Friday, June 30, 2017

Fool and Knave! Hebrews 1 in Codex Vaticanus

            Many textual critics consider Codex Vaticanus the centerpiece of the church’s collection of New Testament manuscripts.  Besides containing Greek text from much of the Old Testament (in a form of the Septuagint), Codex Vaticanus includes all books of the New Testament except First Timothy, Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Revelation.  (After the book of Hebrews, which abruptly stops midway through 9:14 at the end of a page, the text of the book of Revelation is present, but it is written in handwriting typical of the 1400’s, and constitutes a separate manuscript from the much more ancient portion.)
            Today, let’s take a close look at one of the better-known pages of this important manuscript, which was produced around 325:  the page that contains the first chapter of the book of Hebrews.  I will simply list twelve features on this page, and describe them one by one.
            First, though, for those who might want to explore Codex Vaticanus’ pages directly, here is an index of the online images of the first page of every New Testament book that is included in the manuscript, in the order in which they appear in Codex Vaticanus.  Clicking the embedded link will take you to the image of that page at the Vatican Library’s website.
From Codex Vaticanus:  Second Thess. 3:11-18 and Hebrews 1:1-2:2.
This image is digitally altered; a digital photo of the page
is at the Vatican Library website.
Second Peter      

1.  Book title, in the upper margin of the manuscript.

2.  Decoration.  Similar decorative lines are not unusual in later manuscripts, which sometimes feature horizontal lines made of braided ropes or thorns.  In this case, the decoration was added long after the initial production of the manuscript.  Such decorations serve a practical purpose as well as an artistic one, helping draw attention to the beginnings of books.

3.  Enlarged initial.  When Codex Vaticanus was produced, it did not have this feature, which was added later.  A close look at the page shows that originally the letter pi at the beginning of Hebrews 1:1 was written in the same script, and in the same size, as the rest of the letters in the word Πολυμερως.  (In some manuscripts, the initial at the beginning of books is not only enlarged, but drawn in the shape of animals, or even of people.  It is not unusual, in medieval Gospels-manuscripts, for an initial to signify the beginning of a Eusebian Section, and for the initials to be written larger, and in different ink, than the rest of the text.)

4.  Distigme.  The two dots in the margin which resemble an umlaut (¨) seem to have been added to draw attention to a textual variant in the text.  In some other manuscripts, margin-notes similarly draw attention to textual variants, but they usually mention the alternative reading.  Probably whoever added these symbols to the pages of Codex Vaticanus (and there are wide-ranging opinions about whether these marks are ancient, or medieval, or even Renaissance-era) possessed another volume in which the same points of textual variation were marked, with notes about the readings in Codex Vaticanus.  More distigmai appear on this page (for example, at Hebrews 1:3). 

5.  Coronis.  Barely visible, a simple decorative design here, made of dots and flourishes, designates the end of a book.  Early copyists tended to use their own distinct designs, so the occurrence of different designs in the same manuscript is a clue that more than one copyist contributed to its production.  The remarkable similarity between a coronis-design that appears repeatedly in Codex Vaticanus (for example, at the end of Genesis), and a coronis that appears in Codex Sinaiticus (at the end of Mark), has suggested to some researchers that the same copyist was involved in the production of both manuscripts, possibly as a normal copyist for Vaticanus, and as a scriptorium-supervisor for Sinaiticus. 

6.  Subscription.  This is the closing-title of a book – in this case, Second Thessalonians. 

7.  Subscription expansion.  After the closing-title of Second Thessalonians, someone wrote an additional note:  “Written from Athens.”

8. Secondary Corrector’s Note.  Made somewhat famous by Bruce Metzger in his 1981 book Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament:  An Introduction to Palaeography, this note was written by someone who had discovered that someone had corrected an erroneous reading.  The copyist of Codex Vaticanus had written Φανερων in Hebrews 1:3, and a corrector had replaced that with the correct reading, Φέρων (which is supported by all other manuscripts, including Papyrus 46).  The person who wrote this note, however, objected to this correction, and wrote, ἀμαθέστατε καὶ κακέ, ἂφες τὸν παλαιόν, μὴ μεταποίει.  Metzger translated these words as, “Fool and knave, can’t you leave the old reading alone, and not alter it!”  Another rendering:  “Untrained troublemaker, forgive the ancient [reading]; do not convert it.”  He re-wrote Φανερων, erasing most of the corrector’s Φερων.  Apparently, the note-writer regarded Codex Vaticanus as a museum-piece to be protected and preserved, rather than as a copy of Scripture to be used as such.  

9. Diple-marks.  The “>” symbols in the margin accompany quotations from the Old Testament – in this case, quotations from Psalm 2:7 and Second Samuel 7:14.

