Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Norman Geisler, Bart Ehrman, and the Parrot Problem

            Have you ever read a commentary on a passage in the New Testament that involves a textual variant, and you say, “Hmm; let’s see what this other commentator says,” and the other commentator says almost the exact same thing?  It’s as if one of them borrowed the other writer’s words, or as if they are slightly rephrasing what was written by an earlier author.
            For example, consider what Bart Ehrman wrote in Misquoting Jesus (also published as Whose Word Is It?) on page 48, where the author is illustrating scriptio continua – but can’t spell the jargon – and uses the example, “lastnightatdinnerisawabundanceonthetable” – and you think, “That sounds a lot like what J. Harold Greenlee wrote on page 62 of Scribes, Scrolls, and Scripture.  What an amazing coincidence!
            Or consider what Bruce Metzger wrote on page 47 of his influential handbook The Text of the New Testament, referring to a phenomenon observed in Codex Vaticanus:  “Unfortunately, the beauty of the original writing has been spoiled by a later corrector, who traced over every letter afresh, omitting only those letters and words which he believed to be incorrect.”  Years ago, Steven Avery, a KJV-Onlyist, pointed out in an online forum that one might conclude that Metzger had read page 203 of Frederic Kenyon’s much earlier work, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, and recollected its contents:  “Unfortunately, the beauty of the original writing has been spoilt by a later corrector, who, thinking perhaps that the original ink was becoming faint, traced over every letter afresh, omitting only those letters and words which he believed to be incorrect.”
And one could also compare Metzger & Ehrman’s The Text of the New Testament, in the 2005 edition, and notice that their description of minuscule 33 is rather similar to the description given by Kirsopp Lake, a prominent scholar of the previous generation, in his book called The Text of the New Testament.  And one could notice that in both books, minuscule 1739 is “of extreme importance,” and in both books, minuscule 565 is “one of the most beautiful of all known manuscripts,” and in both books, 579’s text is “extremely good,” and other remarkable similarities.   
            Does this sort of thing still happen?  And, are there cases where errors have been perpetuated in this way?  Let’s look at what Dr. Norman Geisler, a leading evangelical apologist, wrote about Mark 16:9-20.  His statements are still circulated online at the Defending Inerrancy website.    
            On page 378 of When Critics Ask, Dr. Geisler addresses a question about Mark 16:9-20.  He begins with a statement about the 1984 edition of the NIV, which is no longer true since this feature in the NIV was altered in the 2011 revision.  Then he makes several claims:

(1)  “These verses are lacking in many of the oldest and most reliable Greek manuscripts, as well as in important Old Latin, Syriac, Armenian, and Ethiopic manuscripts.”

            This is typical of many commentaries which are echoing Bruce Metzger, who wrote that the ancient manuscripts Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and one Old Latin manuscript (Codex Bobbiensis), one Syriac manuscript (the Sinaitic Syriac), many Armenian manuscripts, two Georgian manuscripts, “and a number of manuscripts of the Ethiopic version” do not contain Mark 16:9-20.  Geisler has merely blurred the data that he got from Metzger – and in the process he turned two manuscripts into “many,” as well as obscuring the important detail that he is referring to minute minorities of Latin and Syriac manuscripts. 
            Geisler also has failed to update his description of Ethiopic evidence.  In 1980, Metzger released the article The Gospel of St. Mark in Ethiopic Manuscripts, in New Testament Tools & Studies, Volume X of New Testament Studies – Philological, Versional, and Patristic.  In that article, Metzger retracted his earlier claim and concluded that all existing Ethiopic manuscripts of Mark 16 include verses 9-20.  Metzger mentioned this material in a footnote in his Textual Commentary.  Unfortunately Geisler never got that information, and no one has told him, so he is still teaching his readers a false claim about the Ethiopic manuscripts.
            This sort of mistake can be observed in a tall stack of commentaries which are nothing but echoes of Metzger where text-critical subjects are concerned.  The authors did not want to plagiarize, so they took all kinds of liberties in their descriptions of the evidence.  The resultant mess is not quite as misleading as those times when Bart Ehrman claimed that the story of the adulteress (John 7:53-8:11) originated in the Middle Ages, but it’s still pretty bad.

(2)  “Many of the ancient church fathers reveal no knowledge of these verses, including Clement, Origen, and Eusebius.  Jerome admitted that almost all Greek copies do not have it.”

           Once again, Geisler is performing reverse ventriloquism.  The first edition of Metzger’s influential handbook  The Text of the New Testament was the basis for those two sentences.  Metzger wrote:  “Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Eusebius show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; other Church Fathers state that the section is absent from Greek copies known to them (e.g., Jerome, Epist. cxx. 3, ad Hedibiam, “almost all the Greek copies do not have this concluding portion”).
           Unfortunately Geisler is uninformed about the corrections that Metzger made in later editions.  After erroneously stating that Eusebius shows no awareness of Mark 16:9-20, Metzger realized his mistake and quietly adjusted the sentence in the later editions of his book, removing the name “Eusebius.”  Yet the Defending Inerrancy website promoted by Geisler (and others) is still spreading an error about Mark 16:9-20 and Eusebius, even though the Greek text of Eusebius’ composition Ad Marinum, in which Eusebius uses Mark 16:9 several times, is now available with an English translation.

