Friday, December 14, 2018

Hand-to-Hand Combat: P38 vs. GA 2401 (Round 2)

            Today, the contest between Papyrus 38 (from the 200s) and minuscule 2401 (from the 1000s) concludes.  In Round 1, we saw the fragmentary text of  Acts 18:27-19:6 on one side of Papyrus 38 (and also saw that it is remarkably less accurate than the text in 2401).  Today in Round 2, we will turn the papyrus over and consider the fragmentary text of Acts 19:12-16 on the other side. 
            But first, let’s examine the text of Acts 19:12-16 as presented in 2401.  The same ground rules that were used in Round One are also in play here.  

            Ring the bell for Round Two!

Acts 19:12-19:  2401 Compared to NA27

12 – 2401 reads επιφέρεσθαι instead of αποφέρεσθαι (+2, -2)
12 – 2401 reads εξέρχεσθαι instead of εκπορεύεσθαι (+9, -11)
12 – 2401 reads απ’ αυτων at the end of the verse (+7, -0)
13 – 2401  reads απο instead of και (+3, -3)
13 – 2401 transposes so as to read πονηρα πνευματα, omitting the second τα (+0, -2) 
13 – 2401 reads ορκίζομεν instead of ορκίζω (+4, -1)
14 – 2401 reads τινες instead of τινος (+1, -1)
14 – 2401 reads υιοι before Σκευα (+4, -0)
14 – 2401 does not read υιοι after ἑπτα (+0, -4)  
15 – 2401 reads ειπε instead of ειπεν (+0, -1)
15 – 2401 does not have αυτοις after ειπεν (+0, -6)
15 – 2401 does not have μεν before Ιν (+0, -3)        
15 – 2401 does not have τον before Παυλον (+0, -3) (The corrector added it above the line.)
16 – 2401 reads εφαλλόμενος instead of εφαλόμενος (+1, -0)
16 – 2401 transposes so as to read επ’ αυτους ὁ ανος
16 – 2401 reads και after πονηρόν (+3, -1)
16 – 2401 reads κατακυριεύσαν instead of κατακυριεύσας (+1, -1)
16 – 2401 reads αυτων instead of αμφοτέρων (+4, -8)
16 – 2401 reads ισχυσε instead of ισχυσεν (+0, -1)

Thus, in these five verses, 2401 has 39 non-original letters, and is missing 47 original letters, for a total of 86 letters’ worth of deviation from NA27.  (This sum could be reduced slightly by taking the trivial orthographic variants in v. 15 and v. 16 out of the picture.)   

Is the text of Papyrus 38 any better?  Let’s see:  

Acts 19:12-16:  Papyrus 38 Compared to NA27

12 – P38 does not have αυτου after χρωτος (+0, -5)
12 – P38 reads παντα instead of πνατα (not counted because this is a nomen sacrum)
13 – P38 reads εξορκίζομεν instead of ορκίζω (+5, -0)
13 – P38 transposes so as to read –σσει ο Παυλος (+1, -0)
14 – P38 reads εν οις και υ- instead of ησαν δε (+9, -6)
14 – P38 reads [Σκευ]-ια instead of Σκευα (+1, -0)
14 – P38 reads τινος after Ιουδαίου (+4, -0)
14 – P38 has ηθ[έλη]σαν instead of ἑπτα υιοι after αρχιερέως (+4, -8)
14 – P38 reads [το α]υτο ποιησαι εθος εχοντες [εξορκι]ζειν τους τοιουτους και εισελθο[ντες] προς δαιμονιζομενον ηρξα[ντο επι]καλεισθαι το ονομα λεγοντες π[αραγγελ]λομεν σοι εν Ιηυ ον Παυλος ο [αποστο]λος κηρυσσει εξελθειν (+133, -0)
15 – P38 reads [γ]ει[νωσκω] instead of γινωσκω (+1, -0)
16 – no variations

Thus, Papyrus 38’s text of Acts 19:12-16 contains 158 non-original letters, and is missing 19 original letters, yielding a total of 158 letters’ worth of deviations from NA27. 

            2401 wins again!  And again, the contest is not close:  with 86 letters’ worth of scribal corruption in just five verses, 2401 may have seemed like an easy target, but the interpolation in Acts 19:14 in Papyrus 38 crushed any chance for victory it may have had. 
            When we combine the totals from Round One and Round Two, 2401 has 81 non-original letters, and is missing 62 original letters, for a total of 143 letters’ worth of corruption (using NA27 as the standard of comparison).  Meanwhile, Papyrus 38 has 248 non-original letters, and is missing 81 original letters, for a total of 329 letters’ worth of corruption.  
            A little bit of analysis may tell us something interesting about the transmission-streams from which Papyrus 38 and minuscule 2401 emerged.  Consider the different levels of reliability of the transmission-streams that are indicated if, for the sake of drawing a comparison, we were to assign P38’s production-date to AD 300, and 2401’s production-date to AD 1050, and reckon that the book of Acts itself was produced in AD 65.  Extrapolating from those assigned dates, we would see that 2401’s 985-year-old transmission-stream is four times longer than Papyrus 38’s 235-year-old transmission-stream; yet 2401’s text of Acts 18:27-19:6 and 19:12-16 has less than half as much corruption.
            Clearly it is not safe to assume “The older the manuscript, the better the text.”

