Monday, May 23, 2022

Pen, Print, & Pixels 2022 - Report on Day One

The Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center
           This past week, on May 19-20, specialists in New Testament from around the world – Britain, Germany, Australia, Amsterdam, Arizona – gathered at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center for the Pen, Print, & Pixels Text and Manuscript conference, hosted by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

          Daniel Buck was there, and was able to attend about half of the sessions.  He had these takeaways from the first day of the conference:

          The speakers were generally in agreement that there is still much new ground to be turned in the field of New Testament textual criticism.

          l Hugh Houghton foresees much more to discover in palimpsests through Multi-Spectral Imaging, and much to be gained from the study of family relationships in catena manuscripts.

          l Timothy Mitchell envisions learning more about how published work made it into circulation, and especially how they were guarded against tampering once they passed out of the authors’ direct control, by studying numerous references to that process in Greco-Roman classical works.

          l Peter Montoro has only just started us off in tracking down more examples of back-eddies in the transmission stream where continuous text manuscripts textually feed off of patristic homilies, such as a singular reading in GA 104 at Romans 2:26 from Chrysostom's homilies (Jan Krans, a bit later in the day, cited John 1:28 in Origen as such a case).

          l Dirk Jongkind thinks that it’s time to turn a corner in our approach to singular readings (proposing that they should be weighed both before and after counting them), and may even be ready to remove the old but not-quite-yet-ancient landmark of the Gregory-Aland numbering scheme.

          l Ryan Griffin wants us to further change the modern critical text to align more closely with the “Western” readings of p46 at three places in Philippians.

          l Edgar Ebojo sees a lot of work to be done in using distinctive line endings, especially in reconstructing inextant text and in distinguishing the scribes by their idiosyncratic ways of writing them.

          l Jan Krans is not at all ready to declare the “folly and duty” of proposing new textual emendations to be complete.

          And that was all just from some of the first day’s sessions.

Zooming in on some specific details:

          Hugh Houghton explained how looking beyond the continuous text in the dozens of catena manuscripts allows us to classify them into families, and even to identify family readings which are a direct result of chopping the text into lemmas.  Frequently the beginning or ending content of a lemma is completely excised in the process, and for no other reason than ease in production; only that content worthy of commentary was thought essential for inclusion.

          Now we can directly identify the source of omission for which, in such cases, could be accounted for by no previously identified scribal habit. Houghton urges the special identification of catena manuscripts, suggesting that prefixes or superscripts to GA numbers could be used for this process. He foresees that a lot more about family relationships between manuscripts will emerge as we do this.

Dirk Jongkind
          Dirk Jongkind asked the question, “Is the use of singular readings on the way out?” He certainly hopes so, at least when it comes to studying scribal habits—because more recent research (such as the research conducted by himself and Elijah Hixson) shows that focusing on just singular readings overlooks a lot of the data – especially in MSS like 01 and 0319.  However, he’s not about to throw out the whole idea.  He finds singular readings to still be useful for studying individual MSS and scribes:  all scribes make similar errors, but they don’t make them all in the same way.  But when it comes to focusing on singular readings to cast light on the canons of criticism, he points out that the same data, once in the hands of different scholars, has led to opposite conclusions.  

          Jongkind pointed out that there are two categories of evidence:  singular readings, and changes made by a particular scribe as he copied his exemplar.  In an ideal world the first would be a subcategory of the second, maybe even completely overlapping, but this is far from the case in the five manuscripts for which it can reasonably assumed that we have both the exemplar and the copy.  Instead we have three possible categories:  

          (1) singular readings that are not scribal errors because they were actually copied from a lost exemplar,

          (2) singular readings that are scribal errors because they were committed first-hand, and

          (3) “undetected” scribal errors that are not singular readings, because they were easy mistakes to make and thus several unrelated manuscripts share them (thus causing the most common scribal errors to be excluded from being counted under such a scheme).

          He mentioned five manuscripts for which the figures for both of the latter categories have been tabulated (three of these actually being the purple codices for which Elijah Hixson argued that he had been able to reasonably reconstruct their common exemplar, wherever two of the three agreed).  These five vary considerably as to which proportion of their scribal errors are also singular readings, showing that the approach that only looks at singular readings is flawed, in that it excludes much of the available data from consideration.

          Jan Krans gave a thorough history of conjectural emendations going back to 1453  showing that emendation of the New Testament text did not become a major practice until Erasmus and Beza, before tapering off quite a bit since the end of the 19th century (perhaps due in part to the lack of a classical education by today’s scholars).  He even did some textual criticism of the emendations, showing how confusing ellipsis marks for ditto signs in one listing of known emendations had a similar effect on subsequent lists.


Sally Jo Shelton said...

James, I was there. I learned so much. The fellowship was warm too, a most collegial group. They plan to have a conference every year. And yes, Dan Wallace wore a Hawaiian shirt. James Shelton

James Snapp Jr said...

Heh; now if he had *not* worn a Hawaiian shirt, that would be news!


Daniel Buck said...

Sally Jo, every other year.