Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Nestle-Aland in Matthew 28: Alexandrian or Eclectic?

          In the previous four posts, I investigated the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (which has the same text as the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament) to see how much of its text consists of distinctly Byzantine readings – readings found in the vast majority of manuscripts, but not in the two major Alexandrian codices (Vaticanus and Sinaiticus).  In each sample-chapter, there was hardly any evidence of the use of the Byzantine Text in the compilation:  In Galatians 1, NA is .3% distinctly Byzantine; in Luke 15, NA is 1% distinctly Byzantine; in John 20, the only distinctly Byzantine part of the NA-text is a single bracketed letter, and in Mark 11, the impact of the Byzantine Text is discernible in two places, totaling less than .2% of the text. 
          It is not an exaggeration to say that these samples indicate that 99.5% of the Nestle-Aland compilation can be reconstructed without consulting 99.5% of the manuscripts.  That is, one could make a compilation very similar to the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilation by adopting the readings of B, occasionally overruled by À, and with unusual spelling and other quirks in B and À filtered out via a consultation of Codex L.   
          Today we turn to the final chapter of the Gospel of Matthew for one more investigation of the NA/UBS compilation.  Sifting through Reuben Swanson’s line-by-line comparison of the contents of major manuscripts of Matthew, it appears that NA agrees exactly with Codex Vaticanus in 26 of Matthew 28’s 34 text-lines.  Of the remaining eight text-lines, NA agrees with Codex Sinaiticus in two.  This leaves six text-lines in which the impact of the Byzantine Text upon the NA compilation might be discernible:

● At the beginning of verse 3, the copyist of Codex Vaticanus omitted the letter alpha at the end of the word ειδέα.  The copyist of Codex Sinaiticus made a worse mistake, accidentally losing his place in the text and skipping from the αυτου at the end of verse 2 to the first αυτου in verse 3, thus losing the four words in between.  NA adopted the Byzantine reading, ειδέα, which is also how correctors of B and À spelled the word.
● At the end of verse 7, the copyist of Vaticanus placed an itacism in the word Galilee, so as to spell it Γαλειλαίαν.  Sinaiticus, however, has the normal spelling, Γαλιλαίαν, and this is what is found in NA.  A little further along in the verse, after ιδου, B has ειπαν, and À has ειπα, neither of which was adopted in NA, which has the widespread reading ειπον, agreeing with the Byzantine Text.     
● At the end of verse 10, NA agree with B and with the Byzantine Text by reading απέλθωσιν, disagreeing with À’s reading έλθωσιν.  But NA does not adopt B’s itacism in Γαλειλαίαν, reading instead Γαλιλαίαν and thus agreeing at this point with À and the Byzantine Text.  Then, NA adopts κακει, agreeing with B but disagreeing with À and the Byzantine Text, which read και εκει.  Each component of NA in this text-line agrees with either B or À.
● Near the beginning of verse 14, NA reads επι instead of υπο, thus agreeing with À and the Byzantine Text against B.  A little later in the verse, NA adopts αυτον in brackets, thus disagreeing with B and À and agreeing with the Byzantine Text. 
● In verse 15, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus do not have τα before αργύρια.  NA, however, includes this word, thus agreeing with the Byzantine Text. 
● At the beginning of verse 19, NA adopts ουν after Πορευθέντες (thus agreeing with B, but disagreeing with À and Byz) and then adopts βαπτίζοντες (thus agreeing with À and the Byzantine Text, but disagreeing with B, which reads βαπτίζαντες).  Each component of this line agrees with either B or À.  

          Thus a careful comparison of the text of NA in Matthew 28 shows that its compilers’ use of the Byzantine Text is evident at the following points:
          ● In verse 3, where NA has ειδέα instead of ειδε. 
          ● In verse 7, where NA has ειπον instead of ειπαν or ειπα.
          ● In verse 14, where NA has the word αυτον, within brackets.
          ● In verse 15, where NA has the word τα.
           So one could say that the compilers of the NA/UBS text manifested their use of the Byzantine Text in Matthew 28’s 329 words via the adoption of four words.  Thus, calculated by words, 1.2% of the text of NA in Matthew is distinctly Byzantine.  Calculated by letters – nine out of 1,706 – the percentage is slightly above .5%.  (Most of the Gospels-text of NA is not distinctly attested by any single text-type, because throughout most of the text, all the text-types agree.  But where the reading of a particular text-type is adopted, that text-type is almost always the Alexandrian Text, not the Byzantine Text – and almost always the Alexandrian Text as displayed in Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, or Codex L.)


Peter Gurry said...

"99.5% of the Nestle-Aland compilation can be reconstructed without consulting 99.5% of the manuscripts"

What edition would this not be true for? Pick any edition and I bet you could reconstruct it with only a handful of manuscripts. You seem to be confusing the eclectic method with something more like heterogeneous results. But unless an edition starts picking a lot of singular readings, I don't see how any edition could achieve what you seem to be calling "eclectic." Could define this term clearly for us so we know what you are claiming the NA is not.

Daniel Buck said...

NA most definitely is an eclectic text; it is eclectically drawn from the texts of B and Aleph (A in Revelation), with occasional resort to D, L, and a minuscule or two where those three do not supply a reading. So yes, the "eclectic" compilation, though its supporters boast is based on over five thousand Greek manuscripts, is actually based on about five manuscripts. Readings found in as many as 3000 other manuscripts are routinely ignored whenever they differ from the united testimony of B and Aleph.

The most embarrassing thing about "the embarrassment of riches" that is the body of NT manuscripts is the almost total rejection of these riches when it comes to a compilation of the NT Greek text.

Daniel Buck said...

I think it could be defensively stated that the KJV-1611 has a much broader textual base in Greek and versional manuscripts than does the NA-28 GNT.