Wednesday, January 18, 2017

John 7:53-8:11: Why It Was Moved – Part 1

          John 7:53-8:11 (a passage known as the pericope adulterae – the section about the adulteress) is in 1,495 Greek manuscripts, in whole or in part.  The inclusion of the passage is also supported by 495 lectionaries (books containing Scripture-selections for annual worship services).  In 1982 when the New King James Version was made, its footnote about these 12 verses stated, “They are present in over 900 manuscripts.”  One would think that the footnote-writers would have written “over 1,400 manuscripts” or “almost 1,500 manuscripts” if they had been fully informed about the evidence.  That suggests that even scholars in the upper echelons of academia do not possess adequate information about the pericope adulterae
          As I write this, the Holman Christian Standard Bible is in the final stages of a revision; it is about to be re-issued, with many textual changes, as the Christian Standard Bible.  A new footnote about John 7:53-8:11 in the CSB says, “Other mss include all or some of the passage after Jn 7:36,44,52; 21:25; or Lk 21:38.” 
          When I read that, it provoked a question in my mind:  How did the footnote-writers keep Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary opened to page 221 as they wrote?  The reason why I wonder is that Metzger wrote, “Most copyists apparently thought that it would interrupt John’s narrative least if it were inserted after 7:52 (D E (F) G H K M U Γ Π 28 700 892 al).  Others placed it after 7.36 (ms. 225) or after 7.44 (several Georgian mss.) or after 21.25 (1 565 1076 1570 1582 armmss) or after Lk 21.38 (f13).” 
          But for most readers, such a footnote elicits a different question:  “Why was this passage moved around?”
          A popular answer among commentators goes something like this:  John 7:53-8:11 was originally not part of the Gospel of John.  It was a brief composition – probably recording an authentic historical event, but not one that John included in his Gospel-account – that was a “floating anecdote,” and it was so popular that copyists eventually inserted it into the Gospel of John, or into the Gospel of Luke.  Sometimes – the theory goes – the copyists inserted it at one place, and sometimes the copyists inserted it in a different place.  The appearance of the passage in several locations – it is said – is proof that it is an addition to the text.
            That is precisely the sort of conclusion, for instance, that James White wants his listeners and readers to arrive at:  “Such moving about by a body of text is plain evidence of its later origin and the attempt on the part of scribes to find a place where it “fits.””  D. A. Carson, likewise:  “The diversity of placement confirms the inauthenticity of the verses.”  Daniel Wallace has written, “The pericope adulterae has all the earmarks of a pericope that was looking for a home,” and recently proposed that because it is a “floating” text it is probably inauthentic.  Such claims are descended from Metzger’s confidently worded claim in his obsolete handbook, The Text of the New Testament:  “The pericope is obviously a piece of floating tradition which circulated in certain parts of the Western Church.  It was subsequently inserted into various manuscripts at various places.”  (Metzger never explained why this supposedly freestanding account begins with the words, “And everyone went to his own house.”)    
MS 2404 (The Barnabas Gospels) -
At the beginning of John 7:37,
the red lectionary-notes convey that this
is where the lection for the Sunday
after Pentecost begins.  (The section-number
is also written in the margin.)
            However, that is far from the truth.  Chris Keith’s insightful 2009 essay The Initial Location of the Pericope Adulterae in Fourfold Tradition describes some of the evidence for the following points which other researchers have deduced: 
            ● The pericope adulterae’s position between John 7:52 and 8:12 was well-established when the Old Latin version spread throughout Western Christendom.
            ● The transplantation of the passage to other locations was a secondary development, and
            ● The movement of the passage to other locations was mainly an effect of how it was treated in lection-cycles and in lectionaries.    

            The CSB’s footnote unfortunately does not share the answer to the questions which it seems designed to elicit:  why is the pericope adulterae found in some manuscripts after John 7:36?  Why is it found in some witnesses after John 7:44?  Why is it found in some manuscripts after John 21:25?  And why is it found in some manuscripts after Luke 21:38? 
MS 2404 - After John 7:52 is the red "Skip forward"
symbol.  In the lower margin the chapter-title is written,
"About the Adulteress."  Four dots beside John 8:4
signify the beginning of the chapter.
           Today I will only answer one of those questions:  why was the pericope adulterae moved to a position between John 7:36 and 7:37 in some manuscripts?
            (First, let’s clear up the vagueness which is characteristic of every textual footnote in the CSB New Testament.  The number of known Greek manuscripts in which the pericope adulterae is found between John 7:36 and 7:37 is exactly two.)
            Readers who take the time to familiarize themselves with how the Byzantine lectionary arranged the text that was to be read annually on Pentecost will be well on their way to answering that question.  The Pentecost-lection consisted of John 7:37-52 combined with John 8:12.  Numerous medieval manuscripts of the Gospels were prepared to be read in churches, and in their margins are the names of various lections, and the assigned days on which they were to be read.  Typically, within the text itself, or in the adjacent margins, symbols represent the words αρχη and τελος, that is, “begin” and “stop,” signifying where the lector was to start reading the day’s lection, and where the lection stopped.  Sometimes a lection was not one continuous block of text; in that case, the symbols for υπερβαλε and αρξου were also added – the equivalent of “skip forward” and “resume here.” 
          As a lector read the Pentecost-lection from a manuscript of the Gospels, when he came to the end of John 7:52, he needed to jump ahead to 8:12 in order to finish the lection.  As a practical means of simplifying the lector’s task, two copyists moved John 7:53-8:11 backward in the text, so that it would precede the Pentecost-lection.  That is why, in minuscules 225 and 1128, we find these 12 verses between John 7:36 and 7:37, that is, immediately before the beginning of the Pentecost lection.  The text in these two manuscripts was adjusted to make the lector’s job on Pentecost a little easier, by turning the Pentecost-lection into one uninterrupted block of text.  
MS 2404 - After John 8:11, the red lectionary notes
convey that the lector should resume reading here
on Pentecost.  (The section-number is also
written in the left margin.)
          In minuscule 225, John 13:3-17 – the lection for the Foot-washing in Holy-Week – also receives special treatment:  besides appearing in its usual place in John, it pops up in the text of Matthew 26, and the reason is obvious:  to make things easier for the lector on Maundy Thursday, when Matthew 26:1-20 was followed in the liturgy by John 13:3-17.  We do not therefore question the authenticity of John 13:3-17 or suggest that it was a “floating tradition.”  Nor should we infer, from the presence of John 7:53-8:11 before the beginning of John 7:37 (where the Pentecost-lection begins) in two medieval manuscripts that this remotely suggests that the passage is inauthentic.
          I will continue to explain why copyists moved the pericope adulterae in Part 2.

