[Late cross-post from By Common Consent]
[Part 3 is here.]
The terminology used in textual studies has changed as the philosophy of the nature of texts has changed and it also varies depending on the methodological branch being considered. So, I’m going to avoid the technical language as much as I can. Also, I’m leaving out a lot, believing that brevity is the soul of something or other.
The idea of reconstructing a text from fragmentary or variant sources is an old one. In early biblical studies the process of attempting to move from fragments of early manuscripts to an autograph or something near it became known (1885) as “lower criticism.” The idea could be applied to other ancient texts or modern ones. But the study of texts since the 19th century, originally obsessed with the idea of actually rebuilding the autograph, or original text, has changed, methodologies bifurcating in the process.
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