(3)  “Many manuscripts that do have this section place a mark by it indicating it is a spurious addition to the text.”

            This claim is based on Metzger’s statement that “In other witnesses the passage is marked with asterisks or obeli, the conventional sigla used by scribes to indicate a spurious addition to a literary document.”  But has anyone ever tried to list those “many manuscripts” that allegedly have special marks by Mark 16:9-20 to signify that the passage is spurious?  More on that in a minute.

            I have researched the ending of Mark in detail, and my position is that these twelve verses were in the text when the Gospel of Mark first began to be copied and circulated for church-use.  Most of what Metzger wrote about this passage is remarkably vague and selective.  His comments need significant clarification and supplementation, and when that is provided, the text-critical contest looks very different.            
            But my purpose today is not to show that Mark 16:9-20 is genuine Scripture; I’ve already written about that.  My point is that when text-critical subjects such as Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 are involved, most commentators are basically parrots, not independent researchers.  I am sad to say that this is especially true of evangelical commentators.  The failure of their fellow scholars to correct the inaccurate text-critical claims in commentaries and in books written by apologists is evidence that either their peers do not care about the subject, or else are themselves equally oblivious to the facts of the case.
            When commentators perpetuate another author’s mistakes like this, it is almost impossible to undo the damage.  Metzger’s false claim that some Ethiopic manuscripts end the text of Mark at verse 8 is still being spread not only by Norman Geisler but also by Matt Slick at the CARM website, and by James White at the Alpha & Omega Ministries website.  And in the fourth (2005) edition of Metzger’s handbook, The Text of the New Testament, co-edited by Bart Ehrman, even though on page 120 it mentions that Metzger showed that all known Ethiopic manuscripts of Mark 16 support verses 9 through 20, on page 322 of the very same book, there’s the claim that “a number of manuscripts of the Ethiopic version” omit verses 9-20! 
            Commentators such as Larry Richards, who claims that “many ancient Greek manuscripts” end Mark’s Gospel at 16:8, could not name any of them except for Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and minuscule 304 – because there aren’t any more than those three. 
            Writers such as N. T. Wright and Craig Evans, who claim that “a good many of the manuscripts” or “Many of the older manuscripts” have asterisks alongside Mark 16:9-20 to indicate that the passage is doubtful, could not name those manuscripts if their lives depended on it – because there aren’t any.  (Dan Wallace attempted to list them and that was an epic fail.  Two small groups of manuscripts have special notes accompanying the passage, but the closest that any Greek manuscript comes to simply having an asterisk is minuscule 138, which has an asterisk in the margin, but that manuscript has the usual catena-comment on the passage, and the asterisk is just a proxy for a Eusebian section-number.)  And writers such as Ben Witherington III mislead their readers with false claims about Eusebius and Jerome – because the writers did not consult the patristic writings directly, and instead just digested what Metzger wrote, and regurgitated it, all mixed up, into their readers’ laps.
            But these commentators were not liars.  They were sloppy, lazy parrots who depended on obsolete resources.  Evangelical commentators and apologists have a text-critical parrot problem.  Let the reader beware.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Elijah Hixson and the Purple Uncials

Elijah Hixson
          Today at The Text of the Gospels we welcome a special guest, Elijah Hixson.  He currently is a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh; before that, he studied at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, completing a thesis on the text of John in Codex Alexandrinus.  He recently received the 2016 Edwin M. Yamauchi Award for Excellence in Textual Studies.  His dissertation is Scribal Habits in the Sixth-century Purple Gospel Manuscripts, which we will look into shortly.  He has graciously accepted an invitation to discuss his work.   

Hixson:  Thank you very much for inviting me here.  It is an honor that somebody would take interest in my dissertation.  I will proceed with the caveat that I have submitted my dissertation, but I have not yet defended it.

Q:  Before we get to that, let’s briefly look into your thesis-paper.  You concluded that the scribe of Codex Alexandrinus “was far more likely to omit than to commit any other type of error, including substitution,” and that “In general, there was not a tendency to add to the text.”  When we consider this alongside similar observations made by James Royse, Dirk Jongkind, and Juan Hernández, is it safe to say that the evidence presently indicates that scribes tended to omit rather than to insert all the way into the 400s?  

Hixson:  I am thankful for my time at SBTS and their allowing me to write a text-critical master’s thesis.  However, I know that I made plenty of mistakes in that thesis, and hopefully I learned from them.  I would do things differently if I had to do it again knowing what I do now.  That being said, I think generally that is probably true, but not without qualifications.  

