Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Video Lecture: John 7:53-8:11

Now on YouTube: Lecture 18 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism: John 7:53-8:11.
     Here's an excerpt from this 43-minute lecture:
     Today, we are investigating one of the most famous textual variants in the New Testament: John 7:53-8:11, also known as the story of the adulteress. The textual contest involving these 12 verses is often introduced to Bible-readers by a heading, such as the one that appears in the Christian Standard Bible between John 7:52 and 7:53: “The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53-8:11.”
     Back in 1982, when the New King James Version was published, its footnote about these verses said that they “are present in over 900 manuscripts.” More recently, Dr. Maurice Robinson has confirmed that although 270 manuscripts do not include these verses, they are supported by 1,500 manuscripts. That is a ratio of 85 to 15, in favor of the inclusion of the passage.
        But it is a well-grounded axiom that manuscripts must be weighed, not counted. Among the early manuscripts that do not include John 7:53-8:11 are Papyrus 66, Papyrus 75, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Ephraimi Rescriptus, Codex T, also known as 029, Codex Washingtonianus, and Codex N, also known as 022, a purple uncial from the 500s.
Most of these manuscripts represent the Alexandrian Text. The early versions based in Egypt, such as the Sahidic version, agree, along with the Ethiopic version. But some relatively early non-Coptic versions also agree: Codex Argenteus, the primary witness to the Gothic version of the Gospels, does not have the story of the adulteress. Neither does the Peshitta, which in the Gospels is frequently an ally of the Byzantine Text.
        To researchers who value the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text as if their weight is greater than all other manuscripts put together, the evidence I have just mentioned settles the question of whether John 7:53-8:11 is part of the original text of the Gospel of John. They would say that this passage is not original, and that the evidence against its genuineness is “overwhelming.” However, there is other evidence that points in the other direction. There is also a considerable amount of misinformation circulating about this passage that has to be sorted out.
        Some researchers have stated that out of the 322 majuscule manuscripts that were catalogued, as of several years ago, only three support the inclusion of John 7:53-8:11. That statement is built on a false picture of the majuscules, as if they are all majuscule manuscripts of John.
        Most of those 322 majuscule manuscripts do not have any text from chapters 7 and 8 of the Gospel of John. Using “3 out of 322 majuscules” as a frame of reference is a silly proportion; it is like combining all of the baseball games, football games, and hockey games played in 1972, and saying, “The 1972 Miami Dolphins only won 17 out of 500 games.”
        Sounds like the 1972 Dolphins weren’t very good.
        Plus, the claim that only three majuscules include John 7:53-8:11 is simply false. The uncials D, E, G, H, K, M, U, S, G, Γ, Λ, Π, Ω, 047, and 0233 support the passage. Codex F, Boreelianus, included it when the manuscript was in pristine condition. Codex Y, Macedonianus, does not have the passage, but its marginalia expresses awareness of the missing verses. In Codex Delta, and in Codex L, John 7:53-8:11 is absent, but a large blank space appears between John 7:52 and John 8:12, evidently left as memorial-space; acknowledging the copyists’ recollection of the missing verses.
I don’t want to give the impression that the way to solve textual variants is to hold a democratic election with manuscripts in the role of citizens. But since an appeal to the number of manuscripts has been attempted, we might as well improve its accuracy: The number of majuscules that have John 7-8, and include John 7:53-8:11 or part of the passage, is 16, and the number of majuscules that have John 7 and 8 that do not include John 7:53-8:11 is 18, but two of those 18 – Codex Regius and Codex Delta – leave memorial-space for the passage.
        Codex Macedonianus, already mentioned, does not include the passage but has symbols in the margin that appear to refer to it. In the case of Codex A, Codex C, and 070 – three of the 18 majuscules counted as witnesses for non-inclusion – we don’t see a text in which John 8:12 follows John 7:52; we have to depend on space-considerations. Granting that those considerations are correct, the count is 16 for inclusion, 16 for non-inclusion, and a three-vote buffer-zone that both supports a text without John 7:53-8:11 while also supporting a memory of an exemplar with John 7:53-8:11.
        In addition, a few manuscripts, such as Codex Lambda and minuscules 34 and 135, have notes that refer to the presence of the story of the adulteress in earlier copies. I will say more about this feature later in the lecture.
        What we see here are the signs of two early forms of the text of the Gospel of John: one based in the West, that included John 7:53-8:11, and one based in the East, that did not.
        The dry climate of Egypt gave an advantage to papyrus manuscripts there, allowing the writing-material to survive longer, regardless of the quality of the text that was written on it. Outside Egypt, papyrus tended to naturally experience more rapid decomposition. Partly for this reason, the heading that states that the “earliest manuscripts” do not include John 7:53-8:11 is true. But there is also early evidence in favor of the story of the adulteress.
        Jerome, writing in the early 400s, said in his composition Against the Pelagians, 2:17: “In the Gospel according to John, there is found, in many copies, Greek as well as Latin, the story of the adulteress who was accused before the Lord.”
        About 30 years earlier, in 383, Jerome had included John 7:53-8:11 in the Gospel of John in the Vulgate Gospels. In his Preface to the Gospels, Jerome wrote that he had revised the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John “by a comparison of the Greek manuscripts. Only early ones have been used.”
