Biographies of Textual Critics

Note: This section includes biographies only of critics who worked afterthe invention of printing. Editors such as Alcuin who worked during themanuscript era will be covered in the appropriate place in the history oftheir editions. Also, this list includes only dead critics, on the principlethat living critics might still do something to enhance (or, indeed, damage)their reputations.

Contents:Kurt Aland *Johann Albrecht Bengel *Richard Bentley *John W. Burgon *Francis Crawford Burkitt *A. C. Clark *Desiderius Erasmus *Robert Estienne (Stephanus) *Arthur L. Farstad *John Fell *Margaret Dunlop Gibson: see under Agnes Smith Lewis *Caspar René Gregory *Bernard Pyne Grenfell *Johann Jakob Griesbach *J. Rendel Harris *Fenton John Anthony Hort *A. E. Housman *Arthur Surridge Hunt: see under Bernard Pyne Grenfell *(Sir) Frederic Kenyon *Karl Lachmann *Agnes Smith Lewis *Carlo M. Martini *Bruce M. Metzger *Eberhard Nestle *Erwin Nestle *F. H. A. Scrivener *Johann Salomo Semler *Stephanus: see Robert Estienne *Constantine von Tischendorf *Samuel Prideaux Tregelles *Hermann Freiherr von Soden *Brooke Foss Westcott *Johann Jakob Wettstein *Francisco Ximénes de Cisneros *

Kurt Aland

1915-1994. Born in Berlin, and died in Münster/Westphalia.Perhaps the preeminent critic of the Twentieth Century; certainly onewould be hard-pressed to name a critic with a greater list ofachievements. It is harder to see whether Aland actually affectedthe practice of textual criticism.

Aland's publications are too numerous to list; we can only mentionthe works most accessible to students. Aland managed the apparatus ofthe Nestle-Aland editions startingwith the twenty-first edition, and created the new and much morecomprehensive format used for the twenty-sixth edition. He alsoproduced the Synopsis QuattuorEvangeliorum, which is now the most comprehensive Gospel synopsisin existence. He maintained the list of manuscripts after the death ofVon Dobschütz and Eltester, and eventually released theKurzgefasste Liste der Griechischen Handschriften des NeuenTestaments. With his second wife Barbara, he wrote one of thestandard introductions to New Testament textual criticism. Heestablished the "Thousand Readings in a Thousand Minuscules"project which eventually resulted in the volumes of Text undTextwert der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments.

Perhaps even more notable, Aland founded the Institute for NewTestament Textual Research in Münster. This is the onlycollege in the world devoted solely to NT textual studies. (Thoughone might wish it cast a slightly wider net, examining othertextual traditions as well.)

Finally, Aland was one of the five editors responsible for theUnited Bible Societies text,the most widely-used New Testament text of the present period.

For all this, it is surprising to note how little influenceAland had on textual theory. Eldon Epp wrote two articles on"the Twentieth Century Interlude in Textual Criticism,"and while Aland answered by pointing out a great deal of activity,very much of it work he himself had inspired or guided, he wasunable to answer Epp's point that there had been no real methodologicalprogress. Despite Aland, our textual theory remains a matter ofgroping -- of "Reasoned Eclecticism" (in which every textualcritic does what is right in his own eyes) and arguments about the"Cæsareasn" text. This is a time during which everyone uses the UBStext though no one entirely accepts it.

Aland described his own theory as the "local-genealogicalmethod." As described, this would seem to be an application ofthe rule "that reading is best which best explains the others":Aland creates a stemma of the readings in a particular variant, tryingto determine which one is the source of all the others. In practice,however, Aland clearly preferred a strongly Alexandrian text. This meansthat his description must be modified: He constructed a genealogyunder the influence of the knowledge of text-types and the historyof the text. Now this, in theory, is probably the most correctmethod possible. But it only works if the history of the text isaccurately known. Aland did not study this matter in any detail --he acknowledged only the Alexandrian and Byzantine texts, and hada Hort-like dislike of the Byzantine text. With these restrictionson his method, it's hardly surprising that few textual criticshave adopted it.

Johann Albrecht Bengel

1687-1752. Born in Winnenden, Württemberg, Germany, and later Abbot ofAlpirsach in that principality. His 1734edition has been called the first Protestant attempt "to treat theexegesis of the New Testament critically" -- a reference primarily tohis Gnomon (1742), but also to his New Testament. What the latter actually was wasa minimally revised edition of the Textus Receptuswhich had critically chosen readings in the margin. In practice, therefore,Bengel's importance rests not on his text, nor on his collations, whichScrivener notes are rather poor, but on the introduction tohis text, his marginalia, and the articles which explained them. Beginning in 1725, Bengeldiscussed textual families (distinguishing the Asiatic text, which is ourByzantine text, and the African text, which is everything else). He alsooutlined critical principles, including the highly significant "preferthe harder reading." These modern principles caused Bengel to proposemore changes to the Textus Receptus than any other edition beforeLachmann's. (Bengel was the first to note howprobable variants were, ranging from α for a certainreading on down to ε.)This, unfortunately, led to chargesthe the editor was perverting the scriptures (not for the last time!).

