Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dan Wallace's Credo Course: More Problems

Asterisks (within yellow circles)
in the lectionary-apparatus of Codex M.
Today we continue to test the accuracy of some statements in Daniel Wallace’s Credo Course lecture on John 7:53-8:11

● About eight minutes into the lecture, Dr. Wallace brought up the subject of asterisks.  He stated, “What an asterisk indicates – this goes back to Alexandrian scribal habits – is, I have doubts about whether this passage is authentic.”  In some cases, that is true.  However, asterisks in Byzantine manuscripts are also capable of serving as all-purpose symbols to catch the eye of the reader.  They can also be incorporated into the lectionary-apparatus, as Maurice Robinson has described, and as I mentioned in my research-book. (Pictured here are a few examples of asterisks used in the lectionary-apparatus of Codex M.)    
            If Dr. Wallace believes that asterisks are never used in the lectionary-apparatus, then he needs to explain why, in 130 manuscripts (not just “several”), asterisks or special marks of some sort accompany John 8:3-11, and not John 7:53-8:2.  Robinson’s model explains that:  in the Byzantine lectionary, John 8:3-11 constituted a distinct lection (namely, the reading for Saint Pelagia’s Day, October 8), embedded within the lection for Pentecost.  Wallace’s approach, meanwhile, seems to require that the scribes of these manuscripts accepted John 7:53-8:2, but rejected John 8:3-11.   
● In the ninth minute of the lecture, Wallace asserts that the pericope adulterae is a “floating text.”  This is somewhat surprising, because elsewhere in the lecture he mentions the work of Dr. Chris Keith which shows that the pericope adulterae’s location (following John 7:52) was secure long before the production of the Greek witnesses which have it elsewhere.  Equally surprising is Wallace’s omission of some important details in his descriptions of the manuscripts that have the story of the adulteress displaced from its usual location.  And even more surprising is how effectively these details smash up the theory that the pericope adulterae was ever a “floating text.”
            Wallace stated, “In some manuscripts, it appears as a separate pericope at the end of all four Gospels, just tacked on at the very end.”  The important detail that Wallace fails to mention here involves a note that accompanies the pericope adulterae in the flagship-manuscripts of the group of manuscripts that have it after the end of John 21 (minuscules 1 and 1582).  The note specifies that the passage was moved from where it had been found in the text, after the words “a prophet does not arise” in 7:52.  To restate:  the note specifically says that the transplantation of the passage was subsequent to its location after 7:52.  Only by avoiding this detail can Wallace use this dislocation to sustain the idea that the pericope adulterae was a “floating text.” 
            Wallace also stated:  “In some manuscripts, it stands as an independent pericope between Luke and John.”  That is just not true.  Only one manuscript comes close to fitting that description:  minuscule 1333, which does not have the entire passage between Luke and John – only John 8:3-11.  Furthermore, 1333 features a rubric that identifies the passage as an excerpt from the Gospel of John.  Only when these details go unmentioned can listeners get the impression that John 7:53-8:11 floated its way into this location as a previously freestanding text.  When the details are known, it is obvious that all that has happened in minuscule 1333 is that after this manuscript was written (without the story of the adulteress), someone wrote the lection for Saint Pelagia’s Day on what had previously been a blank page between Luke and John. 

● In the tenth minute of the lecture, Wallace mentioned manuscript 115, describing it as “the only manuscript I know of” in which the pericope adulterae appears after 8:12, and is also followed by 8:12.  Wallace then proposed that the scribe of 115, after writing John 8:12, noticed that his exemplar was missing the story about the adulteress, found a different exemplar that contained it, and then added it after 8:12.    
            Digital images of 115 are online.  (By the way, 115 is not the only manuscript like this; the text is rearranged the same way in minuscules 1050, 1349, 2620, and 2751.)  A close examination of the manuscript shows that a scribe (probably the scribe of 115’s exemplar) merely simplified the lector’s job on Pentecost, so that he would not have to jump from 7:52 to 8:12 in order to find the final portion of the Pentecost-lection.  Small horizontal lines in 115 at the beginning of John 7:37 and at the end of 7:52 represent the beginning, and the end, of the main part of the lection.  In other words, what we have in 115 is not the movement of the PA, but the repetition of 8:12; the verse appears after 7:52 to complete the Pentecost-lection.    
            Regarding the other evidence that Wallace misinterprets as if it implies that the story of the adulteress was a “floating text,” see my video from last year.    

● In the fourteenth minute of the lecture, Wallace mentions manuscript 1424, which has the PA in the margin.  Wallace states that asterisks which accompany the PA in 1424 were meant by scribes to convey that the PA is “not actually authentic, or that they have doubts about it.”  He restates the same idea:  the asterisks “are the scribe telling us he has doubts about the authenticity.”         
            Viewers of the Credo Course are left uninformed about the note that accompanies the pericope adulterae in the lower margin of 1424.  The note (essentially the same as a note that is also found in Codex Λ and in minuscule 262) says:  “This is not in certain copies, and it was not in those used by Apollinaris.  In the old ones, it is all there.  And this pericope was referenced by the apostles, affirming that it is for the edification of the church.”  (The last sentence is referring to the use of material from the pericope in the composition known as Apostolic Constitutions, Book 2, chapter 24, which is sort of echoing an older work, the Didascalia, at this point.)  
            It does not do justice to the evidence when one mentions only the asterisks that accompany the PA in the margin of 1424, and describes them as if they must convey scribal doubt about the passage, while failing to mention the note that states that the passage was found in ancient copies, and which expresses confidence in the legitimacy of the passage.  (Another factor worth noticing is the use of an asterisk-like mark in 1424 alongside John 20:19.) 
Are its materials
            Several other features in the second half of Wallace’s lecture on John7:53-8:11 could be analyzed and shown to be problematic in one way or another.  For example, at one point, he refers to Dura-Europos, a site in eastern Syria, when I think he meant Tura, a site in Egypt.  At another point, Wallace commends an article by Kyle Hughes, although Hughes appears to weigh in against Wallace’s assertion that the pericope adulterae was a floating text:  Hughes affirms that the dislocations to the end of the Gospel of John, and to a position after Luke 21:38, “can then be explained by the influence of the lectionary system in combination with the confusion resulting from the many early manuscripts of John’s Gospel that did not have PA.”  And at another point, Wallace says that 20% of our Greek manuscripts of John don’t have the story of the adulteress; the actual percentage is more like 15%.
            In conclusion:  the Credo Course lecture about John 7:53-8:11 contains a problematically high amount of inaccuracies, half-truths, and misinformation, and should not be considered a reliable resource.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dan Wallace's Credo Course: A Few Problems