Q:  What does this say about the canon, “Prefer the shorter reading,” and about compilations that were produced by compilers who regularly applied that canon as a decisive factor when making text-critical decisions?  Should all such decisions now be revisited without that assumption in play?  

Hixson:  The “prefer the shorter reading” rule sadly suffers much from oversimplification.  Griesbach himself gave several exceptions in which the longer reading is preferred.  Jongkind noted that a lot of the omissions that Royse pointed out fall under Griesbach’s exceptions to the “shorter reading rule”.
At the same time, Royse also gave a list of exceptions when he said to prefer the longer reading, so I worry that his “prefer the longer reading” rule is also a victim of oversimplification.  The weird thing is that when you factor in the exceptions given by Griesbach and Royse, the two end up being a lot closer than people might think.  Both agree that the longer reading is preferred if there’s some kind of accidental or minor (likely unnoticed) omission involved.  Both agree that the shorter reading is preferred if the longer reading comes from a parallel passage or could be explained as the scribe “improving” the text.
            I’m certainly in no place to pontificate about it, but I do wonder – given how often Royse and Griesbach are oversimplified – if it might be better to say “You know what?  Let’s not worry too much about longer and shorter readings.  Instead, let’s remember that scribes could omit short things accidentally, they harmonized the text, they attempted to improve the text, etc.”  Let’s first be on the lookout for those kinds of changes when evaluating variants rather than simply counting how many words or letters there are and picking the shorter (or longer) reading.

Q:  Thanks for those thoughts.  Moving on to your new work:  could you briefly describe the Purple Uncials for our readers, and what is special about the three manuscripts you have been studying? 

Hixson:  The purple uncials (or majuscules) of the New Testament are five luxurious copies of the Gospels:  N (022, Codex Petropolitanus Purpureus), O (023, Codex Sinopensis), Σ (042, Codex Purpureus Rossanensis), Φ (043, Codex Beratinus) and 080, dating to the 500s.  They are so-named because they are made of parchment that has been dyed purple and written in silver and gold ink.  They are absolutely beautiful. Textually, they have a form of the Byzantine text.  The Alands placed them in Category V (except 080, which is too fragmentary to classify). 
Three of them (Ν, O and Σ) were all copied from the same exemplar, presumably around the same time in the same scriptorium.  To my knowledge, these three are currently the earliest extant examples of sibling-manuscripts made from a common exemplar, though the exemplar itself is lost.  There are other purple biblical manuscripts as well. Do a Wikipedia search for “purple parchment” and you should see a list of a few of them.

Q:  Do you think you have successfully reconstructed the text of the shared exemplar of N, O, and Σ?

Hixson:   I only reconstructed the exemplar in Matthew, but I think I succeeded.  Codex O is only extant there.  I used a spiral process, in which I started with the places where all three are extant, looked for instances in which one disagreed with the other two, took that as the scribe who made an alteration, and then compared those results.  I also took corrections into consideration, to shed light on what kinds of mistakes each scribe made.
From that it became clear that the scribe of O was the scribe who changed the text the least, and that the scribe of Σ had a noticeable tendency to harmonize Matthew to Markan parallels.  So for instance, when only Ο and Σ are extant, and they differ, it is more likely that O preserves the reading of the archetype, especially if the difference could be explained as a harmonization to Mark by the scribe of Σ.
I also rated my confidence in the reconstruction of the archetype at those points of variation with A B C and D.  The ratings are entirely subjective, but at least I was honest and gave reasons for why I adopted the readings I did, and how sure I am of my decisions.

Q:  Is it true that the copyists of the Purple Uncials wrote in silver ink, and used gold ink for contractions of the sacred names, such as “God” and “Lord”?  Which sacred names received this treatment?

Hixson:  It is partially true.  The scribe of N did it, and I believe the scribe of Φ did it for a few chapters but abandoned the effort later in the codex.  O and 080 are entirely in gold, and Σ only used gold for the titles and first three lines of each Gospel.  The scribe of N used gold for “Jesus,” “God,” “Lord,” “Christ,” and sometimes for “Father,” “Son” and “Spirit.”  The scribe of N also wrote the marginal chapter headings in gold.

Q:  Does it look like the copyists used two pens, switching inks as they went, or did they write the main text in silver first and then add the sacred names’ abbreviations in gold afterwards? 

Hixson:  There are a few mistakes here and there that suggest that the exemplar did not use a different ink for any nomina sacra, and that the scribe of N would leave a blank space for them and come back to write them in later in gold.  Whether that was after he finished a page, or a quire, or at the end of the work-day, is anybody’s guess.  I don’t get the impression that the scribe used a different pen for gold.

Q:  Did they ever write the wrong name?  What happened in Codex N at Matthew 13:51? 

