June 10, 2010
Lake on von Soden
Excerpt from: Kirsopp Lake, The Text of the NT, 4th ed. Appendix D, (London, 1908)
The New Researches and Theory
of Prof. von Soden
A sufficient amount of a new and probably epoch-making book is now published, to render it desirable to give some account of its main features, though the time is not yet come for any attempt finally to estimate its value. This is H. von Soden's Die Schriften des neuen Testaments in ihrer altesten erreichbaren Textgestalt. The first part of the 1st volume appeared in 1905, the 2nd part in 1906, and the 3rd in 1907. These parts contain a new notation of MSS, a partly new and much more elaborate grouping of MSS into textual families, and a new theory of textual history.
1. Von Soden's Notation of MSS - The older system distinguishing between uncials and minuscules is abandoned, and an attempt made to give information, by the symbol employed, as to the date and the contents of each MS. All known mss. are first divided into three classes:
(1) δ-MSS, containing the whole NT (δ = διαθηκη), with or without the exception of the Apocalypse ;
(2) ε-MSS, containing the Gospels (ε = ευαγγελιον)
(3) α-MSS, containing Acts and Epistles, with or without the Apocalypse (α = αποστολος).
The α-MSS and δ-MSS
The MSS. within each of these classes are assigned numbers, in accordance with their date and contents, on the following system : α-MSS and δ-MSS, up to the end of the 9th century, are numbered 1-49 ; those of the 10th century 50-99;
For the following centuries numbers of three ciphers are taken, and the cipher in the 100's-place indicates the century : thus, 121 means a MS of the 11th century, 221 of the 12th, 321 of 13th, and so on.
In δ-MSS an indication is given as to the presence or absence of the Apocalypse by using 1-49 in each hundred for mss. with the Apocalypse, 50-99 for those without it:
Thus, δ-425 would be a 14th-century MS containing the whole NT (plus Apoc.); δ-275 would be a 12th-century MS containing all the NT except the Apocalypse.
Similarly, the contents of the α-MSS are indicated by the figures. Numbers of 3 ciphers are reserved for MSS containing Acts, Catholic Epistles, and Pauline Epistles, with or without the Apocalypse — the absence or presence of which is shown in the same way as in the δ-MSS. For MSS containing less than this, numbers of four ciphers are used, the left-hand cipher always being 1, the next cipher showing the date, and the two right- hand ciphers indicating the precise contents:
00-19 mean Acts and Catholic Epistles, 20 to 69 mean Pauline Epistles alone, and 70 to 99 mean the Apocalypse alone.
Thus, α-321 means a 13th century ms., containing Acts, Catholic and Pauline Epistles, and Apocalypse;
α-489 means a 14th century MS containing Acts, Catholic and Pauline Epistles, but not the Apocalypse ; α-1109 means an 11th century MS containing Acts and Catholic Epistles;
α-1221 a 12th century MS containing the Pauline Epistles; and α-1372 means a 13th century MS containing the Apocalypse.
The ε-MSS are so numerous that a further development of the system is necessary.
1 to 99 is used for mss. up to the 9th century, and as this does not supply sufficient numbers, more are gained by prefixing a 0, and so gaining another hundred figures (i.e., 001-099).
1000 to 1099 are MSS of the 10th century, 100 to 199 of the 11th, and so on.
When this proves insufficient, a 1 is prefixed, and since in the 12th and later centuries even this is not enough, use is made of the thousands, and 2000 to 2999 is rendered available for the MSS of the 12th century, 3000 to 3999 for those of the 13th century, and so on:
In each case the left-hand figure indicates the century. Normally an ε is to be fixed to these numbers, but it is obvious that this is only necessary when the class of the MSS would otherwise be ambiguous, and, in dealing with the Gospels, von Soden adopts the practice of never inserting the ε when speaking of ε-MSS, and never omitting the δ when referring to the δ-MSS. This seems to be the most convenient method, and can obviously be applied equally well to α-MSS.
2. Grouping of MSS — Von Soden divides the MSS of the Gospels (the rest of the NT he has not yet dealt with) into three groups, which he calls K, H, I.
