In 1753, a French ambassador whose last name was Desalleurs – and who had been stationed at Constantinople – presented
a gift to King Louis XV: a Greek
Gospels-lectionary, now known as Lectionary 261. (At the National Library of France, where it
resides, it is known as Supplemental Greek manuscript 37.) This is no ordinary lectionary; it is finely
illustrated, not only with headpieces for each Evangelist, but with many other
small illustrations in the margins. It
contains Gospels-lections for both the Synaxarion – the calendar that is
annually reset at Easter – and for the Menologion – the feast-days that are
affixed to specific unchanging days of the calendar. According to Scrivener’s Plain Introduction,
fourth edition (1894), its pages measure 13 inches high and 10 and 7/8ths inches wide.
A headpiece in Lectionary 261, featuring the Evangelist Luke.
Lectionary 261 has been assigned a production-date in the
1000’s or 1100’s (see, however, the detail about its colophon). Its text, written in
two columns on each page, appears to be an excellent representative of the
Byzantine Text. To give some idea of the
quality of its text, let’s have a quick round of hand-to-hand combat! –
Lectionary 261 versus Papyrus 75 in John 2:14-22; go!
Papyrus 75 deviates from the Nestle-Aland compilation at the
following points in Luke 2:14-22:
● – P75 has τας before βοας (+3)
● – P75 has ως after ποιησας (+2)
● – P75 has
τα κερματα instead of το κερμα (+3, -1)
● P75 has ανεστρεψεν (+1)
● 2: P75 has οτι (+3)
● 2: P75 does not
have υμιν (-4)
● 2: P75 uses an
underlined μ as a numeral instead of writing out τεσσερακοντα.
Setting aside the use of a numeral, that means that in John
2:14-22, Papyrus 75 has 12 non-original letters, and is missing 5 original
letters, for a total of 17 letters’ worth of textual corruption. (If we were to penalize P75 for using a
numeral, its total deviation from NA27’s text would consist of 30 letters’
worth of corruption. But we won’t.)
In comparison, the text of Lectionary 261 has the following
deviations from NA27:
● – Lect 261
has ανεστρεψεν (+1)
● – Lect 261
has πολουσι instead of πολουσιν (-1)
● – Lect 261
has ποιητε instead of ποιετε (+1, -1)
● – Lect 261
has δε after εμνήσθησαν (+2)
● – Lect 261
has ειπον instead of ειπαν (+1, -1)
● – Lect 261
has ειπον instead of ειπαν (+1, -1)
● – Lect 261
has τεσσαρακοντα instead of τεσσερακοντα (+1, -1)
● – Lect 261
has ωικοδομήθη instead of οικοδομήθη (+1, -1)
● – Lect 261
has ω instead of ον (+1, -2)
Thus Lectionary 261 has 9 non-original letters in John
2:14-22, and is missing 8 original letters, for a total of 17 letters’ worth of
textual corruption – even when the orthographic variation involving τεσσαρακοντα is included (which isn’t quite
fair to Lectionary 261, because P75’s scribe did not spell out the word). This means that in this particular passage,
the text of Lectionary 261 is as accurate as the text of Papyrus 75. In addition, while in Lectionary 261’s
transmission-line the word δε was added in verse 17, and ω was substituted for ον
in verse 22, the alterations in the text of Papyrus 75 included the insertion
of three words, and the omission of one word.
Or to put it another way: based
on this small sample, the text from the ancient Egyptian papyrus looks like it
has been edited, whereas the text
from the medieval lectionary looks like it has only been subjected to very
minor orthographical and grammatical tweaking.
Another thing worth noticing: the Byzantine reading at the end of verse 15
– ανεστρεψεν – is supported not only
by Lectionary 261 but also by Papyrus 75.
Is this ancient vindication of the Byzantine reading making an impact on
critically edited texts of the New Testament?
A little: ἀνέστρεψεν was adopted
by Michael Holmes for the SBLGNT, but the recently released Tyndale House GNT
still reads ἀνέτρεψεν, and this must have been deliberate, since the
starting-point for the Tyndale House edition was the compilation made in the
1800’s by Samuel Tregelles, who adopted ἀνέστρεψεν.
Lectionary 261 does not have the story of the adulteress in
its Synaxarion-section; the lection for Pentecost flows without interruption
from the end of John 7:53 to the beginning of John , with which it concludes. That is not unusual. In the Menologion-section, however, the
lection for Saint Pelagia’s day (October 8) is present, as John 8:3-11, with
κατείληπται in verse 4, and with Και at the beginning of verse 5, and with
ειπον εκπειράζοντες and εγραφεν in verse 6, and other unusual readings. Mark 16:9-20 is included as the third of
eleven readings in the Heothina-series, pertaining to Christ’s
resurrection. Luke 22:43-44 is not only
included but is accompanied by a small illustration depicting Christ praying
and being visited by the angel.
After the last page of the Menologion, which is sloppily
expanded by a later hand, a different scribe has added a lection from Matthew
14:1-13. This is followed by several
lines of some sort of colophon, with a date which someone seems to have calculated
In a passage from Matthew 25, Christ teaches about readiness.
Lectionary 261’s text is by no means its only noteworthy
feature. Artistically, it is far above
average. Its copyist’s minuscule
script is a model of efficiency and neatness; corrections in the margin are
rare (one occurs in the text of Luke where the copyist accidentally skipped from one αὐτῷ to the same word further along in the verse). Occasionally (and especially in titles in the Menologion) a half-uncial script is used. Many of the lection-headings appear to be written in gold, and in the first lection after the lection for Pentecost, following a large headpiece featuring the Evangelist Matthew, Matthew 18:10, 8:11, and 8:12a are written in gold before the rest of the lection continues on the next page.
