It has been maintained that emendation (being guessing) is no part of textual criticism at all, though judgment upon emendation is.
A further argument, sometimes based upon and sometimes in turn used to support the foregoing, is that the text of rN B represents that of Hesychius; but this is extremely doubtful (see the section Textual Criticism below).
Even where, as in the Vedas, the sacred books of India, there is proof that the work has been transmitted without change through many centuries, the existence of unintelligible passages and unmetrical verses shows that here too there is work for textual criticism to perform, though in the opinion of most scholars it should be confined to the restoration of such forms as would be unconsciously and inevitably corrupted through changes of pronunciation and the like.
The first task, of Old Testament textual criticism after the Reformation was to prove the independence of these two texts, to gain general Tecognition of the fact that vowels and accents formed no part .of the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament.
Although Mai was not as successful in textual criticism as in the decipherment of manuscripts, he will always be remembered as a laborious and persevering pioneer, by whose efforts many ancient writings have been rescued from oblivion.
The textual criticism of the classical literatures made way before the textual criticism of the Old Testament: Bentley's Phalaris (1699) preceded any thorough or systematic application of Higher Criticism to any part of the Old Testament; Niebuhr's History of Rome (181i) preceded Ewald's History of Israel (1843-1859).
His studies were chiefly in Oriental languages and the textual criticism of the New Testament, though his work as a bibliographer showed such results as the exhaustive list of writings (5300 in all) on the doctrine of the future life, appended to W.
In a certain wide sense the textual criticism of the New Testa ment began as soon as men consciously made recensions and versions, and in this sense Origen, Jerome, Augustine and many other ecclesiastical writers might be regarded as textual critics.
Much the same applies to Bp Westcott's Gospel according to St John (1882), devotionally so attractive, and in textual criticism excellent.
In textual criticism Semler pursued further the principle of classifying MSS.