Friday, September 28, 2018

Mark 2:16 - Eating and Drinking with Sinners

            In Mark 2:16, there are several interesting textual contests.  Today I will focus on three of them.  First, did Mark refer to “the scribes of the Pharisees,” or to “the scribes and the Pharisees”?  Second, is the original word-order, in Mark’s description of those with Jesus, “tax collectors and sinners” or “sinners and tax collectors”?  Third, at the end of the verse, do the religious leaders object that Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners, or that Jesus is eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?   
            The differences are conveyed by the bold print in the quotations shown here from the English Standard Version and the New King James Version:

ESV:   And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

NKJV:  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to his disciples, “Why is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”

Let’s address each variant-unit separately.

The scribes and the Pharisees, or the scribes of the Pharisees? 

            Almost all English translations that are based on the Nestle-Aland compilation agree with the meaning of the ESV. (The NET is a surprising exception; it refers to “the experts in the law and the Pharisees.”)  Meanwhile, the KJV, NKJV, and MEV agree with the Byzantine base-text, found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts of Mark.
            The attestation for οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων is sparse:  Among uncial manuscripts, only Codex W has exactly this reading, although Codex B differs by only one letter (reading οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρεισαίων).  In the damaged fragment 0130, from the 800s, the words τῶν Φαρισαίων have survived, according to Tischendorf’s transcription.  In addition, although À and L lack the οἱ before γραμματεῖς, they support τῶν instead of καὶ οἱ.  The Nestle-Aland apparatus also lists Papyrus 88vid (assigned to the 300s) as a witness in favor of τῶν.          
            Internal evidence strongly favors the reading τῶν (yielding “the scribes of the Pharisees”)rather than καὶ οἱ (“the scribes and the Pharisees”).  The reading οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαίων (“the scribes and the Pharisees”) was more familiar to copyists, due in part to the repeated mention of scribes and Pharisees together in Jesus’ denunciation of both groups in Matthew 23.  (The phrase also appears in Luke 5:21, 6:7, and 11:53, and in John 8:3 (in the most widely-circulated form of the verse).)
            A conformation to οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαίων would be natural, and is the sort of scribal alteration that could occur even unconsciously; the reading οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων, on the other hand, is unusual, and there does not seem to be anything intrinsic in οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαίων that would provoke a change to οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων. 
            Another consideration is that in the parallel in Luke 5:30, the Byzantine Text reads οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ Φαρισαίων (“their scribes and the Pharisees”), where the Alexandrian Text reads οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν (“the Pharisees and their scribes”).  Here, again, nothing in the Byzantine Text seems puzzling or likely to provoke copyists to change anything, whereas the Alexandrian reading appears to refer to the religious group that is mentioned in Acts 23:9, where Luke refers to “the scribes of the Pharisees’ party.”  Codex Sinaiticus, in Luke 5:30, deviates from most other Alexandrian witnesses by referring to “the Pharisees and the scribes” (without “their”), exemplifying a scribal tendency to keep the two groups (the scribes, and the Pharisees) distinct. 
            All things considered, despite the huge numerical advantage of “the scribes and the Pharisees,” the internal evidence compels the adoption of “the scribes of the Pharisees.”    
“Sinners and tax collectors” or “Tax collectors and sinners”?

In Codex W, the text of Mark 2:16 was shortened
to relieve a perceived redundancy.
            Practically all major manuscripts (except Codex D) agree in the second half of Mark 2:16 that Mark wrote “tax collectors” and then “and sinners.”  Earlier in the verse, though, Codices B, D, L, Θ, and minuscules 33 and 565 refer to “the sinners and tax collectors” where À, A, C, and most manuscripts refer to “the tax collectors and sinners.”  The evidence is a bit more uniform in English than it is in Greek:  Papyrus 88, the corrected text of Codex B, the text of Codex D, the text of Θ, and minuscule 33 read (after μετὰ) τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ τῶν τελωνῶν.  (But Codex B as initially written did not have τῶν before τελωνῶν, and Codex D adds another καὶ after τελωνῶν.)        
            What happened here?  Either copyists made the word-order in the first part of the verse resemble the word-order in the second part, or else copyists made the word-order different  or both.  The text of Codex D reflects the former – but its word-order is in a category all its own: both parts have the word-order “the sinners and the tax collectors.”  Meanwhile, some Alexandrian copyists considered the repetition of the same word-order to be redundant.  (The scribe responsible for the text of W must have considered it very redundant, for he removed the first phrase entirely.)  For that reason, they transposed the first reference – and in the process they not only transferred τελωνῶν to follow τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν but also transferred (and repeated) τῶν.  This double-occurrence of τῶν is a vestige of scribal editing.  Codex B’s corrector even went a little further, adding τῶν before ἁμαρτωλῶν in the second occurrence as well.)  The original word-order is thus μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν (“with the tax collectors and sinners”) in both parts of the verse.           

“He eats” or “He eats and drinks”?

If rival variants could be compared to racehorses, there is a race at the end of Mark 2:16 in which a dozen horses are competing.  Scribes copying the text of Mark here recollected the parallel-passages in Matthew 9:11 and Luke 5:30.  In Matthew, there is no mention of Jesus drinking; Luke mentions both eating and drinking – but both parallel-passages have their own unique aspects as well.  As a result, this passage has been corrupted in different ways; here are a few examples:

Codex À harmonizes Mark 2:16 to Matthew 9:11, forming the question, “Why with tax collectors and sinners does your teacher eat?”. 

Codex C and 579 also harmonize Mark 2:16 to Matthew 9:11, but in a different way, and with a reference to drinking:  “How is it that with tax collectors and sinners your teacher eats and drinks?”.

