Don't know what I'm talking about? I am channeling a comedy bit from the British review "Beyond the Fringe," from the 'sixties I believe, that Peter Cook (no relation) used to do. His character, a working-class man, says:
Yes, I could have been a judge but I never had the Latin, never had the Latin for the judgin', I never had it, so I'd had it, as far as bein' a judge was concerned. I just never had sufficient of it to get through the rigourous judging exams. They're noted for their rigour. People come out staggering and saying "My God, what a rigourous exam!" - and so I became a miner instead. A coal miner. I managed to get through the mining exams--they're not rigourous, they only ask one question, they say, "Who are you", and I got 75 per cent on that. I'd rather have been a judge than a miner. Being a miner, as soon as you are too old and tired and sick and stupid to do the job properly, you have to go. Well, the very opposite applies with judges.Believe me, it's a lot funnier when Peter Cook delivers it. (Is the record still in print, or available on CD?)
However, I should point out that the excerpt I have given above was put together by me and does not occur, as far as I can tell, on the web. In short, it is a harmonizing text. Below I give a critical diplomatic text, with apparatus, based on the following five witnesses: A, B, C, D, and E. For my base text, I use B, which is closely allied to C, but C was copied by a rather careless scribe. Both A and D are defective, in that their text is incomplete. E has some affinities with A, but both represent a different tradition than BC.
B: "Yes, I could have been a judge, but I never had the Latin, never had the Latin for the judging, I just never had sufficient of it to get through the rigorous judging exams. They’re noted for their rigour. People come out staggering and saying ‘My God what a rigorous exam' – and so I became a miner instead. I’d rather have been a judge than a miner. Being a miner, as soon as you are too old and tired and sick and stupid to do the job properly, well you have to go. Well the opposite applies with judges."
Yes] ABCE; D om. || never had the Latin, never had the Latin] ABCE; D never had the Latin [one occurrence] || for the judging] ABCE; D adds. I never had it, so I'd had it, as far as being a judge was concerned || just never had sufficient of it] BCE; A didn't have sufficient || out staggering and saying] BC; E out saying || I became a miner instead] BCE; A I managed to become a miner || instead] AE add a coal miner. I managed to get through the mining exams--they're not (A adds: very) rigourous, they only ask (A adds: you) one question, they say, "Who are you", and I got 75 per cent on that || I'd rather ... with judges] BC; AE om. || well you have] B; C om. well || opposite] B; C very opposite
From the apparatus it emerges that AE and BC are mainly differentiated textually by the fact that AE has a joke about miners where BC has a joke about judges; D is quite short and has neither, but has a third joke that only amounts to a pun. An Old Testament scholar would talk about doublets, perhaps hypothesizing an Anti-Judge source (J) and an Anti-Miner source (M) and perhaps a Pun source (P), which built on a now-lost piece of folklore about failing a Latin test. (And a minimalist would deny that Peter Cook ever existed.) New Testament scholars would postulate some complicated redaction-critical business, and divide on whether the anti-judge or the anti-miner version was the most authentic, depending on which group the historical Peter Cook was believed to be in conflict with. The "Peter Cook Seminar" would assert that the "anti-judge" version was authentic, on the grounds that Peter Cook would have been in opposition to the establishment and in favor of the working man. (And a radical NT scholar would deny that Peter Cook ever existed.)
One thing no one would do is what I did at the beginning and produce a harmonized text. This is considered to be anti-historical and disrespectful of the sources, which must each be allowed to speak for themselves. However, I can assure you, based on oral memory (I listened to the record about 500 times when I was in seminary), that the pun, the anti-judge joke, and the anti-miner joke all occurred in Cook's original comedy routine. I can even tell you that none of the versions I have read have quite captured the dialect. The character tended to drop his aitches, yielding I never 'ad it, so I'd 'ad it as far as judgin' was concerned. And judging was always judgin', to form an assonance with Latin.
Therefore, after all the critical sifting work has been done, I still think that in some cases one should be allowed to hypothesize an original text or tradition that is a harmony or combination of all the witnesses, since in some cases (as illustrated here) all our witnesses are incomplete versions of a larger original.