            Credo House, a ministry based in Oklahoma, has developed a course on New Testament textual criticism taught by Dr. Dan Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary.  When this project was funded on Kickstarter, it was described by Credo House’s executive director, Tim Kimberley, as “One of the most important courses that you can ever go through.”  
            Viewers of the Credo Course session about John 7:53-8:11 should thus expect an accurate presentation of the evidence.  Unfortunately that is not what they get.  
            I am not going to address today the question about whether or not John 7:53-8:11 is an original part of the Gospel of John.  (I believe that it is – and I wrote a book explaining why.)  Here, I am only addressing the question, Are Daniel Wallace and Credo House spreading false claims about John 7:53-8:11?  The answer is unquestionably YES

            Daniel Wallace has repeatedly described John 7:53-8:11 as his “Favorite passage that’s not in the Bible,” and he does so again in the Credo Course lecture.  He also states what he would like to do with these 12 verses:  “I really think the passage needs to be relegated to the footnotes.” 
            So would I, if my decision were guided by one-sided, incomplete, error-filled presentations such as the one that Wallace gives in the Credo Course.  Let’s look at three claims that Wallace makes about the evidence.

What the Credo course claims.
(1)  Wallace says that only three uncial manuscripts have the passage.  Wallace says, “For the first 800 years of the church, we’ve got this story only represented in a handful of manuscripts – three, to date, have it.  Three majuscule manuscripts.  These are not just eighth-century; I mean, D is fifth, but K and Gamma are later.  So, you have three majuscule manuscripts, out of the 322 that we have, that actually have this passage.  That’s it.

            Was this misrepresentation of the evidence the result of spontaneously going off-script?  No:  the same impression is given in the Credo Course by a graphic.  
            Out of the 322 majuscule manuscripts that we have, most of them do not contain the Gospel of John.  The base-line that Wallace used for his statement is problematic; it is somewhat like saying, “Out of seven billion people, the vast majority did not vote for the current president of Kenya.”  Of course not, because most people are not citizens of Kenya.  Likewise, most uncial manuscripts could not contain John 7:53-8:11, because they do not contain the Gospel of John.
One example:  Codex M.
            But there is more than a methodological problem here.  Wallace is making a false claim.  Out of the majuscule (i.e., uncial) manuscripts of John that include text from John 7 and 8, more than three include text from John 7:53-8:11; for example: 
            Codex G (011, Seidelianus)
            Codex H (013, Seidelianus II/Wolfii B)
            Codex M (021, Campianus)        
            Codex Ω (045, Codex Athous Dionysiou)
            Codex E (07, Basiliensis)
            Codex F (09, Boreelianus Rheno-Tajectinus)
            Codex S (028, Guelpherbytanus B)
            Codex U (030, Nanianus)
            Codex Π (041, Petropolitanus), and
            047 (housed at Princeton).

            In addition, the copyists of Codex L (019, 700’s) and Codex Δ (037, 800’s), though they did not include the story of the adulteress, left large blank spaces between John 7:52 and 8:12, signifying their awareness of the absent passage.
            Wallace’s description of the evidence at this point is simply wrong.  Very wrong.  Obviously wrong.  

(2)  Wallace claims that the Old Latin version did not include the story of the adulteress.  Adopting the vague style of Bruce Metzger, Wallace says, “The earliest and the best versions lack it” before he gets a little more specific and says, “When the Syriac and the Coptic and the Latin versions, along those lines, don’t have it, when they were begun in the second and third centuries, their manuscripts that they used didn’t have it.  That becomes a very important point.” 
            When he thus refers to the Syriac texts traceable to the second and third centuries, he’s referring to a Syriac version that is extant in just two Syriac Gospels-manuscripts.  And it is no surprise that the Coptic version agrees with the Alexandrian Text; they both reflect the text from the same area.  But when Wallace says that the Latin versions did not have the story about the adulteress, we have a problem.  A minority of Old Latin witnesses do not have it, but most of them do. Jonathan Clark Borland researched the Old Latin evidence in detail, and found that the story of the adulteress is in not just one, but three Old Latin transmission-lines. 
            The Old Latin copies Codex Veronensis, Codex Palatinus, Codex Bezae (that is, d, the Latin portion of the codex), Codex Colbertinus, Codex Corbeiensis, and Codex Sarzanensis support the inclusion of the passage.  So does the Vulgate.  It is thus misleading for Wallace to tell his listeners that the “the Latin versions don’t have it.” 
            In addition, the Latin chapter-summaries of the Gospel of John, the story of the adulteress is included, and the summary has over a dozen different forms, including one which specialist Hugh Houghton has assigned to the 200’s.  Plus, Jerome (c. 400) mentioned that the story of the adulteress was found in many copies, both Greek and Latin – important testimony that somehow eluded the NET Bible’s footnote-writer. 

(3)  Wallace says that no patristic writers mention the story of the adulteress until after the year 1000.  His exact words:  “Not until the eleven-hundreds do you get somebody to, who takes any time to really comment on this text.”  And:  “You don’t see it in the early versions; you don’t see it in the early fathers; you don’t see it in any fathers of the first millennium.”
            It appears that Wallace’ reliance upon Metzger’s obsolete Textual Commentary has led him astray.  No patristic mention of the story of the adulteress until 1000???  I suppose that is true except for the presence of the story in the Greek manuscript mentioned in the Church History of Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor, and the allusion to it by Greek-writer Didymus the Blind, and the utilizations of the passage by Pacian of Barcelona, Apostolic Constitutions, Ambrose of Milan (who cites it repeatedly), Ambrosiaster, Jerome, Rufinus, Augustine, Faustus (a false teacher whose use of the passage is mentioned by Augustine), Sedulius, Peter Chrysologus, Leo the Great, the source-document of Codex Fuldensis, Prosper of Aquitaine, Quovultdeus of Carthage, Gelasius, Apologia David (possibly by Ambrose), Gregory the Great, and Cassiodorus. 
            In addition, unknown authors of notes in Codex Λ and in minuscules 20, 262, and 1282 state that the entire passage is in ancient copies; another note in minuscules 135 and 301 says that the passage is found in ancient copies.  A note in minuscule 34 affirms the same thing.
            You can believe Dan Wallace about the patristic evidence, or you can believe the evidence.  But not both.