Hixson:  In Matthew 13:51, the scribe wrote κ in silver but left a space and went back to write ε and the supralinear line in gold.  And yes, the scribe did write the wrong name a time or two.  Matthew 11:27 is a great example of that.  The reading in N is clearly a blunder on the part of the scribe and not from the archetype (so maybe N shouldn’t be cited there in the UBS/NA apparatuses!).

Q:  Parts of Codex Sinaiticus are scattered among four institutions.  But Codex N is even more scattered.  Can you tell us about that, and how it got that way?  Could some of its missing pages still be out there somewhere?

Hixson:  We don’t know exactly how it happened, but portions of Codex N are presently in eight or nine locations that we know of.  It is usually assumed that the Crusaders had something to do with its dispersal, and I would guess that’s probably right.  We know that most of what’s missing in N went missing centuries ago because of the palaeography of some cursive Greek notes in the margins that indicate that the manuscript was grouped into bundles of 50 folios.  I say eight or nine locations because one leaf of John was formerly in an Italian private collection – it was published and microfilmed – but it appears to have been sold around 15 years ago. We don’t know where it is currently.
However, we do know that at least four folios were taken from N in the 1800’s, because of two modern systems of page numbers.  There are four places where one system continues unbroken but the other one has a gap.  This means that one folio in each of those four places was there when the first system was added, but was removed by the time the second system was added.  Now, three of those four folios have since resurfaced, and sure enough, they each have the pagination from the first system but nothing from the second; these are the folios in Thessaloniki, Athens and New York.  I suspect that if a single folio of Codex N ever surfaces (other than the one that was sold recently), it will be that fourth leaf.  It will contain the text of Luke 4:26–36.
There is some slight hope that bits of Codex O might also still be out there.  Forty-three of its leaves are in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), but O also bears an older foliation system that suggests it had at least 50-some-odd leaves at some point in its modern history before the BnF acquired it in 1899.  Only one of those missing leaves ever resurfaced, though, and to my knowledge, nobody has seen it since before 1962.  It was in Ukraine when anyone last saw it.  Thankfully, the BnF has an old black/white photo that was taken over 100 years ago, which they posted online when they digitized their 43 leaves of O last year.

Q:  There’s the deluxe Tyrian purple, and there’s the cheaper purple-ish purple.  Similarly, there’s real gold, and there’s gold-like pigment.  Are the purple and gold of the Purple Uncials the real deal?

Hixson:  There have been some scientific tests on a couple of them. The purple is not Tyrian purple, but the gold and silver are the real deal. Oxidation is a great way to see the quality of the gold and silver—gold is extremely resistant to oxidation, but silver tarnishes fairly easily.  In the London leaves of N, the dye has faded away almost completely and the silver has tarnished to black, but you can still see the gold of the nomina sacra looking just as fine as ever.  At first glance, it doesn’t look like one of the purple codices.

Q:  The Purple Uncials are sometimes dated to the late 400s or 500s.  Is that correct?  And, what date would you assign to their archetype?

Hixson:  I think the 500s is a good date for them. The palaeography seems to support it, and that’s true of two different types of handwriting in Σ (biblical majuscule for the main text, and upright pointed majuscule for other things).  Other considerations lead me to suspect that they are probably mid-500s.  I don’t think the archetype was much older than its copies.
            We do have references to earlier purple codices.  Jerome mentions purple manuscripts in a letter he wrote in 384 [Epistle 22, To Eustochium, in paragraph 32].

Q:  Which one of the Purple Uncials do you think is the oldest, and does it matter?

Hixson:  I don’t think it matters all that much.  The scribe of O was the most ideal scribe of the three. N and Σ were probably produced at the same time, and I think they are the products of a master (Σ) and his or her apprentice (N).  Codex O has a lot of features that suggest that it was made – for lack of a better word – ‘differently’ than N and Σ.  It’s single-column; they are double-column. It has 6-sheet quires; they have 5-sheet quires.  It has illuminations accompanying the text; they do not.  Whether it was made earlier, later, or while the scribes of N and Σ worked – that’s anybody’s guess.

Q:  Tell us about the unusual patches in Codex N.  Did later owners of the manuscript use parchment from severely damaged pages to repair not-so-badly-damaged pages?
Hixson:  Different institutions have used different methods to repair the manuscript, but at some point, somebody used a bit of the folio containing the kephalaia [chapters] list to Luke, and bits of another folio (which originally contained part of Matthew 6) to patch other places in the manuscript.  Maybe those folios were already damaged.  We can hope so at least; that’s better than the thought of someone tearing up good pages intentionally!

Q:  Cronin [a researcher in the late 1800s/early 1900s] thought that Codex N might have omitted Matthew 12:47, based on space considerations.  What do you think?

Hixson:  Cronin was incredibly insightful and helpful overall, but I think he was wrong there.  N had Matthew 12:47.  There are only two folios missing in the gap, and Σ is extant there.  Σ has it (and adding it in a large section like that isn’t the sort of thing the scribe of Σ would do, nor is the scribe of N likely to omit something large like that), and furthermore, N and Σ have nearly identical line-lengths.  If you count lines in Σ where N breaks off until it comes back in to folios later, you arrive at nearly the exact number of lines you would expect in N. That tells us that whatever N had on those lost pages, it occupied the same space as what Σ has in that text.  I would be comfortable citing Nvid for the longer reading there.