The Samaritan woman, Lazarus, Zacchaeus, the wise and
foolish virgins, and the rich young ruler are among the many characters who
appear in small illustrations in the margins throughout the Synaxarion-portion. Occasionally the colorful initials are
transformed into portraits of Christ. Some
Bible-readers prefer their text to be unadorned, and yet these bright initials
brings to mind a happy closing thought – that what began as letters on a page
may, when welcomed, implanted, and applied, end up as Christ in you.
That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell, has been a major handbook for
Christian apologetics ever since its initial release in 1972. It was recently updated and expanded, with
new material that encourages believers to ensure that their faith is
intelligent, informed, and defensible, in keeping with the instructions given
in First Peter 3:15 – “Be ready always to offer a defense to everyone who asks
you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
this is a worthwhile task – and yet it was disconcerting to find, in a book
that the author has had over 40 years to revise, numerous inaccuracies where
text-critical subjects are involved. I
will focus here only upon the second and third chapters, the titles of which
tell their subjects: How We Got the Bible and Is the New Testament Historically Reliable?. I will simply present selected statements,
in the order in which they appear, and explain why they are problematic. Some of the mistakes are minor; others are
not so minor; all should be corrected.
● “The oldest papyrus fragment known dates back to 2400
B.C.” (p. 22) – This statement is somewhat obsolete, inasmuch as texts
on papyrus from 2550 B.C. were discovered in 2013.
● In a section titled The
Canon Classified, the writer states, “Early manuscripts organized the books
differently as well as having a different number of books. For example, Codex Sinaiticus’ organization first
listed the Gospels, then Paul’s epistles, including Hebrews, Acts, and the General
Epistles, and finally Revelation.” (p. 32)
be reworded to account for the fact that the book of Revelation is not the
final book in Codex Sinaiticus. In Codex Sinaiticus, Revelation is followed by the non-canonical books Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas.
● In a section titled Examples
of Catechetical Writings, the author lists “Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas (AD
70-79).” (p. 33)
● In a section titled Number
of MSS: c.
5,856, the author lists how many Greek manuscripts we possess: using data from January 2017 which, according
to a footnote, reflects statistics in Dan Wallace’s forthcoming book Laying a Foundation: A Handbook on New Testament Textual Criticism,
these totals are as follows: 131 papyri,
323 majuscules (uncials), 2,937 minuscules, and 2,465 lectionaries, for a total
consistent problem with the presentation of these figures is not that they are somewhat
fluid; the author makes it clear that freshly discovered manuscripts are being
added to the total, and that sometimes two separately cataloged manuscripts
are found to be sections of what was, when produced, a single manuscript. The problem is that the sheer quantity of
materials is presented in Evidence That
Demands a Verdict as if it is a guarantee of the accuracy and reliability
of the text in those manuscripts.
● In the course of describing versional evidence, in a
section titled 6. Latin translations,
the Vetus Latina
Register is twice called the “Vestus” Latina
on page 50.
● In a section titled 7.
Syriac, continuing to describe versional evidence, the author wrote, “Syriac Peshitta. The
basic meaning of peshitta is “simple.”
It was the standard version, produced around A.D. 150-250. There are more than three hundred and fifty MSS
from the fifth century extant.” (p. 50)
Peshitta was not produced around 150-250; the author provides a better
description on the very next page which says, “The New Testament portion was
probably written before AD 400.” It is
more accurate to picture the Peshitta’s initial development in the late 300’s,
with further refinement and standardization in the 400’s (not unlike the
development of the English New Testament from Tyndale’s 1526 work to the KJV in
flatly wrong to claim that there are more than 350 copies of the Peshitta from
the fifth century. There are a few
copies of portions of New Testament in the Peshitta version that can be
plausibly dated to the 400’s, and some can be dated to the 500’s (the most
famous example being the Rabbula Gospels),
but most of them are later than that.
addition, it should have been mentioned that in the Peshitta, the “New
Testament” has only 22 books (without Second Peter, Second John, Third John,
Jude, and Revelation), not the usual 27 books that most readers of Evidence That Demands a Verdict will
picture when they read about the New Testament.
● In the same section (7.
Syriac), the author wrote, “Number of MSS: 350+.
Old Syriac: Two MSS. There are around sixty in the fifth and sixth
centuries alone.” (p. 50)
simply not true. There are two important
copies of the Old Syriac text of the Gospels:
the Sinaitic Syriac, and the Curetonian Syriac. There are fewer than a dozen Syriac
manuscripts that contain books of the New Testament and can be plausibly dated
to the 400’s and 500’s. In addition,
they represent, in most cases, the Peshitta, not the Old Syriac.
● In the same section (7.
Syriac), the author wrote, “The earliest known translation of the Greek New
Testament is in the Peshitta, the official Bible of the Syriac-speaking church.
(Cairns, DTT, 330) The New
Testament portion was probably written before AD 400, making it a significant
witness to the original Greek text. (Cross and Livingstone, ODCC, 1268)” (p.
Peshitta is not “the earliest known
translation of the Greek New Testament,” inasmuch as Coptic, Old Latin, and Gothic
versions were made before it.