There are several other things that Wallace says in the Credo Course about the story of the adulteress that are misleading and wrong.  But these three should certainly be enough to convince whoever is running Credo House that they need to stop circulating this lecture if they want to be regarded as a reliable source of information. 
            However, just in case more evidence to that effect is needed, I do not intend to stop here.  So far, I have focused mainly on false claims that were presented within the first eight minutes of a half-hour lecture.  We still have twenty-two inaccuracy-enhanced minutes to go! 

To be continued.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

An Update on James Leonard and the Byzantine Text

            As I reported last month, a series of posts at the New Testament Textual Criticism discussion-group on Facebook presented a case that the Byzantine Text has a large and ancient stratum that includes distinct readings.  Moderator James Leonard responded by deleting the posts and ejecting the poster (that is, me) from the group.  No rules of the forum were broken – Leonard simply decreed that views that do not favor the Alexandrian Text are unwelcome. 
            Leonard proceeded to claim, “For the record, we do think that many Byzantine readings are early, but that the existence of a coherent Byzantine text type is a later development, and that many or most readings from the Byz text which differ from modern critical editions (NA28, SBLGNT, Tyndale House NT) are often unattested by the Greek manuscript tradition prior to the 9th century.”
            Leonard has yet to answer the challenge to produce a list of distinct Byzantine readings in Matthew or Mark which lack manuscript-support prior to 800.  Instead, as if he misread the invitation, Leonard submitted Philippians 1 as Exhibit A in his case for the lateness of the Byzantine Text.  
            I responded on May 31, showing that Leonard’s view depends on a flawed method, and that it collapses when one takes off Leonard’s arbitrary blinders so as to see versional and patristic evidence.  Twenty-nine of the 31 Byzantine variants listed in Philippians 1 in the Nestle-Aland apparatus are supported before 800 – including an agreement between the Byzantine reading of Philippians 1:24, and the reading of Philippians 1:24 in Papyrus 46. 
            (Leonard can of course continue to circulate his delusion that most distinct Byzantine readings are not attested before 800, but one would hope that his friends will be kind enough to point out to him, sooner or later, that 93% of the evidence in his own hand-picked sample-passage is crushing his credibility.  Perhaps they are afraid of what might happen to their group-membership if they point out that the emperor is naked.)
            Or so I thought last month.  My research was, as I mentioned at the time, based on a quick and non-exhaustive investigation of the evidence.  Now, additional evidence has been pointed out to me regarding the two Byzantine readings that initially appeared to lack support before 800:

(1)  The Byzantine reading συμπαραμενω in Philippians 1:25 is supported by Chrysostom (c. 400), who emphasizes the term in his Fourth Homily on Philippians:  “He showed them that if he remained, he remained for their sake, that it proceeded not from wickedness of those who plotted against him.  He subjoined also the reason:  that he might secure their belief.  For if this is necessary, that is, I shall by all means remain, and I will not ‘remain’ simply, but ‘will remain with you.’ For this is the meaning of the word, ‘and I shall abide with,’ [συμπαραμενω – See Migne P. G. Vol. 62, Col. 207, line 26] that is, I shall see you.”   And he re-affirms, as he begins to explain verse 26, “You see that this explains the word ‘abide with you’” [συμπαραμενω again] – and he proceeds to cite Romans 1:12 as a similar passage (where συμπαρακληθηναι is used).   

(2)  The Byzantine reading αυτοις μεν εστιν in Philippians 1:28 (where NA reads εστιν αυτοις) is supported, according to Tischendorf’s apparatus, by the Peshitta (late 300’s/early 400’s), by Theodoret  (first half of the 400’s), and by John of Damascus (early 700’s). 

The number of Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 that have no support before 800 is thus reduced to zero
            There is a saying:  “The dogs bark, but the caravan passes.”  In text-critical academia, the advocates of a heavily pro-Alexandrian position have been attempting to steer the caravan for some time.  They have tended to look at those with other views (especially those with pro-Byzantine views, and even those who, like myself, believe that the Byzantine Text includes a large independent and ancient stratum that the Hortian transmission-model unfairly minimized in a way that has still not been adequately undone) the way a caravan-driver looks at a dog along the side of the road.  
            However, they are not really in the driver’s seat.  The evidence is.  And when the evidence opposes a position as strongly as the evidence opposes Leonard’s claims, it is obvious (wherever people are allowed to see the evidence clearly) whose view is in the caravan with the evidence, and whose credibility has gone to the dogs.  

[Thanks to those who helpfully provided data on this subject.] 


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hebrews 1:1-6, Papyrus 46, and the Byzantine Text

Heb. 1:1-7a in Papyrus 46.
            Which contains the more accurate text of Hebrews 1:1-6:  the Byzantine Text (which some pro-Alexandrian scholars say emerged as late as the 800’s), or Papyrus 46, the earliest substantial Greek manuscript of the book of Hebrews? 
            Using the text of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece as the basis of comparison, here are the disagreements in the Byzantine Text:

2 – Byz has a transposition (τοὺς αιωνας ἐποίησεν instead of ἐποίησεν τοὺς αιωνας).
3 – Byz has δι’ εαυτου before καθαρισμὸν but NTG does not.
3 – Byz has a transposition and the word ημων after ἁμαρτιων in the middle of the verse. 

