Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Nestle-Aland in John 20: Alexandrian or Eclectic?

          In the two preceding posts, I showed that the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilation is almost entirely Alexandrian in Galatians 1 and in Luke 15.  To be precise, the NA compilation adopts a Byzantine reading instead of an Alexandrian reading in .3% of Galatians 1, and in 1% of Luke 15.  Let’s take another sample from the Gospels – John 20 – and see what kind of results we get.
          Sifting through John 20 in Reuben Swanson’s presentation of the text in horizontal-line comparisons of the contents of many important manuscripts, I observe that out of 53 text-lines, NA agrees entirely with Vaticanus (B) in 39 of them.  In the remaining 14 text-lines, NA agrees entirely with Sinaiticus (À) in six.  This leaves eight lines that do not agree entirely with either B or À.  Let’s investigate those eight lines to see how non-Alexandrian the Nestle-Aland compilation is in this chapter:

          At the end of verse 4, NA adopts τάχιον (agreeing with À), and also adopts À’s reading ηλθεν, but then follows the word-order in B.  Thus, although this three-part series of readings, collectively, agrees with the Byzantine Text, each component agrees with either B or À.
          At the beginning of verse 13, NA has και at the very beginning of the verse (agreeing with B) and does not have και later in the verse before λέγει (agreeing with À).  Thus, in this case, each component of the text of NA agrees with either B or À.      
          At the beginning of verse 17, NA does not adopt ὁ before Ιησους (agreeing with B), and then adopts the word-order in À (μου απτου), and then does not adopt μου (agreeing with B and À).  Thus, taken as a series, this text-line agrees with D against B, À, and the Byzantine Text, but taken individually, each component is found in either B or À.
          In verse 22, NA adopts the variant αφέωνται, disagreeing with B (αφειονται) and À (αφεθήσεται) and the Byzantine Text (αφίενται), agreeing with a small minority of manuscripts including Codices A and D.
          At the beginning of verse 25, NA adopts ουν after ελεγον, and αλλοι before μαθηται (agreeing both times with B), but then adopts Εωράκαμεν, agreeing instead with À and the Byzantine Text.  Thus, taken individually, each component of this text-line is found in B or À
          At the end of verse 27 and the beginning of verse 28, NA reads γίμου, rejecting the itacism in B (γειμου) and agreeing with À.  Further along in the line, however, NA does not adopt ὁ before Ιησους (agreeing with B but not with À).  NA also rejects Και at the beginning of the verse.  Each component of this text-line is found in B or À or both. 
          At the beginning of verse 29, NA adopts λεγει, agreeing with B and the Byzantine Text against À (which reads ειπεν δε).  Then NA adopts ὁ before Ιησους (disagreeing with B and the Byzantine Text, but agreeing with À), and further along in the verse reads εωρακάς, disagreeing with the Byzantine Text (which reads εωρακάς) but agreeing with B and À.  NA also does not include και after με (thus agreeing with B and the Byzantine Text but disagreeing with À).  Thus, in this series of variant-units, NA collectively disagrees with B, with À, and with the Byzantine Text (agreeing instead with Codices A, C, D, N, and an assortment of other manuscripts).  Each component of this text-line, however, agrees with either B or À.          
          Near the beginning of verse 31, NA places the letter sigma in brackets, so as to read πιστεύ[σ]ητε which disagrees with B and À and agrees with the Byzantine Text.

          Thus, out of the eight text-lines which do not entirely agree with B or À, we see that in terms of their component-parts, they all agree with either B or À except at two points:  the adoption of αφέωνται in verse 22 (disagreeing with the Byzantine Text’s reading αφίενται), and the inclusion of the bracketed letter sigma in πιστεύ[σ]ητε in verse 31.   
          The existence of the Byzantine Text is thus manifested in the Nestle-Aland text of John 21 by one letter.  That is, a distinctly Byzantine reading (one that is not found in B or À) is preferred in one of John 20’s 615 words in the Nestle-Aland compilation.  Or, calculated by letters:  exactly one of  this chapter’s 2,812 letters in the Nestle-Aland compilation is found in the Byzantine Text and not in Vaticanus or Sinaiticus.  The letter is bracketed, however, so do not be surprised if the number of distinct Byzantine readings in John 20 is zero in the next edition.  (The New Living Translation is already based on the reading without the sigma.)



9 comments:

Peter Gurry said...

James: "the NA compilation adopts a Byzantine reading instead of an Alexandrian reading in .3% of Galatians 1, and in 1% of Luke 15"

Shouldn't it be "in x% where Alex and Byz differ" rather than "in Gal 1 etc"? Otherwise you're skewing the numbers so that the text looks more Alex than your definitions actually allow for.

