Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Some Recent Text-Critical Discussions Online

Dwayne Green
 Recently Dwayne Green and I sat down and discussed Mark 16:9-20:

Part 1 - In which we consider what’s wrong with the footnotes and headings about Mark 16:9-20 in many English Bible translations, and also look into different base-texts of English translations.
Part 2 - In which we describe the manuscripts 304, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Sinaiticus, the only Greek manuscripts which end the text of Mark 16 at v. 8.
Part 3 - In which we describe some commentators’ misrepresentations of manuscripts with notes about Mark 16:9-20, cover some background of the “Shorter Ending,” and describe some neglected patristic evidence.
Sam Shamoun

I also spoke with apologist Sam Shamoun about The King James Only Controversy for almost two hours
, reviewing the false claims, mistakes, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies in James White's book The King James Only Controversy, including (but certainly not limited to) White's inaccurate claims pertaining to Mark 16:9-20. We investigated White's version (made not only in his book but also in various online venues) of how Constantine Tischendorf encountered pages from Codex Sinaiticus, his claim about the text-form discovered in Papyri, and much, much more.

And, at Nicholas Johnson's Signs & Wonders video blog, I've discussed Mark 16:9-20 more informally, and (with some technical difficulties that we hurdled together), the Byzantine Text of the New Testament, and the relative qualities of some recent English translations of the New Testament.
Nick Johnson

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Mark 16:9-20 - Grace To You vs. The Evidence


            Watch the new video about the false claims that Grace To You has been spreading about Mark 16:9-20 for the past ten years on YouTube.            

It has been almost ten years since Dr. John MacArthur preached a sermon titled “The Fitting End to Mark’s Gospel,” in which he called Mark 16:9-20 a “bad ending.”  Since then, the ministry of Grace to You has promoted his claims over and over.

            But many of his claims are false.  I’m not challenging his doctrines here; I mean that  he says many things in that sermon that are flat-out untrue.  He says things that are fictitious.  In the next ten minutes, I will focus on just some of them.

(1)  John MacArthur says, “I would say there is massive evidence that the Holy Spirit not only inspired the Scripture but preserved it in its purity through all history.”   He also says, “There are twenty-five thousand ancient manuscripts of the New Testament.  Such an abundance preserved by the Holy Spirit through faithful men in the church makes it possible to reconstruct the original books with virtually complete accuracy.”

           There are about 1,650 Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark.  Almost all of them – over 99% – include the 12 verses that MacArthur calls a “bad ending.”  There are just three Greek manuscripts in which the text of Mark ends at Mark 16:8.

            If “massive evidence” shows that the text of Scripture has been preserved in its purity through all history, then massive evidence also refutes MacArthur’s idea that Mark 16:9-20 should be rejected.  

            To put it another way:  if “massive evidence” – say, 99% of the Greek manuscripts,  99% of the Syriac manuscripts, 99% of the Latin manuscripts, and 100% of the Ethiopic manuscripts – is what shows us the text that the Holy Spirit has preserved for the church to use, then Mark 16:9-20 is part of that divinely-approved text.  But if, instead, we should rely on 1% of the Greek manuscripts, 1% of the Syriac manuscripts, 1% of the Greek manuscripts, and none of the Ethiopic manuscripts. what happens to MacArthur’s claim about “massive evidence”?  It disintegrates.  It dissolves into dust.


(2)  John MacArthur claims that after the Council of Nicea in 325, as Christianity became established as the religion of the Roman Empire, persecution ended, and starting then you have the proliferation of manuscripts.  “They all survived,” he said, “because no one is banning them or destroying them.”

            That claim is downright silly.  Even after Roman persecutions stopped, humidity still worked.  Outside the exceptionally dry climate of Egypt, papyrus manuscripts experienced natural decay.  Eusebius of Caesarea claimed that Emperor Constantine instructed him to make 50 manuscripts for churches in Constantinople.  Do we have 50 Greek manuscripts from the 300s?  No we do not.  The claim that “they all survived” is ridiculous.


(3) MacArthur demonstrated his ignorance of New Testament manuscripts again when he identified Codex Sinaiticus as “The earliest and most important of the Biblical texts that have been discovered.”  But Sinaiticus is not the earliest New Testament text; other substantial manuscripts, such as Papyrus 45, and Papyrus 46, are earlier. 


(4) As part of the basis for his rejection of Mark 16:9-20, MacArthur appeals to “Eight thousand copies of Jerome’s Vulgate.”  The thing is, in Jerome’s Vulgate, Mark 16:9-20 is included.  MacArthur also appealed to “Three hundred and fifty-plus copies of the Syriac Bible.”  But in the standard Syriac text, Mark 16:9-20 is included. 


(5)  MacArthur then says,  “When you compare all of these manuscripts, they’re all saying exactly the same thing.”

            But that is not true.  The text in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus is different from the text of the Vulgate, and it is different from the text of the Peshitta – and one difference is that the Syriac Peshitta and the Latin Vulgate include Mark 16:9-20.  When you compare the vast majority of the Greek, Latin, and Syriac manuscripts, they say the opposite of what MacArthur seems to think they say!