Monday, January 16, 2017

"Some Manuscripts Say . . ." - The Problem with Footnotes

          Why are the footnotes in most English translations of the New Testament so unhelpfully vague?  “Some manuscripts say this.”  “Other manuscripts say that.”  While some readers may appreciate being notified about the presence of textual variants, the immediate effect of such vague footnotes is to render the passage doctrinally useless, unless both variants mean the same thing.  Furthermore, the use of “some” and “other” to describe manuscript evidence can be highly misleading. 
          Let me show you what I mean by sharing some details about textual variants in four passages from the Gospel of Matthew, and how they are treated in the ESV (English Standard Version) and in the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible).  (Bear in mind that the HCSB is about to be re-issued in a revised form as the Christian Standard Bible, and there is no guarantee that their footnotes will be identical.  The ESV can also change from one edition to another.)  I will first present each passage as it is translated in the New King James Version, just to provide a frame of reference.    

● MATTHEW 12:47
NKJV:  Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” 
ESV:  Matthew 12:47 is not included in the ESV.  A footnote states, “Some manuscripts insert verse 47:  “Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you.”
HCSB:  And someone told Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.”  A footnote says, “12:47 Other mss omit this verse.”

            What has happened is that in an ancestor-manuscript of the three primary Alexandrian manuscripts of this passage – Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Codex L (019) – a copyist accidentally skipped from the word λαλησαι at the end of verse 46 to the same word at the end of verse 47, thus losing all the words in between.  The mistake was a relatively early one – impacting not only the Alexandrian Text’s leading witnesses but also an early form of the Syriac text.  However, not only does the longer reading account for the shorter reading in this case, but the external support for the inclusion of the verse is massive and ancient.  It includes almost all Greek manuscripts (not some bare majority, but over 99%, including Codices D and W) and a strong array of Old Latin copies, the Vulgate, and the Peshitta.  In addition, a comparison of two Middle Egyptian evidence may confirm the passage’s vulnerability to accidental loss:  Mae-2 (Schoyen Codex 2650) does not have the verse, but Mae-1 (the Scheide Codex, from c. 400 or slight later) has the verse.  
            Some additional details are worth noting.  In Codex D and some other manuscripts (including L and Θ), the order of the last two words in verse 46 is reversed; this may echo an early copyist’s practical attempt to decrease the perceived risk of losing verse 47 via parablepsis.  In Codex Sinaiticus, the copyist did not only skip all of verse 47 but also the last portion of verse 46, losing the words ζητουντες αυτω λαλησαι (“seeking to speak with Him”).   This level of sloppiness should be a concern.
            Footnotes which do not convey the limited range of the non-inclusion of Matthew 12:47, and which fail to convey the mechanism which accounts for the accidental loss of the verse, are worse than no footnote at all.  It would be better for the compilers of the ESV’s base-text of to acknowledge that their favored manuscripts are defective at this point (as Michael Holmes has done in the SBL-GNT).    

● MATTHEW 13:35a
NKJV:  “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,”  
ESV:  “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:” –
A footnote states:  “Some manuscripts Isaiah the prophet
HCSB:  “so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:”  (no footnote).  

            In New Testament passages that quote from the Old Testament without naming the specific reference, some copyists were tempted to embellish the text.  We can observe this, for example, in Codex Bezae (D) in Matthew 1:22; the name “Isaiah” is inserted into the text.  We see the same tendency in modern paraphrases; in Eugene Peterson’s The Message, for example, when a New Testament author quotes from the Old Testament, The Message often inserts the name of the Old Testament book, whether it is specified in the Greek text or not. 
            Occasionally, reckless copyists who made such embellishments assigned quotations to the wrong source.  In Codex Sinaiticus, for example, in the margin alongside Matthew 2:5-6, the name “Isaiah” appears in a vertically-written note to identify the prophet whose work is quoted in the text.  The prophet being quoted, however, is Micah, not Isaiah.  A little further along in Codex Sinaiticus, the name “Numbers” appears in a vertically-written note alongside Matthew 2:15, even though the text cited in Matthew 2:15 is Hosea 11:1.       
          The same thing has happened in Codex Sinaiticus in Matthew 13:35, except the embellishment has been inserted directly into the text; Codex Sinaiticus is one of the few manuscripts that reads “Isaiah the prophet” in Matthew 13:35.  This reading was known in the late 300’s by Jerome, who expressed a belief that the passage had previously referred to “Asaph the prophet” and that copyists who did not recognize Asaph’s name changed it to “Isaiah.” 
            The external evidence for the non-inclusion of Isaiah’s name in Matthew 13:35 is enormous and wide-ranging:  it is supported by B, D, W, and by every branch of the Byzantine Text, and by all known Syriac, Latin, Sahidic, and Armenian copies.             
            The attribution of the quotation to Isaiah is an error, and to some textual critics, this makes it likely to be original, on the grounds that it is thus the more difficult reading.  Hort, in 1881, demonstrated his non-belief in inerrancy in his Notes on Select Readings, stating, “It is difficult not to think Ἠσαίου [Isaiah] genuine.”  Eberhard Nestle (the originator of the Nestle-Aland compilation) embraced the erroneous reading in his 1901 Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the Greek New TestamentOn page 251, after acknowledging that this reading was only attested by a smattering of extant manuscripts, but was also mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome (both of whose explicitly rejected it), Nestle wrote, “It was used still earlier by Porphyrius as a proof of Matthew’s ignorance.  It is certainly, therefore, genuine.” 
            Nestle seems to have put a high degree of confidence in the ability of Porphyry to resist the temptation to use scribal mistakes as ammunition for his jibes, and a low degree of confidence in the ability of Christian copyists to simply reproduce the contents of their exemplars.  He does not explain why the same scribes who allowed Jeremiah’s name to stand in Matthew 27:9 (where some initial puzzlement is natural, considering Matthew 27:9-10 is mostly based on Zechariah 11:12-13) found it intolerable to read Isaiah’s name in Matthew 13:35.  The explanation of the evidence is not complex:  the name “Isaiah” crept into the transmission-stream as an early copyist’s erroneous attempt to specify which prophet was being cited – and, when this embellishment was recognized as what it was, it was duly resisted and jettisoned.        
            Footnotes which merely say that “Some manuscripts” have Isaiah’s name in Matthew 13:35 mislead the typical reader twice.  First, the term “some” does not convey that the number of manuscripts which have Isaiah’s name in this verse is very small.  Second, such a footnote fails to inform the reader about the scribal tendency to embellish non-specific references, and to provide names for prophets and other individuals whose names are not supplied in their exemplars.  (Even Papyrus 75, for example, has an embellishment in Luke 16:19, where a name is given to the rich man).  With these two factors in view, the reader is equipped to evaluate the evidence; without them, the sketchy footnotes only succeed in puzzling the reader.