This is what I mean by being consistent with your definitions.

Peter Gurry said...

To be more specific, to really evaluate your numbers, we need to know how many of your measuring units (here lines in Swanson) are either distinctively Byz or distinctively Alex (however you define these). Then we should know how often the NA agrees with each of these in these same points *and in no others.* That would be a meaningful comparison. But it looks like what you've done here is assume that where NA agrees with both your Byz and Alex, it nevertheless still counts as being Alexandrian. That's illegitimate. What you need to do is reduce your "615 words in NA" to just the words where Byz and Alex are actually split. That number would be less than 615, right?

I'm not debating that the NA is more Alex than Byz (by almost any definition), just saying that your current stats are based on an equivocation in your terms.

James Snapp said...

Peter Gurry,

It should be obvious that the focus is on points where Alex and Byz differ; otherwise it would be impossible to adopt one reading instead of the other. One cannot adopt one reading instead of the other reading if they are both the same reading, eh.

PG: "Otherwise you're skewing the numbers so that the text looks more Alex than your definitions actually allow for."

Not at all. It's just that a lot of the Alexandrian Text and a lot of the Byzantine Text are identical. The distinct parts of each are described as "distinctly Byzantine" or "distinctly Alexandrian" and where each text is distinct is where the contests take place. But no one would print the Alexandrian Text by printing *just* the unique parts, and no one would print the Byzantine Text by printing *just* the unique parts.

James Snapp said...

Peter Gurry,

I think I have a concise way of describing the point where we seem to disagree: you are saying that where the text of Alex and Byz is the same, the text is neither. Whereas I am saying that at those points, it is both.

Peter Gurry said...

No, the issue is deeper, I'm afraid. An illustration:

Imagine that A-B-C is a critical text. Byzantine witnesses attest A and B and Alexandrian witnesses attest A and C.

Does it make sense to say the text A-B-C is only influenced by the Byzantine witnesses at 33%? No, it doesn't. It doesn't because such a comparison would assume that the Byzantine witnesses do not support our imaginary text at A which they clearly do. (The fact that Alexandrian witnesses *also* support A does not nullify the fact that A is still attested by Byz witnesses.)

Now, if you wanted to say that Byzantine witnesses have only *uniquely* influenced the text that is A-B-C, then you would obviously have to leave the text at A out altogether since it is irrelevant to the question of *unique* influence. Instead, you would want to say something like "the Byzantine witnesses have uniquely influenced 50% of the text *where such unique influence is possible in the first place.*"

It's this crucial last qualification that your posts in this series are missing. Without it, your comparisons are based on shifting definitions of Byz and Alex. Your main concern is with unique Byz influence, but your final percentage only uses this definition in half of your percentage. So it's skewed.

As I see it, you can fix your comparisons either by (1) using only those places where unique influence from either Byz or Alex *is possible in the first place* or (2) by including *all* readings attested by Byz witnesses--regardless of whether they are *also* attested by Alex witnesses--as readings where Byz has influenced the editorial text.

(Sorry I can't think of a simpler way to get at the issue. To me the problem is clear, but then I've had to think about problems of comparing and demarcating "texts" quite a lot.)

James Snapp said...

Peter Gurry,

Since you didn’t point out the specific sentences that you wish to clarify or correct, it’s hard to see where you find a problem. But it seems like you are saying that because Byz (the Byzantine Text) and Alex (the Vaticanus/B/019 text) agree at most points, it is somehow incorrect to say that any text – even, say, a transcript of B – is Alexandrian at those points where it agrees with Byz.

Which is just incorrect. Both text-types contain the parts where they agree; they do not start and stop exclusively at the points of divergence. So when a compilation that consists of 2,812 letters has only one letter than is in the Byzantine Text and not in the Alexandrian Text, it is 100% correct to say that the compilation has almost no distinctly Byzantine readings. The key word being /distinctly./ In such a compilation, the /discernible/ impact of the Byzantine Text is practically nil. The key word being /discernible./

When the only Byzantine readings in a compilation are readings that are also Alexandrian, and no distinctly Byzantine readings are adopted, it is completely accurate to say that the compilation has not been /discernibly/ affected by the Byzantine Text. How can you conceivably say that this observation – which one would think is completely obvious – is somehow skewed?

One could indeed reframe the data so as to ask, “What percentage of the compilation is /distinctly/ Alexandrian?”, of course we would get a different answer; instead of something like 99% in Luke 15 or 99.7% in Galatians 1 or 99.99% in John 20 (which are the answers to the question, “What percentage of the Nestle-Aland compilation is Alexandrian?”), the answer would be something very far lower, as I already have said (repeatedly). But that is not the question I am asking. Unpacking the charge of a “skewed” approach, it seems like you are only saying that it is possible to ask a different question and get a teensy-tiny percentage of disagreement between the Byzantine Text and the Alexandrian Text. But this is already granted, from the outset.

PG: “Your comparisons are based on shifting definitions of Byz and Alex. . . . your final percentage only uses this definition in half of your percentage.”

Let’s review the method and see if your claim is true: we select a chapter of NA and compare it to B, Aleph, and Byz via the following steps.
(1) We see that much of NA agrees with B. (Much of this also agrees with Byz.)
(2) We see that some of NA agrees with Aleph. (This, too, may agree with Byz.)
(3) We sift through the remainder of NA to see how much agrees with Byz.
Thus we locate and identify the readings in NA which are distinctly Byzantine.

At what point does the change in definitions which you posit occur? The entire Alexandrian Text is considered Alexandrian, even the parts that agree with Byz. And the entire Byzantine Text is considered Byzantine, even the parts that agree with Byz. The calculation of the percentage of NA that is distinctly Byzantine – the statistic that is the point of the investigation – seems entirely accurate to me. Does it not seem accurate to you? Is there some other number that you would care to supply when asked, “What percentage of this chapter in NA is manifestly extracted from the Byzantine Text and not from the primary representatives of the Alexandrian Text?”?

Peter Gurry said...

Yes, there is something you can do to get the proper results for what you're after.

To explain: you have two types of text for your comparison: (1) NA text where there cannot possibly be a distinctive Byz reading becasue Byz and Alex agree; (2) NA text where there can be a distinctively Byz reading because Byz and Alex disagree.

What you need to give us is either (a) the places where NA follows 2 expressed as a percentage of 2 alone or give us (b) the places where NA follows 1 or 2 expressed as a percentage of 1 + 2.

What you have in fact given us is the places where NA follows 2 but expressed as a percentage of 1 + 2. That is inconsistent and hence skews your numbers in favor of your conclusion that NA is barely Byzantine. (Of course, it would be just as wrong to tell us places where NA follows 1 and expressed as a percentage of 1 + 2. Either you do 1 + 2 on both sides of your comparison or you do one of the two on both sides. But you can't mix and match)

If you do your percentage correctly, your conclusion will probably stay the same (NA27 doesn't regularly prefer Byz *against* 01/03), but your numbers will probably be far less dramatic. And the reason is because Byz and Alex actually agree quite a lot as I've said repeatedly now ;)

James Snapp said...

Peter Gurry,

We've both said repeatedly that Byz and Alex agree a lot. But it seems like you want me to answer a question other than the one I am investigating.

Walk with me:
I have two types of text for your comparison: first, NA text where there cannot possibly be a distinctive Byz reading becasue Byz and Alex agree, and second, NA text where there can be a distinctively Byz reading because Byz and Alex disagree.

We agree there; the words are yours. Another way of saying that is that within the Alexandrian Text, there's a large part that is not distinctly Alexandrian, and there is a small part that is distinctive. And within the Byzantine Text, there's a large part that is not distinctly Byzantine, and there is a small part that is distinctive.

PG: "What you need to give us is either (a) the places where NA follows 2 expressed as a percentage of 2 alone or give us (b) the places where NA follows 1 or 2 expressed as a percentage of 1 + 2."

There simply is no need for that. It might be interesting to find out what percentage of the /contested/ text is Alexandrian, but that is not necessary to answer the question. The question is very simple and easy to grasp: how much of NA consists of non-Alexandrian, Byzantine readings?

PG: "What you have in fact given us is the places where NA follows 2 but expressed as a percentage of 1 + 2."

And that is not problematic at all, because the question is about the whole compilation, not just the contested parts. No numbers have been skewed and (as far as I can tell) no relevant data has been overlooked. You're more than welcome to introduce a different question focused on just the parts of the text where there is an Alex-vs-Byz contest, but there is nothing whatsoever inconsistent or skewed about making the simple observation, "NA has X number of distinctly Byzantine readings in this chapter, consisting of Y letters, and thus this chapter in NA is Z% distinctly Byzantine."

Peter Gurry said...

James: "how much of NA consists of non-Alexandrian, Byzantine readings?"

Yes, that is a fine question to ask and it needs to be answered in the proper context. The proper context is to tell us how much of the NA text could *possibly* consist of this. Without that piece of information, your results are misleading.

It would be like saying, "My chicken coop is lousy because only 1% of the chickens in it lay eggs!" That stat is only useful if you tell us how many chickens in your coop are, in fact, roosters. If you don't, then the % is misleading because we don't know how many of your chickens are the kind that can't lay eggs at all. See what I'm saying?