● In a section titled Visualizing
the Number of Biblical Manuscripts, the author wrote, “A stack of extant manuscripts
for the average classical writer would measure about four feet high; this just
cannot compare to the more than one mile of New Testament manuscripts and
two-and-a-half miles for the entire Bible. (Wallace, lecture at Discover the
Evidence, Dec. 6, 2013)”
again, Evidence That Demands a Verdict
presents the quantity of manuscripts as if the more manuscripts we have, the
more verification we have of the accuracy of the text. But even the source used for this quotation –
Dan Wallace – has argued that when the vast majority of manuscripts disagree with the Alexandrian Text, they are almost always wrong. He has even argued that all of the
Greek manuscripts are erroneous, except one, in Mark 1:41. In almost all cases where 85%-95% of the
manuscripts support a Byzantine reading and thus disagree with the much smaller
cluster of Greek manuscripts that support an Alexandrian reading, Wallace
favors the Alexandrian reading.
● In a section titled 3.The Diatessaron (c. AD 170), part of
a section on “Important New Testament Manuscripts,” the author wrote, “This
early harmony of the Gospels was published in Syria.
It has significance as an early manuscript because the remaining copies, even
though they are later translations from it, bear witness to the earliest
gospels.” (p. 61)
Something like that, but not
quite. The Diatessaron is, as described,
a “harmony of the Gospels” – that is, it combines the contents of the four
Gospels into one non-repeating narrative.
As such, it should be categorized among patristic works, not among
manuscripts. It is not extant in any
Greek manuscripts; the small fragment 0212 was
once thought to be a fragment of the Diatessaron but Mark
Goodacre and others have argued persuasively against that
● In a section titled 6.
Codex Sinaiticus (AD 350), in the course of describing some important
manuscripts, the author reproduced Bruce Metzger’s summary of Constantine
Tischendorf’s first encounter with pages from Codex Sinaiticus: “While visiting the monastery of St.
Catherine at Mount Sinai, he chanced to see some leaves
of parchment in a waste-basket full of papers destined to light the oven of the
monastery.” (p. 62)
is the version of events claimed by Tischendorf, the monks of the monastery
have persistently denied it. Tischendorf’s contemporary J. Rendel Harris
considered the story impossible to take seriously. The discovery, in 1975, of additional pages
of Codex Sinaiticus in a previously sealed-off room, effectively shows that the
monks were not in the habit of burning manuscript-pages, even damaged ones; but
instead practices the ancient custom of retiring damaged materials to a genizah.
The chance that Tischendorf misconstrued what his hosts at the monastery
were saying about the parchment pages in the basket, or that he made up the
story as a pretext for its removal from the monastery, seems very high.
● In the section F.
Important New Testament Manuscripts, there is a problem not of error but of
brevity. The descriptions of Codex
Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Bezae, and Codex Washingtonensis are
excessively frugal; in addition, no minuscule manuscripts are described. This somewhat collides with the first
sentence of the following section: “All
told, the sheer number of New Testament manuscripts and the earliness of the
extant manuscripts gives us great reason to believe that the New Testament accurately
transmits the content of the autographs.” (p. 63)
In very many passages, the few early uncials that receive a modicum of attention on pages
62-63 support Alexandrian or Western readings (and in some cases, anomalous
readings that correspond to no major manuscript-family), and thus disagree with a rival reading that is supported by the vast majority of manuscripts
(typically over 85% but occasionally over 99%).
One could easily get the impression that the “sheer number” of
manuscripts in favor or a particular variant ensures that it is genuine;
however, it is practically an axiom among textual critics that manuscripts
ought to be weighed rather than counted.
● In a section titled Patristic
Quotations from the New Testament, the author presents an often-repeated
claim: “Indeed, so extensive are these
citations that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New
Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction
of practically the entire New Testament.” (p. 63)
quotation is taken from Metzger & Ehrman’s The Text of the New Testament, but descends from a statement made long
ago by Walter Buchanan which referred to the results of research conducted by
David Dalrymple in the 1780’s – and it is not vindicated by the data collected
by Dalrymple. It
is essentially a phantom claim which sounds reasonable but for which a
verifiable foundation has not been built.
Now, if one were to extract quotations from patristic writers from the
sub-apostolic age on into the 400’s, one probably could reconstruct every verse
of the Gospels, either in Latin or in Greek or both. But this is not the same as showing that the
resultant reconstruction accurately represents the original text; after all,
the textual apparatus of the UBS Greek New
Testament routinely lists patristic writers whose quotations disagree with one
other; sometimes even the same writer cites the same passage in two different
ways, prioritizing its message rather than its exact form.
● In a section about early citations of the New Testament by
the church fathers, under the heading j.
Others, one finds the following statement on page 65: “Other early church fathers who quoted from
the New Testament include Barnabas (c. AD 70), Hernias (c. AD 95), Tatian (c.
AD 170), and Irenaeus (c. AD 170).”
must be a reference to “Hermas,” that is, the composition known as the Shepherd of Hermas,
which is usually assigned a composition date not around AD 70 but at least a few
decades later. (I suspect that a digital scanner is to thank for the creation of the writer Hernias.)
● Also in the section titled j. Others, on page 65, the author writes, “To all of the above we
could add the later church fathers: Augustine, Amabius, Laitantius, Chrysostom,
Jerome, Gaius Romanus, Athanasius, Ambrose of Milan, Cyril of Alexandria,
Ephraem the Syrian, Hilary of Poitiers, Gregory of Nyssa, and many others.”
“Amabius” the reference should be to “Arnobius,” a
writer who lived in Sicca, in Africa, southwest of Carthage,
in the opening years of the 300’s.
“Laitantius” the reference should be to “Lactantius,”
who wrote only slightly later than Arnobius. (Again I suspect that a digital scanner is to blame.)
