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Editing the Bible

Editing the Bible: Assessing the Task Past and Present

John S. Kloppenborg
Judith H. Newman
  • Book Info
    Editing the Bible
    Book Description:

    The Bible is likely the most-edited book in history, yet the task of editing the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible is fraught with difficulties. The dearth of Hebrew manuscripts of the Jewish Scriptures and the substantial differences among those witnesses creates difficulties in determining which text ought to be printed as the text of the Jewish Scriptures. For the New Testament, it is not the dearth of manuscripts but the overwhelming number of manuscripts—almost six thousand Greek manuscripts and many more in other languages—that presents challenges for sorting and analyzing such a large, multivariant data set. This volume, representing experts in the editing of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, discusses both current achievements and future challenges in creating modern editions of the biblical texts in their original languages. The contributors are Kristin De Troyer, Michael W. Holmes, John S. Kloppenborg, Sarianna Metso, Judith H. Newman, Holger Strutwolf, Eibert Tigchelaar, David Trobisch, Eugene Ulrich, John Van Seters, Klaus Wachtel, and Ryan Wettlaufer.

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-649-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Editing the Bible: Assessing the Task Past and Present
    (pp. 1-8)
    John S. Kloppenborg and Judith H. Newman

    The Bible may be the most edited document of Western civilization, or even of world literature. The famous New Testament editions of Cardinal Ximines in 1512 and Erasmus in 1516 were only among the most prominent—due to the invention of movable type—in a much longer process of copyists making what we might think of as editorial, or even authorial, decisions as they decided how to render their exemplars. The singular term Bible belies the complex nature of this compilation and masks the complicated processes by which it took shape. During the span of more than two and a...

  5. The Genealogy of the Biblical Editor
    (pp. 9-22)
    John Van Seters

    As the starting point for discussing what is problematic in the task of editing the Bible, I want to begin with some comments on the notion of the Textus Receptus as both the result of earlier editing of the biblical text and as the supposed object or goal of present editorial endeavors. The term refers in the first instance, of course, to the edition of the New Testament produced by Erasmus in 1516 for the printer Froben, made in haste in order to be the first in print, using manuscripts that were not the best ones available. This editio princeps...

  6. The Evolutionary Composition of the Hebrew Bible
    (pp. 23-40)
    Eugene Ulrich

    One normally encounters the Hebrew Bible—that is, the Jewish Tanak, the Christian Old Testament—in a single clearly printed form. That apparent simplicity, however, is the result of editorial judgment by scholarly or ecclesiastical committees. The diverse manuscripts bearing the text of the Hebrew Bible, as they have traversed the centuries and arrive in the twenty-first century, form a puzzling web of witnesses. Thus, scholarly or ecclesiastical committees have chosen a single form from among the many variant and possible forms on the basis of editorial or religious criteria at the macro and micro levels.

    I would like to...

  7. Editing the Hebrew Bible: An Overview of Some Problems
    (pp. 41-66)
    Eibert Tigchelaar

    At present, three major projects, all aiming at major critical editions of the Hebrew Bible, are in progress.¹ The Hebrew University Bible Project (HUBP) was established in 1956 to undertake a comprehensive survey of the history of the textual development of the Hebrew Bible and to produce a major critical edition.² Three volumes of the Hebrew University Bible (HUB) have been published, and work on the fourth volume is in progress.³ The Editorial Committee of the Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ) was installed in 1990, but this project was heir to both the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (which had been completed in...

  8. Evidence from the Qumran Scrolls for the Scribal Transmission of Leviticus
    (pp. 67-80)
    Sarianna Metso

    Compared to the sparse witnesses to Leviticus among the medieval codices, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide us with a wealth of material.¹ Fourteen Hebrew manuscripts of Leviticus were found in the Judean caves; of these fourteen, twelve were found at Qumran and two at Masada. Four are written in the Paleo-Hebrew script. In addition, two Greek manuscripts, called Septuagint Leviticusa and Septuagint Leviticusb, and one manuscript of an Aramaic targum of Leviticus were found, for a total of seventeen manuscripts of the book. Compared to many other biblical books, the text of Leviticus survived well; of the twenty-seven chapters of...