10.  A Correction.  The copyist of Codex Vaticanus appears to have written  ελεον, but the person who reinforced the otherwise faded lettering throughout the manuscript declined to reinforce the second ε (epsilon), and either he or another corrector wrote above it the correct letters, αι.  See also the insertion of the letter ε in λειτουργοὺς in verse 7, in the last line of the second column on this page, and the lack of reinforcement of the letters ε and ν in εχρεισεν in verse 9, in the tenth line of the third column.

11.  Modern Chapter-number.  A relatively recent owner (or steward) of the manuscript wrote the modern chapter-number directly on the page in the margin, and crudely but clearly delineated the chapter-division in the text.

12.  Editorial Pruning.  Somewhere in the transmission-stream of Codex Vaticanus’ text, a copyist removed the words του αἰωνος, probably because he considered them superfluous.  (There seems to be nothing that would make these words vulnerable to accidental loss, and the difference between the inclusion or omission of the words is the difference between “forever and ever” and “forever.”

            It is sometimes claimed that no textual variants that are closely contested have an impact on Christian doctrine.  In Hebrews 1:3, however, most Greek manuscripts affirm that Jesus, by Himself – δι’ αὐτου or δι’ ἑαυτου – cleansed our – ἡμων – sins.  This unquestionably impacts the interpretation of the verse:  is there room for any other source of purification of sins – for instance, is it valid to seek purification through one’s own works, or through the intercession of Mary or of other saints – or was purification from sins fully obtained by Christ, and by Him alone?  And, did Jesus achieve the forgiveness of the sins of all people (as the American Bible Society’s 1976 Good News Translation says:  “after achieving forgiveness for the sins of all human beings”), or forgiveness for the sins of believers (as the New Living Translation says:  “When He had cleansed us from our sins”)?  Does this verse teach that atonement was provided solely by Christ?  And does it affirm that the atonement covers believers, or does it allow the belief that the atonement covers all people in general?
            (It is difficult to see how the UBS/Nestle-Aland compilations could beget the New Living Translation’s rendering.  Neither compilation has the Greek equivalent of “us” or “our.”  Yet the NLT’s publisher explicitly asserts that the text of the fourth edition of the UBS Greek New Testament and the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation was its New Testament base-text.)  
            It is possible, of course, to find answers to questions about the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice, and about the range of His atonement’s effectiveness, elsewhere in the New Testament, and that is what is meant (or, what should be meant) by those who say that closely contested textual variants do not have an impact on doctrine:  if one were to simply ignore the verse in which the textual contest takes place, the doctrine which one might, or might not, find in that verse is affirmed elsewhere in the New Testament.  However, the fact remains that some textual variants do have an impact on the interpretation of specific passages of the New Testament.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dan Wallace's Credo Course: More Problems

Asterisks (within yellow circles)
in the lectionary-apparatus of Codex M.
Today we continue to test the accuracy of some statements in Daniel Wallace’s Credo Course lecture on John 7:53-8:11

● About eight minutes into the lecture, Dr. Wallace brought up the subject of asterisks.  He stated, “What an asterisk indicates – this goes back to Alexandrian scribal habits – is, I have doubts about whether this passage is authentic.”  In some cases, that is true.  However, asterisks in Byzantine manuscripts are also capable of serving as all-purpose symbols to catch the eye of the reader.  They can also be incorporated into the lectionary-apparatus, as Maurice Robinson has described, and as I mentioned in my research-book. (Pictured here are a few examples of asterisks used in the lectionary-apparatus of Codex M.)    
            If Dr. Wallace believes that asterisks are never used in the lectionary-apparatus, then he needs to explain why, in 130 manuscripts (not just “several”), asterisks or special marks of some sort accompany John 8:3-11, and not John 7:53-8:2.  Robinson’s model explains that:  in the Byzantine lectionary, John 8:3-11 constituted a distinct lection (namely, the reading for Saint Pelagia’s Day, October 8), embedded within the lection for Pentecost.  Wallace’s approach, meanwhile, seems to require that the scribes of these manuscripts accepted John 7:53-8:2, but rejected John 8:3-11.   
● In the ninth minute of the lecture, Wallace asserts that the pericope adulterae is a “floating text.”  This is somewhat surprising, because elsewhere in the lecture he mentions the work of Dr. Chris Keith which shows that the pericope adulterae’s location (following John 7:52) was secure long before the production of the Greek witnesses which have it elsewhere.  Equally surprising is Wallace’s omission of some important details in his descriptions of the manuscripts that have the story of the adulteress displaced from its usual location.  And even more surprising is how effectively these details smash up the theory that the pericope adulterae was ever a “floating text.”
            Wallace stated, “In some manuscripts, it appears as a separate pericope at the end of all four Gospels, just tacked on at the very end.”  The important detail that Wallace fails to mention here involves a note that accompanies the pericope adulterae in the flagship-manuscripts of the group of manuscripts that have it after the end of John 21 (minuscules 1 and 1582).  The note specifies that the passage was moved from where it had been found in the text, after the words “a prophet does not arise” in 7:52.  To restate:  the note specifically says that the transplantation of the passage was subsequent to its location after 7:52.  Only by avoiding this detail can Wallace use this dislocation to sustain the idea that the pericope adulterae was a “floating text.” 
            Wallace also stated:  “In some manuscripts, it stands as an independent pericope between Luke and John.”  That is just not true.  Only one manuscript comes close to fitting that description:  minuscule 1333, which does not have the entire passage between Luke and John – only John 8:3-11.  Furthermore, 1333 features a rubric that identifies the passage as an excerpt from the Gospel of John.  Only when these details go unmentioned can listeners get the impression that John 7:53-8:11 floated its way into this location as a previously freestanding text.  When the details are known, it is obvious that all that has happened in minuscule 1333 is that after this manuscript was written (without the story of the adulteress), someone wrote the lection for Saint Pelagia’s Day on what had previously been a blank page between Luke and John. 