            If we’re going to say, “Let’s accept the text that is supported by all these Greek and  Latin and Syriac manuscripts,” we should be accepting Mark 16:9-20.    


(6)  John MacArthur tries to appeal to patristic quotations, claiming that “you can virtually put the entire New Testament together from the quotes of the fathers and it matches perfectly all other manuscript sources.”

That claim is fiction.  You can easily demonstrate that it is fiction by picking up a textual apparatus and looking through the list of patristic writers who are listed as support for different rival readings.    

            But MacArthur doesn’t let the obviously false nature of his claim slow him down.  He keeps going:  he says, “There are over 19 thousand quotations of just the Gospels in their writings, and they read the Gospel text the very same way you read them in your Bible today.”   That is another fictitious claim.  MacArthur seems unaware that what he calls a “bad ending” is quoted far and wide by patristic writers from the days of the Roman Empire.


(7)  MacArthur continues to spread propaganda when he compares the history of the transmission of the New Testament with the transmission of Homer’s Iliad.   He claims that “The oldest manuscript of the Iliad that we have is in the thirteenth century A.D.”  That is false.  There are dozens of fragments of the Iliad from way before the thirteenth century A.D.  Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 560, from the 200s, is just one example.  Are the personnel at Grace To You aware that John MacArthur is making these false claims?  Then why has  Grace To You been spreading them for the past 10 years?  Do they just not care?  It’s been ten years.  So much for the pretense that Grace To You believes that truth matters.    


(8)  John MacArthur says we can be confident that our English translations are accurate because “We have so many accurate, consistent manuscripts.”  But he’s not relying on many Greek manuscripts in this case; he is relying on three.  One is a medieval commentary-manuscript.  The two early ones are the ones that matter, and one of them has a distinct blank space that includes a whole column after Mark 16:8, and in the other one, the last page of Mark is written by a different scribe than the scribe who wrote the surrounding pages. 

            John MacArthur is thus rejecting the testimony of over 1,600 Greek manuscripts, including early manuscripts such as Codex A, Codex C, and Codex D,  and he is basically depending on two Greek manuscripts.  And, inasmuch as they disagree with each other at 3,036 places in the Gospels, they can’t both be very “accurate, consistent” copies of the Gospels.     

(9)  MacArthur claims that “Somewhere along the line, they started piling up optional endings.”  But in real life, besides verses 9-20, there was just one other ending after verse 8:  the “Shorter Ending” – and that was in one particular locale:  Egypt.   It is preserved in six Greek manuscripts, and all six of them also support the usual 12 verses.   

            Let me say that again:  a total of six Greek manuscripts have preserved one rival ending, along with the normal ending.  There is also one manuscript, Codex W, which has extra material between verse 14 and verse 15, but that is an interpolation, not an ending.  The claim that endings “started piling up” is rubbish.  It is nonsense.  Anyone who tells you that there were “several endings” or “various endings” – I’m looking at you, Philip Comfort; I’m looking at you, New Living Translation footnote-maker – is deceiving his readers.     


(10)  MacArthur makes his false fantasy even falser, if it were possible, when he says that “Justin Martyr and Tatian show knowledge of other endings,” and that “Even Irenaeus shows knowledge of other endings starting to float around.”

         What the evidence from Justin Martyr and Tatian and Irenaeus shows is that they used a text of Mark that included Mark 16:9-20.  There is no evidence in their writings of any other ending.  MacArthur is just making things up.  Instead, he should acknowledge that when Irenaeus quotes Mark 16:19 in Against Heresies, Book 3, chapter 10, around the year 180, long before Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were made in the 300s, it means that Irenaeus’ manuscripts of Mark 16 included verses 9-20.


             In conclusion:  I call on John MacArthur to retract the false claims that he has been spreading for the past ten years.  And I call on Grace To You to stop circulating the materials that contain and promote those false claims. 


            Until this is done, I say to everyone who regards John MacArthur as a reliable source of information about New Testament manuscripts, and to everyone who thinks of Grace To You as a responsible organization that would never promote false claims:  you have my pity.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

New Manuscripts from Liechtenstein

H.S.H. Hans-Adam II

           An important collection of previously unpublished New Testament materials has been released in the  European micro-state of Liechtenstein.  Scholars were aware of the existence of this collection, but its publication was delayed until 2020 in accordance with the stipulations of the last will and testament of Prince Franz Johann II, who served as prince of Liechtenstein from 1938 to 1989.  It was delayed one year further due to Covid-19-related disruptions and by some concerns in the art world that the royal family could not disprove speculative theories that the preservation of this collection during WWII was due in part to “forced labor.” 

After documentation was provided which shows that the entire collection was preserved due to a simpler mechanism – its obscurity – no obstacles stand in the way of its publication.  The first institution to display the Ecclesiastical Archives of Liechtenstein will be the small Treasure Chamber (the Schatzkammer – described in this video) in the capital city of Vaduz, not far from Vaduz Castle, where the collection was kept for decades.  