        In his Epistle 27, To Marcella, Jerome was more candid. He stated, “The Latin manuscripts of the Scriptures are demonstrated to be faulty by the variations which they all exhibit, and my objective has been to restore them to the form of the original Greek.” 
        So: when Jerome translated the Vulgate Gospels, he did so on the basis of “ancient Greek manuscripts” – that is, manuscripts that were already considered ancient in 383. This testimony alone goes a long way toward outweighing the early Egyptian manuscripts. We don’t know exactly how many Greek manuscripts Jerome would call “many,” but if it was more than nine, that would imply that Jerome saw as many manuscripts, made before the year 400, with the passage, as we have seen without it.
        In a composition from the 200s, called the Didascalia Apostolorum, we find the following, in Syriac, in chapter 7, after the author used King Manasseh as an example of those who have received mercy from God:
        “If you do not receive the one who repents, because you are without mercy, you shall sin against the Lord God, for you do not obey our Savior and our God, to do as He also did with her who had sinned, whom the elders set before Him, and leaving the judgment in His hands, departed. But He, the searcher of hearts, asked her and said to her, ‘Have the elders condemned you, my daughter?’ She said to Him, ‘No, Lord.’ And He said to her, ‘Go your way; neither do I condemn you.’ In Him therefore, our Savior and King and God, is your pattern, O bishops.”
        The author of the Didascalia appears to regard the scene about Jesus and this woman as if it as well-known as the many other passages that he refer to in this composition. He uses Jesus’ act of forgiveness as a precedent for Christian bishops to emulate. 
        Another significant early witness is found in the Old Latin chapter-summaries, or capitula. In some Old Latin copies of John, and in many Vulgate copies that preserve Old Latin supplemental material, before the text of the Gospel, there are lists of chapter-numbers, chapter-titles, and brief chapter-summaries.
        There are eleven forms of the Old Latin capitula that mention the adulteress, plus one that mentions that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, referring to what is said in John 8:1.
        One of these forms is called the Cy form, because it is assigned to the time of Cyprian or shortly later, that is, the mid-200s or late 200s. In John’s chapter-summaries in the Cy-form of the Old Latin capitula, the summary of chapter 30 begins like this: “Wherein he dismissed the adulteress, and said that he was the light of the world.” This indicates that the story of the adulteress was in an Old Latin text in the 200s, right before John 8:12.
        Furthermore, as Hugh Houghton has confirmed, the chapter-summary in some Latin manuscripts uses a loan-word based on the Greek word for adultery. The same loan-word also appears in the text of Codex Corbeiensis, from the 400s or 500s, indicates that the Latin text here echoes a Greek text.
        The testimony of Saint Ambrose of Milan, from about the 380s, deserves attention. Although some commentators have claimed that none of the early writers used the story of the adulteress, Ambrose made several extensive quotations of the story of the adulteress. Ambrose is widely regarded as the author of Apologia David, in which, in the course of commenting on sub-title of Psalm 51, the author says, “Perhaps most people are taken aback by the title of the Psalm, which you have heard read, that Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Likewise those with weak faith could be disturbed by the Gospel-reading, which has been covered, in which we see an adulteress presented to Christ and sent away without condemnation.” If the author was indeed Ambrose, this reference shows that the story of the adulteress was routinely read in Milan. If not, it shows that the passage was routinely read somewhere else.
    In his Epistle 25, To Studius, Ambrose addresses the question of whether a Christian official may pronounce a death-sentence. In the course of his comments on this question, he refers to how Jesus dealt with the adulteress. Ambrose quotes the words, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone at her. And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.” He continues: “When they heard this they began to go out one by one, beginning at the eldest.” And then he quotes, “So when they departed, Jesus was left alone, and lifting up His head, He said to the woman, Woman, where are those your accusers? Has no man condemned you? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”
        In his next letter, Epistle 26, To Studius, Ambrose goes into even more detail, introducing the passage about the adulteress by saying that it is “very famous,” and once again he quotes extensively from the passage.
    Earlier than Ambrose is the writer Pacian of Barcelona, who became a bishop in 365. In his Third Epistle to Sympronian – Against the Treatise of the Novatians, in paragraph 39, Pacian writes with heavy sarcasm: “O Novatians, why do you delay to ask an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and to demand life for life? Why do you wait to renew once more the practice of circumcision and the sabbath? Kill the thief. Stone the petulant. Choose not to read in the Gospel that the Lord spared even the adulteress who confessed, when none had condemned her.”
        So it is not as if the early evidence all points one way: there is very strong evidence from the East, especially from Egypt, against the passage. And there is evidence from the West, in the Old Latin capitula, and in the quotations from Pacian and Ambrose, and in the “many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin,” mentioned by Jerome, in favor of the passage.
        Before considering what caused the difference between these two forms of the text, there are other forms of the text to consider: forms in which the story of the adulteress appears at different places. As a footnote in the Christian Standard Bible states, “Other manuscripts include all or some of the passage after John 7:36, John 7:44, John 7:52, John 21:25, or Luke 21:38.”
