Monday, December 31, 2018

The Evangelical Heritage Version New Testament - A Review

            In 2017, the Evangelical Heritage Translation of the New Testament and Psalms was published.  Let’s take a look at this new translation (focusing on the New Testament portion)!   
            The EHV is mercifully free of arbitrary paraphrase.  An Introduction explains that the EHV is intended to be “an all-purpose Bible for the church,” and this has elicited a balanced approach.  Terms such as “justify,” “flesh,” “mammon,” and “saints” have not been shunned.  Conveyance of the meaning of the original text was, according to the EHV’s Introduction, a higher priority than elegant English style.  The issue of gender-inclusivity was specifically addressed:  “In the use of so-called “gender-accurate language,” the translator will strive to be inclusive where the original is inclusive and exclusive where the original is exclusive.”  Other principles of translation that were engaged in the production of the EHV can be found at the Wartburg Project website.
            The New Testament base-text of the EHV is somewhat unique; the editors attempted to avoid a bias toward any single textual tradition, whether Alexandrian or Byzantine.  Their approach is described at the website:
            “In general, as we examine significant variants, the reading in a set of variants that has the earliest and widest support in the witnesses is the one included in the text. The other readings in a set of variants are dealt with in one of three ways:
            ● A reading that has very little early or widespread support in the witnesses is not footnoted in order to avoid an overabundance of textual notes.
            ● A reading with significant early and/or widespread support but not as much early or widespread evidence as the other reading is reflected in a footnote that says, “Some witnesses to the text read/add/omit: . . . .”
            ● A familiar or notable reading from the King James tradition (e.g. the addition or omission of a whole verse) whose support is not nearly as early or widespread as the other reading can be reflected in a footnote that says, “A few witnesses to the text read/add/omit: . . . .”

            In short, readings and verses that are omitted from UBS/Nestle-based versions of the New Testament, which have textual support that is ancient and widespread are included in our translation.”
            That is a generalization, and readers of the EHV should not expect to see it applied evenly.  For instance, in Acts 9:5, the KJV’s phrase, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” for which the manuscript-support is lightweight, is neither in the EHV’s text nor in a footnote.  Similarly, there is (thankfully) no footnote drawing Matthew 12:47 into question, although the ESV omitted it from the text on the basis of relatively few manuscripts. 
            A few sample-readings from each Gospel may give readers a sense of the EHV’s eclectic nature:

Matthew 1:25 – “until she gave birth to her firstborn son” (A footnotes states, “Some witnesses to the text omit firstborn and simply read she gave birth to a son.”)
Matthew 6:13 – “but deliver us from evil.”  (“For yours is the kingdom,” etc. is in a footnote, not in the text, attributed to “Some witnesses.”)
Matthew 17:21 – included in the text.  A footnote says that “A few witnesses” omit the verse.
Mark 1:2 – “This is how it is written in the prophet Isaiah” (The reading “in the prophets” is attributed to “Some witnesses” in a footnote.)
►  Mark 1:14 – “the gospel of the kingdom of God” (A footnote attributes the non-inclusion of “of the kingdom” to “A few witnesses.”)
Mark 1:41 – “Moved with compassion” is in the text; there is no footnote.
Mark 3:5 – “as whole as the other” is not in the text; there is no footnote.
Mark 6:22 – “When the daughter of Herodias came in” is in the text; there is no footnote.
Mark 9:29 – “except by prayer and fasting” is in the text; a footnote states that a few witnesses omit “and fasting.”
Mark 10:24 – “for those who trust in their riches” is in the text; there is no footnote.
Mark 11:26 is in the text; a footnote states that a few witnesses do not include the verse.
Mark 15:28 is not in the text; it is in a footnote, attributed to “Some witnesses.”
Luke 2:14 – “and on earth peace, good will toward mankind” is in the text; a footnote states that a few witnesses read “among people of his good will.”
Luke 9:55-56 include the portion that is not included in the ESV’s text; a footnote states that some witnesses omit this quotation.
► Luke 22:43-44 is included in the text; a footnote states that a few witnesses omit these verses.
Luke 23:34 is all in the text; there is no footnote.
Luke 24:12 is in the text; there is no footnote.
Luke 24:51 is all in the text; there is no footnote.  (Yet there is a footnote for the phrase about the honeycomb in 24:42.)
John 1:18 – “The only-begotten Son” is in the text; a footnote states that some witnesses read The only-begotten God.
John 3:13 – “who is in heaven” is in the text; a footnotes states that a few witnesses omit these words.
John 5:3-4 is all in the text; a footnote states that some witnesses omit the passage.
John 7:8 – “I am not going up to this festival yet” is in the text; a footnote states that some witnesses omit “yet.”  (This ought to be changed, inasmuch as the support for “yet” is both more ancient and more widespread than the evidence for the alternative reading.)
John 9:35 – “Son of God” is in the text; a footnote states that some witnesses read “Son of Man.”

