Textual Criticism

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Textual Criticism

Postby Jolthig » Tue Dec 05, 2023 3:07 pm

A topic that I'm often fascinated with is textual criticism. Especially of the New Testament. So I wanted to make a thread about it.

Ancient books are different than modern books. In the sense that no one had a printing press nor was everyone literate. Literacy was only confined to a few individuals in comparison to the billions we have today. Therefore, books were made by those who had a skill to write, and even then, not every one of them knew how to spell and thus mistakes would be made.

This is most prevalent in the New Testament where the Greek is sometimes misspelled in a lot of places or occasionally a writer would forget to include a line. This is to be expected given that everything had to be copied by hand writing. And occasionally there were some scribes that added verses of different passages altogether.

There's been a study for the past 150 years on this subject and the WSB Greek New Testament and Novum Testamentum Graece are the results of those works.

Bart Ehrman has written much on this subject and from reading his book, Misquoting Jesus it's very interesting stuff. Then, of course there are textual criticism studies of Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Rhetoric, and while some changes occured due to the way ancient textual transmission was, the errors weren't as numerous to my knowledge or this topic in these books is simply understudied.

There is textual criticism of my Faith's book, the Quran, but it isn't really textual criticism in the modern sense like with the Bible, but scholars telling the Ummah to read from the 10 Qira'ats of the Quran as they are the most authentic and refuting false Qira'ats. But these books are in classical Arabic from the medieval times and not translated to English, and thus, because emphasis has been placed on memorizing Arabic text word for word to become. Haffiz (guardian) of the entire Quranic text, textual criticism isn't really needed as compared win the Greek New Testament.

What do gather from the studies of ancient textual transmission? Anything I missed? Any other book that has a history? Or any of you disagree with the OP? Let's discuss.
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Postby The Archregimancy » Wed Dec 06, 2023 2:34 am

OK, so you sent me a TG hoping I'd bite; so I'll bite.

I think it might help to clarify what your intent is with this thread, particularly since it touches on a fairly technical subject - a potentially interesting subject, yes, but also quite a niche one.

Among the questions I would have for you are:

1) Do you intend for discussion to focus on textual analysis/criticism of religious texts, particularly the Tanakh, Christian scriptures, and Quran, or are you open to broader textual discussion?

2) If broader textual discussion, do you have any specific examples in mind beyond briefly namechecking Plato and Aristotle? What is it about these broader examples you want to highlight?

3) If textual analysis/criticism of religious texts, I hope you appreciate that NSG may not be the best place for an informed good-faith (pun intended) debate on the subject.

4) How are you defining 'book' in this context? Even setting aside printing, the development of what we would call a 'book' is a comparatively recent evolution out of the Classical-era codex; for the sake of this discussion, are we including clay tablets, other forms of epigraphy, scrolls (whether of papyrus or other materials), and so on? The Epic of Gilgamesh, for example, has only existed as a 'book' - writing on paper pages bound into a single volume - for a tiny fraction of its history.

And I'm still disappointed that NationStates can't handle cuneiform.

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Postby Shangjunshu » Wed Dec 06, 2023 3:18 am

There is no topic, so just write shit about ancient books. Here, I wrote this yesterday.

Following Graham and the Cambridge History, Sinologist Hansen reiterated fa as representing comparative method with objective standards. Fa in the Qin empire is not primarily connected to punishment but to administration. Post-Graham (1989) Sinology does not appear to differentiate the Fajia primarily by punishment.

Although Shang Yang advocated a harsh penal law in his time, and Han Fei advocates Shang Yang's fa, Sinologist Makeham did not regard punishment as a primary or even necessary component of Han Fei's comparative Xing-Ming, or administrative method. As Hansen notes, both Mohist and later Confucian (Xun Kuang) philosophy endorse punishment. An early ("slightly modified") quotation by Tao Jiang from the Lüshi Chunqiu highlights the Qin as at times even conservative in comparison to the Mohists, containing both Mohist and Confucian instincts:
The Mohist leader Fu Tun resided in Qin. His son murdered a man. King Hui of Qin said, “You, sir, are too old to have another son, so I have already ordered that the officials not execute him. I hope, sir, that you will abide by my judgment in this matter.”

Fu Tun replied, “The law of the Mohist order says: ‘He who kills another person shall die; he who injures another shall be punished.’ The purpose of this is to prevent the injuring and killing of other people. To prevent the injuring and killing of other people is the most important moral principle in the world. Though your majesty out of kindness has ordered that the officials not execute my son, I cannot but implement the law of the Mohist order.” He would not assent to King Hui’s request and proceeded to kill his own son.

A son is what a man is most partial to. Yet Fu Tun endured the loss of what he was most partial to in order to observe his most important moral principle. The Mohist leader may properly be called impartial.