        This is sometimes presented as definitive proof that the passage is secondary. For example, apologist James White has commented, “Such moving about by a body of text is plain evidence of its later origin,” and these different locations of the story constitute “absolute evidence” that it is not genuine.
        In 2008, Dan Wallace similarly stated that this account “has all the earmarks of a pericope that was looking for a home. It took up permanent residence, in the ninth century, in the middle of the fourth gospel.”
        This sort of comment suggests that some researchers need to get better acquainted with the influence of early lection-cycles. What is a lection-cycle? A lection-cycle is the arrangement of specific passages of Scripture assigned to be read in church-services on specific days of the year. Eventually lectionaries were developed, in which the daily readings were arranged in the chronological order in which they were to be read, but until then, there were simply local customs about which passage was assigned to each day. Important celebrations were among the first days for which specific readings were assigned. Easter-week was a very prominent annual observance on the Christian calendar. The Quartodeciman Controversy was a serious dispute in the late 100s, about precisely when the annual celebration of the Resurrection of Christ should be observed.
        Another important annual feast-day was Pentecost, a festival inherited by the church from its earlier observance in the old covenant. The Christian church has been celebrating Pentecost ever since Acts chapter 2.
        In the Byzantine lection-cycle, the Gospels-reading assigned to Pentecost consists of John 7:37-52, plus John 8:12. Thematically, it is a natural choice: Pentecost was known as the day when the Holy Spirit came to the church, and in John 7:37-39, Jesus speaks about the coming of the Holy Spirit. The inclusion of John 8:12 forms a positive closing flourish for the lection.
When the realization is made that one of the most important annual celebrations in the early church involved reading a passage of John beginning at John 7:37, continuing to the end of 7:52, and concluding with John 8:12, several things are resolved regarding manuscripts in which John 7:53-8:11 is moved around:
        The movement of the passage to precede John 7:37, in minuscule 225, was done so that the lector (the person who read the text in the church-services) would have the Pentecost-lection all in one piece, without having to stop at the end of verse 52 to find the final verse. This kind of conformation to lectionary usage is also shown in minuscule 225 where it has John 13:3-17 in the text of Matthew, after Matthew 26:20.
        So much for the claim that the movement to John 7:37 shows that the story of the adulteress was a “floating anecdote” in the early church. But what about the manuscripts in which it appears at the end of John, after John 21:25?
        These are not a random assortment of manuscripts; they consist mainly of members of the family-1 group. In the best representatives of this group, minuscules 1 and 1582, there is a note after John 21:25 that introduces the story of the adulteress there. The note goes like this:
    “The chapter about the adulteress: in the Gospel according to John, this does not appear in the majority of copies; nor is it commented upon by the divine fathers whose interpretations have been preserved – specifically, by John Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria. Nor is it taken up by Theodore of Mopsuestia and the others. Therefore, it was not kept in the place where it is found in a few copies, at the beginning of the 86th chapter, following, ‘Search and see that a prophet does not arise out of Galilee.’” 
        This note states that prior to being moved to the end of John, the story of the adulteress was found in a few copies immediately following John 7:52. And although the minuscules that display this note are medieval, their common ancestor probably originated no later than the 400s. Many Armenian copies also have the story of the adulteress at the end of John; if this echoes the initial form of the Armenian text then this format goes back at least to the early 400s.
        In the Palestinian Aramaic Lectionary, only part of the story of the adulteress was transferred to the end of John. In the lection that includes John 8:2, the Palestinian Aramaic text in two manuscripts says, “The Gospel of John was completed in Greek in Ephesus,” and in one manuscript, after John 8:2, it says, “The Gospel of John was completed by the help of Christ.”
        As J. Rendel Harris deduced back in the late 1800s, this implies that the Palestinian Aramaic lectionary was initial made by individuals using a text of John in which John 8:3-11 had been transferred to the end of John. The individuals who made the Palestinian Aramaic lectionary included in the lection the subscription-note to the Gospel of John, as well as John 8:3-11. Considering that John 7:53-8:2 is in the Palestinian Aramaic text of John, this shows that the story of the adulteress was in the text of John 7 and 8 before John 8:3-11 was transferred to the end of the Gospel.
        John 8:3-11 constituted the lection for October 8, which in the Byzantine Menologion is the feast-day honoring Saint Pelagia. This bring us to the testimony of minuscule 1333, which has been very poorly described by some commentators as if it has John 7:53-8:11 after the end of Luke.
        Minuscule 1333 would be listed among the manuscripts that do not include the passage, if someone had not written John 8:3-11 on what had been a blank page between the end of Luke and the chapter-list for John. All that has happened in minuscule 1333 is that someone who wanted to read lections from this manuscript added the lection for Saint Pelagia’s Day on the blank page. Contrary to Dan Wallace’s claim that the story of the adulteress stands as “an independent pericope between Luke and John,” in minuscule 1333 the lection’s title is explicitly provided: “For Saint Pelagia, on October 8, from the Gospel of John.”
