16:5, the original text referred to the “One who is, and who was, and shall be,” even though the final phrase is not found in Revelation 16:5 in any Greek manuscript (although it recurs elsewhere in Revelation, such as in 1:8).  Beza’s reasoning apparently was persuasive to the translators of the King James Version, for this conjectural reading is echoed in the KJV’s text of the verse. 

          One would think that Dr. Montgomery, having recommended that textual critics should “only use the internal considerations where they’re absolutely necessary,” would far prefer the conservative approach in which a textual critic may express some conjectural emendations, but does not put them in the printed text, instead deferring to the extant Greek manuscript evidence.  But no.  When observing that Kloha did not insist on advancing his theory about Luke 1:46 as more than a detailed suggestion, however plausible, Montgomery stated, “I find it absolutely disingenuous when you will not follow through on what you wrote in your own article.  If you believed in that article that the better reading, the better text, for the Magnificat, was Elizabeth, you have no business in the world just ignoring the problem now.”
          Suppose, however, that Dr. Kloha, or any textual critic, resolved to turn the Sunday School lesson-hour into a lecture about every textual variant-unit that he considered worth re-examining.  When would the actual lessons ever be taught?  Sunday-school lessons are Sunday-school lessons, and instructors who are aware of many textual issues routinely ignore them, to avoid needlessly throwing their students into the deep end, so to speak.  It is simply more efficient to reserve textual issues to venues specifically focused upon them, unless a specific question is raised.        
          Dr. Montgomery then continued:  “Or it may be, Dr. Kloha, that you give papers in non-confessional contexts that really work very well in those contexts, and then when you come to us, we get this litany of orthodox Lutheran fathers which is supposed to give the impression that the kind of work you’ve done is consistent with Biblical inerrancy.  It isn’t!  It isn’t!”
          At that point, it seems to me, shrill declaration usurped argument.  For not only was Kloha very clear from the first page of his essay that his suggestion is a suggestion, but it should also be perfectly obvious that his suggestion does not imply that Luke made any error.  Furthermore, it is contradictory for Montgomery to claim that Kloha’s suggestion is a grave danger to Biblical inerrancy, one moment, and the next moment, call the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation “a good Greek New Testament.”  For what Kloha has only suggested, the Nestle-Aland compilers have implemented in Acts 16:12 and in Second Peter 3:10:  in both of these passages, a reading has been placed in the text which has no Greek manuscript support.
          Yet the Dr. Montgomery who called Dr. Kloha’s approach inconsistent with Biblical inerrancy is the same person who said that the variants between NA28 and the Textus Receptus are “not materially different from what you’re reading today.”  I remind the reader that those differences consist of over 1,000 translatable points, including the inclusion or exclusion of whole verses, in the Gospels alone.  Does it seen even-handed to observe a change in the printed text from “shall be burned up” to “shall not be found” in Second Peter 3:10, and a change from “Lord” to “Jesus” in Jude verse 5, and a change from “name” to “cause” in First Peter 4:16 (to give just three examples) and say that these differences in the text are “not materially different,” but when Dr. Kloha makes a suggestion about one word, he has done something “on the periphery,” something different than what the compilers of NA28 have done? 

One of Dr. Montgomery's slides.
(I have to agree that Dr. Kloha has indeed done something different:  he has suggested that a reading without Greek manuscript-support is original, while the compilers of NA28 have not merely suggested such a reading; they have inserted such a reading into the text!  Yet Dr. Montgomery looks at Dr. Kloha’s suggestion and concludes that his approach is too subjective and has the consequence of rendering Biblical inerrancy impossible, and then he looks at the work of the compilers at Muenster and says that they seem to be moving toward a more objective approach, “and this is all to the good.” ?!?!) 

It seems to me that nothing that Dr. Kloha wrote in his essay, or expressed at the debate, poses a problem for the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.  I am not persuaded by his meticulously researched suggestion that there was no proper name in the original text of Luke 1:46, but if someone were persuaded by it, that person would not be obligated to declare Luke to be in error; it would only follow that copyists made a mistake.  
          There is, it seems, only one subject of the debate yet to address:  the question of the “plasticity” of the New Testament text.  God willing, that will be the subject of my next post.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Kloha-Montgomery Debate - Some Thoughts

