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Charles Landon. A Text-Critical Study of the Epistle of Jude. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series, no. 135. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996. ISBN: 1-85075-636-8. Pp. 172. £27.50; US $45.00.

1. Two textual studies of the book of Jude (both incomplete investigations) have been published before (Albin 1962, Kubo 1965), but neither has approached the book from the standpoint of rigorous, or thoroughgoing, eclecticism. Following in the tradition of G. D. Kilpatrick and J. K. Elliott, Landon offers a textual study of Jude that treats ninety-five points of variation from a thoroughgoing eclectic perspective. This work is identical in content to his doctoral dissertation done at the University of Stellenbosch.

2. Landon proposes to do an "eclectic" text-critical analysis of Jude, that is, an evaluation of individual readings exclusively on the basis of internal criteria. A secondary goal of the study is to evaluate the text presented in the fourth edition of the UBS Greek New Testament (GNT4) to see to what extent it is "eclectic" (i.e., rigorously eclectic). Landon's use of the term "eclectic" throughout the book is problematic, not because of how he defines the term (he is entitled to use his own definition), but because he sometimes criticizes the work of reasoned eclectics for not being eclectic enough, that is, not rigorously eclectic (cf. his critiques of Epp [16] and the GNT4 [144]).

3. The first part of Landon's study is a description of and apology for thoroughgoing eclecticism. He devotes little time to the theoretical bases of the approach (apart from a brief historical survey), focusing instead on the practice of this version of eclecticism. He correctly warns the reader of the dangers of a "cookbook approach" to making textual decisions: "rules" like preferring the shortest reading or the most difficult reading cannot be applied without further analysis of the context and of the variants (for a more thorough discussion of this point, see Tov 1982). Furthermore, the rigorous eclectic puts special emphasis on the writer's style and theology when making textual decisions. When discussing the use of style in making text-critical decisions, Landon offers some unjustified criticisms of the reasoned eclectic approach. For example, he says, "both WH [Westcott and Hort] and the GNT4 editors often fail to allow the style of a given New Testament author to shape their judgments" (30). In reality, reasoned eclectics just do not give as much weight to this evidence as thoroughgoing eclectics do. Again, "it cannot be taken for granted that the GNT4 editors have properly considered the writer's style at points of variation elsewhere" (31, emphasis his). Actually, what cannot be taken for granted is that the GNT4 editors have put as much emphasis on the author's style as a thoroughgoing eclectic would. With no further justification of style as the foremost text-critical canon than references to the works of Kilpatrick and Elliott, Landon should refrain from attacking the position of the other eclectic camp. The problem is not that reasoned eclecticism is invulnerable to attack; it is that Landon has offered neither the theoretical basis nor the hard evidence to undermine the position he opposes.

4. On a more positive note, Landon offers a set of distinctive characteristics of Jude's style: the frequent use of hapax legomena, triadic illustration, repeated catchwords, synonymous parallelism, paronomasia, contrast or antithesis, New Testament set expressions (i.e., phrases common throughout the New Testament), and consistent word order. His claim that Jude has an observably consistent style is questionable in light of the brevity of the book, but since he has set the author's style as his preeminent criterion for making textual judgments, he has fulfilled his obligation of trying to identify Jude's characteristic stylistic traits.

5. When evaluating transcriptional probabilities, Landon says that the Atticizing tendency of tradents (especially Alexandrian scribes) and the propensity to eliminate Semitisms should be given due consideration. He also takes Bart Ehrman's studies on "orthodox corruptions" (Ehrman 1993) seriously when making textual decisions. Aside from this attention to the spate of recent investigations focusing on possible theological motivations behind certain variants (in addition to Ehrman 1993, see Landon's list of studies on p. 43, n. 122), he adds nothing to the Kilpatrick-Elliott model for textual decision-making; rather, he sets out to apply this model to the book of Jude and compare his results with the text of GNT4. Critiques of rigorous eclecticism are well-known (e.g., Fee 1993, Epp 1993), as are its defenses (e.g., Elliott 1978, Kilpatrick 1990), so no further critique of this part of Landon's presentation is necessary. Instead, further comments will focus on his application of the principles of rigorous eclecticism to the text of Jude.

