Martin Litchfield West - classical textual criticism versus the New Testament pseudo-science

Steven Avery

The spur to enhancing and organizing this material was the ongoing concerns of a contra. Some of the quotes from Martin Litchfield West are so excellent that the contra was fishing around for some criticism of West. I realized then that this realm is so rich that I should put together a section, emphasizing West yet including many related "textual criticism" issues.

King James Only Version (Discussion) - June, 2019

Martin Litchfield West (1937-2015)

Martin Litchfield West
23 September 1937 – 13 July 2015
elected Fellow of the British Academy 1973
by Robert Fowler
Fellow of the Academy

2000 Balzan Prize for Classical Antiquity

Born in 1937 (*1937 - †2015), a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, West is considered one of the world's leading classical philologists. His masterly critical editions include Hesiod's works, Greek lyric, orphic poetry and all of Aeschylus' tragedies. His Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient offers a decisive and well-balanced contribution to the age-old debate over the "originality" of Greek culture and its indebtedness to other cultures. His groundbreaking studies on early Greek music are also noteworthy.

Martin West is rightfully considered an irreplaceable, indeed unique figure in the world of Greek studies. He combines the methods and techniques of traditional philology with comprehensive studies going far beyond the call of his discipline.
Three Tributes Given by Jane Lightfoot, Alan Cameron and Robert Parker in memory of
Martin Litchfield West - OM, DPhil (Oxon), DLitt (Oxon), FBA
23 September 1937 -13 July 2015 West Memorial Addresses.pdf

Library Thing
M. L. West (1937–2015)

Guardian Obituary - Aug, 2015

Telegraph Obituary - July, 2015


(Note that on the previous page he effectively discards the oldest manuscript fascination, which is behind Vaticanus primacy, this is covered below.)

Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique (1973)
Martin Litchfield West
Since the normal tendency is to simplify, to trivialize, to eliminate the unfamiliar word or construction, the rule is praestat difficilior lectio 3... When we choose the 'more difficult' reading, however, we must be sure that it is in itself a plausible reading. The principle should not be used in support of dubious syntax, or phrasing that it would not have been natural for the author to use. There is an important difference between a more difficult reading and a more unlikely reading.

3 The principle was clearly enunciated by Clericus, Ars Critica (Amsterdam 1696), ii. 293. For earlier hints of it see S. Timpanaro, La Genesi del metodo del Laachmann (Firenze 1963), p. 21 n. 1.

Clericus is Jean le Clerc.

Ars Clerica (1696)
Jean le Clerc

Sebastiano Timpanaro (1923-2000) is available in English, and while the extract I include only brushes onto lectio difficilior, it gives us a good window into Timpanaro and his subject here of Erasmus. (We can look more later for the history of lectio difficilior aspect.)

The Genesis of Lachmann's Method (1963-Italian, 2005-Englis) - edited and translated by Glenn W. Most
Sebastiano Timpanaro
But, even if only in passing, Erasmus had already arrived at the use of the concept of archetype for the purposes of emendatio. In his Adagia he proposed a correction to a proverbial expression cited in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and observed, “The agreement of the manuscripts will not seem at all astonishing to those who have even a modicum of experience in assessing and collating manuscripts. For it very often happens that an error of one archetype, so long as it has some specious appearance of the truth, goes on to propagate itself in all the books that form as it were its descendants, ‘and the children of its children and those who are born later.”’ ...