            That’s it:  the addition of 12 letters, and two transpositions.  For the rest of Hebrews 1:1-6, the Byzantine Text and Novum Testamentum Graece are identical. 
            Here are the disagreements between Papyrus 46 and Novum Testamentum Graece:  

1 – P46 has ημων added above the text-line after πατράσιν.  (+4, but since this is a correction, and may have been added after the initial production of the manuscript, it will not be counted in the total.)
2 – P46 has ημειν instead of ημιν. (+1)
2 – P46 does not have και. (-3)
3 – P46 does not have αὐτου after δυνάμεως.  (-5)
3 – P46 has δι’ αυτου before καθαρισμὸν.  (+7)
4 – P46 has τοσούτων instead of τοσούτω.  (+1)
4 – P46 has κριττων instead of κρειττων.  (-1)
4 – P6 does not have των before ἀγγέλων.  (-3)

            When numerical values are assigned to the variants – nothing for benign transpositions, +1 for the presence of a non-original letter, and -1 for the absence of an original letter – this data yields the following results:  in Hebrews 1:1-6, the Byzantine Text deviates from the original text by two transpositions and 12 letters’ worth of corruption (all additions).  Papyrus 46’ text, meanwhile, deviates from the original text by 21 letters’ worth of corruption (9 non-original letters added; 12 original letters omitted).
            What does this tell us? 
            First, it demonstrates that the Nestle-Aland compilers did not adopt the reading with the oldest manuscript-support several times in this passage, particularly in verse 3, where P46 has δι’ αυτου and the Byzantine Text virtually concurs by reading δι’ εαυτου.  The KJV, MEV, and NKJV read “by Himself” in this verse – following the sense given by the oldest manuscript and by the majority of manuscripts – and the CSB, NIV, NASB, and ESV do not.  Readers of the ESV and NASB are not given a footnote at Hebrews 1:3 to inform them that their English translation disagrees with the oldest and most widely attested reading there – succinctly refuting the idea that their footnotes always point out where manuscript-differences affect translation. 
            Thus they have no reason to look into the variant and see that the Alexandrian reading – the lack of δι’ εαυτου (or δι’ αυτου) – is easily explained as a parableptic error, caused when an early copyist’s line of sight wandered from the end of αυτου or εαυτου to the identical letters in the next phrase.  Notably, Michael Holmes, the compiler of the SBL-GNT, did look into this variant-unit, and included δι’ αυτου in the text.  He has not been accused of holding an idiosyncratic view because of this – so far.
            Second, it tells us that if the Byzantine text of Hebrews 1:1-6 did not achieve a stable form until the 800’s, then the scribes who perpetuated it before then exercised a remarkably high level of precision and discipline:  in 736 years (assigning the production of the book of Hebrews to the year 64), collectively they introduced 12 letters’ worth of corruption – or, if δι’ αυτου is the original reading in verse 3, only five letters’ worth of corruption – plus two benign transpositions.  Meanwhile in the Alexandrian transmission-stream, it took 161 years (putting the production of P45 at 225) before a professional copyist produced a manuscript in which Hebrews 1:1-6 contained 21 (or 14, if δι’ αυτου is accepted as original) letters’ worth of corruption. 
            If, like the editors of the New Living Translation, one rejects δι’ αυτου, and, like the NLT’s Coordinating Editor for the New Testament (Philip Wesley Comfort), one accepts a very early production-date for Papyrus 46 – during the reign of Hadrian (117-138) – then it follows that the scribes in the transmission-stream of P46 required 74 years to introduce 21 letters’ worth of corruption into the text of Hebrews 1:1-6.  (Let’s express this as an annual corruption ratio:  74:21, or .284 letters’ worth of corruption per year.) 
            If one were to assume that the Byzantine Text did not emerge until 800, this would imply that the scribes in its transmission-stream up to that point (with a corruption-ratio in Hebrews 1:1-6 of 736:12, or .0163 letters’ worth of corruption per year) were more than seventeen times as accurate, year for year, as the scribes in the transmission-stream of Papyrus 46. 
            On the other hand, if one theorizes that the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 achieved a relatively stable form no later than A.D. 400, then – still using the NTG as the basis for the comparison – the Byzantine copyists would have a theoretical corruption-ratio of 336:12, or .0357, in Hebrews 1:1-6.  This would mean that the Byzantine copyists were eight times as careful as the ones in Papyrus 46’s transmission-stream, but at least this is not as implausible as the first theoretical scenario.

And now, a statistical excursion. 

If one were to posit
            (a) the NTG’s text of Hebrews 1:1-6 as the original text, and
            (b) the existence of the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 in a manuscript made in 225, and
            (c) the existence of Papyrus 46 in the same year, then one could estimate that Byzantine copyists produced .0533 letters’ worth of corruption annually in Hebrews 1:1-6, and that the copyists in Papyrus 46’ transmission-line meanwhile produced approximately .093 letters’ worth of corruption annually in Hebrews 1:1-6.  If one were to picture copyists with the annual corruption-rate displayed in the transmission-stream of Papyrus 46, but producing instead the Byzantine text of Hebrews 1:1-6, then at a rate of .093 letters’ worth of corruption in this passage annually, beginning in A.D. 64 and working for 129 years, they would produce the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 by the year 194. 

            If the first premise in this hypothetical scenario were slightly adjusted, so that δι’ αυτου is accepted as part of the original text in verse 3, then if the copyists who produced the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 introduced corruption at the same rate as the scribes in the transmission-stream of Papyrus 46, then the Byzantine scribes would require 53 years to produce the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6, and their work would be identical to the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 by the year 117.  Toss on another 20 years – a decade for each transposition – and the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 emerges, not by 800, but before 150. 

            If one were to ignore P46’s three itacistic corruptions, and assign its production to 225, then its corruption-rate would be 18 letters over 161 years; that is, .112 letters’ worth of corruption annually – or, if δι’ αυτου is accepted as part of the original text in verse 3, then the rate is 11 letters over 161 years, that is, .068 letters’ worth of corruption annually.  Byzantine scribes working at the same rate would produce the Byzantine text of Hebrews 1:1-6 (with 12 letters’ worth of corruption) by the year 240 (working over 176 years) – or, if δι’ αυτου is accepted as part of the original text in verse 3, then if they had the same corruption-rate as the scribes in the transmission-line of P46, they would create five letters’ worth of corruption in 74 years, and the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 would thus emerge around the year 140, or, with two decades for the two transpositions, around 160.  I build nothing on this statistical comparison, but I find it interesting.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Philippians 1:6-14, Papyrus 46, and the Byzantine Text

Papyrus 46 (c. 225) - Philippians 1:5b-15a
(verse-numbers digitally added)
            Let’s run a little experiment to find out the answer to a simple question:  which is more accurate in Philippians 1:6-14:  the text of Papyrus 46 – the earliest known Greek manuscript of this passage – or the Byzantine Text?  We will run this experiment twice, using two modern compilations as the basis of comparison. 

