Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Video Lecture: Mark 16:9-20, the Shorter Ending, and Internal Evidence


Lecture 17
Lecture 17 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism is online at YouTube!  In this lecture, slightly more than 25 minutes long, I focus on the internal evidence pertaining to Mark 16:9-20 - with a lengthy detour about the Shorter Ending.
  Here's an excerpt (from the part about the Shorter Ending):
     The textual variant known as the “Shorter Ending” goes like this:

            “Everything that had been told to them, they related to Peter and those with him.  And after this, Jesus Himself appeared to them and sent forth, through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.  Amen.”

             This is found between verse 8 and verse 9 in six Greek manuscripts:  Codex L, Codex Ψ, 083 – this is the same manuscript as 0112 – 099, and 579.  All six Greek manuscripts that attest to the Shorter Ending also support the inclusion of verses 9-20, although a few of them are damaged.  


Some of the Greek manuscripts that feature the Shorter Ending between verse 8 and verse 9 also feature notes that introduce each ending.  Codex L has a note that says “In some, there is also this” before the Shorter Ending, and before verses 9-20, Codex L has a note that says, “There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”

This note echoes a situation in which the scribes were aware of some copies in which the Shorter Ending was present after verse 8, and also aware of some copies in which verses 9-20 were present after verse 8.

In Codex Psi, there is no such note between verse 8 and the Shorter Ending, but after the Shorter Ending, Codex Psi has the same note that is seen in Codex L:  There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”  

083 is a damaged fragment.  After Mark 16:8, 083 has the closing-title of Mark at the end of a column.  In the next column, the Shorter Ending appears, and then before the beginning of verse 9, 083 has the note:  “There is also this, appearing after ephobounto gar.”  It is possible that 083 also had the same note that is found in Codex L before the Shorter Ending, but that part of the page is not extant, so it can only be said that there appears to have been enough room on the page for that note.

083 thus testifies to a situation in which copyists were aware of copies of Mark in which the text of Mark ended at verse 8, copies in which the text ended with the Shorter Ending, and copies in which the text ended with verses 9-20.

099 is another heavily damaged fragment, from the White Monastery in Egypt, assigned to the 600s or 700s.  After Mark 16:8, 099 had a note that is no longer legible.  This is followed by the Shorter Ending.  Then the text of most of 16:8 is rewritten, beginning at the words eichen gar and continuing to the end of the verse.  Verse 8 is followed immediately by verse 9, and verse 9 is followed by the beginning of verse 10, at which point we reach the end of the fragment. 

Greek-Sahidic Lect 1602
(Image from the digital holdings of the 
Albert Ludwig University of Frieburg)

Now we come to the Greek-Sahidic lectionary 1602.  In this witness, assigned to the 700s, the text of Mark 16:8 comes to a close at the end of a page.  At the beginning of the next page, a note introduces the Shorter Ending.  It says, “In other copies this is not written.” 

Then the Shorter Ending appears.  After the Shorter Ending, there is another note – the note also found in Codex L, Codex Psi, and 083:  estin de kai tauta meta feromena.  Then, like 099, it repeats the second half of verse 8, beginning with the words eichen gar, and verse 8 is followed by verses 9-20.

So:  Codex L, Codex Psi, 083, and the Greek-Sahidic Lectionary 1602 share the same note after the Shorter Ending:  they all introduce verses 9-20 with the note that says, “Estin de kai tauta meta feromena.”

099 and Greek-Sahidic Lectionary 1602 both repeat the same part of verse 8 before verse 9.

Thus, four of the six Greek witnesses to the Shorter Ending are all connected to the same locale, namely, a location in Egypt

Greek-Sahidic Lect 1602
(Image from the digital holdings of the 
Albert Ludwig University of Frieburg)

This leaves two minuscules, 579 and 274, as the only remaining Greek witnesses to the Shorter Ending.  The text of Mark in 579 has Alexandrian characteristics, and it is known for featuring a rare method of dividing the Gospels-text into segments that is shared by Codex Vaticanus.  Even though 579 is from the 1200s, its testimony, in which the Shorter Ending follows verse 8, and the Shorter Ending is followed immediately on the next page by verses 9-20, does not take us away from the influence of a very narrow transmission-line. 

   Minuscule 274 has Mark 16:9-20 in its main text.  Mark 16:9 begins on the same line where verse 8 ends.  The Shorter Ending is featured at the bottom of the page, like a footnote, with a column of five asterisks beside it.  An asterisk beside the end of verse 8 conveys that the Shorter Ending was seen in the text at that point. 

Thus, the Greek evidence points to Egypt as the locale where the Shorter Ending originated, and nothing points anywhere else. 

Versional evidence interlocks with this very well.  The Old Latin Codex Bobbiensis, the only manuscript in which only the Shorter Ending is included after verse 8, almost certainly was produced in Egypt, written by a scribe who did not know Latin very well.    

The Bohairic-Arabic MS Huntington 17, made in 1174, has verses 9-20 in the text, and the Shorter Ending is in the margin.