Codices L and Δ also harmonize, like the harmonization in À, but with a reference to drinking:  “Why with tax collectors and sinners eats and drinks your teacher?”.  (Neither conforms to Lukeἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε.) 

Most manuscripts end Mark 2:16 with ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει, so that the question is, “How is it that with tax collectors and sinners He eats and drinks?”.  However, in Codices B, D, and W, the verse ends with  just ἐσθίει.  Similarly Codex Θ and 1424 read ἐσθίετε, a slight adjustment which matches up with the ἐσθίετε (but not πίνετε) in Luke 5:30.  (It is notable that in Luke 5:30 in Codex K, there is similarly only a reference to eating, and not to drinking.)

Two factors contributed to the loss of the reference to drinking at the end of the verse:  first, a tendency to harmonize to the parallel-passage in Matthew.  Second, simple scribal carelessness:  verse 17 begins with καὶ, so both homoioteleuton and homoioarcton occur together here.  It is not surprising that when an early copyist’s line of sight went from the first occurrence of ει καὶ to the second occurrence of the same letters in the line ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει καὶ, he did not detect the resultant accidental omission, inasmuch as the sentence still made sense. 

The text at the end of Mark 2:16 as it existed in Egypt before this omission occurred, however, is attested by Papyrus 88:  it supports ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει.  The minuscule 892, known for its Alexandrian character, also supports “eating and drinking” at the end of Mark 2:16, as do (as already mentioned) C and 579 which despite being harmonized to Matthew still refer to drinking, not just eating.  (Like L and Δ, they read ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει, not the Lukan wording ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε.)  (L has an itacism, reading πίνι.)

These are not the only variant-units within Mark 2:16, and it is probably no exaggeration to conclude, when surveying them all, that not a single extant manuscript has transmitted the original text of this entire verse in its pristine form:  different attempts to harmonize the text, and to amplify its meaning, have affected different witnesses in different ways.  (Readers are encouraged to consult Wieland Willker’s Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels:  Mark for more data about the complex series of variants in this verse.)  The sense of the passage, however, is consistently maintained:  the religious leaders asked Jesus’ disciples why He was taking His meals with the people they considered the dregs of society.  When Jesus answered, He gave an important insight about the nature of the gospel.  There is a textual variant in His answer in Mark 2:17, too – but that’s a subject for another post.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mark 16:9-20 and the Strange Scholarship of BAR

This is a sequel to my post Mark 16:9-20 and Early Patristic Evidence.  A fellow researcher, upon encountering my post, referred me to an article at the website of the Biblical Archaeology Review magazine:  James Tabor’s The Strange Ending of the Gospel of Mark and Why It Makes All the Difference.  I saw this material when it was first published, and I had hoped that the editors of BAR might let Tabor’s embarrassing inaccuracies (and lack of quotation-marks when borrowing from Metzger’s Textual Commentary) quietly slip into the shadows.  Alas, the article is still being circulated and still needs to be addressed.
In the interest of brevity I will not address the parts of the article in which Tabor promotes his books and his view on peripheral subjects, and via this step alone I have spared myself from delving into most of the article. 
Rather than convey his position in anything like a restrained and measured tone, Tabor describes Mark 16:9-20 in boisterous terms:  he calls this passage “concocted” and “patently false” and “forged” and “bogus” and a “forgery” and he then attempts to make a case for his own belief that Mark believed in something other than the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  But where and how does he present the evidence?  His presentation of external evidence begins and ends with this excerpt: 

            The evidence is clear. This ending is not found in our earliest and most reliable Greek copies of Mark.  In A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce Metzger writes: “Clement of Alexandria and Origen [early third century] show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.” 