        But what about the manuscripts related to the cluster known as family-13, in which the story of the adulteress appears at the end of Luke 21? This is a later adaptation to the series of lections that honor saints in the Menologion. After John 7:53-8:11 was moved out of the text of John, the passage was transferred to a location where it would conveniently follow the previous day’s lection in the Menologion.
        Earlier in Luke 21, verses 12-19 serve as the lection for October 7, the feast-day of Saints Sergius and Bacchus. At the end of the chapter, where verse 38 refers to Jesus teaching in the temple, the text is thematically similar to John 8:1-2. So, in the family-13 manuscripts, when the Pentecost lection was turned into one block of text via the removal of the story of the adulteress, the story of the adulteress was moved to this location, so that the lection for October 8 would be near the lection for October 7. In the main members of family 13, when you look at the transplanted text of John 8:2-3, you can see that the text has been shortened to create a smoother fit with Luke 21:37-38. After “And early in the morning He came into the temple,” the text in family 13 then says, “and the scribes presented to Him.”
So with just a few minutes spent looking at the details of the case, we can see why copyists moved the story of the adulteress, from where it had previously been found after John 7:52, to a location after John 7:36, a location after John 21:25, and a location after Luke 21:38.
        But one other location has not yet been explained: the Christian Standard Bible’s footnote says that “Other manuscripts include all or some of the passage after John 7:44.”
        There are no Greek manuscripts in which the story of the adulteress appears after John 7:44. What the CSB’s footnote refers to here is a small number of Georgian copies, including Sinai Georgian MS 16. These Gospels-manuscripts generally support the Caesarean Gospels-text, like the early Armenian manuscripts and the main members of family-1.
        What has happened is that when the Georgian version was revised, the revisor was guided by the same kind of note that appears in minuscules 1 and 1582, stating that the passage had been found in the text “at the beginning of the 86th chapter. This is a reference to the 86th Eusebian Section, which begins at the beginning of John 7:45. The note that guided the Georgian revisor apparently did not get more specific than that. And so, guided by a note that stated that the story had been found at the beginning of the 86th Eusebian Section, that is where he put it.
        Thus, instead of showing that John 7:53-8:11 was floating around like a butterfly, the transmission-streams that transfer the passage also contain earlier evidence of the passage in its usual location position between John 7:52 and John 8:12.
        What about the 270 manuscripts in which the story of the adulteress is simply absent? Before addressing that question, there is another aspect of some of the early manuscripts that should be pointed out. The Caesarean form of the text had the story of the adulteress at the end of John, introduced by a note that stated that it had been found in a few copies after John 7:52. If this was where it was in some of those early manuscripts, there would be no way to tell. 
        ● Papyrus 66 is not extant after John 21:17.
        ● Papyrus 75 is not extant after John 15:10.
        ● The Lycopolitan manuscript of John is not extant after 20:27.
        ● Codex T is not extant after John chapter 8.
        ● And, in Codex Vaticanus, marks called distigmai, resembling umlauts, appear frequently in the margin alongside a line of text that has a textual variant. One such mark appears alongside the blank space after the end of John.
        I don’t think these dots are contemporary with the main scribes of Codex Vaticanus. But others disagree, and if they are correct, then this leaves an open question about whether the transfer of the story of the adulteress was known to copyists in the early 300s.
        Considering how the Pentecost lection plays a large part in the displacement of the passage, I submit this hypothesis as an explanation for the initial omission of the passage:
        I first propose that John 7:53-8:11 was in the text of John in an exemplar used by a copyist in Egypt in the mid-100’s. By the mid-100s, the churches in Egypt already had a basic lection-cycle for their major annual festivals, including Eastertime and Pentecost.
        This doesn’t mean that each congregation, or each locale, observed exactly the same series of readings on the same feast-days, or that gradual expansion and adjustments did not happen. My first point here is simply that the celebration of Pentecost was an extremely ancient practice, included among the annual feast-days mentioned in the late 300s by the pilgrim Etheria, also known as Egeria.
In order to make it clear to the lector – the individual responsible for the reading of Scripture in the church-services – what the contours of the Pentecost-reading were, a copyist in the 100s marked his copy of the Gospel of John with simple notes signifying that when he reached the end of John 7:52, he was to jump ahead and resume at chapter 8, verse 12.
        Now picture the puzzle that presented itself to a professional copyist who used that exemplar: as he copies down the text of John chapter seven, after the end of verse 52 the copyist sees in the margin the instructions, “Skip ahead.” Unaware that these instructions were meant for the lector, he interprets them as if they were meant for him, the copyist. And so he skips ahead until he finds instructions in the margin which say, Restart here.
        The copyist follows these instructions, and accordingly he does not copy John 7:53-8:11, thinking that he is faithfully following instructions.
        And the manuscript – or manuscripts, if the same copyist made several copies – which contained this mistake proceeded to affect both the main Alexandrian transmission-stream and whatever transmission-streams to which it was exported.
        This simple theory explains why the text in the East, especially the text in Egypt, tends to not have the story about the adulteress, and the text in the West does.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Video Lecture: Mark 16:9-20, the Shorter Ending, and Internal Evidence


