A statistical approach to textual criticism, with special reference to the Peshitta of the Old Testament
The general properties of manuscript traditions are considered first. A mathematical model is proposed for the history of a textual tradition as a stochastic "birth-and-death" process. Thus we may check presuppositions which orthodox (i. e. Maasian) textual critics habitually make without self-sufficient grounds, e. g. on the likelihood that a ms of given date will prove to derive from an extant ancestor and have no independent value. The thesis is mainly devoted to the analysis of particular traditions. The usual representation of the ms inter-relations is a stemma, or family-tree. I found that that method, although logically sound, rested on assumptions which were usually unrealistic. A new representation is proposed, viz a two-dimensional map, on which each ms is represented by a point, and the distances between points correspond to the degrees of textual divergence between mss. The map helps in recovering the textual history and choosing between rival readings. Four examples follow, on texts from Cyprian, Aeschylus, the Vulgate and St. Luke's Gospel. This new method is then applied to the textual criticism of the Peshitta Psalter, the collations of W. E. Barnes being employed. Critical rules are obtained, and defended on philological grounds. The main conclusions are: (a) this Psalter is not the resultant of several translation attempts, but a single version; (b) the original reading sometimes survives in the Florence codex (9al) alone; (c) Syriac-speaking Fathers had virtually the same Peshitta text as our mss, but occasionally used other sources; (d) the translation seems to be a Christian rather than a Jewish work. The history of the text is outlined and related to the critical rules. The application of these is illustrated in annotations to the text. Sundry emendations and comments on unexpected renderings are also offered. There follow a review of other numerical studies in textual criticism, and an Appendix on the Peshitta of Jeremiah xlvi-li.