Wednesday, May 22, 2019

How to Read a Greek Gospels Manuscript


            Today, let’s look into how to read a Greek manuscript of the Gospels – an important skill that every New Testament textual critic should have.  If you do not already know some New Testament Greek, use This List of Free Resources for Learning New Testament Greek, and after a year or so you should have enough skill to understand everything that I am about to describe.
            Now let’s explore an important medieval Greek manuscript of the Gospels:  minuscule 9.  All Greek manuscripts are important, but this one is especially significant historically, because it was used by the scholar Robert Stephanus in his compilation of the Greek New Testament in 1550.  That is, out of the hundreds of Greek Gospels-manuscripts that exist, this is one that was studied and used the most in the 1500s, as the Textus Receptus – the base-text for the King James Version – was developed. Minuscule 9 – called witness ιβ′ (i.e., #12) by Stephanus – is kept at the National Library of France.  It was produced in 1168.  You can download page-views of the entire manuscript from the Gallica website – just select “Manuscripts” from the options in the first sub-menu there, and then search for Grec 83, and use the menu on the far left of the page to complete the download.  (You will need to agree to Gallica’s Terms & Conditions.)
           
            After opening the manuscript, the first thing we find is a summary of the manuscript’s contents, written relatively recently.  Most manuscripts that are kept in library-collections have this sort of note, and if we pay attention to their contents, we may save some time; these notes often tell readers a little about the manuscript’s history, and list the page-numbers on which each Gospel begins, and also tell about whatever sections might be missing or out of order.  We can deduce from the information on this page that minuscule 9 was once known as Regius 83 (when it was in the library of the king of France), a useful data-nugget if one ever wishes to look for references to this manuscript in books written before its Gregory-Aland inventory number became the standard nomenclature by which it was known.
            Next, we encounter in minuscule 9 a one-page Prologue to the Four Gospels.  It looks like someone had intended to draw the symbols of the Evangelists in the four corners of the page, surrounding the semi-cruciform text – if you look closely you can see the sketched outline of Mark’s lion in the northwest corner – but this task was never completed.  The Prologue explains the symbolic connection between the Gospels and their symbols (man, lion, ox, and eagle).
            On the next page, framed within a red border, is Eusebius of Caesarea’s letter To Carpian (Ad Carpianus), which provides brief instruction on how to use the Eusebian Canons, Eusebius’ cross-reference system for the Gospels.  The title appears in uncial letters, the outlines of which were drawn, and then filled with red pigment.  There is an elaborate initial “A” in which blue, red, and yellow pigment has been used.  Within the text, the letter omicron and a few other letters are sporadically filled in or outlined in red.  (This feature appears frequently in the Gospels-text as well.)  An English translation of Eusebius’ letter to Carpian is online, and so is a table of the Canons themselves.
            Next, several pages are filled by the Eusebian Canons.  The canon-lists are framed by decorative columns, resembling rounded doorways at the entrance to a temple.  At the end of the canons, two columns have been left blank.  Then comes the Kephalaia, or chapter-list, for the Gospel of Matthew, filling a page and a half. 
            After a blank page, the text of the Gospel of Matthew begins, after its title, which is written in large red letters.  A huge initial “B,” somewhat reminiscent of the initials in the Bury Bible, but not quite as ornate, fills most of the page; the rest of the text on the page is written in uncials.
            On the next page, the text of Matthew continues.  The Greek book-title has been written at the top of the page, and at some point this was supplemented by the Latin book-title as well. 
            Continuing to the following page, readers may notice small Greek letters beta and gamma in the outer margin.  These are section-numbers, corresponding to the section-numbers that appear in the Eusebian Canon-tables.  Within the text, one can detect small breaks where one section ends and another begins; the first letter of the new chapter is written in red. Also, you can see at the beginning of the chapter a small “+” symbol.  Often (as we see here in minuscule 9 at the third section), this “+” is accompanied by another symbol that represents the word arche, “beginning/”  This means that at this point, a daily reading begins.  Often the arche-symbols are supplements by telos-symbols, signifying the ends of the segment for the daily reading.   (If we turn ahead to page 11, at the end of Matthew 2:12 we can see a telos-symbol at the end of a line, and alongside the next line, the arche-symbol is in the margin.)
            By the way, if you have learned your Greek numerals, you can easily follow along with the section-numbers that are in the inner margin of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.  Sometimes, a manuscript’s section-numbers will not correspond exactly to the Nestle-Aland arrangement, but they usually do.
            In minuscule 9, ordinary page-numbers have been added in the upper right corner of the page – although it is more precise to call the numbers in this manuscript leaf-numbers rather than page-numbers, because they appear on every other page, denoting the individual leaf, on which there is (a) a front page, and (b) a back page.  If we turn to page 10a, we will see in the left margin a stack of four symbols (each looking like “├”).  Sometimes such marks appear in the form of little arrow-markers (>).  They are there to indicate that in the lines of text that they accompany, there is a quotation from the Old Testament.
            If we look at the bottom of page 10a, we will see a chapter-number – α – and the chapter-title (περι των μαγων, that is, About the Wise Men).  At the top of leaf 12, the next chapter-number and chapter-title (titloi – the same as the Kephalaia, except they appear here one at a time) are supplied at the top of the page, and the chapter-title also appears in the outer margin alongside the exact point where the chapter begins – in this case, at Matthew 2:16.  (For more information about the Kephalaia, see the post Kephalaia:  The Ancient Chapters of the Gospels.)  Sometimes, the titloi appear at the foot of the page.
            Occasionally, one will encounter a hole in the parchment, such as the one in minuscule 9 on leaf 17.  Almost always, these holes were made during the preparation of the parchment, and scribes simply wrote around them. 
            Also in minuscule 9, one will occasionally find little notes written in Latin in the margin.  Four such notes can be seen on the front of leaf 20.
            On leaf 22, some damage has occurred to the manuscript, and a repair has been attempted: part of the lower portion of the leaf has been ripped away.  Newer parchment has been glued to the old parchment, and the small portion of the text that was lost has been supplied in different handwriting.  Technically, this small bit of writing (less than four full lines) on the younger parchment qualifies as a supplement.
            On leaf 24, we see the effect of a recurring problem in medieval manuscripts:  when manuscripts were bound or rebound, sometimes their pages were also recut, and sometimes this was carelessly done, resulting in over-trimming.  Fortunately in this case, no Gospels-text was lost, but the book-title at the top of the page has been cut.  (Also notice on this page the Latin translations of the chapter-numbers and chapter-titles.)
