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.

       



Saturday, April 27, 2019

Conflations (Part 2)


            Today we continue our consideration of conflations.
            Without Hort’s use of conflations as evidence that the Byzantine Text is derivative of the Alexandrian and Western text-types in his 1881 Introduction, he would have had a much harder time making a case for the overthrow of the Textus Receptus.  As we saw in Part 1, three of the eight examples of conflation presented by Hort are not necessarily actual conflations; the longer reading in Mark 6:33, Luke 9:10, and Luke 24:53 is capable of plausibly accounting for the origin of its shorter rivals?  
            What about the remaining five – found in Mark 8:26, Mark 9:38, Mark 9:49, Luke 11:54, and Luke 12:18?  As an exercise, let’s consider Luke 12:18: 
            B:  τὸν σειτον καὶ τὰ ἀγαθά μου
            P75*:  τὸν σιτον μου καὶ τὰ ἀγαθά μου
            P75c Àc L f1 157:  τὸν σιτον καὶ τὰ ἀγαθά μου 
            579:  τὸν σιτον καὶ τὰ ἀγαθά μου
            À* D 435 Old Latin:  τὰ γενήματά μου
            39 and other Old Latin:  τοὺς καρπούς μου
            346:  τὸν σιτον μου καὶ τὰ γενήματα μου
            Byz:  τὰ γενήματα μου καὶ τὰ ἀγαθά μου
 
            It should be immediately obvious the first Western reading (read by À* D) is accounted for by the Byzantine Reading: from τὰ γενήματα μου καὶ τὰ ἀγαθά μου, the route to τὰ γενήματά μου is simple:  a parableptic drift from the first τὰ to the second τὰ.  The Alexandrian reading as attested in B P75c Àc L f1 157 and 579 is accounted for in another way:  as a slight stylistic refinement, replacing τὰ γενήματα μου with τὸν σιτον μου (as in P75*) or τὸν σιτον.  It should be noticed that the copyist of P75 first wrote τὸν σιτον μου before the μου was removed.
            As for the reading in minuscule 39, supported by some Old Latin copies, this is a typical Western simplification-via-harmonization, using verbiage from the preceding verse. 
            Thus once again, while Hort’s theory that the Byzantine reading is the result of the creativity of a scribe who had two exemplar with two rival readings – one Alexandrian, one Western – cannot be refuted, neither can the theory that the Alexandrian and Western readings emerged from the Byzantine reading.
            But while Hort’s theory cannot be refuted, is it as plausible as the alternative scenario in which the Byzantine reading is original?  If a scribe had one manuscript that read τὰ γενήματά μου (my produce) and another manuscript that read τὸν σιτον μου καὶ τὰ ἀγαθά μου (my wheat and my goods), and the scribe wanted to combine them so as to preserve them both readings, the resultant collision would mention (1) wheat, (2) produce, and (3) goods.  But somewhere along the line, Hort’s scribe must have forgotten that he was attempting to preserve both readings; he could have simply written two sentences or clauses – “I will store there all my wheat; I will store  there all my produce and goods” – but he did not.  Hort’s proposal seems more complicated, and less plausible, than the explanation that the Byzantine reading here is original, and its Western rival is the result of an accidental omission, and its Alexandrian rival, the result of a stylistic introduction of τὸν σιτον in place of τὰ γενήματα.    