● In the tenth minute of the lecture, Wallace mentioned manuscript 115, describing it as “the only manuscript I know of” in which the pericope adulterae appears after 8:12, and is also followed by 8:12.  Wallace then proposed that the scribe of 115, after writing John 8:12, noticed that his exemplar was missing the story about the adulteress, found a different exemplar that contained it, and then added it after 8:12.    
            Digital images of 115 are online.  (By the way, 115 is not the only manuscript like this; the text is rearranged the same way in minuscules 1050, 1349, 2620, and 2751.)  A close examination of the manuscript shows that a scribe (probably the scribe of 115’s exemplar) merely simplified the lector’s job on Pentecost, so that he would not have to jump from 7:52 to 8:12 in order to find the final portion of the Pentecost-lection.  Small horizontal lines in 115 at the beginning of John 7:37 and at the end of 7:52 represent the beginning, and the end, of the main part of the lection.  In other words, what we have in 115 is not the movement of the PA, but the repetition of 8:12; the verse appears after 7:52 to complete the Pentecost-lection.    
            Regarding the other evidence that Wallace misinterprets as if it implies that the story of the adulteress was a “floating text,” see my video from last year.    

● In the fourteenth minute of the lecture, Wallace mentions manuscript 1424, which has the PA in the margin.  Wallace states that asterisks which accompany the PA in 1424 were meant by scribes to convey that the PA is “not actually authentic, or that they have doubts about it.”  He restates the same idea:  the asterisks “are the scribe telling us he has doubts about the authenticity.”         
            Viewers of the Credo Course are left uninformed about the note that accompanies the pericope adulterae in the lower margin of 1424.  The note (essentially the same as a note that is also found in Codex Λ and in minuscule 262) says:  “This is not in certain copies, and it was not in those used by Apollinaris.  In the old ones, it is all there.  And this pericope was referenced by the apostles, affirming that it is for the edification of the church.”  (The last sentence is referring to the use of material from the pericope in the composition known as Apostolic Constitutions, Book 2, chapter 24, which is sort of echoing an older work, the Didascalia, at this point.)  
            It does not do justice to the evidence when one mentions only the asterisks that accompany the PA in the margin of 1424, and describes them as if they must convey scribal doubt about the passage, while failing to mention the note that states that the passage was found in ancient copies, and which expresses confidence in the legitimacy of the passage.  (Another factor worth noticing is the use of an asterisk-like mark in 1424 alongside John 20:19.) 
Are its materials
            Several other features in the second half of Wallace’s lecture on John7:53-8:11 could be analyzed and shown to be problematic in one way or another.  For example, at one point, he refers to Dura-Europos, a site in eastern Syria, when I think he meant Tura, a site in Egypt.  At another point, Wallace commends an article by Kyle Hughes, although Hughes appears to weigh in against Wallace’s assertion that the pericope adulterae was a floating text:  Hughes affirms that the dislocations to the end of the Gospel of John, and to a position after Luke 21:38, “can then be explained by the influence of the lectionary system in combination with the confusion resulting from the many early manuscripts of John’s Gospel that did not have PA.”  And at another point, Wallace says that 20% of our Greek manuscripts of John don’t have the story of the adulteress; the actual percentage is more like 15%.
            In conclusion:  the Credo Course lecture about John 7:53-8:11 contains a problematically high amount of inaccuracies, half-truths, and misinformation, and should not be considered a reliable resource.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dan Wallace's Credo Course: A Few Problems

            Credo House, a ministry based in Oklahoma, has developed a course on New Testament textual criticism taught by Dr. Dan Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary.  When this project was funded on Kickstarter, it was described by Credo House’s executive director, Tim Kimberley, as “One of the most important courses that you can ever go through.”  
            Viewers of the Credo Course session about John 7:53-8:11 should thus expect an accurate presentation of the evidence.  Unfortunately that is not what they get.  
            I am not going to address today the question about whether or not John 7:53-8:11 is an original part of the Gospel of John.  (I believe that it is – and I wrote a book explaining why.)  Here, I am only addressing the question, Are Daniel Wallace and Credo House spreading false claims about John 7:53-8:11?  The answer is unquestionably YES