            On the back of leaf 27, there is something interesting:  in the text, Matthew 9:26 ought to read, και εξηλθεν η φημη αυτη εις ολην την γην εκεινην.  However, the copyist skipped the words η φημη.  When this scribal error was detected, the missing words were added in the margin, accompanied by a triangular set of red dots (\), and the same symbol was added in the text at the point where the words η φημη should be read.
            On leaf 28b, we encounter two more interesting features:  first, at Matthew 10:4, there is a short margin-note about Judas.  And in the text of Matthew 10:5, the copyist momentarily omitted the word εθνων but caught his mistake and added the word above the line at the place where it belongs.
            On leaf 29a, there is another \ mark in the margin, but in this case it is not in red, and there is no identical mark in the text; instead, in the outer margin, there is a Latin note accompanied by two dots – – a distigma, or umlaut-like symbol.
            Moving along to leaf 37, we can see that somebody added red “<” marks in the outer margin, to acknowledge the quotation from Isaiah 42 that Matthew makes in 12:18-21.  These marks are not as neat as some others, though, so it is possible that a different scribe is responsible.
            On 37b and 38a, the original book-title that had been at the top of the page, apparently trimmed away, has been replaced in very different handwriting.
            In the margin of 53a, alongside Matthew 19:27, there is a lectionary-related symbol in the margin:  in addition to arche and telos, here we see arcou – that is, “resume.”  Sometimes a lection consisted of more than one segment of text, and this symbol introduced the second segment.           
            On 59a , there is another example of the use of the mark.  In this case, the appears directly above the telos symbol that follows the end of Matthew 21:43, and another appears in the margin, accompanying the note του ορθρου.  This indicates that this passage was a morning-time reading in the lection-cycle.   If this echoes the treatment of this passage in some otherwise unknown early lection-cycle, it might have something to do with the absence of Matthew 21:44 in a few early witnesses – but such a lection-cycle would have to be extremely early, inasmuch as one of the witnesses in which Matthew 21:44 appears to be missing is Papyrus 104, which competes with Papyrus 52 for the title of the earliest extant fragment of the New Testament text.
             On 67a, in the margin alongside the end of Matthew 24:37, we encounter another lectionary-related mark:  υπ, written with the υ below the π.  This abbreviation stands for hyperbale, or, “jump ahead, signifying that the rest of the lection consisted was somewhere other than the immediately-following text.  In this case, we find arcou “resume”) just a little further down the page, alongside Matthew 24:43. 
            On page 80a, there is a textual variant in the margin:  νυκτος is added to Mt. 27:64, between αυτου and κλέψωσιν.  This reading is supported by L M 565 700 892 1424 and the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, and a correction in 1582.
            At the end of Matthew, on 81b, only slightly separated from the end of 28:20, there is a colophon, that is, a closing-note by the scribe:  the end of the words of Matthew, from the Gospel according to Matthew, which Matthew wrote in Hebrew in Palestine, in the eighth year after the ascension of Lord.  Written in 2,522 remata, 2,560 stichoi.    This is followed by what appears to be the name of the scribe, Solomon, in stylized lettering.
            On the very next page, 82a, the Kephalaia are listed for the Gospel of Mark, below a braided heading-marker, for which red, blue, yellow, and green pigments were used.   
            A few pages appear to be missing – the last page of the Kephalaia-list has been replaced – but the Gospel of Mark begins intact, with a very large initial “A” on 85a.  The opening title, drawn in red hollow uncials, is rather unusual.           
Getting crazy with the flourishes.
            On several of the pages of Mark which follow, one may notice an idiosyncrasy of the scribe: when the word και appeared in the last line on a page, he often wrote it as a και-compendium, i.e., an abbreviation, and extended the final stroke in a fancy design below the line.  Sometimes the flourish is reinforced with red ink (as on page 111.)  The stalks of the letters φ and ψ on the last line of a page are sometimes similarly embellished.
            The Gospel of Mark ends on 131b, and a nice little headpiece introduced the Kephalaia-list for Luke, with a red cross in the margin.
            On 133b, in the space left after the end of Luke Kephalaia-list, someone has added a portrait of Luke the Evangelist, writing his Gospel at a desk, framed within a heavy green background on three sides.  What appears to be a blue easel with clawed legs sits nearby.
            On 134a, the text of the Gospel of Luke begins, below the unusual title and alongside a large initial “E.”  On the next page, the book restarts at verse 5 (which is not unusual in medieval manuscripts) and there is another large initial “E,” very different in style from the first one.
            On 137b, the copyist made an embarrassing mistake:  he completely skipped Luke 1:51, right in the middle of the Magnificat.  The missing verse has been added in the margin.  A smaller mistake was made in 2:15; the words το γεγονος are missing in the text; they have been supplied in the margin.
            On 144b, the genealogy begins, and the format is unusual:  numbers are assigned to each individual, and the numbers continue on the next page, on which the text is arranged in three columns.  On 145b, the scribe returns to a single-column format, but the numbers continue, all the way up to the reference to God, at the end, who is numbered 77.
            On leaf 179 there is a small patch at the bottom.
            On 183b, in Luke 13:28, there is an initial omicron that is shaped like a fish.  Another fish-initial is on 214a.  Similar initials occur in some lectionaries. 
            In the first line of 187b, the initial in Luke 15:11 is unusually large.
            On 199a, the scribe skipped the words εν ποια in Luke 20:2.  They are added in the margin.
            The Kephalaia-list for the Gospel of John is on 215a, with a red and green braided headpiece.  On the opposite side of the page there is a full-page portrait of John, composing his Gospel, framed on three sides by a thick green border. 
            The next leaf is clearly a supplement, the original opening page containing the text of John 1:1-14a, is lost. 
            On 237a, there is a “jump ahead” symbol alongside the line where John 7:53 begins, instructing the lector to move ahead to 8:12 on the next page, where an αρξου (“Resume”) symbol appears.  (This neatly illustrates a hypothesis regarding the early loss of John 7:53-8:11: an early copyist, unfamiliar with the local lectionary in which John 7:53-8:11 was skipped in the lection for Pentecost-Day, possessed an exemplar in which he saw instructions to “Jump ahead” at the end of John 7:52, and to “Resume” at 8:12, and, thinking the instructions were meant for him rather than for the lector, omitted the intervening verses.  (See for more information my e-book, A Fresh Analysis of John 7:53-8:11).
             On 239a, a distigma () appears in the margin of John 8:36, where the copyist left out the word ουν.  Another distigma appears in the text to indicate where the word belongs.
           