Richard Bentley

1662-1742. Classical and New Testament critic, and a master of manyfields (portions of his correspondence with Sir Isaac Newton arepreserved). His father died when he was thirteen, and his maternal grandfathersent him to Oxford. He earned his B.A. in 1680. Soon after, he became tutor tothe son of the future Bishop of Worcester, and was able to browse the father'snotable library, which allowed him to study many of the subjects previouslyclosed to him. In the 1690s he served as one of William III's chaplains and alsowas keeper of the Royal Libraries.Appointed Masterof Trinity College (Cambridge) in 1699/1700, he had already been interestedin textual criticism (both sacred and secular) for some years. In thesecular field, he edited Horace and Terence, discovered that Homerhad used the digamma (Ϝ), exposed the Epistles of Phaleris as forgeries, and generallyimproved the tools available to practitioners in the field -- although he also ignitedcontroversies which twice caused him to be removed from his duties at Trinity; hewas accused (with justice) of despotism and arrogance. In 1720he published a prospectus for a New Testament edition, including the final chapterof the Apocalypse as a sample, which included an outline of critical principles.In this he argued that a text based on early manuscripts would differ fromthe Textus Receptus in two thousand instances, andsimilarly from the Clementine Vulgate in two thousand instances. In fact Bentleydid little with the manuscripts available to him; his critical apparatuswas disorganized and the notes and collations he left are no better.(His personal life was much the same; he was constantly involved inscholarly and personal controversies; he was an intriguer and seeminglymisappropriated university funds. He was lampooned in Pope's Dunciad --happily for Bentley, in book IV, which was not published until afterBentley's death. Swift also disliked and condemned him, although most of thecriticisms are unfair. Bentley was a bad administrator but a fine scholar.)Still, he recognized that the Textus Receptuswould need significant alteration to agree with the best manuscripts;he is thus a forerunner of Lachmann.Bentley's critical rules, too, were radical; some still havesignificance today. Sadly, Bentley never completed his edition; heinvolved himself in many projects, and perhaps did not originallyrealize the amount of work needed to prepare an edition; in any case,his New Testament finally languished, and the money raised to payfor it had to be returned to the subscribers after his death.

John William Burgon

1813-1888. British conservative critic and Dean of Chichester.An intemperate defender of the Byzantine text and theTextus Receptus, remembered primarilyfor such polemic works as The Revision Revised andThe Last Twelve Verses of Mark. Although most of themanuals speak only of thethe uncompromising tone and reactionary zeal of his writings,Burgon was in fact an enterprising and careful studentof manuscripts; his work in this area deserves to be remembered.
Burgon also earned a very minor measure of fame for his poetry,in particular the poem "Petra," which includes the famouslines
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as Time.
(A line usually read as metaphorical, but Burgon was the typeto believe in the literal truth of Genesis. So, to him, the worldwas 6000 years old and Petra about half that age.)

Francis Crawford Burkitt

Usually cited as F. C. Burkitt. John Julian, editor,A Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892; second edition 1907(I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 1617, hasthis to say of his work outside textual criticism: "son ofCrawford Burkitt, was b[orn] in London, Sept. 3, 1864, andeducated at Harrow ad Trin[ity] Coll[ege], Cambridge (B.A.1886, M.A. 1889). In 1905, though a layman, he was appointedNorrisian Prof[essor] of Divinity at Cambridge. He has beena Fellow of the British Academy since 1904, and is theauthor of various works on Biblical Criticism and EarlyChurch History. He contributed two tr[anslations] (12, 194)to the Eng[lish] Hym[nal], 1906. As a textual critic,his greatest importance lies in his work on the Old Syriac.

A(lbert) C. Clark

Classical and New Testament scholar. LIke many textual"freethinkers," Clark came to NT criticism fromwork on classical texts -- in this case, the orations ofCicero, on which he became the world's greatest authority.When he turned to the New Testament, he turned to thetext of Acts, and tried diligently to stand criticismon his head. He noted, correctly, individual manuscriptstend to lose rather than gain text. He generalized thisto mean that the canons ofcriticism lectio brevior praeferenda isfalse. This position is defensible, and to some extentthe answers to Clark talked past his points. But whenClark attempted to reconstruct the text of Acts basedon these principles, he perhaps went too far, developinga general preference for the "Western" textregardless of other criteria. Few of Clark's resultshave been accepted, even though there are probablyuseful cautions in his writings.

Desiderius Erasmus

1469?-1536. Humanist; editor of the first published Greek New Testament.The (obviously illegitimate) son of apriest, Erasmus had a clerical education and became a monk, but laterwas granted a release from his vows. Very much a humourist, workssuch as In Praise of Folly poked fun at the problems in thechurch. Thus Erasmus was not a Protestant, and did not rebelagainst the Catholic Church as Luther did.

It is unfortunate for him that copyright did not exist in his time;In Praise of Folly is said to have gone through 39 editions inhis lifetime, and it is said that in some years he authored more thanone-tenth of all books sold. Had he earned royalties, he would havebeen rich. As it was, he eventually left England (e.g.) because hecouldn't make a living.

Erasmus is, of course, the editor of the TextusReceptus, as well as the author of assorted religious andsecular writings. His critical skills are often held in contempt --and it is certainly true that the TextusReceptus is a poor monument indeed, with a text mostlyByzantine but with enough peculiar readings to make it a bad representativeof the type. The early editions also contained a number of typographicalerrors that was simply astonishing. Still, Erasmus did about as wellas could have been expected in his time; all the materials known tohim (except the Vulgate and 1eap) were Byzantine. Erasmus did exercise acertain amount of critical judgement, and -- odd as it sounds --where he departs from the Byzantine text, it is more often thannot in the direction of the early manuscripts.

Robert Estienne (Stephanus)

1503-1559. French (later Genevan) publisher. Stephanus was nota textual critic as such, but his several editions of the GreekNew Testament offered noteworthy innovations. His most importantwork was his third edition (1550). Textually it is just anotherTextus Receptus, but in the margin it includesthe readings of over a dozen manuscripts plus the ComplutensianPolyglot -- symbolized by Greek numbers; the manuscripts are believedto have included the uncials Dea, Le and theminuscules 4e, 5, 6, 7e, 8 (probably),9 (possibly), 38 (possibly), 82, 120, 398, 2298; also certain seemingly lost manuscripts, e.g.Tischendorf's 8a/10p, 3r. Thecitations were neither complete nor particularly accurate, butthey were at least specific; the manuscripts are cited individually.His fourth edition of 1551,published after he went to Geneva and became a Protestant, isalso noteworthy, as it pioneered our modern system of verses.