             Suppose, however, that Hort’s theory is true in all eight examples of conflation that he provided.  (Suppose, too, that the Byzantine readings in Matthew 26:70, John 10:31 and John 18:40 are added to the list.)
            This would not imply that the Byzantine Text is derivative of the Alexandrian and Western Text.  If we were to picture a conflation as the collision of two cars that became intertwined in the wreck, then it need not imply anything more than that one car was a short reading that agreed with either the Alexandrian or Western Text before it collided with its rival reading (in either an Alexandrian, or Western, exemplar) and, thus combined, became a longer reading.    
            To rephrase this as a question:  as Hort presents the rival shorter readings, why should either reading be considered exclusively Alexandrian, or exclusively Western?  If it is an early Byzantine reading, then the longer reading that supplants it is merely an example of mixture, and instead of looking at the effects of a deliberate revision or recension when we look at conflations, we are looking at sporadic accidents – the incidental effects of one form of the text driving into a locale where another form is dominant. 
            There is thus nothing about conflations that moves forward Hort’s theory of a Lucianic recension.  Plausible alternative explanations of the evidence exist, in which the Byzantine reading accounts for its truncated rivals; in addition, there is no reason to assume, if any of Hort’s eight conflations are indeed conflations of earlier readings, that neither component-reading already existed in an early form of the Byzantine Text.
           
            But if Hort’s argument from conflations does not imply that the Byzantine Text is posterior to the Alexandrian and Western text-types, what about his next point, specifically, that the non-use of distinctly Byzantine readings by patristic writers before the 300s implies that the Byzantine Text did not exist until then?  We shall, God willing, look into that claim soon.
            First, however, let’s briefly test Hort’s claim that conflations are a special characteristic of the Byzantine Text:  “We do not know of any places,” Hort wrote, “where the α group of documents [i.e., Codex B and its allies] supports readings apparently conflate from the readings of the β and δ groups [i.e., Western and Byzantine] respectively, or where the β group of documents [Western representatives] supports readings apparently conflate from the readings of the α and δ groups respectively.” 
            While this might seem to mean that representatives of the Alexandrian and Western text-types do not have conflations, that is not what it means.  It only means that conflations of Western and Byzantine readings are not detectable in the Alexandrian Text, and that conflations of Alexandrian and Byzantine readings are not detectable in the Western Text.  But consider the following:

Matthew 3:12
            Byz:  και συνάξει τον σιτὸν αυτου εις την αποθήκην
            L 157:  και συνάξει τον σιτὸν εις την αποθήκην αυτου
            B:  και συνάξει τον σειτὸν αυτου εις την αποθήκην αυτου
            Here the reading in Vaticanus (B) looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading (with αυτου after σιτὸν) and the reading in L (with αυτου after αποθήκην) – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read “and shall gather his wheat into the barn,” and another exemplar read “and shall gather the wheat into his barn,” and the scribe combined them so as to read, “and shall gather his wheat into his barn.”

Matthew 24:38
            Byz:   εν ταις ημέραις ταις προ του κατακλυσμου
            D:  εν ταις ημέραις εκείναις προ του κατακλυσμου
            B:  εν ταις ημέραις εκείναις ταις προ του κατακλυσμου
            Here the reading in B looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading (without εκείναις) and the reading in D (without ταις) – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read “in the days which were before the flood,” and another exemplar read “in those days before the flood,” and the scribe combined them so as to read, “in those days which were before the flood.”

Matthew 26:22
            Byz:  εκαστος αυτων
            B À L:  εις εκαστος
            D Θ:  εις εκαστος αυτων
            Here the reading in D looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading (without εις) and the reading in B (without αυτων) – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read “each of them,” and another examplar which read “each one,” and the scribe combined them so as to read, “each one of them.”    

Mark 1:28
            Byz:  ευθυς    
            W 579:  πανταχου      
            B C:  ευθυς πανταχου
            Here the reading in B looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading and the reading in Codex W – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read “immediately,” and another exemplar which read “everywhere,” and the scribe combined them so as to read “immediately everywhere.”  [Codex W was not discovered until after Hort wrote.]