Lecture 17
Lecture 17 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism is online at YouTube!  In this lecture, slightly more than 25 minutes long, I focus on the internal evidence pertaining to Mark 16:9-20 - with a lengthy detour about the Shorter Ending.
  Here's an excerpt (from the part about the Shorter Ending):
     The textual variant known as the “Shorter Ending” goes like this:

            “Everything that had been told to them, they related to Peter and those with him.  And after this, Jesus Himself appeared to them and sent forth, through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.  Amen.”

             This is found between verse 8 and verse 9 in six Greek manuscripts:  Codex L, Codex Ψ, 083 – this is the same manuscript as 0112 – 099, and 579.  All six Greek manuscripts that attest to the Shorter Ending also support the inclusion of verses 9-20, although a few of them are damaged.  


Some of the Greek manuscripts that feature the Shorter Ending between verse 8 and verse 9 also feature notes that introduce each ending.  Codex L has a note that says “In some, there is also this” before the Shorter Ending, and before verses 9-20, Codex L has a note that says, “There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”

This note echoes a situation in which the scribes were aware of some copies in which the Shorter Ending was present after verse 8, and also aware of some copies in which verses 9-20 were present after verse 8.

In Codex Psi, there is no such note between verse 8 and the Shorter Ending, but after the Shorter Ending, Codex Psi has the same note that is seen in Codex L:  There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”  

083 is a damaged fragment.  After Mark 16:8, 083 has the closing-title of Mark at the end of a column.  In the next column, the Shorter Ending appears, and then before the beginning of verse 9, 083 has the note:  “There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”  It is possible that 083 also had the same note that is found in Codex L before the Shorter Ending, but that part of the page is not extant, so it can only be said that there appears to have been enough room on the page for that note.

083 thus testifies to a situation in which copyists were aware of copies of Mark in which the text of Mark ended at verse 8, copies in which the text ended with the Shorter Ending, and copies in which the text ended with verses 9-20.

099 is another heavily damaged fragment, from the White Monastery in Egypt, assigned to the 600s or 700s.  After Mark 16:8, 099 had a note that is no longer legible.  This is followed by the Shorter Ending.  Then the text of most of 16:8 is rewritten, beginning at the words eichen gar and continuing to the end of the verse.  Verse 8 is followed immediately by verse 9, and verse 9 is followed by the beginning of verse 10, at which point we reach the end of the fragment. 

Greek-Sahidic Lect 1602
(Image from the digital holdings of the 
Albert Ludwig University of Frieburg)

Now we come to the Greek-Sahidic lectionary 1602.  In this witness, assigned to the 700s, the text of Mark 16:8 comes to a close at the end of a page.  At the beginning of the next page, a note introduces the Shorter Ending.  It says, “In other copies this is not written.” 

Then the Shorter Ending appears.  After the Shorter Ending, there is another note – the note also found in Codex L, Codex Psi, and 083:  estin de kai tauta meta feromena.  Then, like 099, it repeats the second half of verse 8, beginning with the words eichen gar, and verse 8 is followed by verses 9-20.

So:  Codex L, Codex Psi, 083, and the Greek-Sahidic Lectionary 1602 share the same note after the Shorter Ending:  they all introduce verses 9-20 with the note that says, “Estin de kai tauta meta feromena.”

099 and Greek-Sahidic Lectionary 1602 both repeat the same part of verse 8 before verse 9.

Thus, four of the six Greek witnesses to the Shorter Ending are all connected to the same locale, namely, a location in Egypt

Greek-Sahidic Lect 1602
(Image from the digital holdings of the 
Albert Ludwig University of Frieburg)

This leaves two minuscules, 579 and 274, as the only remaining Greek witnesses to the Shorter Ending.  The text of Mark in 579 has Alexandrian characteristics, and it is known for featuring a rare method of dividing the Gospels-text into segments that is shared by Codex Vaticanus.  Even though 579 is from the 1200s, its testimony, in which the Shorter Ending follows verse 8, and the Shorter Ending is followed immediately on the next page by verses 9-20, does not take us away from the influence of a very narrow transmission-line. 

   Minuscule 274 has Mark 16:9-20 in its main text.  Mark 16:9 begins on the same line where verse 8 ends.  The Shorter Ending is featured at the bottom of the page, like a footnote, with a column of five asterisks beside it.  An asterisk beside the end of verse 8 conveys that the Shorter Ending was seen in the text at that point. 

Thus, the Greek evidence points to Egypt as the locale where the Shorter Ending originated, and nothing points anywhere else. 

Versional evidence interlocks with this very well.  The Old Latin Codex Bobbiensis, the only manuscript in which only the Shorter Ending is included after verse 8, almost certainly was produced in Egypt, written by a scribe who did not know Latin very well.    

The Bohairic-Arabic MS Huntington 17, made in 1174, has verses 9-20 in the text, and the Shorter Ending is in the margin.

The Ethiopic version was closely considered by Bruce Metzger in 1980, in the course of a detailed essay in which he retracted the claim that some Ethiopic manuscripts of Mark do not have Mark 16:9-20.  Metzger observed that out of 194 Ethiopic manuscripts consulted by himself and another researcher, 131 included both the Shorter Ending and verses 9-20. 