It is not
my intention to belittle the authors of Evidence
That Demands a Verdict by pointing out these mistakes. The book is huge, and as Proverbs indicates, where there are many words,
there are mistakes. I encourage everyone to read it discerningly; eat the corn and leave the cob. Fortunately
corrections for future editions should be easy to make, and in the meantime, Sean McDowell’s blog is well situated to
provide, as a courtesy to his readers, an errata-list. I must say, though, that authors such as
Darrell Bock, William Lane Craig, Craig Evans, Michael Licona, Lee Strobel, and
Ravi Zacharias should have noticed these errors and encouraged the author to
correct them, before writing their glowing endorsements of the book.
[Readers are invited to look into the embedded links for additional resources and documentation.]
“If in doubt, don’t throw it out.” That is the way in which Dan Wallace has
asserted that Byzantine copyists handled the text of the New Testament when
they had two exemplars that said two different things. That is essentially a restatement of the
claim made by J. J. Griesbach over 200 years ago: “Scribes
were much more prone to add than to omit.
They hardly ever leave out anything on purpose, but they added much.”
That idea –
one of the fundamental principles used by textual critics throughout the 1800’s
and 1900’s – was effectively erased by the data and analysis which was
published by James Royse in 2010 in Scribal
Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri. Royse observed that the rate at which the copyists of some early papyri made omissions is higher than the rate at which those copyists made
additions; the ratio works out to about 3:2.
This means that scribes were more prone to omit than to add. Griesbach had it backwards, and everyone who has relied on the validity of the axiom, “Prefer the shorter reading” has had it backwards – including Bruce Metzger.
have taken until 2010 for researchers to acknowledge that Griesbach’s claim was
standing on thin ice. (And some already did;
in each generation at least a few scholars maintained that the New Testament
text’s transmission-history resembled the clothes in a traveling salesman’s suitcase, losing a sock at
every hotel.) To researchers equipped with (mostly)
accurate transcripts of Codices Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Bezae, and Sinaiticus,
it should have been clear that if the Byzantine Text originated as an
amalgamation of Alexandrian and Western readings, its creators must have
frequently rejected the readings in their exemplars. That is, one can believe Hort’s theory of the Lucianic recension, or one can believe that scribes using more
than one exemplar typically expanded the text, but not both.
following readings, all taken from the first five chapters of the Gospel of
John, demonstrate this with particular force.
In each case, the Byzantine reading is shorter than a reading found in leading
Alexandrian and/or Western witnesses.
● 1:6 – Byz
does not read ἦν
● – Byz does not read πρὸς αὐτον after ἀπέστειλαν
● – Byz does not read πάλιν after αὐτὸν
(cf. Codex Wsupp)
● – Byz does not read ὁ before Ἰωἀννης
● – Byz does not prefix μεθ- to
● – Byz does not read οὖν after ἦλθον
● – Byz does not read ὁ before Φίλιππος
● – Byz does not read ὄτι
● 2:4 – Byz
does not read Καὶ before λέγει
● – Byz does not read ὄτι after ἐστίν
● 3:5 – Byz
does not read ὁ before Ἰησοῦς
● – Byz does not read ὄτι after εἶπον ● 4:3 – Byz does not read γῆν before καὶ
● 4:3 – Byz
does not read πάλιν before εἰς (Bc, À, P66, P75, D, and L all
● 4:5 – Byz
does not read τῷ after Ἰακὼβ
● – Byz does not read ἐγὼ before δώσω (cf.
● – Byz does not prefix δι- to έρχομαι
● – Byz does not read αὐτῷ after εἶπεν
● 5:5 – Byz
does not read αὐτοῦ after ἀσθενείᾳ
● 5:9 – Byz
does not read ἐγερθεὶς
● – Byz does not read καὶ after ἐστιν
● – Byz does not read σου after κράβαττόν
● – Byz does not read οὖν after ἀπῆλθεν
● – Byz does not read τοῦ ἀνθρώπου after
● – Byz does not read ὁ ζῶν before ἒχει
● – Byz does not read αἰώνιον after ζωὴν
That’s 26 non-expansions in five chapters, an average of five non-expansions per
chapter. Extrapolating, we might find over 100 such non-expansions in the entire text of John, and over 400 such
non-expansions in all four Gospels.
addition, one might profit from considering all the Byzantine readings that are
not significantly longer than their Alexandrian and Western rivals, but are
simply different – variants such as the reading ὡσεὶ (instead of ὡς) in John 4:7,
and the transposition at the end of John 4:20, and the reading Βηθεσδὰ in John 5:2 (where Vaticanus reads Βηθσαιδὰ,
Sinaiticus reads Βηθζαθὰ, and D reads Βελζεθὰ).
How can one say that the Alexandrian and Western readings in the listed passages have not been thrown out? And how can the Byzantine Text, at these points, be considered derivative of text-forms whose readings are rejected?
eight conflations have been used as proof that Byzantine scribes applied the
principle, “If in doubt, don’t throw it
out.” Meanwhile, a tour through just
the first five chapters of John reveals three times as many instances where, if
Byzantine copyists accessed Alexandrian and Western exemplars (as advocates of
the Lucianic recension believe that they did) – they must have thrown out
Alexandrian or Western readings.
This does not mean that as more and more
non-Byzantine manuscripts (with non-Byzantine readings) were encountered in the
areas now known as Syria, Turkey, Cyprus, and Greece in the 300’s, they had no
effect whatsoever on the local text.