          On October 15, John Warwick Montgomery and Jeffrey Kloha engaged in a debate about the theological implications of the text-critical method known as thoroughgoing eclecticism.  However, while Dr. Kloha seems to have intended to describe thoroughgoing eclecticism and explain how it is consistent with conservative Lutheran theology (including the doctrine of inerrancy, which Dr. Kloha specifically affirmed), Dr, Montgomery seems to have approached the debate with the goal of questioning Dr. Kloha’s role as a Lutheran professor, asking, “How realistic is it that someone with his biblical orientation teach future pastors of that church body?”
Dr. Jeffrey Kloha
(Concordia Seminary, St. Louis)
            Inasmuch as Kloha affirms the doctrine of inerrancy, and is, as far as I can tell, doctrinally a Lutheran’s Lutheran, what is it that caused Montgomery to accuse Kloha of promoting a text-critical approach that is “deadly,” and which poses “great dangers” for the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy”?  My impression is that Montgomery’s accusations are completely based on Montgomery’s misunderstanding of Kloha’s positions, Montgomery's misunderstanding of thoroughgoing eclecticism, and Montgomery's inaccurate ideas about text-critical praxis in general.      
            Montgomery’s misunderstanding of text-critical praxis in general is evident in the first of four recommendations that he made:  “Refuse to tolerate textual philosophies that employ internal (stylistic) criteria as the preferred standard for the choice of readings.”  At the debate, Montgomery insisted that he does not object to the utilization of internal evidence – as long as the external evidence is primary.  But one might as well say that one does not object to data as long as one does not analyze it. 
            Let’s take a closer look at two of Kloha’s treatments of the New Testament text which Montgomery found objectionable.  It is not easy to find actual critiques of Kloha’s work in the first six pages of Montgomery’s paper; there are multiple warnings, but not until page 7 do we get a glimpse of a sample of what is being warned against:
            ● Kloha rejects the Alexandrian reading of First Corinthians 7:33-34, which, Montgomery states, is “based on the foundational MSS P15 B P.”  Bruce Metzger, in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (1971), noted that the variant-unit at the beginning of I Cor. 7:34 had a “D” ranking – meaning that the United Bible Societies’ compilation-committee acknowledged “a very high degree of doubt concerning the reading selected for the text.”  When you observe that the compilers themselves harbor “a very high degree of doubt” about this passage, you might wonder why Montgomery has not accused them of falling into a methodological ditch, as he has accused Kloha.  Montgomery’s approach causes the copyist of Papyrus 46, and the copyists of over 95% of the Greek manuscripts of First Corinthians, to join Kloha in that ditch; they, too, do not have the same text of I Cor. 7:33-34 that is in the NA/UBS compilation.              
            Furthermore, when one consults these three “foundational MSS” in I Cor. 7:33-34 – as Kloha did in painstaking detail in his dissertation, reviewing not just one, or four, but eight Greek variant-units within these two verses – one observes that they disagree with each other in these two verses.  Codex B, for example, does not have the words τα του κοσμου (“of the world”).  So which one of these three disagreeing manuscripts does Montgomery consider “foundational” in this two-verse passage?  And how does he intend, I wonder, to make a case that its readings are “archetypal” without giving internal evidence a decisive role in his considerations? 
            ● Kloha advocates a view which, if accepted, would mean that “no pastor should preach I Corinthians 8:6 as if it were the Word of God,” or so Montgomery claimed.  In real life, however, Montgomery has misquoted and densely misunderstood Kloha’s statement (in his dissertation, Part Two, p. 717), “only after a highly-developed Trinitarian theology took hold could the addition at 8:6 have been made.”  Montgomery misquoted this sentence by replacing the word “at” with the word “of.”  Compounding his error, he then concluded (which he would never have done if he had carefully read Kloha’s comments about I Cor. 8:6 in the section in Part One that focuses upon the passage) that Kloha meant that I Cor. 8:6 is not an original part of the text.          
Dr. John Warwick Montgomery
          Montgomery then stated:  “It is clear that Kloha agrees here with Bart Ehrman:  “As Ehrman has argued, at least some passages of the NT manuscripts have been altered in light of the christological controversites with which the scribes presumably, would have been familiar.”  Montgomery also agrees with Ehrman, at least a little; he just did not realize it at the debate.  For the “addition at [not “of”] 8:6” refers to an interpolation, found in a handful of manuscripts, adding a reference to the Holy Spirit (και εν Πνευμα Αγιον εν ω τα παντα και ημεις εν αυτω).  Nobody, including Montgomery, regards this variant as part of the original text of First Corinthians 8:6.  Clearly, Montgomery is barking up the wrong tree.           
            But what about Kloha’s analysis of Luke 1:46?  Kloha has offered a text-critical case that the original text of Luke 1:46 had no proper name after “And said” (Και ειπεν), which would mean, (1) all the known Greek manuscripts of Luke contain a scribal corruption at this point, and (2) it was Elizabeth, rather than Mary, who spoke the Magnificat.  Somehow this single variant-unit became the focus of much of the Kloha-Montgomery debate.  I intend to take a closer look at that, and at thoroughgoing eclecticism, in my next post.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Codex S (028) - The Other Codex Vaticanus

In this replica of the last page of Matthew
in Codex S, several features are seen:
the text of Matthew 28:17b-20, a sticho-
metric note, a note about when and where
Matthew wrote his account, a decorative
line with a simple bird-flourish,
and a brief prayer by the copyist.
Codex S (028) is an exceptional manuscript in several respects:

 It is the only uncial Greek manuscript of the Gospels that contains a colophon which mentions precisely when it was made.   
 In the decorations that accompany the Eusebian Canon-tables in Codex S, there are not only birds, but also rabbits, lions, elephants and what appears to be an abstractly drawn dragon.
 The chapter-titles for Matthew in Codex S are given in a slightly longer-than-usual form.
 For chapter-titles and section-numbers in the page-margins, the copyist used not only red ink (as expected) but also, frequently, blue ink.