In any case, the importance of the passage of Erasmus we have cited consists not in his application of the term archetypum to a lost common copy—as we have seen, at least Merula had preceded Erasmus in giving this meaning to the term, even if with a somewhat cautious wording; and probably Erasmus too considered legitimate the other meanings commonly given it in the Humanist period — but rather in his energetic affirmation of the right to correct a reading that appears erroneous without allowing oneself to be intimidated by the consensus codicum [consensus ot the manuscripts) (as, even after Erasmus, Pier Vettori allowed himself to be, as we saw just now): it was not the case that each and every copyist committed the same error independently of the others, by an improbable phenomenon of polygenesis spreading through the whole tradition; instead, it was a single copyist who was responsible for the error, and subsequent copyists repeated it because it was an insidious error, one with an appearance of truth (fucus), so that it did not occur to them to correct it. Erasmus was certainly thinking of an ancient archetype in that passage from the Adagia, since he is not embarrassed by the fact (which he notes expressly) that Alexander of Aphrodisias had already read the presumed error (Grk-0upas) in his copy of Aristotle. But, in general, he shows that he believes it to be impossible for “crude” errors such as meaningless expressions or lacunas to spread through the entire manuscript tradition: subsequent copyists would have noticed these and would have tried to heal them. Erasmus’s conception of textual transmission was almost too unmechanical—it was appropriate only for certain traditions." p. 49-51

The editio princeps of the Greek New Testament, edited by Erasmus, was one of that great Humanist’s least successful editions, for he prepared it in haste and based it on Byzantine manuscripts of little value.1 But here too that phenomenon occurred that we described at the beginning of chapter 1: most of the subsequent editions reproduced the text of the editio princeps, with some contamination. One of these editions, the so-called tcxtus receptus, published by Elzevier of Leiden (1614, 1633), had an enormous diffusion and was adopted by the Protestant churches.2** From then on it was indeed permitted to amass variants at the foot of the page—John Mill collected more of them in his Oxford edition of 1707 than anyone else did—but every attempt to introduce modifications into the text, even if on the authority of the oldest manuscripts, encountered the theologians’ fierce opposition: “If someone [.. .| would dare to change even a little word or a single letter or one stroke of a letter by the application of critical judgment, then at once with their cries of protest they tear him apart as impious, and with great fierceness they accuse him of heresy,” wrote Wettstein (1730: I 58)—and he himself had had firsthand experience of these theological furors.

2. Gregory 1900-1909: 2.937-41 (still fundamental). There is a more concise but very clear exposition in Hundhausen in Wetzer-Welte 1882-1903: 2.608-9. Metzger 1968 (1964): chapters 3 and 4 (see also the addenda at the end of the second edition) are
rich in information and very up to date, but the author does not characterize the individual personalities of the New Testament critics of the eighteenth century distinctly enough, and, as chapters 6 and 7 demonstrate, he does not always have a clear understanding of the principles and methods of more recent textual criticism; to a certain extent his historical exposition is thereby also impaired.

p. 58-59, we can sense some overlap and also the divide between New Testament criticism and overall textual criticism, see Footnote 2 on p. 58 as well with the criticism of Metzger.

Metzger 1968 (1964): B. M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. 2nd ed. Oxford, 1968 (1st ed. Oxford, 1964).
Jan Krans may find some hints in:

Beyond What is Written (2006)


Theodoras Beza and New Testament Conjectural Emendation (2003)

Facebook - harder reading - lectio difficilior

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Steven Avery

fundamental thoughts on TC

Thoughts on TC here


and some misc references

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Symmetry of variant transmission refutes common transcriptional probability argument{"tn"%3A"R"%7D

This post makes a segue into the overall textual criticism issues.

Logical and Conceptual Error Classes in Modern Textual Criticism


Every once in a while I read about, think or work on a common logical fallacy in textual criticism. A logic fail. The above (symmetry of transmission) is one. From now on when I hit one, I will plan on returning here to keep them in one place, as they are some of the most interesting failures. As even a good high school student could point them out, yet the textual critics drone on.


These are different somewhat than theories sans substance and/or grossly abused, like lectio brevior and lectio difficilior.. Each one of those should be examined for historical development (e.g how Griesbach worked in lectio brevior and then others mangled Griesbach) and then summarized with good examples of bogus application.


These are also different than shell theories, like the Lucian recension, which, although no longer defended and rarely overtly stated, cast a pall upon analysis and still are de facto implied when discussing the Byzantine text. (Thus, the Maurice Robinson point that a true genealogical theory points a substantive majority back to early Bible antiquity is bypassed.) Those are the Potemkin Village theories. Hort's de facto Vaticanus primacy is similar. Others, like the Neutral Text, only cast their pall indirectly, through obsequious acceptance of the basics of hortian theories.


