J.S. Phillimore (1873-1926), The Revival of Criticism. A Paper Read at the Meeting of the Classical Association at Oxford on May 17th, 1919
(Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1919), pp. 16-17:
What is the true reading of a given text in Latin?
Not what the author just possibly might have said,
received on the sole faith of a scribe's word; but what
all the probabilities of the case, weighed together, each
for what it is worth; the scribe's report and all the
available checks upon that report—commonsense,
Latinity in general, Latinity of the given date, Latinity
of the given author, the recognized rules of the art in
which he worked,—what all these give as total result.
That is a rough expression of the general principles
of Textual Criticism as practised by the great masters
in the great days. What are the principles which have
usurped their place since the Disintegration? Allow
me to quote an example.
In a celebrated passage of a Patristic author,* where
the text has considerable historic interest and importance,
the change of a letter brings the reading into agreement
with all the above-mentioned tests—(only substituting Greek for Latin). The learned German editor** thus
observes: 'Even a mediocre sense,' extracted from the misreading, 'is better than the most plausible emendation.'
On this I ventured to observe that on these principles
texts might be edited by an office boy. Or, if you prefer
it: collators become ipso facto editors. A mediocre sense!
What a delicacy in characterizing nonsense, short of arrant
nonsense. Such then is criticism. A judge means one
who takes down depositions.
* Ignatius ad Romanos titulus.—See Journal of Theol. Studies,
Vol. XIX, p. 272.
** Dr. F.X. Funk: Patres Apostolici, ed. Tubing. 1881.
Id., p. 21:
Great is überlieferungsgeschichte
and Traube is its prophet. But
Traube has no more abolished human error in all copyists
of every age, than the great Debrett has abolished
Original Sin among Persons of Quality.
Id., p. 23:
If we could Socratically force the school of Funk to
tell us what they think and not what they want to think
that they think, would they not say something like this:
'You appeal to Latinity and stylistic criticism? What
do we know about Latinity? You call solecisms what
are just exceptions, material for most interesting monographs.
Do you mean to tell us that it is impossible
for an ancient writer to write nonsense'—I beg pardon,
'mediocre sense'; I thank thee, Funk, for teaching me
that word—'make lopsided constructions and lame
No, it is not impossible; there are possibilities both
ways. But probability is our guide; it is more probable
that some one copyist somewhere in the tradition has
blundered, than that the classical poet lapsed...
See J.S. Phillimore, "Ignatius ad Romanos
titulus," Journal of Theological Studies
19 (1918) 272-276,
where he conjectures Χριστοῦ
in the heading of Ignatius' Letter to the Romans
Ἰγνάτιος ... τῇ ἠλεημένῃ ... ἐκκλησίᾳ ἠγαπημένῃ καὶ πεφωτισμένῃ ... ἥτις καὶ προκάθηται ἐν τόπῳ χωρίου ῾Ρωμαίων ...
Without Phillimore's conjecture (tr. J.B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, rev. Michael W. Holmes):
Ignatius ... to the church that has found mercy ... beloved and enlightened ... which also presides in the place of the district of the Romans ...
With Phillimore's conjecture:
Ignatius ... to the church that has found mercy ... beloved and enlightened ... which also presides over the Romans in Christ's stead ...