The Ethiopic version was closely considered by Bruce Metzger in 1980, in the course of a detailed essay in which he retracted the claim that some Ethiopic manuscripts of Mark do not have Mark 16:9-20.  Metzger observed that out of 194 Ethiopic manuscripts consulted by himself and another researcher, 131 included both the Shorter Ending and verses 9-20. 

Some copies of the Harklean Syriac version, made in the early 600s on the basis of manuscripts in Egypt, also feature the Shorter Ending as a supplemental reading; verses 9-20 are in the Syriac text.

            According to E. C. Colwell, even a medieval Armenian manuscript, Etchmiadzin 303, which has verses 9-20 at the end of Mark, managed to include the Shorter Ending as the final verse of the Gospel of Luke. 

            The Shorter Ending clearly had wide distribution in versional transmission-lines.  But those lines all echo, in one way or another, a form of the text that began in Egypt, when verses 9-20 were circulating everywhere else.           

Before moving on to the internal evidence, it should be observed that it is misleading to convey that there were “multiple endings” of the Gospel of Mark, as if four or five different endings were written to continue the narrative after verse 8.

Aside from the abrupt non-ending at verse 8, there are two independent endings of the Gospel of Mark:  one is the Shorter Ending, attested in six Greek manuscripts, all of which also support verses 9-20.  The other one is verses 9-20.     

The Freer Logion, which was mentioned in the previous lecture, is not a different ending.  It is a textual variant.  Its existence depends upon the previous existence of verses 9-20.  It does not turn into a different ending any more than a whale turns into an eagle when a barnacle attaches itself.

   Likewise, the notes in some members of the family-1 cluster of manuscripts do not turn verses 9-20 into something that is not verses 9-20.  

   And, the inclusion of both the Shorter Ending and verses 9-20 is also not a different ending; it is the combination of the two endings that circulated side-by-side in Egypt

   And, as far as I can tell, non-annotated Greek manuscripts in which Mark 16:9-20 is accompanied by asterisks or obeli do not really exist.

   So when someone refers to “multiple endings” as a reason to doubt the genuineness of verses 9-20, the first thing to do is to clarify that in terms of independent endings of the Gospel Mark after verse 8, there are exactly two.

P.S. Thanks to Georgi Parpulov and Daniel Buck for help finding those page-views of Gr.-Sah. Lect 1602!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Video Lecture: Mark 16:9-20: External Evidence

 In Lecture 16 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism, I describe some external evidence pertaining to the ending of Mark (16:9-20.  Subtitles provide a full outline of the lecture.  Here is a sample of part of this 41-minute lecture in which I begin to examine patristic evidence:
            Another part of the evidence has also experienced a high level of misrepresentation:  the patristic evidence.  Two statements from Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament have been repeated by many other commentators:  first, “Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses.”

             Those who encounter this statement might conclude that these two writers’ non-use of Mark 16:9-20 implies that the passage was not in their copies of the Gospel of Mark.  But Clement barely made any clear quotations from the Gospel of Mark outside of chapter 10.  Similarly, Origen does not use a 54-verse segment of text in Mark 1:36-3:16, or a 28-verse segment in Mark 3:19 to 4:11, or a 41-verse segment of text in Mark 5:2 to 5:43. 

             If Origen did not quote from Mark 16:9-20, then those 12 verses are just one of many 12-verse segments of Mark from which Origen does not quote.  But, there is a passage in Origen’s composition Philocalia, chapter 5, that may be based on Mark 16:15-20.     


             Second, Metzger stated that “Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.” 

   This statement needs major clarification, especially because it has been misrepresented by some commentators.  Ben Witherington III  erroneously stated, “Eusebius and Jerome both tell us these verses were absent from all Greek copies known to them.” 

   In real life, in the composition Ad Marinum, Eusebius responds to a question from Marinus about how Matthew 28:2 can be harmonized with Mark 16:9:  Matthew says that Christ arose “late on the Sabbath,” but Mark says “early in the morning on the first day of the week.”  Already, we see that Marinus’ text of Mark, just as old as Eusebius’ testimony, included Mark 16:9-20.

            Eusebius mentions two ways to resolve the apparent discrepancy:  First, a person could say that the relevant passage is not found in all copies of the Gospel according to Mark, and that the text in the accurate copies ends at the end of verse 8.  Almost all copies of the Gospel of Mark end there. 

            That is what one person might say, rejecting the passage and rendering the question superfluous.  But, Eusebius continued, another view is that both passages should be accepted; it is not the job of faithful readers to pick and choose between them. 

            Granting that this second perspective is correct, the proper thing to do is to interpret the meaning of the passage.  If we draw a distinction in the wording, we would not find it in conflict with the words in Matthew’s account.  We should read the words in Mark, “Rising early in the morning on the first day of the week,” with a pause after “Rising,” for that refers to Christ’s resurrection.   The rest, “early in the morning on the first day of the week,” pertains to the time of His appearance to Mary Magdalene. 

