Saturday, July 8, 2017

America's Greek New Testament: Minuscule 1780

            In the Kenneth W. Clark Collection at Duke University, manuscript #1 is a volume containing the entire Greek New Testament:  minuscule 1780.  This manuscript should be of special interest to Americans, because ever since minuscule 1424 was returned to Greece in 2016, minuscule 1780 is one of only two complete Greek manuscript of the New Testament in the United States. 
            Minuscule 1780 has been digitized, and page-views are available at the website of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library of Duke University.  Besides the text of all 27 books of the New Testament, 1780 also has lectionary-tables, Ad Carpianus, the Eusebian Canon-tables, an introductory commentary/summary on the Gospels, book-introductions, chapter-lists, and a considerable amount of marginal commentary (which frequently is written in a cruciform shape).  Unfortunately, there is no index, so for those who might be encountering this manuscript for the first time, here is a basic index for minuscule 1780:

Canon-tables:  Page 13.
Chapter-list for Matthew:  page 53
Matthew:  page 55
Chapter-list for Mark:  page 95
Mark:  page 97
Chapter-list for Luke:  page 123
Luke:  page 125
(On page 131, the genealogy is formatted in five columns)
Chapter-list for John:  page 176
John:  page 177
(The story of the adulteress is in the text of John after 7:52 on page 190.)

(In Acts, the marginalia is much less abundant, consisting of notes, or scholia, rather than a full commentary.)
Prologue and chapter-list for Acts:  page 213
Acts:  page 217
(Acts 8:37 is included in the text on page 226)

Prologue to the Catholic Epistles:  page 250
James:  page 252 

Prologue to the Pauline Epistles: page 256
Romans:  page 263
End of Romans with pulpit-text in the margin:  page 277
First Corinthians:  page 279
Second Corinthians:  page 295
Galatians:  page 307
Ephesians:  page 313
            (notice the red “comet” symbol used to connect text to commentary in margin)
Philippians:  page 319
Colossians:  page 324 
First Thessalonians:  page 329 
Second Thessalonians:  page 334
First Timothy:  page 337 (some distigmai (umlauts) are in the side-margin) 
Second Timothy:  page 342 
Titus:  page 346 
Philemon:  page 348 
Hebrews:  page 251 

First Peter:  page 365
Second Peter:  page 370 
First John:  page 374
Second John: page 379
Third John:  page 380
Jude:  page 381

Revelation:  page 386   
(cruciform text:  page 399)
End of Revelation:  page 400

            Minuscule 1780 is such an exceptional manuscript that it really deserves a special title rather than just an identification-number.  I suggest the name Codex Branscombius, in honor of Bennett Harvie Branscomb (1894-1998), the Duke University professor (and, beginning in 1945, chancellor of Vanderbilt University) who acquired the manuscript, beginning what would become the Kenneth W. Clark Collection of Greek Manuscripts.
            Of course whenever a new manuscript comes to light, or when – as in this case – a known manuscript is made available to the public – a question is bound to arise:  how good is its text?  As a small sample of the quality of the text in 1780, let’s compare its contents in First Peter 1:1-12 to the same passage in Codex Sinaiticus, “The world’s oldest Bible,” most of which is currently housed at the British Library.  In the following comparison, I will use the Nestle-Aland compilation as the basis of comparison.  For each non-original letter, I will assign a point; for the absence of each original letter, I will also assign a point.  Transpositions will be mentioned but no points will be assigned for them.
            Since Codex Sinaiticus (signified as ﬡ, the Hebrew letter Aleph) is about 850 years older than 1780, let’s examine its text first.

1 – ﬡ [Aleph] has και after εκλεκτοις.  (+3)  [However, the kai-compendium is partly erased, and the erasure may have happened before the manuscript’s production was finished, so I will not count this in the total.]
1 – ﬡ has Γαλατειας instead of Γαλατιας (+1)
1 – ﬡ has Καππαδοκειας instead of Καππαδοκιας (+1)
1 – ﬡ does not have Ασιας.  (-5)  [The word is added in the margin by a later corrector.]
2 – ﬡ has πληθυνθιη instead of πληθυνθειη (-1)
3 – ﬡ has δια instead of δι’ (+1) 
4 – ﬡ transposes αμαραντον and αμιαντον
4 – ﬡ has ουρανω instead of ουρανοις (+1, -3)
5 – ﬡ has δυναμι instead of δυναμαι (-1)
5 – ﬡ has ετοιμως instead of ετοιμην (+2, -2)
6 – ﬡ does not have εστιν (-5)  [The word is added above the line by a later corrector.]
6 – ﬡ has λυπηθεντας instead of λυπηθεντες (+1, -1)
6 – ﬡ has πιρασμοις instead of πειρασμοις (-1)
7 – ﬡ has επενον instead of επαινον (+1, -2)
8 – ﬡ has αγαλλιασθαι instead of αγαλλιασθε (+2, -1)

            Sinaiticus’ text of First Peter 1:1-12 thus has 10 non-original letters, and is missing 22 original letters, for a total of 32 letters’ worth of corruption.

Now let’s look at the same passage in minuscule 1780.

2 – 1780 has απο Θ[εο]υ Π[α]τ[η]ρ after ειρηνη (+12, when the sacred names are uncontracted. )
7 – 1780 (with Byz) has τιμην και εις δοξαν instead of δοξαν και τιμην (transposition) (+3) 
8 – 1780 (with Byz) has ειδοτες instead of ιδοντες (+1, -1)
10 – 1780 (with Byz) has εξηρευνησαν instead of εξηραυνησαν (+1, -1)
12 – 1780 has απηγγέλη instead of ανηγγέλη (+1, -1)

            1780’s text of Second Peter 1:1-12 thus has 18 non-original letters, and is missing three original letters, for a total of 21 letters’ worth of corruption. 

            America’s Greek New Testament, at Duke University, is thus more accurate in First Peter 1:1-12 than “the world’s oldest Bible” at the British Library.  The copyists in Codex Sinaiticus’ Alexandrian transmission-line managed to make more non-original readings in 300 years in this passage than the copyists in minuscule 1780’s Byzantine transmission-line made in 1,150 years.  If not for one harmonistic reading in verse 2, minuscule 1780’s text of First Peter 1:1-12 would be three times more accurate than the text in Codex Sinaiticus.  This is truly a manuscript worth celebrating as a national treasure.

P. S. The other Greek New Testament in the United States was acquired in 1957; it is minuscule 680 and it is presently housed at the Yale University Library as Beinecke MS 248.



N. Bacquia said...

Thanks, James. What a blessed post!

Daniel Buck said...

Interesting. Itacism is more consistent, apparently, in the papyri. By the time Aleph was copied, it had become hit or miss.

Wayne Steury said...

James, thanks for posting this. I downloaded 1 John and hope to read it.

Hilbert Ong said...

Like your post. Thanks again.