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.  

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