            Daniel Wallace has repeatedly described John 7:53-8:11 as his “Favorite passage that’s not in the Bible,” and he does so again in the Credo Course lecture.  He also states what he would like to do with these 12 verses:  “I really think the passage needs to be relegated to the footnotes.” 
            So would I, if my decision were guided by one-sided, incomplete, error-filled presentations such as the one that Wallace gives in the Credo Course.  Let’s look at three claims that Wallace makes about the evidence.

What the Credo course claims.
(1)  Wallace says that only three uncial manuscripts have the passage.  Wallace says, “For the first 800 years of the church, we’ve got this story only represented in a handful of manuscripts – three, to date, have it.  Three majuscule manuscripts.  These are not just eighth-century; I mean, D is fifth, but K and Gamma are later.  So, you have three majuscule manuscripts, out of the 322 that we have, that actually have this passage.  That’s it.

            Was this misrepresentation of the evidence the result of spontaneously going off-script?  No:  the same impression is given in the Credo Course by a graphic.  
            Out of the 322 majuscule manuscripts that we have, most of them do not contain the Gospel of John.  The base-line that Wallace used for his statement is problematic; it is somewhat like saying, “Out of seven billion people, the vast majority did not vote for the current president of Kenya.”  Of course not, because most people are not citizens of Kenya.  Likewise, most uncial manuscripts could not contain John 7:53-8:11, because they do not contain the Gospel of John.
One example:  Codex M.
            But there is more than a methodological problem here.  Wallace is making a false claim.  Out of the majuscule (i.e., uncial) manuscripts of John that include text from John 7 and 8, more than three include text from John 7:53-8:11; for example: 
            Codex G (011, Seidelianus)
            Codex H (013, Seidelianus II/Wolfii B)
            Codex M (021, Campianus)        
            Codex Ω (045, Codex Athous Dionysiou)
            Codex E (07, Basiliensis)
            Codex F (09, Boreelianus Rheno-Tajectinus)
            Codex S (028, Guelpherbytanus B)
            Codex U (030, Nanianus)
            Codex Π (041, Petropolitanus), and
            047 (housed at Princeton).

            In addition, the copyists of Codex L (019, 700’s) and Codex Δ (037, 800’s), though they did not include the story of the adulteress, left large blank spaces between John 7:52 and 8:12, signifying their awareness of the absent passage.
            Wallace’s description of the evidence at this point is simply wrong.  Very wrong.  Obviously wrong.  

(2)  Wallace claims that the Old Latin version did not include the story of the adulteress.  Adopting the vague style of Bruce Metzger, Wallace says, “The earliest and the best versions lack it” before he gets a little more specific and says, “When the Syriac and the Coptic and the Latin versions, along those lines, don’t have it, when they were begun in the second and third centuries, their manuscripts that they used didn’t have it.  That becomes a very important point.” 
            When he thus refers to the Syriac texts traceable to the second and third centuries, he’s referring to a Syriac version that is extant in just two Syriac Gospels-manuscripts.  And it is no surprise that the Coptic version agrees with the Alexandrian Text; they both reflect the text from the same area.  But when Wallace says that the Latin versions did not have the story about the adulteress, we have a problem.  A minority of Old Latin witnesses do not have it, but most of them do. Jonathan Clark Borland researched the Old Latin evidence in detail, and found that the story of the adulteress is in not just one, but three Old Latin transmission-lines. 
            The Old Latin copies Codex Veronensis, Codex Palatinus, Codex Bezae (that is, d, the Latin portion of the codex), Codex Colbertinus, Codex Corbeiensis, and Codex Sarzanensis support the inclusion of the passage.  So does the Vulgate.  It is thus misleading for Wallace to tell his listeners that the “the Latin versions don’t have it.” 
            In addition, the Latin chapter-summaries of the Gospel of John, the story of the adulteress is included, and the summary has over a dozen different forms, including one which specialist Hugh Houghton has assigned to the 200’s.  Plus, Jerome (c. 400) mentioned that the story of the adulteress was found in many copies, both Greek and Latin – important testimony that somehow eluded the NET Bible’s footnote-writer. 