            In the epistles, quite a few readings found in the majority of manuscripts go unmentioned:  “of Christ” does not appear in Romans 1:16 (no footnote); “adultery” does not appear in Galatians 5:19 (no footnote); Galatians 5:24 reads “to Christ Jesus” (no footnote); “through Jesus Christ” does not appear in Ephesians 3:9 (no footnote); Ephesians 5:9 reads “of the light” (no footnote), James 4:12 includes “and judge” (no footnote); First Peter 1:23 does not have “forever” (no footnote), etc.  Yet there are also plenty of Alexandrian readings which have been quietly rejected; Matthew 16:2-3, for example, is all included in the text with no footnote, and Philippians 4:13 says, “through Christ, who strengthens me” with no footnote. 
            Occasionally a reading that is found in the majority of manuscripts is described in a footnote as if it supported by “A few manuscripts.” Hopefully this will be corrected in the future, so as to differentiate between minority readings found in the Textus Receptus and the readings of the Byzantine Text.  (Perhaps the footnotes could be improved by simply referring to the Byzantine Text and Alexandrian Text, so as to avoid describing two different groups of manuscripts in the same terms.)
            No doubt readers want to know how the EHV treats Mark 16:9-20.  I am pleased to report that the EHV fully includes these 12 verses in the text with no brackets.  The EHV’s footnote should be read with attention:  “This translation includes verses 9-20 because they are included in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts that have been handed down to us.  Evidence for the existence of this long ending extends back to the 2nd century.  In the early centuries of the church, these verses were read in worship services on Easter and Ascension Day.   However, a few early manuscripts and early translations omit verses 9-20, and a few manuscripts have a different ending.”  One might wish that this note were improved (we have only two early Greek manuscripts that stop Mark’s text at 16:8, for one thing) but it is far better than the misleading treatment found in some other versions. 
            John7:53-8:11 is also fully included in the text.  A note for John 7:53 states, “Some witnesses to the text omit 7:53-8:11 or include these verses in other places within John’s Gospel, The witnesses that include these verses are early and widespread throughout most of the early church.”  This is a welcome clarification – one might even say correction – of the unhelpful vagueness that characterizes the treatment of this passage in some other versions.  (Instead of “in other places” the note could say “before or after the Pentecost-lection, or at the end of the book with a note stating that it was previously found after 7:52,” but this might be too much to hope for.)

            In First John 5:7, the EHV does not have the Comma Johanneum in the text.  A footnote states, “Only a very few late witnesses to the text read testify in heaven:  the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8And there are three that testify on earth”.”  This could be improved by referring to “Very few late Greek manuscripts,” inasmuch the Latin evidence for this interpolation is plentiful.
            Now about the formatting of the EHV’s text:  it is arranged in paragraph-form, and simple headings, set off from the main text via the use of a different font, regularly separate blocks of text, filling the same role as the ancient kephalaia (chapter-titles) fill in our Greek manuscripts.  In the Gospels, the headings are supplemented in smaller print by mention of parallel-passages.  Extensive poetic passages and extensive quotations are indented.  Luke 1:46-55 (the Magnificat) is all indented; Luke 1:68-79 (Zechariah’s Song) is all indented; Luke 2:29-32 (the Nunc Dimittis) is all indented.  Likewise First Corinthians 3b-5 and the last six lines of First Timothy 3:16 (beginning with “He was revealed in the flesh”) are indented.  Philippians 2:5ff., however, has no special indentation.
            Old Testament quotations, whether extensive or not, are identified in footnotes.  Footnotes also serve to occasionally supply or define terms for which there is no exact modern equivalent, such as monetary units and measurements of weight and volume. 
            The formatting is, in a word, excellent.  Some sections are much longer than others, but this is perhaps an unavoidable effect of following the natural structure of the text. 

            As a translation – setting aside questions about the base-text – the EHV New Testament is a model of skillful, accurate work.  The translators have generally taken a conservative approach, avoiding needless imprecision while recognizing the need to treat idioms with reasonable freedom.  Its treatment of passages which, in some recent translations, have been adulterated in the service of egalitarian theology or feminism, is above reproach.  The EHV is remarkably clear and candid in First Corinthians 14:34-35, First Timothy 2:12, First Timothy 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9.  Likewise the EHV’s renderings of passages about homosexual acts are unlikely to be welcomed by those who want to advance an ungodly agenda. 
            Only occasionally does the EHV resort to unconventional renderings:  “Gentlemen,” for instance, appears repeatedly at the beginnings of speeches in the book of Acts; yet this is not necessarily a bad thing; this modern English term is, I think, a perfect proxy for the Greek word which several modern translations fail to translate altogether.  Another fresh and admirable rendering is found in the EHV in Christ’s words in John 21:5 – “Boys, don’t you have any fish?”.  More debatable:  the decision to present what are, in other versions, some references to the Spirit, as references to the spirit (meaning, according to a footnote attached to Galatians 5:16, “the new nature in contrast with the sinful flesh”), and the decision to translate what has traditionally been rendered as “born again” as, instead, “born from above.”
            Much more information about the Evangelical Heritage Version can be found at the Wartburg Project website, which features, among other things, an expanded Introduction, 49 Frequently Asked Questions and their answers, and a comparison of the Christmas story in the EHV and some other translations.  It should not be overlooked that while the EHV is not the official version of any denomination, it is, by design, a translation made by individuals professing to be spiritually invested in the church.  Members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod have overseen its production.  Brian R. Keller served as the New Testament Editor.   
            While I would prefer a version based on a Greek text with more Byzantine readings, the EHV New Testament’s base-text avoids the extreme dependence upon poorly attested Alexandrian readings which characterizes the base-text of the ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.; as I have stated in the past, given the choice, I would rather sail in a ship with harmless barnacles on its hull than in a ship with holes in its hull.  All in all, the EHV New Testament is a superb translation which deserves to be warmly welcomed by evangelical Christians.  It merits the consideration, especially, of ministers and congregations who favored the (discontinued) New International Version of 1984, but who recognize that the 2011 edition of the New International Version, post-TNIV, is significantly flawed.  It is available to purchase online at the Wartburg Project, at Amazon (where the entire Gospel of Matthew can be previewed), and (with bulk discounts) at the website of its publisher, Northwestern Publishing House.
            The EHV Bible is scheduled to be available in summer of 2019.    