First, we shall use the Society of Biblical Literature’s Greek New Testament, compiled by Michael Holmes, as the standard for comparison.  For convenience, the following symbols will accompany a list of variants:
            ● means the SBLGNT agrees with P46.
            ■ means the SBLGNT agrees with the Byzantine Text.
Here are all the differences between the text of Papyrus 46 and the Byzantine Text in Philippians 1:6-14, accompanied by symbols to show which reading is adopted in the SBLGNT. 

6 – Byz has υμιν where P46 has υμειν.  ■ 
6 – Byz has Χριστου Ιησου where P46 has Ιησου Χριστου (contracted).  ■
7 – Byz has συγκοινωνους where P46 has και κοινωνους.  ■
8 – Byz has μου after γαρ.  ■
8 – Byz has εστιν before ο Θεος.  ●
8 – Byz has ως instead of ω before επιποθω.  ■
8 – Byz has Ιησου Χριστου where P46 has Χριστου Ιησου (contracted).  ● 
9 – no disagreements.
10 – Byz does not have την before ημεραν.  ■
10 – Byz has καρπων instead of καρπον.  ●
10 – Byz  has των instead of τον.  ●
11 – Byz has Ιησου Χριστου where P46 has Χριστου Ιησου (contracted).  ■
11 – Byz does not have Θυ after δοξαν.  ■
12 – Byz has Θεου where P46 has εμοι.  ■
12 – Byz has Γινωσκειν where P46 has Γεινωσκειν.  ■
13 – Byz has φανερους where P46 has [φα]νερουςθαι.  ■
13 – Byz has πασιν where P46 has πασι.  ■ 
14 – no disagreements.

Out of 16 variant-units between the Byzantine Text and Papyrus 46, the Byzantine Text has the original reading (if one accepts Michael Holmes’ text-critical decisions) in 12 of them.

Philippians 1:10b-14 in MS 2401.
What if one uses the text of Philippians 1:6-14 in the most recent edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece as the basis for comparison?  Let’s see.  This time we will count the numbers of gains of non-original letters, and of losses of original letters, that occur.  

● means NTG agrees with P46.
■ means NTG agrees with the Byzantine Text.

6 – Byz has υμιν where P46 has υμειν.  ■  (P46:  +1)
6 – Byz has Χριστου Ιησου where P46 has Ιησου Χριστου (contracted).  ■
7 – Byz has συγκοινωνους where P46 has και κοινωνους.  ■   (P46:  +3, -3)
8 – Byz has μου after γαρ.  ■   (P46:  -3)
8 – Byz has εστιν before ο Θεος.  ●   (Byz:  +5)
8 – Byz has ως instead of ω before επιποθω.  ■  (P46:  -1)
8 – Byz has Ιησου Χριστου where P46 has Χριστου Ιησου (contracted).  ●     
9 – no disagreements.
10 – Byz does not have την before ημεραν.  ■    (P46:  +3)
10 – Byz has καρπων instead of καρπον.  ●  (Byz:  +1, -1)
10 – Byz  has των instead of τον.  ●  (Byz:  +1, -1)
11 – Byz has Ιησου Χριστου where P46 has Χριστου Ιησου (contracted)  ■
11 – Byz does not have Θυ after δοξαν.  ■   (P46:  +2)
12 – Byz has Θεου where P46 has εμοι.  ■   (P46:  +3, -3)
12 – Byz has Γινωσκειν where P46 has Γεινωσκειν.   ■  (P46:  +1)
13 – Byz has φανερους where P46 has [φα]νερουςθαι.  ■  (P46:  +3)
13 – Byz has πασιν where P46 has πασι.  ■    (P46:  -1)
14 – no disagreements.     

Using the 27th/28th edition of Novum Testamentum Graece as one’s standard of comparison, one gets the same results that are acquired using the SBGGNT:  the Byzantine Text deviates from the original text four times, and the text in Papyrus 46 deviates from the original text 12 times.  If we count the amount of variation by letters (not considering benign transpositions which do not involve a loss of any letters), the Byzantine scribes added 7 non-original letters, and lost 2 original letters, for a total of nine letters’ worth of deviation from the original text; meanwhile, the Alexandrian scribes added 16 non-original letters, and lost eight original letters, for a total of twenty-four letters’ worth of deviation from the original text.   

This is, granted, a very small sample.  Nevertheless it vividly illustrates three points:
            First:  the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece compilation does not always follow the oldest manuscript. 
            Second:  the term “Alexandrian” has been thrown around somewhat loosely:  it is used to describe the text of Vaticanus, and the text of Papyrus 46.  Yet the Byzantine Text of Philippians 1:6-14 resembles the text of Vaticanus more closely than the text of Papyrus 46 does.    
            Third:  the scribal transmission-line that produced the Byzantine Text of Philippians 1:6-14 yielded a more accurate text of this passage than the transmission-line that produced Papyrus 46. 

            In conclusion, let’s explore that third point.  Some advocates of the Alexandrian Text have proposed that the Byzantine Text did not reach a final form until the 800’s.  In that case, this little experiment in Philippians 1:6-14 indicates that the Byzantine scribes who perpetuated the text of this passage must have been a team composed of some remarkably disciplined and precise copyists:  if one assigns the year 61 as the production-date of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and 225 as the production-date of Papyrus 46, then in the course of 164 years, Alexandrian scribes introduced twelve corruptions into the text of Philippians 1:6-14.  Meanwhile, if one assigns the year 800 as the point when the Byzantine Text of Philippians came into existence, then after 739 years of transmission, the Byzantine scribes introduced only four corruptions into the text of Philippians 1:6-14.
            Another possibility:  in 400, the Byzantine Text of Philippians already existed, and was transmitted from then on very accurately when on its home-turf.  This would imply that its copyists introduced half as many corruptions into the text of Philippians 1:6-14 in twice the time as the scribes in the Alexandrian transmission-line of Papyrus 46. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