Following the formal accession of H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois, most of the collection will be transferred to a permanent display in the Liechtenstein Garden Palace in Vienna
, Austria, near the U.S. embassy.
H.S.H. Hereditary
Prince Alois

          The collection originated mainly as an effect of Franz Johann II’s penchant for the collection of fine art.  He and his predecessor, Johann II (who led the country from 1929 to 1938) – and many of their predecessors – accumulated what is now one of the finest art collections in the world.  The intricately decorated book-covers and cases of manuscripts were cherished as art; the manuscripts they held were probably seen as secondary items when purchased.  But new assessments of these rarely seen books, undertaken by a team of scholars sponsored by H.S.H. Hans-Adam II, has elicited a new appreciation of their value. 

          The Biblical manuscripts in the Ecclesiastical Archives of Liechtenstein include the following:
          ● Seven incomplete minuscule copies of the Gospels in Greek, including one from the 900s.  Most feature the Eusebian Canons and a few attached pages.

A medieval Gospels MS
with an unusual reading in Mark 1:2.
          ● Ten Latin copies of different portions of the New Testament, including a book of the four Gospels from the 900s, probably produced in Metz at the Hovnarr Monastery.

          ● Three Latin Book of Hours, from different medieval periods.  One of these features some Greek notes accompanying passages taken from the Gospels. 

          ● Five Ethiopic lectionaries, with texts on illustrated pages.

          ● A majuscule fragment, written in both Greek and Latin, containing Luke 24:17-25, found unbound in an antiphonary, which was obtained by Carl Eusebius Liechtenstein in the 1600s.    

          ● An ancient Latin lectionary once owned by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi.

          More information about the plans to publish and display these documents can be found by visiting the website of the Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum.

The Liechtenstein Garden Palace, in Vienna,
future home of the collection.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Minuscule 750: The Byzantine Text with Pictures

          Minuscule 750 is a Greek copy of the four Gospels, written in a neat minuscule script, in dark ink, assigned to the 1100s.  The text is on 319 pages, written in one column per page, with 20 lines per page.  The text of 750 has been categorized as M27, an old form of the Byzantine Text.

          Matthew has a rectangular headpiece, with red, blue, and green pigment.  Later cursive notes are written in the outer margin in black and red.  The title appears to be written in gold.

        Small illustrations (sometimes slightly covering the text), appear in the outer margins of Matthew and Mark.  Matthew has about 35 margin-illustrations; Mark has about 10.  Very often the illustrations appear to have been scraped off the page.  Sometimes the shapes of scenes in damaged or non-extant pictures appear on the opposite page, allowing a view of the contours of the depicted scene.  Some of the illustrations feature writing describing the depicted scene.

          Only one illustration is extant in Luke:  on p. 322, opposite Luke 1:13.  Other pictures once occupied some pages after this; traces of pigment remain on p. 323.  On several other pages, rectangles are hued more lightly than the rest of the page; these are apparently the remains of places where a picture was once intended but never executed.  Occasionally a thinly drawn rectangle appears to signify where an illustration was once intended; such a frame appears on p. 518 (next to John 1:43).

        Eusebian Section-numbers begin to appear in the outer margin at Mt. 8:28, on p. 48, with #70 (although usually one would expect #70 to appear at Mt. 9:1).  Perhaps the section-numbers were not included before this point because the margin-illustrations made their inclusion difficult.

          Obeli in red often appear in the text at the beginning of a section.  It is not unusual to see a red cross (+) and a gap, blank, before the obelus, as if the addition of liturgical notices (αρχη and τελος) had been intended but never carried out except in an incomplete way (such as on p. 326).  A series of three crosses (+++) usually indicates the end of a chapter. Chapter-titles, written in gold, usually appear at the top of the page where the chapter begins, but titloi occasional appear in the lower margin.

          A later hand has occasionally added some liturgical annotations, featuring circles, which seem to be connected with an Eastertime rite (?):  Stasis #2 at Matthew 9:9, #3 at Matthew 14:1, #5 at Matthew 25:1, #2 at Mark 6:30, #2 at Luke 5:1, #3 at Luke 9:7, #4 at Luke 13:31, #5 at Luke 20:27, #2 at John 5:24, #3 at John 9:1, τελος at John 13:31.

 Here is a selective index to the manuscript:

 Mt. 1:1 – p. 7

Mt. 4:14-15a is written in the lower margin of p. 21, which was omitted in the main text due to parablepsis (Νεφθαλείμ, Νεφθαλείμ).