Like most names associated with the Textus Receptus, such as Froben andDesiderius Erasmus, the Stephanus family tends to beheld in low esteem today. This is unfair. Henri Estienne, who founded the business,became a printer when he married Guyonne Viart, the widow of a printer named Jean Higman.McMurtrie, p. 328, notes that he actually counted one of John Calvin's theological teachersamong his editors. Henri died in 1520, and his widow went on to marry Simon de Colines (talkabout inspiring a lot of printers!). Henri's second son Robert is "the"Estienne/Stephanus. So determined was he to set a high standard for scholarship that heand his wife (herself an excellent classical scholar) actually used Latin as the languageof their home. Stephanus's importance was not confined to publishing a Greek Bible.He published many scholarly works, including a Vulgate edition andmultiple editions of the Hebrew Bible. He also produced the noteworthyThesaurus linhuae latinae (first of several editions in 1531),plus Latin/French dictionaries. The publishing house's Greek, Latin, and Hebrewdictionaries would quickly became standard. Supposedly he actually offered rewards toanyone who could find errors in his proof sheets (which he hung outside his shopto let people examine them; McMurtrie, p. 330).

They also produced beautifully-typeset books. Unlike the cramped, unreadable editionsof Froben, a Stephanus book in Latin was incredibly handsome, often using type based onthe designs of the gifted Claude Garamond. Looking at samples of their works, it is hardto tell them from modern printing except the for the use of the old form of s ( ∫, the onethat looks like an f). Indeed, their beautiful litagures and initial caps are somethingmodern printers might want to think about reviving -- the books really are works of art.Too bad their Greek works used the hideous sorts of fonts that the Aldine press hadpioneered (for more on this, see again the article on Books and Bookmaking).

For much of his life, Stephanus had the patronage of François Iof France; his migration to Geneva (1550) was a side effect of thatmonarch's death in 1547. François I, incidentally, collectedall of Stephanus's Greek works; from this would eventually grow thefirst copyright library.

Although Robert was the most noteworthy member of the Estienne family,his brothers and the members of the next generation were of some note (thoughthey had little influence on textual criticism). Robert's older brotherFrançois was a bookseller, though not a very important publisher; hedied in 1553. Charles (c. 1504-1564), the youngest brother, was a famousin his day for his scholarship and teaching; he published a noteworthy editionof Cicero in 1555, as well as assembling ancient materials on subjectssuch as medicine and agriculture. He took over Robert's printing office in 1555,but went bankrupt in 1561 and ended his life in prison.

Robert's son Henri (Henri II, 1528-1598) continued his father's business inGeneva, and though his productions did not gain the fame of his father's, heproduced an important Greek dictionary and various works of classical authors.He too ended up in trouble with the authorities and left Geneva in 1578, apparentlynever settling down after that (McMurtrie, p. 332). Another son, Robert (II)took over the printing office of Charles and died in 1571, though the firm wasnearly bankrupt by then. A third son, François (1537-1582), was also a printer,in both Geneva and Paris; apparently he and his descendents kept the Stephanusimprint alive into the seventeenth century.

Arthur L. Farstad

1935-1998. American conservative critic and Majority Text advocate.Editor, with Zane C. Hodges, of The Greek New TestamentAccording to the Majority Text. One-time president ofthe Majority Text Society. Active in the translation of theNew King James Version.

John Fell

1625-1686. Classical and New Testament critic. Dean of Christ Church,Oxford, (Anglican) Bishop of Oxford, and one of the most important figures in thehistory of the Oxford University Press. Fell acquired better type andequipment for the press, internalized the financing (bearing some ofthe responsibility himself), and set up a regular schedule for thepublication of classical authors. He was also vital in re-establishingOxford after the Restoration of 1660; the Civil War and the strict rulesof the Cromwell era had thrown the University (which had been a key centerfor the deposed Charles I) into chaos. He was also a notable scholar,having earned his M.A. at the age of 18. He supposedly preached hissermons in blank verse.

Fell's contributions to New Testamentcriticism are not as great, but still notable; he edited an editionof Cyprian, and also published a New Testament in 1675. This volumedid not have a noteworthy text (differing only very slightly fromthe Elzevir 1633 edition of the Textus Receptus),but it has, for the time, an unusually full apparatus (though mostof the materials cited were available elsewhere). It also had anintroduction discussing the practice of textual criticism.

Somewhat later, Fell encouraged the work of John Mill, thoughFell's death meant that Mill had to find other support for thepublication of his work. Thus it is truly sad that Fell should bebest remembered for Thomas Brown(e)'s doggerel adaption of Martialwhich begins "I do not love (thee/you), Doctor Fell."

Supposedly this incident arose when Brown's college was about toexpel him. Fell declared that he would allow Brown to stay if hecould translate, off the top of his head, Martial's lines
Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;
Hoc tantum possum dicere, None amo te.

Brown came up with his quip in response -- but, amazingly, was notexpelled, and even wrote a non-insulting epitath for Fell.

Caspar René Gregory

1846-1915†.American/German student of manuscripts. His first great accomplishmentwas his preparation of the prolegomena toTischendorf'seighth edition(1884-1894).In 1908 he published his great catalog of manuscripts, Diegriechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, providingfor the first time a comprehensive and (usually) orderly arrangementof the materials known to critics. Like his predecessor Tischendorf,Gregory sought out and made available large numbers of manuscripts,though he did not edit an edition.As a critic Gregory was not particularly original; he generallyaccepted the theories of Westcott and Hort. Although of Americanancestry, he adopted Germany as his homeland, and volunteered onthe German side in World War I. He was accepted despite his age,and killed in battle in 1915.

Bernard Pyne Grenfell

1870-1926. As an Oxford student, he had been planning to study economicswhen the publication of the newly-found copy of Aristotle's Constitutionof Athens turned him to papyriology. He was chosen in 1895 to workwith David George Hogarth on an exploration of the Fayum. Hogarth soonleft to pursue excavations in Mesopotamia instead, and Grenfell was joinedby a young friend, Arthur Surridge Hunt (died 1934). The two worked together for mostof the next thirty years, with most of the interruptions being forced(e.g. Hunt served in the First World War, and Grenfell was often illin his later years). They were not really Bible scholars, being interestedin everything they turned up, but their many discoveries, includingthe famous Oxyrhynchus Papyri, had a great deal of effect on Biblicalcriticism. Their attention was drawn to Oxyrhynchus because it was knownthat it had had many churches and monasteries in the Roman period. Theydecided to investigate, and their idea paid off in a very big way.
Their work at Oxyrhynchus continued only until 1906/1907; Grenfellbecame ill the following season, and an Italian team took over the workthere.

