Saturday, January 31, 2015

First-century Mark: A Timeline

Are you braced for the impact of the Green Scholars Initiative’s work on newly discovered New Testament papyri?  The most famous (or infamous) of these papyri is a fragment from the Gospel of Mark which has been assigned a production-date in the first century – but there are several important papyri among the documents which are scheduled to be published – hopefully – within a year.  Maybe two.  Or three.  In the meantime, here’s a timeline of events leading up to this eventual important event. 

Late 1970’s-1990’s – Jaakko Frösén (Philology professor at the University of Helsinki) develops methods to extract literary papyri from cartonnage.  A video of his conservation-technique is accessible at .  (You may need an up-to-date version of RealPlayer to watch the video.)

August 9, 2007 – Robert A. Kraft (currently the Berg Professor of Religious Studies, Emeritus, at the University of Pennsylvania) expands his report on the appearance on eBay of papyrus fragments extracted from mummy cartonnage, at and
A papyrus fragment, from Dr. Kraft's report
Kraft’s report, Studies in the (Mis)uses of Papyrus Cartonnage, and Recovery/Conservation of Its Layers, shows that readable papyri are being extracted from cartonnage, as shown by the example at .

March 30, 2010 – Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green discusses the Green Collection and the plans for a Museum of the Bible, at .  (At the time of the interview, Dallas was the planned location of the Museum of the Bible, but that has changed; it is being constructed in Washington, D.C.)  Codex Climaci Rescriptus, previously housed at Westminster College, Cambridge, is among the items in the collection.

Scott Carroll
November 6, 2010 – Scott Carroll, at , describes his philosophy of Christian scholarship.  The video includes footage of manuscripts and artifacts.

Codex Climaci Rescriptus (0250)
May 19, 2011 CBN reports (at ) about Scott Carroll, the rapid growth of the Green Collection, and plans for the Museum of the Bible.  The reporter states that the Green Collection already contains over 30,000 items.  Several collection-items are in view in the report, including a Dead Seas Scroll fragment, an illustrated Ethiopic codex, and Papyrus 37.  At about 2:55, pages of the Codex Climaci Rescriptus are featured.  Dr. Carroll describes it as the fifth-oldest near complete Bible in the world.  He also claims, “The handwriting betrays that it actually was copied from something in the 100’s.”

Summer 2011 – Baylor Magazine describes (at ) “an unconventional research project” in which exterior mummy-coverings were “dissolved” and in which “More than 150 papyri texts” were extracted.  The report mentions that the Green Collection “provided the items for the study.”  The report names Scott Carroll as the “principal investigator” of the research; specialists involved in the research include David Kyle Jeffrey and Jeffrey Fish. 

Fall 2011 – In a newsletter of Baylor University, Scott Carroll’s work on manuscript-extraction from mummy cartonnage is described: .  Jeff Fish was interviewed for the report:  “One day I received a call on the phone from Dr. Scott Carroll, who told me about a vast new collection of unedited papyri. . . . I have since found that Byron Johnson, director of Baylor’s Institute for the Study of Religion, was instrumental in getting Baylor involved with the Green Scholars Initiative.”

November 27, 2011 – Scott Carroll, known to be acquiring artifacts and manuscripts for the rapidly growing Green Collection, states on Twitter:  “Finished exhibit and lectures in West Africa with over 21,000 registered.  Now in Istanbul looking at a collection of unpublished papyri.”  Later the same day:  “My eyes feasted on classical texts, royal decrees, and Biblical and Gnostic texts; nearly 1,000 papyri hidden in this private treasure-trove.”

December 1, 2011 – Scott Carroll states on Twitter:  “For over 100 years the earliest known text of the New Testament has been the so-call John Rylands Papyrus. Not any more.”  [The John Rylands Papyrus to which he refers is P52.]  On Facebook, Carroll states:  “For over 100 years the earliest-known text of the NT has been the so-called John Rylands papyrus.  That is about to change with a sensational discover[y] I made yesterday.  Stay tuned for the update.”

February 1, 2012 – Daniel Wallace mentions the existence of “a fragment from Mark’s Gospel that is from the first century” during a debate with Bart Ehrman about the reliability of the New Testament text.  The debate is online at (uploaded to YouTube on February 13, 2012).  One hour and 13 minutes into the debate, Dr. Wallace mentions the existence of the first-century fragment of Mark: 

“In the last few months several very early fragments of the New Testament have been discovered.  These will be published by an international scholarly publishing house in a book one year from now. . . .  Among the finds was also a fragment of Luke that is from the early second century. . . .  The oldest manuscript of the New Testament is now a fragment from Mark’s Gospel that is from the first century. . . . How accurate is the dating?  Well, my source is a papyrologist who worked on this manuscript – a man whose reputation is unimpeachable.  Many consider him to be the best papyrologist on the planet.  His reputation is on the line with this dating, and he knows it, but he is certain that this manuscript was from the first century.”

February 15, 2012 – Ben Witherington III (New Testament professor at Asbury), after a lecture by Scott Carroll at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary – Charlotte, writes at his blog (at ), “ The brief lecture by Scott Carroll at GCTS Charlotte last Friday night highlighted some of the most exciting aspects of the Green Collection. It is possible that a very early copy of the Gospel of Mark in Greek, possibly the very earliest is a part of this collection. An epigrapher from Oxford has already prepared to say that it is a first century copy!”  (Witherington also notes, “Sadly it does not include Mark 16.”)

[It so happens that Dirk Obbink is a papyrologist who works at Oxford.  He has been working with Jerry Pattengale (who is currently the Green Scholars Initiative’s Executive Director of Education) as General Editor for the Brill Papyrus Series, in which, it is hoped, the first-century papyrus fragment will be published, along with the other early manuscripts Scott Carroll has described.]

Daniel Wallace
February 24, 2012 – Hugh Hewitt’s interview of Daniel Wallace is published at .  Near the beginning of the interview, Wallace states:  “First of all, there is a fragment of Mark, and it’s a very small fragment, not too many verses, but it’s definitely from Mark.  
And the most amazing thing about this is that it’s from the first century.  We don’t have any other New Testament manuscripts that are written within the same century that the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament were written in.  This is the first. And it’s dated by one of the world’s leading paleographers, whose name I’m not allowed to reveal yet.”

Asked for an “absolute last date” when the newly discovered fragments will be published, Wallace states, “I have been told that a book should be out, a multi-author book, should be out early next year.  Now publishers sometimes take longer.  Scholars sometimes take longer.  So I’m not going to bet anything on that. But I’m pretty darned confident 2013 is going to be the year all of this is going to be published.” 

March 22, 2012 – Daniel Wallace posts the following at his blog (at ):  “At my debate with Bart Ehrman (1 Feb 2012, held at UNC Chapel Hill) over whether we can recover the wording of the New Testament autographs, I made the announcement that a probable first-century fragment of Mark’s Gospel had been recently discovered. I noted that a world-class paleographer had dated this manuscript and that he was pretty darn sure that it belonged to the first century. All the details will be coming out in a multi-author book published by E. J. Brill sometime in 2013.”  And, “When the fragment is published along with six other early New Testament papyri (all from around the second century), the scholarly vetting will do its due diligence.”

April 6, 2012 – Bart Ehrman, at , expresses some frustration about the secrecy surrounding the first-century papyrus fragment of  first-century papyrus of Mark:  “I don’t understand why there is so much secrecy about this “manuscript.” Why NOT tell us where it was found, who found it, how extensive it is, who has examined it, what his grounds for dating it were, whether his views have been independently corroborated?”   

