Thursday, June 27, 2019

Review: Jongkind's Intro to the Tyndale House GNT

            Today, let’s take a look at An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, by Dirk Jongkind, a researcher at Cambridge (Ph.D. 2005, Cambridge).  The Greek New Testament that is referred to the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament.  Very little is said about any other edition of the GNT.
            This volume measures just 7¾” inches tall and 5¼” wide – approximately the same dimensions as the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament.  It is not long:  only 124 pages, including (at the back) acknowledgements, a glossary, and indices, and (at the front) several brief reviews, front matter, the table of contents, an analytical outline, and an illustrations-list.  The actual book, from the first page of the first chapter to the last page of the last chapter, is just 93 pages long, but considering that  pages 40, 86, and 92 are blank, and that illustrations fill parts of several pages, and that each of the book’s eight chapters begins halfway down the page, the actual amount of used pages is something like 80.  This is a short book.    
            Jongkind presents the Tyndale House edition of the GNT as a compilation which the editors consider “the most accurate edition of the Greek New Testament published so far.”  He also states (p. 35), “we do see it as our task to reflect the earliest manuscript tradition.”  Readers of the Tyndale House GNT may reasonably expect, therefore, to find a filtered form of the Alexandrian text in the pages of the Tyndale House GNT.  
            A chapter-list may shine some light on what Jongkind covers (and does not cover):
            1.  Your Greek New Testament and the Manuscripts
            2.  Practicalities [i.e., how to read the GNT apparatus]
            3.  Manuscripts
            4.  How Decisions Are Made (and Some Important Variants)
            5.  Why Not the Textus Receptus?
            6.  Why Not the Byzantine Text?
            7.  Biblical Theology and the Transmission of the Text
            8.  Where Do We Go From Here?

            As a user’s guide to the Tyndale House GNT, Jongkind’s book is an adequate manual, but as an introduction to the issues involved in the study of the text of the New Testament, it is very uneven, and Jongkind’s treatments of specific passages are so thin as to be superficial.  His presentations of evidence regarding Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 are terribly one-sided; there is no mention of Irenaeus’ use of Mark 16:19 in Against Heresies, and there is no mention of Jerome’s declaration that he had seen the story of the adulteress in may manuscripts, both Greek and Latin.  Jongkind’s treatment of the evidence pertaining to Luke 22:43-44 is even worse; he informs his readers that the passage is found “as early as the fourth century,” as if the abundant patristic support for Luke 22:43-44 does not exist.
            Conscious avoidance of the use of patristic testimony repeatedly mars Jongkind’s comments, just as it mars the apparatus of the Tyndale House GNT.  As Jongkind describes the apparatus of the Tyndale House GNT, one might sense that he is not so much explaining its frugality as apologizing for it.  On page 48, Jongkind acknowledges that the Tyndale GNT does not cite any lectionaries.  On the following page, he states that there is also no versional evidence mentioned in the apparatus.  And there is no patristic evidence in the apparatus either.  Thus three of the four forms of evidence for the text of the New Testament – patristic works, versions, and lectionaries – are withheld from readers of the Tyndale House GNT’s apparatus.  After explaining (on p. 66) that is is useful to detect how evidence is distributed, Jongkind offers an apparatus which is so lightweight that it guarantees that this is impossible for its readers to do.
            In the segment “Some Important Variants,” Jongkind mentions evidence from lectionaries, and evidence from patristic writings, and evidence from versions.  One should pause and wonder, if these forms of evidence do not matter, why are they factors in these arguments, and if they matter, why aren’t they in the apparatus?
            For two chapters, Jongkind detours from his main goal in order to explain why the Tyndale House edition of the GNT is not identical to the Textus Receptus or the Byzantine Text. Regarding the Textus Receptus, his reasoning will persuade the already-persuaded, but it offers very little against the argumentation of what has come to be known as a “Confessional” approach to the subject.  Regarding the Byzantine Text, Jongkind does his readers a disservice when he makes it seem as if “There are two big differences between the Byzantine Text and the Textus Receptus,” minimizing all the differences outside of Acts 8:37 and First John 5:7-8.  In real life, there are oodles of differences.   
            In addition, on pages 98-99, Jongkind seems to contradict himself regarding the date of the earliest evidence for the Byzantine Text:  at first he asserts that in the fourth century (i.e., the 300s), “none of the individual pieces of evidence suggest the existence of anything like the Byzantine Text.”  Yet in the very next paragraph he says, “It is only from the late fourth century onward that the Byzantine Text appears in citations from the church fathers, and from the fifth century onward, we see the first real manuscripts, though limited to the Gospels at first.”  Which is it:  is there “nothing like the Byzantine Text” in the 300s, or does the Byzantine Text appear in patristic writings in the 300s?
            Those familiar with the textual affinities of the text used by Gregory of Nyssa (335-395) need not wonder.  “Virtually all of the evidence,” wrote James Brooks in 1991, “indicates that Gregory’s quotations from the NT have their greatest affinity with the Byzantine type of text” (p. 264, The New Testament Text of Gregory of Nyssa).  Bruce Metzger stated that Wulfilas, in the mid-300s, translated the Gothic version from “the early Koine [i.e., Byzantine] type of text” (p. 82, The Text of the New Testament).  How can this be harmonized with Jongkind’s claim that there is nothing in the 300s to suggest the existence of anything like the Byzantine Text?  
            In addition, while Jongkind’s question about why the Byzantine Text does not appear in second-century and third-century manuscripts is a valid question, there is a valid answer:  papyrus rots.  The manuscripts that circulated throughout Greece, Turkey, and Syria in the 100s and 200s cannot be reasonably expected to do impossible things such as survive in high-humidity locales.  But when patristic writings and copies of Scripture in that territory began to be preserved on parchment (in the mid-late 300s), we see an essentially Byzantine form of the Gospels dominating the landscape there – not because the Byzantine text was new, but because, thanks to the use of parchment codices, the materials on which it was written were suddenly much more durable.       
            Another shortcoming:  the Byzantine Text is not consistently cited in the apparatus.  The expansions and harmonizations in the Byzantine Text that Jongkind briefly describes may justify avoiding the adoption of the Byzantine Text in toto, but the same kind of expansions and harmonizations can be identified in Alexandrian manuscripts (see the post Challenging the Expansion of Piety Theory).   Yet the Alexandrian manuscripts, despite the steady stream of non-original readings they contain, appear in the apparatus constantly.  The Byzantine Text is frequently not mentioned, and this prevents readers from easily discerning how Byzantine or non-Byzantine the text in the Tyndale House GNT tends to be.  Why was the testimony of the Byzantine Text hidden? 
            Also, Jongkind did not adequately impress readers with the minimalistic nature of the apparatus in the Tyndale House GNT.  The apparatus not only avoids telling readers about lectionary evidence and patristic evidence and versional evidence, but very frequently has no entry whatsoever where significant textual variants exist in Greek manuscripts.  Consider Luke 17:36:  this verse is not in the text and there is no entry about it in the apparatus.  Consider Luke 24:53:  instead of addressing the “blessing and praising” variant, famous as one of Hort’s proposed conflations, the apparatus only covers the question of whether “Amen” should be included.  Consider John 7:39:  only part of the textual evidence is covered; the apparatus avoids mentioning B’s testimony.  Consider Acts 13:33:  no textual variant is mentioned.  Many more examples could be supplied in which major translatable variants receive no attention whatsoever in the Tyndale House GNT’s apparatus.    
            When one turns to the Introduction to the Tyndale House GNT that appears as an appendix in the GNT itself, one finds a statement that “the limited apparatus is designed primarily to illustrate the decision-making process.”  Jongkind should have emphasized this point more often and more adamantly than he did, perhaps via repeated statements such as “It should constantly be kept in mind that the apparatus, besides saying absolutely nothing about patristic evidence, versional evidence, and lectionary evidence, is extremely incomplete,” or, “Readers should keep in mind that most textual contests in which the majority of manuscripts disagree with a relatively small cluster of manuscripts are not mentioned at all in the apparatus.”
            Perhaps someday this fault will be repaired by the emergence of a textual commentary which, instead of only covering a sparse representative sample of variant-units, will provide more adequate treatment.  Until then, what one has in Jongkind’s Introduction and the Tyndale House GNT, compared to past Introductions and GNTs, is less, not more.
Points of note:

● On p. 18, Jongkind states that the Greek New Testament has been published “since the invention of the printing press.”  However, inasmuch as the printing press was invented in the 1450s and the first GNT to be printed appeared over 50 years later, this is not quite right.

● Jongkind repeatedly states (p. 20, p. 24) that modern chapter and verse-numbers originated in the sixteenth century; however, while this is true of verse-numbers, the chapter-numbers originated in the early 1200s with Stephen Langton.

● A table (2.2, on page 34) states that replacement-pages are given a special sigla:  “Such sections are indicated as coming from a supplement.  However, in Jongkind’s discussion of Mark 16:9-20, when ℵ is mentioned, there is no indication of the fact that its pages containing Mark 15:54-Luke 1:76 are replacement-pages.  Possibly the editors did not consider replacement-pages added in the initial production-process to be truly replacement-pages; if so, however, this should have been mentioned.

● A footnote on page 68 says that “about nine other late manuscripts” have the extra Alexandrian material in Matthew 27:49 (which inexplicably and somewhat shockingly is not mentioned in the apparatus!); a simple consultation of Willker’s Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels would have shown that the number of late Greek manuscripts that support this reading is closer to 34.

Dr. Dirk Jongkind
● Jongkind seems sympathetic to the redating of three important manuscripts: P66 may be as late as the early 300s; P75 may be as late as the early 300s, and Codex W might have been produced in the 500s.  However, as recently as 2017, Jongkind described P66 and P75 as third-century manuscripts.  What is the basis for this shift?  The only evidence or argumentation that Jongkind mentions:  “voices have argued” for the later dates.  That’s all:  voices.  Footnotes should have been provided in order to give readers the means to test the bases for the new proposals.

You can find more materials from Dr. Jongkind online:

A lecture on the GNT delivered by Dr. Jongkind (55 minutes)


Timothy Joseph said...

The ‘voices’ should have been identified by Dirk for his shifting on dating. As you know, most prominent among those voices is Nongbri, who seems committed to later dates a priori. Orsini and Barker also are part of these voices.
I am not convinced by these ‘voices’


Daniel Buck said...

Sofia Torallas Tovar, an expert on Egyptian papyprus writings, has complained that Coptic manuscripts in the same style and possibly even the same hand are consistently dated a century or two later than if the writing is in Greek. Or to put it another way, by being in Greek a NT papyrus codex gets to be dated centuries earlier than if it were in Coptic. This needs to be resolved one way or another, and one way is that there may not be very many second or third century NT papyri left when all the dust settles.