Earlier this year, Hugh Houghton gave the field of New Testament textual criticism a great gift: a definitive introduction to the transmission of the New Testament in Latin. His recent book, The Latin New Testament: A Guide to Its Early History, Texts, and Manuscripts, is excellent. Metzger’s 1977 description of the Old Latin and Vulgate texts (in pages 285-374 of The Early Versions of the New Testament may now be dismissed in peace, like a candle extinguished at sunrise.
Houghton’s account of the development of the Old Latin version is full of fascinating details which may cause even experienced researchers to wonder if they have given the Old Latin evidence the attention it deserves. For example, in the course of making a case that the Old Latin witnesses of the Gospels share a common Latin ancestor, Houghton does not neglect to mention the example from Mark 9:15, which has been enlisted for this purpose for a long time: gaudentes (rejoicing) appears in the Latin text of “all pre-Vulgate Latin manuscripts,” which seems to imply that behind them all there was a Greek text which read προσχέροντες (i.e., minus itacism, προσχαίροντες), as in Codex Bezae, rather than the usual reading προστρέχοντες (running). This example, however, is not left to carry the case by itself; Houghton also cites readings in the majority of Old Latin copies in Luke 1:9, Luke 9:62, Luke 22:11, Matthew 27:60, and more.
● K, the text used by Cyprian,
● I, an Italian text closely resembling the Vulgate,
● A, a text used by Augustine,
● R, the text used by Lucifer of Cagliari, and
● S, a Latin text used in
Houghton also shows that it is important not only to notice textual relationships, but also to detect shared features in the meta-text (or paratext) of Latin manuscripts: the formatting of the text, as well as supplemental materials such as canon-tables, chapter-summaries, and even the use of different colors of ink, can contribute to important discoveries. For example, there are 13 different forms of the capitula (chapter-summaries), and early Old Latin forms are sometimes found in later manuscripts in which the Gospels-text is Vulgate. The most significant example of these forms of the capitula is KA Cy, which Houghton assigns to the first half of the 200’s. Although this form of the capitula is found mainly in later manuscripts with an essentially Vulgate text, “The affiliation of the passages quoted in these lengthy summaries corresponds very closely to the text of Cyprian and VL 1” [i.e., Codex Bobiensis]. The significance of this is felt when it is observed that KA Cy describes the pericope adulterae as the sixteenth chapter of John, and thus indirectly constitutes a very early witness for the inclusion of the passage.
Readers of The Latin New Testament will likely gain a new insight or new information every few pages, whether the subject is a Latin manuscript, a lectionary (such as VL 32, from the 500’s), a patristic writer, or a modern-day editor. After reading this book, it will be obvious that the Old Latin evidence is much more extensive than it was believed to be just 40 years ago. The use of letters to represent Old Latin manuscripts (such as k for Bobiensis) is manifestly insufficient, and the Beuron system which Houghton uses throughout the book will inevitably replace it; indeed it must replace it in order to allow all relevant Latin witnesses to be coherently identified.
|VL 8 (Codex Corbeiensis) - with the
pericope adulterae (BnF Lat. 17225).
The Latin New Testament: A Guide to Its Early History, Texts, and Manuscripts, is © H.A.G. Houghton 2016, and is published by Oxford University Press.