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Hrsg. v./Ed. by Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung, Münster. Bd. III
Novum Testamentum Graecum – Editio Critica Maior. Die Apostelgeschichte/The Acts of the Apostles. 3 Teilbde. Hrsg. v. H. Strutwolf, G. Gäbel, A. Hüffmeier, G. Mink u. K. Wachtel.
Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft 2017. Teilbd. 1.1: Text. VIII, 1*–37*, 1–527 S., u. 1.2: Text. S. 529–1088; Teilbd. 2: Begleitende Materialien/Supplementary Material. VI, 312 S.; Teilbd. 3: Studien/Studies. VI, 245 S. Lw. EUR 268,00. ISBN 978-3-438-05614-6.
J. K. Elliott
The latest part of the New Testament to be published in the series Editio critica maior (= ECM) is the Acts of the Apostles. Like its predecessor in the pioneering volume on the Catholic Letters (2nd ed. 2013), it will be the differences in text from NA28 (and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament 5th revised edition) that will attract most readers’ attention because it is the new ECM text of Acts which will now become the norm in those hand-editions. The critical apparatus contains Greek variants as well as those in the Latin, Coptic, Ethiopic and Syriac versions. Greek patristic writers, mainly up to the 6th century and a few Latin Fathers are occasionally to be seen in the apparatus. Translators too will need to use ECM Acts and decide at Acts 6:13 between adding τουτου or not and to reach conclusions about how to translate decisions about +/- Χρισ-τον at 20:21, for instance.
Nowadays consumers’ choice is not restricted to retail merchandising. Editors too must now be more ›democratic‹; how different from those earlier but memorable days when the text-critical institute in Münster, now responsible for ECM, and then under Kurt Aland’s directorship, declared vociferously that its one text be the »Standard« for all to follow! The opening words inviting readers to judge the editorial decisions in the Einleitung of NA27 p. 3*, temporarily and inexplicably jettisoned in NA28, may now be properly reapplied. I suggest that all readers constantly keep the running-text and its apparatus in their sights and prepare to discuss each and every variant to see which may be the Ausgangstext – and to understand from these footnotes the history of the text through its multiple readings and variants.
ECM Acts has fifty-two textual changes from Acts in NA28 and 155 readings (or 156 if we include the choice of punctuation allowed at Acts 5:28) which are usually split into two alternatives (although a choice of three equally relevant readings occasionally occurs). All these changes are set out in ECM III Part 1 pp. 17*–19*; (ET) 34*–36*. Few affect the meaning seemingly intended by its author (? Luke); a rare exception is the way in which Jesus is addressed at 17:3 although all changes will cause alterations to those tools dependent on the actual wording of ECM Acts. Concordances and other reference works will need to reflect changes too, much to publishers’ delight.
Most changes to the text are places where NA28 has words or a word (or part of a word) bracketed; either ECM omits the brackets or it omits the brackets and the word(s) bracketed. Example of both types may be located at the following verses in Acts: 9:12; 10:40; 13:33; 16:28, 29; 19:40; 27:41. Elsewhere, places where previous bracketing is not concerned, involve the inclusion or omission of the definite article (as at Acts 2:20; 15:17, 37; 16:10); others involve changes in a preposition (as at Acts 2:5; 9:21; 15:4), a particle or conjunction (1:15); pronouns (1:26; 9:8; 10:9; 19:14); nouns (18:7; 25:18); verbs (e. g. 5:26, 33); and word order (16:28; 23:1; 27:8). There is one newly introduced conjectural reading (i. e. a reading without any known Greek manuscript support); this appears at 13:33. Part 3 ch. 1 p. 20 in note 84 tells us that Tischendorf’s apparatus for the variant, originally accepted as infallibly correct, and then followed by Metzger’s fuller Textual Commentary of 1994, is actually wrong – no Greek witness reads ημιν solus after all.
We are informed that the editors made use of the methodology devised by a Mitarbeiter (Dr Gerd Mink) at the Institut für Neutes-tamentliche Textforschung at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität at Münster, whose Kohärenz-basierte genealogische Methode or Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (= CBGM) lies behind ECM Acts. The application of his methodology may possibly be why certain new readings were introduced.