● MATTHEW 14:30a
NKJV:  “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous”
ESV:  “But when he saw the wind” with a footnote:  “Some manuscripts strong wind.”
HCSB:  “But when he saw the strength of the wind” with a footnote: “Other mss read the wind

            Here the editors of the ESV and the editors of the HCSB disagreed about which reading belongs in the text.  The phrase that is found in almost all Greek manuscripts is βλέπων δε τον ανεμον ισχυρον, but the ESV is based on the text of Codices B, À, and 33, which do not have the word ισχυρον.  The Middle Egyptian Schøyen Codex also supports non-inclusion of this word.  The shorter reading is efficiently explained by the longer reading:  a copyist whose work influenced the exemplars of the Alexandrian Text’s flagship manuscripts carelessly skipped from the letters -ον at the end of ανεμον to the same letters at the end of ισχυρον, accidentally losing the letters in between and thus losing the word ισχυρον. 
            Footnotes which give readers no clue about how the omission originated are not just unhelpful; they raise doubts about the stability of the text even in cases where a little information about word-endings has a strong clarifying effect.  Of course if a translation (in this case, the ESV) has adopted the incomplete text, those who want to maintain its credibility might want to avoid mentioning such inconvenient details. 

● MATTHEW 17:21
NKJV:  “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
ESV:  Matthew 17:21 is not included in the ESV.  A footnote states:  “Some manuscripts insert verse 21:  But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.
HCSB:  Matthew 17:21 is included in the text, within brackets:  “[21However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.]”

            Out of about 1,700 Greek manuscripts of Matthew 17, almost all of them include verse 21, including the uncial codices D, L, Σ, and W, which represent different transmission-branches or locales.  The verse is also included in most Old Latin copies, and in the Vulgate.  The ESV, however, is based on the Nestle-Aland compilation, which does not include this verse because this verse is not included in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and a few other witnesses representative of the Alexandrian Text; nor is this verse supported by two representatives of an early Syriac version of the Gospels. 
            Earlier than any of those witnesses, however, were the manuscripts used by Origen in the early 200’s – and Origen quoted this verse in his Commentary on Matthew, in Book 13, chapter 7.  In the mid-300’s, Basil of Caesarea also quoted this verse.  Ambrose of Milan used it, slightly later, in his Epistle 65, part 15.  So did John Chrysostom, in his Homily 57 on Matthew, and Hilary of Poitiers.  It is also included in the Peshitta (with fasting mentioned before prayer).
            Bruce Metzger – one of the compilers of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament – wrote in his influential Textual Commentary that “There is no good reason why the passage, if originally present in Matthew, should have been omitted.”  I must suspect that the UBS committee’s search for a reason for excision was awfully brief, because it is not difficult to perceive that a Christian copyist could easily be alarmed by the thought that readers might conclude that the eternal Son of God needed to fast in order to control fallen angels.  (The same consideration motivated the excision of the words “and fasting” from Mark 9:29 in the Alexandrian Text; the presence of the words in Mark are confirmed, however, not only by almost all manuscripts, but also by Papyrus 45.) 
            In this case, referring to “Some manuscripts” and “Other manuscripts” obscures rather than illuminates the real state of the evidence, in which over 99% of the manuscripts favor the inclusion of the verse, and in which it is cited by patristic sources going back to the early 200’s.  Such vague footnotes do more harm than good.  They provide only an illusion of informing the reader, while failing to share information about meaningful aspects of the relevant evidence, such as the scope and antiquity of the evidence.

            The misleading vagueness in the footnotes for these four passages is typical of the textual footnotes that occur throughout the ESV.  The term “some” is used to describe about a dozen manuscripts, and it is also used to refer to over 1,600 manuscripts.  There is no way to tell from the footnotes what kind of evidence is meant by “some” manuscripts.  No attempt is made to explain to the reader how the reading in the footnote originated.  That is remarkably unhelpful.            
            If the editors of modern English translations wish to turn the margins of our Bibles into a collection of trivia about the mistakes made by ancient copyists, we should at least insist that they present the evidence fairly, instead of inviting readers to look at the manuscript-evidence through lenses that are foggy, distorted, and broken.         

            Textual footnotes should be helpful, concise, and focused.  When early patristic evidence is relevant, it should be mentioned.  (For instance, it is certainly deceptive to tell readers that “The earliest manuscripts” do not include Mark 16:9-20 without mentioning that Irenaeus quoted Mark 16:19 around 180, over a century before the two Greek uncials that omit verses 9-20 were made.)  When a textual variant is supported by fewer than ten Greek manuscripts, or when a variant’s support is almost exclusively from one transmission-branch, the scope of the evidence should be pointed out.  Exactly how to do this, while maintaining conciseness, is a challenge, but it will be far better to undertake that challenge than to continue to distract and puzzle Bible-readers with misleading footnotes.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. 

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) is © Copyright 2000 Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee.