This data does not refute the idea that in some passages of the
Byzantine Text (I am thinking specifically of some of Hort’s alleged conflations), an
early local reading, which once agreed exclusively with either the Alexandrian
or Western reading, has been completely supplanted by an expansion that was elicited
by the arrival, from another locale, of an attractive rival reading. (Something similar happened occasionally in
the Alexandrian transmission-stream, as
Wilbur Pickering has demonstrated; see, for examples, Mark 1:28, John 7:39,
Ephesians 2:5, and Colossians 1:12.) But
it does imply that to describe Byzantine
scribes as if they never met an expansion they didn’t like is to spread an
essentially false characterization.
evidence supports instead the position that the typical attitude of Byzantine
scribes, when and where they encountered unfamiliar readings from non-local
exemplars, was one of caution: “If in doubt, sort it out.” Otherwise these 26 short Byzantine readings in John chapters 1-5 would be
published Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament (THEGNT)
is a primarily Alexandrian text, with some cautious deviations from the
Nestle-Aland compilation, and with improved spelling. Before describing its text in more detail,
let’s look at its physical features. The
volume published by Crossway is five and a half inches wide, eight inches tall,
and slightly more than one inch thick.
That’s practically identical to the dimensions of the ESV Reader’s
Gospels (also published by Crossway).
The THEGNT is a Smyth-sewn black hardcover with a single ribbon, and
comes in a slip-case. It rests
well-balanced in one hand.
The brief preface
– in which Dirk Jongkind
and Peter J. Williams,
unlike the authors of the Foreword of the Nestle-Aland-27 edition, did not
forget to mention God – is followed immediately by the beginning of
Matthew. (A more detailed Introduction
is at the end of the book.) The text is
printed in a legible Greek font, in one column per page, on pages of no more
than 36 lines (usually less, depending on how much space is occupied by the
editors explain in the Introduction, they desired to arrange the text in a
format somewhat reminiscent of ancient Greek manuscripts. This is why, instead of indenting paragraphs,
the first letter of each paragraph is drawn into the left margin (a feature
called ekthesis). Although accents are present, capitalization
and punctuation are significantly less than in the NA/UBS
texts. The precedent of (most) Greek
manuscripts that contain all 27 books of the New Testament, regarding the order
of the books, has been mostly followed:
Gospels, Acts, General Epistles, Pauline Letters, and Revelation. Hebrews, however, has been placed at the end
of the Pauline Epistles.
format in Papyrus 75 (in which John follows Luke on the same page), each book
in the THEGNT begins at the top of the recto of a page (the recto, when a Greek
book is opened and lying flat, is the page to the right); consequently there
are several blank pages where the preceding book ended on a recto-page.
The text is
mercifully free of clutter: there are no
English headings, no punctuation-related footnotes, no special treatment of Old
Testament quotations, and no cross-references.
On the other hand, there are no indications of the beginnings of ancient
chapter-divisions (kephalaia); in the
Gospels the Eusebian Sections are not indicated, and the Euthalian Apparatus is
absent in Acts and the Epistles. Yet
modern chapter-divisions and verse-divisions are present. Unlike what is observed in ancient
manuscripts, the nomina sacra (sacred
names such as God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Son, and Spirit) are not contracted. Brackets have been eschewed, although black
diamonds (♦) in the apparatus convey that a textual contest is especially
format (and good quality paper) contributes to an appealing reading experience
for those who wish to read a Greek New Testament that is slightly less
Alexandrian than the Nestle-Aland/UBS
study-tool, however, the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament is
only minimally useful to those who already have a Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, a United Bible
Societies/Biblica Greek New Testament,
or a New Testament in the Original Greek
– Byzantine Textform. Very many
significant textual variants have been overlooked, and very many important witnesses
receive no attention: no versional evidence is cited and no
patristic evidence is cited. It is
not infrequent to meet a small and trivial contest in the apparatus near an important
and translation-impacting variant-unit that is not covered at all. In First John, eight lines of the apparatus
are spent on the Comma Johanneum;
meanwhile no notice is taken of the Byzantine non-inclusion of καί ἐσμεν in
John 3:1, or of the contest between ποιῶμεν and τηρῶμεν in 5:2.
examples may convey how the textual apparatus invites frustration:
● Matthew is not included in the text, and the
apparatus lists only ﬡ* B Θ as the basis for non-inclusion. The witnesses listed for inclusion are “À2 (εκβαλλεται for εκπορευεται) C D K L W Δ 1424.”
The earliest witnesses (patristic writings, including Origen’s Commentary on Matthew) are thus
ignored. It is as if the editors have
embraced the advances that have been made since the days of Tregelles where manuscript
discoveries are concerned, but deliberately avoided making use of the progress that
has been made in versional and patristic studies – not necessarily when they
themselves made text-critical decisions, but certainly when showing readers the
basis for those decisions.
● At the
end of Mark , the words καὶ
νηστείᾳ (“and fasting”) are included in the text. (The adoption of this reading collides with
the UBS editors’ judgment, even accompanied
by a black diamond.) The apparatus lists À2 A C D K L W Δ (και τη) Θ Ψ 69 1424 as support for the inclusion
of the words, and, for non-inclusion, ﬡ* Β 0274. Where is Papyrus 45vid?!
17:36 is not in the text – and there is no footnote about it.
● At Luke
22:43-44, the verses are included in the text (again colliding with the UBS
editors’ judgment, and again with a black diamond in the apparatus). The evidence for non-inclusion is listed as
P75 À2a A B W 69(and insert
after Matthew 26:39). Minuscule 69
(produced in the 1400’s) is listed for non-inclusion in the same apparatus in
which 0171 (produced c. 300) is not
listed for inclusion?! That seems downright
● At John
7:52, the entire pericope adulterae
is relegated to the apparatus, where the witnesses listed for its inclusion are
D K 1424marg. Yet the text of
the pericope adulterae in the
apparatus does not correspond to the contents of any of those three
manuscripts. The confirmatory note in 1424’s margin is not mentioned. An apparatus this incomplete and imprecise is
worse than no apparatus at all.