The K Group - This is, roughly speaking, Westcott/Hort's Syrian (or Antiochene) text. von Soden subdivides it into K i, which is the purest existing form of K, and is best represented by S V Ω 461 661 655 , and a new MS (ε 94), K i, which is K-infiuenced by readings of the Ferrar group,K ik K x K r and some other variations, which represent more or less unimportant sub-families of K. It is suggested that K can be traced back to the 4th century, and that it is the recension made by Lucian.
The H Group - This represents Westcott/Hort's Neutral & Alexandrian, between which von Soden does not seem to distinguish. It is represented best by א BCLZ Δ Ψ 33 892 1241 679, and a few other fragments. von Soden thinks that there is a close relationship between א and B, to which he ascribes an Egyptian origin, but that the other MSS are all independent authorities, though all corrupted by varying degrees of Admixture with K. In reconstructing the text of H he does not seem to attach nearly as much importance to B as has been usual.
It is suggested that H is the recension of Hesychius; it was used by the makers of the Egyptian Versions, and in the main by Athanasius, Didymus, and Cyril of Alexandria, but not by Origen or Clement.
The I Group - This corresponds, more or less, to the Western Text. The oldest extant form of it is best represented, according to von Soden, by D 28 372 565 700 and a new MS (ε-050), which seems to be closely connected with 700, and a new MS related to 28 565. Important sub-families of I are J, which is the Ferrar Group, and H r, which is made up of Family 1, 22, and some new MSS (see p. 21). Another sub-family of less importance is Π, composed of the 'Purple MSS' (N Z Φ, etc.), which von Soden thinks can be identified with the text of the great Cappadocian Fathers, Basil & Gregory.
Still less important are O B Σ Φ (all yarious combinations of I and K, or sub-families of K), and K a but the last has a certain historical interest if von Soden is right in thinking that it represents the recension (I corrected to a K standard) used, and perhaps made by Chrysostom. In reconstructing the original I text, von Soden pays more attention to 28 565 700 and less to D than former critics.
D he thinks has been largely corrupted by the influence of the Latin, Syriac, and, perhaps, Sahidic Versions. He does not recognise these two versions as authorities for I - they belong to an earlier stage of the history of the text, and he thinks that I itself represents a Caesarean recension, with which the names of Pamphilus & Eusebius may be connected, especially as the quotations of Eusebius seem to belong to the I type.
3. Textual Theory - ALl known MSS belong either to I, H, or K; and it can, so von Soden thinks, be shown that they together represent an original text, called I-H-K, which was used by Origen, and probably by Marcion, Justin, & Tatian, who used it as the basis of the Diatessaron. Of these recensions K is the worst, and I the best, and I-H-K can be recovered in the main:
(1) by eliminating readings due to the influence of parallel passages in the Gospels;
(2) where this rule is insufficient, by rejecting the reading which seems to be an accommodation to Matthew, - the popular Gospel in earlier times;
(3) in other places by adopting the reading found in two out of the three recensions. Thus, I-H-K is reconstructed, and the question is then faced whether it is really the earliest which we can reach.
The difficulty is that the Old Latin and Old Syriac versions, and the quotations of Tertullian Irenaeus & Clement of Alexandria do not seem to support the readings of I-H-K, Yet von Soden is apparently prepared to argue that in the end they do really support it, for their readings can all be explained as the corruption of I-H-K by the Diatessaron, which was written in Greek, probably early in Tatian's career, and became widely known.
It is obvious that such important contributions to the history of the text, and such great innovations in theory, are certain to give rise to a long discussion among textual critics, which it would be improper to anticipate, but there can be no harm in pointing out that the foci of this discussion are almost sure to be the following questions:
(1) Is K really independent of I and H or were W. H. right in thinking that it is the result of a recension based on Western and Neutral texts (I and H)?
(2) Is von Soden right in regarding D as the result of Latin and Syriac influence working on I, and not as evidence for a Greek text which agreed with the Old Syriac and Old Latin more than with any Greek MSS?
(3) Is he right in making no distinction between Neutral and Alexandrian MSS?
(4) Is he right in thinking that the Diatessaron of Tatian exercised such a wide influence, and that this influence is sufficient to account for the variations from I-H-K, shown by the oldest versions and Fathers ?
The following scheme, which of course omits many of the less important sub-families, will serve to illustrate von Soden's general theory of the relations between the different textual families.