Mt. 5:1 – p. 24 (ε in margin)

Mt. 7:1 – p. 38

Mt. 8:2 – p. 43

Mt. 8:16 – p. 46

Mt. 9:2 – p. 49 (ιγ in margin)

Mt. 10:1 – p. 56

Mt. 11:1 – p. 63 (κ in the margin)

Mt. 12:22 – p. 71 (κβ in the margin)  

Mt. 14:1 – p. 87 (κε in the margin)

Mt. 17:1 – p. 104 (λδ in the margin)

Mt. 20:1 – p. 122 (μβ in the margin)

Mt. 22:2 – p. 137 (να in the margin)

Mt. 25:1 – p. 157 (νθ in the margin)

Mt. 27:1 – p. 177 (τιζ in the margin)

Mt. 27:58 – p. 186 (ξη in the margin)


Chapter-list for Mark begins on p. 192

Full-page picture of Mark, with red footstool – p. 196

Mk. 1:1 – p. 197, with blue and gold headpiece, red and blue initial

Mk. 2:1 – p. 204 (κ in the margin)

Mk. 4:3 – p. 213 (θ in the margin)

Mk. 5:1 – p. 221 (ια in the margin)

Mk. 7:1 – p. 238 (ιη in the margin)

Mk. 9:2 – p. 251 (κε in the margin)

Jesus greeting Mary Magdalene in Mark 16:9,
with imprint on the opposite page.

Mk. 10:2 – p. 260 (κη in the margin)

Mk. 12:1 – p. 274 (λϛ in the margin)

Mk. 14:3 – p. 289 (μδ in the margin)

Mk. 15:48 – p. 306 (μη in the margin)

Mk 16:9 – p. 309


Chapter-list for Luke begins on p. 312

Full-page picture of Luke, with red footstool – p. 319.  Luke has written the first word of his Gospel.

Lk. 1:1 – p. 320, with red, blue and green rectngular headpiece.  Title in gold.

Lk. 2:1 – p. 331 (α in the margin)

Lk. 4:1 – p. 345 (ζ in the margin)

Lk. 6:6 – p. 361/362  (ιε in the margin)

Lk. 8:16 – p. 382 (In Luke 8:16, the words αλλ’ επι λυχνίας επιτιθησιν are not in the text.  In the outer margin, the words αλ επι λοιχνηας επι τηθησει are provided – perhaps recollected from memory – and there is a mark in the text showing where they belong.)

Full-page picture of Luke.

Lk. 9:1 – p. 390 (κζ in the margin)

Lk. 11:1 – p. 409 (λη in the margin)

Lk. 12:1 – p. 419 (μδ in the margin)

Lk. 15:3 – p. 441 (νϛ in the margin)

Lk. 18:1 – p. 456 (ξα in the margin)

Lk 20:1 – p. 470 (ξθ in the margin)

Lk. 22:24 – p. 485 (οζ in the margin, +++ in the text)

Lk. 23:27 – p. 496 (π in the margin)

Lk. 24:18 – p. 503 (πγ in the margin)


Chapter-list for John begins on p. 510

(No portrait of John)

Jn. 1:1 – p. 512.  Rectangular blue headpiece is topped with two birds.  Red and blue initial with hand-stem.

John 2:1 – p. 519 (α in the margin)

5:1 – p. 536

Jn. 6:5 – p. 544 (μη in the margin and +++ in the text)

Jn. 7:37 – p. 559

Jn. 7:53 – p. 561 (The pericope adulterae is included in the text.)

Jn. 11:1 – p. 582 (ια in the margin)

Jn. 12:3 – p. 591

Jn. 13:5 – p. 598 (+++ in the text)

Jn. 13:31 – p. 602 (+++ in the text)

Jn. 15:26 – p. 611 (last line of text)

Jn. 18:1 – p. 621

(beginning on p. 624, the parchment has been affected by mildew, which obscures some of the text on p. 629)

Jn. 19:38 – p. 633 (faint ιη in the margin and +++ in the text)

Jn. 20:11 – p. 636 (αρχ. on first line in the text)

Jn. 21:1 – p. 639 (αρχ.)

The text of John 21 ends on p. 644.  After the subscription and a squiggly horizontal line, there is the word “Ερμενια” followed by a few lines written in faint red ink; some of this text is obscured by mildew.

         A cross-like symbol appears occasionally, apparently written in pencil, in the margin of MS 750.

          Some idea of the quality of the text of 750 may be gained by a comparison of its text of John 18:1-11 and the same passage in Codex Sinaiticus.  In this comparison, I will compare the text of the main scribe of א (pre-correction), and the standard of comparison will be the text of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.  Abbreviations such as kai-compendia and sacred name contractions will not be counted as variants.  Transpositions will be noted but not counted if no change is made to the amount of letters.

Sinaiticus:  John 18:1-11

1 – א has αυτοις instead of τοις (+2)

1 – א has του instead of των (+2, -2)

1 – א has Κεδρου instead of Κεδρων (+2, -2)

2 – א has χιμαρρου instead of χειμαρρου (-1)

3 – א does not have εκει (εκι added in margin) (-4)

4 – א has δε instead of ουν (+2, -3)

4 – א has εξελθων instead of εξηλθεν (+1, -1)

4 – א has ειπεν instead of λεγει (+4, -4)

5 – א has ΙΣ after αυτοις (+2)

5 – א has ιστηκει instead of ειστηκει (-1)

6 – א does not have αυτοις after ειπεν (added above the line) (-6)

6 – א has επεσαν instead of επεσον (+1, -1)

7 – א transposes to αυτους επηρωτησεν

8 – no variations

9 – no variations

10 – א has επεσεν instead of επαισεν (+1, -2)

10 – א transposes to δουλον του αρχιερεως

11 – no variations

Taking the text of א “as is,” pre-correction, it has 17 non-original letters, and is missing 27 original letters, for a total of 44 letters’ worth of corruption. 