  9. Greek Papyri and the Texts of the Hebrew Bible
    (pp. 81-90)
    Kristin De Troyer

    In this contribution I would like to comment on a couple of readings from the Joshua and Leviticus Schøyen papyri (resp. ms 2648 and ms 2649)¹ in order to demonstrate that there are two tendencies visible in these Old Greek papyri. On the one hand they preserve some readings that witness to a pre-Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, and on the other hand they clearly contain pre-Hexaplaric corrections toward the MT. A Greek reading that witnesses to a pre-MT reading is a Greek reading that hearkens back to a Hebrew text which came before the Masoretic Text (or proto-Masoretic...

  10. What Text Is Being Edited? The Editing of the New Testament
    (pp. 91-122)
    Michael W. Holmes

    The text of the New Testament, extant today in more than 5,300 manuscripts, is better attested than any other text from the ancient world.¹ Yet approximately 85 percent of those manuscripts were copied in the eleventh century c.e. or later; very few of the 15 percent or so that were written during the first millennium of the text’s existence can be dated any earlier than the beginning of the third century; and the entire group comprises a premier example of a cross-pollinated (or “contaminated”) textual tradition, rendering traditional Lachmannian genealogical analysis impossible.² In these circumstances, nearly all editors and textual...

  11. The Coherence-Based Genealogical Method: A New Way to Reconstruct the Text of the Greek New Testament
    (pp. 123-138)
    Klaus Wachtel

    Shortly after Christmas 1998, the German news magazine Der Spiegel surprised us by announcing that a part of the approximately 5,500 Greek New Testament manuscripts written between the second century and modern times could now be brought into genealogical order, thanks to research done by evolutionary biologists.¹ The note in the Spiegel article was prompted by a collaboration between the Institute for Textual Research and Peter Robinson, a Chaucer editor and software developer, to apply phylogenetic techniques to the New Testament textual tradition. Robinson had previously applied to the prologue of Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” a computer program...

  12. Scribal Practices and the Transmission of Biblical Texts: New Insights from the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method
    (pp. 139-160)
    Holger Strutwolf

    The most important task of textual criticism is to reconstruct the original text, or to be more modest: to establish a sound and well-argued hypothesis about the initial text of the transmission of a certain piece of literature that was handed down to posterity via manuscripts.¹ This reconstruction of the oldest form of the text is traditionally sought through internal and external criteria. In the history of New Testament textual criticism there was much debate about which kind of criteria should prevail: the argument of the better manuscript or the evaluation of the genealogy of readings? In this paper I...

  13. The New Testament in the Light of Book Publishing in Antiquity
    (pp. 161-170)
    David Trobisch

    The student of the manuscript tradition of New Testament texts will discover that the extant manuscripts document a closed selection of twenty-seven writings, that the writings are arranged in the same sequence and grouped into four volumes, that they display uniform titles with very few variants, that they were produced almost exclusively using the form of the codex, and that they contain a unique system to mark sacred terms, the so-called nomina sacra

    All of these elements—the notation of the nomina sacra, the codex form, the uniform arrangement and number of writings, the formulation of the titles, and the...

  14. Unseen Variants: Conjectural Emendation and the New Testament
    (pp. 171-194)
    Ryan Wettlaufer

    “Our vision is often more obstructed by what we think we know,” wrote Krister Stendahl, “than by our lack of knowledge.”¹ Textual critics working with the editorial difficulties of the New Testament text need to be reminded of this truth, especially in regard to the much-maligned method of conjectural emendation. Textual criticism is the scholarly art of recreating an earlier form of the text. Conjectural emendation is an advanced method of textual criticism that has been profitably employed for several centuries. Specifically, it is the act of restoring a given text at points where all extant manuscript evidence appears to...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-212)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 213-214)
  17. Index of Primary Sources
    (pp. 215-220)
  18. Index of Modern Authors
    (pp. 221-226)