Tabor’s concise description misleads his readers at every step:  he fails to mention that he is referring to only two manuscripts as “our earliest and most reliable Greek copies,” namely Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus – and he fails to mention that both of these manuscripts contain unusual features at or near the end of Mark that indicate that their copyists were aware of the existence of the missing verses.  In Codex Vaticanus, for example, the copyist left a distinct blank space (including an entire blank column) just the right size for a skilled scribe to fit verses 9-20.  In Codex Sinaiticus, the four pages containing Mark 14:54-Luke 1:76 written by the main copyist are not extant; the four pages which now exist in the manuscript are a single sheet of parchment (written on the front and back and folded down the center, so as to form four pages) which replaced the work of the main copyist; for details see the post Codex Sinaiticus and the Ending of Mark).  He fails to mention that over 1,500 Greek manuscript of Mark include 16:9-20.       
Tabor also repeats Bruce Metzger’s claim that Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses, letting readers imagine on their own that the writings of Clement and Origen are jam-packed with quotations from the rest of the Gospel of Mark, while in real life Clement of Alexandria hardly ever made specific quotations from the Gospel of Mark except for one long extract from chapter 10.  To put it another way:  according to the data in Carl Cosaert’s research, Clement of Alexandria does not makes specific citations from Mark chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15, and 16.  Even if tomorrow someone were to discover a dozen citations from Mark made by Clement, the implication would not change:  Clement cited the Gospel of Mark only very rarely and his lack of usage of Mark 16:9-20 is merely a symptom of his general neglect of the entire book.  What Tabor (and Metzger) says about Mark 16:9-20 as a passage not used by Clement can be said about almost every 12-verse segment of the book, outside chapter 10.    
As for Origen, while he cited Mark more often than Clement did, he did not cite it anywhere near the frequency with which he cited the other Gospels.  As far as I can tell via a study of Origen’s major works, Origen cited nothing in Mark 3:19-4:11 (28 consecutive verses), or in 5:2-5:43 (41 consecutive verses) or in 8:7-8:29 (22 consecutive verses), or in 10:3-10:42 (39 consecutive verses), or in 1:36-3:16 (54 consecutive verses).  If we should conclude that a non-use of Mark 16:9-20 means that the verses were absent in Origen’s copies (as Tabor seems to expect his readers to conclude that it does), then by the same measure, they would conclude that Origen had a much shorter text of Mark.  Whereas the proper conclusion is simply that Origen’s non-use of Mark 16:9-20 – if a reference in Philocalia 5 does not allude to Mark 16:17-20 – is a side-effect of his general preference for the other three Gospel-accounts.
Tabor also misrepresents (because Metzger did) the testimony of Eusebius and Jerome; those who seek a more realistic and informed perspective on their testimony may want to bypass the misleading snippets used by various commentators and read Eusebius’ comments for themselves in Eusebius of Caesarea – Gospel Problems and Solutions, and to compare it to Jerome’s Epistle 120 – To Hedibia, and notice (as D. C. Parker noticed) that Jerome’s comment is not a personal observation by  Jerome about Jerome’s manuscripts; it is part of Jerome’s Latin abridgment of part of Eusebius’ Ad Marinum, cobbled together in response to Hedibia’s general question about how to harmonize the Gospels regarding events that followed Christ’s resurrection.  Those who take the time to do so will see that Eusebius, rather than forcefully reject Mark 16:9-20, advised Marinus about how to punctuate and pronounce (and thus retain) Mark 16:9; they will also see that Eusebius used Mark 16:9 himself on two other occasions in the same composition.  
Tabor then mentions “two other endings,” and here too he misleads his readers.  For he fails to mention that when every Greek manuscript that includes the Shorter Ending – all six of them – was made, the usual 12 verses were included too.  And he says that these endings show up in “various manuscripts” but there is only one manuscript that has what he describes as an ending:  the Freer Logion, found in Codex W.  Furthermore, it is plainly false to call the Freer Logion another ending, because it is not an ending; it is an interpolation, as you can see (page-views below).  This material does not appear after Mark 16:8.  It appears between Mark 16:14 and 16:15, right where Jerome mentioned in one of his writings that he had seen it, “especially in Greek codices.”    
            And that is where Tabor’s presentation of the external evidence ends; the remainder of the article is not much more than restatements of the author’s unorthodox beliefs regarding the nature of the resurrection of Christ.  Where does he mention that Irenaeus specifically quoted Mark 16:19 around the year 180, over a century before Codex Vaticanus was made?  Nowhere.  Where does he mention that manuscripts representing the Byzantine, Western, Caesarea, and Alexandrian text-types include Mark 16:9-20?  Nowhere.  How is it that in a footnote Tabor mentions (via a quotation from Metzger’s Textual Commentary) two Georgian manuscripts from the 800s and 900s, but none of the patristic utilizations of Mark 16:9-20 from the 300s and 400s?  Is evidence from the Vulgate, from Codex Alexandrinus, from Codex Bezae, from Apostolic Constitutions (380), from Ambrose, from Augustine, and from Jerome suddenly so trivial as to be ignored?  No?  Then why – I ask the editors of BAR – was none of this mentioned in their article?     
            No matter what the answer is – whether such glaring omissions and evidence-molding were intentional or accidental – it seems obvious that BAR should be considered a dry well – or worse, a poisoned well – by readers thirsty for accurate descriptions of the external evidence pertinent to important text-critical questions about the text of the New Testament.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mark 16:9-20 and Early Patristic Evidence

            New Testament scholars continue to spread misinformation about Mark 16:9-20.  The latest perpetrator is Dr. Zachary Cole, a professor at Union Theological College.  Dr. Cole received his master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. is from the University of Edinburgh.  Nevertheless – or perhaps one should say “Consequently” – he has not been well-informed about the last 12 verses of Mark.  
            Today, instead of sifting through Dr. Cole’s essay The Ending of Mark’s Gospel in a systematic way to clarify all of its inaccuracies, I wish to address one particular point, as the means of introducing some important evidence:  Cole stated  the following:   

“Only two copies of Mark seem to suggest that 16:9-20 were not originally written by Mark himself, but these are both early and reliable witnesses. And we might say that the copies that do contain 16:9–20, while large in number, are really secondary in importance because they stand farther away from the event itself.  That is why I, along with most New Testament scholars, are convinced that Mark did not write verses 9-20.”

Codex Alexandrinus, fol. 18r.
It should be noted that some of the manuscripts that include Mark 16:9-20 do not stand very far away from Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in chronological terms:  Codex Alexandrinus has the passage; so does Codex Bezae (though partly damaged) and so does Codex Washingtoniensis.  But there is a larger problem:  Dr. Cole has unfortunately completely ignored the patristic evidence.  Although Codex Vaticanus, produced around 325, is the earliest known Greek manuscript of Mark 16, and Codex Sinaiticus is indeed the second-oldest, there is evidence from patristic writings that belongs in the equation, and this patristic evidence is older that these two fourth-century manuscripts.  Consider:

(1) Justin Martyr.  Here is an excerpt, slightly paraphrased, from chapter 45 of Justin’s work First Apology (composed c. 160 for the Roman Emperor Pius as a defense of Christianity, which was at the time considered an illegal religion by the Roman government):  
Hear the prophecy that was spoken by David that God the Father of all would bring Christ to heaven after He had raised Him from the dead, and would keep Him there until He has subdued His enemies the devils, and until the number of those who are foreknown by Him as good and virtuous is complete, on whose account He continues to delay the end of the world.  These are his words:
“The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool. The Lord shall send to You the rod of power out of Jerusalem; and You rule in the midst of Your enemies. With You is the government in the day of Your power, in the beautiful fellowship of Your saints.  From the womb of morning I have begotten You.”
Justin, in this part of his book, is interpreting Psalm 110 as a prophecy about Christ.  He continues:  Where he says, “He shall send to You the rod of power out of Jerusalem,” this is a prediction about the mighty word which His apostles, going forth from Jerusalem, preached everywhere.  And though death is decreed against those who teach or even confess the name of Christ, we everywhere both embrace and teach it.  And if you read these words in a hostile spirit, all you can do, as I said before, is kill us; which indeed does no harm to us, but to you and all who unjustly hate us and do not repent, brings eternal punishment by fire.”
Notice the thematic and verbal parallels with Mark 16:17-20.  First, five thematic parallels:
● Justin refers to the ascension of Christ (cf. Mark 16:19)
● Justin, via Psalm 110:1, refers to Christ being seated at the right hand of God (cf. Mark 16:19)
● Justin refers to victory over devils (cf. Mark 16:9 and 16:17)
● Justin refers to the name of Christ (cf. Mark 16:17)
● Justin refers to the inability of enemies of Christians to do them real harm (cf. Mark 16:18).
And a verbal parallel:  when Justin refers to “the mighty word which His apostles, going forth from Jerusalem, preached everywhere,” he uses the Greek phrase εξελθόντες πανταχου εκήρυξαν – “went forth everywhere preaching.”  The same words, transposed, occur in Mark 16:20:  εξελθόντες εκήρυξαν πανταχου – “went forth preaching everywhere.” 

            Chapter 45 of Justin’s First Apology is the most well-known and strongest example of Justin’s familiarity with Mark 16:9-20; it is not, however, the only example.  In chapter 50, following a quotation from Isaiah 53, Justin writes:  “After His crucifixion, even those who were acquainted with Him all denied and forsook Him.  But later, when He had risen from the dead, and was seen by them, and they were taught to understand the prophecies in which all of this was foretold as about to happen, and when they had seen Him depart into heaven, and had believed, and they received power from there, which was sent to them from Him, they went forth to the whole race of mankind, and taught these things, and became known as apostles.”
This summary of the activities of the apostles after the resurrection does not contain any precise and direct quotation of the Gospels; however, when Justin writes “And afterwards, when he had risen from the dead and appeared to them” – in Greek, ‛Υστερων δε, εκ νεκρων ανασταντος και οφθεντος αυτοις – this bear a close resemblance to the text of Mark 16:14 as preserved in Codex Alexandrinus:  ‛Υστερων δε ανακειμένοις αυτοις τοις ενδεκα εφανερώθη, και ωνείδισεν την απιστείαν αυτων και σκληροκαρδίαν ότι τοις θεασμένοις αυτον εγηγερμενον εκ νεκρων ουκ επίστευσαν.
Also, as Charles Taylor pointed out in 1893 in an article in the journal The Expositor, some of Justin’s verbiage in First Apology chapter 67, and in his Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 138, corresponds to the wording of Mark 16:9 in an interesting way: 
Mark 16:9:  αναστάς (raised) / πρώτη (first) / εφάνη (appeared)
First Apology chapter 67:  ανέστη / πρώτη / φανείς
Dialogue with Trypho chapter 138:  αναστάς / πρώτης / εφάνη
The significance of this correspondence increases when it is noticed that Matthew, Luke, and John tend to use other terms to describe Jesus’ appearance on the first day of the week. 

(2)  Tatian.  In the 170s, Tatian, a student of Justin, made a composition called the Diatessaron.  It consisted of the contents of the four Gospels rearranged as one continuous narrative, in more or less chronological order.  In later generations, Tatian was widely regarded as a heretic (although a case might be made that he was merely very ascetic), and his writings were either destroyed or allowed to rot away; as a result we do not have any copies of the Diatessaron in Greek or Syriac today, even though hundreds of copies once existed.  Two of the most important witnesses to the arrangement of the text in Tatian’s Diatessaron are the Gospels-text of Codex Fuldensis (an important Latin manuscript made in 546) and the Arabic Diatessaron (produced in 1043 by a copyist who stated in a note that he was translating from a manuscript of the Syriac text of the Diatessaron which had been made in 873).
            The Latin Gospels-text in Codex Fuldensis represents, in terms of its verbiage, the Vulgate.  Similarly, the Syriac Gospels-text in the Arabic Diatessaron has been conformed to the Peshitta.  (The reason for this, presumably, is that the scribes were suspicious of Tatian’s wording, but were willing to perpetuate his harmonization-work.)  For this reason, neither of these two sources, standing on its own, is a safe guide on which to base a reconstruction of the wording of the Diatessaron as made by Tatian.  When they stand in agreement, however, as flagship representatives of a geographically Western transmission-branch and of a geographically Eastern transmission-branch, their combined testimony strongly indicates the arrangement in which Tatian  blended together the text of the Gospels.        
            As I showed in 2012 in an article in the journal The Heroic Age (available to read online), the arrangement of the contents of Mark 16:9-20 in Codex Fuldensis and in the Arabic Diatessaron match up rather well.  For example: 
● Both use Mark 16:10 after Luke 24:9,
● Both use Mark 16:12 between Luke 24:11 and 24:13.
● Both use Mark 16:13b between Luke 24:13-35 and part of 24:36.
● Both use Mark 16:14 between Matthew 28:17 and 28:18.
● Both use Mark 16:15 between Matthew 28:18 and 28:19. 
● Both use “and sat down at the right hand of God” (from Mark 16:19) between Luke 24:51 and 24:52.