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Do Byzantine MSS Have Less Disagreements? (Part 3)

            In part 1 and 2 of this investigation, we compared the differences between Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in Luke 19 to the differences between Codex Alexandrinus and minuscule 2474 in the same passage, and found that although B and À disagree 35 times, and these 35 disagreements involve 115 letters’ worth of difference, there are 28 disagreements between A and 2474, involving 127 letters’ worth of disagreement, indicating that the amount of disagreement between À and B is not remarkably higher than the amount of disagreement between A and 2474 (both considered Byzantine manuscripts).
            Now, in Part 3, I wish to look at the text of Luke 19 in two members of a particular Byzantine sub-group:  family 35, which the famous compiler Hermann von Soden named the “Kr” text.  The “K” in this appellation stands for “Koine,” that is, the common text, essentially synonymous with the Byzantine Text, and the “r” stands for “revision,” because von Soden thought that this form of the text was a standardization made in the 1100s. 
            Researcher Wilbur Pickering has argued that the term “Kr” is somewhat loaded, like Hort’s term “Neutral text,” and he believes that this text goes back to the 200s at least, and constitutes the best available representative of the original text.  Pickering has argued that because representative manuscripts of family 35 are found in diverse monasteries at Mount Athos, this implies that their ancestor-manuscripts were taken to Mount Athos before the Islamic conquest, ant thus family 35’s form of text cannot be the result of a medieval revision.  Without addressing Pickering’s claims, I will use the title “family 35” as an alternative to “Kr.”

           Family 35 could be described as a manuscript-cluster, having essentially the Byzantine Text but with enough shared readings to set its members apart from other Byzantine manuscript-groups.  (For a brief description of Byzantine sub-groups see Robert Waltz’s description of the Claremont Profile Method.)   Do its members agree with each other more closely than B and À?  More closely that A and 2474?
            To find out, I compared the text of Luke 19:1-27 in GA 155 and GA 691 (two members of family 35 – GA 155 is at the Vatican Library, catalogued as Reg. Gr. 79, and GA 691 is at the British Library, catalogued as Additional MS 22739).  I compared their online page-views to the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, using the same ground-rules I used form À, B, A, and 2474 (that is, setting aside trivial orthographic variations, not counting contractions as errors, and ignoring most itacisms).   
            Due to the remarkable uniformity of the text in these two manuscripts, instead of providing a verse-by-verse list of their disagreements with each other, it seems better to just state the differences:
Differences between GA 155 and 691 in Luke 19:1-27:

1-15 – no differences
16 – 691 reads επραγματεύσατο instead of διεπραγματεύσατο (-2)
17 – no differences
18 – 692 reads μνας instead of μνα before σου (+1)
19-22 – no differences
23 – 691 reads την before τράπεζαν (+3)
Verses 24-27 – no differences

            (Both 155 and 691 disagree with RP2005 in verse 15 by not including και, and both MSS read συκομοραίαν instead of RP2005’s συκομωραίαν in verse 4.)
            The total amount of disagreement between 155 and 691 in Luke 19:1-27 thus consists of three disagreements, involving six letters.
            I am confident that 155 and 691 display a similarly remarkable level of agreement in Luke 19:28-48.
            In Luke 19:1-27, there is obviously a stark difference between the degree of disagreement between two representatives of the Alexandrian Text (20 differences, involving 49 letters), and two relatively early members of the Byzantine Text (14 differences, involving 69 letters), and two members of family 35 (three disagreements, involving six letters).   
            Unless 155 and 691 are somehow exceptional, it appears that the copyists of the manuscripts in family 35 transcribed with a level of precision and uniformity which was on a whole other level compared to the scribes in the other manuscript-groups.  It may be the case that “No two manuscripts agree exactly,” due to trivial differences, but the agreement-rate for members of family 35 appears to be phenomenally higher than the agreement-rate among members of any other major manuscript-group.  Whether the copyists of the over 220 manuscripts that represent were physically isolated from exemplars representing other forms of the text, or were intentionally selective about which exemplars to use, they perpetuated the text with remarkably uniformity.  So we can say, when asking if Byzantine manuscripts have less disagreements that other forms of the text:  not necessarily in early settings where the use of diverse exemplars elicited mixture, but in the Byzantine sub-group known as family 35, yes; those Byzantine MSS have far fewer disagreements.  

