|P45 - the fragment in Austria|
It’s time for some text-critical hand-to-hand combat! Which manuscript has the more accurate text of Luke 12:23-33: Papyrus 45 or Codex Cyprius?
Before we find out, let’s consider each manuscript’s background: Papyrus 45 was produced in the 200s. Papyrus 45 has undergone extensive damage, but enough has survived to show that when it was in pristine condition, it contained all four Gospels and Acts (if not more). For much of its text, P45 is the earliest extant manuscript, particularly for the Gospel of Mark and the parts of the book of Acts that it contains.
After the initial publication of P45’s text of Mark, it was classified as “Caesarean” or “Pre-Caesarean” but these categories were shown to be inaccurate in a study undertaken by Larry Hurtado, who contended that P45’s text of Mark does not have strong affinities with any known text-type and is instead related most closely to Codex W’s text of Mark. Almost the whole manuscript resides at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland, and can be viewed at the website of CSNTM, except for a fragment in Austria (see picture).
Codex Cyprius (K, 017) resides in
at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
It contains all four Gospels. It
can be viewed (and downloaded) at the
Gallica website (search there for “Grec. 63”). Its production-date has been assigned to the
In the following comparison, the same ground rules will be applied to the text of both competing manuscripts: first, deviations from the text of Nestle-Aland (27th edition) are noted, and then filtered. Transpositions are noted but not counted as variants that cause an adulteration of the text. Variants involving different formats of nomina sacra are not counted as variants. Itacisms, cases of movable-nu, and benign consonant-exchanges are counted in the initial total, but the totals are then recalculated without them. (The three uses of iota-adscript in P45 – τηι, δόξηι, and αγρωι in verses 27-28 – are not counted either.)
Let’s look at Papyrus 45 first:
23 – P45 omits γαρ before ψυχη (-3)
24 – P45 adds τα πετεινα του ουρανου και before τους κόρακας (+22)
24 – P45 reads αποθήκαι instead of αποθήκη (+2, -1)
24 – P45 reads αυτα instead of αυτους (+1, -3)
25 – P45 transposes: προσθειναι επι την ηλικίαν αυτου
25 – P45 does not read ενα after πηχυν (agrees with NA27)
26 – no variants
27 – P45 does not read δε after λέγω (-2)
27 – P45 does not read πάση (-4)
28 – P45 transposes: σήμερον τον χόρτον οντα
28 – P45 reads αμφιέζει (agrees with NA27)
28 – P45 reads ουν after πόσω (+3)
29 – no variants
30 – P45 reads επιζητει (agreeing with Byz against B and À) instead of επιζητουσιν (+2, -5)
31 – P45 reads του Θυ (agreeing with Byz against B and À) instead of αυτου (+5, -5)
32 – P45 reads ηυδόκησεν instead of ευδόκησεν (+1, -1)
33 – P45 reads ανέκλιπτον instead of ανέκλειπτον (-1)
33 – P45 reads ενγίζει instead of εγγίζει (+1, -1)
Sub-totals: P45 contains 37 non-original letters, and is missing 26 original letters.
Total amount of letters’ worth of alterations: 63.
Totals (without orthographic variants in the equation): P45 contains 33 non-original letters, and is missing 22 original letters. Total amount of letters’ worth of alterations: 55.
|Luke 12:24b-25 in Codex K|
(with verse-numbers added)
Now let’s compare the same passage in Codex K:
23 – K omits γαρ before ψυχη (-3)
23 – K reads εστι instead of εστιν (-1)
24 – K reads τρεφη instead of τρεφει (+1, -2)
24 – [In K, the ι in πετεινων appears to have been added as a correction.] (-1)
25 – K transposes: προσθειναι επι την ηλικίαν αυτου
25 – K reads ενα at the end of the verse (+3)
26 – K reads ουτε instead of ουδε (+1, -1)
27 – no variants
28 – K transposes and adds: σήμερον εν τω αγρω οντα (+2)
28 – K reads αμφιεννυσι instead of αμφιεζει (+5, -3)
29 – K reads η instead of και (agreeing with P75) (+1, -3)
30 – K reads επιζητει instead of επιζητουσιν (+2, -5)
31 – K reads του Θυ instead of αυτου (+5, -5)
31 – K reads παντα after ταυτα (+5)
32 – no variants
33 – no variants
Sub-totals: Codex K has 25 non-original letters, and is missing 24 original letters. Total amount of letters’ worth of alteration: 49.
Without itacisms and benign consonant-exchanges in the equation, K’s text contains 23 non-original letters, and is missing 20 original letters. Total amount of letters’ worth of alteration: 43. (The total drops to 42 if we don’t include that correction in verse 24.)
Codex K wins: the score is 63 to 49 with all variants considered, and the score is 55 to 43 with accommodation given to orthographic variation. (Each point is one letter’s worth of deviation from the original text; the lower score wins.)
This tells us some things about the relative rates of variation in the transmission-lines that produced P45 and Codex Cyprius. If we put the production-date of the Gospel of Luke in A.D. 62, and the production-date of P45 in 225, then the copyists in P45’s transmission-line introduced .3 letters’ worth of deviation every year, not counting merely orthographic changes. In comparison, positing the production-date of Codex Cyprius at 850, the copyists in K’s transmission-line introduced .055 letters’ worth of deviation every year, not counting merely orthographic changes. In other words, the copyists in K’s transmission-line introduced 5.5 times fewer deviations each year, on average, than the copyists in P45’s transmission-line.
Interesting though it may be to thus see that a manuscript from the 800s has a better text of Luke 12:23-33 than a manuscript from the 200s (using the Nestle-Aland text as the basis of comparison – if the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform were used for the comparison instead, Codex K’s text would be nearly identical to it), some other data may be even more intriguing:
● P45, K, and Byz (i.e., the Byzantine Text) do not include γὰρ in v. 23.
● P45, K, and Byz all transpose to read προσθειναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτου in v. 25.
● P45, K, and Byz all read ἐπιζητει instead of ἐπιζητουσιν in v. 30.
● P45, K, and Byz all read του Θεου (or του Θυ) instead of αυτου in v. 31.
Thus, in these eleven verses, the Byzantine Text is allied with an early papyrus in four places against the Alexandrian reading. In three of these four cases, the Byzantine reading is not in agreement with the Western reading in Codex D either. This data implies that Hort’s approach, which was based on the theory that non-Alexandrian, non-Western readings did not exist before the late 200s or early 300s, was fundamentally flawed. As of the publication of the text of Papyrus 45, it was no longer tenable. Yet virtually the same compilation that Hort made in 1881 (with only about 660 differences) continues to be the standard New Testament base-text for modern versions such as the NIV, ESV, CSB, and NRSV – largely because the implications of the readings of the papyri discovered in the 1900s have not been clearly thought through.
[Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.]
James, Thanks for you analysis. Among other things it shows that we cannot merely assume originality merely based on the age of the manuscript. Any thoughts on why P45 proved more "fluid" or more "free" (assuming, of course, that NA27 is the norm)?
I'm learning very much in your blog
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