Some copies of the Harklean Syriac version, made in the early 600s on the basis of manuscripts in Egypt, also feature the Shorter Ending as a supplemental reading; verses 9-20 are in the Syriac text.

            According to E. C. Colwell, even a medieval Armenian manuscript, Etchmiadzin 303, which has verses 9-20 at the end of Mark, managed to include the Shorter Ending as the final verse of the Gospel of Luke. 

            The Shorter Ending clearly had wide distribution in versional transmission-lines.  But those lines all echo, in one way or another, a form of the text that began in Egypt, when verses 9-20 were circulating everywhere else.           

Before moving on to the internal evidence, it should be observed that it is misleading to convey that there were “multiple endings” of the Gospel of Mark, as if four or five different endings were written to continue the narrative after verse 8.

Aside from the abrupt non-ending at verse 8, there are two independent endings of the Gospel of Mark:  one is the Shorter Ending, attested in six Greek manuscripts, all of which also support verses 9-20.  The other one is verses 9-20.     

The Freer Logion, which was mentioned in the previous lecture, is not a different ending.  It is a textual variant.  Its existence depends upon the previous existence of verses 9-20.  It does not turn into a different ending any more than a whale turns into an eagle when a barnacle attaches itself.

   Likewise, the notes in some members of the family-1 cluster of manuscripts do not turn verses 9-20 into something that is not verses 9-20.  

   And, the inclusion of both the Shorter Ending and verses 9-20 is also not a different ending; it is the combination of the two endings that circulated side-by-side in Egypt

   And, as far as I can tell, non-annotated Greek manuscripts in which Mark 16:9-20 is accompanied by asterisks or obeli do not really exist.

   So when someone refers to “multiple endings” as a reason to doubt the genuineness of verses 9-20, the first thing to do is to clarify that in terms of independent endings of the Gospel Mark after verse 8, there are exactly two.

P.S. Thanks to Georgi Parpulov and Daniel Buck for help finding those page-views of Gr.-Sah. Lect 1602!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Video Lecture: Mark 16:9-20: External Evidence

 In Lecture 16 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism, I describe some external evidence pertaining to the ending of Mark (16:9-20.  Subtitles provide a full outline of the lecture.  Here is a sample of part of this 41-minute lecture in which I begin to examine patristic evidence:
            Another part of the evidence has also experienced a high level of misrepresentation:  the patristic evidence.  Two statements from Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament have been repeated by many other commentators:  first, “Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses.”

             Those who encounter this statement might conclude that these two writers’ non-use of Mark 16:9-20 implies that the passage was not in their copies of the Gospel of Mark.  But Clement barely made any clear quotations from the Gospel of Mark outside of chapter 10.  Similarly, Origen does not use a 54-verse segment of text in Mark 1:36-3:16, or a 28-verse segment in Mark 3:19 to 4:11, or a 41-verse segment of text in Mark 5:2 to 5:43. 

             If Origen did not quote from Mark 16:9-20, then those 12 verses are just one of many 12-verse segments of Mark from which Origen does not quote.  But, there is a passage in Origen’s composition Philocalia, chapter 5, that may be based on Mark 16:15-20.     


             Second, Metzger stated that “Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.” 

   This statement needs major clarification, especially because it has been misrepresented by some commentators.  Ben Witherington III  erroneously stated, “Eusebius and Jerome both tell us these verses were absent from all Greek copies known to them.” 

   In real life, in the composition Ad Marinum, Eusebius responds to a question from Marinus about how Matthew 28:2 can be harmonized with Mark 16:9:  Matthew says that Christ arose “late on the Sabbath,” but Mark says “early in the morning on the first day of the week.”  Already, we see that Marinus’ text of Mark, just as old as Eusebius’ testimony, included Mark 16:9-20.

            Eusebius mentions two ways to resolve the apparent discrepancy:  First, a person could say that the relevant passage is not found in all copies of the Gospel according to Mark, and that the text in the accurate copies ends at the end of verse 8.  Almost all copies of the Gospel of Mark end there. 

            That is what one person might say, rejecting the passage and rendering the question superfluous.  But, Eusebius continued, another view is that both passages should be accepted; it is not the job of faithful readers to pick and choose between them. 

            Granting that this second perspective is correct, the proper thing to do is to interpret the meaning of the passage.  If we draw a distinction in the wording, we would not find it in conflict with the words in Matthew’s account.  We should read the words in Mark, “Rising early in the morning on the first day of the week,” with a pause after “Rising,” for that refers to Christ’s resurrection.   The rest, “early in the morning on the first day of the week,” pertains to the time of His appearance to Mary Magdalene. 

             Three things must be noticed whenever Eusebius’ testimony is mentioned:  First, he does not frame the statement about manuscripts as his own observation; he frames it as something that someone might say.  Second, instead of advising Marinus to reject the passage, Eusebius recommends that he should retain the passage, and he even tells him how to pronounce the passage so as to make it clear that it is harmony with the passage in Matthew 28.

            Third, Eusebius himself quotes Mark 16:9 further along in the same composition.  Once he states that “some copies” of Mark say that Jesus had cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene, and once, he says that Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene “according to Mark.”