Friday, December 28, 2018

Do Byzantine MSS Have Less Disagreements? (Part 2)

            Today we continue to look into a question about the rates of disagreements in the two main Alexandrian manuscripts (Vaticanus and Sinaiticus), asking if their rate or disagreement is uniquely high compared to other pairs of manuscripts, particularly manuscripts which attest to the Byzantine Text.  Our sample manuscript-pair to contrast with B and À are Codex Alexandrinus (A) and minuscule 2474 (the Elfleda Bond Goodspeed Gospels). 
            In Part 1, we saw that in Luke 19:1-27, while B and À disagree 20 times (including three transpositions), A and 2474 disagree 14 times.  We also saw that the disagreements in B and À in those verses involve 49 letters’ worth of disagreement – but in A and 2474, the disagreements involve 69 letters’ worth of disagreement. 
            Now let’s see how each pair of manuscripts disagrees in Luke 19:28-48, using the same ground-rules as before.

Luke 19:28-48:  Comparison of Codex A and 2474

28 – no differences
29 – no differences
30 – 2474 reads ω instead of ον before ουδεις (+1, -2)
30 – (2474 transposes so as to read αυτον αγάγετε)
30 – 2474 reads μοι at the end of the verse (+3) [Agreeing with G and N.] 
31 – no differences
32 – no differences
33 – no differences
34 – no differences
35 – (2474 transposes so as to read εαυτων τα)
36 – 2474 reads αυτων instead of εαυτων (-1)
37 – no differences
38 – 2474 does not have βασιλευς (-8)
38 – 2474 transposes so as to read ειρήνη εν ουνω
39 – no differences
40 – (several itacisms here, but no significant variants)
41 – 2474 reads αυτη instead of αυτην (-1)
42 – 2474 reads σου after ημερα (+3)
42 – Codex A does not have νυν δε εκρύβη απο οφθαλμων σου (-25) [h.t. error]
43 – no differences
44 – 2474 reads λιθων instead of λιθον (+1, -1)
45 – no differences
46 – Codex A reads οτι after γεγραπται (+3)
46 – 2474 reads κληθήσεται instead of εστιν (+10, -5)
46 – 2474 transposes so as to read εποιήσατε αυτον
47 – Codex A does not have οι after αρχιερεις και (-2)
48 – no differences

Luke 19:28-48:  Comparison of À and B

28 – no differences
29 – B reads εγετο instεad of εγενετο (-2)
29 – B does not have Ελεων (-5)
30 – À does not have και after εκαθισεν (-3)
31 – no differences
32 – no differences
33 – no differences
34 – no differences
35 – À reads επεβίβασαν instead of επεβίσαν (+2)
36 – À reads αυτων instead of εαυτων (-1)
37 – À reads πασων instead of παντων (+3, -4)
38 – À does not read ὁ ερχόμενος (-10)
38 – À reads εν before ειρήνη (+2)
39 – no differences
40 – B does not read οτι before εαν (-3)
41 – no differences
42 – no differences
43 – À reads περεμβαλουσιν instead of περιβαλουσιν (+2, -1)
43 – À does not read σε before και συνέξουσιν (-2)
43 – À does not read σε before πάντοθεν (-2)
44 – no differences
45 – no differences
46 – À does not read και εσται before ο οικος (-8)
47 – À does not read ιερω.  Οι δε (-8)
48 – no differences

            And now for the totals:  A and 2474 disagree 14 times in Luke 19:28-48, and these differences involve 58 letters’ worth of difference. Meanwhile, B and À disagree 15 times in Luke 18:28-49, and these differences involve 66 letters’ worth of difference. 
            In Luke 19 (combining the results in Parts 1 and 2), A and 2474 disagree 28 times, and their disagreements involve 127 letters’ worth of difference.  B and À disagree 35 times, and their disagreements involve 115 letters’ worth of difference.  All in all, this comparison indicates that the texts of Byzantine manuscripts are capable of as much intramural competition, so to speak, as the texts of Alexandrian manuscripts.
           But the possibility exists that we are looking non-typical samples.  Let’s dig a little further in Part 3 by exploring one of the sub-groups of the Byzantine Text:  manuscripts from family 35, which has a reputation for uniformity.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Do Byzantine MSS Have Less Disagreements? (Part 1)

            In the Gospels, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus disagree 3,036 times.  This has been interpreted by some researchers (such as John Burgon, in the late 1800s) as proof that at least one of the two manuscripts which were the main basis for the 1881 revision by Westcott & Hort – a compilation which resembles the Nestle-Aland compilation – is very unreliable.
            But what is the typical rate of disagreement between two of the manuscripts that display the text that Burgon preferred – the “traditional text,” or as it is better-known today, the Byzantine Text?  Let’s find out, or at least get some idea, by selecting a passage from the Gospels, and discovering how many times B and À disagree in that passage – and then select two Byzantine manuscripts and discover how many times they disagree in the same passage.  The two Byzantine manuscripts we shall examine are Codex Alexandrinus (from the 400s) and minuscule 2474, the Elfleda Bond Gospels (from the 900s).  The test-passage under consideration is chapter 19 of the Gospel of Luke; we shall first consider verses 1-27, and then verses 28-48.  In both comparisons, readings of the first hand shall be considered.
            The comparison between A and 2474 was done by comparing the transcript of A in Swanson’s Horizontal Line text of Luke to the online page-views of 2474.  The comparison between À and B was done by comparing Swanson’s transcriptions.  For both comparisons, I have overlooked differences in word-contractions, and allowed most vowel-exchanges and minor orthographic variants to pass unmentioned.   

