Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hand to Hand Combat: Codex Sinaiticus vs. Minuscule 4

          Codex Sinaiticus returns to the combat-ring today!  Facing this heavyweight is a relatively obscure challenger:  minuscule 4.  This Gospels-manuscript from the 1200’s is so little-known that it seems appropriate to offer some information about its background (or possible background) before the contest begins.
          In the 1430’s, a clergyman named John of Ragusa (a place known today as the coastal region around Dubrovnik, Croatia) took part in church councils at Basel (in Switzerland) and Florence (in Italy) as a representative of the Dominican monastic order.  The top item on the agenda of these councils was reconciliation with the Orthodox Church based in Constantinople.  In the course of his work, John of Ragusa served as an emissary to Constantinople in 1435-1437.  The leaders of the Orthodox Church sent representatives – including Basilios Bessarion, who united with the Roman Catholic church and was made a cardinal in 1439 – to the Council of Florence, where, after much debate, a formal statement of unity was drawn up – only to be rejected later by Orthodox clerics in Constantinople.
          On May 29, 1453, Constantinople fell to Islamic invaders.  Something else had happened ten years earlier which, as it turned out, was also significant:  when John of Ragusa died in 1443, he bequeathed a small collection of manuscripts – possibly souvenirs from his visit to Constantinople, or perhaps gifts from Bessarion – to the Dominican convent at Basel.  This collection included not only some classical works but also a few manuscripts of parts of the New Testament.
          Seventy-two years later, in 1515-1516, Desiderius Erasmus visited Basel in order to use the manuscripts known to be in the possession of the Dominican monks there.  With the help of those manuscripts, along with his vast knowledge of patristic material and other data amassed in his previous research (plus the research-notes of Lorenzo Valla), Erasmus produced the first published printed edition of the Greek New Testament.
          Minuscule 4 – presently kept at the National Library of France as Greek MS 84 (formerly Regius MS 2867) – is either one of those manuscripts which John of Ragusa gave to the monks at Basel, or else it came from some other source.  There seems to be some confusion about whether or not 4 was ever at Basel, and whether or not it was used by Erasmus.  But in any event, readings from this manuscript were known to Robert Stephanus; this manuscript was denoted by the Greek letter γʹ (gamma) in the notations in Stephanus’ 1550 edition of the Greek New Testament.  Minuscule 4 helped define the Textus Receptus.     

          Now let’s get down to business.  Two pages of minuscule 4 conveniently contain, more or less, John 6:65-71 and 7:1-16.  These 23 verses constitute the textual battleground of today’s contest.  Here are the contest’s rules, applied to the text in both manuscripts:
          ● The text of the first hand of each manuscript will be compared to the text of NA27.  Words in brackets in the text of NA27 are considered part of the text.
          ● Transpositions that do not involve any gain or loss of words are mentioned, but are not included in the final totals.
          ● The introduction of one non-original letter = 1 point.
          ● The loss of an original letter = 1 point.
          ● Abbreviations of sacred names, abbreviations of και, and easily deciphered contractions are not counted as variants.
          ● If a sacred name is absent, all its letters are considered absent, even if it is very probable that it would have been abbreviated in the manuscript.
             
Here are the deviations from the text of NA27 in 4.  I have marked each reading in 4 that agrees with the Byzantine Text (RP2005) with a triangle, except for transpositions.

6:65 – 4 has ηρηκα instead of ειρηκα.  (+1, -2)
6:65 – 4 has ει instead of η (+2, -1)
6:65 – 4 has μου (+3) ▲
6:66 – 4 does not have the second εκ (-2) ▲
6:66 – 4 has a transposition
6:67 – 4 has θελεται instead of θελετε (+2, -1)
6:68 – 4 has ουν (+3) ▲
6:69 – 4 has (in abbreviated form) Χριστος ο υιος instead of Αγιος (before του Θυ) (+12, -7)  [Note:  one could plausibly reduce this to +9, -4, since both readings, when uncontracted, share the letters ιος at the end.  But I did not.] ▲
6:69 – 4 has (after του Θυ) του ζωητος (+9) ▲
6:70 – 4 does not have ο Ιησους (-7)   
6:71 – 4 has ελεγε instead of ελεγεν (-1)
6:71 – 4 has Ισκαριωτην instead of Ισκαριωτου (+2, -2) ▲
6:71 – 4 has a transposition
6:71 – 4 has ων (after εις) (+2) ▲
7:1 – 4 has a transposition
7:2 – 4 has no differences
7:3 – 4 has has θεωρησουσι instead of θεωρησουσιν (-1)
7:4 – 4 has a transposition
7:4 – 4 has another transposition
7:5 – 4 has επιστευων instead of επιστευον (+1, -1)
7:6 – 4 has no differences
7:7 – 4 has no differences
7:8 – 4 is missing εγω ουκ αναβαινω εις την εορτην (-26) 
7:8 – 4 has a transposition
7:8 – 4 adds ο before transposed εμος (+1) ▲
7:9 – 4 has αυτοις instead of αυτος (+1) ▲
7:10 – 4 has a transposition
7:10 – 4 has αλλ instead of αλλα (-1) ▲
7:11 – 4 has ελεγων instead of ελεγον (+1, -1)
7:12 – 4 has a transposition
7:12 – 4 does not have δε (-2) ▲
7:12 – 4 has ελεγων instead of ελεγον (+1, -1)
7:13 – 4 has μεντι instead of μεντοι (-1)
7:14 – 4 has ο before Ις (+1) ▲
7:15 – 4 has Και before εθαυμαζον (+3) ▲
7:15 – 4 does not have ουν (-3) ▲
7:15 – 4 has ουτως instead of ουτος (+1, -1)
7:16 – 4 has no differences

Thus in John 6:65-7:16, compared to NA27, minuscule 4 contains 45 non-original letters, and has lost 61 original letters, for a total of 106 letters’ worth of corruption.  (In addition, there are six transpositions in this passage in 4.)

Now let’s look at the deviations from NA27 in the same passage in Codex Sinaiticus (in the “Western” portion of the manuscript):

6:65 – א has ουδις instead of ουδεις (-1)
6:65 – א has εμε instead of με (+1)
6:65 – א does not have αυτω (-4)
6:66 – א has ουν after τουτου (+3)
6:67 – א does not have εκ after πολλοι (-2)
6:67 – א does not have αυτου after μαθητων (-5)
6:67 – א has υμις instead of υμεις (-1)
6:67 – א has θελεται instead of θελετε (+2, -1)
6:68 – א has no differences
6:69 – א has ημις instead of ημεις (-1)
6:70 – א does not has αυτοις ο (-7)
6:70 – א has και ειπεν (+8)
6:70 – א has ουχι instead of ουκ (+2, -1)
6:70 – א has a transposition
6:70 – א does not have τους (-4)
6:70 – א does not have εις (-3)
6:71 – א does not have τον (-3)
6:71 – א has απο (+3)
6:71 – א has Καρυωτου instead of Ισκαριωτου (+1, -3)
6:71 – א has και after γαρ (+3)
6:71 – א has εμελλον instead of εμελλεν (+1, -1)
6:71 – א has a transposition
6:71 – א has ων after εις (+2)
7:1 – א has αποκτιναι instead of αποκτειναι (-1)
7:2 – א has no differences
7:3 – א has a transposition
7:3 – א has θεωρουσιν instead of θεωρησουσιν (-2)
7:3 – א has a transposition
7:4 – א has ουδις instead of ουδεις (-1)
7:4 – א has ποιων instead of ποιει (+2, -2)
7:4 – א does not have και (-3)
7:4 – א has ζητι instead of ζητει (-1)
7:5 – א has no differences
7:6 – א does not have ουν (-3)
7:6 – א does not have ο before Ις (-1)
7:7 – א has a transposition
7:7 – א does not have εγω (-3)
7:7 – א does not have περι αυτου (-9)
7:7 – א has πονιρα instead of πονηρα (+1, -1)
7:8 – א has αναβηται instead of αναβητε (+2, -1)
7:8 – א has ταυτην before εγω (+6)
7:9 – א does not have δε (-2)
7:9 – א has εμινεν instead of εμεινεν (-1)
7:10 – א has αλλ instead of αλλα (-1)
7:10 – א does not have ως (-2)
7:11 – א has εκινος instead of εκεινος (-1)
7:12 – א has a transposition
7:12 – א has τω οχλω instead of τοις οχλοις (+2, -6)
7:12 – א does not have δε (-2) 
7:13 – א has ουδις instead of ουδεις (-1)
7:13 – א has a transposition
7:14 – א has ερτης instead of εορτης (-1)
7:15 – א has no differences
7:16 – א does not have ο before Ις (-1)

Thus in John 6:65-7:16, compared to NA27, Codex Sinaiticus contains 39 non-original letters, and has lost 83 original letters, for a total of 122 letters’ worth of corruption.  (In addition, there are seven transpositions in this passage in Codex Sinaiticus.)

          Now we all know what we have been told about the manuscripts upon which the Textus Receptus was based:   they were “The feeblest of manuscript resources” and “Late medieval manuscripts of inferior quality” and so forth.  But this collides with what we see in John 6:65-7:16, where minuscule 4 has less corruption than Codex Sinaiticus.  (This calculation is made, remember, using the NA27 compilation as the standard for comparison.  If the Byzantine Text were used as the standard of comparison instead, then 4 would only have 52 letters’ worth of corruption in this passage (half of which would be in 7:8), and Codex Sinaiticus would still have over twice that amount.)
          If the rate of corruption were even in all transmission-streams, then we could expect late manuscripts to be more corrupt than early ones.  But direct evaluations of sample-passages show that the rates of corruption in different transmission-streams were not the same.  About 260 years after the Gospel of John was written, Codex Sinaiticus had more corruptions in John 6:65-7:16 than minuscule 4 had at the end of a 1,100-year-long transmission-stream.
          To sum up:  even though the copyist of 4 made a major mistake in John 7:8, the text of 4 still has less corruption in John 6:65-7:16 than Codex Sinaiticus.  To be precise:  4 has 106 letters’ worth of corruption (45 non-original letters gained; 61 original letters lost – and six transpositions) and Codex Sinaiticus has 122 letters’ worth of corruption (39 non-original letters gained; 83 original letters lost – and seven transpositions).  Once again the famous heavyweight has lost to a younger opponent.

          (A tangential note:  Papyrus 66, Papyrus 75, and Codex Vaticanus read ουπω in John 7:8, thus agreeing with the usual Byzantine reading, and disagreeing with Codex Sinaiticus.)

          [Readers are invited to double-check the data and the math in this post.]

2 comments:

Wayne Steury said...

James, I enjoy your TC work very much. TC has been a hobby with me. Sometime soon I want to show you my work in John 11 and Polycarp.

Romilda Gareth said...

Thanks