● At Romans
, there is an apparatus-entry
mentioning Codex B’s non-inclusion of πρῶτον, but nothing to explain the
non-inclusion of τοῦ Χριστοῦ earlier in the verse.
Ephesians 3:9, there is an apparatus-entry mentioning the non-inclusion of
πάντας by ﬡ* A, but the other variant-units in the verse are not addressed.
● In First
Peter 5:7, Papyrus 72, 020, 1241, 1505 1739 et
al include οτι, but the word is not in the text, and its absence is not
addressed in the apparatus.
The text of
the Gospels in the THEGNT is generally Alexandrian, but the editors seem to
have put Vaticanus on a diet, so to speak, allowing other Alexandrian
manuscripts to tip the scales when they disagree with B. The editors also maintained (except in
Revelation) a principle that every reading in the text must be supported by at
least two early manuscripts.
result, compared to NA28, the THEGNT has fewer readings with uber-meager
support: Mathew 12:47 is in the text; Matthew
13:35 does not receive any attention in the apparatus; Matthew 16:2-3 is in the
text (without Ὑποκριταί); in Matthew 27:16-17 Barabbas is simply Barabbas; the
interpolation of ﬡ and B in Matthew 27:49 is not even mentioned in the
apparatus; Mark 1:41 reads σπλαγχνισθεὶς (not ὀργισθεὶς); Mark 13:33 includes
καὶ προσεύχεσθε; Mark 16:9-20 is included in the text (with an annotation found
in the core members of family-1 interrupting the text between Mark 16:8 and
16:9); Luke 23:34a is in the text; John
1:18 reads ὁ μονογενὴς υἱὸς (“the only-begotten Son”), John 7:8 reads οὔπω
instead of οὐκ, and Luke 24:47 reads καί instead of εἰς (“repentance and forgiveness”).
apparatus in Luke 24 offers a clear view of its inconsistency: an entry is given in verse 19 about a
relatively minor variant-unit; meanwhile the short readings of Codex D in
verses 3, 6, 12, 17, 36, and 40 are not mentioned. There is no mention of the reading of
Sinaiticus in 24:13 either.
the General Epistles (the only part of the Nestle-Aland compilation that has been
re-compiled in the past 40 years), it must be observed that the THEGNT fails to
consistently cite 1739 and 1505 (both representatives of ancient text-forms) in
its apparatus. (1739 is only cited at
Hebrews 2:9. Why not at Acts 8:37? Why
not throughout Acts and the Epistles?)
This is inexplicable, especially considering that 1424 and 69 are
Even where the editors have made an impressive
textual decision (as in Jude verse 22, where Tregelles’ text is retained), the
miserly selection of witnesses very often prevents readers from obtaining a
sense of the reasons for the decision.
In addition, it is not rare to encounter readings in the text that are
not in NA27, nor in RP2005, which
receive no attention in the apparatus.
The best thing about this textual apparatus is that it can be easily ignored;
the text contains no footnote-numbers or text-critical symbols.
example of the quality of the THEGNT’s text and apparatus, consider the treatment
of the Epistle of Jude. The Tyndale
House text disagrees with RP2005 in 17
textual contests, five of which the reader is informed about in the
apparatus. (The Byzantine non-inclusion
of the phrase “through Jesus Christ our Lord” in verse 24 is not covered in
the apparatus. To give you some idea of
how sparse the apparatus is: the Christian Standard Bible has more textual
footnotes in Jude than the Tyndale House GNT
has apparatus-entries.) Yet there are
also four disagreements with NA28:
v. 5 – ἃπαξ
πάντα instead of ὑμᾶς ἃπαξ πάντα,
v. 15 –
πάντας τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς instead of πᾶσαν ψυχὴν,
v. 16 –
αὐτῶν instead of ἑαυτῶν after ἐπιθυμίας (agreeing with RP2005),
v. 22 –
ἐλέγχετε instead of ἐλεᾶτε (yielding “Refute” rather than “Have mercy on”).
Of these four disagreements, the one in verse 16 is not
mentioned in the apparatus. Byzantine
readings are not the only ones overlooked in the apparatus; some readings in
the Nestle-Aland compilation are also silently rejected.
Introduction at the end of the book includes a list of the witnesses which were
used by the compilers. Sixty-nine papyri
are listed; a note states that “all available papyri” were consulted but does
not specify how many that was. No
amulets or talismans are in the list. Sixty-six
other manuscripts are also listed (not including 021, 022, 023, 034, 043, et al) as cited witnesses. Nine other manuscripts were used exclusively
at Hebrews 2:9 or First John 5:7. In
addition, 65 other manuscripts were consulted.
Thus one could say that 209 manuscripts were used to make the Tyndale
House text, of which 144 are cited at least once.
conclusion: I am glad to see this
ten-year project come to fruition. I
admire the devout intentions of its creators – not just Jongkind and Williams, but a team of scholars (named in an Acknowledgements section after the Introduction at the back of the book).
The Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament has some features which
can only be regarded as advances. Yet it
could have been much better if the editors had accepted the sensible advice
given long ago (by Scrivener, I think) to the effect that text-compilers ought
to seek help wherever it can be found.
insisting on selecting readings exclusively from ancient Greek manuscripts (but
strangely overlooking the purple uncials N O Σ Φ), the editors have amplified
the voices of manuscripts stored in Egypt (where the low humidity-level allows
papyrus to survive longer than elsewhere), while muting the voices of early
patristic writers, early versions, and later manuscripts, as if later manuscripts
(not only of hundreds of Byzantine copies but also 700, 1582, et al) came full-grown from scriptoriums
like soldiers from dragon’s teeth, rather than as echoes of their ancestors. The resultant presentation is simple – but
far too simple to be useful for much more than reading. Fortunately, reading the Word of God, even a
localized Egyptian form of it, is a blessing.