Postscript:  Western Corrections in 2401

            As the crowd begins to exit the arena, 2401 is standing tall – having been demonstrated to have a text of Acts 18:27-19:6 and 19:12-16 that is far more accurate than Papyrus 38.  Some who saw this contest may recall that 2401 contains Western readings in Acts 18:27 (the addition of εις τὴν Ἀχαϊαν after παραγενόμενος) and in 18:28 (the addition of διαλεγόμενος και after δημοσια).
            Those are not the only Western corrections lurking in 2401.  Here are some others:            

● 5:36:  εαυτον μεγαν
● 12:25:  Σαυλος ὅς επεκλήθη Παυλος
● 18:19:  τω επιόντι σαββάτω
● 18:21:  τον δε Ακύλαν ειασεν εν Εφέσω, marked with ⁜ 
● 19:9:  τινος απο ωρας πέμπτης εως ωρας δεκατης
● 19:28:  και δραμόντες εις το αμφοδον, added in the margin and marked with ⁜
● 20:32:  A note in the margin, prefaced by ⁜, is badly faded.

            My initial impression is that the corrections in 2401 (and some readings in the text itself, such as Ις ὁ Ναζωραιως in 26:15) come from a source related to the text of 614 and 2412.  This shows us that Western readings did not entirely die out as the Byzantine Text became the dominant textual standard of the Middle Ages. 

            Meanwhile, Papyrus 38 helpfully shows us that despite what some might assume from the name “Western Text,” Western readings did not just circulate in the western part of the Roman Empire; there were circulating in Egypt in the mid-200s. 

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Hand-to-Hand Combat: P38 vs. GA 2401 (Round 1)

            “The older the manuscript, the better the text” . . . right?  It seems perfectly reasonable to expect the text in manuscripts closer to the original documents to be more accurate than the text in medieval manuscripts.  But at the same time, it’s also perfectly reasonable to reckon that a text that has passed through ten generations of careful copying will be more accurate than a text that has passed through five generations of careless copying.  Today, let’s compare an early copy – Papyrus 38, a fragment produced in the 200s, containing text from Acts 18:27-19:6 and 19:12-16 – to the medieval manuscript GA 2401, which was produced in the 1100s. 
            Henry Sanders described P38 in 1927 in an article that appeared in Harvard Theological ReviewA Papyrus Fragment of Acts in the Michigan Collection – and his data was further refined in Chapter XXIII of The Beginnings of Christianity – Part One, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 5; that chapter, The Michigan Papyrus Fragment 1271 was written by Silva New (1933) and includes an uncial transcription.
         GA 2401, meanwhile, is a Praxapostolos manuscript (containing Acts, the Pauline Epistles, and the General Epistles, with book-summaries and some other supplemental compositions).  It is part of the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection at the University of Chicago.
         Contrary to the claim of James White that “Every one of the papyrus manuscripts we have discovered has been a representative of the Alexandrian text-type,” (See The King James Only Controversy, p. 195, 2009 ed.) it is well-established that the text of Papyrus 38 is not Alexandrian.  It is very far from Alexandrian, as we shall see. 
         This hand-to-hand contest will take two rounds; one side of P38 will be considered in each round.   Let’s review the ground-rules:  contractions of sacred names are not counted as variants; transpositions are mentioned but not counted; NA27 is used as the standard of comparison (i.e., for the purposes of this contest, NA27 is the proxy for the original text), and bracketed words in NA27 are counted as text.  In addition, because 2401 contains some secondary corrections, I will make two calculations of 2401’s closeness to NA27:  one with the corrections taken into consideration, and one without the corrections in the equation.  Also, although it would be possible to reconstruct non-extant readings in P38, I will only consider extant readings throughout P38.
         (I thought about trimming away parts of 2401’s text along the contours of P38, so that 2401 would not be at a disadvantage, but after seeing initial results of the comparison, such a step seemed unnecessary.)
         Now let’s get ready to rumble!

Here’s the text of Acts 18:27-19:6 (with corrections) in GA 2401, compared to the text of Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece:

Acts 18:27-19:6:  2401 Compared to NA27

18:27 – 2401c reads εις τὴν Ἀχαϊαν after παραγενόμενος (+12, -1)
18:28 – 2401 reads διακατηλεγχε instead of διακατηλέγχετο (+0, -2)
18:28 – 2401c reads διαλεγόμενος και after δημοσια (+15, -0)
19:1 – 2401 reads ευρων instead of ευρειν (+1, -2)
19:2 – 2401 reads ειπε instead of ειπεν τε (+0, -3)
19:2 – 2401 reads ειπον after οι δε (+5, -0)
19:2 – 2401 reads ουδε instead of ουδ’ (+1, -0)
19:3 – 2401 reads ειπε δε instead of ειπεν τε (+1, -2)
19:3 – 2401 reads ειπον instead of ειπαν (+1, -1)
19:4 – 2401 reads ειπε instead of ειπεν (+0, -1)
19:4 – 2401 reads μεν before εβαπτισεν (+3, -0)
19:4 – 2401 reads εβαπτισε instead of εβαπτισεν (+0, -1)
19:4 – 2401 reads πιστευσωσι instead of πιστευσωσιν (+0, -1)
19:4 – 2401 reads Χν Ιν instead of Ιησουν (+2, -0)  
19:5 – no variations
19:6 – 2401 reads προεφήτευον instead of επροφήτευον (+1, -1)

            Thus, the text of Acts 18:27-19:6 in 2401, including corrections, has 42 non-original letters, and is missing 15 original letters, for a total of 57 letters’ worth of scribal corruption in this passage.  If we undo the effects of the corrections in 2401 (generally detectable due to the darker ink used by the corrector), then 2401 has 15 non-original letters, and is missing 14 original letters, for a total of 29 letters’ worth of scribal corruption in this passage.