The full-page colophon
after the end of John.
The text of John concludes on 241a.  241b contains a cruciform-framed colophon that includes stichiometric information.  
            Beginning on 272a below a decorative headpiece, there is a lection-calendar for Sunday lections, beginning with the lection for Easter.  Incipit-phrases (the opening words of a lection as read in the church-service) are included.  This is the normal annual Synaxarion calendar.  An interesting minor detail in these pages is the assorted knot-like designs which occasionally appear, apparently serving no practical purpose – they seem to be doodles. Similar knots appear in a wide range of manuscripts.
            On 280a, a braided headpiece precedes another part of the lection-calendar. 
            Another headpiece is on 285b; yet another one begins 287a, which has as part of its design a “Jesus Christ, Victor” cross.  The incipit-phrases for Easter-week lections follow.
            On 288a, after another headpiece, the Heothina-series of lections is covered, even though no special marks accompany the text of these lections in the Gospels-text.    
           
On 288b, there is another headpiece.  The heading introduces the Menologion-readings for the month of September. That is, unlike the first part of the lection-calendar, in which all dates are arranged in relation to Easter, these feast-days are assigned to dates on the calendar.
            On 289b, another headpiece introduces incipit-phrases for the Menologion-readings for the month of October.  On 290a, we see that Sergius and Bacchus’ feast-day is commemorated on October 7, and Pelagia’s feast-day is commemorated on October 8.  This is consistent with the designation of John 8:3-11 as the lection in the Menologion for October 8. 
            At the top of 290b, another headpiece introduces incipit-phrases for the Menologion-readings for the month of November.
            At the top of 291b, there is another headpiece – better executed than some of the others.  The list that follows provides incipit-phrases for the lections read in December.
            More headpieces and more monthly lection-lists, with more knot-doodles in the margins, along with simple pictures of the symbols of the Evangelists, continue, to the end of the manuscript’s text on 248b.  Then after a few blank pages, the back cover is reached.

            All in all, minuscule 9 is a pretty good manuscript to use to get acquainted with the standard format of medieval Greek Gospels-manuscripts.  It does not have an overwhelming amount of marginalia; its script is reasonably neat; its appearance is not marred by incessant corrections. I hope this review of minuscule 9 has been informative and instructive. 