John 13:24
            Byz:  Σίμων Πέτρος πύθεσθαι τίς αν ειη περι ου λέγει.
            D:   Σίμων Πέτρους πύθεσθαι τίς αν ειη ουτος περι ου λέγει.
            B C L 33:  Σίμων Πέτρος και λέγει αυτω Ειπε τίς εστιν περι ου λέγει.
            À:  Σίμων Πέτρος πύθεσθαι τίς αν ειη περι ου ελεγεν και λέγει αυτω Ειπε τίς εστιν περι ου λέγει.
            Here the reading in À looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading (not, it should be observed, the Western reading in D, for D’s ουτος is nowhere to be found in À here) and the reading in Codex B – as if a copyist had one exemplar which said that Simon Peter gestured to the beloved disciple to ask who it might be of whom He was speaking, and another exemplar which said that Simon Peter gestured to the beloved disciple and told him to say who it was of whom He was speaking, and the scribe combined both readings, so as to write that Simon Peter gestured to the beloved disciple to ask who it might be of whom He was speaking, and told him to say who it was of whom He was speaking.

John 16:4
            Byz:  ινα οταν ελθη η ωρα μνημονεύητε αυτων
            L:   ινα εαν ελθη η ωρα αυτων μνημονεύητε
            B 157:  ινα οταν ελθη η ωρα αυτων μνημονεύητε αυτων
            Here the reading in B looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading and the reading in Codex L – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read “that when the hour may come you shall remember them,” and another exemplar which read “that when their hour may come you shall remember,” and the scribe combined them so as to read, “that when their hour may come you shall remember them.”

Ephesians 2:5
            Byz:  και οντας ημας νεκρους τοις παραπτωμασιν
            D:  και οντας ημας νεκρους ταις αμαρτιαις
            B:  και οντας ημας νεκρους εν τοις παραπτωμασιν και ταις αμαρτιαις
            Here the reading in B looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading and the reading in D – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read, “and we who were dead in trespasses,” and another exemplar which read, “and we who were dead in sins,” and the scribe combined them so as to read, “and we who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

Colossians 1:12
            Byz:  ικανώσαντι  
            D:  καλεσαντι  
            B:  καλεσαντι και ικανώσαντι  
            Here the reading in B looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading and the reading in D – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read, “qualified” and one exemplar which read, “summoned,” and the scribe combined them so as to read, “qualified and summoned.”

Second Thessalonians 3:4
            Byz:  και ποιειτε και ποιησετε
            F G:  και εποιησατε και ποιειτε
            B Sah:  και εποιησατε και ποιειτε και ποιησετε
            Here the reading in B (supported by the Sahidic version) looks like a combination of the Byzantine reading and the reading in F and G – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read, “and you are doing and will do,” and another exemplar which read, “and you did and are doing,” and the scribe combined them so as to read, “and you did and are doing and will do.    

Jude v. 3
            Byz:  της κοινης σωτηρίας
            B P72 1739:  της κοινης ημων σωτηρίας
            6 1881:  της κοινης υμων σωτηρίας
            1611 2138:  της κοινης ημων ζωης
            1505:  της κοινης υμων ζωης
            À 044:  της κοινης ημων σωτηρίας και ζωης
            Here the reading of À looks like a combination of the reading of B (and most non-Byzantine MSS, with ημων) and the reading of the Harklean Group – as if a copyist had one exemplar which read, “pertaining to our common salvation,” and another examplar which read, “pertaining to our common life,” and the scribe combined them so as to read, “pertaining to our common salvation and life.”

            So:  do apparent conflations mean that the text-type in which they are embedded is late?  No.  They do not, for three reasons:
(1)  Some apparent conflations may be cases where an original longer reading has been shortened by scribes in two different ways. 
(2)  In other cases, they may be merely combinations of a reading found in an established local text, and a reading from a manuscript representing a different, or invasive, text-type; no impetus is created for the idea that either text-type is late – only that the conflation is. 
(3)  Whatever conflations imply via their presence in the representatives of the Byzantine Text, they also imply via their presence in representatives of other text-types.  The picture is one of competing local texts existing in the second and third centuries, occasionally crashing, with the wreck-reading tending to be pushed into the Byzantine text – naturally more frequently, if its area of dominance was larger and growing – but sometimes into the Alexandrian and Western domains. 



Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post. 
Wilbur Pickering’s book The Identity of the Text of the New Testament was especially helpful when researching this post.




Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Conflations (Part 1)


Codex Macedonianus -
the end of Luke
            What is a conflation?  A conflation is the effect of a textual collision.  Suppose a copyist sat down to make a copy of the Gospel of Luke, and checked his primary exemplar by consulting a secondary exemplar.  Suppose, further, that in Luke 24:53, his primary exemplar said that the disciples “were continually in the temple, praising God,” and that his secondary exemplar said that the disciples “were continually in the temple, blessing God.”  The copyist might decide to follow one exemplar and not the other one – or he might combine them, creating a new reading:  the disciples “were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.”  Such a combination is a conflation.
            In 1881, Hort argued that the Byzantine Text as a whole is a secondary text – a combination of readings harvested from earlier Alexandrian and Western texts.  One of Hort’s key points was that the Byzantine Text contained conflations, and he listed eight of them:  in Mark 6:33, Mark 8:26, Mark 9:38, Mark 9:49, Luke 9:10, Luke 11:54, Luke 12:18, and Luke 24:53.  In each passage, the Alexandrian Text has a short reading, the Western Text has a short reading, and the Byzantine Text has a longer reading which, Hort argued, is a combination of the Alexandrian and Western readings.
            Hort then considered the writings of Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Methodius, and Eusebius of Caesarea, and concluded that they contain no distinctly Byzantine variants:  “Before the middle of the third century, at the very earliest, we have no historical signs of the existence of readings, conflate or other, that are marked as distinctively Syrian.”  Hort concluded from these two points – (1) Eight readings in the Syrian text appear to be combinations of readings in the Alexandrian and Western texts, and (2) There are no distinctly Syrian readings in the writings of Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Methodius, and Eusebius of Caesarea – that the Syrian Text should be regarded “as not only partly but wholly derived from the other known ancient texts.”  And he further extrapolated that “all readings in which the Pre-Syrian texts concur must be accepted at once as the apostolic readings, or to speak more exactly, as the most original of recorded readings.”  In other words, readings shared by the Alexandrian and Western Texts should be accepted as a matter of course no matter what the Syrian Text says.
            Hort’s proposal essentially rendered the Syrian (Byzantine) Text superfluous – and, by extension, a vast number of New Testament manuscripts which support the Syriac Text were regarded as unimportant in the enterprise of reconstructing the original text of the New Testament:  only representatives of the Alexandrian and Western Text really mattered, and in 1881 less than 50 such Greek manuscripts were known.  Hort relied on two of them above all others:  Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex Sinaiticus (À).  Hort proposed “(1) that readings of ÀB should be accepted as the true readings until strong internal evidence is found to the contrary, and (2) that no readings of ÀB can safely be rejected absolutely.”
            Thus, for the establishment of the base-text of the Revised Version, the testimony of thousands of Greek manuscripts was set aside, mainly in favor of a very small number of manuscripts that represented the Alexandrian Text, especially the Alexandrian Text as displayed in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
            With all that in the background, let’s return to the subject of conflation. 
            Although Hort’s research made an enormous impact, not everyone was persuaded.  In the 1897 Oxford Debate on New Testament Textual Criticism, Edward Miller considered it absurd to conclude that that the Syrian (Byzantine) Text is altogether secondary because of merely eight readings, and he challenged his fellow debater Dr. Sanday to produce 30 conflate readings from the Syrian Text.  In reply, Dr. Sanday did not produce 30 conflate readings, and conceded the point; his reply should be famous:  “Whatever person or whatever school produced the Traditional Text, did not systematically combine the Texts.  They were combined occasionally, and that is all one can say.  I am prepared to admit for myself that the conflations are not conclusive proof of the rightness of Dr. Hort’s theory; they could only belong to the region of hypothesis.  It is all hypothesis.”
            Nevertheless, Hort’s eight conflations are still treated as if they show that the Byzantine Text is derivative of the Alexandrian and Western Texts.  For example, on page 45 of Interpreting the New Testament Text (2006, Bock and Fanning, editors), Daniel Wallace stated the following:  “Hort argued that the Byzantine text (what he called the Syrian text) was inferior.  His arguments are still essentially valid today:  (1) conflations (i.e., a new reading combined from two earlier readings) show that the Byzantine text is secondary, because the Byzantine Text is the only text-type to conflate (cf. Luke 9:10, 24:53); (2) no ante-Nince fathers seem to quote distinctive Byzantine readings, demonstrating that the Byzantine text is late; (3) internal evidence reveals that the Byzantine text is inferior.”
            Two things should be emphasized here:  First, in 2006, conflations were presented as the number one piece of evidence for the secondary nature of the Byzantine Text.  Second, in 2006, Hort’s transmission-model was not presented as some antique theory of yesteryear, but as if it is a theory which still merits adherence – and this presentation did not come from some fringe element, but from a professor at a leading American evangelical seminary.  I conclude that those who claim that the New Testament base-text of the NIV, ESV, NLT, and CSB is not (at over 95% of its points of disagreement from the Byzantine Text) Hort’s compilation are in a fantasy-land.
            Now let’s zoom in on the two passages mentioned by Dr. Wallace:  Luke 9:10 and 24:53.  I will list the major variants in each passage, followed by some analysis of each variant-unit.  