Luke 19:1-27:  Comparison of Codex A and 2474

1 – 2474 has ο Ις after δήρχετο (+3)
2 – 2474 has ουτος instead of αυτος (+1, -1)
2 – 2474 has αυτος instead of ουτος (+1, -1)
2 – 2474 does not have ην before πλούσιος (-2)
3 – no differences
4 – 2474 reads εις το after προσδραμων (+5)
4 – 2474 reads τον Ιν where A reads αυτον (+5, -5)
4 = 2474 reads δι’ after οτι (+2)
5 – no differences      
6 – no differences
7 – 2474 reads αυτον after ιδόντες (+5)
7 – 2474 reads απαντες instead of παντες (+1)
8 – 2474 reads ημιση instead of ημισυ (+1, -1)
9 – 2474 does not have εν before σωτηρια (-2)
10 – no differences
11 – no differences
12 – no differences
13 – no differences
14 – no differences
15 – no differences
16 – no differences
17 – no differences
18 – no differences
19 – no differences
20 – 2474 reads μνας instead of μνα (+1)
21 – no differences
22 – 2474 does not read δε after λεγει (-2)   
23 – 2474 reads εκομισάμην αν το εμον συν τόκω instead of συν τόκω αν αυτο ανέπραξα (+16, -14)  [A remarkable agreement between 2474 and Codex G (011, from the 800s).] 
24 – no differences
25 – no differences
26 – no differences
27 – no differences

Luke 19:1-27:  Comparison of À and B

1 – no differences
2 – À reads ην and not αυτος before πλούσιος (+2, -5)
3 – no differences
4 – À reads του ιδειν instead of ινα ιδη (+4, -3)
5 – À reads before Ις (+1)
6 – no differences        
7 – [À transposes to ανδρι αμαρτωλω]
8 – À reads before Ζακχαιος (+1)
8 – À reads τοις before πτωχοις (+4)
9 – À reads before Ις (+1)
9 – À does not read εστιν (-5) 
10 – À reads απο after το (+3)
11 – À reads αυτοις instead of αυτους (+1, -1)
11 – [À transposes after παραχρημα]
12 – no differences
13 – no differences
14 – no differences
15 – no differences
16 – À reads προσηργάσα instead of προσηργάσατο (-2)
17 – À reads ευ instead of ευγε (-2)
17 – [À transposes to δουλε αγαθέ]
18 – no differences
19 – no differences
20 – À reads τερος instead of ετερος (-1)
21 – no differences
22 – no differences
23 – À has an extra ουν (+3)
24 – À reads αρε instead of αρατε (-2)
25 – À reads Κε after αυτω (+2)
26 – À does not read υμιν (-4)
27 – À reads κατασφάξετε instead of κατασφάξατε (+1, -1)

            And now for the totals:  in Luke 19:1-27, 2474 disagrees with A 14 times, involving a total of 69 letters’ worth of disagreement.  (That variant in verse 23 was huge.)  Meanwhile, À disagrees with B 20 times (including three mere transpositions), involving 49 letters’ worth of disagreement.  
            We should take into consideration that several centuries separate the production of Codex Alexandrinus and 2474, while probably less than 50 years separate B and À.  We should also consider the possibility that 2474 is not quite a typical medieval manuscript.  Nevertheless, judging from this particular comparison, it looks like Burgon’s criticism of B and À’s high level of disagreement is a criticism that can be aimed at some pairs of Byzantine manuscripts as well.
            The comparison continues with the rest of Luke 19 in Part 2.    

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Matthew 6:33 - The Kingdom of God

            Matthew 6:33 is a verse which many Christians have committed to memory.  There is a textual contest in this verse, and although it does not drastically change the meaning of the verse, the contest here has some instructive features. 
            Most manuscripts begin the verse with the phrase, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” – Ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θυ και τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ.  Besides hundreds of medieval minuscules, this group of manuscripts includes E G K L M N S U V W Δ Θ Π Σ Φ and the interesting minuscules  f1 f13 33 700 892 1263 1424 etc.
            Contrary to what is stated in Willker’s Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels, minuscule 57 has the usual Byzantine reading, albeit with βασιλείαν harshly contracted.  I consulted 157’s online page-views, but it, too, supports the usual Byzantine reading, and so does 579.       

            Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, however, do not have the words “of God” (τοῦ Θυ); Vaticanus also has a transposition here, so as to read “Seek first the righteousness and His kingdom” (Ζητεῖτε δὲ πρῶτον τὴν δικαιοσύνην και τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ).  (Metzger theorized that this transposition “is perhaps the result of the desire to suggest that righteousness is prerequisite to participation in the kingdom; compare 5.20,” in which case, such a scribe would seem rather reckless – but it is also possible that B’s word-order here is just an effect of a scribe losing his place, that is, the scribe’s line of sight may have jumped from the first τὴν to the second τὴν,  and then he attempted to salvage his mistake rather than remove it.)  

            In the 1881 revision of Westcott & Hort, the Greek words underlying “of God” were not included, and this reading is still followed in the NIV, which reads, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (applying “his” (αὐτοῦ) to both of the preceding nouns); the RSV read the same way.   The ESV and CSB, however, reject the readings of both B and À.  The NLT, though rendered somewhat imprecisely, also favors the Byzantine reading:  “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously.”   In addition, the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament (2017) includes τοῦ θεοῦ in its text, thus supporting the Byzantine reading.
            When we turn to early versions, there is widespread support for the Byzantine reading:  the UBS apparatus (2nd ed.) lists most Old Latin copies, the Vulgate, the Sinaitic Syriac, the Curetonian Syriac, the Peshitta, the Harklean Syriac, the Palestinian Aramaic, the Armenian version, and the earliest Georgian copies as allies of the Byzantine text at this point.  (Codex Argenteus, containing most of the Gospels in Gothic, is unfortunately not extant for Matthew 6:33.)      
            If not for a smattering of patristic and versional witnesses that support the non-inclusion of “of God,” one might think that when viewing the Greek manuscripts where “of God” is not present, we are looking at merely a random assortment of examples of recurring scribal carelessness.  But along with evidence from Eusebius of Caesarea (in the early 300s) and Didymus (in the late 300s), the Sahidic and Bohairic versions (both from Egypt) confirm this reading – and, according to James Leonard, so does the Middle Egyptian manuscript Schøyen 2650, a.k.a. Mae2 (from the 300s, perhaps the early 300s).  These witnesses echo an earlier shared ancestor.  (The Coherence-Based Genealogical Method may be incapable of detecting much of a historical link among these witnesses because it is limited to manuscript-evidence, but things look different when patristic evidence and versional evidence are in the picture.)
            Before proceeding further, let’s momentarily leave these witnesses to notice something on display in some entirely different passages:
            ● In Matthew 13:42, where most manuscripts refer to “the kingdom of their Father,” Codex Θ* and minuscules 124, 700, and 78 refer to “the kingdom of heaven.”
            ● In Matthew 19:23, where other manuscripts refer to the kingdom of heaven, minuscule 579 refers to the kingdom of God.
            ● In Matthew 19:24, where most manuscripts (including À B D K W) refer to the kingdom of God, Codex Z, f1, 33, 157, and the Sinaitic Syriac (and the Curetonian Syriac as well) refer to the kingdom of heaven.       
            ● At the end of Mark 10:25, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, minuscule 579 refers to the kingdom of heaven.
            In Mark 15:43, where the Greek text refers to the “kingdom of God,” the Sinaitic Syriac refers to the kingdom of heaven.  (Cf. Luke 23:51 below.)
            ● At the end of Luke 6:20, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, 1582*, 118, 69, 157, and 1424 refer to the kingdom of heaven.
            ● At the end of Luke 7:29, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, 1424 refers to the kingdom of heaven, and 579 simply has βασιλειᾳ (“kingdom,” without “of God”).
            ● At the end of Luke 9:60, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, minuscule 28 refers to the kingdom of heaven.
            ● In Luke 12:31, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, Codices Β À D* L Ψ and 579 refer to His kingdom (βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ), and Papyrus 75 has only βασιλείαν. 
            ● In Luke 13:18, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, Codices N and U refer to the kingdom of heaven.
            ● In Luke 13:28, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, Codex A refers simply to “His kingdom.”
            ● At the end of Luke 14:15, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, minuscules 69, 579, and 788 refer to the kingdom of heaven.
            ● At the end of Luke 18:16, where most manuscripts refer to the kingdom of God, Codex Λ*, 157, 579 and the Sinaitic Syriac refer to the kingdom of heaven.
            ● In Luke 18:24, where most manuscripts (including À A B D W) refer to the kingdom of God, Codices Y, K, M, and Π refer to the kingdom of heaven.
            ● In Luke 23:51, where the Greek text of Luke 23:51 says that Joseph of Arimathea was waiting for the kingdom of God, the Sinaitic Syriac says that he was waiting for the kingdom of heaven.  (Unfortunately this reading is not noted in the Nestle-Aland apparatus.)

            Thus, where there is a contest in the Synoptic Gospels between variants that refer to the kingdom of God, or to the kingdom of heaven, a strong scribal tendency is shown toward replacing the phrase “kingdom of God” with the phrase “kingdom of heaven.”   This tendency may be the result of natural harmonization toward Matthew, but this cannot be the case in the three examples taken from Matthew, or in the passages which have no Matthean parallel. 