(3)  Wallace says that no patristic writers mention the story of the adulteress until after the year 1000.  His exact words:  “Not until the eleven-hundreds do you get somebody to, who takes any time to really comment on this text.”  And:  “You don’t see it in the early versions; you don’t see it in the early fathers; you don’t see it in any fathers of the first millennium.”
            It appears that Wallace’ reliance upon Metzger’s obsolete Textual Commentary has led him astray.  No patristic mention of the story of the adulteress until 1000???  I suppose that is true except for the presence of the story in the Greek manuscript mentioned in the Church History of Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor, and the allusion to it by Greek-writer Didymus the Blind, and the utilizations of the passage by Pacian of Barcelona, Apostolic Constitutions, Ambrose of Milan (who cites it repeatedly), Ambrosiaster, Jerome, Rufinus, Augustine, Faustus (a false teacher whose use of the passage is mentioned by Augustine), Sedulius, Peter Chrysologus, Leo the Great, the source-document of Codex Fuldensis, Prosper of Aquitaine, Quovultdeus of Carthage, Gelasius, Apologia David (possibly by Ambrose), Gregory the Great, and Cassiodorus. 
            In addition, unknown authors of notes in Codex Λ and in minuscules 20, 262, and 1282 state that the entire passage is in ancient copies; another note in minuscules 135 and 301 says that the passage is found in ancient copies.  A note in minuscule 34 affirms the same thing.
            You can believe Dan Wallace about the patristic evidence, or you can believe the evidence.  But not both.

There are several other things that Wallace says in the Credo Course about the story of the adulteress that are misleading and wrong.  But these three should certainly be enough to convince whoever is running Credo House that they need to stop circulating this lecture if they want to be regarded as a reliable source of information. 
            However, just in case more evidence to that effect is needed, I do not intend to stop here.  So far, I have focused mainly on false claims that were presented within the first eight minutes of a half-hour lecture.  We still have twenty-two inaccuracy-enhanced minutes to go! 

To be continued.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

An Update on James Leonard and the Byzantine Text

            As I reported last month, a series of posts at the New Testament Textual Criticism discussion-group on Facebook presented a case that the Byzantine Text has a large and ancient stratum that includes distinct readings.  Moderator James Leonard responded by deleting the posts and ejecting the poster (that is, me) from the group.  No rules of the forum were broken – Leonard simply decreed that views that do not favor the Alexandrian Text are unwelcome. 
            Leonard proceeded to claim, “For the record, we do think that many Byzantine readings are early, but that the existence of a coherent Byzantine text type is a later development, and that many or most readings from the Byz text which differ from modern critical editions (NA28, SBLGNT, Tyndale House NT) are often unattested by the Greek manuscript tradition prior to the 9th century.”
            Leonard has yet to answer the challenge to produce a list of distinct Byzantine readings in Matthew or Mark which lack manuscript-support prior to 800.  Instead, as if he misread the invitation, Leonard submitted Philippians 1 as Exhibit A in his case for the lateness of the Byzantine Text.  
            I responded on May 31, showing that Leonard’s view depends on a flawed method, and that it collapses when one takes off Leonard’s arbitrary blinders so as to see versional and patristic evidence.  Twenty-nine of the 31 Byzantine variants listed in Philippians 1 in the Nestle-Aland apparatus are supported before 800 – including an agreement between the Byzantine reading of Philippians 1:24, and the reading of Philippians 1:24 in Papyrus 46. 
            (Leonard can of course continue to circulate his delusion that most distinct Byzantine readings are not attested before 800, but one would hope that his friends will be kind enough to point out to him, sooner or later, that 93% of the evidence in his own hand-picked sample-passage is crushing his credibility.  Perhaps they are afraid of what might happen to their group-membership if they point out that the emperor is naked.)
            Or so I thought last month.  My research was, as I mentioned at the time, based on a quick and non-exhaustive investigation of the evidence.  Now, additional evidence has been pointed out to me regarding the two Byzantine readings that initially appeared to lack support before 800:

(1)  The Byzantine reading συμπαραμενω in Philippians 1:25 is supported by Chrysostom (c. 400), who emphasizes the term in his Fourth Homily on Philippians:  “He showed them that if he remained, he remained for their sake, that it proceeded not from wickedness of those who plotted against him.  He subjoined also the reason:  that he might secure their belief.  For if this is necessary, that is, I shall by all means remain, and I will not ‘remain’ simply, but ‘will remain with you.’ For this is the meaning of the word, ‘and I shall abide with,’ [συμπαραμενω – See Migne P. G. Vol. 62, Col. 207, line 26] that is, I shall see you.”   And he re-affirms, as he begins to explain verse 26, “You see that this explains the word ‘abide with you’” [συμπαραμενω again] – and he proceeds to cite Romans 1:12 as a similar passage (where συμπαρακληθηναι is used).   

(2)  The Byzantine reading αυτοις μεν εστιν in Philippians 1:28 (where NA reads εστιν αυτοις) is supported, according to Tischendorf’s apparatus, by the Peshitta (late 300’s/early 400’s), by Theodoret  (first half of the 400’s), and by John of Damascus (early 700’s). 