The New King James Version (NKJV) is Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Nestle-Aland 28: Much Ado About Even Less

          In the previous post, I concluded that although it has been claimed that the new edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation of the Greek text of the New Testament reflects the editors’ acknowledgement of “much greater value of the Byzantine manuscripts” than before, such a thing is practically indiscernible in the compilation in James, First Peter, and Second Peter – the first three books of the General Epistles, which is the only part of the New Testament in which NA28 introduces text-critically derived alterations to the text.  Previous, NA27 and the Byzantine Text disagreed in those three books 187 times; now NA28 and the Byzantine Text disagree 181 times.  That’s not much of a shift.
          But what about the Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude?  Does the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation have more agreements with the Byzantine Text in those four books?  Let’s find out, investigating all of the textual changes from NA26 (1979) to NA28 (2013) in First John, Second John, Third John, and Jude.  Red text signifies that NA28 rejects a Byzantine reading that was in NA26 and NA27.  A dot accompanies each adoption of a Byzantine reading.


1:7:  δε is not included after εαν near the beginning of the verse, agreeing with 1739 but disagreeing with the Byzantine Text.
3:7:  Παιδια instead of Τεκνία at the beginning of the verse, agreeing with A and 1739 but disagreeing with the Byzantine Text.
● 5:10:  αυτω instead of εαυτω, agreeing with B, A, and the Byzantine Text.  Here NA28 reverts to the reading that was in NA25.
● 5:18:  εαυτον instead of αυτον, agreeing with À, 1739, and the Byzantine Text.


● v. 5:  γράφων σοι καινην instead of καινην γράφων σοι, agreeing with B and the Byzantine Text, but disagreeing with a wide array of witnesses including À A 1505 and 1739.  Here NA28 reverts to the reading that was in NA25. 
● v. 12:  ᾐ πεπληρωμένη after υμων, instead of πεπληρωμένη ᾐ, agreeing with the Byzantine Text.


● v. 4:  τη is not included before ἀληθεία, agreeing with À, 1739, and the Byzantine Text.


v. 5:  ἅπαξ has been moved; ἅπαξ πάντα appears between υμας and οτι (NA27 read  πάντα οτι after υμας.  The new reading disagrees with the Byzantine Text, in which υμας is followed by ἅπαξ τουτο οτι.
v. 5:  Ιησους instead of [ο] κύριος, disagreeing with the Byzantine Text, but agreeing with the Vulgate.  Although it is sometimes claimed that textual variants have no impact on Christian doctrines, James White recently acknowledged“That’s interesting:  Jesus delivered the people from Israel.  That’s got some pretty important theological ramifications to it.  There’s no question about that.”  (Of course he meant to refer to Egypt, not Israel.)  
v. 18:  οτι is not included before επ’ εσχάτου, agreeing with À and B but disagreeing with Papyrus 72, 1739, and the Byzantine Text.  The Byzantine Text here reads οτι εν εσχάτου.   
● v. 18:  του is not included after εσχάτου, agreeing with the Byzantine Text.   

           Added up, that comes to five new disagreements, and six new agreements.    
           In the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation, there were 92 disagreements with the Byzantine Text in these four books.  But now, in the 28th edition, the editors’ newfound appreciation for the Byzantine Text has caused that number to plummet to 91.  Combined with the results from James, First Peter, and Second Peter, this means that the number of times the Nestle-Aland compilation disagrees with the Byzantine Text in the General Epistles has dropped from 279 to 272. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nestle-Aland 28: Much Ado About Almost Nothing

          It has been almost four years since the release of the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, the first revision of the critical text of the Greek New Testament since 1979.  Its text in the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles of Paul, and in Revelation is unchanged from what was printed in 1979.  The apparatus (the list of variants and the witnesses that support them) is much improved, but still has room for improvement.  
          Aside from the introduction of a new font, new orthographic standardization, and new formatting, the only place where NA28 reflects new text-critical decisions is in the General Epistles (James-Jude), where 36 alterations of the text in the previous edition have been introduced.  (Officially, the count is 34, but in First Peter 1:16, two variant-units occur close together, and in Jude verse 5, two variant-units overlap.)    
          One persistent claim about NA28 is that it expresses a new appreciation for the Byzantine Text.  Dan Wallace, for example, reported that Klaus Wachtel conveyed that as the editors worked through the General Epistles, “They came to see much greater value of the Byzantine manuscripts than they had previously.”  James Leonard has similarly stated than an “interesting result” of the use of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method is that “it is finding more and more individual Byzantine readings to be more plausible.”
          However, an examination of the new readings in NA28 indicates that the Byzantine Text was valued primarily in the role of a merely confirmatory witness, reinforcing the readings found in the important minuscule 1739.  As evidence of this, let’s investigate all of the textual changes from NA26 (1979) to NA28 (2013) in James, First Peter, and Second Peter.  Red text signifies that NA28 rejects a Byzantine reading that was in NA26 and NA27.  A black circle accompanies each adoption of a Byzantine reading.


● 1:20:  κατεργάζεται instead of εργάζεται, agreeing with 1739 and the Byzantine Text.
2:3:  η κάθου εκει instead of εκει η κάθου, rejecting the word-order found in the Byzantine Text, and which was followed in NA27. 
2:4:  Και is adopted before ου at the beginning of the verse, agreeing with the Byzantine Text.
2:15:  ωσιν is included after λειπομενοι, agreeing with 1739 and the Byzantine Text.
4:10:  του is included before κυριου, agreeing with 1739 and the Byzantine Text.