            With this scribal tendency in mind, let’s consider the other horses that are running in this race.  John Chrysostom, though he repeatedly used Matthew 6:33 in its usual form, once uses the phrase, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven and his righteousness.”  Clement of Alexandria (who died around AD 215) stated in the course of Paedagogos (The Instructor) II 120:2, “But you also oppose Scripture, seeing it expressly cries, Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Initially, this looks more like a loose recollection of Luke 12:31 than a quotation of Matthew 6:33.  But in Stromateis (Miscellanies) IV 34:6, in the course of offering a series of passages on the theme of avoiding anxiety and relying on God, Clement states:  “”Wherefore I say, take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, neither for your body, what you shall put on.  For your life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.”  And again, “For your Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of heaven, and its righteousness,” for these are the great things, and the things which are small and pertain to this life “shall be added to you.””
            (Some readers may be interested to know that the last part of Clement’s statement, and another statement of Clement in Stromateis I, chapter 24, appear to constitute a utilization of a statement which circulated in the early church as a saying attributed to Jesus:  “Seek what is great, and the little things shall be added.”  Though not preserved in any of the canonical Gospels, this saying (or “agraphon”) was used not only by Clement but also by Eusebius of Caesarea.)
            Earlier yet, Justin Martyr, in First Apology 15:16 (c. 160), writes, “Take no thought, therefore, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall put on, for your heavenly Father knows that you need those things.  But seek the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  This resembles Luke 12:31 more closely than it resembles Matthew 6:33, but the parallel is inexact due to the reference to the kingdom of heaven.
            If we consult Ephrem Syrus’ Commentary on the Diatessaron, we may find some data that helps explain the origin of Justin’s and Clement’s form of the verse.  Writing in the mid-300s, Ephrem offered comments on substantial parts of Tatian’s Diatessaron, a composition which Tatian put together in about the year 172, blending the contents of the four Gospels into one continuous account.  Tatian was a student of Justin, who appears to have used a similarly blended-together composition that combined the texts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. 
            This would interlock with the idea that Justin (or whoever made his harmonized narrative that blended together Matthew, Mark, and Luke) – and subsequently Tatian, building on his teacher’s materials – without feeling obligated to maintain the meticulousness that a copyist might feel when making a copy of an individual Gospel, took some minor liberties with the text, resulting in a statement in the Diatessaron, based on Matthew 6:33 and Luke 12:31, which reads, “Seek the kingdom of heaven, and all these things, over and above, shall be added to you as well.”  According to Willker (citing Carmel McCarthy’s translation of the text of Ephrem’s commentary on the Diatessaron), Ephrem Syrus utilized just such a statement in his commentary.     

            When we consider the widespread influence of the Diatessaron, and the scribal tendency to replace “kingdom of God” with “kingdom of heaven,” an explanation for the readings in Matthew 6:33 in the Alexandrian codices presents itself:  in an early manuscript, the text was altered so as to read, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven and his righteousness” – the only difference being the replacement of “of God” with “of heaven” – precisely the sort of change that we see (with problematic frequency) not only in minuscule 579, but in much earlier witnesses such as the Sinaitic Syriac. 
            Subsequent copyists considered this reading intolerably puzzling, and removed “of heaven,” leaving only “the kingdom,” yielding the reading in À.  This scribal modus operandi is basically the same one observed in Papyrus 75 in Luke 12:31, where – whether one regards “His kingdom” or “the kingdom of God” as original – nothing is left but “the kingdom.”   
            In conclusion, we have good reasons to be confident that the Byzantine reading of Matthew 6:33 is original. 

Readers are invited to explore the embedded links for additional resources.       

Friday, December 14, 2018

Hand-to-Hand Combat: P38 vs. GA 2401 (Round 2)

            Today, the contest between Papyrus 38 (from the 200s) and minuscule 2401 (from the 1000s) concludes.  In Round 1, we saw the fragmentary text of  Acts 18:27-19:6 on one side of Papyrus 38 (and also saw that it is remarkably less accurate than the text in 2401).  Today in Round 2, we will turn the papyrus over and consider the fragmentary text of Acts 19:12-16 on the other side. 
            But first, let’s examine the text of Acts 19:12-16 as presented in 2401.  The same ground rules that were used in Round One are also in play here.  

            Ring the bell for Round Two!

Acts 19:12-19:  2401 Compared to NA27

12 – 2401 reads επιφέρεσθαι instead of αποφέρεσθαι (+2, -2)
12 – 2401 reads εξέρχεσθαι instead of εκπορεύεσθαι (+9, -11)
12 – 2401 reads απ’ αυτων at the end of the verse (+7, -0)
13 – 2401  reads απο instead of και (+3, -3)
13 – 2401 transposes so as to read πονηρα πνευματα, omitting the second τα (+0, -2) 
13 – 2401 reads ορκίζομεν instead of ορκίζω (+4, -1)
14 – 2401 reads τινες instead of τινος (+1, -1)
14 – 2401 reads υιοι before Σκευα (+4, -0)
14 – 2401 does not read υιοι after ἑπτα (+0, -4)  
15 – 2401 reads ειπε instead of ειπεν (+0, -1)
15 – 2401 does not have αυτοις after ειπεν (+0, -6)
15 – 2401 does not have μεν before Ιν (+0, -3)        
15 – 2401 does not have τον before Παυλον (+0, -3) (The corrector added it above the line.)
16 – 2401 reads εφαλλόμενος instead of εφαλόμενος (+1, -0)
16 – 2401 transposes so as to read επ’ αυτους ὁ ανος
16 – 2401 reads και after πονηρόν (+3, -1)
16 – 2401 reads κατακυριεύσαν instead of κατακυριεύσας (+1, -1)
16 – 2401 reads αυτων instead of αμφοτέρων (+4, -8)
16 – 2401 reads ισχυσε instead of ισχυσεν (+0, -1)