            It should also be pointed out that nobody, in the decades after the Diocletian persecution, had the means to survey how many manuscripts existed throughout the Roman Empire to support particular readings.

            What about Jerome?  It should first be acknowledged that Jerome included Mark 16:9-20 in the Vulgate Gospels, which he specifically stated that he prepared on the basis of ancient Greek manuscripts.  Jerome himself was born in the mid-300s, so we may reckon that these Greek manuscripts were older than that.

            Again:  Metzger’s statement is, “Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.”  Let’s test that. 

            The relevant statement from Jerome is found in his composition Ad Hedibiam, from about the year 407, in which, among other things, he responds to a broad question about harmonization-difficulties in the resurrection-accounts in the Gospels.  In the course of his response, he breaks down the question into a series of Questions and Answers, clearly patterned on Eusebius’ earlier work to Marinus.

             Jerome, like Eusebius, says that there are two ways to solve the question.  Jerome, like Eusebius, says that one way is to reject the passage in Mark, on the grounds that it is absent in nearly all of the Greek copies, and because it seems to narrate things that contradict the other accounts.  And Jerome goes on to say that Matthew and Mark have both told the truth, and that when the text is read with a pause after “Jesus arising,” before “on the first day of the week in the morning appeared to Mary Magdalene,” the difficulty goes away.

            Jerome is plainly instructing Hedibia to retain the verses.

            This is how D. C. Parker explained the situation in 1997:  Jerome’s letter to Hedibia “is simply a translation with some slight changes of what Eusebius had written.  It is thus worthless for our purposes.”  And Parker concluded:  “Jerome is no evidence for the Short Ending.”

            John Burgon had said basically the same thing, over a hundred years earlier:  Jerome was saving time and effort by condensing part of Eusebius’ earlier composition in his letter to Hedibia – just as he had acknowledged, in his Epistle 75, that he sometimes dictated to his secretary what he had borrowed from other writers.

             But this is not all:  in 417, in Against the Pelagians, Jerome pictured a champion of orthodoxy explaining where he had seen the interpolation that is now known as the Freer Logion:  he located this interpolation “In certain exemplars, and especially in Greek codices, near the end of the Gospel of Mark” – and then he quotes almost all of Mark 16:14, and then presents the interpolation. 

            How is it that Jerome says that he saw the Freer Logion after Mark 16:14 “especially in Greek codices,” and also say that almost all Greek codices lack Mark 16:9-20?  Because the first statement is drawn from his own experience, while the second one was extracted from Eusebius’ composition, in which it was framed as something that someone might say.


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Video Lectures: Numerals in Greek New Testament Manuscripts


  In Lecture 15 of my ongoing series of video-lectures on YouTube, I discuss Greek numerals, and describe several textual variants in which numerals are involved, at John 19:14, Luke 24:13, Mark 6:41, Acts 27:37, Luke 10:1 and 10:17, Acts 13:33, and Revelation 13:18.


               I also describe the Eusebian Canons, and mention a few points in the text where they indicate what kind of text Eusebius was using when he made them.
               (27 minutes 10 seconds) 

Lecture 15:  Numerals

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Video Lecture: Testing the Tests

Testing the Tests
Now at YouTube: Lecture 14 - Testing the Tests In this 32-minute video, I review some shortcomings of earlier canons, or guidelines, of textual criticism (especially "prefer the shorter reading"), and propose some new ones. (This includes a brief look at twelve textual contests.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Video Lecture: Challenging Hort

Lecture 13:  Challenging Hort
Now at YouTube:

In lecture 13 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism, I describe some discoveries made in the 1900s that posed serious problems for the sustainability of Hort’s theory of the Lucianic recension. (32 minutes)

Here is an excerpt:

In Papyrus 45, in the fragments of chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the Gospel of Mark, there are at least 17 readings that are not supported by the leading manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text and Western Text, but which are supported by the Byzantine Text.  I will mention some of them: 

① In the closing phrase of Mark 6:45, Papyrus 45 supports the Byzantine reading, disagreeing with the reading that is supported by the Alexandrian Text and the Western text.

② In Mark 7:5, Papyrus 45 supports the Byzantine reading that means “answering,” which is not supported by the Alexandrian and Western Text.

③ At the beginning of Mark 7:12, Papyrus 45 supports the Byzantine reading “And,” which is not in the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text and Western Text.

④ In Mark 7:30, Papyrus 45 supports the word-order in the Byzantine Text, disagreeing with the word-order in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae.

⑤ In Mark 7:31, after the word “Tyre,” Papyrus 45 supports the Byzantine reading.  Both the form and meaning of this passage are different in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Codex Bezae.

⑥ In Mark 7:32, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text do not have the word “and,” where it appears in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae.

⑦ In Mark 7:35, Papyrus 45 has the word “immediately.” The Byzantine Text has this word here too.  But the Alexandrian Text and the Western Text do not.

⑧ In Mark 7:36, Papyrus 45 is difficult to read but it appears to support a reading that agrees with the Byzantine Text and disagrees with the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text and Western Text.