Luke 9:10
            P75 B L 33:  εις πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδα (to a city called Bethsaida) [P75 reads Βηδθσαιδα; L reads Βιθσαϊδαν]
            À 157:  εις τόπον ερημον (to a remote place)
            D:  εις κωμην καλουμένην Βηδθσαϊδα (to a village called Bedthsaida)
            Θ:  εις κωμην καλουμένην Βηδθσαϊδα εις τόπον ερημον (to a village called Bethsaida, to a remote place)
            A:  εις ερημον τόπον πόλεως λεγομένην Βηδσαϊδα (to a remote place of the city called Bethsaida)
            f1:  εις τόπον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδα (to a place of the city called Bethsaida)
            Byz W:  εις τόπον ερημον πόλεως λεγομένην Βηδσαϊδα (to a remote place of the city called Bethsaida)
            C E F G M Π 565 f13 1424:  εις τόπον ερημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδα (to a remote place of the city called Bethsaida)
            K N:  εις τόπον ερημον πόλεως καλουμένην Βιθσαϊδαν (to a remote place of the city called Bithsaida)

Those who attempt to produce the reading found in most manuscripts (εις τόπον ερημον πόλεως λεγομένην Βηδσαϊδα) from the Alexandrian reading εις πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδα and the Western reading εις κωμην καλουμένην Βηδθσαϊδα will soon find themselves frustrated, for neither one says anything about a deserted place.   But Hort’s proposal did not involve such a conflation.  Instead, Hort saw Sinaiticus’ reading as a truncated form of a Western reading (attested in Old Latin copies):  εις τόπον ερημον Βηδσαϊδα (to a deserted place, Bethsaida) or εις τόπον ερημον καλουμένον Βηδθσαϊδα (to a deserted place called Bethsaida).
However, there are simpler explanations for the Byzantine reading.  For example, a copyist wishing to harmonize the text of Luke here to the text of Matthew 14:13 (where, immediately before the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus departs εις ερημον τόπον) or Mark 6:32 (where, immediately before the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus instructs His disciples to go with Him εις ερημον τόπον) would not need a secondary exemplar to introduce εις ερημον τόπον into the text of Luke 9:10.  He would only need the parallel-passages in Matthew and Mark.
Another possibility is that the original text is preserved in C E F G M N Π 565 f13 1424, and that this reading explains each of its rivals, along the following lines:
B’s reading is a simplification, elicited by a scribe’s sense that a single place cannot be both remote  (or deserted, or wilderness) and belong to a city. 
D’s reading is the same simplification, with Bethsaida downsized to a village.
            À’s reading is a harmonization, replacing Luke’s verbiage with verbiage from the parallel-passage in Matthew 14:13 or Mark 6:32.
            Θ’s reading is D’s reading with εις τόπον ερημον inserted from Mt. 14:13 or Mk. 6:32.
            A’s reading is the same as the usual Byzantine reading, with a minor transposition.
            f1’s reading is the reading of CEFG etc., except ερημον is absent, either due to parableptic error or due to a scribe’s sense that a remote/deserted place cannot be said to belong to a city.
            Byz’s reading is the reading of CEFG etc., with the word λεγομένην taking the place of its synonym (used more frequently by Luke, and supported across multiple transmission-lines) καλουμένης.
            K and N’s reading is the reading of CEFG etc., slightly tweaked.
           
