Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hand-to-Hand Combat! Sinaiticus vs. Minuscule 2474

           
The first page of the Gospel of John
in the Elfleda Bond Goodspeed Gospels
.
            It’s time for some hand-to-hand combat!  Today’s contest takes place in Matthew 24:23-30, a passage which contains some of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples regarding false prophets and signs of the end of the world.  The combatants:  Codex Sinaiticus – which is universally acknowledged as a very important manuscript, having been produced c. 350 – and minuscule 2474, known as the Elfleda Bond Goodspeed Gospels.
            Among New Testament manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus is among the most famous.  As for minuscule 2474, few people knew of its existence until early in 1952, when it was purchased in Istanbul (Constantinople) by the American collector Harry Kurdian of Wichita, Kansas; it was acquired by Edgar J. Goodspeed later the same year.  He added it to the manuscript-collection at the University of Chicago in honor of his wife, who had died in 1949. 
            Let’s take a minute to learn something about Elfleda Bond Goodspeed.  Her unusual first name is the same as that of a British saint (and friend of Saint Cuthbert) of the 600’s.  Mrs. Goodspeed was born in 1880, at about the same time when her father, Joseph Bond, after being diagnosed with a debilitating condition, prayed to receive 20 years of life.  His prayer was answered; though still far from a state of strong physical health, he used that time to develop a highly profitable home-radiator business, and in 1901, one year before his death, his daughter Elfleda married Edgar Goodspeed.  Elfleda Bond Goodspeed was considered worthy not only of the honor of having a Greek Gospels-manuscript named in her honor, but in addition, on the campus of the University of Chicago, if one visits the Joseph Bond Chapel, one can see the exquisite stained-glass windows which her husband donated in her memory. 
            And now, on to the combat! 
            I will examine each manuscript’s text of these eight verses using the same standard of comparison:  each will be compared to the text in the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation; each non-original letter will be noted, each lack of an original letter will be noted; transpositions will be mentioned but not considered a loss or gain; contractions of sacred names and of the word και (“and”) will not be counted as omissions.  After the exhaustive comparison, another comparison will be made in which itacisms (minor interchanges of vowels) are removed from consideration.

Let’s see how the copyist of Codex Sinaiticus did.

23 – no variation.
24 – ﬡ has ψευδοπροφητε instead of ψευδοπροφηται (+1, -2)
24 – ﬡ has σημια instead of σημεια (-1)
24 – ﬡ does not have μεγαλα (-6)
24 – ﬡ has πλανηθηναι instead of πλανησαι (+3, -1)
25 – no variation.
26 – ﬡ does not have ουν (-3)
26 – ﬡ has ταμιοις instead of ταμειοις (-1)
27 – ﬡ has εξερχετε instead of εξερχεται (+1, -2)
27 – ﬡ has φαινετε instead of φαινεται (+1, -2)
27 – ﬡ has εστε instead of εσται (+1, -2)
[28 – ﬡ does not have the letter ο at the beginning of the verse (at the start of οπου); however a correction has been made, possibly by the proofreader of the manuscript, so this will not be included in the total.]
28 – ﬡ has σωμα instead of πτωμα (+1, -2); a correction has been made, but it is post-production, so this will be included in the total.
28 – ﬡ has εκι instead of εκει (-1)
28 – ﬡ has συναχθησοντε instead of συναχθησονται (+1, -2)
29 – ﬡ has εκινων instead of εκεινων (-1)
29 – ﬡ has σκοτισθησετε instead of σκοτισθησεται (+1, -2)
29 – ﬡ has δωσι instead of δωσει (-1)
29 – ﬡ has εκ instead of απο (+2, -3)
29 – ﬡ has δυναμις instead of δυναμεις (-1)
30 – ﬡ has φανησετε instead of φανησεται (+1, -2)
30 – ﬡ has σημιον instead of σημειον (-1)
30 – ﬡ does not have the second τοτε (-4); the word is added above the line but this appears to be post-production.
30 – ﬡ has κοψοντε instead of κοψονται (+1, -2)
[30 – ﬡ has πασε instead of πασαι.  A correction was made above the line; this correction looks like it was made by the proofreader, so this will not be included in the total.]
[30 – ﬡ has ε instead of αι.  A correction was made above the line; this correction looks like it was made by the proofreader, so this will not be included in the total.]
30 – ﬡ has οψοντε instead of οψονται (+1, -2)

