So, I’m hoping for an NA28 for Christmas. Nevertheless, in a recent research seminar here in Cardiff, I was interested by a comment from Hugh Houghton of the University of Birmingham who said, ‘Don’t worry if you don’t get an NA28, the NA29 is just round the corner.’ Admittedly, when quizzed afterwards, ’round the corner’ probably means a couple of years, but still.
From the proposed timeline he showed us, there may be quite a number of new editions over the next decade or so as the Editio Critica Maior approaches completion. Although this will lead to lots of blue volumes on the shelf, I don’t see this as a bad thing (apart from financially). Quite apart from increasingly reliable and useful text and notes, I hope this plurality of editions will move us away from seeing NAxx as a definitive and fixed text. It was fascinating, now that I’m in a primarily Religious Studies department, to hear scholars of other religious traditions arguing that the quest for a single text (albeit eclectic and with apparatus), seemed to them to be unhelpful, and ideologically driven. They considered it far more intellectually useful to work with actual texts, along with their variants. Happily, this is the way that things seem to be going with the advent of excellent online resources (e.g. Codex Alexandrinus has gone online this week). Nevertheless, such an approach is generally not practical for much work in NT studies, and NAxx is still a very useful tool. But I take the general point and want to avoid the ‘laziness’ that reverence for the ‘default’ text can bring. So here’s my suggestion for future editions: how about putting the apparatus at the top (i.e. making actual MSS the main feature) and the text at the bottom?
Having said this all this, Santa, I hope I’ve been a good boy this year.