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The Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism

poll by asking all registered Democrats to reveal their presidential preference. It may
comfort the candidate (if he's stupid enough), but it really doesn't tell us much.
There seems to be a strong desire among scholars to make textual criticism simple (as
opposed to repeatable or mechanical; although these may seem like the same thing,
they are not). Hort made TC simple by effectively excluding all text-types but the
Alexandrian. The Byzantine prioritists make TC simple by excluding all text-types but
the Byzantine. One wishes it could be so — but there is no reason to believe that TC is
simple. If it were simple, we could have reduced it to a machine algorithm by now. But
no one has yet succeeded in so doing — and probably won't until we make some
methodological breakthrough.
The above was my opinion as of mid–2002. Since that time, I have become aware of a
major project by Wieland Willker which included an attempt to prove the very point
described above.
It's somewhat dif?cult to assess Dr. Willker's work for this purpose, because what he
engaged in was a full-?edged textual commentary — a very useful item, far better than
the UBS commentary, as it includes more readings and a more complete assessment of
internal and external evidence.
What's more, his assessment at several points appears very cogent, agreeing with
much of what I have found. Examples:
Regarding the “Cæsarean” text: The main concern of its editor was to harmonize. This
explains the heavy editing in Mk. Unfortunately all witnesses of the group underwent
subsequent Byzantine correction to a different degree. We have no pure witness. T is
the best we have. Full collations of all remotely Caesarean witnesses might be in order
to clear up the kinship.
Regarding the “Western” text: Is D a singular idiosyncracy? If “D+it” ever was a Greek
texttype is questionable. Do all or most of the Old Latin witnesses go back to one single
Dr. Willker classi?es readings according to a scale similar to the above (i.e. Byz or UBS
clearly or slightly superior), save that he is more interested in the readings of the UBS
edition than those of particular text-types. But he does include an appendix looking at
the particular types. The display is graphic rather than tabular, but it appears that the
results are roughly as follows:
The Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism