Sunday, March 31, 2019

News from Germany: A Sequel to CBGM

Dr. Nicholas Zegers

            The city of Müenster, Germany is abuzz with news of a groundbreaking new method of textual analysis that has been developed by scholars at the Institut für Neutestamentliche Witze.  The new method, colloquially called the Conjecture Based Genealogical Method (not to be confused with its predecessor, the similarly named Coherence Based Geneaological Method), promises to shape the future of the text of the New Testament.  I sat down with resident scholar Dr. Nicholas Zegers at Caputo’s coffee bar in Müenster to find out more:

Q:  Dr. Zegers, what led to this new method, and what is the basic idea behind it?

Dr. Zegers:  The CBGM2, as I like to call it, is built upon the principles of CBGM1, applied to non-extant readings – thus the name “Conjecture Based.”  As we at the Institute were analyzing a group of variant-units with unusually high numbers of rival variants, the data appeared to break down; it was somewhat like traffic gridlock, when no car takes the lead.  And then it occurred to us:  considering that our extant manuscripts are only a small slice of all manuscripts ever made; why not add a conjectural reading, or a series of conjectural readings, to the database, and see if the gridlock dissipates?

Q:  And did it?

Dr. Zegers:  To an extent, yes – particularly in cases where the extant witnesses share a high level of contamination.  Using CBGM2, we reconstructed a number of hypothetical Ur-readings and secondary readings at specific variant-units, and regrouped the extant readings according to the classical principle of granting preference to the reading which best accounts for the others.  When we do this at many variant-units, we can establish a pre-genealogical relationship between the texts of entire manuscripts, and the conjecturally reconstructed texts.  And from there, we can build a stemma that includes the reconstructions.

Q:  Splendid.  Did you find anything interesting?

Dr. Zegers:  Yes; in a substantial number of variant-units, some rival extant readings were previously in a virtual tie, using conventional analysis, and even using CBGM1, but when CBGM2 was applied, they resolved themselves into discrete patterns that, when combined, suggest lines of descent.  Not only did this organization of the data account for many nonsense-readings, but sometimes readings which are poorly supported externally are favored on relational grounds, and on occasion, a hypothetical reading – usually a proposed Ur-reading but sometimes what had been posited as merely a possible secondary reading – augmented the coherence of the stemma, and was vindicated by the analysis as the variant that best accounted for its rivals.

Q:  Can you share an example or two?

Dr. Zegers:  Certainly; I can recollect a few off the top of my head.  We anticipate that the application of CBGM2 will elicit the introduction of new conjectural or singular readings into the text of several books of the New Testament:  our research so far confirms “the Prophet” rather than “a prophet” in John 7:52.  In James 1:17, the reading found exclusively in Papyrus 23 is favored.  And at this juncture, things don’t look good for the final phrase of John 4:9.  Non-extant readings are confirmed to be original in Acts 8:7, Acts 8:36, Acts 23:7, Galatians 4:25, First Corinthians 6:5, and Second Timothy 1:13. 

Q:  It sounds like this new method might disturb some folks who like their English New Testaments to have Greek manuscripts as a foundation.

Dr. Zegers:  Well, the basic idea is really nothing new.  What has to be understood is that most manuscripts of New Testament materials once had mothers and siblings, so to speak, which are no longer extant.  From a certain point of view, we are not creating new evidence; we are recovering the voices of manuscripts which once existed but which have been silenced by the ravages of time and chance.  Furthermore, CBGM2 confirms exponentially more traditional readings than non-extant readings, sometimes surprisingly so.  The reference in Luke 24:42 to Jesus eating a piece of honeycomb, for example, is strongly supported by CBGM2.  We’re still not sure how that happened.
Q:  This all sounds fascinating, even revolutionary.  When can we expect to see this research in print?

Dr. Zegers:  The first forty-five fascicles are in preparation, and are expected to be released in alternating volumes in a co-operative publication effort by Brill and Gorgias Press.  A preliminary draft of an introductory essay, published initially in Caucasian Albanian, is already available; following a period of peer review, it will be accompanied by an exhaustive digital database in Kotlin.

Q:  Thank you for sharing this exciting news.  I can hardly wait to read more about it.

Zegers:  You’re quite welcome.  


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Answering James White's Questions About Mark 16:9-20

            In a recent video, Dr. James White asked some questions about Mark 16:9-20.  Here are some answers.

(1)  How do you define overwhelming evidence?

            Something like this: 
99.9% of the extant Greek manuscripts of Mark 16.  The score is something like 1,650 to 3.
99.9% of the extant Latin manuscripts of Mark 16. The score is something like 8,000 to 1 (and the one, Codex Bobbiensis, is the worst-copied Latin manuscript of Mark in existence).
99% of the extant Syriac manuscripts of Mark 16.  The score is at least 100 to 1. 
100% of the extant Gothic manuscripts of Mark 16.  The score is 1 to 0.
At least 80% of the extant Sahidic manuscript of Mark 16.  The score is at least 5 to 1.
100% of the extant Bohairic manuscripts of Mark 16.  
100% of the Ethiopic manuscripts of Mark 16.  The score is about 200 to 0.   
100% of the extant Greek lectionaries of the Heothina series. 

(The ratios regarding Syriac and Sahidic manuscripts should be increased; I used low amounts here.  The one Syriac manuscript that ends the text of Mark at 16:8 is the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript; the one Sahidic manuscript that ends the text of Mark at 16:8 is Codex P. Palau-Ribes Inv. Nr. 182.) 

(2)  How could Eusebius and Jerome have said what they said?

            For some preliminary data about the testimony of Eusebius and Jerome regarding the ending of Mark, see section #2 of the 2016 post, Mark 16:9-20:  Sorting Out Some Common Mistakes.  As David Parker has acknowledged, Jerome simply recycled material from Eusebius to save time when facing a broad question about reconciling the Gospel-accounts.  (Additional details are in my book, Authentic:  The Case for Mark 16:9-20.)
            Eusebius worked at Caesarea in the early 300s, and part of the library there had been passed along from Origen in the 200s.  Origen had previously worked in Egypt, and it can be safely deduced that some copies of Mark in Egypt in the 200s ended their text at 16:8.  Eusebius’ comments reflect his awareness of such copies, or of copies at Caesarea descended from such copies. 
            In his composition Ad Marinum, however, Eusebius did not reject Mark 16:9-20.  He addressed Marinus’ question of how a person can harmonize Matthew 28:1-2 with Mark 16:9, regarding the question of the timing of Jesus’ resurrection.  Eusebius said that there are two ways to resolve the question:   one way might be to reject Mark 16:9, and everything that follows it, on the grounds that the passage is not in every manuscript, or is in some copies but not in others, or that it is seldom found.  But that is not the option that Eusebius recommends.  Instead, he advises Marinus to retain the text he has, and to resolve the question by understanding that there is a pause, or comma, in Mark 16:9, so that “Early on the first day of the week” refers to the time of Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene, rather than to the time He arose.    
              The Greek text of Eusebius’ composition can be read in Roger Pearse’s free book, Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions, with an English translation.  The things to see are that (a) Eusebius framed the claim that one could reject Mark 16:9-20 on the grounds that it is not in most manuscripts as something that could be said, not as his own favored option, even though there were manuscripts at Caesarea (descended from manuscripts from Egypt) which ended at 16:8, and (b) Eusebius recommended to Marinus that Mark 16:9-20 should be retained, and (c) he used Mark 16:9 on two other occasions in the same composition, and (d) Eusebius showed no awareness of the Shorter Ending.
            (It is extremely likely that Eusebius of Caesarea rejected Mark 16:9-20 when he developed his Canon-Tables, but that is a separate subject from his statements in Ad Marinum.)  

(3) Why do you have early fourth-century codices that do not contain this text?

            We have two fourth-century Greek codices in which Mark stops at 16:8 because those two fourth-century codices were based on manuscripts from, or descended from, Egypt, where Mark 16:9-20 had been lost or taken from the text in a previous generation. 
            Unusual features in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus show that their copyists were aware of the absent verses; for details see this post about Codex Vaticanus and this post about Codex Sinaiticus.  I show, among other things, that Codex Vaticanus has a blank space after Mark 16:8 that is capable of containing Mark 16:9-20, and that the page on which the text of Mark ends at 16:8 in Sinaiticus is part of a cancel-sheet, that is, four pages that replaced the work of the main copyist.  

(4)  Why do other early fathers never mention material from that passage?  

            Who is Dr. White talking about?  Clement and Origen?  Clement never quoted from 12 entire chapters of Mark.  Saying that Clement never mentioned material from Mark 16:9-20 is like saying, “Clement used Mark 16:9-20 as much as he used 90% of the book.”
            Origen might allude to Mark 16:17-20 in the reworked composition Philocalia, but even if one is not persuaded that he did so, Origen didn’t use the Gospel of Mark very much; there are very large segments of Mark that Origen never quoted.  Here is one way of picturing the situation:  if you divide the text of Mark into fifty-six 12-verse segments, Origen only quotes from 22 of them.  Even if we were to arbitrary increase that amount, and say that Origen used half of the 12-verse segments in Mark, the point would stand that we should approach the data from Origen with the understanding that the chance of Origen quoting from any 12-verse segment of the Gospel of Mark is 50%. 
            Origen did not use 54 consecutive verses from Mark 1:36 to 3:16.  Origen did not use 41 consecutive verses of Mark from 5:2 to 5:43.  Origen did not use 22 consecutive verses from 8:7 to 8:29, and Origen did not use 39 consecutive verses from 10:3 to 10:42. 
            So when he does not quote from 12 verses in Mark 16:9-20, is that supposed to suggest that the passage wasn’t in his manuscripts?  Seriously?  Too many apologists have read “Clement and Origen show no knowledge of these verses” in Metzger’s Textual Commentary, and thought, “Well, that sounds important,” and rephrased Metzger’s claim without ever investigating whether it’s solid evidence, or propaganda.  Well, folks, it is empty propaganda.  Origen shows no knowledge of 450 verses of Mark.  The claim that Origen does not use Mark 16:9-20 – if he wasn’t doing so in Philocalia – has no real force as an argument against the passage, and commentators who use it as if it does deserve to be ignored.

            While we are on the subject of patristic evidence:  when someone claims that early church fathers never use the contents of Mark 16:9-20, that person shows that he is not qualified to give an informed opinion on the subject.  Lots of patristic writers mention material from Mark 16:9-20.  
            In the 100s, Justin Martyr alluded to Mark 16:20.  Tatian incorporated almost the whole passage in his Diatessaron.  And Irenaeus, in what is now France, specifically quoted Mark 16:19, in his work Against Heresies, in Book Three.  In the 200s, passages from Mark 16:9-20 are used in Syriac in the Didascalia Apostolorum, and in a Latin statement by Vincent of Thibaris at a council in Carthage, and in the Latin composition De Rebaptismate, in the 250’s.            
            In the late 200s or early 300s, the pagan writer Hierocles, in the area that is now Turkey, used Mark 16:18 in the course of mockingly challenging Christians to select their leaders by poison-drinking contests.  Also in the 300s, the Latin writer Fortunatianus mentioned that Mark told about the ascension of Christ.  In the same century, the unknown author of the Acts of Pilate used Mark 16:15-16, and so did the author of the Syriac text of The Story of John the Son of Zebedee.    Meanwhile, Aphrahat the Persian Sage utilized Mark 16:17 in his composition First Demonstration, in 337.  Elsewhere, Wulfilas included Mark 16:9-20 in the Gothic version in the mid-300s.  In Syria in the late 300s or early 400s, the translators of the Syriac Peshitta included Mark 16:9-20.  Meanwhile in Milan, Ambrose quoted from Mark 16:9-20 in the 380s. 
            In 383, Jerome made the Vulgate, stating specifically that he had consulted ancient Greek manuscripts for the purpose, and he included Mark 16:9-20.  A little later on, in the early 400s, Jerome made a reference to the interpolation known as the Freer Logion, and said that he had seen it “especially in Greek codices.”  Metzger proposes that the Freer Logion itself was composed and inserted into the text between Mark 16:14 and 16:15 sometime in the second or third century.   
            In the 400s, Patrick quoted from Mark 16:16 in Ireland; Augustine quoted from Mark 16:9-20 in North Africa – and he casually mentioned that his Greek copies affirmed a reading in verse 12 – and Macarius Magnes used it in Asia Minor, and Marcus Eremita used it in Israel, and Eznik of Golb quotes verses 17 and 18 way over in Armenia, and five forms of the Old Latin chapter-summaries, displayed for instance in Codex Corbeiensis, refer to the contents of Mark 16:9-20. 

            How many names of patristic writers who utilized Mark 16:9-20 are found in The King James Only Controversy in the section where James White focuses on external evidence about this passage?    Is Justin mentioned?  No.  Tatian?  No.  White mentioned two Georgian copies made after the time of Charlemagne, but did he mention Irenaeus?  No.  He mentioned the Slavonic version from the ninth century, because he thought it supports non-inclusion (it actually supports inclusion), but did he mention the Gothic version from the fourth century?  No.  Why not?
            James White didn’t mention the evidence from Justin, and Tatian, and Vincent of Thibaris, and Hierocles, and Fortunatianus, and Wulfilas.  But why should his readers feel as if they have been misled?
            James White didn’t mention Acts of Pilate, and the repeated quotations of Mark 16:9-20 by Ambrose in Italy, or by Augustine in North Africa. He didn’t mention that Augustine’s Greek manuscripts had Mark 16:9-20.  But why should his readers feel misled?    
            James White didn’t mention Patrick’s use of Mark 16:15-16 in Ireland, or Macarius Magnes’ extensive use of the passage in Asia Minor, or the use of Mark 16:18 by Marcus Eremita in Israel – but he did not lie to anyone.  Maybe his readers just misunderstood what they were being told.  
            White didn’t mention that Pelagius, Prosper of Aquitaine, and Peter Chrysologus used Mark 16:9-20.  But his readers have not been lied to.   
            James White did not mention a single one of these Roman-era witnesses that support Mark 16:9-20.  He did not mention that Irenaeus, c. 180, had a manuscript that contained Mark 16:9-20, over a century before Vaticanus was made. But why should anyone feel misled by White’s selectivity in choosing what evidence to share, and what to hide?      

(5)  Most importantly, why the differing endings if the one is original?

            Well, let me tell you.  The question is, in part, a request for a hypothesis:  in the first century, after the Gospel of Mark began to be disseminated from the city of Rome (with 16:9-20 included), a copy reached Egypt.  At this point, the last twelve verses were lost; a simple accident is possible, but I think they were removed or obelized (and then later removed) deliberately by someone who recognized them as resembling a short composition which Mark had written on another occasion as a freestanding text, summarizing Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances.  This individual regarded Peter as the primary author of the Gospel of Mark; Mark being merely a recorder and organizer of Petrine material.  He therefore obelized verses 9-20 as something that was not the work of the primary author, and in the next generation, the obelized portion was not perpetuated.   
            Of course we do not have this on video – just as we do not have any of the dozens of scribal corruptions that James White proposes in his book on video.  And this hypothesis can be tweaked without essential change; for example, it is possible that verses 9-20 were removed in a single step.  But this or something like this accounts for the absence of Mark 16:9-20 in Egypt, while the Gospel of Mark spread with 16:9-20 included everywhere else, as the patristic evidence shows – that is, as the patristic evidence would show, if the patristic writers had not been tied up and gagged, and thrown in a pit where they cannot be heard.
            In a later generation, in Egypt, the Shorter Ending was created by someone who could not stand the abruptness of the text in its truncated form (ending at the end of 16:8).  There are six Greek manuscripts that have the Shorter Ending; some of them are damaged, but all six also have verse 9, which implies that all six also had verses 9-20 when the manuscripts were in pristine condition. 
            Did James White tell you about the notes that appear in some of those manuscripts?  No?  Maybe that has something to do with why he is asking this question.  Let’s take a few minutes to zoom in on those notes.  Without getting bogged down in details, the thing to see is that most of these six manuscripts are related to the same narrow Egyptian transmission-stream.  Here are the basic details:

            In Codex L, a note appears before the Short Ending:  “In some, there is also this.”  And between the Shorter Ending and 16:9, a note says, “There is also this, appearing after ‘for they were afraid.”  It may be safely deduced from these notes that the person who wrote these notes knew of some copies with the Shorter Ending after verse 8, and some copies with verses 9-20 after verse 8.
            In Codex Ψ, the six lines that follow the line on which Mark 16:8 ends contain the Short Ending, and then there is a note:  “This also appears, following ‘for they were afraid.’”  The wording of the note is not quite identical to the note in L, but it is very close. 
            083 is a damaged fragment, but enough has survived to show that 083 has the closing-title “Gospel According to Mark” after 16:8, and then has the Shorter Ending in the next column, and before 16:9, the note, “There is also this, appearing after ‘for they were afraid,’” exactly as in Codex L. 
            099, which is even more fragmentary than 083, has a feature which creates a link to a locale in Egypt.  16:8 is followed by a gap, which is followed by the Shorter Ending, which is followed by another gap.  Then, instead of the beginning of 16:9, the contents of 16:8b are repeated (beginning with ειχεν γαρ αυτας τρομος ) and after 16:8 is completed, 16:9 begins.
            Why does this link these manuscripts to Egypt?  Because of the Greek-Sahidic lectionary 1602 – which James White mislabeled “l, 1602” in the second edition of his book, just as he mislabeled lectionary 153 as “l, 153” on the previous page.  In l 1602, a note appears between 16:8 and the Shorter Ending:  “In other copies this is not written.”  Then, after the Shorter Ending, there is the same note that appears in Codex L.  After the note, instead of beginning 16:9, the text resumes in 16:8b (at ειχεν γαρ, as in 099), which is followed by 16:9ff. 
            To review:  L and Ψ and 083 and  l 1602 have the note “There is also this, appearing after ‘for they were afraid,’” before 16:9.  099 and l 1602 both repeat the text of 16:8b before 16:9.  Thus, all five of these witnesses are traced to the same narrow transmission-stream, where Sahidic was read (i.e., in Egypt).     
            That leaves two Greek manuscripts with the Shorter Ending:  579 and 274.  579 (from the 1200s) does not share any of the notes that L, Ψ, 099 and 083 have, but it shares (approximately) the rare chapter-divisions that are displayed in Codex Vaticanus, the flagship manuscript of the Alexandrian Text.  It also shares many readings with Vaticanus, such as the non-inclusion of Luke 22:43-44 and Luke 23:34a.
            That leaves 274.  In the main text of 274 (from the 900s), 16:9 begins on the same line on which 16:8 ends (the verses are separated by an abbreviated lectionary-related note, “End of the second Heothina-reading”).  The Shorter Ending has been added in the lower margin of the page, to the right of a column of five asterisks; another asterisk appears to the left of 16:9 so as to indicate where the Shorter Ending was seen in another manuscript.    The Shorter Ending in 274 is more like an incidental margin-note, mentioning an interesting feature in some secondary exemplar, than part of the manuscript’s text copied from the main exemplar.
            The takeaway from this is that the Greek witnesses for the Shorter Ending echo situations in one particular locale, namely Egypt, where Mark 16:9-20 was first lost (or excised), and the Shorter Ending was then created to relieve the resultant abrupt stop of the narrative, and then copies appeared in which 16:9-20 followed 16:8.  Copyists in Egypt, facing some exemplars with no text after 16:8, and some exemplars with the Shorter Ending after 16:8, and some exemplars with verses 9-20 after 16:8, resolved the situation by including both endings.  Meanwhile, everywhere else – from Ireland to France to Rome to North Africa to the coast of Italy to Asia Minor to Palestine to Cyprus to Israel to parts of Egypt to Syria to Armenia – copies of Mark were being used in which 16:8 was followed unremarkably by 16:9-20.          
            The Sahidic, Bohairic, and Ethiopic versions, like almost all versions, echoed the Greek manuscripts accessible to their translators:  the earliest strata of the Sahidic version echoes a situation in Egypt when and where the text of Mark ended at 16:8; the versions with the double-ending (always with the Shorter Ending first, when it appears in the text – for it would be superfluous after 16:20) echo later situations.  (Notably, the Garima Gospels, the oldest Ethiopic Gospels-manuscript, does not have the Shorter Ending after 16:8; it has 16:9-20.)
            If Dr. White has any other questions on this subject, or still feels obligated to put Mark 16:9-20 in a "Maybe Scripture, Maybe Not" category, I will be happy to discuss this topic with him in a formal debate – anywhere, any place, any time.

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sinaiticus and Byz: Same Message in Mark?

            As a supplement to the previous post, in which I listed 60 translation-impacting differences between the text of Matthew in Sinaiticus and the text of Matthew in the Byzantine Text, here is a list of 60 translation-impacting differences between Sinaiticus and the Byzantine Text in the text of Mark.  
1.  In Mark 1:1, does Mark, as narrator, refer to Jesus as the Son of God?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

2.  In Mark 1:2, did Mark state that it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face”?  (The quotation is from Malachi 3:1.)
            Byzantine Text:  no
            Sinaiticus:  yes
            (A four-part essay about this textual contest is available:  Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.)

3.  In Mark 1:28, at the beginning of His ministry as described in Mark chapter 1, did Jesus preach in the synagogues of Galilee, or on the synagogues of Judea?
            Byzantine Text:  Galilee
            Sinaiticus:  Judea
            Inasmuch as Galilee and Judea are not the same place, these two variants do not say the same thing, and one must be incorrect.  This is a mistake by the copyist of À. 

4.  In Mark 1:32, were demon-possessed individuals brought to Jesus for healing?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  this is not stated
            The copyist of À skipped the second half of Mark 1:32, all of Mark 1:33, and the first part of verse 34, when his line of sight drifted from “and” (και) in the middle of verse 32 to the same word in the middle of verse 34.   

5.  In Mark 1:33, was all the city gathered at the door?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  this is not stated 
            The same parableptic error that affected the text of À in verse 32 has affected it here, resulting in the loss of verse 33.

6.  In Mark 1:34, does Mark state that Jesus healed many who were sick with various diseases?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            Sinaiticus lacks this statement due to the same scribal error that caused the loss of verse 33.
7.  In Mark 2:12, what did the people say after Jesus healed the paralytic and forgave his sins?
            Byzantine Text:  we never saw anything like this
            Sinaiticus:  Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel
            The text of À here is corrupted by a harmonization; the phrase was taken from Matthew 9:33.

8.  In Mark 3:8, were Idumeans mentioned among the people who came to Jesus?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            The copyist of À accidentally skipped the phrase that mentions people from Idumaea; his line of sight drifted from και (“and”) to και.

9.  In Mark 3:15, does Mark say that when Jesus appointed the twelve, they were given power to heal sicknesses?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no 

10.  Did Jesus conclude Mark 4:24 with the words, “it shall be added to you,” or, “it shall be added to you who hear”?
            Byzantine Text:  “it shall be added to you who hear.”
            Sinaiticus:  “it shall be added to you.”

11.  Does Mark 4:28 include the phrase “then an ear”?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            The copyist of À accidentally skipped the phrase when his line of sight skipped from ειτα (“then”) to ειτα.  

12.  In Mark 6:4, did Jesus say, “and among his relatives”?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            The copyist of À accidentally skipped the phrase when his line of sight skipped from the first occurrence of “his” (αυτου, or in À, εαυτου)  to the next occurrence of the word in the Alexandrian transmission-stream.

13.  In Mark 6:7-8, as Jesus sent forth the twelve, did He give them authority over unclean spirits?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            The copyist of À accidental skipped this statement when his line of sight drifted from αυτοις (“them”) to the next occurrence of the same word, in verse 8.

14.  In Mark 6:11, did Jesus say that it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than it will be for a city that rejects the apostles?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

Salome Dancing for Herod
(from fol. 21v of the Holkham Picture Bible)
15.  Does Mark 6:22 describe the young woman who danced in Herod’s presence – the young woman who is also identified in Matthew 14:6 as the daughter of Herodias – as “the daughter of Herod”?
            Byzantine Text:  no
            Sinaiticus:  yes
            Sinaiticus and some other Alexandrian witnesses also say that her name was Herodias:  της θυγατρὸς αυτου Ἡρωδιάδος, although Josephus identifies her as Salome, the daughter of Herodias from her marriage to Herod’s brother.  The idea that Mark would describe this young woman as Herod’s daughter, immediately after reporting that John the Baptist had declared Herod’s marriage to Herodias to be unlawful, seems implausible, as does the idea that Herod would happen to have a daughter with the same name as the woman who had been married to his brother.  Nevertheless, the editors of the Nestle-Aland compilation, and the editors of the NET, seem determined to prefer the more difficult reading, even when it appears to contradict Matthew 14:6, and it poses a historical improbability, and is something intrinsically unlikely for the author to have written.

16.  Did Mark report in 6:27-28 that a soldier beheaded John the Baptist in the prison?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            The copyist of À accidentally skipped the second half of verse 27 and the first segment of verse 28 when his line of sight drifted from “his head” (την κεφαλην αυτου) in verse 27 to the same words in verse 28.  (Amazingly, this omission in the text of À has not been corrected.)

17.  In Mark 6:36, as the disciples said that the crowds should be dismissed, did the disciples also say specifically that the people did not have anything to eat?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no   

18.  Did Mark note in 7:3 that the Pharisees wash with the fist (so as to wash the entire hand, according to a certain custom), or that the Pharisees wash often?
            Byzantine Text:  with the fist
            Sinaiticus:  often
            An interesting side-note:  the KJV agrees with the rare reading found in À; however the 1611 KJV had a margin-note offering an alternative rendering (“diligently”) and mentioning that the original text means “with the fist,” which was understood by the commentator Theophylact to mean “up to the elbow.” 

 19.  Does Mark 7:4 describe immersions, or acts in which water was poured over various objects?
            Byzantine Text:  immersions (βαπτίσωνται)
            Sinaiticus:  acts in which water was poured (ῥαντίσωνται)

 20.  Did Jesus say “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” in Mark 7:16?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            This verse is not only absent from À but from a few other Alexandrian manuscripts too.

 21.  Does Mark 8:7 say that Jesus commanded that the fish was to be set before the people, or did Jesus set the fish before the people?
            Byzantine Text:  Jesus commanded that the fish was to be set before the people
            Sinaiticus:  Jesus set the fish before the people

 22.  Does Mark 8:25 say that Jesus, when He laid hands on the blind man, made him look up?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no  

● 23.  In Mark 8:26, did Jesus tell the man whose sight was restored that he was not to tell anyone in the village?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 24.  In Mark 8:29, did Peter say, “You are the Christ,” or “You are the Christ, the Son of God”?
            Byzantine Text:  “You are the Christ.”
            Sinaiticus:  “You are the Christ, the Son of God.”
            The text in À has been expanded via a partial harmonization to Matthew 16:16.

 25.  In Mark 9:3, did Mark describe the clothing worn by Christ during the Transfiguration as “very white, like snow” or simply as “very white”?
            Byzantine Text:  “very white, like snow”
            Sinaiticus:  “very white”  

 26.  In Mark 9:9, did Jesus tell Peter and James and John that they should tell no one about the Transfiguration when the Son of Man is risen from the dead?
            Byzantine Text:  no; He said to tell no one until then
            Sinaiticus:  yes
            Apparently the copyist of À deleted the words ει μη due to a concern that readers might misconstrue the double negative construction in the verse.

 27.  Were the Pharisees mentioned in the question in Mark 9:11?
            Byzantine Text:  no, only the scribes
            Sinaiticus:  yes, the scribes and Pharisees are both mentioned

 28.  In Mark 9:24, did the father of the afflicted child cry out with tears?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 29.  In Mark 9:29, did Jesus say that a particular kind of unclean spirit could only be exorcised with prayer and fasting?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no, only “with prayer.”
            This textual contest is particularly interesting because, when combined with the textual contest in Matthew 17:21, the text of Sinaiticus is incapable of teaching the same thing that the Byzantine Text teaches on the subject of exorcism.

 30.  In Mark 9:42, did Jesus refer to little ones who believe in Me, or simply to little ones who believe?
            Byzantine Text:  little ones who believe in Me
            Sinaiticus:  little ones who believe

 31.  Are Mark 9:44 and 9:45b-46 included in the text, repeating for emphasis what is stated in 9:48?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 32.  Does Mark 9:49 conclude with the words, “And every sacrifice shall be salted with salt”?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 33.  Does Mark 10:7 include the phrase “and cleave unto his wife”?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 34.  In Mark 10:24, did Jesus say that it is hard for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of heaven, or did He say that it is hard to enter into the kingdom of heaven?
            Byzantine Text:   it is hard for those who trust in riches
            Sinaiticus:  it is hard
            Sinaiticus has some allies here, such as B W Δ Ψ.  A parableptic error accounts for the shorter reading, inasmuch as the word for “is” (εστιν) ends with the same two letters as the last word in the disputed phrase, “riches” (χρήμασιν).  

 35.  How does Peter’s statement in Mark 10:28 end?
            Byzantine Text:  we have left everything and followed You.
            Sinaiticus:  Therefore, what shall be ours?
            The text of À has been expanded via a harmonization to Matthew 19:27.

 36.  Is one’s wife included in the list in Mark 10:29?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 37.  In Mark 10:30, what is included in the list of what may be received?
            Byzantine Text:  houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands – with persecution.
            Sinaiticus:  nothing is in the verse between “in this time” and “and in the world to come, life eternal.”

 38.  Are the scribes mentioned in Mark 10:33?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            The short reading in À is a symptom of parablepsis, και to και.

 39.  In Mark 10:35, what do James and John say, and how does Jesus answer in verse 36?
            Byzantine Text:  they say, “Teacher, we desire that You grant to us whatsoever we desire,” and Jesus replies, “What is it that you desire Me to do for you?”
            Sinaiticus:  they say, “Teacher, we desire,” and the rest of verse 35 is missing.  All of verse 36 is also missing, and the first part of verse 37 is also missing.  The text resumes with “that one may be seated on Your right hand.”
            Apparently the line of sight of the copyist of À drifted from the word ινα (“that”) in verse 35 to the same word in verse 37, skipping all the words in between.

 40.  How does Mark 10:40 end?
            Byzantine Text:  “for whom it has been prepared.”
            Sinaiticus:  “for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”
            The text of À has been expanded via harmonization to Matthew 20:23.

 41.  How did Jesus describe the village where the disciples were to find the colt in Mark 11:2?
            Byzantine Text:  “across from you” (also rendered as “opposite you”)
            Sinaiticus:  there is no particular description; it is just “the village”
            The shorter reading in À is probably to be accounted for by a parableptic error in which the copyist’s line of sight drifted from the final letter of κώμην (“village”) to the final letter of “you” (υμων).

 42.  Does Mark 11:23 end with the phrase “whatever he shall say”?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 43.  What does Jesus say in Mark 11:26?
            Byzantine Text:  “But if you do not forgive, neither shall your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
            Sinaiticus:  nothing; the verse is not there.
            The shorter reading in the Alexandrian Text is accounted for by a parableptic error in which an early copyist’s line of sight drifted from the words τα παραπτώματα υμων (“your trespasses”) at the end of verse 25 to the same words at the end of verse 26, skipping all the words in between.

 44.  In Mark 12:25, does Jesus affirm that in the resurrection, no one marries?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no; Jesus only affirms that no one is given in marriage (the words ουτε γαμουσιν are absent)
            The shorter reading in À looks like a symptom of scribal inattentiveness; the copyist’s line of sight drifted from one occurrence of ουτε to the next occurrence.

 45.  Is the phrase “and with all the soul” in Mark 12:33?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 46.  How many times is Jesus called “Teacher” in Mark 13:1?
            Byzantine Text:  once
            Sinaiticus:  twice

 47.  It is easier to simply describe the weirdness of Sinaiticus’ text of Mark 13:8 than to present it in a comparison to the Byzantine Text:  the copyist of À wrote “kingdom” instead of “kingdom against kingdom,” and after “earthquake” (σεισμοι), a segment of text is missing; the text resumes with αρχη ωδείνων ταυτα (“These are the beginnings of sorrows”).  It appears that the copyist was very inattentive; besides omitting “kingdom against,” his line of sight also drifted from the letters at the end of σεισμοι to the same letters at the end of λιμοι.

 48.  In Mark 13:14, does Jesus affirm that the abomination of desolation is mentioned by the prophet Daniel?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 49.  Does Mark 14:19 include the phrase, “And another, ‘Is it I?’”
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 50.  In Mark 14:22, in what order does Jesus give thanks for the bread, and break it?
            Byzantine Text:  He blessed it, and broke it
            Sinaiticus:  he broke it, and blessed it

 51.  In Mark 14:30, did Jesus mention that the rooster would crow two times?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 52.  Do the false witnesses in Mark 14:58 say that they heard Jesus saying something?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no
            Apparently somewhere in the transmission-stream of À, a copyist accidentally skipped from οτι at the beginning of the verse to its next occurrence, thus losing the words in between; another copyist attempted to salvage the omission by inserting ειπεν.

 53.  What did the high priest ask in Mark 14:61?
            Byzantine Text:  Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?
            Sinaiticus:  Are you the Christ, the Son of God?

 54.  Does Mark 14:68 say that a rooster crowed?
            Byzantine Text: yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 55.  In Mark 14:71, did Peter say, “I do not know that man of whom you speak,” or, “I do not know the man”?
            Byzantine Text:  I do not know that man of whom you speak.
            Sinaiticus:  I do not know the man

 56.  Does Mark 14:71 say that a rooster crowed a second time?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no

 57.  Does Mark 15:28 mention the fulfillment of a prophecy from Isaiah 53:12?
            Byzantine Text:  yes
            Sinaiticus:  no; the entire verse is absent

 58.  Does Mark affirm that Jesus was seen by Mary Magdalene after He arose from the dead?
            Byzantine Text:  yes (in Mark 16:9)
            Sinaiticus:  no; the text of Mark on the replacement-sheet in Sinaiticus stops at the end of 16:8.

 59.  In the Gospel of Mark, does Jesus instruct His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel?
            Byzantine Text:  yes (in Mark 16:15)
            Sinaiticus:  no; the text of Mark on the replacement-sheet in Sinaiticus stops at the end of 16:8.

 60.  Does Mark record that Jesus ascended to the right hand of God?
            Byzantine Text:  yes (in Mark 16:19, as affirmed by Irenaeus)
            Sinaiticus:  no; the text of Mark on the replacement-sheet in Sinaiticus stops at the end of 16:8.

           While some of these differences are minor, such as the repetition in 13:1, others involve a difference between a true statement in the Byzantine Text and an error in the text in Sinaiticus, such as in 1:28 and 6:22.  In other cases, the text in Sinaiticus has been expanded via harmonization, such as in 2:12, 8:29, and 10:28.  In other cases, it has been shortened due to a scribal error, such as in 1:32-33, 1:34, 3:8, 4:28, 6:7-8, 6:27-28, 10:35-37, 11:2, 12:25,  13:8, and 14:58.  When one goes from the Byzantine Text of Mark to the text of Mark written by the copyist of Sinaiticus, much more than Mark 16:9-20 disappears; within Mark 1:1-16:8 there is, added up, practically a whole chapter’s worth of verses in Sinaiticus that that have been significantly changed due to scribal corruptions.

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