6. In keeping with his belief in the importance of analyzing the author's style when evaluating variants, Landon frequently invokes one or another of the traits he has identified in the book when making a textual decision. He rejects the "stylistically awkward double <grc>umas</grc>" in v. 5 (in brackets in the GNT4 text) as being uncharacteristic of the author's usually polished style (70). In v. 6, he prefers the reading <grc>de</grc> to the GNT4's <grc>te</grc> on the grounds that the latter was going out of style in the first century and rarely used (78). On more than one occasion he decides questions of word order by appealing to normal Koine usage, which typically puts the adjective after the noun it modifies (e.g., v. 6 [p. 81], v. 14 [pp. 114-117]). His discussion of <grc>agapais umwn</grc> and other variants in v. 12 (103-107) is a good illustration of the effective use of internal evidence to make a case for a particular reading (a typesetting error occurs in the list of variants on p. 103: P72 and its congeners read <grc>agapais umwn</grc>, not <grc>apatais umwn</grc> as printed). Reasoned eclectics may well reach different conclusions on several of these variants. For example, in v. 5, external and transcriptional probabilities both support the inclusion of the second <grc>umas</grc>. If Landon had given as much weight in v. 6 to transcriptional as to intrinsic probabilities, he might have come to the conclusion that scribes were more likely to substitute the common <grc>de</grc> for the less common <grc>te</grc> when copying the text. These differences of opinion regarding the readings chosen as most likely to reflect the original text of Jude are to be expected when different text-critical approaches are used. What is perhaps surprising is that Landon agrees with the GNT4 text 74 out of 95 times (78%), a high rate of agreement for two very different approaches.

7. Although some of Landon's arguments based on style are either convincing or at least worth considering seriously (in addition to the examples in the previous paragraph, cf. especially the variants discussed on pp. 63-67 and 70-77), others are problematic at best, even from the standpoint of purely internal evidence, because they are based on so little evidence. For example, he prefers the order <grc>Ihsou Xristou</grc> over <grc>Xristou Ihsou</grc> in v. 1 because Jude consistently reflects this order (49), but in fact, the occurrences of <grc>Ihsou Xristou</grc> in vv. 4, 17, 21, and 25 are all set expressions, and the other occurrence of the phrase in v. 1 does exhibit some variation in the witnesses. Again in v. 1, he rejects the reading <grc>eqnesin</grc> because the author never refers to his readers as Gentiles (50)--unless he does so here! The book of Jude really has too little data to support such a statement. A little later, he suggests that since the pattern article + adjective + noun appears in vv. 4, 6, and 10, the same order should be accepted in v. 7: <grc>ton omoion tropon toutois</grc> (85). However, one of these readings, <grc>ton monon despothn qeon</grc> in v. 4, is contested, so he can really only rely on the other two readings to establish his "pattern." Even less convincing is his argument that <grc>kata tas epiqumias eautwn</grc> should be read in v. 18, because the same expression in v. 16 also has the reflexive pronoun last (125). In objection to this line of reasoning, it must be noted that one reading does not establish a pattern! Other arguments along these lines that are less than satisfying include Landon's suggestions that scribes conformed the text of Jude they were copying to such far-flung passages as Acts 25:17 (v. 3 [p. 58]); Matt 23:2 (v. 9 [p. 94]); Eph 1:4 (v. 24 [p. 135]); and Rom 16:27 (v. 25 [p. 136]).

8. Several of Landon's text-critical decisions will seem to many reasoned eclectics illustrative of the weakness inherent in ignoring external evidence. Examples include his acceptance of <grc>swmatos mwusews</grc> in v. 9 (supported only by 378 632 [of the manuscripts he quotes]; 93-94), <grc>eis ton aiwna</grc> in v. 13 (supported by K 049; 111-112), and <grc>en muriasin agiais autou</grc> in v. 14 (supported by C 323 378; 114-117). Strong arguments based on internal evidence can be marshaled against his readings in vv. 9 and 14, and when external evidence is taken into account, most moderate eclectics would not give Landon's readings a second look. The most egregious example of all is his acceptance of the variant <grc>upo zofon agiwn aggelwn</grc>, based on a reading sanctorum angelorum sub tenebras in Lucifer and without any real manuscript support, in v. 6 (82-84).

9. This last example raises an interesting inconsistency in regard to Landon's application of the Kilpatrick-Elliott method, and it also serves to highlight an obvious logical weakness with rigorous eclecticism as commonly practiced. In a footnote dealing with the variants in vv. 22-23, Landon cites with approval the view of Elliott concerning conjectural emendation: "If we accept Elliott's view, Essays and Studies, p. 38 [Elliott 1992], that the original reading at any given variation unit in the New Testament 'lies somewhere in our extant manuscripts,' then we are obliged to find a solution at this unit which is not based upon conjectural emendation" (132, n. 253). He then evaluates the verbs <grc>eleeite</grc> and <grc>eleate</grc>, decides the latter reading is the result of an Atticizing tendency of copyists, and eliminates from further consideration all variants that have <grc>eleate</grc>! He justifies this procedure as follows: "[If <grc>eleeite</grc> is preferable to <grc>eleate</grc>], my search for a solution should surely be restricted to real readings in real MSS which do indeed preserve the form <grc>eleeite</grc>" (132). This is a ludicrous conclusion! Just because scribes might have changed <grc>eleeite</grc> to <grc>eleate</grc>, text-critics should not ignore the possibility that the rest of the text they preserve has a claim to originality (Kubo argues this very premise: that the reading of Sinaiticus should be accepted, but that <grc>eleate</grc> should be replaced with <grc>eleeite</grc> [Kubo 1981: 253]). Since thoroughgoing eclectics consider the history of the New Testament text in the earliest period to be irretrievable, thus justifying their mining of readings that have support only from late minuscules, they can have no reasonable objection to the argument that, owing to the chaotic situation of the text in the first two centuries, some readings were hopelessly lost from the manuscript tradition. Surely this conclusion more consistently fits the theory of the text espoused by thoroughgoing eclectics! Finally, to return to Landon's analysis of variants in v. 6, it should be noted that the reading he accepts is only based on a quotation from Lucifer; the Greek text he advocates printing is a conjecture!