Johann Jakob Griesbach

1745-1812. German critic, who exercised great influence inmany Biblical disciplines. He studied at Tübingen, Halle (wherehe studied under J. Semler), and Leipzig,becoming a professor at Jena in 1775. He is considered responsiblefor synoptic studies, first using the term "synoptic"in his Commentarius Criticus in 1811.

But if Griesbach's influence on synoptic studies was great, hisinfluence on textual criticism is perhaps even more fundamental.Although it was Semler who introducedGriesbach to the theory of text-types, Griesbach is largelyresponsible for the modern view of types. It was Griesbach whopopularized the names Alexandrian, Byzantine, and Western. He alsopaid particular attention to matters not previously studied indepth -- e.g. patristic quotations and the Armenian version.

Griesbach published a list of fifteen critical canons, whichhe exercised with much greater skill than most of those who followedhim (e.g. while he accepted the rule that we should prefer theshorter reading, he hedged it around with many useful warnings --not just those about scribal errors, author's style, and nonsensereadings, but also warning of the dangers of omission of non-essentialwords such as prepositions). It is probably fair to say that while mostmodern critics accept most of Griesbach's rules, they do not applythem with nearly as much skill. (The standard example of Griesbach'sskill is that he deduced the Vaticanus text of the Lord's Prayer inLuke 11:2-4 working only from the handful of minuscules and uncialsknown to him.)

Griesbach published several editions of the New Testament text(1775-1777, 1796-1806, 1803-1807). Textually, these did not differgreatly from the Textus Receptus, becauseGriesbach made it a policy only to print readings already printedby some other editor -- but his extensive margin noted many othergood readings, and (more to the point) he used a system to notewhere these readings were as good as or better than those inthe text. This was a fundamental forerunner of the {A}, {B}, {C},{D} notations found in theUnited Bible Societies Editions.It is safe to say that all more recent critical editions have beeninfluenced by the work of Griesbach.

J(ames) Rendel Harris

1852-1941. British critic and paleographer. Born in Plymouth,England, into a dissenting family, he was a Quaker most of his adult life.A graduate of Cambridge, where he had studied mathematics before turningto textual criticism, hetaught at several universities before becoming curator of manuscriptsat the John Rylands library (1918-1925). He never produced anedition, but authored some useful general works (e.g. NewTestament Autographs, 1882) and many journal articles;he also collated such important manuscripts as 892.
His was an eventful life. During World War I, he made a trip toEgypt, and his boat was sunk on both his trip there and the trip back;although he survived both times, his friend J. H. Moulton, the famedgrammarian, died of exposure following the second sinking. Harriswas also involved in the translation of the Twentieth CenturyNew Testament. Textually, he tended to favor the "Western"text.

Fenton John Anthony Hort

1828-1892. British critic and professor at Cambridge. Arguably thegreatest textual critic of his age. Best known for theNew Testament edition which heedited with Brooke Foss Westcott.What made this edition so important, however, was not itstext (though it has been the model for all editions since)but its Introduction [and] Appendix, which was entirely thework of Hort. In it, Hort outlined his theory of text-types (whichwas adapted from Griesbach and hispredecessors). In the process, Hort is considered to have destroyedall claims that the Byzantine Majority text is early. This is perhapsthe most important effect of Hort's work; nearly every Greek textedited since his time has been "Hortian." (For discussionof his arguments, see the article on theByzantine Priority position.)

Hort was also a member of the committee which prepared the EnglishRevised Version, and most of that edition's departures from the ByzantineText were made on the advice of Hort. (The committee's policy wasreportedly to hear the arguments of Hort and Scrivenerand then vote on which reading to adopt.)

A(lfred) E(dward) Housman

1859-1936. British poet and critic, best known to thepublic for his poetry. (Only two books of his poetry -- A ShropshireLad, 1896, and Last Poems, 1922 -- appeared in his lifetime,but among recent poets they are second only to Kipling in theirfolk/popular sense and second to none in their straightforwardlyricism; this is probably the source of his popularity.)Housman was, however, a textual critic of note, publishing anedition of Marcus Manilius (1903-1930) and various essays whichare at once highly influential and, for the most part, readable.It is perhaps characteristic of Housman (believed by many tohave been a repressed homosexual and certainly a recluse) thathe chose to work on Manilius, an obscure author (of a five-volumepoetic work, "Astronomica") whose works heldlittle personal appeal to him.

Housman never engaged in New Testament criticism; his beliefswould probably have caused him to avoid it even had he been invitedto do so. His essays on criticism are, however, widely quoted, bothfor their common sense and their (sometimes sarcastic) cleverness.Despite his brilliance, one must resist the temptation to holdhim in too high an esteem; his warnings against over-reliance onparticular critical principles are valid, but his warnings, e.g.,against the cult of the "best manuscript" should notcause us to esteem all manuscripts equally. In addition, he wasperfectly willing to resort to personal insult in scholarly argument -- e.g. hewrote of Elias Stroeber, who published an edition of Manilius, that "[his]mind, though that is no name to call it by, was one which turned as unswervinglyto the false... as the needle to the pole," and wrote of his editionthat it "saw the light in... Strasbourg, a city still famous forits geese." He apparently considered textual criticism to be somethingthat most people were too inferior to be competent in, and snarled, "Knowledge is good, method is good, but one thing beyond all others is necessary, and that is to have a head, not a pumpkin, on your shoulders, and brains, not pudding, in your head" (full text quoted below). A man can be a genius and still be harsh and unforgiving -- but what are the odds that someone who writes the above will truly understand the scribes who gave him his raw materials? It is also worthremembering that Housman's work on Manilius involved a degree ofconjectural emendation whichmost New Testament critics would consider unacceptable.