Now let’s consider the text of Acts 18:27-19:6 in P38.  Letters which were only tentatively identified by those who studied the manuscript are shown in red, and are not included in the calculations.

Acts 18:27-19:6:  P38 Compared to NA27

18:27 – P38 reads –ς τὴν Ἀχαϊα after παραγενόμενος (+9, -0)
18:27 – P38 transposes to read πολυ συνε
18:28 – P38 reads δια[λεγόμεν]ος after δημοσια (+2, -0)       
18:28 – P38 reads θελονι-[ος] after Ιην (+6, -0)
19:1 – P38 reads [Π]αυλου κατα τη[ν] (+11, -0)
19:1 – P38 reads [βου]λη[ν] (+2, -1)
19:1 – P38 does not include εγενετο δε εν τω τον Ἀπολλω (+0, -22)
19:1 – P38 reads –ι εις Ιεροσόλυμα (+14, -0)
19:1 – P38 reads το (+2, -0)
19:1 – P38 reads –εφειν εις τ- (+7, -0)
19:1 – P38 reads –ρχετα- instead of κατελθειν (+4, -9) 
19:1 – P38 reads μαθηταις instead of μαθητας (+1, -0)
19:2 – P38 does not include –πεν τε προς αυτους (+0, -15)
19:2 – P38 reads δ’ instead of δε (+0, -1)
19:2 – P38 reads απεκρειναντο (+7, -0)
19:2 – P38 reads λαμβαν[ουσιν τι]νες (+8, -0)
19:3 – P38 reads ο δε Παυλος προς αυ[του]ς instead of ειπεν τε (+16, -7)
19:3 – P38 reads ελεγον instead of ειπαν (+5, -4)
19:4 – no variations
19:5 – P38 reads -φεσιν αμαρτιων (+4, -0)
19:5 – P38 reads επε[πεσεν] instead of ηλθε (+2, -4)

            Thus, in the extant text of Acts 18:27-19:6 in P38, there are 90 non-original letters, and 62 original letters are missing, for a total of 152 letters’ worth of corruption.  (It should be emphasized that this only takes the extant text into consideration.)    

            We have a clear winner in Round One, ladies and gentlemen.  Although the seasoned veteran P38 entered the ring with the advantage of not having as much extant text as GA 2401, this advantage was not nearly enough.  The text of GA 2401 is far, far more accurate than the text in P38.      
            These results have some interesting implications regarding the transmission-streams that produced these two manuscripts.  In the transmission-stream of 2401 (prior to its “correction”), it took scribes about a thousand years to introduce 29 letters’ worth of corruption in this passage (and six of those letters constitute trivial orthographic variations).  Meanwhile in Egypt (if P38 was produced in the same vicinity where it was excavated), it took scribes less than 300 years to introduce 152 letters’ worth of corruption in this passage.

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post, especially Joey McCollum.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Mark 16:9-20, Inerrancy, and Liberal Propaganda

            Have you ever been told that textual variants have no impact on Christian doctrine? Of course you have, if you have read text-critical handbooks by evangelical authors. However, some textual variants exist which are capable of having a strong doctrinal impact. For example, consider the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. This doctrine is so cherished by some Christians that Dallas Theological Seminary lists it among seven “essentials” for students
            The adoption of some Alexandrian readings, however, would render the doctrine of inerrancy unsustainable. In Codex Sinaiticus (popularized as “The World’s Oldest Bible”), Matthew 13:35 attributes to Isaiah a passage from Psalm 78 – which was composed by Asaph, not Isaiah. And in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, the text of Matthew 27:49 includes a report that Jesus was pierced with a spear before He died – in direct contradiction to the account in John 19:30-35, which says clearly that Jesus was pierced with a spear after He died. If inerrancy is an important doctrine, then at least two textual variants found in manuscripts that some Bible-footnote writers consider “the most reliable manuscripts” are capable of having an impact on at least one important doctrine.
            Perhaps, in addition to Sinaiticus’ textual variant in Matthew 13:35, and in addition to the variant found in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in Matthew 27:49, the abrupt ending of Mark (a reading unique to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus among all our early Greek manuscripts) should be added to the list of textual variants that can have a doctrinal impact, because some liberal theologians who prefer the abrupt ending – rejecting verses 9-20 as a scribal accretion – tend to use it as a platform for the notion that the accounts about Jesus’ bodily resurrection in the other three Gospels are embellishments that originated with later sources, rather than with eyewitnesses.

            For example, a recent article by Dr. Candida Moss, published at The Daily Beast, describes a book by Dallas Theological Seminary graduate Matthew Larsen, Gospels before the Book, in which the author proposes that the Gospel of Mark “might never have been intended for publication and was more like a rough draft or collection of notes than a book.” The textual contest about the ending of the Gospel of Mark comes into play in Larsen’s theory. Moss writes: “The conclusion to Mark bears the hallmarks of a draft. Historians will tell you that the oldest manuscripts (and, we thus say, the earliest “original” version) of Mark finish at Mark 16:8, with the women who had come to the tomb running away in fear. But there are at least four other endings to the Gospel in the ancient manuscripts, which serve as evidence of early Christian readers’ efforts to revise, polish, and improve the text.”
            This is used as a platform for the idea that accounts about Jesus’ bodily resurrection were later additions to the story of Jesus. Moss continues: “Later texts, including the Gospel of Matthew, added additional resurrection stories and prologues to the text and constantly repurposed this collection of notes.”
            Now, I have no intention of investing time today to review Larsen’s interesting book, or to address the proposal that the Gospel of Mark is a mere collection of notes. I just want to zoom in on what was not said by Moss: she did not mention any of the evidence that is earlier than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Due to this omission, readers who believe Moss are likely to draw two conclusions:
            (A) The earliest evidence supports ending the Gospel of Mark at 16:8,
            (B) There are at least four other endings of Mark in the ancient manuscripts.
Both statements are false. Moss has put two manuscripts from the 300s in the spotlight, while keeping evidence from the 100s in the shadows. As I explain in my book Authentic: The Case for Mark 16:9-20, four patristic writers in the 100s (and more in the 200s, 300s, and 400s) utilized Mark 16:9-20 in one way or another:

Epistula Apostolorum (written c. 150, and reissued c. 180) owes some of its narrative framework and verbiage to Mark 16:9-20. For example, nowhere in the Gospels except in Mark 16:10-11 is there a report of a woman seeing Jesus after His resurrection, and then telling the disciples that Jesus is alive, and not being believed by them. This sequence of events is related, however, in Epistula Apostolorum; the disciples are depicted stating, “We believed her not that the Savior was risen from the dead. Then she returned to the Lord and said to him, ‘None of them has believed me, that you live.’” (For more examples, see my book.)  Specialist Julian Hills (Th.D., Harvard) has stated, “I would vote for a high degree of probability that the author knew the Longer Ending.”

Justin Martyr’s First Apology (written in 160) features the following excerpt in its 45th chapter, as Justin interprets part of Psalm 110 as a prophetic description of Jesus’ ascension to heaven:
            His statement, “He shall send to Thee the rod of power out of Jerusalem,” [i.e., David’s statement in Psalm 110:2] is predictive of the mighty word, which His apostles, going forth from Jerusalem, preached everywhere.”
            (Only rarely in any of his writings did Justin make specific quotations; most of his utilizations of the Gospels are loose and imprecise; it is not unusual to see Justin combine phrases from more than one Gospel when relating episodes in Jesus’ ministry, and this phenomenon has led some researchers to deduce that Justin often relied not upon a copy of the Gospel of Matthew, and a copy of the Gospel of Mark, and a copy of the Gospel of Luke, but upon a Gospels-harmony in which the contents of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were blended together.)
In his statement about Psalm 110:2, Justin utilizes Mark 16:19, using three words which appear together nowhere else in Scripture except in Mark 16:19:
            Justin’s phrase in Greek: εξελθόντες πανταχου εκήρυξαν
            Justin’s phrase in English: went forth everywhere preaching
            Mark 16:20’s phrase in Greek: εξελθόντες εκήρυξαν πανταχου
            Mark 16:20’s phrase in English: went forth preaching everywhere.

Justin may also utilize the contents of Mark 16:9-20 in chapter 50 of his First Apology, where he states, after a lengthy quotation from Isaiah 53, that after Jesus’ crucifixion, “Even those who were acquainted with him all denied and forsook him. But afterward, when he had risen from the dead, and was seen by them, and they were taught to understand the prophecies in which all of this was foretold as about to happen, and when they had seen him depart into heaven, and had believed . . . they went forth to the whole race of mankind.”
            The phrase in bold print is reminiscent of the text of Mark 16:14 as preserved in the early Greek manuscript Codex Alexandrinus, which adds “from the dead” to the words “after He was risen.”

Tatian, in his Diatessaron (produced in the 170s), blended together the contents of the four Gospels. (Tatian was, for a while, a student of Justin, and it is possible that Tatian got the idea to present the contents of all four Gospels into one continuous narrative from Justin’s Gospels-harmony that blended together Matthew, Mark, and Luke.)  The Diatessaron has only survived in versional and fragmentary evidence, but by comparing the different branches of evidence for its contents, the Diatessaron’s treatment of Mark 16:9-20 can be reconstructed: by comparing the arrangement of the contents of Mark 16:9-20 in the Arabic Diatessaron (a translation of an earlier Syriac copy) to the arrangement of the contents of Mark 16:9-20 in Codex Fuldensis (made in 546), we can see that the arrangement in both of these witnesses – one from the Western transmission-branch, and one from the Eastern transmission-branch – is almost exactly the same, implying that both echo the earlier arrangement by Tatian.
            Further evidence of Tatian’s use of Mark 16:9-20 comes from Ephrem Syrus’ commentary on the Diatessaron, upon which some fresh light has been provided by the discovery of Chester Beatty Syriac MS 709, from c. 500: In the eighth segment of his commentary, Ephrem Syrus wrote that Jesus had told His disciples, “Go into all the world and baptize in the name of the Father, and Son, and Spirit.” This is a combination of Mark 16:15a and Matthew 28:19. In the Armenian text of Ephrem’s commentary, Ephrem utilizes Mark 16:15 again later in his commentary, as he describes Jesus saying, “Go out into all the world and preach My gospel to all creation” (Mk. 16:15).