Q:   Is there a possibility that any of the Purple Uncials contained the pericope adulterae after John 21, like in the family-1 manuscript-cluster?

Hixson:  I doubt it.  In N, the very last page of John is missing, but from John 16:15 until that last page, every folio survives.  The manuscript has original quire markers, and at the end of each Gospel, the scribe reduced the number of sheets he/she used per quire so as to finish at the end of a quire and start a new book on the first sheet of a new one.  Kephalaia lists would have been at the end of these ‘short’ quires so that the next Gospel would still begin on the first page of a new quire – that is to say, the extra material between the Gospels was gathered with the Gospel that was ending, not with the one that was beginning.  We know that the final quire of John had three sheets, and the last folio of the outer sheet is the only one missing.  The text cuts off in John 21:20.  I didn’t reconstruct it, but at a glance, what’s left in John 21:20-25 looks like about how much the scribe normally got on a single folio.
All of that is to say that if the PA was added after John 21, it would have to have been added as a new quire on its own, after the scribe deliberately planned to end John at 21:25 and reduced the number of sheets per quire in order to do so. The codex certainly seems planned to end at John 21:25.

Q:  Were these manuscripts made for the Byzantine emperor and his family?

Justinian I, Byzantine
Emperor (r. 527-565)
Hixson:  The best way I know how to put it is that they certainly smell like Justinian I. I’ve not found any contemporary historians mentioning purple codices, but they do describe Justinian’s church-building programs, and the purple codices are definitely consistent with the type of things he did.  There is no proof that Justinian had anything to do with them, but I’ll go back to what I said before:  they certainly do smell like him.

Q:  Did the exemplar of N, O, and Σ have illustrations?  Also, could you take a minute to explain the “testimonials” in the illustrations, where Old Testament characters comment on events in the Gospels? 

Hixson:  I doubt the illustrations were in the archetype.  There are too many differences between the illustrations in O and Σ, and none from N survive.
            The testimonials are interesting.  I wrote an article on that for The Journal of Theological Studies.  I came to the conclusion that they were more likely copied from continuous-text manuscripts than from existing testimonia collections, and in a number of places, they seem to be showing how passages from the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Q:  Now that you’ve completed this project, what’s next?

Hixson:  I’m teaching Romans and John’s Gospel at Edinburgh Bible College this spring, so I’ll be busy preparing lectures for that.  Writing-wise, I’m co-editing a book on textual criticism and apologetics with Peter Gurry, which will be published by IVP – hopefully in a year or two. I’ve got a few articles in the works that have spun out of my dissertation as well.  I do have a couple of monograph-length ideas, but my ability to pursue those depends on whether or not I have gainful employment a year from now, and if so, where and for how long.  At the end of the day, I am an evangelical Christian, so I want to work out my faith in Jesus Christ by careful and responsible scholarship, and I want to use whatever knowledge I gain there in some way for the Church.
            Thank you again for taking interest in my research!

Snapp:  Thank you for taking the time to discuss it!  We look forward to more of your work.

[Readers are invited to scroll-over the text to find embedded links that lead to additional resources.]

Friday, January 5, 2018

Lectionary 5 in Matthew 24:20-26

            Today, let’s look at the text on one page of a medieval lectionary and see how well it compares to the same passage in Codex Vaticanus (the flagship manuscript of the Alexandrian text of the Gospels) and Codex Bezae (the flagship manuscript of the Western text of the Gospels).  The passage is Matthew 24:20-26, and the lectionary is Lectionary 5, also known as Barocci MS 202, at the Bodleian Library. It was written in uncial lettering in the early 1000’s.   (I have not received a response from the Bodleian’s permissions-department, so no image of the manuscript is posted here – but you can see the zoomable, full-color page with Matthew 24:20-26 – page-view 301 out of 316, marked as fol. 147 at the top of the page – at the Digital Bodleian website.) 
            In the following comparison, the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament was used as the standard of comparison.  Differences in the format of sacred names, contractions for και, and differing forms of letters are not counted as textual differences.  The total number of differences between the THEGNT-text and each witness will be given, as well as the number of differences without minor vowel-exchanges (itacisms) in the picture. 