The number of Byzantine readings in Philippians 1 that have no support before 800 is thus reduced to zero
            There is a saying:  “The dogs bark, but the caravan passes.”  In text-critical academia, the advocates of a heavily pro-Alexandrian position have been attempting to steer the caravan for some time.  They have tended to look at those with other views (especially those with pro-Byzantine views, and even those who, like myself, believe that the Byzantine Text includes a large independent and ancient stratum that the Hortian transmission-model unfairly minimized in a way that has still not been adequately undone) the way a caravan-driver looks at a dog along the side of the road.  
            However, they are not really in the driver’s seat.  The evidence is.  And when the evidence opposes a position as strongly as the evidence opposes Leonard’s claims, it is obvious (wherever people are allowed to see the evidence clearly) whose view is in the caravan with the evidence, and whose credibility has gone to the dogs.  

[Thanks to those who helpfully provided data on this subject.] 


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hebrews 1:1-6, Papyrus 46, and the Byzantine Text

Heb. 1:1-7a in Papyrus 46.
            Which contains the more accurate text of Hebrews 1:1-6:  the Byzantine Text (which some pro-Alexandrian scholars say emerged as late as the 800’s), or Papyrus 46, the earliest substantial Greek manuscript of the book of Hebrews? 
            Using the text of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece as the basis of comparison, here are the disagreements in the Byzantine Text:

2 – Byz has a transposition (τοὺς αιωνας ἐποίησεν instead of ἐποίησεν τοὺς αιωνας).
3 – Byz has δι’ εαυτου before καθαρισμὸν but NTG does not.
3 – Byz has a transposition and the word ημων after ἁμαρτιων in the middle of the verse. 

            That’s it:  the addition of 12 letters, and two transpositions.  For the rest of Hebrews 1:1-6, the Byzantine Text and Novum Testamentum Graece are identical. 
            Here are the disagreements between Papyrus 46 and Novum Testamentum Graece:  

1 – P46 has ημων added above the text-line after πατράσιν.  (+4, but since this is a correction, and may have been added after the initial production of the manuscript, it will not be counted in the total.)
2 – P46 has ημειν instead of ημιν. (+1)
2 – P46 does not have και. (-3)
3 – P46 does not have αὐτου after δυνάμεως.  (-5)
3 – P46 has δι’ αυτου before καθαρισμὸν.  (+7)
4 – P46 has τοσούτων instead of τοσούτω.  (+1)
4 – P46 has κριττων instead of κρειττων.  (-1)
4 – P6 does not have των before ἀγγέλων.  (-3)

            When numerical values are assigned to the variants – nothing for benign transpositions, +1 for the presence of a non-original letter, and -1 for the absence of an original letter – this data yields the following results:  in Hebrews 1:1-6, the Byzantine Text deviates from the original text by two transpositions and 12 letters’ worth of corruption (all additions).  Papyrus 46’ text, meanwhile, deviates from the original text by 21 letters’ worth of corruption (9 non-original letters added; 12 original letters omitted).
            What does this tell us? 
            First, it demonstrates that the Nestle-Aland compilers did not adopt the reading with the oldest manuscript-support several times in this passage, particularly in verse 3, where P46 has δι’ αυτου and the Byzantine Text virtually concurs by reading δι’ εαυτου.  The KJV, MEV, and NKJV read “by Himself” in this verse – following the sense given by the oldest manuscript and by the majority of manuscripts – and the CSB, NIV, NASB, and ESV do not.  Readers of the ESV and NASB are not given a footnote at Hebrews 1:3 to inform them that their English translation disagrees with the oldest and most widely attested reading there – succinctly refuting the idea that their footnotes always point out where manuscript-differences affect translation. 
            Thus they have no reason to look into the variant and see that the Alexandrian reading – the lack of δι’ εαυτου (or δι’ αυτου) – is easily explained as a parableptic error, caused when an early copyist’s line of sight wandered from the end of αυτου or εαυτου to the identical letters in the next phrase.  Notably, Michael Holmes, the compiler of the SBL-GNT, did look into this variant-unit, and included δι’ αυτου in the text.  He has not been accused of holding an idiosyncratic view because of this – so far.
            Second, it tells us that if the Byzantine text of Hebrews 1:1-6 did not achieve a stable form until the 800’s, then the scribes who perpetuated it before then exercised a remarkably high level of precision and discipline:  in 736 years (assigning the production of the book of Hebrews to the year 64), collectively they introduced 12 letters’ worth of corruption – or, if δι’ αυτου is the original reading in verse 3, only five letters’ worth of corruption – plus two benign transpositions.  Meanwhile in the Alexandrian transmission-stream, it took 161 years (putting the production of P45 at 225) before a professional copyist produced a manuscript in which Hebrews 1:1-6 contained 21 (or 14, if δι’ αυτου is accepted as original) letters’ worth of corruption. 
            If, like the editors of the New Living Translation, one rejects δι’ αυτου, and, like the NLT’s Coordinating Editor for the New Testament (Philip Wesley Comfort), one accepts a very early production-date for Papyrus 46 – during the reign of Hadrian (117-138) – then it follows that the scribes in the transmission-stream of P46 required 74 years to introduce 21 letters’ worth of corruption into the text of Hebrews 1:1-6.  (Let’s express this as an annual corruption ratio:  74:21, or .284 letters’ worth of corruption per year.) 
            If one were to assume that the Byzantine Text did not emerge until 800, this would imply that the scribes in its transmission-stream up to that point (with a corruption-ratio in Hebrews 1:1-6 of 736:12, or .0163 letters’ worth of corruption per year) were more than seventeen times as accurate, year for year, as the scribes in the transmission-stream of Papyrus 46. 
            On the other hand, if one theorizes that the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 achieved a relatively stable form no later than A.D. 400, then – still using the NTG as the basis for the comparison – the Byzantine copyists would have a theoretical corruption-ratio of 336:12, or .0357, in Hebrews 1:1-6.  This would mean that the Byzantine copyists were eight times as careful as the ones in Papyrus 46’s transmission-stream, but at least this is not as implausible as the first theoretical scenario.