Luke 24:53    
            P75 À  B C* L and the Sinaitic Syriac, Palestinian Aramaic, Coptic, and Georgian support ευλογουντες (blessing)
            D and several Old Latin copies support αινουντες (praising).
            Byz and A Cc K M U W Δ Θ Λ Π Ψ f1 f13 33 157 565 579 1424 etc. and the Vulgate, the Peshitta, and the Armenian version support αινουντες και ευλογουντες (praising and blessing). 

            Hort claimed that this case “needs no explanation.”  Here, it is claimed, we face a simple and uncomplicated blend:  using αινουντες τον Θν in a Western exemplar and using ευλογουντες τον Θν in an Alexandrian exemplar, an editor created the reading αινουντες και ευλογουντες τον Θν.  However, what if the Alexandrian reading exists because an Alexandrian scribe considered it superfluous to say that the disciples both blessed and praised God?  And what if the Western reading exists because a Western scribe lost his place in the text and his line of sight drifted from the final letters of αινουντες to the final letters of ευλογουντες, accidentally skipping all the letters in between?  One might say that a conflation is simpler – if one finds it simple to posit an editor with two exemplars who would combine their readings here, after refraining from making any other conflations involving the many distinct Western readings elsewhere in Luke 24 – but neither theory is unfeasible.   
            Losses of text (whether deliberate or accidental) in both the Alexandrian and Western transmission-lines can give the impression that the Byzantine reading is a combination of the other two, but this impression is not necessarily the last word.  Consider Mark 6:33 – where one finds the proposed conflation upon which Hort focused the most in his 1881 Introduction.

Mark 6:33b
            À B 0187 892 and the Vulgate and some lectionaries:  και προηλθον αυτους (and they arrived first)
            L 579 1241 and the Armenian version and some lectionaries:  και προσηλθον αυτους (and they arrived first)
            Δ Θ:  και προσηλθον αυτοις (and arrived ahead of them)
            f1:  ηλθον εκει (they came there) [without the εκει after συνέδραμον]
            f13:  και προηλθεν αυτους (and they arrived first)
            D:  και συνηλθον αυτου (and came together to Him)
            33:  προς αυτους.  και συνηλθον προς αυτον (before them, and gathered together to Him)
            700:  και συνηλθον αυτω (and came together to Him)
            565:  και ηλθον αυτου (and came to Him)
            Byz P84vid E F G H K M U V Γ Π 157:  και προηλθον αυτους και συνηλθον προς αυτον (and they arrived first, and came together to Him)
            W:  verse 33 ends at συνέδραμον εκει          
            A:  και προηλθον αυτους και συνέδραμον προς αυτον (and they arrived first, and ran together to Him) [repeating a verb that occurs earlier in the verse]

            The next word in the text (in all transmission-lines) is και.