20 – χειμονος instead of χειμωνος (+1, -1)
21 – omits τοτε (-4)
21 – ουδε instead of ουδ’ ου (+1, -2)
22 – η instead of ει (+1, -2)
22 – εκολοβοθησαν instead of εκολοβωθησαν (+1, -1)
22 – κολοβοθησονται instead of κολοβωθησονται (+1, -1)
23 – ηπη instead of ειπη (+1, -2)
24 – δοσουσιν instead of δωσουσιν (+1, -1)
24 – omits μεγαλα (-6)
25 – προηρηκα instead of προειρηκα (+1, -2)
26 – ειποσιν instead of ειπωσιν (+1, -1)

21 – θλειψις instead of θλιψις (+1)
23 – πιστευετε instead of πιστευσητε (a corrector has superlinearly written η (so as to read πιστευητε) (+1, -2)
24 – ψευδοχρειστοι instead of ψευδοχριστοι (+1)

20 – προσευχεσθαι instead of προσευχεσθε (+2, -1) 
21 – θλειψις instead of θλιψις (+1)
21 – ουκ εγενετο instead of ου γεγονεν (+5, -5)
21 – does not have του before νυν (-3)
23 – υμειν instead of υμιν (+1)
23 – εκει instead of ωδε (+3, -2)
23 – πιστευσηται instead of πιστευσητε (+2, -1)
24 – ψευδοχρειστοι instead of ψευδοχριστοι (+1)
24 – πλανηθηναι instead of πλανησαι (+3, -1)
25 – υμειν instead of υμιν (+1)
26 – υμειν instead of υμιν (+1)
26 – εξελθηται instead of εξελθητε (+2, -1)
26 – πιστευσηται instead of πιστευσητε (+2, -1)

RP2005:  better than
Codex Vaticanus.
            This yields the following results:  Codex Vaticanus has only has five letters’ worth of corruption in this passage, and is one letter longer than the text in THEGNT.  Lectionary 5’s text contains nine non-original letters and is missing 23 original letters.  With itacisms removed from consideration, Lectionary 5’s text remains ten letters shorter than the text in Vaticanus.
            Codex Bezae’s text is the least accurate of the three:  although it is about twice as old as Lectionary 5, Codex D has 24 non-original letters and is missing 15 original letters, for a total of 39 letters’ worth of corruption.  (Lectionary 5, with 9 non-original letters and with 23 original letters omitted, has 32 letters’ worth of corruption.  Without itacisms in the picture, Lectionary 5 has 13 letters’ worth of corruption, and D has 22 letters’ worth of corruption.)  
This data may raise some questions:
            ● If scribes tended to add to the text, how is it that a manuscript from the 400’s (or 500’s) has 24 non-original letters here, and a Byzantine manuscript from c. 1000, only has 9 non-original letters, if scribes tended to add to the text?  Apparently the scribes in the ancestral transmission-line of Lectionary 5 never got the memo that stated that they were supposed to gain accretions. 
            ● The RP2005 Byzantine Textform agrees more closely in this passage with the THEGNT and the UBS/NA compilations than Codex Vaticanus and Codex Bezae do.  Even the Textus Receptus – the base-text of the King James Version, compiled in the 1500’s – agrees with THEGNT and NA27 more closely in this passage than the early manuscripts Vaticanus and Bezae do.  How is it that compilations based on late manuscripts, whether many or few, have the best text in this passage?  
            ● Considering that the text of Matthew 24:20-26 in Codex B in the 300’s is longer than the text of Matthew 24:20-26 in Lectionary 5, why do some textual critics (looking at  you, Dan Wallace) continue to teach that copyists – particularly Byzantine copyists – gradually expanded the text?  How many times and in how many ways does the opposite need to be demonstrated before scholars and commentators will concede that no preference should be generally assumed in favor of the shorter reading?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Cappadocian Text

Lectionary 181, written
in uncial script.
            Lectionary 181, in the British Library, catalogued as Add. MS 39602, is one of the few Greek manuscripts of the Gospels that features a colophon, or note from the copyist, mentioning when it was made:  6,488 years from the beginning of the world.  Greek scribes generally thought the world began in 5508 B.C., so this implies that Lectionary 181 was made in A.D. 980.  The copyist also helpfully mentioned who he was working for:  bishop Stephen of Circissa, a town in Cappadocia, about 35 miles from Caesarea-in-Cappadocia (not the Caesarea in Israel); this Caesarea is now the city of Kayseri in the middle of Turkey
            This manuscript also features a second colophon, which also includes a date – 6557 Anno Mundo, or A.D. 1049 – and which confirms that the manuscript was at Circissa.  We thus have here a very rare thing:  a New Testament manuscript which contains explicit statements about when and where it was made and used.

            While Lectionary 181 was being made, another manuscript – the opulently illustrated Menologion of Basil II – was being produced for the emperor of the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople, about 470 miles away from Caesarea-in-Cappadocia.  It provides information about saints were honored in September, October, November, and December.  (The distance between the two cities is comparable to the distance between Cleveland, Ohio and New York City.)
            By sifting through the Menologion-section of Lectionary 181, we may be able to discern which particular saints were honored in Cappadocia in the year 980, and thus we might have the basis on which to isolate a particular class of lectionaries – those which share the same (or very similar) collection of saints to be honored.
            Here are some meta-textual features of Lectionary 181 in its Menologion for September, October, November, and December which may set it apart from other lectionaries, or which seem notable for other reasons.  (The Menologion-section begins on f. 143v).  