One of the editors, Klaus Wachtel, has written an exiguous but welcomed Commentary, which is mainly devoted to the new text in ECM including where the leading line is split. This is ch. 1 of Part 3: Begleitende Materialien, a section surreptitiously abandoned in the volumes on the Catholic Letters despite the publisher’s earlier promises, but, thankfully included here. Wachtel divides his comments into two main sub-sections: one relates to how the homespun co-herence-based genealogical methodology (GC here) is utilized and the other how transcriptional probability (TP) has also helped the editorial decision-making over variants. (Where arguments based on the latter – and more traditional – methodology prevailed, as at 1:8 for instance, it is reassuring to recall that Mink’s work on GC was never intended to replace human input. AI [= artificial intelligence] does not rule OK here!) (On Mink’s work, see below.)
Wachtel’s laconic comments are themselves often truncated when he explains why the running lines were split; he frequently draws attention there to the repeated reason that one of the two Rules were applicable to solve an impasse. Wachtel’s comments on all split readings in part 3 often refer us to Rule 1 or Rule 2 (these Diktats are set out on pp. 1*–2*) and they account for a goodly number of reasons why two alternative readings or more choices are proffered to readers. Some of Wachtel’s comments may appeal to those readers especially wedded to »politically correct« ideas includ-ing feminism allegedly blighting the so-called Western Text at, say, 18:26. Elsewhere Wachtel reveals that the editorial committee was often still attracted to antiquated ideas of »weak« attestation (e. g. see 2:7), occasionally resulting of the ›indecisive‹ coherence isolated by GC!
This is the first ECM volume to have Gerd Mink’s methodology applied to a text ab initio and readers will wish to examine this new text of Acts (and Wachtel’s commentary on it) to assess the use made by the editors of that and of transcriptional probability in reaching their text-critical decisions. I, as a so-called thoroughgoing text-critic, wonder if my preferred methodology (in which variants are usually selected if they conform to the author’s language, style or theology) would have produced markedly differing results. After Colwell’s attempts in his quantitative methodology to manage the huge number of mediaeval minuscule witnesses to the New Testament and then the so-called Claremont profiling method and the Alands’ local-genealogical siftings comes CBGM. It is tempting to conclude with the tag: Plus ça change …
Unlike editorial matter in Parts 1 and 2, Wachtel’s »Textual Commentary« in part 3 is in English only (although an odd note in German intrudes in part 3 on p. 19 re Acts 13:11). Throughout he refers particularly in his footnotes to English writers such as Barrett, Metzger and Pervo. Other essays in part 3 are in either German or in English. Writers in this part include Georg Gäbel, Annette Hüffmeier, Andreas Juckel and Holger Strutwolf; they and other scholars write helpful and interesting essays on the versions or on Patristic writings. Their work often represents »work in progress« as the apparatus in ECM Acts is somewhat thin in those areas. Elsewhere in Parts 1 and 2 any introductory writing is mainly bi-lingual, English and German; the English generally is very good although some faults may be detected; readers ought therefore to check possible problem-cases against the German originals.
As in the previous ECM volumes on the Catholic Letters, the printed text and apparatus are models of clarity, easy to navigate and to understand. All matters of minority interest (e. g. errata = Fehler) are set out in part 2. That volume also lists manuscripts used and other detailed, but essential, information. The editors used some 183 manuscripts (Papyri, Majuscules, Minuscules, Lectionaries and eleven – not twelve, as stated in part 1 p. 2* – supplemented manuscripts). These mainly include texts that allegedly belong to the first Christian millennium.
One newly coined piece of jargon imported from Mink’s genealogical methodology is »tradent« and, as found here, means that manuscripts may be carriers of a text that is earlier than the palaeographical date of the manuscripts themselves assigned by expert palaeographers. Thus a 13th century witness may be the bearer (i. e. tradent) of – for the sake of argument – a 9th century text. The late George Kilpatrick, a pioneering thoroughgoing eclectic text-critic followed Vogels’ advice and both would readily argue that all meaningful variants in the New Testament are likely to have origi-nated before 200 A. D., that is prior to the establishing of a canon of scripture that would have inhibited deliberate change to what was increasingly considered as Holy Writ. Mink’s new theories are thus sometimes far less radical than some earlier views.
The next ECM volumes to appear are Revelation and John; both should again make use of Mink’s methodology. The extent to which the resultant texts may change remains to be seen.
Meanwhile we congratulate the editorial team (pace part 1 p. VIII line 7) and its publishers for these handsome volumes. Henceforth all serious work on Acts will be dependent on their work.