⑨ In Mark 8:19, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text share the same word-order, disagreeing with the word-order in the Alexandrian Text and also disagreeing with the word-order in Codex D. 

⑩ In Mark 9:6, the wording in Papyrus 45 agrees with the Byzantine Text, disagreeing with Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae.

⑪ In Mark 9:20, the word-order in Papyrus 45 agrees with the Byzantine Text, disagreeing with the reading in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and also disagreeing with a different reading in Codex Bezae.

⑫ And, again in Mark 9:20, the Byzantine Text has a reading that is supported by Papyrus 45 but which is not found in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, or Codex Bezae.

            Now, this is a long way from proving that the fully formed Byzantine Text existed in Egypt in the early 200s.  But Papyrus 45 is from Egypt; it is not from a locale where we would expect the Byzantine Text to be found.  The thing to see is that in the world according to Hort – a world in which the Byzantine Text is a combination of Alexandrian and Western readings –  none of these readings should exist before the late 200s

            If Papyrus 45 had been discovered before 1881, nobody would have dreamed of proposing a theory that the non-Alexandrian, non-Western readings found in the Byzantine Text did not exist before the lifetime of Lucian of Antioch.  If anyone had said that, people would look at readings such as the ones I just listed, and say, “What about these?”

            Support for distinctly Byzantine readings in Papyrus 45 does not stop in Mark 6-9.  The fragmentary pages of Papyrus 45 in Luke 10-13 have a dozen distinctly Byzantine readings.  For example:

In Luke 10:39, Papyrus 45 agrees with the reading “Jesus,” where Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae have the reading “Lord.”  Papyrus 75 also reads “Jesus.” 
            Notice the lack of a conflation in the Byzantine Text here.  It would have been very easy to create the reading “the Lord Jesus” if the Byzantine Text came from someone telling himself, “When it doubt don’t throw it out.”

In Luke 10:42, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text share the same word-order that is not supported in the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian or Western forms of the text.  In addition, where there is damage to Papyrus 45, Papyrus 75 has the Greek equivalent of the word “from” before “her” at the end of the verse, agreeing with the Byzantine Text.  “From” is not supported by Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, or Bezae.

In Luke 11:12, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text share the same word-order at the beginning of the verse.  The Alexandrian Text has a different reading and the Western Text has another different reading.

In Luke 11:33, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text have the Greek word  φέγγος instead of the word φως, which is in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae.  I note that in the Society of Biblical Literature’s Greek New Testament, compiled by Michael Holmes, φέγγος has been adopted.

In Luke 12:5, Papyrus 45 supports the same word-order found in the Byzantine Text.  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and Bezae have the opposite word-order.

In Luke 12:22, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text include a word that means “to you.”  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and Bezae do not.

In Luke 12:30, Papyrus 45 has a reading that is in the Byzantine Text but Vaticanus and Sinaiticus have a longer reading, and Codex D has a shorter reading. 

⑧ In Luke 12:31, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text refer to the kingdom of God.  Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae refer to “His kingdom,” and Papyrus 75 refers to just the kingdom.

            Also worth mentioning is a reading in Luke 11:13 where the text refers to “good gifts.”  Papyrus 45 and the Textus Receptus share the same word-order here.  Yes; in Luke 11:13, the reading in the Textus Receptus is supported by the oldest manuscript of the passage, against the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine forms of the text.
            These are the kinds of readings – in manuscripts made before Lucian – that researcher Harry Sturz collected and listed by the dozens in a dissertation in 1967, just a few years after Bruce Metzger had written that it is a fact that Lucian of Antioch made the Byzantine Text. 
            Sturz’s findings were eventually published as a book, The Byzantine Text-type & New Testament Textual Criticism.  Sturz showed that not only  Papyrus 45, but also Papyrus 46, Papyrus 66, Papyrus 75, and others, share some readings with the Byzantine Text that are not supported in the flagship manuscripts that represent the Alexandrian and Western Text. 

            This demonstrates that it is incorrect to assume that readings which only have Byzantine support ought to be set aside as late readings. But this assumption is at the very foundation of the approach used by Westcott and Hort.  Hort did not have any of these papyri.  If he had, he would not have proposed that non-Alexandrian, non-Western readings in the Byzantine Text are no earlier than the lifetime of Lucian of Antioch.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Video Lectures: The Lucianic Recension, and John 7:53-8:11

            In the 12th lecture in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism, I discuss the theory of the Lucianic Recension - a key part of the basis for the shift to the Alexandrian Text that occurred as the compilation of Westcott & Hort was favored in the late 1800s.  (28 minutes)

Lecture 12 - The Lucianic Recension

            Also, in a two-hour presentation, hosted by apologist Sam Shamoun, I present a defense of the genuineness of John 7:53-8:11, correcting some widely circulated misinformation and addressing some other concerns along the way.

            My book A Fresh Analysis of John 7:53-8:11, explaining how the passage was lost in an early transmission-line, and why it was subsequently transferred to other locations in the text, is available at Amazon and as a free download from the files at the NT Textual Criticism discussion-group on Facebook.

James E. Snapp on the Authenticity of the Woman Caught in Adultery