   There are some differences, too (see for details the article in The Heroic Age), but inasmuch as (a) Mark 16:9-20 was blended with the other Gospels in the transmission-branch that led to Codex Fuldensis, and (b) Mark 16:9-20 was blended with the other Gospels in essentially the same way in the transmission-branch that led to the Arabic Diatessaron, the conclusion that Mark 16:9-20 was in the source of both branches seems irresistible. 
In addition, Ephrem Syrus, who wrote a commentary on the Diatessaron in Syriac in the 360s, mentioned in the opening sentence of the eighth part of the commentary that Jesus told His disciples, “Go into all the world and baptize in the name of the Father, and Son, and Spirit.”  This is a combination of Mark 16:15a and Matthew 28:19.  (It should be understood that analyses of Ephrem’s testimony prior to 1957 were made without awareness of the contents of Chester Beatty Syriac Manuscript 709, a Syriac manuscript produced in about A. D. 500 which includes most of Ephrem’s commentary.) 

(3)  Irenaeus.  In the course of his writings, Irenaeus – a prolific and prominent bishop in the second century – mentions that as a youth growing up in Asia Minor, he had heard the voice of Polycarp, who had heard John.  As an adult, Irenaeus moved to the city of Lugdunum (Lyons), where he served as bishop.  He also visited Rome in 177. 
In Book Three of Against Heresies, chapter 10, (written around the year 180) Irenaeus says:  “Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says:  ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God.’”  This plainly shows that in the manuscripts of Mark that Irenaeus read, around 150 years before Codex Vaticanus was produced, Mark 16:9-20 was part of the text of the Gospel of Mark.

(4)  Epistula Apostolorum.  This second-century composition by an unknown author is little-known now, and was completely unknown before its discovery in 1895.  Epistula Apostolorum does not explicitly quote from Mark 16:9-20, but its parallels with Mark 16:9-20 indicate that the author used part of Mark 16:9-20 as the basis for his plotline (as Robert Stein has granted):
            ● In Epistula Apostolorum, the apostles are depicted rejecting a woman’s claim that she had seen the risen Jesus, something that occurs in the Gospels only in Mark 16:10-11.       
            ● In Epistula Apostolorum, Jesus is pictured saying to the apostles, “Go ye and preach to the twelve tribes, and preach also to the heathen, and to all the land of Israel from the east to the west and from the south unto the north, and many shall believe on <me> the Son of God.”  “Go ye and preach” is reminiscent of Mark 16:15.  
● In Epistula Apostolorum, chapter 1, Jesus is depicted appearing to the women at the tomb “as they mourned and wept,” which is quite similar to the description of those to whom the women reported the good news in Mark 16:10, “as they mourned and wept.”  
● In Epistula Apostolorum, Jesus rebukes the disciples by saying, “You are yet slow of heart,” which resembles the rebuke of their hard-heartedness described in Mark 16:14.   
● In Epistula Apostolorum, Jesus says to the disciples, “Whoever shall hear you and believe on Me shall receive from you the light of the seal through Me, and baptism through Me,” and, “They shall receive the baptism of life and the remission of their sins at My hand through you,” which conveys the sentiment of Mark 16:16, mentioning belief and baptism together.
While these are small points, their cumulative impact confirms that the author of Epistula Apostolorum recollected the contents of Mark 16:9-20. 

(5)  Hierocles.  Hierocles was a pagan writer (and a prominent office-holder in the Roman government in Bithynia) who wrote a short work called Truth-loving Words (or, Words for the Truth-lover) around the year 305, in which he recycled some material that had been composed by his teacher, Porphyry, in a longer composition around the year 270.  Later, c. 405, a writer named Macarius Magnes (that is, Macarius from the city of Magnesia) wrote Apocriticus, a response to Hierocles’ book, unaware that Hierocles was the author.  Macarius Magnes quoted one of the jibes made in the book:    
“Consider in detail that other passage, where he [Jesus] says, ‘Such signs shall follow those who believe: they shall lay hands upon sick folk, and they shall recover, and if they drink any deadly drug, it shall by no means hurt them.’  So it would be proper for those selected for the priesthood, and particularly those who lay claim to the bishop’s or president’s office, to make use of this form of test.  The deadly drug should be set before them in order that the man who received no harm from the drinking of it might be given preference over the rest.  And if they are not bold enough to accept this sort of test, they ought to confess that they do not believe in the things Jesus said.”
This is the same kind of challenge that some Muslim propagandists make in our own times, inviting Christians to drink poison as a demonstration that they believe the Bible, ignoring the prohibition against putting God to the test.  (Macarius Magnes, rather than argue that the passage is not genuine, first pointed out that accepting such a challenge would not really prove anything, inasmuch as unbelievers as well as believers sometimes may recover from poisoning, and then argued that the passage should be understood as an analogy – the poison being representative of the deadly effects of sin, which are remedied by the administration of baptism upon a believer, so that the person’s rebellious nature dies, but the person himself is unharmed.)
Although Hierocles’ quotation is inexact, it shows that his manuscripts of the Gospels, extant in 305, contained Mark 16:18 – unless this part of Hierocles’ work is just an extract from the work of Porphyry, in which case the quotation echoes manuscripts from the 270s or earlier. 

(6)  Aphrahat the Persian Sage.  This Syriac writer, before the end of the year 336, used Mark 16:16-18 in the 17th paragraph of his composition Demonstration One:  Of Faith:  
“When our Lord gave the sacrament of baptism to His apostles, He said to them, “Whosoever believes and is baptized shall live, and whoever does not believe shall be condemned.”  At the end of the same paragraph, Aphrahat (also known as Aphraates) writes: “He also said thus:  ‘This shall be the sign for those who believe:  they shall speak with new tongues, and shall cast out demons, and they shall place their hands on the sick, and they shall be made whole.”  