Matthew 12:45b-50 in the ESV Reader's Gospels. Where's verse 47?
In the English Standard Version, in the passage about the visit of Jesus’ mother and brothers in Matthew 12:46-50, there is a strange feature: there is no verse 47; it is in the footnotes rather than in the text. The ESV’s
footnote says, “Some manuscripts insert verse 47: Someone told him, “Your mother and your
brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you” – except in the ESV
Reader’s Gospels, which has neither verse-numbers nor footnotes; its text goes
directly from the end of verse 46 to the beginning of verse 47.
Christian Standard Bible, meanwhile, Matthew
is included in the text, and a footnote says, “Other mss omit this verse.” Before examining the text-critical reasons
for the disagreement among these English versions, let’s first consider how
inconsistently the CSB describes the
manuscripts in its footnotes and headings.
For where its text retains Matthew 12:47, the CSB
describes the manuscripts that disagree as merely “Other,” but following Mark
16:8, its editors have added a line (as if to tell the readers where to aim their scissors), and interrupted the text with a heading, “[Some of the
earliest mss conclude with 16:8]” – but both notes refer to essentially the same
small cluster of manuscripts.
manuscripts omit Matthew 12:47?
Primarily Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Regius (L, 019), Codex Tischendorfianus IV (036, from the 900’s), and
minuscule 579, allied with the Sahidic version, the Sinaitic Syriac and the Old
Latin Codex Bobbiensis. A few other
copies lack Matthew , but if
those four had contained it, their testimony would be considered trivia.
And of the over 1,600 Greek
manuscripts of Mark, two uncials omit Mark 16:9-20: Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (and both
show signs of their copyists’ awareness of the absent verses, as I have shown already,
and here). Codex L echoes a later stage of a text used in Egypt; it has the “Shorter Ending” after Mark
16:8, and then verses 9-20), and minuscule 579 also has the “Shorter Ending”
between Mark 16:8 and 9 (though, unlike Codex L, without short notes to
introduce each ending). And in the
versions, the text of the Sinaitic Syriac stops at 16:8, and the copyist of Old Latin
Codex Bobbiensis, after mauling verse 8, included the Shorter Ending, poorly
The same cluster
of witnesses is in view in both cases – but the unsuspecting reader of the
Christian Standard Version meets them masked as “Other mss” where their
testimony is rejected, and as “Some of the earliest mss” where the passage is
turn back to Matthew 12:47, and see why it is missing not only in the ESV
but also in that cluster of manuscripts in which the best Greek uncials and
worst Syriac and Latin copies appear to keep close company. What we have here is a simple case of
homoioteleuton (also spelled homoeoteleuton). Verse 46 ends with the
Greek words ζητοῦντες αὐτῷ λαλῆσαι (“seeking to him to speak”), and verse 47
ends with the words ζητοῦντες σοι λαλῆσαι (“seeking to you to speak”). An early copyist – working at a point in the
transmission-stream early enough to be echoed by the Alexandrian branch
represented by ﬡ, B, and L, on the one hand, and by the Western branch
represented by the Old Syriac and Codex Bobbiensis, on the other – accidentally
skipped verse 47 when his line of sight drifted down from the λαλῆσαι at the
end of verse 46 to the λαλῆσαι at the end of verse 47.
It is not
hard to see how this happened.
Meanwhile, consider what the ESV’s
editors must believe about the transmission of this passage. If the ESV’s
non-inclusion is correct, then the copyists of virtually all other Greek
manuscripts – C D W Z Δ Θ 28 33 157 892 (which adds προς αὐτον; see Willker’s comments for details), 1424,
the family-1 group, the family-13 group, and well over 1,500 minuscules, and
hundreds of lectionaries – and over 10 Old Latin copies (including Codex
Vercellensis, from the 370’s), the Vulgate, the Peshitta, the Armenian,
Georgian, and Ethiopic versions, and copies cited by patristic writers
including Jerome and Augustine (and Augustine cited the verse in two different
forms, echoing two different Old Latin transmission-lines), were all using the
wrong exemplars at this point.
Another plain case of homoioteleuton in Codex B.
I hope my
readers will understand by this last paragraph that I am not arguing for the
majority reading merely because it is the majority. Today we know of one early Middle Egyptian
manuscript – Mae-2, that is, Codex Schøyen 2650, from the early 300’s
– which agrees with ﬡ and B in non-inclusion of Matthew 12:47. But if we had 50 copies in the same
transmission-line, the argument would not vary, just as the discovery of 50
more copies of the Vulgate would not make much of an impact. It is not a matter of number, but of the
relative plausibility of the competing models of the text’s
The evidence demands that the
scribal error that caused the loss of this verse happened very early – early
enough to echo in a limited part of the Alexandrian transmission-line, and in a
limited part of the Old Latin and Syriac transmission-lines. But early parablepsis is parablepsis
nonetheless. Matthew should be included in the text, and if
there is a footnote, let it tell the reader why the verse was lost in the transmission-line of ﬡ and B, instead
of just giving enough information to perpetuate confusion.
At the end
of Mark , there is a textual
contest: do the scribes and Pharisees
ask why Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners, or do they ask why Jesus
eats and drinks with tax collectors
manuscript support for the non-inclusion of “and
drinks” is rather thin: B, D, and W
(that is, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Bezae, and Codex Washingtonianus). They are joined by six Old Latin copies. That, at least, is all the support listed in
the textual apparatus of the fourth edition of the UBS
Greek New Testament, once one removes the forgery 2427 (“Archaic Mark”) from
the picture. Metzger laid the spin on pretty
thick in his Textual Commentary,
claiming that the shorter reading was thus “strongly supported.” This is quite an exaggeration, inasmuch as
there is only one non-Western witness in the bunch.
the external support for the inclusion of “and
drinks” is massive: it includes not
only the hundreds of manuscripts stacked up behind the apparatus’ reference to
the Byzantine Text, but also Papyrus 88 (from the 300’s), Codex A, family 1,
33, 157, 892, three Old Latin copies, the Peshitta, the Gothic version, and one
Sahidic manuscript. The Armenian and Georgian versions also include a reference
to drinking. This array of witnesses is
widespread, both geographically and in terms of textual groups.
Codex W has Western affinities in this part of Mark.
about the text-critical axiom lectio
brevior potior – the shorter reading is to be favored? That is simply not a well-grounded premise,
and the damage that it has done needs to be undone. As Juan
Hernández Jr. has acknowledged, “The pioneering studies of Colwell and
Royse on the papyri demonstrated that the general tendency during the earliest
period of textual transmission was to omit.”
The Alexandrian text should thus be compared to a ship which reaches
its port lighter than when it embarked because the weight of the barnacles
that attached themselves to the hull during the voyage was less than the weight
of things that the crewmen dropped overboard.
It may seem
reasonable to suppose that copyists operated on the principle of “When in doubt, don’t leave it out,” but
that idea is not observationally grounded. Furthermore, even when Griesbach advocated a preference for the shorter reading over 200 years ago, he included a
qualification which is relevant to the contest in Mark 2:16: we
should prefer the fuller reading before the shorter (unless the latter is seen
in many notable witnesses) if homoioteleuton [that is, the occurrence of
words or phrases with similar endings, in close proximity to one another] might have provided an opportunity for an
is the Byzantine text at the end of Mark
and the beginning of : . . . Τί
ὅτι μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει; Καὶ ἀκούσας ὁ Ἰησους λέγει
αὐτοῖς . . . .
homoioteleuton: the letters ει καὶ occur near the end of verse 16
and again at the beginning of verse 17.
No theory of a semi-harmonization to the parallel-passage in
Luke is needed to account for the difference between the Byzantine reading and
the reading in Codex Vaticanus; the simple explanation is that a copyist in the
transmission-line of B’s text accidentally skipped from the first occurrence of
-ει καὶ to the second occurrence of
-ει καὶ. Thus, in this case, the shorter reading is
explained by the longer reading.
did occur in this verse in some manuscripts.
In Codex Sinaiticus, the end of Mark
is conformed to Matthew , so as
to rephrase the question not as “Why does He
eat with tax collectors and sinners” but instead as “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors
and sinners.” Thus we observe not just
one, but two mechanisms by which the reference to drinking could be lost: accidental parablepsis, and deliberate
harmonization to the parallel in Matthew.
In over 70
manuscripts (including Codices C, L, and Δ) the reference
to “your Teacher” has been inserted from Matthew – but the reference to
drinking has not been removed; nor was the Greek text adjusted to match the words in Luke 5:30. Either the copyists who created this reading were simultaneously harmonizing and unharmonizing – making the text resemble
Matthew 9:11, and then making it different – or else the reference to drinking was there to begin with in their exemplars. Their Alexandrian exemplars.
What about the parallel in Luke
5:30? If Byzantine copyists had wished
to conform the words at the end of Mark 2:16 to the parallel in Luke 5:30, the
natural way to do so would be to write ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε – for those are the
words in Luke 5:30. This was indeed done
in a relatively small number of manuscripts (including, notably, Codex Σ and
minuscules 565, 700, and 1241), but it is not the Byzantine reading.
addition, if harmonization is to be suspected, then one may observe that it was
not necessary for copyists to interrupt their copying and consult the
parallel-passages in Matthew and Luke in order to have a basis on which to make
a textual adjustment. A basis for
conformation-via-shortening is built into Mark 2:16, inasmuch as the beginning
of the verse mentions Jesus eating, but not drinking.
conclusion: the reading with καὶ πίνειexplains its rivals. What we have here
is a simple case of the loss of two words due to homoioteleuton. This loss probably occurred in the Western
Text, and then influenced the text of a single Alexandrian manuscript (Codex
(a) the reading that explains its rival
in an uncomplicated way,
(b) attested in manuscripts representing different text-types,
(c) attested in multiple versions, and
(d) attested in a papyrus (P88, from the 300’s).
So: the reading καὶ πίνει
internal and external evidence pointing in favor of the inclusion of καὶ πίνει
in Mark 2:16, it is tempting to suspect the survival of the shorter reading in
Mark 2:16 in modern compilations (including the new Tyndale House edition of
the Greek New Testament) is due to two factors:
an overestimation of Codex Vaticanus’ resistance to Western readings,
and an unscientific reluctance to acknowledge Byzantine readings as original.
couple of small details noted by Wieland Willker may add something to the case; he
mentioned that in Codex K, in Luke 5:30, the words καὶ πίνετε are absent. This illustrates the same mechanism which
caused the loss of the words καὶ πίνει in Mark 2:16; the only difference is
that the homoioteleuton in Luke 5:30-31 involves different letters (-ετε καὶ). He also mentioned that seven medieval Byzantine
manuscripts lack καὶ πίνει in Mark 2:16.
Here one of the canons of equitable eclecticism may be effectively
applied: If a variant occurs
sporadically in witnesses greatly separated by age and textual character, this
may indicate that the variant was liable to be spontaneously created by
copyists, rather than that it was transmitted by distant transmission-streams.