1:6: λυπηθέντας instead of λυπηθέντες, rejecting a Byzantine reading that was in NA27.
● 1:16:  οτι is not included after γέγραπται.  The non-inclusion of οτι is supported by P72, À, 1739, and the Byzantine Text.
1:16: ειμι is not included at the end of the verse, rejecting a reading which is supported by the Byzantine Text, P72, and 1739.  At this point, the compilers of NA28 returned to a reading found in NA25. 
2:5:  τω is not included before θεω, rejecting a Byzantine reading that was in NA27 in brackets.  (Papyrus 72 supports the inclusion of τω here.)
2:25:  αλλ’ instead of αλλα.  This orthographic shift in NA28 constitutes the adoption of a Byzantine reading that is also supported by À.
4:16:  μέρει instead of ονόματι, agreeing with a Byzantine reading that is opposed by a widespread array of witnesses, including P72, À, B, 1739 and 1505.
5:1:  τους after Πρεσβυτέρους, agreeing with 1739 and the Byzantine Text.  Rival variants are ουν (supported by P72, A, and B), no word at all (supported by 1505), and ουν τους (supported by À).  This is an interesting variant-unit, not least because the reading in Codex Sinaiticus looks like a conflation, made by a copyist using two exemplars, one of which had ουν and the other of which had τους.  
5:9:  τω is not included before κόσμω, agreeing with 1739 and the Byzantine Text.
5:10:  Ιησου is not included after Χριστω, rejecting a reading that is supported by P72, A, 1739, and the Byzantine Text.  The non-inclusion of Ιησου is supported by À, B, and 1505.


2:6:  ασεβειν instead of ασεβέσιν, agreeing with À, 1739, and the Byzantine Text.  Ασεβειν was also the reading of NA25. 
2:11:  παρα κυρίω instead of παρα κυρίου, agreeing with À, B, 1739, and the Byzantine Text.  Παρα κυρίω was also the reading of NA25. 
2:15:  καταλιπόντες instead of καταλείποντες, agreeing with P72, 1739, and the Byzantine Text.
2:18:  όντως instead of ολίγως, agreeing with 1739 and the Byzantine Text.  The recent history of this variant-unit is interesting:  in the first edition (1966) of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament, the compilers adopted ολίγως and ranked it at level “C,” signifying a “considerable degree of doubt” about it.  In the fourth edition (2001), the compilers still adopted ολίγως but ranked it at level “A,” signifying that “the text is certain.”  Obviously it was not so certain after all. 
2:20:  ημων is not included after κυρίου, thus agreeing with B and the Byzantine Text but disagreeing with a wide array of witnesses.   
3:6:  δι’ ον instead of δι’ ων at the beginning of the verse, rejecting a reading with very widespread support that includes the Byzantine Text, in favor of a reading with negligible support:  according to J. K. Elliott, the Greek witnesses for this reading consist of 025, eight minuscules, and one lectionary.  One of those minuscules was 1175 (from the 900’s), which was given special weight in the CBGM.  Nevertheless it is difficult to see what drove, or could ever drive, the conclusion that all Greek manuscripts are incorrect at this point except for that small group. 
3:10:  ουχ ευρεθήσεται instead of ευρεθήσεται, rejecting the Byzantine Text and rejecting all Greek manuscripts.  The Greek reading in NA28 is not supported by any Greek manuscripts.  As a Greek word, it is a conjectural emendation, based on the assumption that a reading in the Sahidic text of First Peter was translated from an exemplar that had this reading. 
●3:16:  ταις after πάσαις, agreeing with À, 1739, and the Byzantine Text. 
3:16:  στρεβλώσουσιν instead of στρεβλουσιν, rejecting the Byzantine reading and adopting the reading of P72 and 1739.
3:18:  αμήν is not included at the end of the verse, rejecting the reading of P72, A, and the Byzantine Text and adopting the reading shared by B and 1739.

          From this review of the newly adopted readings in James, First Peter, and Second Peter in NA28, a few conclusion can be drawn:
(1)  The Byzantine Text’s readings are hardly ever adopted unless they agree with 1739.  Exceptions are at James 2:4, First Peter 2:25, 4:16, and Second Peter 2:20.  
(2)  NA28 agrees with the Byzantine Text at 15 places where NA27 disagreed.
(3)  NA28 disagrees with the Byzantine Text at 9 places where NA27 agreed. 
(4)  Calculating that the net number of agreements between the Nestle-Aland compilation and the Byzantine Text has thus increased by six, and observing that there are 187 disagreements between NA27 and RP2005, it follows that the total number of disagreements between the Nestle-Aland compilation and the Byzantine Text in these three books has decreased from 187 (in NA27) to 181 (in NA28).

         How exactly does a net gain of six agreements in James, First Peter, and Second Peter express a significant new appreciation for the Byzantine Text when the compilers of Novum Testamentum Graece continue to reject the Byzantine readings in 181 other places in these three books?  The answer is simple:  it doesn’t.     

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Resurrection Readings: The Heothina and How They Developed

          In addition to manuscripts of the Gospels in which one book follows another, textual critics also consult Evangelistiaries, or Gospel lectionaries – books in which selections of the Gospels are arranged in the order in which they were read in the church-services annually.  This simplified the job of the lectors, or public readers, who read for the congregations.  Passages read during Holy-Week were conveniently collected together at the beginning of the cycle of lections, or readings, starting the liturgical year on Easter Sunday (the reading for which began at John 1:1).  Other selections were to be read a specific number of days and weeks after Easter; thus, while major feast-days had names assigned to them, most readings were identified in terms of how long after Easter they were to be read – for example, “for the fifth day of the sixth week” after Easter.  Because the date of Easter changed from year to year, all the other days changed with it (though retaining their sequence); for this reason, these days are called the “movable feasts” and a lectionary containing the lections for the movable feasts is called a Synaxarion
          In many lectionary-manuscripts, the Synaxarion is accompanied by the Menologion – the month-by-month collection of Scripture-readings assigned to specific calendar-days set aside to honor specific saints and specific events.  These feasts were generally observed on the same day of the year, and for this reason they are called the “fixed feasts” or “immovable feasts,” running in sequence from year to year (beginning on September 1).   (The term “Menologion” has also come to refer to collections of the stories of saints’ lives which were told on their feast-days, but this does not pertain directly to today’s subject.)  In manuscripts containing both the Synaxarion and Menologion, it is not uncommon, when a passage occurs in both, to find that in the Menologion there is only a reference to where the passage can be found in the Synaxarion, rather than a repetition of the passage itself.
          In most Gospel-lectionaries, each segment is introduced by a title (such as “Taken from Matthew” or “Taken from Mark,” etc.) and usually its text begins with a brief introductory phrase, or “incipit,” introducing the narrative, such as, “And the Lord said,” or, “And at that time.” 
          With all that in mind, we come to today’s subject:  a specific set of lections called the Heothina:  a series of eleven readings about Christ’s resurrection.  (Their full name is εὐαγγέλια ἑωθινὰ ἀναστάσιμα.)  Every Sunday at dawn, one of these lections was to be read.  These eleven readings are often provided separately in lectionaries: 
          (1)  Matthew 26:16-20 (The Great Commission)
          (2)  Mark 16:1-8  (The Myrrh-bearing Women at the Tomb)
          (3)  Mark 16:9-20  (Jesus’ Post-resurrection Appearances and Ascension)
          (4)  Luke 24:1-12  (The Women’s Visit to the Tomb)
          (5)  Luke 24:12-35  (The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus)
          (6)  Luke 24:36-53  (The Appearance to the Disciples)
          (7)  John 20:1-11  (Mary Magdalene at the Tomb)
          (8)  John 20:11-18   (The Appearance to Mary Magdalene)
          (9)  John 20:19-31  (The Appearances to the Ten Disciples, and to Thomas)
          (10)  John 21:1-14  (The Appearance at the Sea of Tiberias)
          (11)  John 21:15-25  (Jesus’ Instructions to Simon Peter)