            As Willker noted, the scholar Bousset wrote about this textual contest in 1894:  “If we accept the long reading as original, then the short readings are quite easy to understand:  συνηλθον αυτου was omitted [accidentally] and D et al omitted [deliberately] the difficult προηλθον αυτους.” Is this feasible?  Let’s see: 
The loss of προηλθον αυτους is fully capable of being lost accidentally, via an accidental skip from και to και :
1.  Text before parablepsis:  και προηλθον αυτους και συνηλθον προς αυτον και
            2.  Parablepsis, και1 to και2
            3.  Text after parablepsis:  και συνηλθον προς αυτον
            Thus the reading in D is mostly accounted for by the Byzantine reading; all that is needed at this point is for a Western scribe to replace προς αυτον with αυτου.  Meanwhile, how does one get to και συνηλθον αυτου if all one has to start with is και προηλθον αυτους?
           
            The loss of συνηλθον προς αυτον is accounted for as follows:
            1.  Text before parablepsis:  και προηλθον αυτους και συνηλθον προς αυτον και
            2.  Parablepsis, και2 to και3
            3.  Text after parablepsis:  και προηλθον αυτους
            Thus the reading in B et al is accounted for by the Byzantine reading.

            So far, three “conflations” have been examined, and none of the three prove the posteriority of the Byzantine reading, let alone the posteriority of the entire Byzantine Text.  But even if all eight of Hort’s proposed conflations were airtight, this would not demonstrate the posteriority of the Byzantine Text, for a very simple reason.  God willing, I will explore that reason in Part 2.


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




Friday, April 12, 2019

Tares Among the Wheat - A Review


            A series of movies available on Amazon Prime Video includes New Testament textual criticism among the subjects it covers – but not in a good way.  Rather than introduce viewers to valid aspects of the field, Christian Pinto and Adullam Films promote the conspiracy theory that Codex Sinaiticus was created in 1840 by Constantine Simonides, particularly in the segment of the movie Tares Among the Wheat that is introduced (about an hour and 50 minutes after the movie starts) by the heading “The Simonides Affair.”

            Those who want proof that Codex Sinaiticus is indeed an ancient document are welcome to consult four earlier posts on the subject:
Sinaiticus is Not a Forgery:  Setting the Stage – in which I provide some background about Constantine  Simonides and his career as a criminal forger, and explain why no one should believe James White’s account of how Tischendorf first encountered pages from Codex Sinaiticus.
Ten Reasons Why Sinaiticus Was Not Made by Simonides – in which I summarize 10 observations which weight in against Simonides’ claim to have written the text in Codex Sinaiticus – including the observations that different copyists (with different handwriting and different standards of spelling) produced the manuscript, and that the manuscript includes in its margin an Arabic note that alludes to an Arab invasion.
Ten More Reasons Why Sinaiticus Was Not Made by Simonides – in which I summarize 10 more reasons why Simonides’ claim should be rejected – including some details of Simonides’ earlier attempt to use a forgery to defraud the Academy of Berlin.  Constantine Tischendorf played a key role in exposing Simonides’ forgery, after which Simonides was arrested. 
What Darkened Sinaiticus? – in which an explanation is provided, with input from Jacob Peterson, of the differing tints of different sets of photographs of pages of Codex Sinaiticus. 

            Chris Pinto’s movie Tares Among the Wheat (the second in the trilogy) strangely avoids sharing the details about how Constantine Simonides tried to defraud the Academy of Berlin, and does not go into detail about his other attempts to sell forgeries to various individuals and institutions in Europe.  The movie avoids giving a detailed account of Tischendorf’s role in the events in 1856 that led to the arrest of Simonides, and thus viewers are not shown that Simonides had a strong motive to attempt to cause trouble for Tischendorf.     