These are also different than special pleading and selective applications, such as when scribal mind-reading theories can even work both ways. However Hort, Metzger and the parrots choose one way, to support the Vaticanus minority reading.


These are also different than tangle-mangle theories, such as the very popular 9th century Byzantine majority theories, that are based on transparent statistical shenanigans. (How to Lie with Statistics).


This is also different than presuppositional errors, such as those of Bart Ehrman, whose textual theories work from a supplied element of the early church holding and autographs being written from an ebionite or adoptionist perspective. (Leading to "orthdodox corruptions" of higher Christology away from those autographs.


These are also different than the bogus attacks on preservationalism (e.g. Fee and Wallace contra Pickering or contra AV-TR defenders). As if textual criticism analysis is supposed to work on anti-faith humanistic presuppositions. (Notice that faith-based analysis morphed to "sacred criticism" which morphed to "textual criticism".) This is one reason why Evangelical Textual Criticism is an oxymoron. A high view of the Bible text will always clash with one that has an undercurrent of desire to see the text as convoluted, ungrammatical, even errant. This clash will generate differences in textual axioms and applications. Unbeliever Issues like late dating and NT forgery theories (higher and form and redaction criticisms) will always subtilely interact with textual criticism to develop a weaker, insecure text.


These are related to the attacks on fideism, as if it is a bad thing for Christian Bible believers to have faith in the word of God. Thus it becomes an underlying postulate of textual criticism that the text must be uncertain and unknown, simply a probability text made up of 1000s of probability variants. Ready to change gear every month as a new theory become popular, or a new garbage dump text is pulled out of ashes of gnostic Egypt. Under this theory the only thing certain is that the Bible text is uncertain. In fact, unbelievers should have no place at all in determining or translating the word of God used by Christian believers, since they are slaves to their unbelief.


This is still without going much into many other specifics:

Inconsistency about Inclusion-Omission (should have a totally different analysis understanding than alt. variants, a problem with Byz theory too)

Apparatus Shenanigans - many elements here

Forgery and PS-(Writer) Dismissals and bypasses dubiously declared, often without real warrant from ECW experts

Versional Dismissals (considered virtual irrelevant except in the rare cases where the versions support the CT .. e.g 1 Timothy 3:16)

Greek ms Dismissals (lack of true genealogical theory)

Inconsistency about ms. full of omissions - "earliest and most reliable" declared about ms that are known to be abbreviated and corrupt


Who has done this type of lay-out? Maybe Andrew Wilson, to an extent.

Suggestion, keep this page bookmarked!


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Martin Litchfield West
June 21, 2015{tn:R}

Andrew Wilson and textual discussions including 60/40 on lectio brevior
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Steven Avery

Bruce Metzger praise of Martin Litchfield West

Metzger lauds West

Noteworthy among scholars of the Greek and Latin classics who have given attention to the methodology and practice of textual criticism is Martin L. West, Fellow of University College, Oxford. Well known as the editor of Greek poetic texts, West was invited by the celebrated publishers of classical texts B. G. Teubner of Germany to write a manual for prospective editors of classical texts that would take the place of Maas’s Textkritik (see p. 211, n. 11). The latter had emphasized the stemmatic aspect of textual analysis and treated contamination (i.e., the presence of readings in a manuscript derived from two or more earlier manuscripts) as a regrettable deviation about which nothing can be done. In trying to redress the balance, West discusses contaminated tradition in specimen passages, ranging from Hesiod to Ovid and Apulcius, and gives the reader practical advice in dealing with a variety of textual problems.4

4. M. L. West, Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique Applicable to Greek and Latin Texts (Stuttgart, 1973). See also his more recent Studies in the Text and Transmission of the Iliad (Munich, 2001)

Metzger p. 208-209
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Steven Avery

the age of a manuscript is not necessarily a guide to its quailty ("oldest and most reliable")

Emphasis added:

Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique Applicable to Greek and Latin Texts (1973)
Martin Litchfield West