Heothina apparatus at Matthew
28:16 in minuscule 2411
          Let’s see if we can tell how far back this series of lections was used.  It is not uncommon at all to find, in medieval manuscripts of the Gospels, annotations in the margins that locate the beginnings and ends of lections, and often the names of the lections (i.e., a note stating upon which day of which week after Easter the passage is to be read).  One of the many manuscripts with this “lectionary apparatus” is minuscule 2411, from the 1100’s.  This manuscript – also known as the Tetragram Gospels – has the symbol αρχη (“start”) written at the beginning of Matthew 28:16.  In the margin, an abbreviated note (boxed in green) identifies this as the first Gospels-lection in the Heothina-series.  In minuscule 2411, as in most manuscripts with the lectionary apparatus, these annotations were written in red to ensure that readers would easily tell the difference between them and the text itself.
Heothina apparatus at Mark 16:1
in minuscule 2474
          But we can go back earlier.  Minuscule 2474, produced in the 900’s, also has the lectionary apparatus.  Shown here, this manuscript – also known as the Elfleda Bond Goodspeed Gospels – has the symbol αρχη (“start”) in the margin beside the beginning of Mark 16:1, accompanied by an abbreviated note identifying this as the second lection in the series.  In the right margin, the symbol τελος (“stop” or “end”) can also be seen; it signified the end of the previous lection in Mark (which was not one of the Heothina). 
          But we can go back earlier.  Let’s turn to the important uncial Codex Cyprius (K, 017), produced in the 800’s.  Among the lectionary-related material that precedes the Gospels-text, a list of the locations of the eleven Heothina is provided.  The list displays the Eusebian Section-number where each lection is found, each lection’s opening phrase, and each lection’s closing words.
A list of the Heothina
in Codex Cyprius (K, 017)
          But perhaps we can go back yet earlier.  In about the year 350 – around the time when Codex Sinaiticus was produced, or slightly earlier – Cyril of Jerusalem undertook a series of Catechetical Lectures, the contents of which remain extant to this day.  In his Lecture #14, paragraph 24, Cyril made the following remarks:
          “The course of instruction in the faith would lead me to speak of the Ascension also, but the grace of God so ordered it, that you heard most fully concerning it, as far as our weakness allowed, yesterday, on the Lord’s day; since, by the providence of divine grace, the course of the Lessons in Church included the account of our Savior’s going up into the heavens.  And what was then said was spoken principally for the sake of all, and for the assembled body of the faithful – yet especially for thy sake.  But the question is, did you attend to what was said? . . . . I suppose then that you do indeed remember the exposition; yet I will now again briefly remind you of what was then said.” 
Cyril of Jerusalem
        Here Cyril explains why he is not going to go into detail about the ascension of Christ in his lecture:  the subject was already covered the previous day, which was a Sunday, the Lord’s Day.  In the typical Byzantine lection-series, Luke 24’s narrative about Christ’s ascension is assigned to Ascension-Day, the sixth Thursday after Easter.  It thus appears that Cyril was referring to one of the Heothinon-lections:  either Mark 16:9-20 (the second Heothinon) or Luke 24:36-53 (the sixth Heothinon).
          It seems safe to say more.  The Heothina series in the Byzantine lectionary probably developed from an earlier lection-cycle that was used in Jerusalem.  In the Byzantine lectionary, the resurrection-narratives are divided into 11 readings; in the Jerusalem lection-cycle, there are eight (at least, eight identifiable) lections.  Cyril was probably referring to a lection in this eight-part lection-cycle that was used at Jerusalem, where he taught and preached.    
          This is consistent with an observation recently made by Daniel Galadza (a professor at the University of Vienna) in a 2014 article, The Jerusalem Lectionary and the Byzantine Rite, which was published on pages 181-199 of Rites and Rituals of the Christian East, ed. B. Groen, D. Galadza, N. Glibetic, and G. Radle (Eastern Christian Studies 22, Leuven: Peeters, 2014) and is available at the Academia website:  before the Heothinon-series was adapted and adopted into the Byzantine lectionary, most of its components existed as readings for Bright Week (the week immediately following Easter) among the lection-cycles used in Jerusalem. 
          This idea receives confirmation via Galadza’s 2012 investigation of the contents of the ninth-century Greek lectionary Sin. Gr. 212, which contains 30 lections, mainly from the Gospels.  (For details see Galadza’s article Two Greek, Ninth-Century Sources of the Jerusalem Lectionary:  Sin. Gr. 212 and Sinai Gr. N.E. ΜΓ 11 on pages 79-111 of Bollettino della Badia Greca di Grottaferrata, series 3, Vol. 11 (2014).  In Sin. Gr. 212, which is written in Greek uncials, rubrics in the manuscript (with Arabic supplements) identify each lection, written in Greek.  The first eight lections correspond fairly closely to the contours of Heothina #1,2,3,4,5,7-8, and 10:
Resurrection-series in the Jerusalem Lectionary        Parallel Lection in the Heothina
First reading:  Matthew 28:1-9                                      (Mt. 28: 16-20 = Heothinon 1)
Second reading:  Mark 16:2-8                                       (Mk. 16:1-8 = Heothinon 2)
Third reading:  Luke 24:1-12                                        (Heothinon 4)
Fourth reading:  John 20:1-18                                       (Heothina 7 and 8)
Fifth reading:  Matthew 28:9b-20                                 (Mt. 28:16-20 = Heothinon 1)
Sixth reading:  Mark 16:9-19                                        (Mk. 16:9-20 = Heothinon 3)
Seventh reading:  Luke 24:13-35                                  (Lk. 24:12-35 = Heothinon 5)
Eighth reading:  John 21:1-14                                       (Heothinon 10)

