The Text-Tradition Of Luke-Acts -- By: David E. Aune

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 07:3 (Summer 1964)
Article: The Text-Tradition Of Luke-Acts
Author: David E. Aune

The Text-Tradition Of Luke-Acts

David E. Aune

In the field of textual criticism, no text poses so great a problem for the critic as does that of the collection of documents making up the New Testament.1 In contrast to the paucity of extant classical manuscripts, there is a great abundance of manuscripts which witness to the text of the New Testament. There are, indeed, more than 4,000 extant Greek manuscripts of portions of the New Testament, 8,000 of the Latin Vulgate, and more than 1,000 of other versions.2 Add to this the vast number of biblical quotations found in the Fathers, and we find that the great mass of material, while it gives an unparalleled opportunity for the performance of the critical task, is also the source of enormous difficulties.

The application of the classical method of textual criticism, recensio, examinatio and emendatio, is impossible of rigid application to the text of the New Testament. The primary reason for this lies in the extensive process of corruption which has taken place between the various lines of manuscript descent. The presence of contamination makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the critic to decide whether the common errors of manuscripts are due to corruption between various lines of manuscripts or to common descent.3 Since all of the families of manuscripts containing all or portions of Luke-Acts have been found to be variant carriers to a greater or lesser degree, the words of P. Maas find their application:

However much the two variant-carriers vary in value, the selectio must be made independently in each case; no variant should be rejected without testing. After all, in recognizing a witness as a variant-carrier we presuppose that it does not share at least one special error of the other variant-carrier; but if it alone has preserved the original in one passage, we are bound to reckon with the same possibility in all the readings peculiar to it.4

The formation of a stemma of manuscripts in the process of recensio is dependent on the cardinal principle that community of error indicates community of origin. This is possible of application only in the case of a limited number of minuscule manuscripts of the New Testament dating from the eighth to the fourteenth centuries. New Testament textual critics are primarily concerned with the surviving old uncials and papyri which are widely divergent textually and already have such a long history of textual contamination that no adequate stemma can be constructed.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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