Some other Housman quotes:

Quotes which have some relevance to textual criticism but which also give some insight into Housman's personality are these from "The Application of Thought to Textual Criticism":

(Sir) Frederic Kenyon

1863-. Frederic Kenyon was, perhaps, less of a textual critic than a publisherof ancient texts, although his book Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscriptsis one of the clearest expositions of textual criticism ever published, and ithas the major advantage of covering the Hebrew Bible and LXX as well as theNew Testament. He began his career as a classical scholar, joining the staff ofthe British Museum in 1889. Within months, the Museum received a great manypapyri recovered by E. Wallis Budge, and the direction of Kenyon's career wasset. His work was instrumental in identifying one of the papyri as a copy ofAristotle's previously lost work on the Constitution of Athens; he publishedthe papyrus in 1891. His Paleography of Greek Papyri followed in 1899.

Karl Lachmann

1793-1851. German philologist and critic. Trained in classical studies,Lachmann enunciated the principle that agreement in error impliesidentity of origin. Lachmann used this principle to create a stemma forthe manuscripts of Lucretius; his resulting edition is considered a landmarkof classical textual criticism.

From Lucretius, Lachmann turned his attention to the New Testament,publishing the first edition of the NT to be completely free of theinfluence of the Textus Receptus(1831; second edition 1842-1850). This was, obviously, a great milestonein the history of the New Testament text, and arguably the most importantsingle event in New Testament textual criticism. It should be noted,however, that Lachmann's edition was far from perfect. He undertookto publish "the" text of the fourth century -- an entitywhich demonstrably never existed, and in any case it is not theoriginal text. Nor did Lachmann use his critical methods on theNew Testament manuscripts; he simply took a handful of early witnessesand adopted the reading of the majority. The resultant text wascertainly better than the Textus Receptus,but it was neither consistent nor particularly close to moderneditions.

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible sums up Lachmann'ssix textual criteria as follows:

It will be observed that these are canons of external evidence, to alarge extent anticipating Streeter's theory of local texts. They go farto explain the peculiarities of Lachmann's edition.

In addition to his works on classical and biblical texts, Lachmanndid a great deal of work on early German writings. In some instances,his edition remains the standard critical text. (This fact seems notto get much attention in the annals of textual criticism.)

Agnes Smith Lewis (and Margaret Dunlop Gibson)

fl. 1900. Scottish twin sisters who lost their mother before they werea year old, both women were widowed soon after marriage, and spent therest of their lives hunting manuscripts and other scholarly prizes.Their most important find was surely the Sinai Old Syriac palimpsest, whichthey discovered in 1892. But they also brought back to England a numberof Hebrew documents from the Cairo Geniza -- among them the first fragmentof the Hebrew version of Ben Sirach, which was identified by SolomonSchechter (later famous for his work on the Damascus Document, which alsofirst surfaced in the Geniza).

Carlo M. Martini

1927-2012. Italian Cardinal, and one of the strongest liberalvoices in the Roman Catholic church around the beginning of thetwenty-first century. Generally known more for his political positions(he vigorously called on the Catholic church to modernize its institutions),he was one of the five editors of theUnited Bible Societies text.

Bruce M. Metzger

1913-2007. American scholar, who graduated with a Bachelor's from LebanonValley college in 1935, then added a theology degree from Princeton Seminaryin 1938. Ordained into the Presbyterian Church in 1939, he earned hisdoctorate in classics from Princeton in 1942. His most rememberedcontribution will probably be his part on the five-man committee whichprepared the United Bible Societiestext. In addition to his work in editing the text, he prepared thesupplementary volume.
Beginning students may well also encounter his introduction totextual criticism or his book on the New Testament versions. He alsopublished a large number of books not related to textual criticism.
He was not, in most regards, a pioneer; his textual views werevery largely "Hortian." But his activity and longevitydid much to make textual criticism accessible to a slightly broaderpublic.

Eberhard Nestle

1851-1913. German scholar, father of Erwin Nestle.He published an influential handbook of criticism, as well as a numberof scholarly articles. But he is primarily remembered for hisedition of the New Testament text -- this despite the fact that hecan hardly be said to have "edited" an edition. His workwas entirely mechanical (comparing the editions of Westcott and Hort,Tischendorf, and a third, originally that of Weymouth, later that ofWeiss); today, it could have been edited by a computer. (For details,see the article on the The NestleText.) But this accomplishment, trivial as it seems on its face,was to have important results: As Gregoryobserved, the British and Foreign Bible Society was somehow convincedto adopt the Nestle text in place of the TextusReceptus. This would have a fundamental effect on translationsinto many modern languages, and also make make texts based on ancientmanuscripts more respectable.

Erwin Nestle

1883-1972. German scholar, son of Eberhard Nestle.Noteworthy primarily for taking and updating his father's "NestleEdition." Erwin Nestle deserves the credit for supplying the Nestletext with a full critical apparatus (beginning with the thirteenth edition);although the witnesses cited have been increased in the more recentNestle-Aland editions, the variants noted are still almost without exceptionthose listed by Erwin Nestle.

F(rederick) H(enry) A(mbrose) Scrivener

1813-1891. British writer and manuscript editor. A contemporary ofscholars such as Westcott and Hort, Scrivener did not share theirviews. Usually portrayed as a supported of the Majority Text, Scrivener'sopinions (as revealed by his great work A Plain Introduction to the Criticismof the New Testament, fourth edition revised by Edward Miller, 1894)are in fact much more nuanced. As opposed to scholars such as Burgonwho always preferred the Majority Text, Scrivener revered the older manuscriptsand generally would not accept a reading which did not have early support. Still,all things being equal, he preferred the Majority reading. As a member ofthe committee which prepared the English Revised Version, Scrivener was thechief spokesman for the Byzantine text, and the normal policy was for readingsto be decided by the committee after Scrivener and Hort stated the case foreach.

Scrivener never compiled a text, but he was, after Tischendorf, perhapsthe greatest publisher of manuscripts of any age. Since Tischendorf did notsee fit to update Scholz's manuscript catalog, Scrivener numbered newmanuscripts as he became aware of them. This system conflicted with the"old Gregory" numbering, and has been abandoned since the publicationof the "new Gregory" system -- but is still occasionally met within publication such as Hoskier's collation of 700 (Scrivener's 604) andthe same author's apparatus of the Apocalypse.