          Textually, Codex S is a representative of the Byzantine text.  Although Codex S was used for public reading in church-services (lection-titles and date-assignments appear in the margins throughout the manuscript), deviations from the normal Byzantine text that have an impact on translation are fairly rare.  

          Two significant omissions occur in Matthew 9:17 (where Codex S does not have the words, “but they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved”) and in Matthew 19:9 (where Codex S does not have the words, “and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery”).  Both of these omissions are the result of parablepsis; that is, the copyist’s line of sight drifted from a series of letters in one line to the same series of letters further along in the text.  In this case, the copyist’s line of sight jumped from –ουνται to –ουνται in 9:17, and from μοιχαται to μοιχαται in 19:9.
          A reading in Matthew 28:2 suggests that even though Codex S was produced before most minuscules, its text contains a few embellishments which are not found in the majority of manuscripts.  In this verse, the phrase “of the tomb” has been added after the phrase “of the door.”  (In the Alexandrian text, reflected in the ESV and NIV, the phrase “of the door” is absent, which would imply, if this short variant is original, that the reading in Codex S is the equivalent of a barnacle on a barnacle.)     
          Codex S also contains a few – but not many – small benign expansions, such as the insertion of the name “Jesus” in Matthew 21:18.  The 2011 edition of the NIV, unlike the 1984 edition of the NIV, gives the appearance of having been translated from a Greek base-text that resembled Codex S in this verse, since it has the name “Jesus” in Matthew 21:18 – even though its preface states that it was translated from the Nestle-Aland compilation, which does not have Jesus’ name in Matthew 21:18.

Here is a guide to some of the most interesting pages of this manuscript.  The embedded links will take you to page-views at the website of the Vatican Library, digitized as part of the Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project:  

1r-5r – Ad Carpianus , a guide to the Eusebian Canons, written in hollow red uncials.  (The opening words are missing; probably they were on an illustrated page that has been lost or removed.) 
17r – Matthew 1:1, with a circular headpiece and a zoomorphic initial. 
74r – A marginal note alongside Mt. 27, extracted from Origen’s commentary on Matthew, about the name of Barabbas. 
79r – Mark 1:1
114v – Mark 16:9 begins section #234 on this page.
115v A scribal note about when the Gospel of Mark was written, and a prayer, with a pavilion-framework.
117v – Luke 1:1
172r – Each line of Luke 22:42-44 is accompanied by an asterisk in the left side-margin, except the last line, where the Eusebian canon-number and section-number occupy the margin. 
180r – John 1:1
197r – Each line of the pericope adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) is accompanied by an obelus (÷) in the left side-margin of each column.  Yet, a rubric for the passage clearly identifies it in the upper margin; the title “Πε[ρι] της Μοιχαλιδος” appears, accompanied by an asterisk, which is meant to show that the pericope begins at the beginning of 8:3, where another large asterisk appears in the left margin.  Instructional notes tell the lector how to treat the passage on Pentecost, by jumping from the end of 7:52 to resume at the beginning of 8:12.
225r  After the end of the Gospel of John, Codex S features a series of lections for four annual holy days:  
           For Holy Thursday:  Mt. 26:1b-20 + Jn. 16:3-17 + Mt. 26:21-39 
          + Lk. 22:43-45a + Mt. 26:45-27:2
           For Good Friday (Vespers):  Mt. 27:1-38 + Lk. 23:39-43 + Mt. 27:39-54 
          + Jn. 19:30-37 + Mt. 27:55-61
           For the Dormition of the God-bearer:  Lk. 10:38-42 + 11:27-28
           For the Exaltation of the Cross:  selections from Jn. 19:6-35
234v - The lections are followed by a colophon which gives the name of the copyist (Michael, the monk and sinner) and the date and year that the manuscript was produced March 5, in the year six-thousand and 400 and 57.  This is an “Anno Mundi” year, calculated from the creation of the world, which Byzantine monks believed to have taken place in 5509 B.C. (a belief based on consultation of the Septuagint; deductions based on the Hebrew text yield a different date).  Adjusted to the modern Gregorian calendar, the production-date of Codex S is 949.   

          Codex S, while not as important as Codex B, is among the most significant New Testament manuscripts housed at the Vatican Library.  It is an important witness to the Byzantine Text of the Gospels.