My e-book on Mark 16:9-20.
In the interest of brevity I shall not go into detail about the evidence from Tertullian, Hippolytus, De Rebaptismate, Vincentius of Thibaris, Acts of Pilate, and other sources; the data can be found in Authentic:  The Case for Mark 16:9-20.  The testimony of Justin, Tatian, Epistula Apostolum, Irenaeus, Hierocles, and Aphraates (representing different locales) is sufficient to demonstrate that Mark 16:9-20 was widely used as Scripture in the early church. 
Now then:  Aphrahat was a contemporary of the copyists who made Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.  The other six patristic witnesses pre-date Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and in the case of Justin, Tatian, Epistula Apostolorum, and Irenaeus, the contest is not close; their testimony is over a century earlier.  Inasmuch as Dr. Cole says that manuscripts such as Alexandrinus, Bezae, Codex W, and hundreds of medieval manuscripts of Mark “are really secondary in importance because they stand farther away from the event itself,” what happens when that line of reasoning is applied to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus when they are compared to the testimony of Justin, Tatian, Epistula Apostolorum, and Irenaeus?  Logic would seem to compel the conclusion that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are roughly equal in weight with the combined testimony of Hierocles and Aphrahat, and really secondary in importance when compared to Justin, Tatian, Epistula Apostolorum, and Irenaeus. 

Let’s revisit the last two sentences in that quotation from Dr. Cole:

Cole:  “We might say that the copies that do contain 16:9–20, while large in number, are really secondary in importance because they stand farther away from the event itself.  That is why I, along with most New Testament scholars, are convinced that Mark did not write verses 9-20.”

            He is referring to the greater age of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus compared to the manuscripts that include the passage.  But Hierocles and Aphrahat are just as close to the event itself as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.  (A little closer, actually.)  Will Dr. Cole admit therefore that Hierocles and Aphrahat are just as close to the event as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus?  Will he concede now that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are really secondary in importance, when compared to Justin, Tatian, Epistula Apostolorum, and Irenaeus, because those two manuscripts stand farther away from the event itself?  Your move, professor. 
            There are other problematic claims in Dr. Cole’s recent essay but I will stop here for now – almost.  Just two more things.  First, it should never be overlooked (although practically all commentators do, and certainly all Bible footnote-writers do) that while Vaticanus and Sinaiticus attest to the non-inclusion of Mark 16:9-20, they both have unusual features that reveal their copyists’ awareness of the absent verses.  I have explained this in two previous posts:  Codex Vaticanus and the Ending of Mark and Codex Sinaiticus and the Ending of Mark.
            Second, Dr. Cole describes Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are “our earliest and best copies of Mark’s Gospel” but this must be qualified and clarified.  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are indeed our earliest manuscripts, but it is obvious that Irenaeus and other early patristic writers possessed earlier manuscripts which included Mark 16:9-20.  Their manuscripts were not kept in Egypt, (where the climate was more favorable to papyrus-preservation), but that is not a valid reason to ignore them as Dr. Cole has done (for in his essay he completely avoided the patristic evidence). 
            As for Vaticanus and Sinaiticus being the “best copies”:  suppose someone said, “My two ships are the best of all ships,” but you noticed that although their hulls were far above average quality at many points, each had two gaping holes in the stern.  Would you still call those the best ships?  Arguing for a reading because it is found in “the most reliable manuscripts” or “the best manuscripts” is like arguing that the New England Patriots must have won a specific football game because the New England Patriots win more football games than other teams.             

[Readers are invited to explore the links for additional resources.]

Monday, September 17, 2018

GA 1333 and the Story of the Adulteress

            It is difficult to exaggerate the extent of misinformation that is circulating in various commentaries regarding the pericope adulterae, or story about the adulteress (found in John 7:53-8:11 in most English Bibles, and in most Greek manuscripts).  Lately, one new bit of misinformation has been added to the pile:  the claim that in the medieval minuscule manuscript 1333, the passage about the adulteress is added to the end of the Gospel of Luke.  Dallas Theological Seminary professor Dr. Daniel Wallace, in a session on New Testament Textual Criticism in the Credo Course curriculum, was referring to minuscule 1333 when he said, as part of a lecture on the story of the adulteress, “In some manuscripts, it stands as an independent pericope between Luke and John.”
            To get some idea of how misleading such a description is, one must first be familiar with the evidence - which consists in this case of just one manuscript, not “some manuscripts.”  So let’s get a good look at the minuscule 1333, a manuscript which currently resides in Jerusalem, where it is cataloged as Hagios Sabas 243.  Black and white page-views of the manuscript are available at the website of the Library of Congress.  
            Minuscule 1333, assigned to the 1000s, is a Gospels-manuscript.  Most of the text is written in two columns per page, with 26 lines per column.  The main text is supplemented by Eusebian canon-numbers and section-numbers in the side-margins, although the Canon-tables themselves do not appear.  Chapter-numbers are also present in the side-margins, and chapter-titles appear in the upper margins.   There are a lot of short Arabic notes in the margin scattered throughout the manuscript.  (Perhaps it would be a worthwhile project for some Arabic-reader to study these notes.) 
            The manuscript has been prepared for liturgical use:  αρχη and τελος symbols appear frequently, and incipit-phrases are often supplied in the margins.  The Heothina-readings are marked.  Symbols (such as  and  and ) of the sort which one might initially assume would link the text to marginal corrections lead instead to liturgical notes (most of which assign readings to specific days). 
            Here is a basic index; the links lead to page-views at the website of the Library of Congress:
Damaged lectionary-tables appear before the kephalaia-list for Matthew.   
Matthew begins below a headpiece similar to the kind often found at the beginning of lectionaries.
After the last page of Matthew, on which three lines (from Mt. 28:20) are written across the page, the chapter-list for Mark follows on the next page.  There is no subscription.
Mark begins without a headpiece.   
Mark 16:9-20 is included in the text and is identified in the margin as the third Heothinon-lection.
After Mark 16:20, a table of lections for Saturday and Sunday appears in the next two columns, beginning with a headpiece.
Before the chapter-titles for Luke, there is a filler-page.
Luke begins beneath a headpiece.
Luke 22:43-44 is included in the text.
The last six lines of Luke are written in a vortex format, that is, the lines are centered and become shorter as the end approaches.  There is no subscription.
John 8:3-11 is written on the page between the last page of Luke and the page which contains the chapter-titles of John.  The writing begins with a title that covers both columns:  The reading for the 8th of October, for Pelagia.  Then the first column begins with the words, εκ του κατα Ιω, that is, “From the [Gospel] according to John,” the usual sub-title used in lectionaries to introduce a lection from the Gospel of John.  This is followed by Τω καιρω εκεινω, that is, “At that time,” a routine incipit-phrase used to begin readings.  The rest of the text on the page consists of John 8:3-11.  
John 7:52 is followed by John 8:12 in the text.  A symbol resembling a patriarchal (two-barred) cross appears between the two verses.  Earlier in the text (on the facing page) the beginning of the lection for Pentecost is indicated in the text, and the lection is named in the upper margin. 
The closing lines of John 21 are formatted in a cruciform shape.  Arabic notes then appear.
A few Arabic notes and a brief Greek prayer appear near the end of the manuscript on leftover pages.