"This is not to say that the age of a manuscript is necessarily a guide to its quality. Recentiores, non deteriores: that is the famous heading of a chapter in which Pasquali protested against the tendency to equate the two terms, and showed that true readings are sometimes preserved only among the latest manuscripts.1 ... very old copies such as papyri sometimes disappoint expectation by giving a worse text than the medieval tradition instead of a better one. The quality of a manuscript can only be established by reading it. And when an opinion has been formed on the quality of a manuscript, it can be used as a criterion only when other criteria give no clear answer. The absurdity of following whatever is regarded as the best manuscript so long as its readings are not impossible (continues with example)... "

!) Storia..pp. 43-108.

Giorgio Pasquali, Storia della tradizione e critica del testo (2nd ed., Firenze 1952).
(History of the tradition and textual criticism)

Giorgio Pasquali (1885-1952) ... an Italian classical scholar who made a fundamental contribution to the field of textual criticism.[1]

The Lachmann method
Barbara Bordalejo - Faculty of Arts, KU Leuven

Reactions against Lachmann method
Many scholars have reacted against the ideas in Paul Maas' book, and the Lachmann method has been attacked because of its seemingly scietific and heartless approach to texts. One of the strongest arguments against the method was advanced by Giorgio Pasquali, who especially disagreed with the supposition that every textual tradition must descend from a single archetype, and demonstrated the method's lack of utility, when strictly applied.

Paul Maas (1880-1964)
... a German scholar who, along with Karl Lachmann, founded the field of textual criticism.
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Steven Avery

My additions on the ETC forum:

Evangelical Textual Criticism
What Are Text-Types For? - January 26, 2016
Peter Gurry
(Steven Avery - two posts in comments)

May I point out that because Martin Litchfield West (1937-2015) was more of a classical scholar studying with an interest in "textual criticism", without a particularly Bible text viewpoint, without the common indoctrinations, his statements tend to be far more sensible than New Testament modern scientific textual critics.

The Fallacy of (Presumed) Equality

The other question is the fallacy of (presumed) equality. Since that phrase is used more in social settings, we can talk of what in logical terms is the fallacy of equivalence, or the fallacy of false equivalence.

Here it means that those items that are placed in comparable sounding categories or groups would start off with a presumption of having essentially equal significance. After all, it has been simplified to a few groups.

Thus a category of Greek manuscripts with thousands of items placed in the category (e.g. Byzantine) is therefore equivalent in substance to a Greek ms. category that is a whiff in the wind (e.g. Western) or a modest number (Alexandrian).

Ironically, in practice, still using byproducts of the defunct hortian approaches, the Byzantine is the one considered irrelevant.
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Steven Avery

Facebook - PureBible - Aug 16, 2014

Martin Litchfield West on textual criticism theory and praxis

There are major problems with modern New Testament textual criticism, which is a rigged pseudo-science, designed to find an alternative to the pure Bible. After a lot of floundering about for a century with changing theories and conflicting texts by Griesbach, Lachman, Alford, Tregelles, Tischendorf and others, they finally circled the horses with the Westcott-Hort recension. The most corrupt and decrepit text of all, putting aside the competition from the one edition of Tischendorf that was Sinaiticus-mangled. To do this Hort had to foist one blunderama pseudo-scientific absurdity after another, all generally discarded today while the actual text-shell remains the Hortian Vacation Version Potemkin Village. My conjecture is that Hort got the Revision through the one committee by a type of mesmerist control, skills learned complements of his mesmerist friend Augustus de Morgan, lording over some spiritually weak Bible simpletons in a time of church of England decay (generally overruling the modest Scrivener opposition.) Once the Revision was published, even though it was massively rejected, the Hortian fog enticed the itching senses of scholars who like the ideas of placing their hands on the word of God. Always a seductive rebellion leaning (hath God not said?) ... leading to more and more textus corruptus editions, in Greek and English. The babble bubble.