Removing orthographic readings and transpositions:

1 – א has αυτοις instead of τοις (+2)

1 – א has του instead of των (+2, -2)

1 – א has Κεδρου instead of Κεδρων (+2, -2)

3 – א does not have εκει (εκι added in margin) (-4)

4 – א has δε instead of ουν (+2, -3)

4 – א has εξελθων instead of εξηλθεν (+1, -1)

4 – א has ειπεν instead of λεγει (+4, -4)

5 – א has ΙΣ after αυτοις (+2)

6 – א does not have αυτοις after ειπεν (added above the line) (-6)

6 – א has επεσαν instead of επεσον (+1, -1)

11 – no variations

Removing orthographic variants from the picture yields a total of 16 non-original letters present, and 23 original letters absent, for a total of 39 letters’ worth of corruption. 

Now, let’s look at the text of John 18:1-11 in 750.  Comparing 750’s text to the text of the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform (2005), I found very few disagreements in John 18:1-11:

  v. 2:  750 has και after συνηχθη.  (This και is noted in the Byz margin, and this και is included in the Hodges-Farstad Majority Text (1982).)

 v. 7:  750’s scribe initially seems to have written αυτοις instead of αυτους, but upon close examination, this appears to have been a glitch involving the ink on the pen; the final stroke of the υ is visible.  I think.)

 v. 11:  750 does not have σου.

 Comparing the text of John 18:1-11 in RP2005 to the text of NA27, we see the following differences (based on the footnotes in RP2005): 

1 – Byz has before ΙΣ (+1)

1 – Byz has των instead of του (+2, -2)

2 – Byz has before ΙΣ (+1)

3 – Byz has εκ των before Φαρισαίων (+5)

4 – Byz does not have και after εξηλθεν (-3)

4 – Byz has ειπεν instead of λεγει (+4, -4)

5 – Byz has ΙΣ after αυτοις (+3)

6 – Byz has οτι after αυτοις (+3)

6 – Byz has επεσον instead of επεσαν (+1, -1)

7 – Byz transposes to αυτους επηρωτησεν

7 – Byz has ειπον instead of ειπαν (+1, -1)

10 – Byz has ωτιον instead of ωτάριον (-2)

11 – Byz has σου (+3)

          Thus, the difference between John 18:1-11 in the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece is 24 non-original letters that appear in RP2005 but not in NA27, and 13 letters that appear in NA27 but not in RP2005 – for a total difference of 37 letters.

          The difference between NA27 and the text in minuscule 750 must be slightly increased by three due to the και in v. 2, but it must also be decreased by three due to 750’s non-inclusion of σου in verse 11.  So, the text of John 18:1-11 written by the copyist of 750 is slightly more accurate than the text written by the copyist of א before correction.

          Minuscule 750 can be viewed page by page at CSNTM and via the Gallica website.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Video Lecture 23: Consult the Evidence

Lecture 23 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism is available to view, with captions, on YouTube, about the advantages of consulting the external evidence for the New Testament text.  Special attention is given to 14 manuscripts and one inscription.  Links to some online manuscript-collections are included in the captions at the end of the lecture.

It can also be viewed, without captions, on Bitchute.

Here is an excerpt:

            Fifth, the Book of Kells.  The Book of Kells is so famous, because of its artistry, that it's easy to overlook it as a textual witness might be overlooked.  Widely regarded as the most beautifully written of all Gospels-manuscripts, the text in the Book of Kells might be considered just another copy of the Vulgate.  For the most part, that is what it is – but it also has some readings that echo Old Latin ancestors that pre-dated the Vulgate.

             One of the readings in the Book of Kells, and several other Latin copies, occurs in Matthew 27:49.  After Matthew’s report that some of the bystanders at Jesus’ crucifixion said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him,” the very next thing that happens, in most copies, is that Jesus cries out with a loud voice, and yields up His spirit.   But in the Book of Kells, before verse 50, there is more.  It says,      

            And another person took a spear, and pierced His side, and there came out water and blood.”

            This is an approximate parallel to John 19:34.   The significant difference is that in John, when Jesus is pierced, He is already dead; the soldiers pierce His side to remove any doubt that He has died.  The reading in the Book of Kells appears to be an interpolation, inserted by a scribe trying to make a harmonization – but the insertion was made at the wrong place, before Jesus dies.

            But the originator of this reading cannot have been a Latin scribe, because the same reading is also found in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, the two Greek manuscripts that form the backbone of the base-text of the New Testament in the NIV and ESV. 

             As a side-note, I have noticed that although the NIV and ESV rely very heavily on these two manuscripts, the reading of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in Matthew 27:49 has not been adopted in their text, and, as far as I can tell,  is not mentioned in the NIV and ESV in a footnote, even though it is supported by some other Alexandrian witnesses such as Codices C and L.