What should be deduced from this?  A few things:

● When 1333 was produced, it was copied from an exemplar that did not contain John 7:53-8:11.
● John 8:3-11 was added between the end of Luke and the chapter-list for John in order to provide the otherwise absent lection for Saint Pelagia’s feast-day (October 8).
● The titles that precede John 8:3-11 in 1333 show that this passage was not floating or fluttering around as an independent tradition; the passage is clearly identified as a lection from John.  It is misleading to describe it as an “independent pericope,” inasmuch as the person who wrote it had to have depended on a source in which it was identified as a part of the Gospel of John.  John 8:3-11 in 133 is not formatted in a way that can be reasonably construed as if it were seen as part of the text of Luke, nor is it formatted in a way that can be reasonably construed as if the scribe obtained his text of the passage from some independent non-Biblical source. 
● When and where John 8:3-11 was added to 1333, John 8:3-11 was part of the annual cycle of readings in the Menologion.    
● 1333 was initially formatted to include filler-pages; the presence of John 8:3-11 before the chapter-list of John and the presence of a lection-list before the chapter-list of Luke are probably both the work of a later scribe who used the filler-pages as a convenient place to add materials that would render the manuscript more useful for liturgical reading.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Matthew 14:24 - In the Middle of the Sea

Matthew 14:24 in Codex L.
In Matthew 14:24, as Matthew sets the stage for Jesus’ miraculous walk upon the Sea of Galilee, there is a clear difference between the Byzantine Text and the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilation.  NA27 (followed by the CSB, ESV, NET, NIV, and NASB) reads σταδίους πολλοὺς ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἀπεῖχεν, that is, the ship already “was many stadia from the land.”    
            The Byzantine reading is μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης ἦν, that is, the ship already “was in middle of the sea.”  This reading is supported not only by the vast majority of Greek manuscripts but also by Codex Sinaiticus and a strong array of uncials including Codices C, E, F, G, L, W, Δ, K, M, Π, P, Σ, Φ, S, U, V, X, 073, and 0106.  A singular reading in Codex D – ἦν εἰς μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης – agrees far more closely with the Byzantine reading than with NA27’s reading; the text of D simply transposes the word ἦν and adds εἰς.  A similar reading in the important minuscule 1424 has the same reading as D except without the word εἰς.  
             Strong Old Latin support favors “was in middle of the sea.” The Latin witnesses for this reading include not only the Vulgate text but also Codex Vercellensis – VL 3, which is thought to have been produced in the 370s by, or under the supervision of, Saint Eusebius of Vercelli – and Codex Aureus – VL 15, from the 600s – and Codex Veronensis – VL 4, from the 400s – and Codex Brixianus – VL 10, from the 500s – and Codex Corbiensis – VL 8, from the 400s – and Codex Sangermanensis – VL 7, from the 700s or 800s – and Codex Claromontanus – VL 12, from the 400s (not to be confused with the identically named Greek codex of the epistles of Paul) – and Codex Rehdigeranus – VL 11, from the 700s – and Codex Monacensis – VL 13, from the 500s or 600s. 
The Peshitta, on the other hand, agrees with Codex Vaticanus, the only uncial that reads in Matthew 14:24 exactly like the text in NA27.  So does the Curetonian Syriac manuscript and the main members of the small cluster of Greek manuscripts known as f13.   The Middle Egyptian evidence is interestingly divided:  mae2 (Schøyen MS 2650 – one of the few versional MSS that supports À and B in Mt. 27:49, where they both have a substantial interpolation based on John 19:34), which is assigned to the 300s, agrees in Matthew 14:24 with the reading in B.  Mae1 (the Scheide Codex, assigned to the late 300s or early 400s), meanwhile, has a reading which says that the ship was about 25 stadia from the land, which is clearly a harmonization to John 6:19.
The Diatessaron (a popular composition made by Tatian around 172, combining the contents of all four Gospels into one continuous report) blended details from Matthew, Mark, and John at the end of Section 18 and the beginning of Section 19; the Arabic Diatessaron runs as follows:  “And when the nightfall was near, His disciples went down unto the sea, and sat in a boat, and came to the side of Capernaum.  And the darkness came on, and Jesus had not come to them.  And the sea was stirred up against them by reason of a violent wind that blew.  And the boat was distant from the land many furlongs, and they were much damaged by the waves, and the wind was against them.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus came unto them, walking upon the water, after they had rowed with difficulty about 25 or 30 furlongs.”  The segment, “the boat was distant from the land many furlongs” clearly supports the reading of B, but it is an open question as to whether this echoes the work of Tatian in the second century, or the Peshitta, to which the Syriac ancestor of the Arabic Diatessaron was conformed.
            An anomaly seems to exist in the reporting of the Palestinian Aramaic (formerly called Palestinian Syriac or Jerusalem Syriac) version; the UBS apparatus lists the Palestinian Syriac text as support for the reading of B; however, a consultation of the List of Variants portion of Agnes Smith Lewis’ and Margaret Dunlop Gibson’s The Palestinian Syriac Lectionary of the Gospels (1899) reveals this comment about the three manuscripts used for their compilation:  “All add μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης before βασανιζόμενον.”
Matthew 14:24 in Codex X.