And now, a statistical excursion. 

If one were to posit
            (a) the NTG’s text of Hebrews 1:1-6 as the original text, and
            (b) the existence of the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 in a manuscript made in 225, and
            (c) the existence of Papyrus 46 in the same year, then one could estimate that Byzantine copyists produced .0533 letters’ worth of corruption annually in Hebrews 1:1-6, and that the copyists in Papyrus 46’ transmission-line meanwhile produced approximately .093 letters’ worth of corruption annually in Hebrews 1:1-6.  If one were to picture copyists with the annual corruption-rate displayed in the transmission-stream of Papyrus 46, but producing instead the Byzantine text of Hebrews 1:1-6, then at a rate of .093 letters’ worth of corruption in this passage annually, beginning in A.D. 64 and working for 129 years, they would produce the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 by the year 194. 

            If the first premise in this hypothetical scenario were slightly adjusted, so that δι’ αυτου is accepted as part of the original text in verse 3, then if the copyists who produced the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 introduced corruption at the same rate as the scribes in the transmission-stream of Papyrus 46, then the Byzantine scribes would require 53 years to produce the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6, and their work would be identical to the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 by the year 117.  Toss on another 20 years – a decade for each transposition – and the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 emerges, not by 800, but before 150. 

            If one were to ignore P46’s three itacistic corruptions, and assign its production to 225, then its corruption-rate would be 18 letters over 161 years; that is, .112 letters’ worth of corruption annually – or, if δι’ αυτου is accepted as part of the original text in verse 3, then the rate is 11 letters over 161 years, that is, .068 letters’ worth of corruption annually.  Byzantine scribes working at the same rate would produce the Byzantine text of Hebrews 1:1-6 (with 12 letters’ worth of corruption) by the year 240 (working over 176 years) – or, if δι’ αυτου is accepted as part of the original text in verse 3, then if they had the same corruption-rate as the scribes in the transmission-line of P46, they would create five letters’ worth of corruption in 74 years, and the Byzantine Text of Hebrews 1:1-6 would thus emerge around the year 140, or, with two decades for the two transpositions, around 160.  I build nothing on this statistical comparison, but I find it interesting.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Philippians 1:6-14, Papyrus 46, and the Byzantine Text

Papyrus 46 (c. 225) - Philippians 1:5b-15a
(verse-numbers digitally added)
            Let’s run a little experiment to find out the answer to a simple question:  which is more accurate in Philippians 1:6-14:  the text of Papyrus 46 – the earliest known Greek manuscript of this passage – or the Byzantine Text?  We will run this experiment twice, using two modern compilations as the basis of comparison. 

First, we shall use the Society of Biblical Literature’s Greek New Testament, compiled by Michael Holmes, as the standard for comparison.  For convenience, the following symbols will accompany a list of variants:
            ● means the SBLGNT agrees with P46.
            ■ means the SBLGNT agrees with the Byzantine Text.
Here are all the differences between the text of Papyrus 46 and the Byzantine Text in Philippians 1:6-14, accompanied by symbols to show which reading is adopted in the SBLGNT. 

6 – Byz has υμιν where P46 has υμειν.  ■ 
6 – Byz has Χριστου Ιησου where P46 has Ιησου Χριστου (contracted).  ■
7 – Byz has συγκοινωνους where P46 has και κοινωνους.  ■
8 – Byz has μου after γαρ.  ■
8 – Byz has εστιν before ο Θεος.  ●
8 – Byz has ως instead of ω before επιποθω.  ■
8 – Byz has Ιησου Χριστου where P46 has Χριστου Ιησου (contracted).  ● 
9 – no disagreements.
10 – Byz does not have την before ημεραν.  ■
10 – Byz has καρπων instead of καρπον.  ●
10 – Byz  has των instead of τον.  ●
11 – Byz has Ιησου Χριστου where P46 has Χριστου Ιησου (contracted).  ■
11 – Byz does not have Θυ after δοξαν.  ■
12 – Byz has Θεου where P46 has εμοι.  ■
12 – Byz has Γινωσκειν where P46 has Γεινωσκειν.  ■
13 – Byz has φανερους where P46 has [φα]νερουςθαι.  ■
13 – Byz has πασιν where P46 has πασι.  ■ 
14 – no disagreements.