            If we reckon that witnesses that share the same readings tend to have the same origin, then the thing to see is that the witnesses with this relatively rare reading in Matthew 27:49 must be connected in some way, even though some of them represent a stratum of the Latin Text in Ireland, and some of them represent a very early form of the Greek Gospels-text used in Egypt. 

            This connection is also suggested by similarities between some of the artwork in the borders of the Book of Kells, and in the artwork that appears in some Coptic manuscripts.

          Which brings us to our sixth witness:  the Fadden More Psalter.   The discovery, in 2006, of the Fadden More Psalter is another piece of evidence that increases the plausibility of a connection between a Biblical text in Ireland, and a Biblical text in Egypt.  The Fadden More Psalter is is a very heavily damaged Latin copy of the Book of Psalms that was made in about the year 800.

            The parchment pages of the Faddan More Psalter were found along with a leather cover.  It was found in a bog, near the city of Tipperary.  The discoverer, Eddie Fogerty, exercised remarkable skill and competence in preserving the manuscript once it was discovered.  One of the interesting things about the cover is that there is definitely papyrus in the cover’s lining.

             Sometimes, we cannot access the evidence directly because it does not exist anymore.  That is probably the case with our seventh witness:  Codex Gissensis.  For a few decades after its discovery in Egypt in 1907, a small Gothic and Latin fragment, with text from Luke 23 and 34, was kept in Germany.  Unfortunately, it was reportedly destroyed as a result of bombing during World War II.  But black and white photographs of the manuscript have survived.

            Similarly, when Lake Nasser was enlarged on the southern border of Egypt around the year 1970, many artifacts from the ancient site of Faras were heroically rescued by a team of researchers from Poland, and they can still be visited at the National Museum in Warsaw.  Some inscriptions had to be left behind, though, and were subsequently submerged. 

            But photographs of them were taken, including a photograph of our ninth witness:  an inscription that features the beginning and ending of each Gospel.  Even this small witness can help track the geographic spread of variants in these portions of the text.            

Friday, January 29, 2021

Minuscule 1241 and the Ending of Mark

 Minuscule 1241, housed at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai, is sometimes cited as apparent support (“1241vid”) for the abrupt ending at Mark 16:8.  More specifically, in the 1966 Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies, in the textual apparatus, in a list of witnesses that “add vv. 9-20 with asterisks, obeli, or critical note in ms,” we see the entry “1241vid.”

The basis for this frugally presented entry is found in Six Collations of New Testament Manuscripts, by Kirsopp Lake and Silva New (which was the 1932 Harvard Theological Studies #17).  The author(s) wrote on page 111, “The end of f. [folio] 55 is εφοβουντο γαρ written in the centre of the line.  The scribe has not done this elsewhere.”

By the time the fourth edition of the  UBS Greek New Testament was released, the apparatus’ report about the testimony of 1241 was changed.   The textual apparatus, instead of having an entry for witnesses that “add vv. 9-20 with asterisks, obeli, or critical note in ms,” the fourth edition had an entry for “add vv 9-20 with critical note or sign,” and the witnesses thus described are “f1 205 and others.”  1241 is included (without “vid”) in the list of witnesses which “add vv 9-20.”

There is a good reason for this change:  in the real world, the scribe did do this elsewhere.    If one visits the website of the Library of Congress and finds the microfilm page-views of 1241, a tour of the pages containing the four Gospels will show that there are several pages on which the final line contains only a word or two; for instance, if one looks at Image 15, it can be plainly seen that the final line on the page contains only the single word αρτους from the middle of Matthew 14:19.  This phenomenon occurs repeatedly.    But final lines consisting of a single non-centered word are not really the thing to see. 

The thing that Lake and New claimed only occurred at the end of Mark 16:9 also occurs at Image 23 (Matthew 18:19), and at Image 105 (John 5:44), and at Image 116 (John 14:5) and at Image 123 (John 20:18).        

In addition, Mark 16:9 is identified in the side- margin of 1241 as the third Heothinon-reading.  John 20:19, which follows a centered final line concluding John 20:1 on the previous page, is identified as the ninth Heothinon.  And, within the text of Mark 16:9, Jesus’ name is part of the text of the opening phrase – that is, the text of Mark 16:9 is slightly expanded for liturgical reading. 

It should be perfectly clear that Lake and New’s claim that centered final lines only occur at the end of Mark 16:8 is untrue.  It should also be perfectly clear that 1241 provides no support whatsoever for the abrupt ending.  Rather, 1241 attests that when and where it was made, Mark 16:9-20 was treated as authoritative Scripture.

We have here another example of pseudo-evidence to which a paraphrase of Balak’s words in Numbers 24:10 may be applied:  “This witness was cited to draw these twelve verses into question, and, behold, it has altogether blessed them!”


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Hand To Hand Combat: Sinaiticus vs. 162 in Matthew 9:1-17

             Today, let's look at the text of Matthew 9:1-17 in two manuscripts – the famous Codex Sinaiticus, and the little-known medieval minuscule 162, a copy of the Gospels which is housed in the Vatican Library as Barb. Gr. 449.