Irenaeus, in Book 3, chapter 10 of Against Heresies (c. 180), specifically quoted Mark 16:19:  “Toward the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God.’”
            Irenaeus’ testimony is not only clear and specific, but it also reflects the view of someonw who was familiar with the Gospels-text used in three locales:   Irenaeus grew up in Asia Minor; he visited Rome, and he served as bishop in what is now southern France.  Irenaeus was not hesitant to point out the existence of textual variants in his discussion of Revelation 13:18 (he refers to copies which read “616” instead of “666,” but rejects them, appealing to the oldest manuscripts, and to those with a known provenance); yet here he mentions no rival variants, as if the only form of the Gospel of Mark that he encountered anywhere was the text with 16:19 present.
            Irenaeus may also allude to Mark 16:15-19 in Book 2, chapter 32 of Against Heresies; although his comments there lack striking verbal parallels, he writes there like a person with that passage on his mind; after mentioning that the risen Lord “manifested himself to his disciples, and was in their sight received up into heaven,” he proceeds to point out that true disciples perform miracles in Jesus’ name, and drive out demons, and foresee future events, and that some “heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole” (see Mark 16:18).

            Yet these four pieces of evidence from the 100s, supportive of the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20 in the text of the Gospel of Mark, seem unworthy of mention in the world of liberal theologians who are intent on obscuring or simply ignoring whatever affirms the bodily resurrection of Christ. So let the reader beware: researchers who mention that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus end the text of Mark at 16:8, without mentioning that second-century patristic testimony supports the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20, are misleading their readers. And the same can be said for vague Bible-footnotes that mention “the oldest manuscripts” while leaving readers in the dark about patristic evidence that is much older than those two fourth-century manuscripts,

(In the interest of brevity, I skip over the testimony of other patristic witnesses as old or older than Codex Sinaiticus such as Hippolytus, Vincent of Thibaris, Hierocles, Acts of Pilate/Gospel of Nicodemus, the pagan writer Hierocles, and the Latin written Fortunatianus.)

            Now about the claim by Moss that “There are at least four other endings of Mark in the ancient manuscripts.”  One can truthfully say that there are two endings that follow Mark 16:8 in the ancient manuscripts, but only writers who want their readers to get a false impression would leave it at that.  More than 99.5% of the Greek manuscripts of Mark include 16:9-20. Besides Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, there is only one other Greek manuscript in which the text stops abruptly at the end of 16:8 – the medieval commentary-manuscript 304, which does not include a subscription to the Gospel of Mark, and which has undergone some damage, and which may be just the first volume of a two-volume set (the second volume of which, per this theory, began with the final comments on Mark before moving on to Luke and John).
            The “Shorter Ending” appears in six Greek manuscripts, all of which also include at least part of 16:9-20 – and various small but cumulatively decisive features in these manuscripts’ presentation of the Shorter Ending show that they all echo the text that circulated in a particular region in Egypt. In other words, while verses 9-20 are attested by early witnesses from Ireland, France, Rome, North Africa, Asia Minor, Constantinople, Cyprus, Israel, Syria, Egypt, Armenia, etc., the Shorter Ending’s early support is traceable to one locale. Nobody imagines that the Shorter Ending is original, and readers may reasonably suspect, as George Salmon did in 1890, that the primary reason why the Shorter Ending is given any prominence is to distract from the wide support given to the usual twelve verses. (For similar reasons, some commentators mention that Clement does not show an awareness of Mark 16:9-20, as if this is some suggestive thing – neglecting to tell their readers that Clement also does not show an awareness of twelve of Mark’s sixteen chapters.)          
More data is in my e-book,
available at Amazon.
          The way to justify claiming that there are “four other endings of Mark” is to call 16:9-20 an ending, and call the Shorter Ending an ending (and so far, all is well) – and to call the inclusion of both the Shorter Ending and 16:9-20 an ending, and to call 16:9-20 with the Freer Logion (an interpolation preserved in Codex W between verses 14 and 15) an ending. But that is a nonsensical way to describe the evidence; to illustrate:
            Suppose I have two dogs – let’s name them Magnus and Parvus – and I have 1,600 pictures of Magnus, and six pictures of Magnus and Parvus together, one blurry picture of Parvus, and a picture of Magnus wearing a hat. If I were to tell you that this means that I have four dogs, or a multitude of dogs, you might tell me that I am misrepresenting the evidence, and that I need to sober up. And when any writer claims that there are “at least four other endings of Mark,” (or, as Larsen says in his book, that there were “a multitude of options” regarding how to conclude the Gospel of Mark), that should be the gist of readers’ responses. Whenever such misleading language is used, you may confidently conclude that you are reading propaganda, and not honest research.

Readers are invited to explore the embedded links for addition resources.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Cherry-picking in Edinburgh

            Have you ever been misled by “cherry-picking”?   I bought a new car last week! – a new Hot Wheels car.  I won half a million dollars yesterday! – in a game of Monopoly.  Details matter, and the omission of important details can result in the spread of false impressions.
            Teachers and commentators who describe evidence very selectively risk giving false impressions to their students and readers.  This is unfortunately a frequent phenomenon when it comes to the way the evidence pertaining to John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20 is described,   The result:  students leave the classroom, or readers leave the commentary, with a thoroughly distorted picture of the evidence.  It’s not that anyone has lied to them.  They simply have not been told the whole story.  Consider an example:  the recent descriptions of evidence pertaining to those two passages made by Dr. Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh.  Dr, Hurtado is a distinguished professor with impressive credentials; surely he can be trusted to describe text-critical evidence objectively and accurately and with only the mildest of bias, right?  Well let’s see: 