Out of 16 variant-units between the Byzantine Text and Papyrus 46, the Byzantine Text has the original reading (if one accepts Michael Holmes’ text-critical decisions) in 12 of them.

Philippians 1:10b-14 in MS 2401.
What if one uses the text of Philippians 1:6-14 in the most recent edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece as the basis for comparison?  Let’s see.  This time we will count the numbers of gains of non-original letters, and of losses of original letters, that occur.  

● means NTG agrees with P46.
■ means NTG agrees with the Byzantine Text.

6 – Byz has υμιν where P46 has υμειν.  ■  (P46:  +1)
6 – Byz has Χριστου Ιησου where P46 has Ιησου Χριστου (contracted).  ■
7 – Byz has συγκοινωνους where P46 has και κοινωνους.  ■   (P46:  +3, -3)
8 – Byz has μου after γαρ.  ■   (P46:  -3)
8 – Byz has εστιν before ο Θεος.  ●   (Byz:  +5)
8 – Byz has ως instead of ω before επιποθω.  ■  (P46:  -1)
8 – Byz has Ιησου Χριστου where P46 has Χριστου Ιησου (contracted).  ●     
9 – no disagreements.
10 – Byz does not have την before ημεραν.  ■    (P46:  +3)
10 – Byz has καρπων instead of καρπον.  ●  (Byz:  +1, -1)
10 – Byz  has των instead of τον.  ●  (Byz:  +1, -1)
11 – Byz has Ιησου Χριστου where P46 has Χριστου Ιησου (contracted)  ■
11 – Byz does not have Θυ after δοξαν.  ■   (P46:  +2)
12 – Byz has Θεου where P46 has εμοι.  ■   (P46:  +3, -3)
12 – Byz has Γινωσκειν where P46 has Γεινωσκειν.   ■  (P46:  +1)
13 – Byz has φανερους where P46 has [φα]νερουςθαι.  ■  (P46:  +3)
13 – Byz has πασιν where P46 has πασι.  ■    (P46:  -1)
14 – no disagreements.     

Using the 27th/28th edition of Novum Testamentum Graece as one’s standard of comparison, one gets the same results that are acquired using the SBGGNT:  the Byzantine Text deviates from the original text four times, and the text in Papyrus 46 deviates from the original text 12 times.  If we count the amount of variation by letters (not considering benign transpositions which do not involve a loss of any letters), the Byzantine scribes added 7 non-original letters, and lost 2 original letters, for a total of nine letters’ worth of deviation from the original text; meanwhile, the Alexandrian scribes added 16 non-original letters, and lost eight original letters, for a total of twenty-four letters’ worth of deviation from the original text.   

This is, granted, a very small sample.  Nevertheless it vividly illustrates three points:
            First:  the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece compilation does not always follow the oldest manuscript. 
            Second:  the term “Alexandrian” has been thrown around somewhat loosely:  it is used to describe the text of Vaticanus, and the text of Papyrus 46.  Yet the Byzantine Text of Philippians 1:6-14 resembles the text of Vaticanus more closely than the text of Papyrus 46 does.    
            Third:  the scribal transmission-line that produced the Byzantine Text of Philippians 1:6-14 yielded a more accurate text of this passage than the transmission-line that produced Papyrus 46. 

            In conclusion, let’s explore that third point.  Some advocates of the Alexandrian Text have proposed that the Byzantine Text did not reach a final form until the 800’s.  In that case, this little experiment in Philippians 1:6-14 indicates that the Byzantine scribes who perpetuated the text of this passage must have been a team composed of some remarkably disciplined and precise copyists:  if one assigns the year 61 as the production-date of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and 225 as the production-date of Papyrus 46, then in the course of 164 years, Alexandrian scribes introduced twelve corruptions into the text of Philippians 1:6-14.  Meanwhile, if one assigns the year 800 as the point when the Byzantine Text of Philippians came into existence, then after 739 years of transmission, the Byzantine scribes introduced only four corruptions into the text of Philippians 1:6-14.
            Another possibility:  in 400, the Byzantine Text of Philippians already existed, and was transmitted from then on very accurately when on its home-turf.  This would imply that its copyists introduced half as many corruptions into the text of Philippians 1:6-14 in twice the time as the scribes in the Alexandrian transmission-line of Papyrus 46.