Monday, September 12, 2011

Lachmann - exaggerater of the "Genealogical Method"

Lachmann, Karl Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm,
(1973-1851) German philologist.

Educational Background and Training

Lachmann studied at Leipzig and Gottingen, mainly philological studies.

1816 - assistant master in the Friedrichswerder gymnasium (Berlin)
         - privatdozent at the University (of Berlin?)
         - principal master in Friedrichs-Gymnasium of Konigsberg
1818 - assisted Germanist Friedrich Karl Kopke
         - professor extraordinarius of classical philosophy (U. of Konigsberg)
1818 - 1825 - devoted to studying Old German Grammar & Middle High German poetry
1825 - leave of absence to search libraries for German materials
         - nom. Extraordinary Professor of German philology (Humboldt U., Berlin)
1827 - professor (Humbolt U., Berlin)
1830 - member of academy of sciences

Up until about 1827, Lachmann had hardly spent any time on New Testament studies or NT Greek, but had devoted all his effort toward German languages and literature, although he also translated the first volume of PE Müller's Sagabibliothek des skandinavischen Altertums (1816).   A look at his publications shows his interest and focus of study:

 Published Works and Area of Study

Early Work before engaging in Greek NT:

Lachmann edited Propertius (1816); Catullus (1829); Tibullus (1829);
He also translated Shakespeare's sonnets (1820) and Macbeth (1829).

Work published while working on Greek NT:

Genesius (1834); Terentianus Maurus (1836); Homer's Illiad (1837-41)
Babrius (1845); Avianus (1845); Gaius (1841-1842); the Agrimensores Romani (1848-1852);  Lucretius (1850).
Lachmann also apparently edited Lucilius (re--edited after his death by Vahlen, 1876).

Although this is a substantial body of work, very little of it bears upon the task of NT Textual Criticism.  Lachmann's own textual-critical skills were all based on classical works, which pose a much different and far simpler problem:  Most classical works were not the target of religious or political attack, and the NT was written and copied under unique and exceptional circumstances.

Lachmann's Greek New Testament

Between 1831 and 1850 Lachmann now turned to the Greek NT.

  The plan of Lachmann's edition, which he explained in his Studia Krit. of 1830, is a modification of the unaccomplished project of Richard Bentley. Lachmann was the first major editor to break from the Textus Receptus, seeking to restore the most ancient reading current in manuscripts of the Alexandrian text-type, using the agreement of the Western authorities (Old Latin and Greek Western Uncials) as the main proof of antiquity of a reading where the oldest Alexandrian authorities differ.

1831 - published his smaller edition of the New Testament
1842 - the larger second edition, in two volumes (1842-1850).
1846 -  the 3rd edition 

Lachmann's 'Crowning Achievement'

Lachmann then immediately went back to other classical interests.  According to Wikipedia, 
"Lachmann's edition of Lucretius (1850),  was the principal occupation of his life from 1845, and perhaps his greatest achievement of scholarship. 
 He demonstrated how the three main manuscripts all derived from one archetype, containing 302 pages of 26 lines to a page. Further, he was able to show that this archetype was a copy of a manuscript written in a minuscule hand, which in itself was a copy of a manuscript of the 4th or 5th centuries written in rustic capitals. To say his recreation of the text was accepted is anticlimactic..."
 However, this itself is some kind of fudging of the actual truth regarding Lachmann's work.  Qwiki tells a quite different story about the evaluation of Lachmann's work regarding Homer's Illiad (1837-1841):
"in it he sought to show that the Illiad consists of eighteen independent layers, variously enlarged and interpolated, had considerable influence on 19th century Homeric scholarship, although his views are no longer accepted."

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