I asked BAIChat, “In textual criticism, what are the theoretical problems surrounding the issue of and “original” text.”
The issue of the original text is a central theoretical problem in textual criticism, and it raises several complex issues.
Firstly, the concept of an “original” text assumes that there was a single, definitive version of the text that served as the author’s intended final version. However, this assumption may not be valid for many texts, especially those that were transmitted orally before being written down, or those that underwent significant revision or interpolation over time. Consequently, it can be difficult to determine which version of the text represents the original or authentic version.
Secondly, even if an original version of the text did exist, it is unlikely that any surviving manuscript or edition would be identical to it. This is because manuscripts are subject to copying errors, omissions, additions, and other changes that occur during transmission. As a result, scholars must use methods such as stemmatics and collation to compare different versions of the text and reconstruct the likely relationships between them.
Thirdly, the question of what constitutes an “original” text is complicated by the fact that many texts were produced collaboratively, with different authors, editors, scribes, and translators contributing to their creation. In these cases, it may be impossible to identify a single authorial voice or intent behind the text, leading to debates about how to interpret and represent the text in a critical edition.
Overall, the issue of the original text highlights the complexities involved in reconstructing the histories of literary works, and underscores the importance of understanding the social, cultural, and historical contexts in which texts were produced and transmitted.— BAIChat
As is common, this answer is impressive, but unreferenced and somewhat bland.