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

Friday, May 17, 2019

First Century Mark: Better Pictures


            Several months have passed since the publication of the small papyrus fragment that was called “First-Century Mark” prior to its release.  This small two-sided fragment, which contains text from Mark 1:7-9 and Mark 1:18-19, is now regarded as the remains of a codex which was produced in the late 100s or early 200s, which would imply that it is about as old as Papyrus 45.
            Shortly after the official publication of the-fragment-formerly-known-as-First-Century-Mark (a.k.a. P. Oxy 5345), the Egypt Exploration Society kindly released their analysis of the fragment’s text, including images of the fragment.   Recently, it came to my attention that other images of the fragment have been online for a while:  almost a year ago (om June 6, 2018, to be precise), Eternity News published a news article by Kaley Payne, reporting about John Dickson’s encounter with the fragment.  This report included two photographs of the fragment.
            Almost a year has gone by, and it seems that no one has objected to the publication of the photographs in Eternity News.  When P. Oxy 5345 was initially published, there seemed to be some protectiveness about the EES’ images.  But since the photographs at the Eternity News website are distinct from the EES’ black-and-white plates, and since it seems that the EES’ own pictures are unlikely to lose their usefulness, I went through the effort of digitally enhancing the images in the Eternity News report for those who might want full-color images of the manuscript.  The pictures on which these digitally enhanced images are based remain online at the Eternity News website.
            The result is shown here; in the second picture, the contrast has been digitally altered so as to show the text a little more clearly.





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

John 7:8: Not, Not Yet, or Nothing?


            Perhaps there is no textual contest anywhere in the New Testament in which the internal evidence and external evidence point more strongly to opposite conclusions than in John 7:8.  In the vast majority of manuscripts, when Jesus’ unbelieving brothers invite Jesus to show Himself to the world and go with them to the Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem, Jesus replies, “You go up to this feast.  I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”
            In a small group of manuscripts that includes Papyrus 75, Codex Vaticanus, and codices L, N, and W, Jesus’ statement is similar, but the first occurrence of the word “this” is absent, yielding the statement, “You go up to the feast.  I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”
             In another small group of manuscripts, including Codex Sinaiticus, Jesus’ statement is, “You go up to this feast.  I am not going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”
            In yet another small group of manuscripts (33 565 579 664 2193 – mostly members of f1 – the phrase “I am not going up to this feast” is absent, yielding the statement, “You go up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”
            And in minuscule 69 (Codex Leicestrensis), the second occurrence of “to this feast” is absent, yielding the statement, “You go up to the feast.  I am not yet going, for My time has not yet fully come.”

            We may set aside the reading in 69 as the symptom of a scribe’s dislike of what he perceived to be superfluous repetition.  Similarly, the reading in 33 565 579 664 2193 may be set aside as either the result of parableptic error – when a scribe’s line of sight drifted from either the end of εορτην (“feast”) or the end of ταύτην (“this”) to the end of εορτην ταύτην further along in the verse, accidentally omitting the letters in between – or an early copyist’s ruthless attempt to avoid a perceived difficulty.
            The contest between the presence, or absence, of ταύτην in the first part of the verse is more difficult, because while its absence is attributable to haplography (from the –την at the end of εορτην to the -την at the end of ταύτην), such an error would either have to be extremely early, or would have to occur independently in more than one transmission-line, in order to show up, as it does, in manuscripts as diverse as Papyrus 75, Codex D, Codex N, Codex Π, Codex W, and 1424.  Yet it appears in Codex À, and in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts, and was likely in the ancestry of 33 565 579 664 2193.  It is also supported by the Peshitta.  

           The variant-unit that gets the most attention in this verse is the contest between οuκ (“not”) and οupw (“not yet”).  Part of the reason for this is that the reading οuκ is capable of giving readers the impression that Jesus misled His brothers by first saying that He was not going to the Feast, and then went.  To restate the problem:  if the reading οuκ is original, then it appears that Jesus says that He is not going to the feast, but then decides to go.  The note-writer of the NET Bible considered this difficulty a point in favor of οuκ as the original reading:  “It is more likely,” the NET’s note says, “that οupw was introduced early on to harmonize with what is said two verses later.”
            However, harmonistic considerations seem to have not affected the scribes of codices K, M, and Π here; all three read οuκ.  It may be helpful to step back and look at the external evidence for each reading:

οuκ:  À D K M Π 1071 1241, with versional support from the Vulgate, the Sinaitic Syriac and Curetonian Syriac, the Armenian version, the Ethiopic version, several Old Latin copies (including a, aur, b, c, d, e, ff2), and with patristic support from Epiphanius (in Panarion, Book 2, 25:4), Chrysostom (Homily 48 on John), Cyril  of Alexandria (Comm. John 4:5), Ambrosiaster (Question 78 in his Questions on the Old and New Testaments), and Augustine (in Sermon 83) – plus a comment from Jerome (in Against the Pelagians Book 2, part 17) which implies that Porphyry – a heathen critic of the Gospels in the third century – used the text with οuκ as evidence that Jesus displayed fickleness and therefore was not divine:  “Jesus said that He would not go up, and then did what He had previous said He would no do.  Porphyry rants and accuses Him of inconsistency and indecisiveness, not knowing that all scandals must be imputed to the flesh.” (By this last phrase, Jerome seems to mean that if a passage seems problematic or puzzling to a reader, the problem is not in the text, but in the reader’s lack of illumination.)
            The UBS apparatus also lists a few lectionaries that read οuκ here:   lectionaries 672 (an uncial lectionary from the 800s), 673, 813 (from the 900s), 950, and 1223.

