Friday, January 30, 2015

The Text of Reasoned Eclecticism: Is It Reasonable and Eclectic? Part Four of a Four-Part Response to Dan Wallace

Testing Reasoned Eclecticism

            Wallace attempts to separate his “reasoned eclectic” position from the pro-Alexandrian view of Westcott and Hort.  He stated that the Westcott-Hort theory has “many flaws.”  However, as Eldon Epp has observed, the Nestle-Aland text “almost always departs from the B-text only when an À versus B attestation is in question.”29  If the methodologies of Nestle-Aland and Westcott-Hort are so different, why are their results so similar?  How is it that the Nestle-Aland text differs at only 558 points from a text that was based on a theory with “many flaws”?30  
            Wallace describes the Nestle-Aland text as much more eclectic than the Westcott-Hort text, noting that “In scores of places the editors of the modern critical texts have adopted a Byzantine reading against an Aleph-B alignment (contra Hort).”  But what do these changes really constitute? 
            There is a way to find out:  sift through Wieland Willker’s online presentation of the Westcott-Hort text, which parenthetically displays the readings of NA27 where they diverge from WH-1881.  What differences have emerged in, say, the first ten chapters of Matthew?  A total of 55 differences, which are listed in the appendix of this article (in the post that follows this one).
            Seventeen of these changes, however, are not textual, but only consist of the addition or removal of brackets.  Of the remaining 38 changes, most of them do not make the text any more eclectic than Hort’s text, because they only consist of exchanging a reading in ﬡ for a reading in B, or a reading in B for a reading in À.  Only 17 changes in Matthew 1-10 actually make the text of NA26 more eclectic than Hort’s text, and of these 17 (indicated by red dots in the list in the appendix), eight are bracketed in NA26.  The only newly adopted readings not supported by either ﬡ or B, and also not displayed in brackets, are the following:     
● 3:7 – αυτου, after βαπτισμα, has been adopted, although it is absent in B and À.
3:14 – Ιωαννης has been added, although it is absent in B and À.  Inclusion is supported by P96.
● 8:8 – NA reads και αποκριθεις instead of αποκριθεις δε, which is supported by B and À.
● 8:9 – NA does not include τασσομενος, which Hort included in brackets.  Inclusion is supported by B and À.
9:18 – NA reads ελθων instead of Hort’s προσελθων, which is supported by B and À.
9:32 – NA reads ανθρωπον, although non-inclusion is supported by B and À.
10:13 – NA, after the second occurrence of ειρηνη υμων, reads προς instead of εφ.  B and À support εφ.  
10:23 – NA includes αν, which B and À do not include.