             Three things must be noticed whenever Eusebius’ testimony is mentioned:  First, he does not frame the statement about manuscripts as his own observation; he frames it as something that someone might say.  Second, instead of advising Marinus to reject the passage, Eusebius recommends that he should retain the passage, and he even tells him how to pronounce the passage so as to make it clear that it is harmony with the passage in Matthew 28.

            Third, Eusebius himself quotes Mark 16:9 further along in the same composition.  Once he states that “some copies” of Mark say that Jesus had cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene, and once, he says that Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene “according to Mark.”

            It should also be pointed out that nobody, in the decades after the Diocletian persecution, had the means to survey how many manuscripts existed throughout the Roman Empire to support particular readings.

            What about Jerome?  It should first be acknowledged that Jerome included Mark 16:9-20 in the Vulgate Gospels, which he specifically stated that he prepared on the basis of ancient Greek manuscripts.  Jerome himself was born in the mid-300s, so we may reckon that these Greek manuscripts were older than that.

            Again:  Metzger’s statement is, “Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them.”  Let’s test that. 

            The relevant statement from Jerome is found in his composition Ad Hedibiam, from about the year 407, in which, among other things, he responds to a broad question about harmonization-difficulties in the resurrection-accounts in the Gospels.  In the course of his response, he breaks down the question into a series of Questions and Answers, clearly patterned on Eusebius’ earlier work to Marinus.

             Jerome, like Eusebius, says that there are two ways to solve the question.  Jerome, like Eusebius, says that one way is to reject the passage in Mark, on the grounds that it is absent in nearly all of the Greek copies, and because it seems to narrate things that contradict the other accounts.  And Jerome goes on to say that Matthew and Mark have both told the truth, and that when the text is read with a pause after “Jesus arising,” before “on the first day of the week in the morning appeared to Mary Magdalene,” the difficulty goes away.

            Jerome is plainly instructing Hedibia to retain the verses.

            This is how D. C. Parker explained the situation in 1997:  Jerome’s letter to Hedibia “is simply a translation with some slight changes of what Eusebius had written.  It is thus worthless for our purposes.”  And Parker concluded:  “Jerome is no evidence for the Short Ending.”

            John Burgon had said basically the same thing, over a hundred years earlier:  Jerome was saving time and effort by condensing part of Eusebius’ earlier composition in his letter to Hedibia – just as he had acknowledged, in his Epistle 75, that he sometimes dictated to his secretary what he had borrowed from other writers.

             But this is not all:  in 417, in Against the Pelagians, Jerome pictured a champion of orthodoxy explaining where he had seen the interpolation that is now known as the Freer Logion:  he located this interpolation “In certain exemplars, and especially in Greek codices, near the end of the Gospel of Mark” – and then he quotes almost all of Mark 16:14, and then presents the interpolation. 

            How is it that Jerome says that he saw the Freer Logion after Mark 16:14 “especially in Greek codices,” and also say that almost all Greek codices lack Mark 16:9-20?  Because the first statement is drawn from his own experience, while the second one was extracted from Eusebius’ composition, in which it was framed as something that someone might say.


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Video Lectures: Numerals in Greek New Testament Manuscripts


  In Lecture 15 of my ongoing series of video-lectures on YouTube, I discuss Greek numerals, and describe several textual variants in which numerals are involved, at John 19:14, Luke 24:13, Mark 6:41, Acts 27:37, Luke 10:1 and 10:17, Acts 13:33, and Revelation 13:18.


               I also describe the Eusebian Canons, and mention a few points in the text where they indicate what kind of text Eusebius was using when he made them.
               (27 minutes 10 seconds) 

Lecture 15:  Numerals

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Video Lecture: Testing the Tests

Testing the Tests
Now at YouTube: Lecture 14 - Testing the Tests In this 32-minute video, I review some shortcomings of earlier canons, or guidelines, of textual criticism (especially "prefer the shorter reading"), and propose some new ones. (This includes a brief look at twelve textual contests.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Video Lecture: Challenging Hort

Lecture 13:  Challenging Hort
Now at YouTube:

In lecture 13 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism, I describe some discoveries made in the 1900s that posed serious problems for the sustainability of Hort’s theory of the Lucianic recension. (32 minutes)

Here is an excerpt:

In Papyrus 45, in the fragments of chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the Gospel of Mark, there are at least 17 readings that are not supported by the leading manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text and Western Text, but which are supported by the Byzantine Text.  I will mention some of them: 

① In the closing phrase of Mark 6:45, Papyrus 45 supports the Byzantine reading, disagreeing with the reading that is supported by the Alexandrian Text and the Western text.

② In Mark 7:5, Papyrus 45 supports the Byzantine reading that means “answering,” which is not supported by the Alexandrian and Western Text.

③ At the beginning of Mark 7:12, Papyrus 45 supports the Byzantine reading “And,” which is not in the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text and Western Text.

④ In Mark 7:30, Papyrus 45 supports the word-order in the Byzantine Text, disagreeing with the word-order in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae.

⑤ In Mark 7:31, after the word “Tyre,” Papyrus 45 supports the Byzantine reading.  Both the form and meaning of this passage are different in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Codex Bezae.

⑥ In Mark 7:32, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text do not have the word “and,” where it appears in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae.