            According to the colophon that appear after the end of John, 162 was finished by a scribe named Manuel in 1153.  Its text is primarily Byzantine, but it has some unusual readings, the best-known of which is in Luke 11:2:  instead of saying, “Your kingdom come,” it says. “Let your holy Spirit come (upon us) to cleanse us” – a reading which is also supported by GA 700, and was known to Gregory of Nyssa. 

            In Tertullian’s composition Against Marcion, Book 4, Part 26, the author asks several rhetorical questions which seem to be drawn from a sequence of phrases in Luke 11, indicating that this reading was in the text used by Tertullian:

             First, “To whom can I say, “Father”? 

            Next, “Of whom can I ask for His Holy Spirit?”

            Next, “Whose kingdom shall I wish to come?” 

            Next, “Who shall give me my daily bread?”. 

            Next, “Who shall forgive me my trespasses?” 

            And next, “Who shall not allow us to be led into temptation?”. 

This indicates that a textual variant consisting of a request for the Holy Spirit to come and cleanse us, in Luke 11:2, although supported among Greek manuscripts  by only 700 and 162, was known to Tertullian in the second century.

           162 can be viewed page by page at the website of the Vatican Library.  Here is a selective index:   

Ad Carpianus begins

Eusebian Canons begin

Icon of Matthew

Matthew 1:1

Matthew 9:1

Matthew 16:1

Matthew 22:1

Matthew 25:1

Matthew 28:16-20 (cruciform)

Mark 1:9-1:18 

Mark 1:18-27

Mark 1:1 (w/icon headpiece)  

Mark 6:1

Mark 9:1

Mark 14:1

Luke 1:1 (w/icon headpiece)  

Luke 4:1

Luke 6:1

Luke 11:1

Luke 11:2     

Luke 15:1 

Luke 20:1 

John 1:1 (w/icon headpiece)

John 5:1

John 7:53 

John 14:1  

John 18:1  

John 20:1  

John 21:25


Now let’s see how accurate the text of Matthew 9:1-7 in 162 is compared to the same passage in the Tyndale House Greek New Testament.

1 –  162 has Ις­ after εμβας (+3)

1 – 162 has το after εις (+2)

1 – 162 has διεπέρασε instead of διεπέρασεν (-1)

2 – 162 has κλινης instead of κλεινης (-1)

2 – has ειπε instead of ειπεν (-1)

2 – 162 has αφεωνται instead of αφίενται (+2, -2)

2 – 162 has σου (+3)

4 – 162 has ιδων instead of ειδως (+1, -2)

4 – 162 has υμεις after τί (+5)

4 – has ενθυμεισθαι instead of ενθυμεισθε (+2, -1)

5 – 162 has αφεωνται instead of αφίενται (+2, -2)

6 – 162 has κλινην instead of κλεινην (-1)

7 – no variations

8 – 162 has εθαυμασαν instead of εφοβήθησαν (+5, -6)

9 – 162 has Ματθαιον instead of Μαθθαιον (+1, -1)

10 – no variations

11 – 162 has ειπον instead of ελεγον (+3, -4)

12 – 162 has Ις­ before ακουσας (+3)

12 – 162 has αυτοις after ειπεν (+6)

13 – 162 has ελεον instead of ελεος (+1, -1)

13 – 162 has εις μετάνοιαν (+12)

14 – 162 contracts Ιωάννου to Ιω

14 – has νηστευουσι instead of νηστευουσιν (-1)

15 – no variations

16 – no variations

17 – 162 has απολουνται instead of απολλυνται (+1, -1)


So, compared to the Tyndale House compilation, 162 has 51 non-original letters in Matthew 9:1-17, and is missing 25 original letters, for a total of 76 letters’ worth of corruption.  If we set aside orthographic variants, the following remain: 

1 –  162 has Ις­ after εμβας (+3)

1 – 162 has το after εις (+2)

2 – 162 has αφεωνται instead of αφίενται (+2, -2)

2 – 162 has σου (+3)

4 – 162 has ιδων instead of ειδως (+1, -2)

4 – 162 has υμεις after τί (+5)

5 – 162 has αφεωνται instead of αφίενται (+2, -2)

8 – 162 has εθαυμασαν instead of εφοβήθησαν (+5, -6)

11 – 162 has ειπον instead of ελεγον (+3, -4)

12 – 162 has Ις­ before ακουσας (+3)

12 – 162 has αυτοις after ειπεν (+6)

13 – 162 has ελεον instead of ελεος (+1, -1)

13 – 162 has εις μετάνοιαν (+12).


And thus, with orthographic variants set aside, 162 has 48 non-original letters in Matthew 9:1-17, and is missing 17 original letters, for a total of 65 letters’ worth of corruption.

Now let’s compare the text of Matthew 9:1-17 in Codex Sinaiticus to the same passage in the Tyndale House Greek New Testament.

SINAITICUS: MATTHEW 9:1-17 compared to Tyndale House GNT.

