second century etc.

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Thu Dec 23 21:33:52 EST 1999

> 	This mail is principal in character. I do not say that there cannot
> be anything older than the 2nd century BCE. But it is hard to prove if we
> have no data, as you may see it. the oldest MSS for the Hebrew texts are
> still DSS, i.e. presumably 1 cent. BCE, or perhaps 1st cent. CE, which means
> that the ungoing discussion about the dating of the DSS is very important
> also for the dating of biblical texts. Whenever we moves beyond the time
> limit set by the date of the earliest manuscripts, we are depending on
> personal ideas, wishes, guesses etc.

Looking for a clarification here about methodology, so hopefully the 
analogy I use won't seem too terribly off-topic.  Westcott and Hort 
argued that the phenomena they saw in certain NT manuscripts of 
the 4th century CE enabled them to place the text underlying the 
mss around the second century, based on a number of criteria that 
would take us too far afield to list.  Am I correct in understanding 
that you question this kind of methodology?  IOW, if 4th-century 
mss are all we have, a 4th-century text is all we can discover?  If 
I've misunderstood you here, please correct me.

Dave Washburn
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
                                   Psalm 86:11

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