 August 13, 2013 – Updates are made to the Bibliographical Test Update (which is accessible at 
Recto:  Mt. 6:33 Verso:  Mt. 7:4 ).  Items are added to the list of Coptic New Testament manuscripts and Greek New Testament manuscripts.  Photos of some fragments are included; however, even though “The photos have been purposely obscured to protect copying of manuscripts before their publication,” some of them have a modicum of usefulness, such as a photo of a Coptic fragment containing text from Matthew 6:33 and 7:4.  Another photo that shows a Coptic fragment with text from First John 2:21. 

Beginning on page 23 of the Bibliographical Test Update, there is a report of the contents of non-Biblical papyri from the second century B.C., extracted from a mummy-mask that is not the same mask that was featured in McDowell’s video.

Text:  First John 2:21
(from the Bibl. Test Update)
September 6, 2013 – A presentation given by Scott Carroll at the University of the Nations is uploaded to YouTube (at 2013  UofN WS: S11 Dr. Scott Carroll).  In the course of this video, Carroll describes the process that was used to extract literary papyri from mummy cartonnage.  Things get interesting about 23 minutes into the video.  (At 25:04, bottles of Palmolive are visible in the background as a mummy-mask is being prepared for deconstruction in a sink.  This appears to be the same extraction-method that was presented by McDowell.)  Carroll makes the following statements:
Min. 28:  Carroll announces his discovery of the earliest known text of Romans, lost works of Sappho, and “tons of Homer.”
Min. 29:  Carroll describes the multi-spectral imaging technology that is being used to read the underwriting of Codex Cimaci Rescriptus.  Other subjects are also covered, such as the use of lasers to recover text by measuring the microscopic imprint of the stylus where no ink has survived on the page.
Min. 33:  Carroll mentions that a text of Euripides has been recovered.   
Min. 36:  Carroll mentions that he has (there in the room) the earliest text of Exodus 24.
Min. 37:  Carroll states that texts from “many of the Old Testament books,” have been discovered, “with New Testament books,” – “including a first-century text of the Gospel of Mark.  That will be the earliest text of the New Testament.”
Min. 38:  Carroll states, “We’re looking now at a text of Mark that dates between 70 and 110.  And there’s even something more important than that, that I’ve not even told David Hamilton.  And I’m not going to.”
Min. 39:  Carroll displays a Powerpoint-graphic with a list of manuscripts, including: 
            22.  Gospel of Mt c. 140
            23.  Mt 6 mid-2c
            24.  Gospel of Mark late 1c-early 2c
            25.  Gospel of Luke mid-2c
            26.  Gospel of Luke mid-to-late 2c
            27.  John 8 early-3c
            29.  Early 4c fragment of John 3 in Coptic
            30.  Acts 19 in Coptic
            31.  Romans early-3c.
The next slide includes:
            32.  Romans 14 early 4c papyrus in Coptic
            33.  I Corinthians 9 mid-2c
            35.  Codex quire of 2 Corinthians and Galatians 4c in Coptic
            36.  Ephesians 4 Coptic
            37.  Hebrews 9 early-3c
            38.  Hebrews 11 mid-2c (the earliest text of Hebrews)
            39.  2 Timothy 3 papyrus (only surviving evidence for the epistle)

In the course of describing these items and others, Carroll mentions the existence of an ancient fragment that is a portion of Matthew 27-28 and “The earliest text in the world of Luke 16,” “the earliest text of Timothy,” a manuscript containing Second Corinthians chapter 6 through Galatians 3 (which would necessarily be several pages long), “The earliest text in the world of Genesis 17,” and “The earliest text of Second Kings 9.”  Referring to a text of First Samuel, Carroll states, “This text came from a mummy mask,” and says that it was found along with a fragment of the Iliad.

Min. 51:  Carroll refers to a fragment of Matthew 12 which will be the second-earliest New Testament manuscript when it is published, to a fragment of Matthew and Luke “dating to around 150,” to the earliest surviving manuscript of Luke 2, “dating to around 140,” and to a fragment of Luke 12, “dating to before 200.”

Other items mentioned in Carroll’s description of the newly discovered manuscripts:  “The earliest text of Acts 19,” the “earliest text of Romans, found in a mummy mask,” “earliest of Romans 14,” and the “earliest copy of any of Paul’s writings – First Corinthians 9.”  He seems to say that last-mentioned item (a manuscript of First Corinthians 9) was produced in 140 to 160, and was found in a box.  [Therefore we ought to keep in mind that some of the new finds are not from mummy cartonnage!]

 March 24, 2014 – Josh McDowell, in a lecture (online at ) given at Gracespring Bible Church, describes an experience at the Discover the Evidence seminar (which took place Dec. 5-6, 2013) at which a mummy-mask was deconstructed to obtain literary papyri that were among its component-parts. 
Josh McDowell
Beginning in the 26
th minute of the video, the deconstruction of the mummy-mask is clearly shown:  it is submerged in a sink at specific temperature-levels, a gentle detergent (Palmolive) is applied, the material is massaged, and then the layers of papyri are gently separated.  This results in the destruction of the artwork on the surface of the mask.  In the 28th minute of the video, McDowell mentions that “three classical scholars” were involved in the identification of texts derived via this method of papyrus-extraction.  (Footage of the mask-deconstruction and papyrus-extraction is at .)
The Discover the Evidence seminar is described at .  The webpage includes detailed bios of Scott Carroll (Ph.D., Miami UniversityOhio) and Josh McDowell (M.Div., Talbot Theological Seminary).

April 23, 2014 – [Unverified Data] Josh McDowell, in a lecture at Wheaton Bible Church, refers to some new manuscript-discoveries.  At about one hour and 12 minutes into the video (formerly at but no longer available), according to a comment at a blog, McDowell stated that the text of the fragment is from the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark.  (This was reported by comment-contributor Jeff at the blog of Brice C. Jones on May 5, 2014, at .)

May 5, 2014 – Tommy Wasserman, at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, using information from Brice C. Jones, posts photos of some of the manuscripts featured in Josh McDowell’s video.  One of the photos is of a fragment containing First Corinthians 10:1-6.  Peter Head (who currently is a scholar involved in the Green Scholars Initiative, according to the list at  ) refers to McDowell’s “outlandish claims” and describes the process of papyri-extraction as “slapdash” and “deplorable.”  Wasserman (who is also currently a scholar involved in the Green Scholars initiative) concurs, briefly stating, “Slapdash is the word.”

May 7, 2014 – Paul Barford, at , offers a collection of online articles and videos related to the papyrus manuscripts that have been obtained via extraction from mummy-cartonnage.  The heading:  “US Christian Apologist Fanatics Destroy Ancient Artefacts.”    

May 15, 2014 – Jerry Pattengale, in a video at , describes the work of the Green Scholars Initiative, as well as plans for the opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. in 2017.  

September 13, 2014 – Dorothy King compares Josh McDowell to the Taliban in a blog-post at , stating, “If islamic fundamentalists destroy cultural property to propagate religious propaganda – whether it’s the Taliban or ISIS – we’re metaphorically up in arms.  Why do we treat Christian fundamentalists differently? Why do we make allowances for the Green Collection scholars destroying ancient Egyptian mummies?  If this ain’t religious discrimination, I don't know what is.” 

 November 7, 2014 – Michael Holmes, the compiler of the SBL-GNT, becomes the Executive Director of the Green Scholars Initiative.  

December 5, 2014 - Scott Carroll appears in a chapel-service at Dallas Theological Seminary (where Dan Wallace is a professor), online at , beginning at about 23 minutes into the video.  His title, in a caption in the video, is “Director, Manuscript Research Group, Grand Haven, MI.”

December 7, 2014 – Roberta Mazza, who has repeatedly expressed candid dismay about the operation of the Green Scholars Initiative’s research and manuscript-acquisitions on her blog, requests a presentation of “acquisition documents” for the mummy-mask that was the source of papyri depicted by Josh McDowell, in a blog-post at .