            The confidently presented (i.e., not bracketed) “reasoned eclectic” text of Matthew 1-10 is more eclectic than Hort’s 1881 text – by a margin of four additions, one subtraction, and three substitutions.  In four of these eight cases (specifically, in 3:7, 9:32, 10:13, and 10:23) the adopted reading is supported by Codex D, and thus does not represent the adoption of a reading distinct to the Byzantine Text.  Thus the distinctly Byzantine contribution to the non-bracketed Nestle-Aland text of Matthew 1-10 amounts to one addition, two substitutions, and one subtraction (and the subtracted word was already bracketed by Hort).
            That’s next to nothing.  The results of “reasoned eclecticism,” as practiced by the compilers of Nestle-Aland, and by Wallace, are virtually the same text that Hort produced.  Why do they so persistently reject the Byzantine Text?  The answer is obvious:  against all evidence to the contrary, they are still entrenched in the belief that the Byzantine Text is a blend of Alexandrian and Western readings that were combined by an editor around 300.  In other words, they still adhere to Hort’s theory that the Byzantine Text originated with the Lucianic Recension, as Wallace shows when he states that the Westcott-Hort theory “was apparently still right on its basic tenet:  the Byzantine texttype—or majority text—did not exist in the first three centuries.”  
            Is that a reasonable assumption? 
            By the early 400’s, the Byzantine text of the Gospels, or a substantial strata of it – a text that resembled the Byzantine Text far more than any other text-type – had been used by Wulfilas, Basil, Chrysostom, and the unknown translator(s) of the Peshitta.  It was also being disseminated in copies such as Codex A and Codex W.  In the 500’s, a similar text was used for the Purple Uncials (N-O-Φ-Σ). 
            What was happening in the areas where these writers lived?  Although we do not have copies of the Greek New Testament from Syria, Asia, and Greece before 300 – because they were made of papyrus, and those that were not victims of Roman persecutors became victims of high humidity – it should go without saying that the Greek-speaking Christians in these areas possessed copies of New Testament books, and routinely used them in their church-services.  Did the people in those areas simply set aside their old Greek texts – Alexandrian, or Western – and pick up a new Greek text – the Byzantine Text – that was brimming with new readings? 
            The idea is inherently improbable.  Such an act would not be analogous to what happened around 425 in Syria, when Theodoret replaced 200 copies of the Diatessaron with copies of the separate Gospels.  Theodoret was replacing the work of Tatian, who – rightly or wrongly – had acquired a reputation as a heretic, with the work of apostles and their associates.  The churches of Syria had a strong theological motive to accept Theodoret’s gift as an improvement, and to set the Diatessaron aside, regarding it as a dubious proxy.  But on what basis would a newly introduced Greek text of the Gospels (or of the entire New Testament), never before seen, be favored – and rapidly favored – over the Greek text of the Gospels that had been used in these areas for generations, and which those preceding generations had risked their lived to protect and preserve?
            Instead of assuming that the local text of Antioch, Asia, and Greece that was being used in the 200’s was suddenly abandoned in the 300’s, it is more reasonable to deduce that the Byzantine Text – or at least a very large part of it – was the local text of Antioch, Asia, and Greece in the 200’s, and that is why it continued to be the local text of those areas in the 300’s and 400’s.  As other text-types infiltrated the area, conflations occurred, but only rarely.  The amount of conflation (or apparent conflation) that Hort proposed was on display in the Byzantine Text is not materially greater than what one observes in early Alexandrian witnesses.31        
            A handful of conflations (in which a proto-Byzantine reading was combined with either an Alexandrian or Western reading) sprinkled over a strata of earlier text should not be considered a sufficient reason to regard the entire text-type as late. 
            Even early manuscripts such as P53 and P66 contain apparent conflations – and, occasionally, the early papyri contain distinctly Byzantine readings, that is, readings that are found in the Byzantine Text which are not found in the flagship manuscripts of the Western or Alexandrian texts.  A sample of these, from data provided by Harry A. Sturz,32 may be provided:  P45 agrees with the Byzantine Text in the Gospel of Mark, disagreeing with ÀB and D, in 5:22, 5:42, 6:2, 6:16, 6:45, 6:48, 7:12, 7:30 (twice), 7:31, 7:32, 7:35 (twice), 7:36, 9:6, 9:20 (twice), 12:6, and 12:16.  Sturz proceeds to list 26 agreements in Luke between early papyri and the Byzantine Text that disagree with ﬡB and D, and 44 agreements in John between early papyri and Byz that disagree with ﬡB and D. 
            Wallace seems to believe that every one of these Byzantine readings entered the early papyri out of nowhere.  Why not regard them, or at least some of them, as results of mixture with a local text that was infiltrating Egypt in the early 200’s?33  