1 – no  variations

2 – À has κλινης instead of κλεινης (-1)

2 – À has ειδων instead of ιδων (+1)

3 – no variations

4 – À has ϊδων instead of ειδως (+1, -2)

4 – (À has a spelling-correction in καρδι{αι}ϲ but it may have been made during production)

5 – À does not have και after εγειρε (-3)

6 –  À has εχι instead of εχει (-1)

6 – À has κλινην instead of κλεινην (-1)

6 – À has πορευου instead of υπαγε (+7, -5)

7 – no variations

8 – no variations

9 – À does not have εκειθεν (-7)

9 – À does not have και after λεγομενον (-3)

9 -  has λεγι instead of λεγει (-1)

9 – has ακολουθι instead of ακολουθει (-1)

9 – À has ηκολουθει instead of ηκολούθησεν (+2, -4)

10 – À does not have εγένετο αυτου before ανακειμενω (-12)

10 – has ανακειμενω instead of ανακειμενου (+1, -2)

10 – does not have και before ιδου (-3)

10 – À does not have ελθοντες (-8)

10 – has ϲυνανεκιντο instead of ϲυνανεκειντο (-1)

10 – À has μαθητεϲ instead of μαθηταιϲ (+1, -2)

11 – no variations

12 – À has χριαν instead of χρειαν (-1)

12 – has ϊατρω instead of ϊατρου (+1, -2)

13 – À has μαθεται instead of μαθετε (+2, -1)

14 – À has ημιϲ instead of ημειϲ (-1)

14 – (À has πολλα, added by a corrector, in the side-margin)

15 – À is missing ελευσονται δε ημέραι οταν απαρθη απ αυτων ὁ νυμφίος (-43)

16 – À has παλεω instead of παλαιω (+1, -2)

16 – has αιρι instead of αιρει (-1)

16 - À does not have αυτου before απο (-5)

16 – À has γεινεται  instead of γινεται (+1)

17 – À has αλλ instead of αλλα (-1)

17 – À does not have βάλλουσιν (-9)

17 – À has βλητεον after καινουϲ (+7) 

Thus, compared to the text of Matthew 9:1-7 in the Tyndale House Greek New Testament, the text written by the main scribe of Sinaiticus contains 25 non-original letters, and is missing 104 original letters, for a total of 129 letters’ worth of corruption.    

If we take orthographic variants out of the picture, the accuracy of the text written by  Sinaiticus’ main scribe improves:

4 – À has ϊδων instead of ειδως (+1, -2)

5 – À does not have και after εγειρε (-3)

6 – À has πορευου instead of υπαγε (+7, -5)

9 – À does not have εκειθεν (-7)

9 – À does not have και after λεγομενον (-3)

9 – À has ηκολουθει instead of ηκολούθησεν (+2, -4)

10 – À does not have εγένετο αυτου before ανακειμενω (-12)

10 – does not have και before ιδου (-3)

10 – À does not have ελθοντες (-8)

14 – (À has πολλα from a corrector but this correction may have been made after production)

15 – À is missing ελευσονται δε ημέραι οταν απαρθη απ αυτων ὁ νυμφίος (-43)

16 - À does not have αυτου before απο (-5)

17 – À does not have βάλλουσιν (-9)

17 – À has βλητεον after καινουϲ (+7) 


So, with orthographic variants set aside (even ϊατρω in verse 12), the text of Sinaiticus has 17 non-original letters, and is missing 103 original letters, for a total of 120 letters’ worth of corruption.  The text of Matthew 9:1-17 written by the main scribe of Codex Sinaiticus is far less accurate than the text of 162, even with orthographic variants removed from consideration – and the comparison is not close.

But the work of the main scribe is not the only factor to consider when it comes to Codex Sinaiticus, because this manuscript had a proof-reader, who often served as a fellow-scribe (even replacing some pages of the manuscript where the main scribe had committed some particularly egregious error).  It is not always easy to tell the difference between the work of this corrector – working before the manuscript had left its scriptorium – and some later correctors.  But my impression is that the main corrector of Codex Sinaiticus was responsible for the following corrections:

He added, in the upper margin, for verse 10, the εγένετο αυτου that is missing in the main text.

In the lower margin, he added verse 15’s missing ελευσονται δε ημέραι οταν απαρθη απ αυτων ὁ νυμφίος.  

(I attribute the addition of ελθοντες to a later corrector, and the change in verse 10 from τελωνε to τελωναι I treat as a self-correction by the main scribe.)

With the proof-reader’s input taken into consideration, Sinaiticus’ testimony is much improved:  upon leaving the scriptorium, and setting  aside orthographic variants, the codex contained 17 original letters in Matthew 9:1-17, and was missing 48 original letters, for a total of 65 letters’ worth of corruption.

So which manuscript’s text of Matthew 9:1-17 is better?  The spelling of the main scribe of Sinaiticus is obviously atrocious, but if we set orthographic variants aside, Sinaiticus' accuracy improves substantially.  And if we do not ignore the work of the proof-reader of Codex Sinaiticus, then Codex Sinaiticus’ text of Matthew 9:1-17 has a total of 65 letters’ worth of corruption – meaning that in terms of letters’ worth of non-orthographic corruption, the amount of corruption in Matthew 9:1-17 in À and the amount of corruption in 162 are exactly the same.

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