1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Soden, Hermann, Freiherr von
SODEN, HERMANN, Freiherr von (1852-), German biblical scholar, was born in Cincinnati on the 16th of August 1852, and was educated at the university of Tübingen. He was minister of Dresden-Striesen in 1881 and in 1887 became minister of the Jerusalem Church in Berlin. In 1889 he became privatdozent in the university of Berlin, and four years later was appointed extraordinary professor of divinity. His earlier works include Philipperbrief (1890); “Untersuchungen über neutest. Schriften” in the Protest. Jahrb. theolog. Studien und Schriftkommentar (1895-1897); Und was tut d. evangel. Kirche? (3rd. ed. 1890); Reisebriefe aus Palästina (2nd ed. 1901); Palästina und seine Gesch. (2nd ed. 1904); Die wichtigsten Fragen im Leben Jesu (1904); Urchristliche Literaturgesch. (1904). His most important book is Die Schriften des neuen Testaments, in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestettt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte (Berlin, Bd. I., 1902-1910); certainly the most important work on the text of the New Testament which had been published since Westcott and Hort's New Testament in the Original Greek (see Bible: New Testament).
Von Soden introduces, besides a new notation of MSS. (see Bible, N.T. MSS. and versions), a new theory of textual history. He thinks that in the 4th century there were in existence three recensions of the text, which he distinguishes as K, H and I, with the following characteristics and attestations.
K corresponds roughly to Westcott and Hort's Syrian Antiochian text; it was probably made by Lucian in the 4th century. This was in the end the most popular form of text, and is found in a more or less degenerate state in all late MSS. The purest representatives are 61 (Ω), ε75 (V), 92, (461), 94, 1027 (S), 1126 (476 = scrivener's k) ε179 (661). Later recensions of K are called Kx, and Kr, and there are also others of less importance which represent the combination of K with other texts.
H represents Westcott and Hort's Neutral and Alexandrian texts between which von Soden does not distinguish.
It is found in eleven MSS. in varying degrees of purity: δ1 (B), δ2 (א), δ3 (C), δ6 (Ψ), δ 48 (33), ε26 (Z), ε56 (L), ε76 (Δ) ε1026 (892), δ371 (1241) and ε376 (579). Between these MSS. there is no very intimate connexion except between δ1 and δ2 (B and א) which represent a common original (δ1-2). δ1-2 is the best representative of H, but it has been contaminated by the Egyptian versions, and sometimes by the K and I texts and by Origen, though not to any great extent.
The other H MSS. are none of them equal in value to the two great uncials. They have all been influenced by K, I, and by the text of parallel passages, to a greater extent than δ1-2, or than either of the two witnesses to δ1-2, but some of them have less Egyptian corruption.
The origin of the H text must be regarded as unquestionably Egyptian, in view of the fact that it was used by all the Egyptian Church writers after the end of the 3rd century, and von Soden adopts the well-known hypothesis, first made popular by Bousset, that it represents the recension of Hesychius.
I does not quite correspond to anything in Westcott and Hort's system, but has points of contact with their “Western” text. It is found in a series of subgroups of MSS. known as Hr, J, Ia, and others of less importance (about eleven subgroups are suggested). Of these Hr is a family containing Cod. I and its allies (δ254, ε346, δ457, δ467, &c.), ε288 (22) and some allied MSS. ε2O3 (872), εl83 and ε1131; J is the well-known Ferrar group; and Ia contains δ5 (D), ε93 (565), ε133 (700), εl68 (28), ε050 and some others. It is necessary to note that von Soden is able to place D in this group because he regards it as owing many of its most remarkable readings to contamination with the Latin version. I is, according to von Soden, a Palestinian recension connected with Eusebius, Pamphilus and Origen.
After establishing the text of I, H and K, von Soden reconstructs an hypothetical text, I-H-K, which he believes to have been their ancestor. He then tries to show that this text was known to all the writers of the 3rd and 2nd centuries, but has naturally to account for the fact that the quotations of these writers and the text of the early versions often diverge from it. The explanation that he offers is that the Diatessaron of Tatian was widely used and corrupted all extant texts, so that the Old Syriac, the Old Latin, the quotations of Irenaeus, Clement, Tertullian and others may be regarded as various combinations of the Tatianic text and I-H-K. Finally, he tries to show that the Tatianic text is itself in the main merely a corrupt form of I-H-K altered in order to suit the necessities of Tatian's plan.
For criticism of this important theory up to 1909 see Nestle's Einführung in das griechische neue Testament, pp. 274-278 (3rd ed., Göttingen, 1909), and K. Lake's Professor H. von Soden's Treatment of the Text of the Gospels, Edinburgh, 1908).