Ironically, the analysis, including the concepts and paradigms, of the learned men of the Reformation Bible era was far more sensible than any of the cornfuseniks above. This is especially true in the complementary interrelationship of the fountainhead Greek and the historic Latin lines. Also in the primary significance of the ECW references. Also in a faith-consistent approach to "internal" considerations. Thus we end up with the pure text, highlighted in the AV as the apex of TR editions, facing up with the monstrously corrupt critical text full of hard errors. Not really a contest that requires a lot of head-scratching for Bible belevers

Another point is that the Bible is fundamentally different than secular and legend writings, scripture operates under a high "Scripturology" .. inspiration and preservation being a fundamental part of Bible textual study ... if you are a believer.

Let unbelievers and secularists and Ehrmanites and Bible agnostics like Wallace and White make up their own GNT editions, using bogus modern "textual criticism" theories, to their hearts content. If they want to put their hands on the word of God, we simply state a Uzzah warning, and move away. Bible believers can stand strong and affirm and defend the pure word of God, providentially delivered to the saints of God. Amen! .. And the "correctors", attackers of the pure Bible, can have their awards and rewards in their conclaves of iniquity.

This morning some plagiarism by Bruce Metzger of Martin Litchfield West was noted. (Also interesting was how he plagiarized Kenyon and simply changed Hort's absurd "Neutral text" to "Alexandrian text", or omitted the Neutral if both were mentioned by Kenyon .. the master manipulator Hort had actually pretended that these were two text-lines.)

Returning to Martin Litchfield West (1937-2015), involved in actual "textual criticism" with Greek classics, so he provides an interesting contrast to our bogus New Testament textual pseudo-science crew, even putting aside inspiration and preservation for a minute. Not once did he quote Metzger, I conjecture he may have known that "New Testament textual criticism" is a type of deformed offshoot (substitute a stronger word if you like) of the textual arts.
West is an actual Greek literature "textual critic" .. not a bogus hortian New Testament textual critic.…/NTTe…/permalink/705911322829204/…

Here are some quotes from West that have rarely been used by the bogus New Testament criticism crew, while they looked for more generalist quotes to try to pretend they were all in the same camp.


Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique (1973)
Martin Litchfield West

"This is not to say that the age of a manuscript is necessarily a guide to its quality. Recentiores, non deteriores: that is the famous heading of a chapter in which Pasquali protested against the tendency to equate the two terms, and showed that true readings are sometimes preserved only among the latest manuscripts. ... very old copies such as papyri sometimes disappoint expectation by giving a worse text than the medieval tradition instead of a better one. The quality of a manuscript can only be established by reading it. And when an opinion has been formed on the quality of a manuscript, it can be used as a criterion only when other criteria give no clear answer. The absurdity of following whatever is regarded as the best manuscript so long as its readings are not impossible (continues with example)... " p. 50
When we choose the 'more difficult' reading, however, we must be sure that it is in itself a plausible reading. The principle should not be used in support of dubious syntax, or phrasing that it would not have been natural for the author to use. There is an important difference between a more difficult reading and a more unlikely reading. p. 51


**** There is an important difference between a more difficult reading and a more unlikely reading. *****

Thus the Alexandrian corruptions in 1 Timothy 3:16 and John 1:18 and Mark 1:41 and the omissions of the ending of Mark and the heavenly witnesses are all examples of ** unlikely readings ** for stylistic and grammatical and context reasons.

You might like to keep that West quote above at hand


"The absurdity of following whatever is regarded as the best manuscript so long as its readings are not impossible."

And there goes the whole Vaticanus-primacy charade, out the window.

Spot-on. And that is exactly how Vaticanus and Sinaticus is used. All their unlikely errors are used, generally into the text even the direct contradiction blunder of the daughter of Herod (Mark, 6:22), and the swine marathon from Gerash (Luke 8:26, 8:37, Mark 5:1) and the synagogues of Judea (Luke 4:44). Only when the blunder goes over a very high bar of absurdity (e.g. Nazareth of Judea of Luke 1:26 in Sinaiticus) is it considered impossible by the New Testament author, and kept out of the Bible text and even the apparatus.


Note, I also do not see West, so far, even bothering with the "shorter reading" nonsense.