            One does not have to adhere to the notion that the Byzantine Text was the majority text in the 200’s to grant that a substantial strata of the Byzantine Text was the local text of Antioch and Asia in the 200’s.  All one has to grant is the inherently probable premises that (a) the Greek text in Antioch and Asia did not develop along exactly the same lines in which it developed in the regions where the Western and Alexandrian texts dominated, and (b) when copyists made the shift from papyrus to parchment in Antioch and Asia, they did not set aside their most ancient, most respected local exemplars, but continued to use the same form of the New Testament text that previous generations had been using in their area, with only a minimal amount of accretions.     
            If these premises were accepted, instead of the premise that the Byzantine Text did not exist at all until the 300’s, then text-compilers might conceivably give Byzantine readings the hearing that they deserve, instead of reaching for whatever hypothesis (often the assertion of intentional corruption) is required to dismiss the Byzantine reading and maintain the Alexandrian reading, even when it is easily attributable to scribal carelessness.  Then, and only then, will it be possible to compile a Greek New Testament based on truly reasonable premises, with truly eclectic results. 




29 – See page 136 of Eldon Epp’s article, A Continuing Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism? in Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 73, 1980.)  Epp raises an important question:  today’s textual critics (“today” being 1980, when he wrote – his point is even more cogent now) have “more than 80 papyri, more than 200 additional uncials, more than 2600 additional minuscules, and perhaps 2000 additional lectionaries that were unavailable to or were not utilized by Westcott-Hort.”  Why, so far, has it made so little difference?
30 – According to the statistics presented by Michael Marlowe at , there are 551 differences between the 1979 Nestle-Aland text and the 1881 text of Westcott & Hort.  Slight fuzziness in the statistic may be due to different treatments of bracketed words in both texts.  As a peripheral point, it should be noted that some of those 558 differences exist because the compilers of the Nestle-Aland text – or at least a majority of the compilers – rejected Hort’s occasional preference for Western readings (the most famous examples being the “Western Non-Interpolations” in Luke 24).  Each time the compilers rejected a Western reading that Hort had favored, the resultant compilation became less eclectic and more Alexandrian.
31 – If one carefully sifts through Pickering’s Appendix D – Conflation or Confusion? in The Identity of the New Testament Text, fourth edition, one may find raw data indicative of conflations in either Vaticanus or Sinaiticus in Matthew 3:12, 24:38, Mark 1:4, 1:28, 1:40, 4:5, John 7:39, 13:24, 16:4, Acts 24:14, First Corinthians 7:34, Ephesians 2:5, Philippians 1:18, Colossians 1:12, 3:17, and Hebrews 9:10.  I would also draw the reader’s attention to the conflation in À in the third verse of Jude, in which the Alexandrian Text is combined with a reading of the Harklean Group.  This data tends to shatter Wallace’s claim that “Nowhere could it be shown that the Alexandrian combined Western and Byzantine readings.”
32 – See List 1 on pages 145-153 of The Byzantine Text-type & New Testament Textual Criticism, and selections from List IV, on pages 191-194.    
33 – This would account for the Byzantine readings that are found in compositions by authors such as Origen and Didymus, who were outside the locales where the Byzantine Text was popular, but were capable of encountering stray Byzantine copies and occasionally favoring their readings, such as “Bethabara” in John 1:28, which was mentioned and defended by Origen.  The early, rather than later, influence of the Byzantine Text in Caesarea and its environs may also efficiently account for the strong Byzantine element that exists in Caesarean witnesses such as 1582; regarding this see Robert Waltz’s tentatively framed research at .

1 comment:

Providential1611 said...

Thank you for your detailed rebuttal of a man who is plainly a deceiver under the control of a lying spirit, and part of an industry that has a vested interest $$$ in perpetuating their lying propaganda, like evolutionists do. Same academia, same lying, same mockery of those who believe otherwise, same endless repeating of falsehoods refuted a thousand times. Modern textual critics, and those who follow them are dishonest people. I have read Wallace a number of times, and the spirit that comes through his writings is REBELLION. The man is a rebel to the truth and light. Calling these men WHAT THEY REALLY ARE needs to take place. They are not "good people who hold to different ideas". They are willful deceivers and liars who vilify those who believe and know the truth. What an abomination.