Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lessons from a Medieval Fragment of Second Timothy and Titus

          In the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection at the University of Chicago there is a twelfth-century manuscript called “2 Timothy and Titus Praxapostolos Fragment,” known as manuscript #943 in the collection, and identified as 2425 in the Gregory-Aland identification-system.  Manuscript 2425 contains text from Second Timothy (3:6-4:22) and Titus (1:1-3).  It also contains a Hypothesis (Summary) of Titus.
This detail from 2425 shows text from Second Timothy 3:15-4:3a,
including a variant in 4:1 that is not in the Nestle-Aland apparatus.
          The text of this minuscule fragment displays a strong adherence to the standard Byzantine Text.  It varies from the Robinson-Pierpont 2005 compilation of the Byzantine Textform at only four points – in Second Timothy 3:8, reading Μωϋσεῖ (Byz: Μωϋση), 3:11, reading ἐγένοντο (Byz:  ἐγένετο), 4:1, reading Κυριου (Byz:  του Κυριου) and 4:13, reading φαιλόνην (Byz:  φελονην).  (In the fourth case, the Byzantine Text itself is split; φαιλόνην is mentioned in the margin of RP-2005.)  Thus the difference between the text of Second Timothy 3:6-Titus 1:3 in this manuscript, and the text of RP-2005 amounts to eight Greek letters.  2425 is thus an excellent representative of its text-type.  It shows the stability of the Byzantine transmission-stream in the Middle Ages, at least for the Pastoral Epistles.  
          A couple of longer readings that are found in the text of Second Timothy in Codex Alexandrinus, produced in the 400’s (“and carnal pleasures” in 3:6, and “as a good soldier in Christ Jesus” in 4:5), are not in the text of 2425, and two shorter readings in Codex Alexandrinus (the non-inclusion of “the love” in 3:10 and the non-inclusion of “me” in 4:17) that were not adopted in NA27 are not supported by 2425 (that is, 2425 and the Byzantine Text agree with NA27 against Codex A at all four points).    
          Two other things may be learned from 2425:
          ● Considering the textual stability implied by a comparison of 2425 and the Byzantine Text, the often-repeated claim that “no two New Testament manuscripts agree exactly” is almost certainly wrong.  At least one book of the New Testament – perhaps Second Timothy or Titus or Jude – was very probably reproduced in a form that is shared exactly by more than one manuscript.
The STEP-Bible:  better than NA27.
          ● In the course of collating the text of 2425, I noticed a significant variant-unit in Second Timothy 4:1 that is not in the Nestle-Aland apparatus.  The words “the Lord” – του Κυριου in Greek – are not in the Alexandrian Text, but the word Κυριου is supported by 2425 (in which Κυριου, being a sacred name, is contracted as Κυ and overlined).  The reading του Κυριου is included in the Byzantine Text (and is supported by the Peshitta).  To put this another way:  a variant in Second Timothy 4:1 that has an impact on translation, and which is found in the majority of Greek manuscripts, is not in the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece at all.  It’s not in the text of NA-27 and it’s not in the apparatus.  You won’t find it in the UBS Greek New Testament anywhere either.  It’s not mentioned in the NET either.  The Byzantine reading is, however, listed in the footnotes of the SBL-GNT, and it is also included in the apparatus of the STEP-Bible prepared at Tyndale House, although the specific variant attested by 2425, in which Κυριου is in the text but is not preceded by του, is not mentioned.  I conclude that the claim that “it is certain that the original wording is found either in the text or in the apparatus” may be an overly optimistic assessment when applied to the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.


Wayne said...

Thank you for these textual insights, James.

Wayne Mitchell said...

You mention the longer readings of Alexandrinus at 3:6 (A 1245 1505 syr(h); Thret) and 4:5 (A). Their loss in other manuscripts can be explained from copyist oversight. For 3:6 ("and pleasures") we have evidence of a homoioteleuton: ais-ais, and for 4:5 ("as a good soldier in Christ Jesus") it looks like a sight confusion: hson-hsou.