James Leonard and the Byzantine Text

The Byzantine Text
of Philippians 1.
            Recently Dr. James Leonard, an administrator of a discussion-group on Facebook that occasionally looks into questions about the text of the New Testament, asserted there that many or most readings from the Byzantine Text which differ from the Nestle-Aland compilation are often unattested by the Greek manuscript tradition prior to the ninth century.  That assertion was met with an invitation from a member of the discussion-group:  list all of the Byzantine readings in Matthew and Mark that are unattested before the ninth century.
            Dr. Leonard’s response was twofold:  first, he quickly ejected the invitation-maker from the discussion-group.  And second, responding to the invitation, he presented a list of Byzantine readings from Philippians chapter 1.
           Such a response is insufficient – not only because it restricts legitimate discussion, and does not involve the text of Matthew and Mark, but also, as it turns out, because Leonard’s data from Philippians 1 does not come remotely close to vindicating the idea that many or most readings in the Byzantine Text are unsupported before the 800’s.  
           As a convenient (but problematic) method of data-collection, Leonard consulted the Nestle-Aland apparatus, and after finding 31 variant-units in that chapter, he promptly acknowledged that in 19 of those 31 variant-units, the Byzantine Text and the Alexandrian Text agree.  That left him with only 12 variants capable of being examples of Byzantine readings that have no support before the year 800.  Six of them, however, he admits to be attested before then. 
            To show the amount of text involved in this analysis, here are three pictures.  The first one shows the Byzantine Text of Philippians chapter 1.  The second one shows the six Byzantine readings which fit Leonard’s description; they differ from modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament and are not attested in Greek manuscripts prior to the ninth century.  (The variant that is highlighted in yellow is a transposition-variant; the variant concerns the order in which the verses appear.)  The third picture shows the Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 which a cursory investigation indicates are unattested in witnesses from earlier than the 800’s. 
Byzantine readings
in Philippians 1
not supported in
Greek MSS
made before 800.
            Here are the six non-Alexandrian Byzantine variants in Philippians 1 which Leonard affirmed to be supported in Greek manuscripts before the 800’s:  [bold print added] 

(1)  1:5 – Byz does not have της after απο.  Leonard:  “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading comes from the 6th century D-Text witness 06.” 
(2)  1:8 – Byz has εστιν after μου.  Leonard:  “The earliest attestation for the Maj Reading comes from the 5th century B-Text witness 02.”
(3)  1:18 – Byz does not have οτι after Πλην.  Leonard:  “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading is the 6th century D-Text witness 06.” 
(4)  1:23 – Byz does not have γαρ after πολλω.  Leonard:  “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading is the 4th century B-text witness 01.”
(5)  1:24 – Byz has εν after επιμενειν.  Leonard:  “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading are from 4th and 5th century B-Text witnesses.”  However, Leonard is mistaken.  Papyrus 46 (from the late 100’s or early 200’s) also supports the Byzantine reading here.  The text of Philippians 1:24 in Papyrus 46 agrees 100% with the Byzantine Text, while disagreeing with Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.  I have supplied here a picture of this part of Papyrus 46, with the words of Philippians 1:24 individually underlined.  
(6)  1:27 – Byz reads ακουσω instead of ακουω.  Leonard:  “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading are from 4th and 5th century B-Text readings.”

            Thus, after listing 12 readings as examples of Byzantine readings that show that Byzantine readings do not have manuscript-support until the 800’s, Leonard acknowledged that half of his examples have manuscript-support before the 800’s

Philippians 1:24 in Papyrus 46.
            Now let’s take a closer look at the six readings in Philippians 1 which, Leonard maintained, have no manuscript-support before the 800’s: 

● (1) 1:11 – Byz has καρπων δικαιοσύνης των (“fruits of righteousness”) instead of καρπον δικαιοσύνης τον (fruit of righteousness). 
● (2) 1:16-17 – Byz has these two verses in the opposite order.
● (3) 1:17 – Byz has επιφερειν instead of εγείρειν.
● (4) 1:25 – Byz has συμπαραμενω instead of παραμενω. 
● (5) 1:28 – Byz has αυτοις μεν εστιν instead of εστιν αυτοις.
● (6) 1:28 – Byz has υμιν instead of υμων.

Byzantine readings
in Philippians 1
not supported
by any witnesses
before 800.
           Let’s look for pre-800 attestation of these readings from all sources, not only Greek manuscripts.  Leonard himself, after all, has stated that if all existing Greek manuscripts suddenly disappeared, “We could reconstruct the New Testament from the early versions with considerable confidence.”  What do we see about the text of Philippians 1 in the versional evidence, when we look?  We see that the Peshitta supports the Byzantine reading in 1:11; the Harklean Syriac supports the Byzantine order of verses 16 and 17 (and so does Chrysostom;  see his 
Homily 2 on Philippians); the Peshitta supports επιφερειν in verse 17, and the Byzantine reading υμιν in verse 28 is supported by the Vulgate, as well as by Coptic, Gothic, and Ethiopic witnesses, carrying its support back to the 300’s.        
            The idea that Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 typically lack attestation before the 800’s dies a quick death in every case except two:  the Byzantine readings συμπαραμενω in verse 25 and αυτοις μεν εστιν in Philippians 1:28 (where NA reads εστιν αυτοις) appear to have no support from witnesses earlier than the 800’s.    
            None of this analysis shows that any of these Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 are original.  Nor does it show that readings that lack early support should automatically be rejected.  What this analysis shows is that the idea that Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 have no support before the 800’s is opposed by 29 out of 31 readings.  
            And this was in a passage selected by Leonard!  Will he continue to promote the idea that Byzantine readings typically or frequently lack attestation from before the 800’s, after being shown that 93.5% of his own Exhibit A refutes that assertion?  Probably.

(P.S.  My conclusion that  the Byzantine readings συμπαραμενω in verse 25 and αυτοις μεν εστιν in Philippians 1:28 lack support before 800 is provisional; I did not investigate this further after it was clear that the evidence opposed Leonard’s claim so thoroughly.  If anyone wishes to add more data about this, feel free to do so in the comments.)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Craig Evans and the Ending of Mark

             A prominent evangelical commentator has spread misinformation about an important text-critical question.  I wrote this post as a means of doing something about it, in the hope that the commentator himself, and his publishers, will gladly do more.