            In a recent blog-post titled More on Rethinking the Textual Transmission of the Gospels, Dr. Hurtado claimed that John 7:53-8:11 “first appears in the extant manuscripts in the fifth century.”  Technically, it is true that we have no manuscripts made before the 400s in which the passage appears,  just as it is technically true that I recently bought a new car and won half a million dollars.  But the impression that that statement gives – that the passage did not began to occupy that location in the Gospels until the 400s – is false. 
            The risk of conveying such a false impression could have been avoided if Dr. Hurtado had shared just one more bit of evidence:  Jerome’s testimony that he had found the story of the adulteress in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin.  Or, if Jerome is too obscure an author to be considered worth mentioning, perhaps the testimony of Ambrose would have been sufficient.  
            A writer resorting to less cherry-picking might inform readers and students about the different types of early Latin breves, or chapter-summaries, which refer to the story about the adulteress in its usual place in the Gospel of John – including Type I (generally regarded as contemporary with Ambrose, and with Zeno of Verona) and Type Cy; the “Cy” stands for Cyprian, the prominent author and bishop in the 200s; this form of the breves has been assigned to the time of Cyprian or slightly later.  If the composition-dates that have been given to these chapter-summaries are correct, then their testimony implies that the pericope adulterae was in Latin copies of the Gospel of John in the 200s.   
            When these pieces of evidence are added to the equation, though, there is a cost:  the narrative in which John 7:53-8:11 doesn’t show up until the fifth century crumbles to pieces.  A wider, fuller view of the evidence does not support Dr. Hurtado’s contention that this passage became part of the text of the Gospel of John “not in some early “wild” period, but later, in the period of supposed textual stability.”           
            More cherry-picking is in Dr. Hurtado’s description of evidence pertaining to Mark 16:9-20.  “The first Greek manuscripts that allow us to check the matter are Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, which don’t have these verses.”  That is technically true, but why has Dr. Hurtado mentioned these two manscripts from the fourth century without mentioning the much earlier testimony of Tatian and Irenaeus?  Tatian incorporated the passage into his Diatessaron in the 170s, and Irenaeus specifically quoted Mark 16:19 from the Gospel of Mark, in Against Heresies Book 3, chapter 10, around the year 180.  Here we have two pieces of evidence, both well over a century older than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.  Why are they hidden from view?  Some of Dr. Hurtado’s readers might imagine that the testimony of Tatian and Irenaeus has been avoided because if their testimony were given a spotlight, it would be extremely difficult to convince anyone that the picture that Dr. Hurtado has painted of the history of Mark 16:9-20 can be plausibly maintained. 
Codex Vaticanus, with Mark 16:9-20
added in the space that appears
in the manuscript after 16:8
            And why did Dr. Hurtado mention Vaticanus without also mentioning its special blank space after Mark 16:8?  Why did Dr. Hurtado mention Sinaiticus without mentioning that the last part of Mark and the first part of Luke occupy a cancel-sheet – that is, four replacement-pages, on which the lettering has unusual features that indicate the copyist’s awareness of the absent verses?  Again, students and readers might be forgiven for imagining that such information has not been shared because it makes Dr. Hurtado’s theory appear contrived.
            Finally, why did Dr. Hurtado describe Mark 16:9-20 as part of “the Medieval text of Mark,” instead of “The Second-Century Text of Mark,” in light of the testimony of Tatian and Irenaeus?  (And the testimony of Apostolic Constitutions and Ambrose and Augustine and Macarius Magnes and Marcus Eremita and some others who wrote in the time of the Roman Empire).  How is that not just spinSpin is exactly what it is.  
            Dr. Hurtado stated, “To find the variant in the manuscript tradition we have to go to later, to the fifth/sixth century, in Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Bezae, and others.”  (As if the presence of Mark 16:9-20 in Codices A, D, W, the Vulgate, and the Peshitta does not imply a much earlier ancestry.)  But we have more evidence besides just manuscripts; why would anyone put on blinders by ignoring the widespread patristic evidence that demonstrates that Mark 16:9-20 was in widespread use in the early centuries of Christianity?  Why point out the testimony from Sinaiticus (c. 350) without mentioning the testimony of Aphrahat (337)?  It might seem to some readers and students that a lot of evidence that is inconvenient for their professor’s proposal has not been presented – at least, it would seem so, if somehow they were to learn about that evidence’s existence.

            A third variant was mentioned by Dr. Hurtado, and I will mention it just for the sake of thoroughness.  The scenarios involving John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20 are nothing like the scenario involving Dr. Hurtado’s third variant, the Comma Johanneum.  Its adoption in the Textus Receptus was the result of Erasmus’ statement (after he had compiled the Greek text without the Comma) that if he had possessed a Greek manuscript with the passage, he would have included it), plus two other things:  Erasmus’ desire to make another edition, and the premiere of Codex Montfortianus.  This is no more like the situation regarding Mark 16:9-20 – a passage with second-century patristic support, and which is included in over 99% of the Greek manuscript of Mark – than Barney Fife is like the Incredible Hulk.    
            If you want to be taught about the transmission of the early New Testament text in a way that treats the evidence fairly, without having your professor mold the evidence, and pick and choose which evidence gets a megaphone, and which evidence is silenced – my impression is that you won’t find what you’re looking for at the University of Edinburgh.  Asbury Theological Seminary isn’t a good option either.
            One more thing:  Dr. Hurtado recommended Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary to those who want more information about the variants he mentioned.  Let it be noted that Metzger’s Textual Commentary contains misleading statements about Mark 16:9-20.  Also, dislocations of John 7:53-8:11 occurred due to the influence of lection-cycles, not (contra Metzger, Wallace, White, et al) due to the untenable idea that the pericope adulterae was a “floating” text (a theory which has been tested, and dismantled).
                     One more one more thing:  from now till Christmas, upon the request of any student at the University of Edinburgh and Asbury Theological Seminary, I will gladly send a digital copy of my research-books, Authentic:  The Case for Mark 16:9-20, and A Fresh Analysis of John 7:53-8:11, free of charge. 

