Let’s take a look at one of the earliest manuscripts of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians: 0176, a small uncial fragment from the 400s (or, perhaps, the late 300s). Researcher Brice Jones described 0176 back in 2015 as the remains of a “miniature codex,” that is, a small book designed for personal use (as opposed to large codices that were intended to be the ancient equivalent of pulpit Bibles). It is indeed rather small; the description that accompanies the page-views at the CSNTM reports that 0176 is only 8.7 cm x 5.7 cm. When intact, 0176 would have probably resembled a Gideons New Testament. It is housed in Florence, Italy at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana.
The text that survives on this single parchment sheet, excavated in
is from Galatians 3:16-24. Here is the
Byzantine Text of Galatians 3:16-24, adjusted to correspond to how the text was
formatted by early copyists: sacred
names (God, Lord, Jesus, Christ) are abbreviated and underlined, and
punctuation is reduced to a minimum. The bold print represents text that has survived in 0176. Red
letters are letters in the Byzantine text that are not in 0176; green letters
are letters in 0176 that are not in the Byzantine text: Oxyrhynchus, Egypt
16 Τω δε Αβρααμ′ ερρηθησαν αι επαγγελιαι και τω σπερματι αυτου· Ου λεγει και τοις σπερμασιν ως επι πολλων αλλ’ ως εφ ενος και τω σπερματι σου ος εστιν Χς.
17 Τουτο δε λεγω διαθηκην προκεκυρωμενην υπο του Θυ εις Χν ο μετα ετη τετρακοσια και τριακοντα γεγονως νομος ουκ ακυροι εις το καταργησαι την επαγγελιαν.
18 Ει γαρ εκ νομου η κληρονομια ουκετι εξ επαγ[ν]γελιας· τω δε Αβρααμ′ δι επαγγελιας κεχαρισται[ε] ο Θς.
19 Τι ουν ο νομος; των παραβασεων χαριν προσετεθη αχρι ου ελθη το σπερμα ω επηγγελται διαταγεις δι’ αγγελων εν χειρι μεσιτου.
20 Ο δε μεσιτης ενος ουκ εστιν ο δε Θς εις εστιν.
21 Ο ουν νομος κατα των επαγγελιων του Θυ; Μη γενοιτο. Ει γαρ εδοθη νομος ο δυναμενος ζωοποιησαι οντως αν εκ νομου ην η δικαιοσυνη.
22 Αλλα συνεκλεισεν η γραφη τα παντα υπο αμαρτιαν ινα η επαγγελια εκ πιστεως Ιυ Χυ δοθη τοις πιστευουσιν.
23 Προ του δε ελθειν την πιστιν υπο νομον εφρουρουμεθα συγ[ν]κεκλεισμενοι εις την μελλουσαν πιστιν αποκαλυφθηναι.
24 Ωστε ο νομος παιδαγωγος ημων γεγονεν εις Χν ινα εκ πιστεως δικαιωθωμεν.
Although the text of 0176 has been classified as “mixed,” there seems to be no valid reason not to classify it as Byzantine, since its only deviations from the standard Byzantine text are trivial orthographic differences. (This was noticed by Daniel Buck in the NT Textual Criticism discussion-group on Facebook.) In verse 21, space-considerations require the inclusion of the phrase του Θυ (“of God”); otherwise the copyist would have begun the words that follow (Μη γενοιτο) further to the left. Space-considerations seem to justify αχρις rather than αχρι in verse 19, but this is quite a minor difference (especially since the Hodges-Farstad 1982 Majority Text reads αχρις).
The presence of an essentially Byzantine text of Galatians in use at
400s should elicit a question about how widespread it was, and about the
plausibility of the theory that the Byzantine text’s popularity was limited to
locales where John Chrysostom was influential.
A few more observations round out this examination:
● The copyist used ekthesis (slight reverse indentation) to separate paragraphs, a feature also seen in Vaticanus and some other early manuscripts. The initial Pi at the beginning of Galatians 3:23 is also somewhat larger than the other letters; in this respect the script resembles that of Codex Alexandrinus.
● The reading εις Χν in Galatians 3:17 is supported not only by 0176 (at Oxyrhynchus) but also by Chrysostom (at Constantinople) and by the Peshitta (in
) and some
Old Latin copies (in the West). Its
support is thus as widespread as the support for non-inclusion. When one observes that the scribes of the
text in Papyrus 46 and Codex Vaticanus managed to find a way to omit short
phrases such as “of God” (του Θυ) in nearby 3:21, and also that a
copyist could easily consider the phrase “in Christ” as out-of-place in a
description of the establishment of the Law of Moses, it seems more reasonable
to conclude that an omission yielded the shorter text, rather than that
independent copyists reproduced the same accretion. The phrase “in Christ” should therefore be
retained in Galatians 3:17, as it is in the text of the Evangelical Heritage Version. Syria
● The Alands’ categorizations of “mixed” texts (“Category III”), to whatever extent they are accepted, should be tested, in case other manuscripts that support the Byzantine Text have been improperly categorized, giving a false impression (spread by James White and others) that the Byzantine Text has less widespread support than it actually has.
You can see photographs of 0176 at the CSNTM website and elsewhere online. Here is an artificially enhanced replica, with verse-numbers added and with the Byzantine text superimposed over the manuscript.