            Dr. Craig A. Evans – a professor at Houston Baptist University – wrote some admiring comments about Nicholas Lunn’s 2014 book, The Original Ending of Mark – A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20:  “I have for my whole career held that Mark 16:9-20, the so-called ‘Long Ending,’ was not original.  But in his well-researched and carefully argued book, Lunn succeeds in showing just how flimsy that position really is.  The evidence for the early existence of this ending, if not for its originality, is extensive and quite credible.  I will not be surprised if Lunn reverses scholarly opinion on this important question.”
            That was 2014.  Previously, Dr. Evans had indeed dismissed Mark 16:9-20 as non-original.  In 2008, he asserted on page 30 of the book Fabricating Jesus, “The last twelve verses of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 16:9-20) are not the original ending; they were added at least two centuries after Mark first began to circulate.”
            That is a remarkable claim, because it assigns the production of Mark 16:9-20 to the 260’s (if Mark wrote his Gospel-account in the 60’s) – well beyond the lifetimes of Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Irenaeus, all of whom used the passage in the 100’s.   We shall take a close look at Dr. Evans’ treatment of the evidence from Irenaeus, but first, let’s consider what he said about Mark 16:9-20 in 1988, on page 543 of his commentary on Mark in the Word Biblical Commentary series:
In the ancient MSS that contain the whole of Mark, we find four endings:  (1)  in 16:8, “for they were afraid”; (2) at 16:20, the so-called Long Ending; (3) at 16:8, plus the so-called Short Ending; and (4) at 16:20, plus the Short Ending.  Many of the older MSS have asterisks and obeli marking off the Long or Short Ending as spurious or at least doubtful.”
Codex Bobbiensis -
the only manuscript
in any language to have
only the Shorter Ending
after Mark 16:8.
That statement has three mistakes:

(1)  Codex Bobbiensis (Old Latin k), the only extant manuscript in any language that ends the text of Mark with only the Short Ending after 16:8, does not contain “the whole of Mark.”  Mark 1:1-8:7 is missing in Codex Bobbiensis, due to incidental damage.  Smaller bits are also missing in the extant portion. 

(2)  No Greek manuscripts have the Short Ending after 16:20 Evans’ fourth ending is non-existent.  Five manuscripts have the Short Ending between 16:8 and 16:9, and one has the Short Ending in the page-margin, but none have it after 16:20.  Evidently, Evans depended on the error-plagued textual apparatus in the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament, some editions of which spread this mistake. 
            It may be worthwhile to tangentially note that such parroting is all too common in commentaries written by evangelicals after 1971, when Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament was published.  Metzger’s claims have been so thoroughly and uncritically absorbed and paraphrased by evangelical commentators that it is very difficult to correct Metzger’s well-distributed mistakes and distortions.  For example, even after Metzger himself, in 1980, wrote a major essay retracting his earlier claim that some Ethiopic manuscripts of Mark concluded at 16:8, one can still find his false claim about Ethiopic manuscripts in commentaries written 30 years later – and even on page 322 of the fourth edition of Metzger’s own The Text of the New Testament, now edited (not very carefully, it seems) by Bart Ehrman.

(3)  Evans’ claim that “Many of the older MSS have asterisks and obeli marking off the Long or Short Ending as spurious or at least doubtful” is incorrect.  Daniel Wallace, in 2007 in Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, stated that the number of manuscripts with an asterisk or obeli accompanying Mark 16:9-20 to indicate doubt about those verses (out of over 1,600 Greek manuscripts of Mark) is “at least five.”  So who is correct:  Evans, who says that there are many such manuscripts (and that they are among “the older” ones), or Wallace, who manages to list five (all of which are medieval copies)? 
            As it turns out, both Evans and Wallace are wrong.  The manuscripts listed by Wallace are 138, 264, 1221, 2346, and 2812.  I have examined photographs or microfilm-images of the relevant pages of all five.  None of them has a column of asterisks or obeli alongside Mark 16:9-20, and the only ones that have a mark resembling an asterisk near Mark 16:9 are 138 and 264 – not a column of asterisks, but a single asterisk-like mark.
            The reason for this mark in minuscule 138 is not difficult to discern:  in the rest of the manuscript, in which commentary-material is interspersed with the Gospels-text, the reader is alerted to the resumption of the Gospels-text by the presence of Eusebian Section-and-Canon-numbers in the outer margin, as well as by diple-marks (“>”) accompanying each line of Scripture-text.  For Mark 16:9-14, the diple-marks are present, but not a Eusebian Section-number, because there wasn’t one.  The asterisk-like mark merely serves as a proxy, since there was no Eusebian Section-number, to alert the reader that the Gospels-text resumes at this point.  Minuscule 138 includes in its commentary-material a comment which confirms the legitimacy of Mark 16:9-20 and its attestation in a Palestinian exemplar. 
            It is not unusual for manuscripts in which commentary-material accompanies the text to have symbols which accompany segments of the text (usually written in red, either in the margin, or embedded in the text itself), to convey to the readers where they can find the comment about that segment (by looking for the same symbol in the margin).  Anyone who can look at the symbol in a commentary-manuscript such as 2812 and call it an asterisk, and claim that it conveys doubt, when in reality it does not remotely resemble an asterisk, and serves the same purpose as a footnote-number, plainly does not understand the marginalia.
            In minuscule 264, the asterisk-like symbol in the outer margin beside Mark 16:9 also occurs alongside Mark 11:1, 11:12, 12:38, 14:12, Luke 18:2, and Luke 19:29.  Unless someone is prepared to explain the doubts that a copyist had about those passages (I jest of course), it should be acknowledged that these marks in 264 denote chapter-breaks and lection-breaks, and are not expressions of scribal doubt at all.
            Likewise, no one who has carefully examined minuscule 1221 would report that it has a symbol at Mark 16:9 that was intended to convey scribal doubt, because the same symbol (four dots arranged like the points of a lozenge or compass) is used in the same manuscript at some other lection-breaks:  at Matthew 3:1, 3:7, 4:1, 4:12, 4:18, and (moving along) in Mark at 2:13, halfway through 5:24, about halfway through 6:7, halfway through Luke 2:22, at Luke 2:41, at Luke 3:1, and more.  It would be an act of conscious deception if a writer were to carefully examine this manuscript and then describe the symbol at 16:9 as if it conveyed scribal doubt, without mentioning the ones at the other locations.  (I do not suspect Evans of doing this, since I doubt that he consulted images of any of these manuscripts before writing about them.)
            Fifteen members of two small groups of manuscripts – the family-1 group, and the “Jerusalem Colophon” group – have special annotations about Mark 16:9-20, and in some cases the annotation is accompanied by an asterisk or by a pair of asterisks, but such features are there to draw the reader’s eye to the note; in and of themselves, such marks do not express doubt; it is not rare to see them accompanying the Gospels’ titles and rubrics.  (The annotations in these groups tend to defend the genuineness of Mark 16:9-20, stating that although some copies lack verses 9-20 and Eusebius did not include the passage in his Canon-Tables, the verses are in the ancient copies, or (in a different form of the annotation) in most copies.  The later form of the annotation omits the part about the Eusebian Canons.  These are not independent notes; they echo one or two ancestors of these two small manuscript-groups.) 
            In addition to those three errors, what Evans does not say is significant.  He ensures that his readers’ perception of the evidence is blurry:  he could have said that the Gospel of Mark ends in the following ways in the extant Greek manuscripts:  (1)  in two manuscripts from the 300’s, the text ends at 16:8; (2) in one thousand and six hundred manuscripts, 16:8 is followed by 16:9-20; (3) in five manuscripts, the Short Ending is present between 16:8 and 16:9, and in one manuscript, 16:9 follows 16:8 in the text but the Short Ending is written in the lower margin of the page, and (4) fifteen manuscripts (among the manuscripts in which 16:8 is followed by 16:9) perpetuate a note which states that although some copies lack verses 9-20, the majority of copies, or the ancient copies, contain the passage.
            This would have given readers a better picture of what Evans was really saying:  that at this point in the text, he prefers the testimony of two early manuscripts over the testimony of 1,600 manuscripts (including other ancient manuscripts such as Codices A, D, and W (which has an interpolation between 16:14 and 16:15).  It does not elicit much confidence in the “embarrassment of riches” when one conveys that over 99% of the coins in the treasury are counterfeit – and this may be why so many commentators resort to vague terms when discussing this subject.