οupw:  Papyrus 66, Papyrus 75, B E F G H L N T U W Γ Δ Θ Ψ 0105 0141 0250 (Codex Climaci Rescriptus)  Δ f1 f13 157 205 700 892 1424 Byz with versional support from the Peshitta Sahidic and Palestinian Aramaic versions.
              
            Wayne C. Kannaday offers a detailed analysis of this textual contest on pages 90-97 of his 2004 book Apologetic Discourse and the Scribal Tradition.  Kannaday concludes that οuκ is probably the original reading, largely on the grounds that when the term οupw is used in the Gospel of John, it is used formulaically to refer to Jesus’ hour, or time, i.e., the time of His passion:      
            ● 2:4:  “My hour has not yet come.”
            ● 7:6:  “My time has not yet come.”
            ● 7:8b:  “My time has not yet fully come.”
            ● 7:30:  “His hour had not yet come.”
            ● 8:20:  “His hour had not yet come.”
If οupw is original, Kannaday argues, then “nowhere else does οupw invade the prefacing remarks of Jesus,” leading to the question, “Is this the only instance in John’s narrative where he violates an otherwise carefully prescribed and consistent use of the term οupw?”
            However, the idea that John deliberately limited his use of οupw to refer to Jesus’ hour, or time, does not survive close scrutiny.  As evidence, one can simply read the following passages (using here, for convenience, the NA/UBS text):
            ● 3:24:  “For John had not yet been thrown into prison.” 
            ● 6:17:  “Jesus had not yet come to them.”
            ● 7:39:  “The Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  (In the NA/UBS text, the term οupw is used for the first “yet” but the term ουδέπω is used for the second “yet.”)
            ● 8:57:  “You are not yet fifty years old.”
            ● 11:30:  “Now Jesus had not yet come into the town.”
            ● 20:17:  “I have not yet ascended to My Father.”

            When all of John’s utilizations of οupw are in view, and there is no cherry-picking, the case that John’s use of οupw is limited in a “carefully prescribed and consistent” manner that refers to Jesus’ hour, or time, fades to dust; there simply is no such unique utilization of the term.


            However, the question remains:  it is easy to posit a reason why a scribe would change οuκ to οupw:  to avoid the appearance of precisely the sort of fickleness that Porphyry accused Jesus of displaying.  But why would anyone change οupw (“not yet”) to οuκ (“not”)? 

            In the search for an answer, we should notice that this is not the only example of a textual contest involving οupw. 
            In Matthew 15:17, the verse begins with οὐ in manuscripts B, D, Z, Θ, 565 33 and 579, and this is supported by Latin, Syriac, and Coptic versions.  In most manuscripts, however, including À C L W (with some Latin and Bohairic support), the verse begins with ουπω.  Here there is no apologetic motive to alter the text; yet it must have been altered, one way or the other.
            In Matthew 16:9, the reading ουπω has overwhelming support, not only from Byzantine manuscripts but also from B À D Δ etc.  Yet in family 13, the verse begins with ου.
            In Mark 4:40, a small but strong array of witnesses (including B À D L Δ f1 f13) supports ουπε before εχετε πίστιν.  In most manuscripts, however (including A C K M Π, supported by the Peshitta and the Gothic version), the question at the end of the verse is πως ουκ εχετε πίστιν.
            In Mark 8:21, Codex B reads ου νοειτε, and the Byzantine Text reads ου συνίετε  – but À A C L D K M N Π W Q support (sometimes with minor orthographic variation) ουπω συνίετε.  (This is a parallel-passage to Mt. 16:9.)                 
            In Mark 11:2, the Byzantine Text, allied with D M Q 157 565 f1 does not include the word ουπω (conveying simply that no man had sat on the colt, rather than that no man had yet sat on the colt).  But in various early manuscripts, the word ουπω is present, either before or after ανθρώπων (“man”) – B L Δ Ψ have ουπω before ανθρώπων; À, C, 579, and f13 have ουπω after ανθρώπων; Y K Π have ουπω before ουδεις ανθρώπων.   Minuscule 1424 rearranges the words so as to read ουδεις ανθρώπων εκάθισεν ουπω.  (Codex A, meanwhile, reads πώποτε ανθρώπων, harmonizing to Luke 19:30.) 
            In Luke 23:53, where Luke mentions that Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb was completely unused, Papyrus 75 and Codices B, A, L, 118, and 579 read ουπω – so as to say that no one had yet lain in the tomb.  But they are challenged by a diverse combination of witnesses that includes À C D K M W Q Π 157 f13.which all support ουδέτω – so as to say that never had anyone lain in the tomb.  The Byzantine Text (along with Δ 700 1424 is aligned with the latter group, disagreeing only in word-order (by placing ουδέτω before, rather than after, ουδεις).
            In John 6:17, Papyrus 75 and codices B, À, D, L, N, W and Ψ contain a statement that Jesus had not yet (ουπω) come to the disciples.  In most manuscripts, however, including A K M Δ Θ f1 157 565 700, the verse has ουκ instead of ουπω.  Here we see a disagreement similar to what we see in John 7:8:  ουκ versus ουπω. 
            In John 7:6, where almost all manuscripts read ουπω, À reads ου, and W reads ουδέτω.  Ουδέτω is also the reading of Papyrus 66 in John 7:8b, where the rest of the manuscripts support ουπω.   Likewise in John 7:30, P66 reads ουδέτω where the other manuscripts read ουπω.  This raises a question:  ουπω is clear and unobjectionable; why would anyone change it to ου as the scribe of Sinaiticus did, or change it to ουδέτω as the scribe of P66 did twice?   And why, if ουπω is original in Luke 23:53, does the Byzantine Text and its assorted allies read ουδέτω?
            Briefly leaving the text of the Gospels, for thoroughness’ sake, we find that in First Corinthians 8:2, the reading ουπω is supported by Papyrus 46, B À A 33 1175 1739, but it has rivals; ουδέτω is read by D (i.e., Claromontanus) F G Ψ, ουδεν is read by 68 330 2400, ουδεν ουδέτω is read by 1424, and ουδέτω ουδεν is read by most manuscripts.  In Philippians 3:13, where P46, B, 1739, 1881, the Byzantine Text, and the Peshitta support ου, À A 075 33 81 614 and 1175 support ουπω instead.  Here too, then, is another contest between ου and ουπω.  And in Revelation 17:12, where most copies read ουπω, Codex A and minuscule 57 read ουκ.
           
