New Essay on the Greek Vorlage of the Old Latin Version in Mark

I have published a new essay on the Greek Vorlage behind the Old Latin  version of Mark, entitled “The Latin Version and the Greek Tradition in the Gospel of Mark,” which appears in the just-released Studien volume of the Editio critica maior of Mark.

This essay addresses problems with the assumption that Old Latin readings, where they diverge from Greek mainstream traditions, can be traced to a Greek “Western” text similar to the text found in Codex Bezae, a view that originated with J. S. Semler in the eighteenth century and was later popularized by F. J. A. Hort in his Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek. The main problem with this view is that it takes the Latin version out of the context in which it came into existence, all but ignoring the contribution of translators, editors, and copyists within the version to its final shape.

In this essay, I discuss the pitfalls of a hasty appeal to Greek sources to explain routine artifacts of the translation event observable in the habits of the translators. In short, it is not possible to view the Old Latin version as a mere proxy of Greek sources without falling into a crucial source-critical blunder of overlooking the larger context of the text itself.

The abstract follows:

Readings in the Latin gospels are often approached as translations of a Greek “Western” text, a construct devised in the eighteenth century to explain parallels between Codex Bezae and the Latin version as native Greek readings and later adopted by nineteenth-century source critics as a means to access early Christian traditions. A significant limitation of this approach is in overlooking the version itself as a tradition by deflecting the complexities of translation and inner-versional transmission onto putative Greek sources, while reducing the translation event to the mechanical replication of these sources in Latin. This essay takes an alternative approach, focusing first on the versional context in which these readings appear and the capacity of translators, editors, and copyists within the version to generate new readings without the aid of a Greek model. In examining the habits of the translators, it is apparent that they frequently produced the same kinds of variation in their singular readings that we find in their parallels with so-called “Western” texts, such as Codex Bezae, raising the possibility that these readings arose in Latin rather than in Greek and, hence, that the theory of a “Western” text is superfluous in accounting for the development of the version.

Bibliographical information:

Peter E. Lorenz, “The Latin Version and the Greek Tradition in the Gospel of Mark.” Pages 133–173 in Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior I Synoptic Gospels: The Gospel of Mark, Vol. 3: Studien. Ed. H. Strutwolf, G. Gäbel, A. Hüffmeier, M.-L. Lakmann, G. S. Paulson, and K. Wachtel. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2021.