            Thus, in the course of Matthew 24:23-30, Sinaiticus’ text displays 59 letters’ worth of corruption, consisting of the addition of 15 non-original letters, and the loss of 44 original letters.  This does not reflect well on the copyist.  However, many of the alterations in the text consist of small orthographic variations, within a word, he often wrote ι instead of ει, and at the end of a word he often wrote ε instead of αι.  If these orthographic quirks are removed from the equation, then the variations in ﬡ look more like this – 
            ● 24 – ﬡ does not have μεγαλα (-6)
            ● 24 – ﬡ has πλανηθηναι instead of πλανησαι (+3, -1)
            ● 26 – ﬡ does not have ουν (-3)
            ● 28 – ﬡ has σωμα instead of πτωμα (+1, -2)
            ● 29 – ﬡ has εκ instead of απο (+2, -3)
            ● 30 – ﬡ does not have the second τοτε (-4) –
which yields more respectable results:  if we ignore itacisms, Sinaiticus’ text in Matthew 24:23-30 has 25 letters’ worth of corruption, consisting of the introduction of six non-original letters and the loss of 19 original letters.

Now let’s see how the scribe of minuscule 2474 did.

23 – 2474 has πιστεύσηται instead of πιστεύσητε (+2, -1) 
24 – 2474 has has ψευδοπροφητε instead of ψευδοπροφηται (+1, -2)
25 – no variation.
26 – no variation.
27 – no variation.
28 – 2474 has γαρ after οπου (+3)
29 – no variation.
30 – 2474 has τω before ουρανω (+2)
30 – 2474 has οψοντε instead of οψονται (+1, -2)

            Thus, in the course of Matthew 24:23-30, 2474’s text contains 14 letters’ worth of corruption, consisting of the inclusion of nine non-original letters and the non-inclusion of five original letters.  If we remove itacisms from the equation, as was done with the text in Sinaiticus, then the corruptions in 2474 in Matthew 24:23-30 consist of:
            ● the inclusion of γαρ after οπου in verse 28, and
            ● the inclusion of τω before ουρανω in verse 30. 

            From this comparison, it may be concluded that in the transmission-stream of Codex Sinaiticus, 59 letters’ worth of corruption were introduced in the course of 280 years (positing the composition of the Gospel of Matthew in A.D. 70, and the production of Codex Sinaiticus in A.D. 350), which yields an ACR (Annual Corruption Rate) of .21 – that is, it implies that copyists in the Alexandrian transmission-stream were producing, on average, .21 letters’ worth of corruption each year.
            When itacisms are removed from the equation, over half of the corruptions in Matthew 24:23-30 in Sinaiticus are also removed; it then has only 25 letters’ worth of corruption and its transmission-stream’s ACR drops to .09.  
            Meanwhile, granting a production-date for 2474 around A.D. 950, the 14 letters’ worth of corruption in minuscule 2474’s text of Matthew 24:23-30 imply that as far as the text of Matthew 24:23-30 is concerned, its transmission-stream’s ACR is only .016.  When itacisms are removed from the equation, the ACR of the transmission-stream of 2474 drops to .0057.

To review:
            Sinaiticus’ text of Matthew 24:23-30 has 59 letters’ worth of corruption.  Removing itacisms from consideration, it has 25 letters’ worth of corruption.  This implies that, on average, copyists in the transmission-stream that produced this text added .09 letters’ worth of corruption each year, besides itacistic readings.
            Minuscule 2474’s text of Matthew 24:23-30 has 14 letters’ worth of corruption.  Removing itacisms from consideration, it has 5 letters’ worth of corruption.  This implies that, on average, copyists in the transmission-stream that produced this text added .016 letters’ worth of corruption each year, besides itacistic readings. 
            No matter which set of figures one uses (with, or without, itacisms), this analysis shows that in this contest, the much younger manuscript has a much better text, and that the Byzantine copyists in its transmission-line worked far more carefully than the Alexandrian copyists in the transmission-line of Codex Sinaiticus.  The copyists in the Byzantine transmission-stream that produced the text of 2474 were at least five times better at avoiding corruption than the copyists in the Alexandrian transmission-stream that produced the text of Codex Sinaiticus.  (When itacisms are removed from consideration, and the standard of comparison is the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, rather than the Nestle-Aland compilation, the amount of corruption in the Elfleda Bond Goodspeed Gospels in Matthew 24:23-30 drops to zero.)



3 comments:

Jeff Smelser said...

fascinating!

Lady in a white dress said...

Great work, thanks for posting!

Ken Ganskie said...

Thanks again James for your insightful textual analysis. I think it's time for scholars to downgrade the importance of Sinaiticus as a witness to the originals and elevate some of the other Byz Mss such as 2474.

Blessings,

Ken