            Tares Among the Wheat also does viewers a disservice via its minimal description of items in the collection of Joseph Mayer, who was an antiquities-collector in Liverpool, England.  Mayer had obtained a variety of ancient materials from Egypt, including some papyrus scrolls which were so tightly rolled up that he was reluctant to open them himself, and so he had Simonides inspect them.  Along with examining some of Mayer’s genuinely ancient materials (which included a very ancient Egyptian papyrus), and claiming to have discovered a fragment of Hegesippus’ Ecclesiastical History, Simonides spent some time studying the papyrus scrolls, and when he was done preparing them, he declared that they contained ancient New Testament texts, including
Some of the forgeries made by Simonides still exist,
at the World Museum in Liverpool, England
.
            (1)  Five fragments with text from the Gospel of Matthew, including one which included, after the end of chapter 28, a note stating that it had been written by the hand of Nicolaus the Deacon, at the dictation of Matthew, the apostle of Jesus Christ, in the fifteenth year after the ascension of our Lord, and distributed to the believing Jews and Greeks in Palestine,” and
            (2) two fragments of the Epistle of James, and
            (3) a fragment of the Epistle of Jude.
            Furthermore, Simonides claimed that the text in all three fragments deviated from the normal text.  For instance, he claimed that in the newly discovered text of Matthew 27:19, Pilate’s wife’s message is much longer; in the newly discovered text of Matthew 27:20, the word αυτων is present (so as to convey “their multitudes”);  in the newly discovered text of Matthew 28:6, the angel describes Jesus as the Lord of death; in James 1:2, the twelve tribes are called the twelve tribes of Israel; in verse 19 of Jude in the newly discovered text, the word “actually” (ολως) is present (so as to convey that the false teachers “do not actually have the Spirit”), and verse 22 is phrased so as to say, “On some have compassion in the fear of the Lord.” 
            If anyone involved in the production of Tares Among the Wheat thinks that Constantine Simonides was not a swindler and a con artist who wrote forged texts on the blank reverse-pages of ancient papyri, then they should be clamoring for the items described by Simonides in Mayer’s personal museum (now part of the World Museum in Liverpool) to be brought to public attention and scrutinized.  But if, instead, they think (as members of the Royal Society of Literature concluded in 1863) that Simonides was an educated huckster who tried to defraud German academics by doctoring ancient manuscripts, so as to make them appear to be palimpsests that contained yet more ancient writing, then they should realize that Simonides had a strong motive to try to impugn Tischendorf’s reputation – for it was Tischendorf who had stepped in and prevented the Academy of Berlin from purchasing such a forgery from Simonides.   
                         
 
Christian J. Pinto
          
Not only did the producers of Tares Among the Wheat promote and encourage the conspiracy theory about Sinaiticus and Simonides, but they even tried to draw the genuineness of Codex Vaticanus into doubt.  Following an interview in which Scot McKendrick stated that the decorative book-titles in Codex Vaticanus were added by “a fifteenth-century scribe,” the narrator asks, “Is it possible that the reason Codex Vaticanus has a strange and even newer appearance is that it may not be a truly ancient manuscript?”
            It should be noted that McKendrick’s statement is contestable; the exact point at which those book-titles were spruced up is not known; it makes sense to reckon that the letter-reinforcement throughout the manuscript, and the title-enhancements, were undertaken to make the codex look more presentable just prior to being placed in the Vatican Library, but that theory is, well, theoretical.
            McKendrick may also be subject to mild criticism because of his claim that Codex Sinaiticus is “The ancestor of all the Bibles that everybody else has in the world.”  For those who use the King James Version or some other version based on the Textus Receptus, or based on the Byzantine Text, such a claim is entirely false.

            Tares Among the Wheat is three hours of anti-Jesuit propaganda, blended with KJV-Onlyist versions of selective details in the history of New Testament textual criticism.  Even if the producers of this movie possessed the purest theology on earth, the fact remains that no theology is well-served by obscuring evidence and making stuff up.  We should not serve it that way; we should not want to serve it that way.  This movie’s conspiracy theory about Codex Sinaiticus should not be taken seriously.

            Those who want to see the kind of texts that Simonides produced, and which he vigorously defended as ancient documents, should consult the following links.  (Needless to say, the handwriting of Simonides is very different from the handwriting in Codex Sinaiticus):
            Simonides’ forgery of Matthew 28:6ff. (Fragment M111690.5 at the World Museum, in Liverpool).
            Simonides’ forgery of the “Voyage of Hanno” (Fragment M11169G at the World Museum, in Liverpool).



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