          Galadza mentions the finding of another researcher, Sebastià Janeras.  Janeras has found that the same eight-part series is attested in four other manuscripts at, or from, from Saint Catherine’s:  one in Greek (Sinai Gr. 210, made in 861), one in Arabic (Sinai Ar. 116, made in 995), and two in Georgian (Sinai Geo. O. 38, made in 979, and Schøyen Collection MS 035 – also known as Codex Sinaiticus Zosimi Rescriptus – also made in 979). 
        It thus appears that eight of the components of the Heothina lection-series were known to Cyril of Jerusalem (not only as parts of Scripture, but as lections in a specific sequence), and thus that the churches in Jerusalem in the mid-300’s were using these eight lections.  Other than Cyril’s remark, I have found no evidence that the lections in the Jerusalem Lectionary for Bright Week were also read consecutively in the mid-300’s, but from that remark, it seems that this was the case.  (If anyone has a better explanation I would be glad to hear it.)    
          What can we deduce from this evidence?
          ● First, this data justifies the idea that if we possess a manuscript of Matthew 28, or Mark 16, or Luke 24, or John 20-21, and its marginalia contains the Byzantine lectionary apparatus, including notes that identify at least one Heothinon-reading, then even if the manuscript is fragmentary and none of the other chapters have survived, we may fairly deduce that when such a manuscript was in pristine condition, it contained all five of these chapters with those portions intact, inasmuch as one of the series would not be used without the others.   
          ● Second, we may tentatively consider Cyril of Jerusalem’s remark in Catechetical Lecture #14 to refer to Mark’s account of Christ’s resurrection (in Mark 16:19) rather than to the account in Luke 24:51.  The reason for this is that the eight-part cycle of lections in the early Jerusalem Lectionary (as represented in Sin. Gr. 212 and other manuscripts) includes Mark 16:9-19 as a lection, but no text from Luke 24 beyond verse 35 is part of the eight-part series of resurrection-related lections, possibly because Luke 24:41-53 was assigned to Ascension-Day.    

Monday, January 9, 2017

Some YouTube Resources on New Testament Textual Criticism

          One of the great conveniences of our time enjoyed by students of New Testament textual criticism is the ability, via the internet, to travel to the libraries of institutions around the world and view their manuscripts.  The University of Chicago, the British Library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (the National Library of France), the Vatican Library, the Parker Library, the University of Michigan, and the Walters Art Museum are just a few of the institutions whose collections of New Testament manuscripts (or substantial parts of them) can be visited online. 
          Some classrooms in which New Testament textual criticism is taught can also be visited.  Here is a selection of some lectures about New Testament textual criticism and related subjects (such as ongoing manuscript-digitalization projects), all accessible at YouTube.  Rare indeed is the video-lecture that does not have room for improvement (especially when speakers chime in about the ending of Mark and the pericope adulterae – there is a lot of inaccurate and one-sided material circulating that needs to be thoroughly updated).  So please do not consider the appearance of a video-lecture on this list to be an endorsement of everything in it (except in the two in which I am the speaker):    

From the Walters Art Museum:  Digitalization Work

From Dan Wallace:  
● Some Disputed Passages
● How Badly Has the Bible Been Corrupted? (at Purdue University, 2016)

From Ron Minton:  The Majority Text (in three parts):
● The Majority Text, part 2

From Christopher De Hamel:  

From D. C. Parker:  

From Dirk Jongkind:

         A couple of things are worth keeping in mind: 
(1)  Once you’ve found one video-lecture, similar videos may appear in the side-bar.
(2)  If you want to watch an hour-and-a-half video but only have an hour to spare, you can use the Settings-options to increase the viewing-speed; often the viewing-speed can be increased to 1.5x and the speaker will still not sound like a chipmunk.