Tao Jiang follows it's narrative, terming the Fajia[sic] impartialists. With regards punishment, although in retrospect it may not be the most effective method sociologically, Shang Yang repeatedly advocates the abolition of punishment with punishment. Hansen regarded their extremes of reward and punishment under a Shang-Yangian aim at quick results; it does not primarily aim at a legal system of graded punishments. Hansen highlights punishment, in the broader Chinese tradition, as only one tool; the late Gunazi text, as with Mozi, regards people as responding to even just precise administrative measures and a ruler-like attitude.

With Han Fei largely concerned with the disordered bureaucracy of his Hann state, proceeding from the collapse of the Jin state, Hansen's significantly earlier work "sociologically" discards the people from the equation, with Han Fei only "incidentally" concerned with the people. Hansen only attempts to differentiate Han Fei from the Mohists in a dislike of discourse and the significantly muddled dialectical reductionism of a devotion to the ruler's interest, or more broadly state power. Hansen recalling it's narrative, Qinshihuang does at least regret his death in prison, in Sima Qian traditionally by Li Si's ambitious poisoning, as at least initially having been taken to be a devoted servant of the Hann state.

Pine's Stanford Encyclopedia modernly reiterates fa itself as a principle of transparency rather than oppression. Although considering it a digression of minor importance, he notes the Book of Lord Shang as allowing for the possibility that a need for "excessive reliance on coercion would end, and a milder, morality-driven political structure would evolve." His main point in digression is that in contrast to others, they don't expect a return to the Zhou order. Despite Hansen, in contrast to Shang Yang, Han Fei is not as regarded as believing that it will come to an end.

As Pines notes, the Book of Lord Shang has been regarded as profoundly anti-people. However, apart from it's larger program of agriculture and war, it also advocates spreading penal knowledge in-order to prevent arbitrary punishment by ministers. Although critiquing his old broader program, Han Fei advocates Shang Yang's fa. Although Hansen glosses over Shang Yang's broader program, and was not fond of Han Fei, he did not regard Shang Yang's penal law, or Han Fei more broadly as anti-people, but as anti-ministerial.

In brief, ordinary people have an interest in the security against arbitrary punishment by officials. Officials should enforce punishment based on clear, public standards, without which punishment is morally deficient. Regulations allow people to avoid repercussions. As to the ruler's interest, fa objective standards prevent a building of power-bases based on arbitrary reward and punishment. If it is to protect him, fa cannot simply be what the ruler desires, nor, as based on measurement, is it by definition.

Tao Jiang notes Sinologist Goldin, prior even Winston, as considering Han Fei too nihilistic for totalitarianism, but promotes Han Fei under a Mohist banner of impartialist universal justice as a buffet for totalitarianism. Albeit aiming at a legislative rule of law, Winston's values of law and order for Han Fei are, like the Qin, like Shang Yang, and even an at least moderate Mohist elimination of harm, an at least a conservative valuation. Like Winston, Tao Jiang can at least simply quote the Han Feizi for a Han Fei concerned with the people, even if taken as incidental:

Those men who violated the laws, committed treason, and carried out major acts of evil always worked through some eminent and highly placed minister. And yet the laws and regulations are customarily designed to prevent evil among the humble and lowly people, and it is upon them alone that penalties and punishments fall. Hence the common people lose hope and are left with no place to air their grievances. Meanwhile the high ministers band together and work as one man to cloud the vision of the ruler.

An unrelated earlier original work in Chinese scholar Huang Kejian takes Han Fei's predecessor in Shen Dao as still giving more regard to virtue. Huang Kejian regards Shang Yang's law as aiming to benefit the people, but criticizes the idea of ancient Chinese 'Legalist' justice in that fa, as simply measurement, does not give regard to the individual or individual rights. As criminal law it is simply penal. Not by reference, like the earlier Hansen he even regards it as otherwise primarily aiming to control officials. Hence, it tends to evolve towards Han Fei's shu administration that had not yet been realized in Shang Yang.

Shang Yang's textual tradition earlier emphasized punishment, which as related by Pines can and likely was connected to an idea of the king's justice. But if they regarded punishment as justice, and on the other hand the abolition of punishment a minor digression, by the time of the Qin empire they had regardless already reduced punishment, as noted by Pines modernly.

Based on the archaeology in the Cambridge history, the Qin empire reduced punishment primarily to banishment to the colonies. Deferred into fines, redemption was commonly allowed even up to the death penalty. Even when the fine could not be paid the punishment was not executed, because they could then work for the government. More generally, punishment could be redeemed by relinquishing an order or orders of aristocratic ranks.
Last edited by Shangjunshu on Wed Dec 06, 2023 3:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

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