⑦ In Mark 7:35, Papyrus 45 has the word “immediately.” The Byzantine Text has this word here too.  But the Alexandrian Text and the Western Text do not.

⑧ In Mark 7:36, Papyrus 45 is difficult to read but it appears to support a reading that agrees with the Byzantine Text and disagrees with the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text and Western Text.

⑨ In Mark 8:19, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text share the same word-order, disagreeing with the word-order in the Alexandrian Text and also disagreeing with the word-order in Codex D. 

⑩ In Mark 9:6, the wording in Papyrus 45 agrees with the Byzantine Text, disagreeing with Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae.

⑪ In Mark 9:20, the word-order in Papyrus 45 agrees with the Byzantine Text, disagreeing with the reading in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and also disagreeing with a different reading in Codex Bezae.

⑫ And, again in Mark 9:20, the Byzantine Text has a reading that is supported by Papyrus 45 but which is not found in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, or Codex Bezae.

            Now, this is a long way from proving that the fully formed Byzantine Text existed in Egypt in the early 200s.  But Papyrus 45 is from Egypt; it is not from a locale where we would expect the Byzantine Text to be found.  The thing to see is that in the world according to Hort – a world in which the Byzantine Text is a combination of Alexandrian and Western readings –  none of these readings should exist before the late 200s

            If Papyrus 45 had been discovered before 1881, nobody would have dreamed of proposing a theory that the non-Alexandrian, non-Western readings found in the Byzantine Text did not exist before the lifetime of Lucian of Antioch.  If anyone had said that, people would look at readings such as the ones I just listed, and say, “What about these?”

            Support for distinctly Byzantine readings in Papyrus 45 does not stop in Mark 6-9.  The fragmentary pages of Papyrus 45 in Luke 10-13 have a dozen distinctly Byzantine readings.  For example:

In Luke 10:39, Papyrus 45 agrees with the reading “Jesus,” where Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae have the reading “Lord.”  Papyrus 75 also reads “Jesus.” 
            Notice the lack of a conflation in the Byzantine Text here.  It would have been very easy to create the reading “the Lord Jesus” if the Byzantine Text came from someone telling himself, “When it doubt don’t throw it out.”

In Luke 10:42, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text share the same word-order that is not supported in the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian or Western forms of the text.  In addition, where there is damage to Papyrus 45, Papyrus 75 has the Greek equivalent of the word “from” before “her” at the end of the verse, agreeing with the Byzantine Text.  “From” is not supported by Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, or Bezae.

In Luke 11:12, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text share the same word-order at the beginning of the verse.  The Alexandrian Text has a different reading and the Western Text has another different reading.

In Luke 11:33, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text have the Greek word  φέγγος instead of the word φως, which is in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae.  I note that in the Society of Biblical Literature’s Greek New Testament, compiled by Michael Holmes, φέγγος has been adopted.

In Luke 12:5, Papyrus 45 supports the same word-order found in the Byzantine Text.  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and Bezae have the opposite word-order.

In Luke 12:22, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text include a word that means “to you.”  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and Bezae do not.

In Luke 12:30, Papyrus 45 has a reading that is in the Byzantine Text but Vaticanus and Sinaiticus have a longer reading, and Codex D has a shorter reading. 

⑧ In Luke 12:31, Papyrus 45 and the Byzantine Text refer to the kingdom of God.  Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae refer to “His kingdom,” and Papyrus 75 refers to just the kingdom.

            Also worth mentioning is a reading in Luke 11:13 where the text refers to “good gifts.”  Papyrus 45 and the Textus Receptus share the same word-order here.  Yes; in Luke 11:13, the reading in the Textus Receptus is supported by the oldest manuscript of the passage, against the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine forms of the text.
            These are the kinds of readings – in manuscripts made before Lucian – that researcher Harry Sturz collected and listed by the dozens in a dissertation in 1967, just a few years after Bruce Metzger had written that it is a fact that Lucian of Antioch made the Byzantine Text. 
            Sturz’s findings were eventually published as a book, The Byzantine Text-type & New Testament Textual Criticism.  Sturz showed that not only  Papyrus 45, but also Papyrus 46, Papyrus 66, Papyrus 75, and others, share some readings with the Byzantine Text that are not supported in the flagship manuscripts that represent the Alexandrian and Western Text. 

            This demonstrates that it is incorrect to assume that readings which only have Byzantine support ought to be set aside as late readings. But this assumption is at the very foundation of the approach used by Westcott and Hort.  Hort did not have any of these papyri.  If he had, he would not have proposed that non-Alexandrian, non-Western readings in the Byzantine Text are no earlier than the lifetime of Lucian of Antioch.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Video Lectures: The Lucianic Recension, and John 7:53-8:11

            In the 12th lecture in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism, I discuss the theory of the Lucianic Recension - a key part of the basis for the shift to the Alexandrian Text that occurred as the compilation of Westcott & Hort was favored in the late 1800s.  (28 minutes)

Lecture 12 - The Lucianic Recension

            Also, in a two-hour presentation, hosted by apologist Sam Shamoun, I present a defense of the genuineness of John 7:53-8:11, correcting some widely circulated misinformation and addressing some other concerns along the way.