Now, our inspired and preserved New Testament text does not need a modern "textual criticism" at all. And West is not, afaik, a NT textual critic.

Thus, he provides an interesting counterpoint to the special pleading (Critical Text support, TR attack) attempts of the emphasis and application of the bogus modern textual criticism.

Fenton Hort designed his whole system to attack the pure Bible, with his demonic presupposition that the pure Bible was "vile" and "villianous". The presuppositionalism was pointed out long ago by Colwell (keeping the pure Bible described as the Received Text, since Colwell himself was a scholastic product of the textual era and error.)

And modern "New Testament textual criticism" is still hort-infected today.

The gentleman scholar Martin West shows us that above, by showing us that even the fundamental critical text apologetics we hear daily is bogus, even by textual criticism standards.
Related topics in 2016.

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Text-line and CT theory from Hort till today - the Andrew S. Hudson paper


The following was based on an Evangelical Textual Criticism forum thread:

Evangelical Textual Criticism
What Are Text-Types For?
Peter Gurry…/what-are-…

Note, there often is a degree of activity on their Facebook page as well:

Evangelical Textual Criticism

What are Text-Types For? - Facebook mirror

ETC to date has been very good in allowing substantive posting by posters with a variety of views, including TR-AV. My thanks on that point, since so many struggle to find a reason to close ears to dialog, even when it could be iron sharpeneth. And I just encourage any posters there to seek to make quality contributions.


Working backwards with the most recent comment, which stands alone fine, although you might enjoy simply reading the thread top down. Here I am following up on the question of whether there is currently any textual theory that remains standing by modern Critical Text proponents. This will be my fourth post on the thread, a highly unusual situation due to the volatility and significance of the topic.

In fact, after seeing the feedback here, I may simply give the final question with a pointer to this post. (It is actually too long for a single comment.)


SA Comment:

Please allow me to also show the circularity used in even examining this set of circumstances.

Joel L. Watts shares a 1998 paper by:

Andrew S. Hudson
Assistant Professor Of Biblical Studies
Pillsbury Baptist Bible College

Journal of Ministry and Theology
Current Textual Criticism Theory: An Evaluation of Claims of Reliance on Westcott and Hort (Spring 1998)
Andrew S. Hudson…/journal-of-ministr…/jmat_volume2_1

where Hudson concluded there must be a valid reason the continuing reliance on the Alexandrian text, even if the reasons are largely unknown, or rather fudgy, or ill-defined, as in this key claim, that we should:

"admit that the CT uses a new/revised theory of textual criticism"


Current Textual Criticism Theory: An Evaluation of Claims of Reliance on Westcott and Hort
August 27, 2008 by Joel L. Watts…/

"members of the United Bible Society committee that produced the modern CT have moved beyond Westcott and Hort’s textual theory. In fact, most modern scholars agree with most of Burgon’s criticism of Westcott and Hort..."

"Even the modern textual critics’ preference for the Alexandrian family of manuscripts is based on different grounds than Westcott and Hort used. Therefore, it is unjustified to criticize the modern CT for a reliance on Westcott and Hort’s textual theory...."

"In a paper read at the 100th meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in 1964, Aland stated that Hort’s view of text-types can no longer be trusted.... The discovery of the papyri manuscripts has invalidated much of Hort’s theory.... Aland no long accepts Hort’s text types or genealogy. He does not accept Hort’s “neutral text... asserts that he has moved beyond the textual theory of Westcott and Hort."

(SA: throughout, many examples are given of deficient Hortian theory)

"... In light of the movement away from Westcott and Hort, the only way to account for the difference between the CT and TR is to admit that the CT uses a new/revised theory of textual criticism .. Members of the committee that produced the CT clearly state that they have abandoned the theories of Westcott and Hort. They used a new theory of textual criticism to produce the modern CT."



Nowhere in the paper does Hudson consider the possibility that the:

"modern textual critics’ preference for the Alexandrian family of manuscripts"

** should have been discarded when the underlying theory was rejected. **

(You can add many analogies here, e.g. from modern evolutionary theory.)