The beginning of the lection
for September 20, honoring
Saint Eustace and his
15 – Acacius (born in Cappadocia) is honored as well as Nikita and the fathers at Nicea.
16 –  Symeon and the brothers of the Lord are commemorated; so is the martyr Euphemia.
17 – Eulampius, Pantoleon, and their companions are commemorated.
18 – Instead of Ariadne of Phrygia, Theodora is honored; two lections are provided (the second is offered as a reading for Sept. 16).  The first is the account of the repentant woman that begins at Luke 7:36.  The second – prefaced in Lectionary 181 by αλλο της αυτ. αγιας, Εκ τ. Κατ. Ιωαννων (another for this saint, from [the Gospel] according to John) – is John 8:3-11.  This lection has some unusual readings in Lectionary 181, including:
            8:4 – λεγουσιν τω Ιυ διδασκαλε
            8:4 – κατηληπται 
            8:5 – Και εν τω νομω ημων Μωσης
            8:6 – λιθαζεσθαι
            8:6 – αυτον is omitted but is supplied in the margin
            8:6 – ινα σχωσιν
            8:9 – μονος is not present
            8:10 – Ανακυψας δε ο Ις ειπεν αυτη, Γυναι
            8:11 – includes απο του νυν
21 – The various saints usually commemorated on this date are not mentioned; instead it is dedicated to the Theotokos (God-bearer, i.e., Mary) εν τη πετρα (in the rock).  (Via this phrase a comparison is intended between the conception of Mary in the womb of her previously childless mother Anna, and the production of water from the rock in the days of Moses.)  Here and elsewhere in this manuscript where Mary is referred to as the Theotokos, the word is written as a contracted nomina sacra.
25 – The lection for this date commemorates an earthquake in the Kampos, a borough of Constantinople.  (The prolonged earthquake happened in 447.)

4 – Instead of Hierotheos or the other saints usually commemorated on this date, Lect. 181 honors Peter of Capetolias (cruelly martyred by Muslims in 715). 
8 – Though not unusual, it seems worth mentioning that Lectionary 181 commemorates Saint Pelagia on this date, and assigns to it the same lections as are assigned to Saint Theodora on September 18; after beginning the lection from Luke 7:36, the second lection is introduced as ετερα εις τ. αυτ. αγιας (another [lection] for this saint) and then follows the incipit-phrase and the first part of John 8:3.
17 – Lect. 181 honors Isidora and Neophytus.
19 – Instead of Amphilochius, Lectionary 181 honors Mnason (a very early bishop on Cyprus) and Modestus of Jerusalem (who served in the early 600’s).  (Amphilochius’feast-day is transferred to December 10.)
27 – Lect. 181 honors Artemidorus and his companions, usually assigned (when included) to October 26.     
28 – Lect. 181 honors the martyrs Stephen, Peter, and Andrew.  (These are not the New Testament characters, but much later monks.)  
29 – Lect. 181 honors Saba and Aretha (Aretha is also honored on Oct. 24.)

4 – Lect. 181 honors Theodotus. 
9 – Lect. 181 honors Christopher.
10 – Lect. 181 honors Orestes of Cappadocia (sometimes honored Nov. 9, with others).
15 – Lect. 181 honors Thomas the Patriarch.
20 – Lect. 181 honors Maximian and Gennadius.
22 – Lect. 181 honors Cecilia.
26 – Lect. 181 honors the holy apostle Silas.  (Silas of Persia may be meant, rather than Paul’s fellow missionary.)
29 – Lect. 181 honors Theodoulos of Cyprus.

3 – Lect. 181 honors Indus, Seleucus, and Agapius.
8 – Lect. 181 honors Sophronius, bishop of Constantia in Cyprus.
10 – Lect. 181 honors Amphilochius.
17 – Lect. 181 honors the confessor John, bishop of Sardis.
21 – Lect. 181 honors Julian.
28 – Lect. 181 honors Theodore of Constantinople.

            Thus, over 20% of the lection-dedications in these four months in Lectionary 181 are unusual in some way – mainly by overlooking popular saints and/or focusing on lesser-known saints.  If this particular array of lection-dedications were to be found in another lectionary, or in a table of lection-dedications embedded in a manuscript, it seems safe to say that a historical connection exists between the two.