Readers are invited to explore the embedded links in this post for additional resources.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Hand to Hand Combat: B, Aleph, and 1295 in Luke 2:1-12

            How much more reliable are ancient manuscripts than medieval manuscripts?  Today, as the Christmas season approaches, we will look into that question by comparing Luke 2:1-12 – a passage about the birth of Christ – in the forms in which it appears in Codex Vaticanus (early 300s), Codex Sinaiticus (mid-300s), and minuscule 1295 (800s).   
            Minuscule 1295 is a Gospels-manuscript housed at the National Library of France, accessible online as Supplement grec 1257.  Let’s compare its text of Luke 2:1-12 to the same passage in the Nestle-Aland compilation (27th ed.).  (The usual ground-rules for hand-to-hand combat are in play:  contractions of sacred named don’t count as variants; transpositions are noticed but not counted (unless a change to the text other than transposition occurs); kai-abbreviations and similar features are not counted as variants; bracketed word in the NA text are considered to be part of the text.  Calculations are made for all variations, and for non-trivial variations.)       

Minuscule 1295 Compared to NA27

1 – no variations
2 – 1295 reads η after αυτη (+1, -0)
3 – 1295 reads ιδιαν instead of εαυτου (+5, -6)
4 – 1295 reads Ναζαρετ instead of Ναζαρεθ (+1, -1) 
4 – 1295 reads πολην instead of πολιν (+1, -1)
5 – 1295 reads μεμνηστευμένη instead of εμνηστευμένη (+1, -0)
5 – 1295 reads γυναικι after αυτω (+7, -0)
6 – 1295 reads επλισθησαν instead of επλησθησαν (+1, -1)
7 – 1295 reads ανεκληνεν instead of ανεκλινεν (+1, -1) 
7 – 1295 reads τη before φάτνη (+2, -0)
8 – no variations
9 – 1295 reads ιδου before αγγελος (+4, -0)
10 – no variations
11 – 1295 reads εστι instead of εστιν (+0, -1)
12 – 1295 does not have και before κειμενον (+0, -3)      

This yields the following raw totals:  24 non-original letters are present and 14 original letters are absent, yielding a total of 38 letters’ worth of deviation from NA. 

When trivial variations are removed from the equation, six variants remain:
            2 – 1295 reads η after αυτη (+1, -0)
            3 – 1295 reads ιδιαν instead of εαυτου (+5, -6)
            5 – 1295 reads γυναικι after αυτω (+7, -0)
            7 – 1295 reads τη before φάτνη (+2, -0)
            9 – 1295 reads ιδου before αγγελος (+4, -0)
12 – 1295 does not have και before κειμενον (+0, -3)          

Thus, if trivial variations are set aside, 1295’s text of Luke 2:1-12 contains 19 non-original letters, and is missing 9 original letters, for a total of 28 letters’ worth of corruption.

Now let’s see how Codex Vaticanus did:

Vaticanus Compared to NA27

1 – B reads εξελθε instead of εξελθεν (+0, -1)
2 – B reads Κυρεινου instead of Κυρηνιου (+2, -2)
3 – no variations
4 – B reads Γαλειλαιας (+1, -0)
[4 – B reads Δαυειδ, twice, but this is not reckoned in the calculations because the word is normally contracted.]
5 – B reads εγγυω instead of εγκυω (+1, -1)
6 – no variations
7 – B reads ετεκε instead of ετεκεν (+0, -1)
7 – B reads ανεκλεινεν instead of ανεκλινεν (+1, -0)
8 – no variations
9 – B reads σφοδρα instead of φοβον μέγαν (+6, -10)
10 – no variations
[11 – B reads Δαυειδ, but this is not reckoned in the calculations because the word is normally contracted.]
12 – B does not have το before σημειον (+0, -2)

This yields the following raw totals:  11 non-original letters are present, and 17 original letters are absent, yielding a total of 28 letters’ worth of deviation from NA.  

When itacisms and similar minor orthographic variants are removed from consideration, only two variants remain:
            9 – B reads σφοδρα instead of φοβον μέγαν (+6, -10)
            12 – B does not have το before σημειον (+0, -2).

Thus, when trivial variations are set aside, Vaticanus’ text of Luke 2:1-12 has 6 non-original letters, and is missing 12 original letters, for a total of 18 letters’ worth of corruption. 

And now for the examination of the text of Codex Sinaiticus in Luke 2:1-12:

Sinaiticus Compared to NA27

1 – À reads εκιναις instead of εκειναις (+0, -1)
1 - À reads Αγουστου instead of Αυγουστου (+0, -1)
1 - À reads απογραφεσθε instead of απογραφεσθαι (+1, -2)
2 – À reads αυτην instead of αυτη (+1, -0)
2 - À reads απογραφην instead of απογραφη (+1, -0)
2 - À transposes so as to read εγενετο πρωτη
3 – À does not have παντες (+0, -5+)
3 - À transposes so as to read εκαστος απογραφεσθε (+1, -2)
3 - À reads εαυτων instead of εαυτου (+2, -2)
4 – À reads την before πολιν (+3, -0) 
5 – À reads απογραφεσθαι instead of απογραψασθαι (+2, -2)
6 – À reads τεκιν instead of τεκειν (+0, -1)
7 – À reads επι instead of εν (+2, -1)
8 – À reads ποιμαινες instead of ποιμενες (+2, -1)
[9 – À reads Θυ instead of Κυ, but the correction may have been made while the codex was still in production.]
9 - À reads επελαμψεν instead of περιελαμψεν (+2, -4)
10 – À reads αυτοις instead of αυτους (+1, -1)
10 – À reads φοβισθε instead of φοβεισθε (+0, -1)
11 – À reads εστιν instead of εσται (+2, -2)
11 - À reads πολι instead of πολει (+0, -1)
12 – À reads ημιν instead of υμιν (+1, -1)
12 – À reads σημιον instead of σημειον (+0, -1)
12 – À reads ευρησεται instead of ευρησετε (+2, -1)
12 – À reads εσσπαργανωμενον instead of εσπαργανωμενον (+1, -0)
12 – À does not include και κειμενον (+0, -11)
12 – À reads επι instead of εν (+2, -1)

This yields the following raw totals:  25 non-original letters are present, and 42 original letters are absent, yielding a total of 67 letters’ worth of deviation from NA.

When itacisms, transpositions, and minor orthographic variants are removed from consideration, eleven variant-readings remain:
            ● 2 – À reads αυτην instead of αυτη (+1, -0)
            ● 3 – À does not have παντες (+0, -5)
            ● 3 - À reads εαυτων instead of εαυτου (+2, -2)
            ● 4 – À reads την before πολιν (+3, -0) 
            ● 7 – À reads επι instead of εν (+2, -1)
            ● 9 - À reads επελαμψεν instead of περιελαμψεν (+2, -4)
            ● 10 – À reads αυτοις instead of αυτους (+1, -1)
            ● 11 – À reads εστιν instead of εσται (+2, -2)
            ● 12 – À reads ημιν instead of υμιν (+1, -1)
            ● 12 – À does not include και κειμενον (+0, -11)
            ● 12 – À reads επι instead of εν (+2, -1)

Thus, when trivial variations are eliminated, Sinaiticus’ text of Luke 2:1-12 has 16 non-original letters, and is missing 28 original letters, for a total of 44 letters’ worth of corruption. 

And now, let’s go to the podium!

Vaticanus took the gold in this contest – which is not surprising, considering how highly it was esteemed when the Westcott-Hort compilation of 1881 – the grandmother of the modern Nestle-Aland compilation – was assembled.  Vaticanus’ text has 28 letters’ worth of deviations from NA, and the only significant variants – in v. 9 and v. 12 – constitute only 18 letters’ worth of corruption.

1295 goes home with the silver:  its text of Luke 2:1-12 has 38 letters’ worth of deviations from NA, and its six non-trivial variants constitute 28 letters’ worth of corruption (four added words, one word-substitution, and one omitted word). 

Sinaiticus takes the bronze:  À has 67 letters’ worth of deviation from NA in the text of Luke 2:1-12; its eleven significant variants constitute 44 letters’ worth of corruption.  This does not say much for the reliability of the copyists who worked in Sinaiticus’ transmission-stream:  compared to the copyists in 1295’s transmission-stream, the copyists in Sinaiticus’ transmission-stream managed to produce a text of Luke 2:1-12 that had almost twice as much corruption, in less than half the time.  We may safely conclude – if the Nestle-Aland compilation is considered a very close approximation of the original text – that the age of a manuscript is no guarantee of accuracy, at least as far as this passage is concerned.


Post-script:  A Brief Textual Commentary on Luke 2:1-12
Luke 2:1-12 - the text of the
Complutensian Polyglot (1514)
with a few alterations.

1295’s text of Luke 2:1-12 differs from the passage in the Byzantine Textform only in regard to itacisms and the spelling of the word “Nazareth.”  We have used the Nestle-Aland compilation in the preceding comparison, for the sake of convenience – but its accuracy is not granted automatically.  Let’s briefly investigate the six significant differences in Luke 2:1-12 between 1295 and Vaticanus – which happen to also be the six significant differences between the Byzantine Textform and the Nestle-Aland compilation in this passage. 

● Luke 2:2 –η should be read after αυτη.  The reading in the Alexandrian Text is a simple case of haplography.

● Luke 2:3 – Between ιδιαν πολιν and εαυτου πολιν, the former has a parallel, though distant, in Matthew 9:1; no evident impetus exists to change from ιδιαν to εαυτου.         

● Luke 2:5 – The inclusion of γυναικι has a clarifying effect.  The Peshitta does not support the inclusion of this word.    

● Luke 2:7 – The word τη before φάτνη was removed because some early scribes considered it question-raising, inasmuch as Luke’s narrative has not mentioned a stable or animals; nor is a reason given to expect just one manger to be in the place where Mary gave birth.  Observe how the KJV and NKJV do not translate the word, although the Textus Receptus includes it.  

● Luke 2:9 – The recurrence of the word ιδου (here, and in 2:10) seemed too repetitive to an early copyist.  There is no impetus to add the word, especially so close to its appearance in 2:10.  Inclusion is supported not only by A D K Δ but also by the Old Latin, Vulgate, and Peshitta. 

● Luke 2:12 – Byz, A, K, et al do not have και before κειμενον.  The word is a natural expansion in the Alexandrian text.   

(A text identical to the Byzantine Textform, except for the readings recommended in verses 2, 3, and 5, would be closer to the Nestle-Aland compilation than the text in any of the three manuscripts considered today.)

Readers are invited to check the data in this post, and to explore the embedded links to additional resources.