Nor does the paper consider that modern textual theory simply may not today actually have a logical conceptual base. Hudson simply uses the fact of the "preference" as a reason for concluding that the preference is logically sound. Hudson also grossly overstates the significance of the hundreds of mostly minor variant changes in Critical Text editions in the 8,000 verse New Testament. This is the new methodology: by continually tweaking minor variants, and leaving the major corruptions unchanged, (e.g. the Mark ending omission is still the absurd "A" decision for omission) the basic corruptions can be passed over and attempt to be theoretically justified,
(Hudson does mention the papyri, without noting with their very limited geographical locale and wild mix of texts and fudgy dating. In fact, they can be used to argue virtually any position, even opposite textual views. And the paper never mentions the salient Aland warning about the limited provenance of the papyri. And it never mentions the category system, which was the Aland replacement.

See the text around footnotes 30 and 64 for more fascinating stuff. I am trying to keep a comment lean enough.

Daniel Wallace(!) is the source for (72-75), as if Wallace actually has a new theoretical base. And Burgon on the ECW is sharply criticized simply by an appeal to the grossly deficient Mark Heuer paper (79). (Even though even today you can often improve the modern textual apparatus simply by looking up Burgon references.)


If there is an actual conceptual base for the continuing modern Alexandrian preference by virtually all modern textual critics, occasional exception duly noted, would any of our esteemed writers try to explain this basis?

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Steven Avery

Metzger plagiarism of Martin Litchfield West

Metzger Plagiarism

Peter Gurry
Honest question: would your school or university consider this plagiarism without any citation?

“In deciding that one reading is derived from another and therefore to be eliminated, we are doing something similar to what we do when we decide that one manuscript is derived from another.” –Martin West, Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique (1973), pp. 51–52
“From his examples the student soon learns that when one is deciding that a given reading is derived from another, and therefore is to be eliminated, one is doing something similar to what is done when deciding that a given manuscript is derived from another.” –Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the NT (2005), p. 209
Stephen C. Carlson
I only heard about them and how he did them, but there are other cases of very close paraphrasing in his writings.

Brice C. Jones
Metzger plagiarizes Eric Turner on many occasions, some verbatim. I once asked Bart Ehrman about this and he said that he didn't edit or contribute to those passages, which means they originate with Metzger from an earlier time. I found a couple sentences that were lengthy and drawn word for word from Turner's 'Greek Papyri' and GMAW.

Peter Gurry
Brice, I thought you had. I tried to Google your posts but couldn’t find them. Metzger’s footnotes are always so helpful and meticulous that I was surprised to find this.

Brice C. Jones
I deleted them because I didn't want to sound like I was bashing a world-class scholar---even if the man *did* plagiarize! (Don't tell my students I just said that.)

Hmmm.... The removal by deletion of such scholarly transgressions by Brice C. Jones is quite unfortunate, apparently Metzger veneration has a strong hold on the modern textcrits.

Metzger Plagiarisms

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Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique Applicable to Greek and Latin Texts (1973)
Martin Litchfield West
plagiarism in

The Text of New Testament - 4th Edition (2005)
Metzger and Ehrman
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Steven Avery

Martin Litchfield West (1937–2015)
Almut Fries.

... Martin’s total academic output amounts to thirty-five books (editions, commentaries, translations and monographs) and more than 450 articles and reviews, ninety-three of which were re-published in three volumes of Selected Papers (Hellenica: Selected Papers on Greek Literature and Thought, Oxford 2011–2013); plus his new Teubner edition of the Odyssey, and several articles that have appeared or will do so posthumously. As Robert Parker, Wykeham Professor of Ancient History in Oxford, observed in his memorial address on 24 October 2015, “if we consider the whole field of Greek poetry down to the death of Aeschylus minus a single genre, lyric, once the text of the Odyssey is published, the whole of Greek poetry of those centuries will be available in an edition by Martin; and authoritative comment by Martin is available on all that ocean of poetry except the Homeric Hymns. Lyric is missed out only because it was already well served, but Martin also made innumerable contributions in that field”. Add to this a delightful Aris & Phillips commentary on Euripides’ Orestes (the fastest ever produced, according to the series editor, Christopher Collard), standard manuals on textual criticism (1973) and Greek metre (1982, 1987), an extensive study of ancient Greek music (1992), an edition of the extant Greek musical fragments (2001, with Egert Pöhlmann of Erlangen) and a comparatively slender volume on Orphic poetry (1983), which somehow makes these murky waters look clearer than usual. What unites this enormous oeuvre is a mind that combined artistic sensitivity with a brilliant sense of formal logic (at school Martin also excelled in mathematics). What made it possible is a matter for speculation: self-discipline, ruthless efficiency and a staggering capacity for concentration.

