Last Updated:

Aug 13, 2010

Gamble: 'Interpolations'

Excerpt from: Harry Gamble, The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans, (Eerdmans, 1977)

Page Index

Interpolations: - Harry Gamble (1977)

Gamble on Interpolations

Features that Accompany and Mark Real Interpolations

From: 'The White Man' TC Blog:

"Harry Gamble, in The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans: a Study in Textual and Literary Criticism, (1977) p. 137, gives a good summary of the features of texts that have been claimed to be composed of different parts which were later put together and claimed to be one. His list of the tell-tale features claimed by such 'partition theories' also applies to other literary interpolations. He thus argued that such 'partition theories' depend upon:

1. - abrupt changes in the subject matter;
2. - interruptions in an otherwise continuous train of thought;
3. - seeming inconsistencies or even contradictions that conflict with other material in the document;
4. - the presence of certain formulae in supposedly inappropriate or uncustomary contexts
5. - repetition of redundant elements ;
6. - perceived changes in tone or style;
7. - the assumption by the writer of different circumstances on the part of the intended audience.


Nazaroo adds (from Gamble's book):

"Gamble goes on to discuss the weaknesses of this list of features for identifying 'interpolation', on p.139 fwd.:

'Before any conclusions can be drawn about how [an author] "should" or "must" have expressed himself, it is necessary to discover as much as possible about how he "does" in fact express himself [in documents] as we have them.

The question of [interpolation] is usually raised prematurely..." (p. 138)

"...literary analysis must be subject to controls provided by prior analysis of the form and style of [an author]: this is only part of its obligation. Theories must also be attentive to the larger issues which they inevitably raise. These include questions about the motives, occasions and agents of the redaction, but also - by implication - the whole problem of the early history of the [body of literature under study]. These questions are ordinarily neglected by advocates of [interpolation] theories, as though it were sufficient to discover literary reasons for suspecting the text of a [document] to be composite without asking why, when, and by whom such redaction might have been undertaken. ...

The plausibility of a given theory depends equally on how well it explains the literary features of a text and on how well it is capable of comprehending the redactional effort as such." (p. 139)

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