Thus, in these five verses, 2401 has 39 non-original letters, and is missing 47 original letters, for a total of 86 letters’ worth of deviation from NA27.  (This sum could be reduced slightly by taking the trivial orthographic variants in v. 15 and v. 16 out of the picture.)   

Is the text of Papyrus 38 any better?  Let’s see:  

Acts 19:12-16:  Papyrus 38 Compared to NA27

12 – P38 does not have αυτου after χρωτος (+0, -5)
12 – P38 reads παντα instead of πνατα (not counted because this is a nomen sacrum)
13 – P38 reads εξορκίζομεν instead of ορκίζω (+5, -0)
13 – P38 transposes so as to read –σσει ο Παυλος (+1, -0)
14 – P38 reads εν οις και υ- instead of ησαν δε (+9, -6)
14 – P38 reads [Σκευ]-ια instead of Σκευα (+1, -0)
14 – P38 reads τινος after Ιουδαίου (+4, -0)
14 – P38 has ηθ[έλη]σαν instead of ἑπτα υιοι after αρχιερέως (+4, -8)
14 – P38 reads [το α]υτο ποιησαι εθος εχοντες [εξορκι]ζειν τους τοιουτους και εισελθο[ντες] προς δαιμονιζομενον ηρξα[ντο επι]καλεισθαι το ονομα λεγοντες π[αραγγελ]λομεν σοι εν Ιηυ ον Παυλος ο [αποστο]λος κηρυσσει εξελθειν (+133, -0)
15 – P38 reads [γ]ει[νωσκω] instead of γινωσκω (+1, -0)
16 – no variations

Thus, Papyrus 38’s text of Acts 19:12-16 contains 158 non-original letters, and is missing 19 original letters, yielding a total of 158 letters’ worth of deviations from NA27. 

            2401 wins again!  And again, the contest is not close:  with 86 letters’ worth of scribal corruption in just five verses, 2401 may have seemed like an easy target, but the interpolation in Acts 19:14 in Papyrus 38 crushed any chance for victory it may have had. 
            When we combine the totals from Round One and Round Two, 2401 has 81 non-original letters, and is missing 62 original letters, for a total of 143 letters’ worth of corruption (using NA27 as the standard of comparison).  Meanwhile, Papyrus 38 has 248 non-original letters, and is missing 81 original letters, for a total of 329 letters’ worth of corruption.  
            A little bit of analysis may tell us something interesting about the transmission-streams from which Papyrus 38 and minuscule 2401 emerged.  Consider the different levels of reliability of the transmission-streams that are indicated if, for the sake of drawing a comparison, we were to assign P38’s production-date to AD 300, and 2401’s production-date to AD 1050, and reckon that the book of Acts itself was produced in AD 65.  Extrapolating from those assigned dates, we would see that 2401’s 985-year-old transmission-stream is four times longer than Papyrus 38’s 235-year-old transmission-stream; yet 2401’s text of Acts 18:27-19:6 and 19:12-16 has less than half as much corruption.
            Clearly it is not safe to assume “The older the manuscript, the better the text.”

Postscript:  Western Corrections in 2401

            As the crowd begins to exit the arena, 2401 is standing tall – having been demonstrated to have a text of Acts 18:27-19:6 and 19:12-16 that is far more accurate than Papyrus 38.  Some who saw this contest may recall that 2401 contains Western readings in Acts 18:27 (the addition of εις τὴν Ἀχαϊαν after παραγενόμενος) and in 18:28 (the addition of διαλεγόμενος και after δημοσια).
            Those are not the only Western corrections lurking in 2401.  Here are some others:            

● 5:36:  εαυτον μεγαν
● 12:25:  Σαυλος ὅς επεκλήθη Παυλος
● 18:19:  τω επιόντι σαββάτω
● 18:21:  τον δε Ακύλαν ειασεν εν Εφέσω, marked with ⁜ 
● 19:9:  τινος απο ωρας πέμπτης εως ωρας δεκατης
● 19:28:  και δραμόντες εις το αμφοδον, added in the margin and marked with ⁜
● 20:32:  A note in the margin, prefaced by ⁜, is badly faded.

            My initial impression is that the corrections in 2401 (and some readings in the text itself, such as Ις ὁ Ναζωραιως in 26:15) come from a source related to the text of 614 and 2412.  This shows us that Western readings did not entirely die out as the Byzantine Text became the dominant textual standard of the Middle Ages. 

            Meanwhile, Papyrus 38 helpfully shows us that despite what some might assume from the name “Western Text,” Western readings did not just circulate in the western part of the Roman Empire; there were circulating in Egypt in the mid-200s. 

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.