January 9, 2015 – Dirk Obbink releases information on newly discovered texts of Sappho, including a statement that these particular fragments were not obtained from mummy cartonnage.  In his report (which includes photos) at , Obbink refers to the material as “industrial papyri,” and offers a guess that it existed as a book-binding.  [However, I note that his basis for this is that “none of the fragments showed any trace of gesso or paint prior to dissolving or after.”  It seems to me that this does not preclude an origin in mummy cartonnage; it only implies that the fragments were not from its outer layer or layers.]  He mentions that his fellow-researchers included Simon Burris and Jeffrey Fish.  [These may be the “three classical scholars” alluded to by Josh McDowell in his 2013 lecture.] 

Scheduled for 2017:  the opening of the Museum of the Bible.  The museum has a website at .  Passages, a traveling exhibit featuring items from the Green Collection, continues to draw public attention to the collection.  The current director of the museum’s collections is David Trobisch.  Dr. Trobisch is currently listed online as a Fellow of the Center for Inquiry at ; interestingly, the stated mission of the CFI, as stated at http://www.centerforinquiry.netabout , is “to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanistic values.”  [This seems very different from the candid Christian commitment that has been expressed by Dr. Carroll.  It also seems diametrically opposed to the priorities of the Green family.]  


That about covers it.  We are still awaiting the publication of the first-century papyrus of the Gospel of Mark; I expect that it will be published by Dirk Obbink (perhaps along with Jeffrey Fish) in late 2015 or 2016, and that it will turn out to be a small fragment with text from Mark chapter one.  It is very possible that some of the other fragments to be published in the same series, which is expected to be prohibitively expensive, will turn out to make a much more significant text-critical contribution than the Mark fragment.  (Note to the GSI and Brill:  affordable digital copies would be a nice compensation for making everyone wait so long!) 

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Text of Reasoned Eclecticism: Is It Reasonable and Eclectic? - Appendix

Differences in Matthew 1-10 
Between Westcott & Hort’s 1881 Greek text
and the 26th/27th edition of Nestle-Aland

= An adopted reading not read by B or ﬡ.
Highlighted readings are adopted readings not read by B, ﬡ, or D, and which are not bracketed.

● 1:9 – NA reads Αχαζ, agreeing with B, instead of Hort’s Αχας, which agrees with ﬡ. 
1:18 – NA removes the brackets that Hort placed around Ιησου, which is included by ﬡ.  (B has a transposition.)
1:24 – NA removes the brackets that Hort placed around ο (before Ιωσηφ), solidifying the reading of B.
1:25 – NA removes the brackets that Hort placed around ου (before ετεκεν).  The word is absent in B but present in ﬡ.
3:2 – The opening word και, absent from B and ﬡ, has been adopted, in brackets.
3:7 – αυτου, after βαπτσμα, has been adopted, although it is absent in B and À
3:14 – Ιωαννης has been added, although it is absent in B and ﬡ.  Inclusion is supported by P96.  
3:15 – NA reads προς αυτον (with P64 and ﬡ) instead of αυτω (with P96 and B).
3:16 – NA reads αυτω, in brackets, although the word is absent from B and ﬡ.
3:16 – NA reads το, in brackets, before πνευμα, although the word is absent from B and ﬡ.
3:16 – NA reads του, in brackets, after πνευμα, although the word is absent from B and ﬡ.
3:16 – NA includes και, in brackets, before ερχόμενον, although the word is absent from B and ﬡ.
● 4:1 – The brackets that Hort placed around ο (before Ιησους) have been removed.  The article is in ﬡ but not in B.
● 4:3 – Where Hort had ειπον (after θεου), agreeing approximately with ﬡ (which reads ειποιν), NA reads ειπε, agreeing with B.
4:16 – Instead of σκότια (supported by B), NA reads σκότει (supported by ﬡ).
4:24 – NA includes και, in brackets, after συνεχομένος.  (The word is absent from B but present in ﬡ.)
● 5:1 – NA removes the brackets around αυτω, which is not in B but present in ﬡ.
● 5:9 – NA removes the brackets around αυτοι, which is not in ﬡ but present in B.
5:11 – NA added brackets around ψευδόμενοι.
5:18 – NA removes the brackets around αν, which is not in B but present in ﬡ.
5:28 – NA removes the brackets around αυτην, which is not in ﬡ but present in B.
5:32 – NA removes the brackets around the final phrase of the verse.
● 6:8 – NA does not include ο θεος, which was bracketed by Hort.  Inclusion is supported by B; non-inclusion is supported by À.
6:15 – After ανθρώποις, Hort included τα παραπτωματα αυτων in brackets, supported by B and Byz, but NA does not include the phrase.  (Non-inclusion is supported by ﬡ.)
6:21 – NA removes the brackets around και, which is not in B but present in ﬡ.
6:33 – NA includes του θεου in brackets. ﬡ does not have the phrase; B has, instead, των ουρανων.
● 7:9 – NA includes εστιν, which is not in B but present in ﬡ.
7:13 – NA includes η πυλη, which is not in ﬡ but present in B.
7:14 – NA reads τι at the beginning of the verse, instead of Hort’s οτι (supported by ﬡ) or οτι δε (supported by B).
7:18 – NA adopts ποιειν, agreeing with B, instead of Hort’s ενεγκειν, which agrees with ﬡ.
7:24 – NA removes the brackets around τούτους, which is not in B but present in ﬡ.
● 8:7 – NA includes και at the beginning of the verse; the word is not in B but present in ﬡ.
8:8 – NA reads και αποκριθεις instead of αποκριθεις δε, which is supported by B and ﬡ.
8:9 – NA does not include τασσομενος, which Hort included in brackets.  Inclusion is supported by B and ﬡ. 
8:13 – NA includes αυτου, in brackets, after παις, although non-inclusion is supported by B and ﬡ.
8:21 – NA includes αυτου, in brackets, after μαθητων, although non-inclusion is supported by B and ﬡ.
8:23 – NA includes το before πλοιον; inclusion is supported by B; non-inclusion is supported by ﬡ.
● 9:4 – NA adopts ιδων instead of Hort’s ειδως.  B reads ειδως; ﬡ reads ιδων.
● 9:6 – NA adopts εγερθεις instead of Hort’s εγειρε.  B reads εγειρε; ﬡ reads εγερθεις. 
9:14 – NA includes πολλα, in brackets; B and ﬡ support non-inclusion.
9:18 – NA removes the brackets around εις, which is not in ﬡ but is included in B.
9:18 – NA reads ελθων instead of Hort’s προσελθων, which is supported by B and ﬡ. 
9:19 – NA reads ηκολούθησεν, agreeing with B, instead of Hort’s ηκολούθει, which agrees with ﬡ.
9:27 – NA includes, in brackets, αυτω, agreeing with ﬡ, instead of Hort’s non-inclusion which agrees with B.
9:27 – NA reads υιος, agreeing with B, instead of Hort’s υιε which agrees with ﬡ.
9:32 – NA reads ανθρωπον, although non-inclusion is supported by B and ﬡ.
9:34 – NA removes the brackets around the verse.
10:13 – NA, after the second occurrence of ειρηνη υμων, reads προς instead of εφ.  B and ﬡ support εφ.   
10:23 – NA, after πολεις, removes the brackets around του, which is not included by B but is present in ﬡ.  
10:23 – NA includes αν, which B and ﬡ do not include.
10:28 – NA reads, as the third word in the verse, φοβεισθε, agreeing with ﬡ, instead of Hort’s  φοβεθητε which agrees with B.
10:28 – NA reads αποκτεννοντων, agreeing with ﬡ, instead of Hort’s αποκτεινοντων, which agrees with B. 
10:32 – NA adds brackets around τοις, which is included by B but not by ﬡ.
10:33 – NA adopts δ’ αν, agreeing with ﬡ, instead of Hort’s δε.
10:33 – As in the previous verse, NA adds brackets around τοις, which is included by B but not by ﬡ.


The Text of Reasoned Eclecticism: Is It Reasonable and Eclectic? Part Four of a Four-Part Response to Dan Wallace

Testing Reasoned Eclecticism

            Wallace attempts to separate his “reasoned eclectic” position from the pro-Alexandrian view of Westcott and Hort.  He stated that the Westcott-Hort theory has “many flaws.”  However, as Eldon Epp has observed, the Nestle-Aland text “almost always departs from the B-text only when an À versus B attestation is in question.”29  If the methodologies of Nestle-Aland and Westcott-Hort are so different, why are their results so similar?  How is it that the Nestle-Aland text differs at only 558 points from a text that was based on a theory with “many flaws”?30  
            Wallace describes the Nestle-Aland text as much more eclectic than the Westcott-Hort text, noting that “In scores of places the editors of the modern critical texts have adopted a Byzantine reading against an Aleph-B alignment (contra Hort).”  But what do these changes really constitute? 
            There is a way to find out:  sift through Wieland Willker’s online presentation of the Westcott-Hort text, which parenthetically displays the readings of NA27 where they diverge from WH-1881.  What differences have emerged in, say, the first ten chapters of Matthew?  A total of 55 differences, which are listed in the appendix of this article (in the post that follows this one).
            Seventeen of these changes, however, are not textual, but only consist of the addition or removal of brackets.  Of the remaining 38 changes, most of them do not make the text any more eclectic than Hort’s text, because they only consist of exchanging a reading in ﬡ for a reading in B, or a reading in B for a reading in À.  Only 17 changes in Matthew 1-10 actually make the text of NA26 more eclectic than Hort’s text, and of these 17 (indicated by red dots in the list in the appendix), eight are bracketed in NA26.  The only newly adopted readings not supported by either ﬡ or B, and also not displayed in brackets, are the following:     
● 3:7 – αυτου, after βαπτισμα, has been adopted, although it is absent in B and À.
3:14 – Ιωαννης has been added, although it is absent in B and À.  Inclusion is supported by P96.
● 8:8 – NA reads και αποκριθεις instead of αποκριθεις δε, which is supported by B and À.
● 8:9 – NA does not include τασσομενος, which Hort included in brackets.  Inclusion is supported by B and À.
9:18 – NA reads ελθων instead of Hort’s προσελθων, which is supported by B and À.
9:32 – NA reads ανθρωπον, although non-inclusion is supported by B and À.
10:13 – NA, after the second occurrence of ειρηνη υμων, reads προς instead of εφ.  B and À support εφ.  
10:23 – NA includes αν, which B and À do not include.

            The confidently presented (i.e., not bracketed) “reasoned eclectic” text of Matthew 1-10 is more eclectic than Hort’s 1881 text – by a margin of four additions, one subtraction, and three substitutions.  In four of these eight cases (specifically, in 3:7, 9:32, 10:13, and 10:23) the adopted reading is supported by Codex D, and thus does not represent the adoption of a reading distinct to the Byzantine Text.  Thus the distinctly Byzantine contribution to the non-bracketed Nestle-Aland text of Matthew 1-10 amounts to one addition, two substitutions, and one subtraction (and the subtracted word was already bracketed by Hort).
            That’s next to nothing.  The results of “reasoned eclecticism,” as practiced by the compilers of Nestle-Aland, and by Wallace, are virtually the same text that Hort produced.  Why do they so persistently reject the Byzantine Text?  The answer is obvious:  against all evidence to the contrary, they are still entrenched in the belief that the Byzantine Text is a blend of Alexandrian and Western readings that were combined by an editor around 300.  In other words, they still adhere to Hort’s theory that the Byzantine Text originated with the Lucianic Recension, as Wallace shows when he states that the Westcott-Hort theory “was apparently still right on its basic tenet:  the Byzantine texttype—or majority text—did not exist in the first three centuries.”  
            Is that a reasonable assumption? 
            By the early 400’s, the Byzantine text of the Gospels, or a substantial strata of it – a text that resembled the Byzantine Text far more than any other text-type – had been used by Wulfilas, Basil, Chrysostom, and the unknown translator(s) of the Peshitta.  It was also being disseminated in copies such as Codex A and Codex W.  In the 500’s, a similar text was used for the Purple Uncials (N-O-Φ-Σ). 
            What was happening in the areas where these writers lived?  Although we do not have copies of the Greek New Testament from Syria, Asia, and Greece before 300 – because they were made of papyrus, and those that were not victims of Roman persecutors became victims of high humidity – it should go without saying that the Greek-speaking Christians in these areas possessed copies of New Testament books, and routinely used them in their church-services.  Did the people in those areas simply set aside their old Greek texts – Alexandrian, or Western – and pick up a new Greek text – the Byzantine Text – that was brimming with new readings? 
            The idea is inherently improbable.  Such an act would not be analogous to what happened around 425 in Syria, when Theodoret replaced 200 copies of the Diatessaron with copies of the separate Gospels.  Theodoret was replacing the work of Tatian, who – rightly or wrongly – had acquired a reputation as a heretic, with the work of apostles and their associates.  The churches of Syria had a strong theological motive to accept Theodoret’s gift as an improvement, and to set the Diatessaron aside, regarding it as a dubious proxy.  But on what basis would a newly introduced Greek text of the Gospels (or of the entire New Testament), never before seen, be favored – and rapidly favored – over the Greek text of the Gospels that had been used in these areas for generations, and which those preceding generations had risked their lived to protect and preserve?
            Instead of assuming that the local text of Antioch, Asia, and Greece that was being used in the 200’s was suddenly abandoned in the 300’s, it is more reasonable to deduce that the Byzantine Text – or at least a very large part of it – was the local text of Antioch, Asia, and Greece in the 200’s, and that is why it continued to be the local text of those areas in the 300’s and 400’s.  As other text-types infiltrated the area, conflations occurred, but only rarely.  The amount of conflation (or apparent conflation) that Hort proposed was on display in the Byzantine Text is not materially greater than what one observes in early Alexandrian witnesses.31        
            A handful of conflations (in which a proto-Byzantine reading was combined with either an Alexandrian or Western reading) sprinkled over a strata of earlier text should not be considered a sufficient reason to regard the entire text-type as late. 
            Even early manuscripts such as P53 and P66 contain apparent conflations – and, occasionally, the early papyri contain distinctly Byzantine readings, that is, readings that are found in the Byzantine Text which are not found in the flagship manuscripts of the Western or Alexandrian texts.  A sample of these, from data provided by Harry A. Sturz,32 may be provided:  P45 agrees with the Byzantine Text in the Gospel of Mark, disagreeing with ÀB and D, in 5:22, 5:42, 6:2, 6:16, 6:45, 6:48, 7:12, 7:30 (twice), 7:31, 7:32, 7:35 (twice), 7:36, 9:6, 9:20 (twice), 12:6, and 12:16.  Sturz proceeds to list 26 agreements in Luke between early papyri and the Byzantine Text that disagree with ﬡB and D, and 44 agreements in John between early papyri and Byz that disagree with ﬡB and D. 
            Wallace seems to believe that every one of these Byzantine readings entered the early papyri out of nowhere.  Why not regard them, or at least some of them, as results of mixture with a local text that was infiltrating Egypt in the early 200’s?33  


            One does not have to adhere to the notion that the Byzantine Text was the majority text in the 200’s to grant that a substantial strata of the Byzantine Text was the local text of Antioch and Asia in the 200’s.  All one has to grant is the inherently probable premises that (a) the Greek text in Antioch and Asia did not develop along exactly the same lines in which it developed in the regions where the Western and Alexandrian texts dominated, and (b) when copyists made the shift from papyrus to parchment in Antioch and Asia, they did not set aside their most ancient, most respected local exemplars, but continued to use the same form of the New Testament text that previous generations had been using in their area, with only a minimal amount of accretions.     
            If these premises were accepted, instead of the premise that the Byzantine Text did not exist at all until the 300’s, then text-compilers might conceivably give Byzantine readings the hearing that they deserve, instead of reaching for whatever hypothesis (often the assertion of intentional corruption) is required to dismiss the Byzantine reading and maintain the Alexandrian reading, even when it is easily attributable to scribal carelessness.  Then, and only then, will it be possible to compile a Greek New Testament based on truly reasonable premises, with truly eclectic results. 




29 – See page 136 of Eldon Epp’s article, A Continuing Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism? in Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 73, 1980.)  Epp raises an important question:  today’s textual critics (“today” being 1980, when he wrote – his point is even more cogent now) have “more than 80 papyri, more than 200 additional uncials, more than 2600 additional minuscules, and perhaps 2000 additional lectionaries that were unavailable to or were not utilized by Westcott-Hort.”  Why, so far, has it made so little difference?
30 – According to the statistics presented by Michael Marlowe at , there are 551 differences between the 1979 Nestle-Aland text and the 1881 text of Westcott & Hort.  Slight fuzziness in the statistic may be due to different treatments of bracketed words in both texts.  As a peripheral point, it should be noted that some of those 558 differences exist because the compilers of the Nestle-Aland text – or at least a majority of the compilers – rejected Hort’s occasional preference for Western readings (the most famous examples being the “Western Non-Interpolations” in Luke 24).  Each time the compilers rejected a Western reading that Hort had favored, the resultant compilation became less eclectic and more Alexandrian.
31 – If one carefully sifts through Pickering’s Appendix D – Conflation or Confusion? in The Identity of the New Testament Text, fourth edition, one may find raw data indicative of conflations in either Vaticanus or Sinaiticus in Matthew 3:12, 24:38, Mark 1:4, 1:28, 1:40, 4:5, John 7:39, 13:24, 16:4, Acts 24:14, First Corinthians 7:34, Ephesians 2:5, Philippians 1:18, Colossians 1:12, 3:17, and Hebrews 9:10.  I would also draw the reader’s attention to the conflation in À in the third verse of Jude, in which the Alexandrian Text is combined with a reading of the Harklean Group.  This data tends to shatter Wallace’s claim that “Nowhere could it be shown that the Alexandrian combined Western and Byzantine readings.”
32 – See List 1 on pages 145-153 of The Byzantine Text-type & New Testament Textual Criticism, and selections from List IV, on pages 191-194.    
33 – This would account for the Byzantine readings that are found in compositions by authors such as Origen and Didymus, who were outside the locales where the Byzantine Text was popular, but were capable of encountering stray Byzantine copies and occasionally favoring their readings, such as “Bethabara” in John 1:28, which was mentioned and defended by Origen.  The early, rather than later, influence of the Byzantine Text in Caesarea and its environs may also efficiently account for the strong Byzantine element that exists in Caesarean witnesses such as 1582; regarding this see Robert Waltz’s tentatively framed research at .

The Text of Reasoned Eclecticism: Is It Reasonable and Eclectic? Part Three of a Four-Part Response to Dan Wallace

Internal Evidence

            I now turn to Wallace’s comments sub-titled Internal Evidence.  In this section, Wallace tends to misrepresent the Byzantine Priority position as it is currently framed by its chief advocate, Maurice Robinson.  Wallace cited Michael Holmes to support the idea that majority-text advocates “object quite strenuously to the use of the canons of internal evidence.”  Meanwhile in the real world, Robinson candidly affirms in The Case for Byzantine Priority:  “The basic principles of internal and external evidence utilized by Byzantine-priority advocates are quite familiar to those who practice either rigorous or reasoned eclecticism.”  Robinson proceeds to list and describe eight principles of internal evidence!23 
            As much as Wallace might wish that Byzantine-priority advocates disregard internal evidence, that is simply not true.  Rather, Byzantine-priority advocates (and other textual critics with a dislike of propaganda disguised as textual commentary) object to inconsistent applications of internal evidence which are primarily steered, not by the internal evidence as it exists for specific variant-units, but by a model of transmission-history that precludes, or sets ridiculously high hurdles against, the authenticity of Byzantine readings.  In other words, textual critics who believe, as Wallace appears to believe, that the Byzantine Text did not exist until after 300, will approach the internal evidence accordingly, and will consider the most crucial internal aspects of the evidence to be whatever results in the rejection of the Byzantine reading.
            Wallace invited readers to consult Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament to see how internal evidence was used in the United Bible Societies’ compilation-committee decisions to accept one reading over another – especially when the adopted reading was given an “A” rank, which means that the compilers regarded the adopted text as “virtually certain.”24   With apologies for lengthening this composition – Invitation accepted.  Let’s consider four “A” readings from the Gospel of Mark.  (These are not the best examples of the extreme lengths to which the UBS compilers have taken internal evidence as a means to reject Byzantine readings, but as a response to the invitation to use only A-ranked readings, they will have to do.)

Mk 1:14 – Against evidence from the Byzantine Text, the Vulgate, the Gothic version, the Peshitta, and codices D and W (among others – see the textual apparatus for further details) that supports the inclusion of της βασιλείας, Metzger argued for the Alexandrian non-inclusion of the phrase.  The longer reading, he claimed, “was obviously made by copyists in order to bring the unusual Markan phrase into conformity with the much more frequently used expression “the kingdom of God” (cf. ver. 15).”  On the other hand, however, it could be argued from internal evidence that the longer reading is more consistent with Markan style, because nowhere else in Mark does the phrase “gospel of God” appear.  Metzger’s idea requires that somewhere in the ancestry of diverse witnesses such as D, W, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate, they were all influenced by some copyist’s intentional insertion – whereas all that is required to produce the shorter reading is an accidental error that resulted when copyists’ line of sight drifted from the τ in της to the τ in του.

Mk 1:34 – Agreeing with external evidence from the Byzantine Text, the Vulgate, the Old Latin copies, the Gothic version, and the Peshitta, Metzger conceded that the longer reading in the Alexandrian text (Χριστον ειναι, read by Codex Vaticanus, L, and f1) was an addition, by which copyists harmonized the text in Mark to the text in Luke 4:41.  There would be no reason for copyists to omit the phrase, if it had been present originally, but it would be a natural expansion.

Mk. 7:4 – Agreeing with external evidence from the Byzantine Text, the Vulgate, D, the Old Latins, the Peshitta, the Gothic version, and Origen, Metzger conceded that the Alexandrian reading ραντισωνται (supported by B, À, and the Coptic version) was an alteration introduced by Alexandrian copyists.  (This is given an “A” certainty-rank in UBS-2, but in Metzger’s Textual Commentary it has a “B” rank.)

Mk. 9:29 – Against evidence from P45, the Byzantine Text, codices A, D, W, L, f1, the Old Latin copies, the Vulgate, the Peshitta, and almost everything else, Metzger argued that the shorter reading (supported only by À* B, 0274, one Old Latin copy (Bobbiensis), one Old Georgian copy, and Clement) was original, and that the phrase “and fasting” was the invention of copyists.  Apparently neither Metzger nor Wallace25 could perceive that copyists were troubled by a reading which could be interpreted to suggest that Jesus could not have cast out a particular kind of demon unless He had first fasted, even with the earliest (P45) and most diverse evidence (from multiple locales) pointing the way.    

Mk. 11:26 – Against evidence from the Byzantine Text, almost all the Old Latin copies, the Vulgate, the Peshitta, and the Gothic version, Metzger rejected the inclusion of verse 26, supposing it to be an insertion based on Matthew 6:15, even though its correspondence to that verse is loose.  This is an instructive example of favoring external evidence over internal evidence, because Metzger noticed that it would have been very easy for copyists to skip verse 26 if their line of sight drifted from the words τα παραπτωματα υμων at the end of verse 25 to the exact same words at the end of verse 26, but did not consider this internal consideration to be persuasive against the Alexandrian witnesses.  Metzger argued that the shorter reading is in “early witnesses that represent all text-types,” although the same thing can be said about the longer reading, which is supported by Byzantine, Western, and Caesarean witnesses).      

These four samples indicate that internal evidence can be a very slippery thing, and that its force often depends upon the extent to which the textual critic is willing to engage his imagination to devise explanations for the origination of whatever reading is least consistent with his model of the text’s transmission-history.  Were we to explore Metzger’s Textual Commentary in detail, we would see that very frequently, the UBS compilation-committee attributed longer readings to scribal creativity where the shorter reading is attributable to scribal carelessness – especially when the shorter reading is Alexandrian.26 

Only when the Alexandrian reading is longer (as in Mark 1:34), or when the Alexandrian reading is so obviously secondary that no amount of ingenuity can plausibly salvage it (as in Mark 7:4), does internal evidence seem to have the ability to outweigh Alexandrian external evidence.  Metzger and his fellow UBS committee-members were not alone in their consideration of the length of rival variants as an internal consideration by which to judge between them:  the canon, “prefer the shorter reading” has been a major text-critical canon for a very long time, and in the late 1800’s and throughout the 1900’s, it was appealed to very frequently as a pivotal consideration, resulting in the rejection of very many longer Byzantine readings, in favor of shorter Alexandrian readings.  When the Byzantine Text has the shorter reading – as it does hundreds of times, for example in James 4:12 (“and Judge” is not in the Byzantine Text) and Jude v. 25 (“through Jesus Christ our Lord” is not in the Byzantine Text) – the compilers seem to have no problem recognizing parableptic errors, but when the Alexandrian Text has the shorter reading, the theory of first resort is that the longer reading originated with copyists.27

Not only is this inconsistent, but it defies the analysis which James Royse provided of the text of some early New Testament papyri, showing that the copyists of those manuscripts tended to make more omissions than additions, at a proportion of three omissions for every two additions.28  This tends to altogether invalidate the “prefer the shorter reading” canon, and indicates that every variant-unit that has been decided on the basis of that internal consideration ought to be revisited.

- Continued in Part Four - 



23 – Of course Wallace could not anticipate, in the 1990’s, what Maurice Robinson would write in 2001.  But it is 2015 and Wallace’s article remains online, spreading false impressions about the nature of the view of the leading proponents of Byzantine Priority. 
24 – See page x of the introduction to the second edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament:  “The letter A signifies that the text is virtually certain.”
25 - See the NET’s note on this variant-unit:  “a good reason for the omission is difficult to find.”
26 – See Dennis Kenaga’s Skeptical Trends in New Testament Textual Criticism for additional critiques of inconsistencies in Metzger’s use of internal evidence. 
27 – The treatment of Matthew 12:47, which is absent in À and B and the Sahidic version (et al), is an outstanding example of pro-Alexandrian compilers’ reluctance to recognize parableptic omissions in the Alexandrian text.  Internal evidence has prevailed, but just barely.  Although the cause of a parableptic error is obvious – verses 46 and 47 end with the same word, λαλησαι – the UBS compilers assigned it a “C” rank (meaning that they harbor a “considerable degree of doubt” about the adopted text) and, echoing Nestle’s earlier treatment, bracketed the verse (to emphasize that the enclosed words have “dubious textual validity”).  
28 – See James R. Royse’s painstakingly prepared Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri, released in 2008.  

The Text of Reasoned Eclecticism: Is It Reasonable and Eclectic? Part Two of a Four-Part Response to Dan Wallace

External Evidence

            Wallace began his consideration of what external evidence implies about the Byzantine Text with a simple misrepresentation.  He stated that the primary premise in the Byzantine Priority view is, “Any reading overwhelmingly attested by the manuscript tradition is more likely to be original than its rivals,” he added, “In other words when the majority of manuscripts agree, that is the original.”  But somewhere in those other words, the word “overwhelmingly” was murdered – sacrificed for the sake of caricature-drawing.  A majority might be 50.1%.  The overwhelming support for Byzantine readings that Wallace routinely vetoes in favor of Alexandrian readings include majorities of 85%, 98% and 99% and higher proportions of the manuscript-evidence. 
            Wallace says, “In historical investigation, presumption is only presumption.”  But when facing textual variants in which 99% of the Greek manuscripts disagree with the Alexandrian reading, we do not face mere presumptions; we face implications:  either a corruption permeated 99% of all Greek manuscripts, or else a corruption was adopted in 1% of them.  In general, which is more likely:  that many copyists in many places created or adopted a non-original reading, or that few copyists in few places did so?  The original text is the text with the head start, so to speak, and if one is to posit that a non-original reading overtook it so as to become more popular, one must explain how that happened – and this is not easy to do without making some assumptions, or presumptions.  So let the axiom, “Presumption is only presumption,” be aimed at all presumptions, not just those that maintain Byzantine Priority. 
            Moving along.  Wallace claimed that if the Byzantine Text were the original text, then one would expect to find it “in the earliest Greek manuscripts, in the earliest versions, and in the earliest church fathers,” and “One would expect it to be in a majority of manuscripts, versions, and fathers.”
            “But,” he continues, “that is not what is found.”  However, by definition, the majority text is what is found in the majority of manuscripts (at least in passages where a majority exists, rather than a split-decision among three or more rival variants).  Wallace attempts to circumvent this obvious fact by redefining the majority as the majority of long-lived manuscripts.  “As far as the extant witnesses reveal,” he claims, “the majority text did not exist in the first four centuries.” 
            Considering that it comes from someone attempting to avoid presumptions, that is an extremely presumptive claim.  Other than the papyri from Egypt, there is not much New Testament manuscript-evidence to indicate what texts were being used throughout the Roman Empire before the year 400.  The available manuscript-evidence is not remotely close to being extensive enough to justify statements about what the majority of manuscripts read in the second or third centuries, at points where the testimony of the extant evidence is diverse.  To presume that the manuscript-evidence from Egypt depicts the text that was used in other locales is a huge presumption.  By the year 235 or so, Origen stated that the manuscripts were in disagreement with each other.13  That is difficult to reconcile with the idea that a uniform Alexandrian Text, or any text-type, was an established standard text at that time in a multitude of non-Egyptian locales. 
             When Wallace appeals to the papyri as vindication for his idea that the Byzantine Text did not exist in the first three centuries of Christendom, he states, “More than fifty of these came from before the middle of the fourth century. Yet not one belongs to the majority text.”  That is not quite true.  Papyrus 104, which currently contends with Papyrus 52 for the claim of earliest-known-New-Testament-manuscript, is a fragment of text from Matthew 21 that agrees with the Byzantine Text as much as it agrees with the text of Codex Vaticanus.14  In addition, large portions of Codex W (from the late 300’s or early 400’s) display the Byzantine Text.15  
            Papyrus 98, a fragment from the late 100’s or early 200’s which contains text from Revelation 1:13-2:1, disagrees twice with the Byzantine Text (though in one of these two instances, the Byzantine Text is divided), and disagrees once with the Nestle-Aland text – so it is rather presumptive to say that the fragment favors one text-type significantly more than the other, especially since P98 disagrees with Codex Sinaiticus five times.  Papyrus 16, a fragment from the 300’s with text from Philippians, diverges from the Byzantine Text eleven times, but it also disagrees with Codex Vaticanus nine times.  The much-mutilated Papyrus 45, which is currently the earliest known manuscript of the Gospel of Mark, from the early 200’s, agrees much more closely with the text of Mark in Codex W than with the text of Mark in Codex Vaticanus, and in Mark 7, P45 agrees repeatedly with the Byzantine Text.  Papyrus 46 also frequently disagrees with the Nestle-Aland text.16
            Wallace can’t have it both ways:  if the mere existence of a non-Byzantine local text displayed in the early papyri constitutes strong evidence that the Byzantine Text did not exist, then the existence of a non-Alexandrian text in the early papyri (such as what is seen in P45) constitutes strong evidence that the Alexandrian Text didn’t exist.  Obviously this sort of reasoning is an overextrapolation, since witnesses such as P75 show that the parts of the Alexandrian Text that they contain did exist in the 200’s.  The non-existence of Byzantine papyri in Egypt does not imply the non-existence of Byzantine papyri in other locales, just as non-Alexandrian readings in some Egyptian papyri do not imply the non-existence of Alexandrian readings in other Egyptian papyri.
            Wallace stated, “Many hypotheses can be put forth as to why there are no early Byzantine manuscripts.  But once again an ounce of evidence is worth a pound of presumption.”  As if there is some mystery about it!  Until the 300’s, New Testament manuscripts were made of papyrus, which decomposes in virtually every climate except for the low-humidity climate of Egypt.  This is not a presumption; it is a scientific fact.  High humidity was even more systematic and thorough than the Roman persecutors who destroyed Christian manuscripts during the Diocletian persecution. 
            This is a perfectly reasonable explanation why we have New Testament manuscripts – and fragments of the works of Homer, and Greek poetry, and tax-receipts, etc. – from Egypt, and not from very many other locales, from the 200’s and 300’s.  It’s not as if Christians in other locales were not reading the Gospels, or reading the Iliad, or writing receipts and letters.  The unique climate of Egypt is the factor that has resulted in the preservation of papyrus documents there.  And they provide a fairly good sample of the texts that were used in Egypt (especially at Oxyrhynchus).  But they cannot do the impossible; they do not tell us what sort of New Testament text was in use elsewhere. 
            Wallace moves on to consider the early versions.  He correctly points out that the Old Latin evidence is consistently Western (where its witnesses are not barnacled by Vulgate readings, at least).  However, some Old Latin witnesses habitually collide with other Old Latin witnesses; there was not one monolithic Old Latin tradition; there were, instead, numerous independent Latin versions, as Jerome indicated in his preface to the Vulgate Gospels.  The extant Old Latin manuscripts are samples from that collection.  And while the Old Latin texts are not Byzantine, they agree with the Byzantine Text much more than they agree with the Alexandrian Text.  This is no more proof of the non-existence of the Byzantine Text than it is proof of the non-existence of the Alexandrian Text. 
            The Coptic version, Wallace states, “goes back to an early date, probably the second century.”  There was not just one Coptic version.  What we have are New Testaments (or at least portions of the New Testament) in several Egyptian dialects, displaying several different forms of the text from different areas and different eras:  Sahidic, Bohairic, Achmimic, Sub-Achmimic, Middle Egyptian, and Fayyumic.  Part of the Sahidic version is strongly Alexandrian, but the collective testimony of the Coptic versions is very far from a uniform endorsement of the Alexandrian Text; the Coptic Glazier Codex (CopG67), for example, displays a thoroughly Western text of Acts.  In addition, one should consider that the second-century origin of the Sahidic version is a calculated guess.  Due to the uniformity of Coptic lettering across centuries, the production-dates of Coptic manuscripts are notoriously difficult to specify on a paleographical basis.    
            Wallace next turns his attention to the Gothic version, which he, in agreement with Metzger, affirms to be the earliest representative of the Byzantine Text.  However, he blurs its production-date, stating that it was produced “at the end of the fourth century,” i.e., the late 300’s.  The Gothic version was produced by Wulfilas, who was appointed to be a bishop in 341; he undertook his translation-work shortly after that, in the mid-300’s, that is, at about the same time Codex Sinaiticus was produced.
            What does the existence of these early versions imply about the Byzantine Text?  Wallace proposes two implications.  First, he proposes that “If the majority text view is right, then each one of these versions was based on polluted Greek manuscripts.”  As far as the Old Latin versions are concerned, that sword cuts both ways:  advocates of the Alexandrian Text consider the Old Latin versions’ texts to be thoroughly corrupt.  Wallace has no right to treat this as a problem, since he believes it too.    
            Second, he proposes that the early versions represent the texts used in a wide variety of locales:  “the Coptic, Ethiopic, Latin, and Syriac versions came from all over the Mediterranean region. In none of these locales was the Byzantine text apparently used.”  (Did you see how he just threw the Ethiopic version in there, as if it existed before the 300’s?)  I challenge Wallace to name a single Byzantine reading anywhere in the Gospels that does not have some support from one or more of these versions.  The Syriac Peshitta version, in particular, exhibits strong alignment with the Byzantine Text.  And neither the Sinaitic Syriac nor the Curetonian Syriac displays an Alexandrian Text; put either one alongside the text of Vaticanus or Sinaiticus and you will observe a plethora of disagreements.  So when Wallace’s sentence is filtered by reality, and only versions from before the 300’s are in view, this is what survives:  “The Sahidic, Latin, and Syriac versions came from all over the Mediterranean region.  Only in the Sahidic version was the Alexandrian Text apparently used.”   
            The early Sahidic version did not come from all over the Mediterranean region.  It was a local text.    
            Rather than constituting “strong evidence that the Byzantine text simply did not exist in the first three centuries—anywhere,” the Old Latin evidence that Wallace has called to the stand testifies that diverse forms of the Western Text were used as the basis for Latin translations.  They are no more anti-Byzantine than they are anti-Alexandrian.  And, I note in passing, that in many cases, the Old Latin aligns with the Byzantine Text and not with the Alexandrian Text.  (This alignment provides pro-Alexandrian critics with an excuse to see only a few early Byzantine readings:  when a Byzantine reading agrees with a Western witness, the reading is categorized as Western.) 
            Again:  the only early version with a strongly Alexandrian Text is the Sahidic made-in-Egypt version.  Thus, what Wallace has in the early versions – even when the Gothic version and the Peshitta are set aside – is not evidence that the Byzantine Text did not exist anywhere.  The evidence does not come remotely close to warranting such a sweeping conclusion.  It implies, rather, that by the time the Old Latin versions were made, the Western Text had already developed, and that by the time the earliest strata of the Sahidic version was made, the Alexandrian Text had developed in Egypt.  It does not, and cannot, inform us about the text that was being used in other locales.

            What about the early patristic writers?  Wallace affirms that “Many of them lived much earlier than the date of any Greek manuscripts now extant for a particular book.”  His readers could easily get the impression that many patristic authors before the year 300 wrote so extensively that researchers can confidently observe what text-type they used in their utilizations of the New Testament.  However, in 1881, Hort wrote,

            “The only extant patristic writings which to any considerable extent support Pre-Syrian readings at variance with Western readings are connected with Alexandria, that is, the remains of Clement and Origen, as mentioned above (§ 159), together with the fragments of Dionysius and Peter of Alexandria from the second half of the third century, and in a certain measure the works of Eusebius of Caesarea, who was deeply versed in the theological literature of Alexandria.”17

            In other words, if one searches through all the known patristic literature produced before 300, the only places one finds substantial agreement with non-Byzantine, non-Western forms of the New Testament are in the writings of a few individuals who were linked to Egypt either geographically (Clement of Alexandria lived in Alexandria, of course, and Origen worked there prior to moving to Caesarea around 230) or in terms of training (Eusebius of Caesarea was a fan and defender of Origen).  
            Even in some of the writings of individuals who were either in, or from, Egypt – where one would naturally expect the local Alexandrian Text to exert the most influence – there is as much evidence for the Byzantine Text as for the Alexandrian Text.  In Carl Cosaert’s analysis of the Gospels-text used by Clement of Alexandria, Cosaert listed 125 utilizations of the text of the Gospel of Luke in which Clement’s text agrees with either one or two members of a group consisting of Codex Vaticanus, Codex Bezae, and the Textus Receptus.  Clement’s text, according to Cosaert, agrees with D 62 times (49.6%), with B 65 times (52%), and with the Byzantine Text 68 times (54.4%).18  This is not evidence that Clement used a manuscript of Luke that closely resembled the Byzantine Text – but it is evidence (contrary to what Wallace is trying to show) that Clement’s support for the idea that the Byzantine Text of Luke was non-existent when he wrote is not any greater than Clement’s support for the idea that the Alexandrian Text of Luke was non-existent when he wrote.
            None of the patristic research conducted in the last 80 years has shown that any writers outside Egypt and Caesarea prior to the year 300 used the Alexandrian Text.  There simply are not “many” patristic writers before 300 who wrote enough, and cited the New Testament enough, to clearly show that they favored the Alexandrian Text.     
            Wallace’s claim that “The early fathers had a text that keeps looking more like modern critical editions” does not accurately describe a single early patristic writer outside the borders of Egypt and Caesarea.  It does not even accurately describe the text used by Clement of Alexandria.  In some cases, the texts used by early patristic writers look more Byzantine than Alexandrian.  For example, the Alexandrian Text does not contain Mark 16:9-20, but utilizations of Mark 16:9-20 are found in the writings of Justin Martyr (160), Tatian (172), Irenaeus (180’s), Hippolytus (220’s), and the pagan author Hierocles (305), who was very likely recycling material composed by Porphyry in the 270’s.  Matthew 17:21 is another example of a non-Alexandrian reading supported by a patristic author who is supposed to have an Alexandrian text:  this verse was cited by Origen, but the entire verse is absent in the Alexandrian Text.19 
            Wallace presents the Greek manuscripts, the early versions, and early patristic quotations as “a threefold cord” of testimony.  But in reality those three things do not come together:  the early Egyptian papyri display the texts used in Egypt.  The texts in the Old Latin versions and the Sinaitic Syriac and Curetonian Syriac are not Byzantine, but they are certainly not Alexandrian either.  Early patristic evidence from outside Egypt-and-Caesarea does not support the Alexandrian Text, and even some writers in Egypt and Caesarea support readings that are in the Byzantine Text, against the Alexandrian Text. 
            Everything we see in these three forms of evidence – manuscripts, versions, and patristic utilizations of the New Testament – indicates that the New Testament text was disseminated in localized forms.  And a local text, while capable of showing us what text was used in a specific locale, does not show us what text was being used in another locale hundreds of miles away.  We don’t look at an early Old Latin manuscript such as Codex Vercellensis and conclude that it reveals the local text of Alexandria.  Nor do we look at the Sinaitic Syriac and conclude that it reveals the local text of southern Italy.  But Wallace apparently wants us to look at a local Greek text of Egypt, and very different local Latin texts from who-knows-where – possibly also from Egypt, in some cases20 – and conclude that they reveal the local texts of Antioch, Asia, Cyprus, Edessa, Nicomedia, and the cities of Greece
            What text of the New Testament was being used by Christians in that vast territory before the year 300?  We do not know:  manuscripts, versions, and substantial patristic writings from that area, in the ante-Nicene era, are not extant.  But in the 400’s, the Byzantine Text was the Greek text that was in use in the Greek-speaking churches in these areas, and the Peshitta was the Syriac text that was in use in the Syriac-speaking churches.  In addition, we observe that
            ● the Gospels-text in Codex Alexandrinus (from around 400) is mainly Byzantine,
            ● portions of the Gospels in Codex W (from the late 300’s or 400’s) are Byzantine,
            ● Basil of Caesarea (330-379) used a text of Matthew that was primarily Byzantine,21
            ● The texts of John and the Pauline Epistles used by Gregory of Nyssa (335-395) agree more with the Byzantine Text than with any other text-type.22

            Before moving on to address Wallace’s comments about internal evidence, there is one more of his claims about external evidence that invites a response:  he stated that some patristic statements show that what is the majority-reading now was not the majority-reading when those statements were made.  Wallace provided only two specific examples of this:  (1)  Jerome’s statement (in Ad Hedibiam) that Mark 16:9-20 “is met with in only a few copies of the Gospel – almost all the codices of Greece being without this passage,” and (2) Jerome’s statement that at Matthew 5:22 “most of the ancient copies” do not contain εικη.   Regarding the first example, I believe that anyone who takes the time to compare Jerome’s comments in Ad Hedibiam to Eusebius’ comments in Ad Marinum will conclude that the part of Jerome’s composition in which this statement is found is essentially a loose recycling of Eusebius’ material; in the course of answering Hedibia’s broad question about how to reconcile the Gospels’ accounts of events after Christ’s resurrection, Jerome utilized three of Marinus’ specific questions on the subject, as well as three of Eusebius’ answers, in the same order in which they appear in Ad Marinum
            This should provide some instruction about the high degree of caution that should accompany patristic references to quantities of manuscripts.  In some cases, such as we see in Ad Hedibiam, the claim may have been borrowed second-hand from a source who was describing manuscripts in a different time and place.  In other cases, it may indeed reflect what the author has encountered, but it would be quite a leap to conclude that what the author encountered is what one would encounter when surveying all manuscripts everywhere that were contemporary to him.  In other words, there is no justification for the assumption that a reading found in the majority of manuscripts known to a specific author would also be found in the majority of manuscript that were not known to that author.  When we approach a statement about manuscripts that an author knows about, that is what we should understand it to be – not a statement about manuscripts about which the author knows nothing.  There is no necessary correlation between the contents of majorities of manuscripts known to Origen, or to Eusebius, or to Jerome, and the contents of actual majorities of manuscripts at the time of Origen, or Eusebius, or Jerome.  This point seems to have completely eluded Wallace.

- Continued in Part Three - 



13 – See Metzger’s quotation of Origen on page 88 of New Testament Tools & Studies – Historical and Literary Studies, Vol. 8 (1968), at the outset of his article, Explicit References in the Works of Origen to Variant Readings in New Testament Manuscripts:  “The differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyist or through the perverse audacity of others,” etc.
14 – A thorough description of P104 is among the files of the NT Textual Criticism group on Facebook.
15 – Specifically, Codex W is essentially Byzantine in Matthew and in Luke 8:13-24:53.  In Mark 5-12, it seems to be loosely, and uniquely, aligned with the text found in P45.  The text of Luke 1:1-8:12 and John 5:12-21:25 is essentially Alexandrian.  This block-mixture shows that it was possible for rival text-types to exist side-by-side in the same locale.
16 – See the comments by Dennis Kenaga regarding P46 on page of Skeptical Trends in New Testament TextualCriticism:  “The oldest witness, P46, was rejected 303 times, 30% of the time, in 1 Corinthians.”  (The wording of this sentence could be improved, but the basic point is correct.)    
17 – See page 127 of Hort’s Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek.
18 – See the data in Carl P. Cosaert’s The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria, © 2008 by the Society of Biblical Literature.  A preview is at .
19 – It is feasible that Origen was quoting from Mark 9:29, but he tended to quote from Matthew much more frequently than from Mark.  Even if one were to grant that Origen was quoting Mark 9:29, the quotation is clearly not based on the Alexandrian Text, because Origen includes the words “and fasting,” which are not in the Alexandrian Text of Mark 9:29.
20 – See Metzger’s comment on page 37 of The Bible in Translation:  The Coptic versions of the Old Testament frequently show a relationship with the Old Latin version . . . . This is not surprising, because the Old Latin version is regarded as having been of preeminent importance for the African Church.”
21 – See Jean-Francoise Racine’s 2004 book, The Text of Matthew in the Writings of Basil of Caesarea.
22 – See James A. Brooks’ 1991 book, The New Testament Text of Gregory of Nyssa.