            My book A Fresh Analysis of John 7:53-8:11, explaining how the passage was lost in an early transmission-line, and why it was subsequently transferred to other locations in the text, is available at Amazon and as a free download from the files at the NT Textual Criticism discussion-group on Facebook.

James E. Snapp on the Authenticity of the Woman Caught in Adultery


Friday, July 31, 2020

Video Lecture: Hort and the Revised Version

Lecture 11:  Hort and the Revised Version
Lecture #11 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism is now available to watch at YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0tb1N4_k1w .

In this 23-minute video, I describe events that led up to the 1881 Revised Version, and the theories proposed by F. J. A. Hort when, with B. F. Westcott, he produced the 1881 revision of the Greek New Testament which essentially replaced the primarily Byzantine Text of the Textus Receptus with the Alexandrian Text, represented by Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Video Lecture: The Textus Receptus

Lecture 10:  The Textus Receptus
Lecture #10 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism is now available to watch at YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0tb1N4_k1w .

In this 21-minute video, I describe the development of the Textus Receptus, the text that dominated the 1500s, and from which the New Testament was translated in the King James Version.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Video Lecture: Text-types

A new lecture, 32 minutes long, about the basic concept of text-types, is online at YouTube!
This is lecture #9 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism.

Lecture 9 includes, among other things,
details about Griesbach's Canons.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Video Lecture: Lectionaries

Now at YouTube:
Lecture 08 - Lectionaries (In the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism)
In this lecture I briefly describe the basic arrangement of most Greek lectionaries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wLW1zUqG08

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The CBGM: Critically Biased?

Our guest today is Dr. Stephen Carlson of Australian Catholic University.  He is perhaps best-known to some readers due to his 2012 dissertation (at Duke University) that featured a very detailed compilation of the book of Galatians.   Dr. Carlson, thank you for joining us.

SCC: Thank you, Jim, for your interest.

JSJ:  You wrote a recent article that appeared in the Journal of Biblical Literature with a provocative title:  “A Bias at the Heart of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method.”  Before we get to the article’s substance, could you briefly explain the claims that advocates of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method have made about it?  What is the CBGM supposed to provide that we did not have before, and how?

SCC: The basic claim of the advocates of the CGBM is that they have a “more rigorous” way to evaluate external evidence in the textual criticism of the New Testament. External evidence, your readers may recall, is the weight we put on a particular variant reading due to the manuscripts that record it. Prior to the CBGM, the usual way to deal with external evidence is to sort them into text types like Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine, and then evaluate the external evidence based on how well the text types support a particular variant reading. And the CBGM folks are right that his approach is not sufficiently rigorous. Indeed, a big problem with this traditional approach is contamination, where a manuscript may obtain its readings from multiple sources. This makes it difficult to define the various text types (the rise and fall of the “Caesarean” text type in Mark is a good case in point) and hard to assign some manuscript to a particular type when it has the characteristic readings of more than one text type. In essence, the CBGM proposes to be more rigorous than this by eschewing text types altogether and looking at relations between “potential ancestors” of various manuscripts. In my article, I argue that the way that potential ancestors are identified and even defined is fundamentally flawed and we should look for other ways for evaluating the external evidence.

JSJ:  The CBGM has a reputation for being complex and inaccessible.  But in your recent article, you state that you have been able to implement its algorithms, and that as a result, you noticed a problem.  Would it be accurate to say that you detected a built-in bias in the “genealogical coherence” aspect of the C.B.G.M. as it currently exists?  

SCC: Yes, I detected a bias in how they identify genealogical coherence. In the CBGM genealogical coherence comes from manuscripts having a common, extant “potential ancestor” in their textual flows, and potential ancestors are identified on how much they differ from the initial text. But distance from the initial text is not a valid genealogical criterion and it can be misled by genealogically irrelevant data. As a result, the CBGM is biased against bad copies of earlier texts and in favor of good copies of later texts. Bias is a problem of course because it distorts our ability to evaluate the external evidence and it gives more weight to certain manuscripts (or less weight to others) than we would if we knew the actual history of the text. The worst that can happen is that the CBGM would give apparently strong support to a late, non-initial reading, especially where the internal evidence is not decisive enough to countermand the misleading impression of the CBGM.

JSJ:  Generally, it’s understandable to assume parsimony, but random things sometimes happen that affect the text, such as having the same scribal accident occasionally occur independently in different transmission-streams.  How are these things handled?  How many “accidental agreements” have to occur before one says, “These agreements are not accidental”?  Or to put it another way:  could you explain the concept of coherence and non-coherence?