Martin’s career was correspondingly stellar. After being the first holder of the Woodhouse Junior Research Fellowship at St. John’s College Oxford (1960–1963) he became Fellow and Praelector in Classics at University College Oxford (1963–1974) and Professor of Greek at Bedford (later Royal Holloway and Bedford) College London (1974–1991), before he returned to Oxford as a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College (Emeritus Fellow 2004, Honorary Fellow 2014). In 1973 he was elected Fellow of the British Academy (the second-youngest in its history), and a host of other distinctions followed: honorary doctorates and membership of foreign academies, honor- ary fellowships in all his Oxford colleges, the Runciman Award (1998, for The East Face of Helicon), the International Balzan Prize (2000, ten years after his friend Walter Burkert) and the British Academy’s Kenyon Medal for Classical Studies (2002). But all these were surpassed by his appointment, in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List, to the Order of Merit (OM), which lies in the gift of the British monarch and is restricted to twenty-four members at any one time.
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Steven Avery

Do the Bible Critics use a Double Standard? (1965)
Edwin Masso Yamauchi (b. 1937)
p. 179-182

Comparing trends in Homeric and biblical studies, a historian asserts that critics of the Bible apply artificial criteria that Homeric scholars have long since repudiated


Sounds interesting so far. Maybe it will make it online.

Something I have long been aware of, Mark Litchfield West makes some similar points.

Textual Criticism -
The Art of Special Pleading to Corrupt the Scriptures
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Steven Avery

Similar to Martin Litchfield West on lectio difficilior]-R

Christopher Yetzer

I would just clarify point 3. There are different kinds of textual criticism and there are different materials. For instance some majority text positions still use textual criticism, but with different principles.

Consider this quote from
Henry James Piggot December 13, 1909,

"For myself I am disposed to give rather more weight to internal evidence than the majority of the critics. There is one principle in the determination of evidence which has great weight with our editors of texts such as Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort, to which I think too decisive an importance has been given. It is that of accepting the more difficult text as the more likely to be correct. No doubt, in many cases it holds that it is more likely that a difficult reading should have been changed into an easy one than vice versa. Still, when as in many cases the principle is pushed so far as to make the author write nonsense or bad grammar, or something which internal or contemporary evidence would be dead against, I think it is better to suppose that in the difficult reading you have the error of some ignorant or weary copyist."

The idea that all textual criticism is the same is errant from the start. Using a form of textual criticism to decide readings which God has preserved in my mind is very different than useing variant methods on someone's trash.
I typically would point to better men, better methods, better materials and better results.
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Steven Avery

Gallery of Philologists

Philology has its heroes, its contributors, its recognizable names. A formal pantheon of philology, whether in Europe or in China, would require more erudition than the present author can command. These pages (arranged in rough chronological order, within each tradition) should instead be thought of as a sample: not quite random, but far from authoritative. They are included here chiefly to give beginners a sense of reality, and a feeling of companionship across the ages.

These profiles may be read for their human interest, but also for the sample solved problems on which many of them focus. Our suggestion for a systematic approach to unsolved problems of the same kind is provided in the Philology section proper. Here, we are in the domain of what has been done by others, and we can watch them doing it.

Western Tradition

Chinese Tradition

Benjamin A Elman. From Philosophy to Philology. 1984.
Bruce M Metzger. The Text of the New Testament. 4ed 2005
Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff. Geschichte der Philologie (1921); History of Classical Scholarship (1982)