Turning to patristic testimony, we find that Origen, in his Commentary on Matthew, Book XI, chapter 6, refers to this occasion “when they had got as far as the middle of the sea, and the boat was distressed because the wind was contrary to them,” and a little later he mentions that “they were not able to advance farther than the middle of the sea.”  Consulting Erich Klostermann’s edition of the Greek text of Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, one may extract from page 43, line 10, Origen’s description of the disciples:  ἰσχυροτέρους καὶ δυναμένους ἐπὶ τὸ μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης φθάσαι (they were “stronger and capable of reaching the middle of the sea”), and from page 44, lines 1-2, as Origen draws a spiritual application, he states:  λογιζώμεθα ὅτι πλοῖον ἡμῶν μέσον ἐστὶ τῆς θαλάσσης τότε, βασανιζόμενον ὑπὸ τῶν κυμάτων, that is, “Let us consider that our boat is in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves.”   This does not leave room for a reasonable doubt about the text of Matthew 14:24 that Origen read in the 200s; his copies clearly agreed with the Byzantine text at this point.
            Other patristic evidence comes from John Chrysostom (in Homily 50 on Matthew); not only does the cited text agree with the Byzantine text, but in the course of the homily on this passage Chrysostom mentions that the disciples were “mid-sea.”  And Chrysostom’s Greek copies in Antioch and Constantinople are allied with Augustine’s Latin copies in North Africa; Augustine’s Sermon 25 has this reading in its sub-title.  Notably Augustine began this sermon by referring to “The lesson of the Gospel which we have just heard,” the “lesson” being the lection for that day.  The UBS apparatus includes Chromatius and Jerome as support for ἦν εἰς μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης, too – but not a single patristic writer, it seems, can be found anywhere who used the reading in the Nestle-Aland compilation.
Matthew 14:24 in GA 2373.
All things considered, then, the external evidence shows that μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης ἦν, and not the reading of Vaticanus, is the reading with the oldest, the most abundant, and the most diverse support.  Now let’s consider internal evidence:
● First, it should be noted that the term σταδίους does not appear anywhere (else) in the Gospel of Matthew. 
● Second, against Metzger’s theory that the text of Matthew 14:24 has been harmonized to Mark 6:47, it should be observed that scribal tendencies were strongly in the opposite direction, that is, Matthew’s Gospel tended to be the one that influenced the others, rather than the other way around.  Also, a direct comparison of the two passages shows that such an alteration would be a harmonization that does not harmonize; Matthew’s wording is μέσον; Mark’s is ἐν μέσῳ.  Also, a harmonizer who attempted to bring the text of Matthew into closer agreement with the text of Mark would be likely to have also tweaked Matthew’s text to say, like Mark, that the disciples were distressed, rather than that the ship was distressed.    
● Thirdly, we see in some Egyptian versional evidence (Mae1 and the Bohairic version (see Horner’s 1898 edition of the Bohairic version, Vol. 1, p. 123; Horner mentions that Bohairic MS E1 features an Arabic note which states that the Greek text says, “And the boat was in the middle of the sea”)) a reading in Matthew 14:24 that harmonizes Matthew 14:24 to John 6:19, mentioning that the boat was specifically 25 stadia from land.  This indicates shows that in Egypt, the text of Matthew 14:24 was affected by the text in John, rather than by the text in Mark.
            ● Fourthly, while there is nothing about the reading σταδίους πολλοὺς ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἀπεῖχεν that seems capable of being misunderstood, a scribe may have been concerned that readers might momentarily misconstrue the phrase μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης as if it meant that the ship was already submerged under the water.  An easy way to reduce such a perceived risk would be to describe the distance in a different way.  (In a manuscript mentioned, but not identified, by Adam Clarke, the text reads βαπτιζόμενον rather than βασανιζόμενον, which would suggest just this understanding.  [Update:  this manuscript is the late minuscule 70.  Thanks, Daniel Gan, for tracking down this detail.])  This factor shows that between “in the middle of the sea,” and “many stadia from the land,” the first reading is more difficult inasmuch as it has (or was thought to have) a higher risk of being misconstrued.  As the more difficult reading, it explains the rise of its rival. 
                The internal evidence thus points in the same direction as the external evidence, and leads to the conclusion that the reading in Codex B did not originate with Matthew, but with an early copyist who prioritized the meaning of the text over a strict perpetuation of its exact form. 

As an addendum it may be noted that if the Byzantine Text were used as the standard of comparison, the texts of B and À would have to be classified as inaccurate and heavily edited forms of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ walk on the Sea of Galilee – but even using NA27’s text as the standard of comparison, the following deviations do not inspire confidence in the reliability of Alexandrian scribes:
14:22:  À initially omitted εὐθέως and B added αὐτοῦ and B omitted τὸ.
14:23:  À initially omitted ἀπολύσας τοὺς ὄχλους.
14:26:  À initially transposed the opening phrase and did not include οἱ or μαθηταὶ.
14:27:  À initially omitted ὀ Ἰησοῦς.
14:28:  B transposed to ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ, and À transposed to εἰ σὺ εἶ, Κε.
14:29:  À initially read ελθιν ηλθεν ουν after υδατα.
14:30:  B and À both omitted ἰσχυρὸν.