The Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism HTML version

Chaucer continued to make modi?cations to his manuscript even after the ?rst copies
had been made. Thus the autograph in that case was a moving target. There can also
be “autographless” documents as a result of compilation. We see this with some
commentaries, for instance. A church father might write a commentary, leaving out the
longer Biblical quotations, and hand it to a scribe to ?nish off. The scribe copies the text
and inserts the Biblical quotations. So: The autograph of the commentary is the Father's
original text, but the autograph of the quotations is Bible itself (or, in another way, the
manuscript the copyist used to supply the quotations), and there is no actual autograph
of the combined text. Nor is this complex process con?ned to commentaries; ancient
histories often quoted sources verbatim at great length — as Livy took over Polybius, or
Josephus used the assorted sources at his disposal. Nor was it only ancient authors
who did this; Holinshed and Shakespeare, e.g., both took large texts verbatim out of
By contrast, every extant manuscript — of every writing ever made! — traces back to an
archetype. (Technically, this is true even of the original manuscript: It is its own
archetype, and would be so treated in mathematical discussions of generations of
The Archetype
The archetype is the direct ancestor from which a particular group of copies is derived.
For example, Dabs1 and Dabs2 are both copied from D/06 (Claromontanus), so D/06 is the
archetype of the group D/06, Dabs1, Dabs2.
In most cases, of course, the archetype of a particular group is lost. We do not, e.g.,
have the archetype of Family 1 or Family 13, let alone such a vague thing as the
Alexandrian Text (which may not even have an archetype; text-types are loose enough
collections of readings that not all copies containing readings of the type may go back to
a single original). For classical works, however, it is often possible to identify the
archetype of some or all surviving copies. Arrian's Alexander, for instance, exists in
about 40 copies. Every one of these has an obvious lacuna at the same point (in Book
8, the Indike). It so happens, however, that the manuscript Vienna hist. gr. 4 chances to
be missing a leaf which corresponds exactly with the lacuna. Thus it is apparent that
this manuscript is the archetype of all surviving copies. (There are even a few
exceptional cases where it is possible to determine the archetype in cases where it is
lost. All copies of Suetonius's Lives of the Twelve Caesars, for instance, lack the
beginning of the life of Julius. From this and other evidence, including colophons and
excerpts and cataloguing data, it is apparently possible to prove that all these copies go
back to the lost Codex Fuldensis.)
The Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism