|The Byzantine Text|
of Philippians 1.
Recently Dr. James Leonard, an administrator of a discussion-group on Facebook that occasionally looks into questions about the text of the New Testament, asserted there that many or most readings from the Byzantine Text which differ from the Nestle-Aland compilation are often unattested by the Greek manuscript tradition prior to the ninth century. That assertion was met with an invitation from a member of the discussion-group: list all of the Byzantine readings in Matthew and Mark that are unattested before the ninth century.
Dr. Leonard’s response was twofold: first, he quickly ejected the invitation-maker from the discussion-group. And second, responding to the invitation, he presented a list of Byzantine readings from Philippians chapter 1.
Such a response is insufficient – not only because it restricts legitimate discussion, and does not involve the text of Matthew and Mark, but also, as it turns out, because Leonard’s data from Philippians 1 does not come remotely close to vindicating the idea that many or most readings in the Byzantine Text are unsupported before the 800’s.
As a convenient (but problematic) method of data-collection, Leonard consulted the Nestle-Aland apparatus, and after finding 31 variant-units in that chapter, he promptly acknowledged that in 19 of those 31 variant-units, the Byzantine Text and the Alexandrian Text agree. That left him with only 12 variants capable of being examples of Byzantine readings that have no support before the year 800. Six of them, however, he admits to be attested before then.
To show the amount of text involved in this analysis, here are three pictures. The first one shows the Byzantine Text of Philippians chapter 1. The second one shows the six Byzantine readings which fit Leonard’s description; they differ from modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament and are not attested in Greek manuscripts prior to the ninth century. (The variant that is highlighted in yellow is a transposition-variant; the variant concerns the order in which the verses appear.) The third picture shows the Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 which a cursory investigation indicates are unattested in witnesses from earlier than the 800’s.
in Philippians 1
not supported in
made before 800.
Here are the six non-Alexandrian Byzantine variants in Philippians 1 which Leonard affirmed to be supported in Greek manuscripts before the 800’s: [bold print added]
● (1) 1:5 – Byz does not have της after απο. Leonard: “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading comes from the 6th century D-Text witness 06.”
● (2) 1:8 – Byz has εστιν after μου. Leonard: “The earliest attestation for the Maj Reading comes from the 5th century B-Text witness 02.”
● (3) – Byz does not have οτι after Πλην. Leonard: “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading is the 6th century D-Text witness 06.”
● (4) – Byz does not have γαρ after πολλω. Leonard: “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading is the 4th century B-text witness 01.”
● (5) – Byz has εν after επιμενειν. Leonard: “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading are from 4th and 5th century B-Text witnesses.” However, Leonard is mistaken. Papyrus 46 (from the late 100’s or early 200’s) also supports the Byzantine reading here. The text of Philippians in Papyrus 46 agrees 100% with the Byzantine Text, while disagreeing with Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. I have supplied here a picture of this part of Papyrus 46, with the words of Philippians 1:24 individually underlined.
● (6) – Byz reads ακουσω instead of ακουω. Leonard: “The earliest attestation for the Majority Reading are from 4th and 5th century B-Text readings.”
Thus, after listing 12 readings as examples of Byzantine readings that show that Byzantine readings do not have manuscript-support until the 800’s, Leonard acknowledged that half of his examples have manuscript-support before the 800’s.
|Philippians 1:24 in Papyrus 46.|
Now let’s take a closer look at the six readings in Philippians 1 which, Leonard maintained, have no manuscript-support before the 800’s:
● (1) – Byz has καρπων δικαιοσύνης των (“fruits of righteousness”) instead of καρπον δικαιοσύνης τον (fruit of righteousness).
● (2) -17 – Byz has these two verses in the opposite order.
● (3) – Byz has επιφερειν instead of εγείρειν.
● (4) – Byz has συμπαραμενω instead of παραμενω.
● (5) – Byz has αυτοις μεν εστιν instead of εστιν αυτοις.
● (6) – Byz has υμιν instead of υμων.
in Philippians 1
by any witnesses
The idea that Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 typically lack attestation before the 800’s dies a quick death in every case except two: the Byzantine readings συμπαραμενω in verse 25 and αυτοις μεν εστιν in Philippians 1:28 (where NA reads εστιν αυτοις) appear to have no support from witnesses earlier than the 800’s.
None of this analysis shows that any of these Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 are original. Nor does it show that readings that lack early support should automatically be rejected. What this analysis shows is that the idea that Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 have no support before the 800’s is opposed by 29 out of 31 readings.
And this was in a passage selected by Leonard! Will he continue to promote the idea that Byzantine readings typically or frequently lack attestation from before the 800’s, after being shown that 93.5% of his own Exhibit A refutes that assertion? Probably.
(P.S. My conclusion that the Byzantine readings συμπαραμενω in verse 25 and αυτοις μεν εστιν in Philippians 1:28 lack support before 800 is provisional; I did not investigate this further after it was clear that the evidence opposed Leonard’s claim so thoroughly. If anyone wishes to add more data about this, feel free to do so in the comments.)