            Taking all this into consideration, it suggests that some scribes either added ουπω or substituted a different word where ουπω  belonged, not only in John 7:8, but also in Matthew 15:17, Matthew 16:9, Mark 4:40, Luke 23:53, John 6:17, and John 7:6 – plus three passages outside the Gospels (I Cor. 8:2, Phil. 3:13, Rev. 17:12).  If ουκ was introduced in John 7:8, as a substitute for ουπω, it is possible that this was elicited not by mischievousness, but by the same factor (whatever it was) that elicited the scribe of Sinaiticus to introduce ουκ into the text of John 7:6 instead of ουπω – and for the same reason that ουπω was not added to Mark 11:2 by Byzantine scribes, and for the same reason that the Byzantine Text reads ουκ instead of ουπω in John 6:17.
            However, the specific nature of such a factor is difficult to nail down.  The least complicated idea, I think, is that (a) an early Latin translator rendered the relevant phrase as ego non ascendo ad diem festum, imagining that the reference to that particular festival-day would not preclude Jesus’ future attendance, and thus imply “yet.” – and (b) subsequently the Greek text was adjusted slightly (from ουπω to ουκ) to conform to the Latin parallel.
            If Codex Bezae alone supported ουκ, or even if D and À (which has Western affinities in this portion of John) and Old Latin copies supported ουκ, that would be an adequate explanation.  But the external evidence for ουκ, though sparse in our extant manuscripts, is broader and weightier than it may first appear:  besides À (very probably made in Caesarea) and D (provenance unknown), we should posit an ancestor of family Π, and the base-text of the Vulgate, plus the Sinaitic Syriac and Curetonian Syriac, the base-text of the Armenian version, several Old Latin copies, and copies known to Epiphanius in Crete, copies read by Chrysostom in Antioch and/or Constantinople, copies used by Cyril of Alexandria, the Latin text used by Ambrosiaster, the text used by Augustine in North Africa, and the text used by Porphyry.  This is wide-ranging evidence that cannot be cavalierly dismissed.
            Another consideration in favor of ουκ is that orthodox copyists, facing one exemplar with ουκ and another exemplar with ουπω, would naturally prefer ουπω as the reading less likely to elicit misunderstandings of the sort that Porphyry had displayed. 
            In conclusion:  the external evidence in favor of ουπω is so abundant that compilers and translators should maintain a footnote at John 7:8 mentioning this reading, especially in light of the possibility that new evidence might come to light which accounts for interchanges between ουκ and ουπω as merely linguistic phenomena.  However, barring such a development, internal evidence strongly favors ουκ as the reading more likely to elicit ουπω, rather than the other way around, and this consideration is so weighty that even the testimony of two early papyri, Codex Sinaiticus, and over 1,500 Byzantine manuscripts cannot balance it; ουκ demands its place in the text.
            This raises a fresh question:  was Porphyry right?  Many a defender of the traditional text, or of the KJV, has proposed that to adopt the reading ουκ is to turn Jesus into a liar, on the grounds that Jesus says in verse 8 that He is not going to the feast, and yet, two verses later, He goes.  Technically, resolving this perceived difficulty is outside the purview of textual criticism; nevertheless, as an example of how the problem is resolved, with ουκ, readers may consult this video from CIRA International, this essay from Apologetics Press, or simply observe that within those two verses – that is, between Jesus’ statement, “I am not going up to this feast” and John’s record that Jesus went up to the feast – some time has elapsed, and the situation has changed:  it is true that Jesus was not going up when He said that He was not going up, when it would have involved too much publicity.   What more needs to be said?  The sentence is more perspicuous with ουπω, but that does not make the reading with ουκ incorrect, as if “I am not going” must mean “I am never going.”   
            There is an extra takeaway to consider before we leave this variant-unit.  The non-Western uncials K M Π, which read ουκ, must preserve a text here that was remarkably resistant to assimilation from competing texts – more resistant than most representatives of the Alexandrian Text, and more resistant than most representatives of the more popular Byzantine transmission-lines.  This implies that the earliest stratum of family Π, particularly when it diverges from rival Alexandrian and Byzantine readings, is especially important.  