SCC: Accidental coincidence is a major problem. In fact, I think it is the most underappreciated problem among New Testament textual critics (who tend to be more worried about contamination). The CBGM does have an approach to accidental coincidence, which its proponents tend to call “multiple emergence.” Basically, you look at all the manuscripts attesting a particular reading and sort them to groups, so that each group is coherent (that is, having a textual flow that goes through a common, potential ancestor). When the manuscripts are not coherent, they’ll be in their own group. If you have multiple groups of such manuscripts, then you have multiple emergence of the variant. Of course, if the CBGM is not able to identify correctly that a group of manuscripts attesting the same reading is actually coherent because of some bias, then the CBGM will wrongly subdivide them into several groups and suggest that some readings are coincidental when they are in fact not.

JSJ:  Here’s a diagram [resembling Figure 4 in your article] reconstructing a simple transmission-stream.  In your article the flow is from left to right; here, it is from top to bottom, waterfall-style.  Can you tell us what this diagram is saying, and what is wrong with this picture?

SCC: This diagram is a simple stemma of a hypothetical history textual transmission. The story here begins at the top with A, the initial text. Two copies, B and X, are made of it, and B has one error, while X has two. (This is represented in the diagram with a length between A and X being twice the length of the branch between A and B.) Likewise, two copies, C and Y, are made of X, with C being more error prone than Y. Similarly, two copies of made of Y, E and D, with D more error prone than E. If we lose A, X, and Y, can we reconstruct the true history of the text based on B, C, D, and E?
            It turns out that if we assume no contamination or coincidences, we can reconstruct the history on the traditional “common-error” principle, but under the same assumptions we cannot under the CBGM. The reason that the CBGM cannot reconstruct the true history of the text under these very ideal condition is that it has a bias that makes accidental coincidences between B and E look coherent when they are not. And it suggests that the variants that B and E carry are better than the ones carried by C and D. For 1 John, these relations actually hold if you translate B to the fourth-century 03 (B/Vaticanus), C to the fourth-century 01 (ℵ/Sinaiticus), D to the fifth-century 02 (A/Alexandrinus), and E to the tenth-century 1739 (but a very good copy of a much earlier text). So this simple stemma does not point to a merely theoretical problem but an actual one in the transmission of 1 John.

JSJ:  How realistic is it, in your opinion, to use real-life manuscripts’ texts as proxies for potential ancestors of other manuscripts’ text?   Especially considering that we have a relatively small representation of surviving manuscripts, and also considering that no versional evidence and no patristic evidence is used in the  CBGM?

SCC: It’s only realistic within the Byzantine text and only if we look at a lot of them. Otherwise, it’s not realistic at all. Outside of the Byzantine text, the manuscripts are too few and too divergent from each other to be good proxies for potential ancestors. Due to the bias at the heart of the CBGM, the extent of these divergences are enough to make many of them appear to be potential descendants of more carefully copied text, when they are in fact cousins to varying degrees. Indeed the big problem with the potential ancestor notion in the CBGM is that it assumes that all relations between manuscripts can be characterized in terms of ancestors and descendants, instead of siblings and cousins, which is vastly more common on the historical record we actually possess. As for versional and patristic evidence, the CBGM does not even look at them, and even if they did, they may be so incomplete that it could yield nonsensical results (imagine if an Old Latin manuscript is a potential ancestor of a Greek one?).

JSJ:  Toward the end of your article, you pointed out that the CBGM gives an unjustifiable level of weight to a combination of witnesses – a combination that includes 1739 – in First John 1:7, where δε is not included in the text of Nestle-Aland 28 even though its support is both ancient and vast.  Again:  what’s wrong with this picture?

This is the bias in action. The CBGM really likes 1739 due to its relatively short distance to the initial text. This means that every reading it has—including its singular readings—is potentially the initial reading even when every earlier text disagrees with it. This means that the critic has to establish the text based solely on internal evidence, which is notoriously difficult in cases involving “particles and articles” that don’t really affect the propositional meaning or translation of the text. In the past, textual critics didn’t think this external evidence was good enough to warrant serious consideration; with the CBGM now they apparently do. I can only hope that our ability to evaluate the internal evidence for more substantive variant readings is good enough to overcome the CBGM’s bias.

JSJ:  Let’s look at another textual variant that was adopted in Nestle-Aland 28:  the Byzantine reading Πρεσβυτέρους τους at the beginning of First Peter 5:1.  Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, P72 and 2412 read Πρεσβυτέρους οὖν, Sinaiticus, Y, 623, and 1611 read Πρεσβυτέρους οὐν τους, and 1505 simply supports Πρεσβυτέρους.  I can see how internal arguments could lead to the adoption of τους, but how does the CBGM get there?  And how can one tell when the CBGM has had a decisive role in decision-making in NA28, and when it was not a factor?

SCC: This variation unit is one of those where the editors of the Editio Critica Maior (ECM) changed their mind. In the first edition of the ECM for 1 Peter in 2000, they went with Πρεσβυτέρους οὖν with 03 (B, Vaticanus); but in the second edition of the ECM in 2013, they went with Πρεσβυτέρους τοὺς with 1739 instead. Now, 03 and 1739 are the two closest manuscripts to the initial text for the CBGM, so their readings are always going to look good for the CBGM, particularly when the Byzantine text agrees with them. Moreover, all the variants are coherent, so there is little guidance on that front. Apparently, what happened is that that the editors changed their mind on the internal evidence between the two editions. Why they did so is unclear, and I cannot find any documentation or commentary on this variant. The only clue I have are the local genealogies published on Muenster’s institute’s website ( http://intf.uni-muenster.de/cbgm2/LocStem1.html ), and they differ between the two editions. In any case, the external evidence is effectively neutralized here under the CBGM and plays no important role.