Johann Salomo Semler

1725-1791. German critic and rationalist. Semler did not publishan edition (though he produced an edition of Wettstein's Prolegomena,with some additional material, in 1764), and he did not set forth new principles.His work was more theoretical, as he was a student of text-types. Startingwith the "African" and "Asian" groups of Bengel,Semler offered three text-types, "Eastern" (the Byzantinetext, which he associated -- as have many since -- with Lucian),"Western" (as found primarily in the Latin versions), and"Alexandrian" (as found in Origen and the Coptic and Ethiopicversions). Thus Semler is the original source of the Griesbach/Horttheory of "Western," "Alexandrian," and "Byzantine"types. It was Semler who brought the word "recensions" intothe context of New Testament criticism (unfortunately bringing anew, non-classical meaning to the word; in classical criticism,a recension is the result of deliberate critical work).

Since Semler's text-critical work was so significant, it is sad to haveto note that he could be fooled in other fields. According to JohnBuckinghm, Chasing the Molecule, he was persuaded to purchase analchemical product called Luftsalz, or atmospheric salt. The claimwas that this material, if kept warm and moist, spontaneously generatedgold. Initial tests seemed to validate this claim: The vessels containingthe glop (it apparently was a mix of sodium sulphate, magnesium sulphate,and urine) yielded small amounts of gold every few days. But eventuallythe vessels started yielding pinchbeck (an alloy of copper and zinc whichresembled gold). It seems Semler's servant had been putting gold in theflasks to keep the old professor happy, and eventually his wife had decidedto save some cash. Semler apparently never figured out the fake on his own.

Constantine von Tischendorf

1815-1874. In full, Lobegott Friedrich Constantin von Tischendorf.A full biography is simply impossible in the space I'm willing to grant(and I don't have the materials anyway). Although called a German,nearly all his active work was done before Germany was united; hespent his entire career at the University of Leipzig, though of coursehe spent much of his professional life travelling to places such as MountSinai. He was born in the town of Lengenfeld in what was then Saxony, theson of a physician. A top-ranked student at the Plauten Gymnasium, hewas early exposed to Greek and Latin (though the way they taught it causedTishchendorf to pronounce Greek with a sort of Hochdeutsch accent whichlater caused him some trouble with Easterners whose pronunciation differedsignificantly). One of his teachers was Johann Winer, the famous Greek grammarian.His fascination -- inspiredby an article by Lachmann, though the two had very bad relations onceTischendorf stared publishing -- was with manuscripts; they were the reason forhis globetrotting expeditions, and most of his time at home was devotedto publishing his finds. Immediately upon graduating from Leipzig University,while teaching at a Leipzig school under the direction of his futurefather-in-law, he started work on his first New Testament edition.His work was successful enough to earn him an appointment at LeipzigUniversity. He also became engaged at this time -- but that didn't stop himfrom making his first major expedition; in 1840, he set out for Paris. Thisfirst expedition lasted five years, and had as its chief result his editionof Codex Ephraemi -- his first great achievement. It was some three yearslater that he set out for the east, eventually visiting many monasteriesin Egypt. Near the end of the trip, he ended up at Mount Sinai, where hemade his most famous discovery, theCodex Sinaiticus. We should not forget, though, that he found dozens ofother manuscripts, publishing most of the uncials. He also providedthe best information on Codex Vaticanus available to that time.(It should be added that his relations with the Papacy were fine; PopeGregory XVI even made him a knight of the order of the North Star. He wasdenied access only to B, and that seems to have been entirely thefault of Cardinal Mai.)
Tischendorf publishededitions of many different ancient works, such at the LXX(four editions, 1850-1869) and theVulgate, but these frankly were of little interest. (Some were of suchslight value that even Gregory, who admired Tischendorfand continued his work, thought Tischendorf should not have put hisname on them.) His major work consistedof his eight editions of the New Testament (the first published in 1840) --though in fact the firstseven of these were not really critical editions, any more than were hisLXX and vulgate texts; rather, they were collections of manuscript data.And Gregory describes the fourth edition as the first with a significant apparatusand text. The seventh (1859) had a worse text though a fuller apparatus.Thus it was not until his eighth edition (1865-1872) that Tischendorf finally put hislifetime of experience to work. It is sad to note that it was not reallya particularly insightful edition, being based on no theory of the textand with biases toward certain manuscripts. (For details, seethe relevant entry in the article onCritical Editions.) As it was working itsway through the press, in 1869, he was awarded the "von" of Germannobility. By the time itwas completed (or, rather, completed except for the prologue, which wasvitally necessary and which he did not manage to produce), Tischendorfwas rather a sick man; he suffered a strokein 1873 and died at the end of 1874, leaving almost no useful papersbehind, leaving it to Gregory to createthe introduction as best he could.

Samuel Prideaux Tregelles

1813-1875. British scholar and editor. Almost entirelyself-taught, Tregelles was the British Tischendorf.He did not discover as many manuscripts, and he published only one edition,but he too spent much of his life gathering data; he and Tischendorfnot infrequently compared collations. At the end of his life,Tregelles prepared his single edition of the text, based exclusivelyon the oldest manuscripts. The resultant text is generally similarto Tischendorf's, but -- due to its more limited critical apparatus --does not receive much attention today. This is rather unfortunate;having worked over his text to some extent, I would have to say thathe was a most sensitive and intelligent critic; one wishes he couldhave worked with all the matericals now known. But he had no realaccess to Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus was Tischendorf's find, andmanuscripts such as 1739 and the Koridethi Codex and the papyriwere still unknown; Tregelles had few materials at his disposal.In this sense it might honestlybe said that Tregelles's greatest contribution lay in encouragingthe work of Westcott and Hort.
Tregelles had an interesting biography: "s[on] of a Quaker, he wasb[orn] at Wodehouse Place, Falmouth, Cornwall, Jan. 20 (sometimes datedJan. 30), 1813, and educated at the Falmouth Grammar School. From 1838 to1844, he was employed in the Neath Abbey Iron Works. In 1836 he becamea private tutor at Falmouth.... [His work on the New Testament] washindered by his two attacks of paralysis (1861 and 1870); and theProlegomena had to be added by Dr. Hort and A. W. Streane in1879. He was one of the Revisers of the New Testament [i.e. thosewho created the English Revised Version], but ill-health preventedhim from taking an active part in the work. He d[ied] at Plymouth,April 24, 1875" (John Julian, editor, A Dictionary of Hymnology,1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p.1184).
Those who think of textual critics as being un-pious would bewell advised to look at Tregelles's career. Not only was he a scholar,he also wrote hymns (there is a list in Julian). They were not particularlypopular, and few are used outside the Plymouth Brethern. But a scholarwho writes pieces with titles such as "Holy Savior, We AdoreThee," "Thou God of Grace, Our Father," "ThyName We Bless, Lord Jesus," and "'Tis Sweet, O God, ThyPraise to Sing" can hardly be called uninterested in religion!