YouTube is © 2017, YouTube LLC

Friday, January 6, 2017

Mark 11:26 - How It Disappeared

            Homoioteleuton (also spelled as homeoteleuton) – a term which means “same ending” – was something that the copyists of New Testament manuscripts had to vigilantly guard against.  It was not unusual for the lines of the text in their master-copies to end with similar letters, and if a copyist didn’t pay attention, he might accidentally lose his place.  Usually if this happened, it would turn the sentence he was writing into nonsense, and a proof-reader would catch the mistake.  (When text is skipped in this way, the cause of the mistake is called parablepsis.)  But sometimes, when a parableptic error did not result in a nonsense-reading, words or phrases and even entire sentences could disappear without notice. 
            The copyist of Codex Vaticanus made a parableptic error in John 17:15; where the copyist should have written the Greek equivalent of, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one,” he skipped seven words, as his line of sight drifted from one occurrence of the word αυτους (“them”) to the recurrence of it later in the sentence, and thus wrote, “I do not pray that You should take them from the evil one.”  Fortunately someone caught the mistake later on.
            In Mark 11:26, something similar happened which caused the entire verse to disappear in the Alexandrian Text, and the same mistake occurs in some other manuscripts as well.  The Greek text of Mark 11:25 ends with τα παραπτώματα ὑμων (“your trespasses”) and 11:26 ends with exactly the same words.  A copyist whose line of sight drifted from the end of verse 25 to the end of verse 26 could skip the entire verse without realizing it, and, since the sentence would still make sense, the mistake could slip by a proofreader who was not very familiar with the text of Mark.               
Codex Bezae (D) has the passage,
with the last word of verse 25 missing.
            Relatively few manuscripts fail to include Mark 11:26, but two of the ones that lack the verse are Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, which were the primary sources of the base-text of the 1881 Revised Version, and which are still the main basis of the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilation.  That is why, in the NIV, NLT, and ESV, this verse is not in the text.  (The HCSB and NASB currently retain the verse in the text, within brackets.  The KJV, NKJV, MEV, and WEB have it in the text without brackets.)  
          However, Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Bezae (D), which are only slightly later, both include Mark 11:26 – and because Codex D has the passage with some minor variations and unusual spelling (and for other reasons), it is clear that these two manuscripts are a considerable distance apart from each other in terms of their textual relationship, while À and B are historically very close to one another.  (So much so that in the margins of the book of Acts, they share a unique form of chapter-numbers that almost certainly was transcribed from the same source.) 
Mark 11:24b-27a in the Peshitta
          Other witnesses that attest to a fourth-century text also weigh in with support for the inclusion of Mark 11:26:  Codex Argenteus, made in the 500’s, is the main witness to the Gothic version which was translated by Wulfilas in the mid-300’s, at about the same time Codex Sinaiticus was being made.  Codex Argenteus includes the verse.  The Peshitta (Syriac) version, probably made in the late 300’s, includes the verse.  The Latin Vulgate, made in 383 by Jerome, who stated that he consulted ancient Greek manuscripts to ensure that the text was well-grounded, includes the verse.  Almost all Old Latin manuscripts, the descendants of Latin manuscripts made before the Vulgate dominated the Latin copying-tradition, include the verse as well.
          In addition, although Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are old, they are not as old as the manuscripts that were used by Cyprian.  Cyprian served as bishop of Carthage, in North Africa, from about 249 until he was martyred in 258 during the persecution that happened there during the reign of Valerian.  Thus his manuscripts of Mark were at least 75 years older than Vaticanus, and at least 100 years older than Sinaiticus (using the generally accepted production-dates for each, c. 325 for Vaticanus and c. 350 for Sinaiticus).  In Cyprian’s Treatise XII, Book 3, in chapter 22, Cyprian briefly undertakes the task of demonstrating from Scripture that when Christians are wronged, we must pardon and forgive.  He gets right to the point:
Cyprian of Carthage.
“In the Gospel, in the daily prayer:  'Forgive us our debts, even as we forgive our debtors.  Also according to Mark:  And when you stand for prayer, forgive, if you have ought against any one; that also your Father who is in heaven may forgive you your sins. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your sins.  Also in the same place:  In what measure you mete, in that shall it be measured to you again.

          When Cyprian refers to “the daily prayer,” he is of course referring to Matthew 6:12.  But if he had intended to quote Matthew 6:15 (which follows the gist of Mark 11:26), there would have been no need for him to then say, “Also according to Mark.”  Although Cyprian immediately jumps back to the Sermon on the Mount (i.e., to Matthew 7:2), there seems to be no reason for any conclusion other than that Cyprian was quoting from Mark 11:25-26 in this part of his composition.  
            Bruce Metzger, representing the editors of the UBS compilation in which Mark 11:26 is absent, claimed that “the words were inserted by copyists in imitation of Mt. 6.15.”  However, the wording in Matthew 6:15 is discernibly different in the UBS text:  Εαν δε μη αφητε τοις ανθρώπους, ουδε ὁ πατηρ υμων αφησει τα παραπτωματα υμων.  Compare this to Mark 11:26:  Ει δε υμεις ουκ αφίετε, ουδε ὁ πατηρ υμων ὁ εν τοις ουρανοις αφήσει τα παραπτωματα υμων.  It would take a special kind of copyist to introduce a harmonization that contained non-harmonious readings. Metzger’s rationale for the Alexandrian reading did not persuade J. K. Elliott, a British specialist in New Testament textual criticism, who maintained that in this particular case, the Textus Receptus (along with over 95% of the Greek manuscripts of Mark) has the original reading.  The absence of the verse in a smattering of later Byzantine manuscripts demonstrates its vulnerability to the kind of homoioteleuton-induced loss which could be overlooked by early copyists as easily as it could be overlooked by later ones. 
           In addition, the Byzantine Text of Matthew 6:15 is not what we see in Mark 11:26 either; it reads Εαν δε μη αφητε τοις ανθρώπους τα παραπτωματα υμων, ουδε ὁ πατηρ υμων αφήσει τα παραπτωματα υμων.  Seven out of Mark 11:26’s seventeen words are not in Matthew 6:15, and seven out of Matthew 6:15’s seventeen words are not in Mark 11:26.  This is more naturally explained as one of numerous original parallel passages than as a copyist’s attempt to introduce a harmonization, considering that it does not add much to the verbal harmony of the passage.
Mark 11:25-27a in Codex Alexandrinus.
Notice the two lines (underlined in yellow) which begin identically.
          Two small observations may be worth mentioning.  First:  Codex A’s format shows exactly how verse 26 could be accidentally skipped; τα παραπτωματα υμων appears at the beginning of two nearby lines.  Second:  in Codex D, the word υμων is missing at the end of verse 25.  This may be a deliberate omission on the part of a copyist who, having seen that the repetition of the exact phrase τα παραπτωματα υμων made the text vulnerable to loss, decided that the loss of one word was worth a reduction of the risk that a future copyist using Codex D as an exemplar would skip an entire verse.
            So, although Mark 11:26 is not found in our two oldest Greek manuscripts of the surrounding verses, earlier evidence from Cyprian confirms the presence of the verse in North Africa in the mid-200’s.  Further evidence from Codex A, Codex D, the Peshitta, the Gothic version, the Vulgate, and the Old Latin shows that Mark 11:36 was in widespread use in the late 300’s.  The presence of the verse in these branches implies its presence in the trunk, so to speak.       
            One must posit a deliberate corruption by a non-harmonious harmonizer if one is to regard Mark 11:26 as non-original.  The alternative is that an early copyist made a careless mistake.  In such a contest of competing hypotheses, Heinlein’s Axiom should be in play:  do not insist on villainy to account for what can be explained by incompetence.