JSJ:  Do you think that the recent decision to adopt μέρει in First Peter 4:16 was made primarily due to a rethinking of internal considerations, and the CBGM was simply along for the ride?  Mink’s argument (see p. 72 of Wasserman & Gurry’s New Approach) sure sounds like it was driven by internal evidence.

SCC:  This variant gets a bit outside the scope of my paper but it shows a different way that the bias at the heart of the CBGM can pop up, but it takes some explaining. There are two readings in 1 Pet 4:16. The older reading of the NA27 is “in this name” (ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ) and is supported by an all-star cast of P72, 01 (ℵ/Sinaiticus), 02 (A/Alexandrinus), 03 (B/Vaticanus), 044 (Ψ), 33, 81, 1611, 1739, Old Latins, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Gothic, Ethiopian, and Cyril. The testimony of the earliest and most widespread witnesses is unanimously in favor of “in this name.” And it makes good sense in light of our knowledge of the earliest persecutions against Christians. The newer reading in the NA28 is “in this respect” (ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ) is entirely Byzantine (049, P, 104, 180, etc.).
            It is important to note that the Byzantine text is not monolithically in favor of the second reading: there are also quite a few Byzantine manuscripts that have the “in this name” reading. In my research, this is the result of contamination, because I have ways of connecting the Byzantine manuscripts with this reading to older, non-Byzantine texts, but the bias of the CBGM can’t find this contamination because its potential ancestor formula is flawed. In fact, it gets the source relationships backwards, and is unable to recognize the actual sources of the contamination. As a result, the user of the CBGM is misled into thinking that going from “in this respect” to “in this name” is a common, independent change, when in fact the opposite was actually more common, to correct an older manuscript with “in this name” to “in this respect” in conformance with the more common, contemporary Byzantine reading. As a result, I strongly suspect that the CBGM results in this case have colored the editors’ reassessment of the internal evidence, causing them to favor a different sense of the transcriptional probabilities than their predecessors. For a good internal analysis on the merits of the previous NA27 reading (“in this name”) see Jarrett Knight’s article in JBL last year.

JSJ:  I’ve gotten the impression that the more rival readings there are in a particular variant-unit, the less useful the CBGM becomes – downright chaotic – and the more unstable the Nestle-Aland compilation is likely to become at those points.  Have you gotten this impression, and if so, why does this seem to be the case?

SCC: There is a big issue over the size and scope of variation units that is largely ignored in our discussions to date, so there isn’t much to go on. I suspect that, as in the case of 1 Pet 5:1, when all the variants are coherent (which seems to be easier to happen when there are more of them), then the CBGM does not have much to offer the textual critic for decision. But I’ll need to look at a lot more of them to be more confident.

JSJ:  When I look at things like the diagram of the textual flow for Second Peter 3:10 (on page 76 of Wasserman & Gurry’s A New Approach to Textual Criticism, about the CBGM), it looks like the CBGM began by building a line of descent for each set of rival variants in a specific variation-unit, and somewhere along the line its focus shifted, from being about relationships of readings, to something more concrete, involving relationships of manuscripts (or, manuscripts’ texts).  (See the diagrams on pages 89-91, and then, on p. 105, “The global stemma for the Harklean Group in the Catholic Letters.)  I still don’t quite grasp how that was done – how the global stemma was made without simply ignoring some of the data.  Could you explain that in a little more detail? 

SCC:  The key thing to know about the global stemma is that, aside from a few toy examples, it was never published or used to edit the text in the ECM. I spent a lot of time trying to understand it and how it relates to the textual flows, only to learn that it is still under development and irrelevant to the text of the NA28. I recommend ignoring it until it is actually implemented because it is still under development and who knows how it can change. All I can say is that the portion of the global stemma published in Wasserman & Gurry defies easy historical interpretation.

JSJ:  Are there any other reasons to approach the CBGM with caution?

SCC: Let me enumerate some of them.
(1) In addition to its bias, we mentioned that the CBGM does not take into account versional and patristic evidence, an important set of evidence for the early periods of the text.
(2) The behavior of the “connectivity parameter,” which we have not discussed, seems to be affected by the sampling bias, so the number would have to be different in the well-sampled Byzantine text than outside of it, but the CBGM has no provision for this.
(3) Another issue is that the method may be too beholden to what the editors think is the initial text. For the ECM/NA28, the editors started with a subset of the NA27 for all intents and purposes, but what if they started with the Byzantine or Codex Bezae? At this point, it’s an open question.
(4) Further, I suspect that the CBGM is not even finding contamination correctly (see above for 1 Pet 4:16), but that is something under active research and a matter for a different time.
(5) Finally, the major problem I have with the ECM and the NA28 is that the editors have not adequately explained their reasoning in all the places where they changed the text. This is particularly important because the CBGM’s problems mean that the external evidence will appear less decisive than it used to and put a lot more pressure on getting the internal arguments right. Yet, when the internal arguments are not documented, it forces people to assume it was the CBGM that caused the change when it could have been something else. Fortunately, the decisions leading to the Acts is better documented that the Catholics, but even then I still want something even more thorough.