Hermann Freiherr von Soden


Brooke Foss Westcott

1825-1901. One of the great scholars of nineteenth century England. Hestudied both mathematics and classics at Trinity College, Cambridge (though,curiously, his mathematical training does not seem to have influenced histextual studies at all, or at least he did not manage to convey them tohis colleague Fenton John Anthony Hort, whouses statistics very poorly in his introduction to theWestcott and Hort edition).Westcott became a fellow of Trinity in 1849, was ordained in 1851,and became an assistant master at Harrow in 1852. He reportedlywas not a good classroom teacher (and this is reflected to someextent in his voluminous writings, which -- though intelligentand insightful -- are not particularly enjoyable reading). In 1870 he becameRegius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and set out to reformthe teaching methods and qualifications for a theology degree. Canon ofWestminster from 1883, he became Bishop of Durham in 1890, and in thatrole was instrumental in dealing with the labour problems of the Durhamcoal miners -- so much so that even the Methodists among them attended hissermons. He was an active minister all his life, preaching his lastsermon at the Durham Miner's Gala just a week before his death.

Despite his extraordinary accomplishments, however, Westcott isremembered in textual circles for at most two things: his part inthe preparation of the English Revised Version, and (first andforemost) his collaboration with Hortto produce their New Testament. The theory behind this edition,it is generally agreed, was Hort's, and it was Hort who explainedit in the Introduction, but Westcott was not a passive collaborator,as is shown by the various readings where the two scholars disagreed.What Westcott might have accomplished as a textual scholar withouthis multi-decade collaboration with Hort can hardly be determinedat this time.

There is a recent biography: Graham A. Patrick, The Miner'sBishop: Brooke Foss Westcott, first edition published by OSL in 2002,second edition by Epworth Press 2004. Patrick says that his work is not acritical biography, but it is the only serious study to date. There was,to be sure, a volume Life and Letters of Brooke Fosse Westcott publishedin 1903 by Westcott's son -- but if you've ever read one of those Victorianlife-and-letters volumes, they aren't really biographies, just anthologies.

Johann Jakob Wettstein

1693-1754. A major collector of variants. According to Weiss, he wantedto publish an edition based only on early manuscripts, but was forced toprint the Textus Receptus instead because his printer refused to publisha critically edited text. Still, his collection of variants was used bymany after him, and he collated a few materials since lost (such as some nowlost portions of Fe).Wettstein was born in Basel of a distinguished family, the son of a pastor.He went to university in Basel at age thirteen; while still in college, heworked on collating the earliest major document in Basel, Ee/08,and then went abroad to study other manuscripts; one of those he met on histravels was Richard Bentley.
One of the great events in his life was reportedly a textual discoveryabout the Codex Alexandrinus's reading of 1 Tim. 3:16. He realized that thetext there, which appeared to read ΘC ΕΦΑΝΕΡΩΘΗ (the reading of the Byzantinetext and the published editions), originally read OC ΕΦΑΝΕΡΩΘΗ (soℵ* A* C* F G 33 365 1175). This showed him just how importanttextual criticism could be. It also led, eventually, to charges of heresy,which his stubbornness and tendency to irritate people. He was eventuallyforced from his pulpit, leaving Basel to work with cousins in Amsterdam.It was there that he was able to publish his edition. The introductionwas printed in 1730; the book itself in 1751-1752. Its main significanceisn't its text (which is just another Textus Receptus) but theapparatus, which not only includes more and better manuscripts than hadbeen published before, but also a good deal of patristic evidence, thoughthis was often of more use for linguistic than textual analysis.

Francisco Ximénes de Cisneros

1437-1517. Spanish Cardinal and Archbishop of Toledo. The drivingforce behind the Complutensian Polyglot, though he was not directlyinvolved in editing the work and did not live to see it published(the work was complete at the time of his death, but Papal authorizationwas not forthcoming for another three years).

It may seem ironic to produce such a long entry about aman who had so little to do with actualtextual criticism, but probably no man involved in critical activity hadmore secular influence (and I include even the Popes who commissioned theofficial printed editions of the Vulgate). And, to understand Ximenesrequires us to know about his secular activities. He was a great patron oflearning (he founded the university of Alcala), and early in his career,before his promotion, was confessor to Queen Isabella of Castille(so p. 205 of Charles E. Chapman, A History of Spain, Macmillan,1918; I use the 1965 Free Press edition). After her death, he helpedrule Castile, and he was long an advisor to King Ferdinand of Aragon.But he also persecuted heretics, and hisdetermination and that of the Inquisition effectively snuffed outthe revival of learning he has encouraged. (You'd think that a man who hadhimself spent six years in prison because of a cleric's accusations would havehad better sense.) He also ruined thesettlement between the Christians and Moors of conquered Granada.The phrase "wise fool" might have been invented for him.

Those looking to find him in secular histories probably shouldnot look under Ximénes, even though this seems to be thestandard name in New Testament textbooks. Of the histories I am using,the oldest (Chapman) files him under "Ximenes",but Rhea Marsh Smith, Spain: A Modern History, Universityof Michigan Press, 1965) gives his name as Francisco Jiménezde Cisneros, indexed under Cisneros. This is also the usage ofJ. H. Elliot, Imperial Spain: 1469-1716(Penguin, 1963; I use the 1990 edition).