            Now let’s take a closer look at what Dr. Evans has written about the evidence from Irenaeus.  As recently as 2013, Evans claimed that the text of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies at this point is corrupt:   in the Holman Apologetics Commentary (2013), after we again encounter the erroneous claims from 1988 that begin with, “In the ancient manuscripts that contain the whole of Mark,” and so forth, we read this:

“Mark 16:19 (“Then after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God”) is quoted in Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3.10.5), but this is uncertain testimony.  The original Greek text of this part of Against Heresies has not survived.  It survives in a later Latin translation that may have incorporated this verse from much later manuscripts.  Accordingly, it is far from certain that Irenaeus, writing c. 180, was acquainted with Mark’s so-called Longer Ending.”

            That is historical revisionism of a pernicious and preposterous kind.  Fortunately it can be easily refuted.  Granting that in some patristic writings, copyists or translators substituted their own texts when presenting quotations made by the patristic author, Evans’ proposal involves more than a simple substitution of one form of a passage for another.  He contends that the Latin translator inserted a quotation of Mark 16:19 where there was previously nothing.  That is, Evans is not proposing an exchange of texts; he is proposing that the text of Against Heresies, Book 3, chapter 10, part 5, contains a large interpolation.  His theory requires that this entire portion that consists of the quotation and the explanation of it, is all an interpolation:

“Also, towards 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,’ confirming what had been spoken by the prophet:  ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’  Thus God and the Father are truly one and the same; He who was announced by the prophets, and handed down by the true Gospel; whom we Christians worship and love with the whole heart, as the Maker of heaven and earth and all things therein.”

A note in minuscule 72 beside Mark 16:19:  
“Irenaeus, who lived near the time of the 
apostles, cites this from Mark in the third 
book of his work Against Heresies.” 
            Is there any evidence that the translator of Against Heresies tossed this into the text, out of the blue?  No.  Is there any evidence that this was part of the text of Against Heresies, Book Three, from the time it was written by Irenaeus?  Yes.  A Greek note in the margin of Greek minuscule 1582, next to Mark 16:19, confirms that Irenaeus quoted the verse, in Book Three of Against Heresies.  (I have read the note in digital images of minuscule 1582, and have a picture of it, but I have not posted it here due to a restrictive copyright policy.)  A Greek note in the margin of Greek manuscript 72, next to Mark 16:19, says the same thing.  And according to Jeff Hargis in a report about the findings of a CSNTM-team in Romania, a Greek manuscript at the Museum of Oltenia, in Craiova, Romania, also has this note alongside Mark 16:19.
            Does Dr. Evans imagine that the author of that Greek note was using a Latin translation of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies?  Such a theory is highly unlikely, especially considering that 1582’s annotations echo the fifth-century ancestor of the family-1 group, of which 1582 is the strongest member.  So I confidently categorize Evans’ entire theory about Irenaeus’ statement as arbitrary, baseless, and absurd.        

            Finally, further along in the Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Gospels and Acts (edited by Jeremy Royal Howard), Evans wrote:  “Some manuscripts preserve the so-called Short Ending to Mark (L Y 099 0112).  Almost all of those that do also contain the Long Ending.”  He is mistaken in two ways:  first, Codex Y does not contain the Short Ending.  A typo has occurred, and the symbol Ψ should appear instead of Y.  Secondly, as far as Greek manuscripts are concerned – and that is the only kind of manuscript that Evans lists here – only six Greek manuscripts have the Short Ending, and all six contain at least part of 16:9, showing that they all had verses 9-20 when in pristine condition. 

            None of this should be considered relevant to any of Dr. Evans’ work in other fields.  But when it comes to his text-critical treatment of the ending of Mark, Craig Evans’ commentary contains numerous mistakes – so many and so bad that his commentary should be withdrawn from publication as soon as possible, so that he can correct it, in order to stop misleading his readers.  (Some other books should also be withdrawn and corrected by their authors, because of worse mistakes.  Looking at you, Stephen M. Miller.)  If he and his publishers do not do that, then it is up to ordinary readers to make full use of the margins of his commentary to ensure that future readers are not led astray by such erroneous and irresponsible mistreatment of the evidence.