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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Holes in Hort's Case Against the Byzantine Text


            In Hort’s 1881 Introduction, he proposed that the Syrian (Byzantine) Text is derivative of the Alexandrian and Western text-types.  He based his argument partly on conflations – an argument which I addressed earlier this month – and partly on the observation that Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Methodius, and Eusebius of Caesarea do not support any distinctly Byzantine readings:   “Before the middle of the third century, at the very earliest,” he wrote, “we have no historical signs of the existence of readings, conflate or other, that are marked as distinctively Syrian.”  
            That statement is no longer true, thanks in part to the discovery of various papyrus copies of books of the New Testament which contain distinctly Byzantine readings.  But before we look at those readings, let’s look at a map of territory that was, at one time or another, the territory of the Roman Empire.  If we were to put a big umbrella over the headquarters of Irenaeus (Lugdunum), Hippolytus (Rome), Clement of Alexandria (Alexandria, of course), Origen (Alexandria and Caesarea), Tertullian (Carthage), Cyprian (Carthage and Rome), Methodius (Olympus, in Lycia), and Eusebius of Caesarea, and assume that all Christians under those umbrellas in the 100s-200s used a text like the text of the writer who worked in that area, does that leave any part of the Roman Empire uncovered?
Headquarters of early patristic writers,
and their vicinities.
It does.  The evidence from these writers surely has much to tell us about the text of the New Testament that circulated in the areas where those writers worked and wrote, but it would be presumptive to suppose that it can tell us much about the text elsewhere – an “elsewhere” which includes Syria, Greece, Cyprus, Crete, Dalmatia, and five-sixths of Turkey, including the destinations of all of Paul’s letters except Romans.  Even when each location is extended very far from each writer’s headquarters, the picture does not materially change.                       
A second thing to consider:  the extent to which a specific writer quotes from a specific book.  Clement of Alexandria, for example, hardly quotes the Gospel of Mark at all, except from the tenth chapter.  And according to a simple check of the Scripture-index in Vol. 6 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Methodius, the least famous member of this group of writers, uses Acts twice.  Who can say with confidence that two quotations, both from the 28th chapter of a 28-chapter book, can show us that Methodius’ copy of Acts did not have a Byzantine character? 
Headquarters of early patristic writers,
and their vicinities' vicinities.
Similarly, Methodius uses Mark four times.  Who can say that four quotations from Mark’s 16 chapters demonstrate that Methodius’ text of Mark did not have a Byzantine character?   Methodius does not quote from 13 of Matthew’s 28 chapters; he does not quote from 15 of Luke’s 24 chapters, and he does not quote from nine of John’s 21 chapters – and his quotations from chapters 2, 4, 9, 10, 12. and 16 are limited to a verse each.  And (still relying on the ANF index) Methodius quotes from the General Epistles a total of seven times.  Who wants to establish from seven assorted verses (most from First Peter) a picture of the character of a 22-chapter segment of the text?
This is not to say that the evidence from each of the other writers is as sporadic as it is in the case of Methodius.  But when assessing the significance of the non-use of Byzantine readings by an author, one should first establish the extent of the author’s quotations, and their precision. 
A third thing to consider when asking how much this evidence can tell us:  after an inventory has been made of a patristic writer’s clear utilizations of New Testament passages, how much of that is capable of displaying Byzantine or non-Byzantine character?  For instance, Methodius uses John 1:18 near the beginning of his composition On Free Will, and one might hope to find there some evidence of whether his manuscripts read “Son” or “God” in that verse, but he only speaks allusively about raising a hymn to the holy Father, “glorifying in the Spirit Jesus, who is in His bosom.”   If one were to pick at random a verse from the Gospels, Acts, or an Epistle, chances are less than 50% that the Byzantine form of the verse is recognizably different from the Western and Alexandrian forms.  (That is my general impression.)  Where the text-types agree, even a clear quotation does not point to a specific form of the text.
Evidence of absence?
Or an absence of evidence?
A fourth thing to consider, when asking how much this evidence can tell us, has to do with the limitations of Latin:  is a specific quotation that has been preserved in Latin capable of displaying a Byzantine reading in a form discernible from an Alexandrian or Western rival?  Irenaeus’ work is mainly preserved in Latin.  Tertullian and Cyprian wrote in Latin.  When the difference between the Byzantine and Alexandrian and/or Western rivals is deep and wide, surely the answer is “Yes,” but when things are more nuanced – involving orthography, or the presence of an article, or a matter of word-order – not so much. 
            And there is a fifth factor to consider:  the diversity of readings that have been called Alexandrian or Western.  When Irenaeus or Hippolytus or Clement of Alexandria or Origen or Tertullian or Cyprian or Methodius or Eusebius clearly utilizes an identifiable passage in the Gospels, and uses a reading that agrees with Byz and disagrees with B and D, does Hort conclude that the writer has used a distinctively Byzantine reading?  Not so fast!  For a reading to be distinctively Byzantine, it has to not only be unique from the readings in the major Greek representatives of the Alexandrian and Western text-types, but their minor representatives as well.    
Thus a lot depends on what the allies of Byzantine readings happen to be.  For example, Tertullian (in On Baptism, ch. 5) supports the inclusion of John 5:3-4.  This reading is not supported by Sinaiticus, B, or D.  But because it is supported by several Old Latin copies, it is counted as a Western reading.  In addition, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus frequently disagree with one another, but at points where one of them agrees with the Byzantine Text, that particular reading is struck from the list of distinctively Byzantine readings.  Because of the textual diversity of the Old Latin text(s), and the incessant disagreement of the major Alexandrian witnesses, the Byzantine readings are told, “Be completely unique, or else you are either a Western reading or an Alexandrian reading” and thus have their work cut out for them.  If one reading were considered the Western reading, and one reading were considered the Alexandrian reading, then Byzantine readings would often have ancient allies.