In the long run, Ximenes probably didSpain much harm due to his intolerance: "The Catholic Kings madetheir triumphal entry into Granada in January 1492... but they did notrespect their promise of tolerance and humanity to the Moors. In 1499the [new Christian] bishop succumbed to the influence of... Cisneros...who demanded a more aggressive policy in the conversion of the Moors....[T]he zeal of the archbishop caused him to try to extirpate both thewritings and the 'paganism' of the Moors. The Inquisition was extendedto Granada and many Moslems, under harsh compulsion, were superficiallyconverted to Christianity" (Smith, p. 108). Elliot, p. 52, says of his behavior,"The principal advocate of a more forceful policy was ArchbishopCisneros of Toledo, who came to Granada with Ferdinand and Isabella in 1499.With the blinding unawareness of the zealot, he... launched out on a policyof forcible conversion and mass baptism. His activities soon yieldedpredictable result: The Moors became nominal Christians in their thousands,and in November 1499, an ill-considered rising broke out.... The aftermathof the edict was to be unsatisfactory to the Christians and barely tolerableto the Moors. Convinced that the agreements of 1491-2 had been perfidiouslybroken, they clung with all the fervour of resentment to their traditionalrites and customs." Ximenes, according to Chapman, p. 205, used therebellion as an excuse to completely set aside the treaty promising toleration;the Moslems ended up either leaving Spain or converting. It was long beforethese nominally Christian "Moriscos" became true Spanish citizens.Yet he would go on to extend the Inquisition to Africa and the Americas,though in a less extreme form (Chapman, p. 223).

Ximenes in fact became head of theInquisition in Castile in 1507 (Smith, p. 125). The result was a major revolt andthe expulsion of the Moors in 1502. The Jews had also been expelled aroundthis time. Those two acts certainly left Spain culturallymuch weaker, and probably contributed to the decline in its vitality overthe next several centuries.

Ximenes also seems to have tried for a land grabin North Africa without properly considering the consequences (Smith, p. 118;Elliot, p. 53). The Spanish managed to maintain a few footholds, but not enoughto exert any actual control over the African Moslems; it could be arguedthat this particular act encouraged the establishment of the Barbary States.A second attempt to gain control of Algiers in 1516 was no more successful(Smeith, p. 139).

The University of Alcala (Complutum) was Ximenes's other majorcontribution to learning; he founded it in 1508. Smith, p. 129, says thatit was endowed with 22 professorships in ancient languages, rhetoric, andphilosophy. Elliot, p. 105, says that "Cisneros, if nothimself strictly a humanist, at least grasped the urgent need to harnessthe new humanistic studies to the service of religion." But the olderschools of Castile and Aragon apparently opposed the new curriculum; Spanishintellectual contributions to the counter-reformation would be relatively slight.And Ximenes did nothing to bring education to the Spanish population as a whole,which remained highly ignorant; even the educated classes often preferred to goabroad for education (Smith, p. 129).

Ximenes also set out to reform the Spanish clergy; many who had lived inluxury ended up leaving their monasteries -- some even choosing to turn Muslimrather than submit to his rules (Chapman, pp. 216-217). As with so much thathe did, this was surely a mixed blessing: The clergy was purer, and less ofa drain on the rest of society -- but it was probably also stupider, since themost intelligent clerics were also the less ascetic ones.

Ximenes's contributions to Spanish politics extended beyond the religioussphere (to the extent that anything in Spanish politics extended beyond thereligious sphere). The children of Ferdinand and Isabella were a son,Juan, who died in 1497 without issue, and several daughters, Catherine(the first wife of Henry VIII of England), Juana, and Isabella.When Isabella the mother died in 1504, Juana was heir to the throne of Castile -- buther grip on reality was slight; she came to be called "Juana La Loca,"or " Joanna the Mad."(In recent years, some scholars have questioned whether she was really insane;possibly she was shoved aside to avoid having a second ruling queen in Castile. But itdoesn't really matter whether she was of sound mind or not; what matters is,she was treated as incapable of handling Castile's affairs.) There was ascramble to take control of the reins of Castile, which ended giving power toJuana's husband Philip (of the Habsburg dynasty) -- but he himself died in 1506(though he and Juana had already had four children, including the futureruler of half of Europe, Charles V, and his brother Ferdinand, who founded whatbecame the line of Austrian Habsburgs). A regency council was formed, headedby Ximenes, though it fairly soon gave most of the power to Ferdinand (Elliott,p. 139. Chapman, p. 208, says that this was what gave Ximenes the freedom toengage in his North African escapades). When Ferdinand of Aragon himself died,Ximenes again became temporary regent of Castile until Charles V could takecharge (Elliott, p. 142; Smith, p. 138 notes that Ferdinand did not properlyhave the right to name Ximenes regent, but no one really argued).

When Charles V finally came to Spain to take charge, Ximenes offered to meetwith him and give him advice. Charles in his reply told him to retire to his diocese (Chapman,p. 209). It hardly mattered; Ximenes reputedly died the day the letter reached him,possibly without learning its contents (Elliott, p. 144). Charles hadalready employ many of Ferdinand's former officials, to Ximenes'sdistress, since he considered them corrupt (Elliott, p. 143). But Ximenes wasprobably too unpopular to be allowed a voice; his rule had been considered quitehigh-handed.

Chapman, p. 227, calles Ximenes "by far the most important" Spaniard of his timeother than the Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabella.Ximenes's actions did succeed in keeping Spain Catholic; the Protestant Reformationhad less influence there than in any other country in western Europe (Elliott, p.212).Whether it was worth the cost was another question.

It should be remembered that though Ximenes commissioned the ComplutensianPolyglot, he did not edit it. The only editor we tend to hear about today isStunica (Diego Lopez de Zuniga), who had the controversy with Erasmus about 1 John 5:7-8.Several of the other scholars involved were, however, at least as noteworthy(and less insistent on being boneheadedly wrong). Smith, p. 131,says that Antonio de Nebrija "had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Scriptures,linguistics, and science and translated a number of the classic authors."Hernán Nuñez de Toledo (died 1553) is described as a "famousGreek scholar." Thus Ximenes did bring in some strong minds, though onesuspects they were also quite conventional religiously.