            But what about its text?  It would be an oversimplification to consider Lectionary 181 as merely another lectionary on the pile of medieval lectionaries.  Although its text is essentially Byzantine, this lectionary has some peculiarities in its Gospels-text.  In 1859, F. H. Scrivener took the effort of collating it, and he presented the result – along with collations of 49 other witnesses – in the lengthy and detailed An Exact Transcript of the Codex Augiensis to Which Is Added a Full Collation of Fifty Manuscripts.  Scrivener describes Lectionary 181 on pages 50-52 of his Introduction (printed as pp. l-lii).  In the collation, it is identified as witness “P.”  Sifting through Scrivener’s work, beginning on page 289, here is a selection of readings from a few sample chapters of the text that was read from this Gospels-lectionary in Cappadocia in the late 900’s:  Matthew 2, 5, and 17, Mark 9 and 15, Luke 6 and 16, and John 7 and 14:

Matthew 2
2:3 – ο βασιλευς is absent in the text, and supplied in the margin.
2:11 – ϊδον (instead of ειδον or ευρον)
2:15 – Αιγυπτου (instead of Αιγυπτον)
2:18 – Ραχιηλ instead of Ραχηλ

Matthew 5
11 – εσται (instead of εστε)
20 – περισσευη (instead of περισσευση)
22 – εργαζομενος (instead of οργιζομενος)
25 – Ισθη instead of Ισθι
29 – εκβαλε instead of βαλε
32 – πας ο απολυων (not ος αν απολυση)
33 – τοις ορκοις (instead of τους ορκους)
47 – φιλους (instead of αδελφους)

Matthew 17
1 – αυτον (instead of αυτους)
2 – αυτον (instead of αυτους)
2 – εγενοντο (instead of εγενετο)
3 – ωφθησαν (instead of ωφθη)
4 – συ (instead of σοι)
5 – adds δε after ετι)
5 – ηυδοκησα (instead of ευδοκησα)
9 – εωσ σου (instead of εωσ ου)
19 – υμεις (instead of ημεις)
24 – διδραγμα (instead of διδραχμα) (twice)
27 – omits την
27 – αναβαινοντα (instead of αναβαντα)

Mark 9
1 – γευσονται (instead of γευσωνται)
18 – αυτω (instead of αυτο)
25 – πνι τω αλωλω (instead of πνα το αλαλον)
36 – omits εν μεσω αυτων (supplied in margin)
38 – omits και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει ημιν (supplied in margin) (A good example of parablepsis due to homoeoteleuton)

Mark 15
7 – δεδεμενων instead of δεδεμενος
9 – omits ο δε Πιλατος απεκριθη αυτοις (h.t., αυτοις/αυτοις)
10 – παρεδωκαν instead of παραδεδώκεισαν
14 – εκραζον instead of εκραζαν
16 – (after εσω) εις της αυλην του Καϊαφα instead of της αυλην
18 – ο βασιλευς
21 – Σιμονα instead of Σιμωνα
28 – this verse is omitted.
29 – καταλυον instead of καταλυων
32 – includes αυτω after πιστεύσωμεν

Luke 6
1 – omits δυτεροπρωτω (reads τοις σαββασιν at the beginning of the lection)
4 – μονον instead of μονους
6 – omits from εγενετο to διδασκειν
33 – χαρις υμιν εστιν (transposition)
33 – αυτω instead of αυτο
35 – χριστος instead of χρηστος
36 – omits και

Luke 16
15 – υψϊλον instead of υψηλον
24 – φλογη instead of φλογι
25 – omits συ after απελαβες
26 – omits προς ημας
31 – adds των before νεκρων
31 – πιστευθησεται instead of πεισθήσονται

John 7
8 – ου instead of ουπω
8 – καταβαινω instead of αναβαινω
9 – omits δε
14 – omits Ηδη δε (adjusting the beginning of a lection)
14 – omits εις το ιερον
26 – αυτον (instead of αυτω)
37 – omits δε (adjusting the beginning of a lection)
39 – ημελλον instead of εμελλον
40 – adds αυτου after λογον (later hand)
46 – adds αυτοις after Απεκριθησαν
50 – Νικοδιμος instead of Νικοδημος

John 14
2 – υμιν τοπον (transposition)
3 – ετοιμασαι
10 – υμην instead of υμιν
10 – μαινων instead of μενων
12 – omits και μειζονα τουτων ποιησει (h.t., ποιησει/ ποιησει)
14 – includes με after αιτησητε
15 – μου instead of τας εμας
17 – omits Υμεις δε γινωσκετε αυτο (h.t., αυτο/ αυτο) (supplied in margin)
21 – omits ο δε αγαπων με (h.t., αγαπων με/ αγαπων με) (supplied in margin)
21 – αυτο instead of αυτω
28 – omits εγω

            To some extent, these readings – particularly the parableptic omissions – merely show how a specific copyist handled the text.  Yet many of these unusual readings in Lectionary 181 (and many more minute variations not listed here) have allies in Scrivener’s collation.  Just as Lectionary 181’s Menologion’s selection of saints seems somewhat localized, it may be that its text is localized too.  When the singular mistakes of the scribe of Lectionary 181 are filtered out, the remainder of the variants in this lectionary’s text may constitute the Cappadocian Text.  At the very least, we have historical confirmation that this text was used in Cappadocia in the late 900’s.