So:  while this part of Hort’s basis for positing that the Byzantine Text is relatively late might initially look like a simple matter of sifting through patristic writings and noticing that eight ante-Nicene writers never use distinctively Byzantine readings, it is not really so simple.  Hort’s approach raises four questions:

            (1)  Territory:  Do these eight writers adequately represent the whole territory of Christendom in the 100s-200s?
(2)  Abundance of Quotations:  Does each of these eight writers quote from the New Testament in sufficient abundance to facilitate meaningful comparisons of the readings in their manuscripts to the readings of different text-types?
(3)  Precision of Quotations:  Does each of these eight writers quote from the New Testament with sufficient precision to facilitate meaningful comparisons of the readings in their manuscripts to the readings of different text-types? 
(4)  Versional Limits:  In the case of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian, is the Latin text of their writings capable of displaying variations between rival Greek readings?
(5)  Levels of Distinctiveness:  when a patristic writer appears to use a Byzantine reading, but the same reading is also found in an early witness other than Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, or Bezae, is it plausible to treat that reading as if it cannot be considered evidence for the Byzantine Text on the grounds that it is not uniquely Byzantine?

Some of these same considerations apply with similar force to the contents of early papyri.  Hort claimed that the early patristic writings show that eight early patristic writers never used distinctively Byzantine readings, but the significance of his claim shrinks and shrinks the more one considers the limits of those writers’ territory, the limits of the extent of their quotations, and the limits of the precision of their quotations.  Similarly, to the extent that the provenance of our papyri can be established, they represent one particular locale (Egypt), and most of them are very fragmentary.  Yet even with these limits, they contain some readings which agree with the Byzantine Text, and disagree with the Alexandrian and Western readings as found in Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Bezae.   Such readings should not exist in a world in which uniquely Byzantine readings are all the result of a Lucianic recension, as Hort proposed.         
            Hort simply could not write today what he wrote about unique Byzantine readings in 1881 – at least, not without exposing his approach as biased against the Byzantine Text.  The papyri agree with the Byzantine Text dozens of times against Alexandrian and Western rivals.  If one were to argue that these are not distinctively Byzantine readings (and thus not evidence of the early existence of the Byzantine Text) because they were found embedded in non-Byzantine texts, then one would have to face the question:  if the existence of early Byzantine readings do not demonstrate that the Byzantine Text is early (at least regarding the books in which the readings occur), then how can the early Byzantine Text be shown to exist?
            To reframe the problem:  if a Greek patristic writer in 230 quoted from Mark 5:42, 6:2, 6:45, 6:48, 6:50, 7:12, 7:30, 7:31, 7:32, 7:35, and 7:36, and in each case, he used a Byzantine reading that is not supported by Sinaiticus or Vaticanus or Bezae, Hort would have a hard time proving that this is not evidence that that writer used the Byzantine Text.  Yet Papyrus 45 has such readings. 
            If one argues that that these distinctively Byzantine readings in Papyrus 45 do not mean that the Byzantine Text of Mark is early, then one is essentially admitting that Hort’s parameters really mean nothing:  he argued that the absence of distinctively Byzantine readings are evidence that the Byzantine Text is late, but you would be saying that even the presence of distinctively Byzantine readings proves nothing about the Byzantine Text (except the obvious point that some early distinctively Byzantine readings are not the result of a Lucianic recension, which is no small point).  But whoever would go that far, and still adhere to Hort’s transmission-model (even after admitting that at least some distinctively Byzantine readings are not the result of a Lucianic recension), would implicitly submit that there is only one way to show that the Byzantine Text is early:  for an early Byzantine manuscript (made before 300) to exist.  
            Only the climate in Egypt is conducive to the preservation of papyrus, so this sets a special hurdle for the Byzantine Text to surmount:  if a manuscript with a thoroughly Byzantine form of the text were made in the 100s-200s, anywhere in Syria, Cilicia, Asia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Bithynia, Thrace, Cyprus, Crete, Achaia, Epirus, Macedonia, or Dalmatia, it could not survive unless it somehow traveled to Egypt.