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. 

6 comments:

Timothy Joseph said...

James,
Once again, you are not comparing the Byzantine textform, but the established text, that which is common across multiple text forms with a specific Alexandrian manuscript. See comments in previous post. Additionally, your idea that spelling variants establish the veracity or lack there of a manuscript is denied by almost every NT scholar. For one who criticizes the atomistic nature of the CT it is amazing.

Tim

Daniel Buck said...

If those who constructed the Byzantine text smoothed out readings (like the itacisms in the papyri), what on earth are those late smoothings doing in "The New Testament According to the Original Greek?"

Chad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad said...

Appreciate you very much. Thank you for pointing out that P46 is not a carbon copy of The Vaticanus. Corruptions were introduced very early and one has to do more work than say, "Well, it's older...it must be more accurate." When one considers the implication of such, then it becomes clear.

Keep up the good work.

James Snapp said...

Timothy Joseph,

TJ: "You are not comparing the Byzantine textform, but the established text, that which is common across multiple text forms with a specific Alexandrian manuscript."

and
TH: (from the previous post) "A Byzantine reading is surely one that is unique to the Byzantine text form."

I am making exhaustive comparisons here, rather than focusing only on those points where one witness and another witness (whether MSS, or printed texts) disagree. As long as the same method is applied to both witnesses, the contest is the same, whether it takes place on top of a tall pedestal of agreements or not. Right?

TJ: "A reading which is supported by the Byzantine and the Alexandrian and or the Western text form may be the majority text but should not be considered as an example of any particular text form."

Byzantine readings that agree with the Alexandrian Text (and/or the Western Text) are still Byzantine readings; they are just not *distinctly* Byzantine readings. They are still there on the page in MSS categorized as having a Byzantine Text.

TJ: "Your idea that spelling variants establish the veracity or lack there of a manuscript is denied by almost every NT scholar."

For purposes of text-to-text comparisons, no data should be ignored.

phann son said...

If those who constructed the Byzantine text smoothed out readings (like the itacisms in the papyri), what on earth are those late smoothings doing in "The New Testament According to the Original Greek?"
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