JSJ:  Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

SCC: You’re welcome. I hope my explanations are helpful to your readers.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Video Lecture: How To Use the Nestle-Aland Apparatus

            Now on YouTube:  the seventh lecture in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism!  In this 23-minute lecture, I discuss the textual apparatus in the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece and the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, and explain many of the symbols and features found therein. 

(At around the 5:43 mark, the slide that refers to letters should refer instead to numbers.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Video Lecture: Some Important Manuscripts

Now at YouTube:

Lecture 06 - Some Important Manuscripts - in the series Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism. (24 minutes, but viewers are expected to explore the links and thus take longer)

Subtitles provide a basic outline and links to supplemental materials.


Friday, June 5, 2020

Video Lecture: Patristic Evidence

Lecture 05 - Patristic Evidence
         Now on YouTube:  the fifth lecture in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism is up at YouTube!  In this 30-minute lecture, I discuss the value of patristic evidence and explain some of the precautions that should be taken in its use.  I also briefly review 50 important patristic writers.
         Subtitles provide a basic outline of the lecture.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

An Uncial of Luke 5-6 at Mount Sinai

          At the Sinai Palimpsests Project website, part of one of the manuscripts included among the New Finds collection – Greek N.F. M 98 – has lower writing that consists of a folio from a Greek uncial, preserving text in four columns (two columns per page, probably 26 lines per column) from Luke 5:33-34, 5:36-37, 5:39-6:1, and 6:3-4.  Dr. Giuglielmo Cavallo – author of the first chapter in the superb little 2008 book, The Shape of the Book – identified and analyzed this text a while ago, and assigned it a production-date around 1000.  It has received an official Nestle-Aland identification number:  0288.  Let’s take a closer look at its text, which is on the first page (front and back) of the manuscript.
          In its four columns of text, compared to the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, this witness has two variants:  in Luke 5:33, we encounter ποικνα instead of πυκνα, and after ομοιως we meet δε και instead of just και.  Other than these two readings, the text is perfectly Byzantine, agreeing with the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform.  This witness disagrees with the Nestle-Aland compilation at almost every opportunity:

In the lower writing of Greek N.F. M 98: 
● 5:34 – Ις (before ειπεν) is not included
● 5:36 – απο (after επίβλημα is not included
● 5:36 – σχίσας (after καινου) is not included [Not noted in NA27 apparatus]
● 5:36 – σκιζει (instead of σκισει in À B C L)  [Not noted in NA27 apparatus]  
● 5:36 – συμφωνει (instead of συμφωνήσει) [Not noted in NA27 apparatus]
● 5:36 – το επίβλημα before απο is is not included
● 5:39 – και is at the beginning of the verse [bracketed in NA27]
● 5:39 – ευθεως appears after παλαιον
● 5:39 – χρηστότερος instead of χρηστός
● 6:1 – δευτεροπρώτω is present
● 6:1 – των is present before σπορίμων
● 6:3 – οποτε instead of οτε
● 6:3 – οντες appears at the end of the verse [bracketed in NA27]
● 6:4 – ως is at the beginning of the verse [bracketed in NA27]
● 6:4 – ελαβεν και instead of λαβων

Reconstruction of the lower writing in Greek N.F. M 98.
           Here is a reproduction of the text of Luke in Greek N.F. M 98, with the upper writing removed.  Twice, the copyist appears to have used a kai-compendium or dwarf letters, but the writing at both points was obscured by the upper writing.  (This is signified in the reproduction by the light red squares.)          
Before presenting a transcription of the text, here are some thoughts about some textual contests that could be considered if one were defending the Byzantine readings found in Greek N.F. M 98.

● 5:34 – Ις in the Alexandrian Text could be introduced for the sake of clarity, or as a remembrance of 5:31.
● 5:36 – απο and σχίσας could be added for the sake of clarity.
● 5:36 – συμφωνει could be altered to συμφωνήσει as part of an expansion which also involved the addition of το επίβλημα before απο.
● 5:38 – In Greek N.F. M 98, space-considerations seem to favor the inclusion of και αμφότεροι συντηρουνται at the end of the verse.
● 5:39 – A copyist might excise και as an attempt at stylistic improvement.  (The entire verse is absent in Codex D and several Old Latin witnesses.)
● 5:39 – χρηστότερος can account for χρηστός with a simple parableptic error.
● 6:1 – δευτεροπρώτω is certainly the more difficult reading.
● 6:3 – οποτε can account for οτε with a simple parableptic error.
● 6:4 – The support for nothing before εισηλθων at the beginning of the verse is sparse.
● 6:4 – Part of the Alexandrian line seems harmonized to Mark 2:26.

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