10. One element that Landon's study lacks, but that a thorough study of the text of Jude should include, is a detailed disquisition of the relationship between the texts of Jude and 2 Peter. Ideally such a discussion should include not only the presentation of data concerning which book was the source of the other (Landon follows the majority opinion and believes that Jude came first) but also an examination of the history of transmission of the two books. Questions that might be addressed include the following: is there evidence that scribes at certain times or in certain places tended to conform Jude to 2 Peter or vice versa? was one book more popular than the other? Landon does draw on data from 2 Peter when discussing several variants, but he lacks a consistent theory of how to treat data from 2 Peter (including variants) when dealing with variants in Jude. Because he has laid no theoretical foundation for using material from Jude's synoptic counterpart, his use of material from 2 Peter is not compelling.

11. Overall, Landon's work must receive a mixed evaluation: weak in its theoretical underpinnings, stronger in its evaluation of individual variants. On the negative side, even if Landon intends to follow the methodology of Kilpatrick and Elliott, one would like to have seen more theoretical justification for his adopting this approach. Also, as already mentioned, he offers no theory for dealing with evidence from 2 Peter. Moreover, one comes away from the study with the feeling that while he has dealt in detail with a large number of variants, he has not sufficiently considered patterns of variation that are evident in certain witnesses (or text-types), patterns that might influence textual decisions. In contrast to these weaknesses, several positive aspects of his work are evident as well. His use of secondary sources is excellent, since, in addition to English, French, German, and Italian works, he draws on Afrikaans, Dutch, and Swedish studies that are inaccessible to many scholars. He brings his knowledge of specific manuscripts, especially Psi, to bear on several of the variants he evaluates. Finally, Landon shows considerable ingenuity in some of his arguments for particular readings. Unfortunately, other arguments rely too heavily on ingenuity and too little on convincing data. Scholars of textual criticism or of the book of Jude may glean helpful insights from many of Landon's discussions of units of variation, but his arguments cannot be accepted uncritically, and less-experienced students should consult those more familiar with textual criticism before accepting Landon's arguments concerning a particular set of variations.

© TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1997.


Albin, C. A. 1962. Judasbrevet: Traditionen, Texten, Tolkningen. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur.

Ehrman, Bart D. 1993. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Elliott, J. K. 1978. "In Defence of Thoroughgoing Eclecticism in New Testament Textual Criticism." Restoration Quarterly 21: 95-115.

Elliott, J. K. 1992. Essays and Studies in New Testament Textual Criticism. Estudios de Filología Neotestamentaria, no. 3. Cordoba: Ediciones el Almendro.

Elliott, J. K., ed., 1990. The Principles and Practice of New Testament Textual Criticism: Collected Essays of G. D. Kilpatrick. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Epp, Eldon Jay 1993. "The Eclectic Method in New Testament Textual Criticism: Solution or Symptom?" In Epp and Fee, eds., 1993: 141-173.

Epp, Eldon Jay, and Fee, Gordon D., eds., 1981. New Testament Textual Criticism, Its Significance for Exegesis: Essays in Honour of Bruce M. Metzger. Oxford: Clarendon.

Epp, Eldon Jay, and Fee, Gordon D., eds., 1993. Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism. Studies and Documents, no. 45. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Fee, Gordon D. 1993. "Rigorous or Reasoned Eclecticism--Which?" In Epp and Fee, eds., 1993: 124-140.

Kilpatrick, G. D. 1990. "Eclecticism and Atticism." In Elliott, ed., 1990: 73-79.

Kubo, Sakae 1965. P72 and the Codex Vaticanus. Studies and Documents, no. 27. Salt Lake City: Utah University Press.

Kubo, Sakae 1981. "Jude 22-23: Two Division Form or Three?" In Epp and Fee, eds., 1981: 239-253.

Tov, Emanuel 1982. "Criteria for Evaluating Textual Readings: The Limitations of Textual Rules." Harvard Theological Review 75: 429-448.

James R. Adair, Jr.
Scholars Press