Thursday, March 7, 2019

Non-Alexandrian Papyri and Early Versions

            In The King James Only Controversy, author James White made two claims on pages 195-197 that invite clarification.  First, he stated on page 195, “Every papyrus manuscript we have discovered has been a representative of the Alexandrian text-type.” Second, on page 197, he wrote, “An examination of the early New Testament translations reveals they were done on the basis of Alexandrian type manuscripts.
            Is it true that all of the papyrus manuscripts that have been discovered represent the Alexandrian text-type? No.  The low-humidity climate in parts of Egypt allowed papyrus to survive longer there than in other places, so it would not be particularly surprising if all of the papyri that were found in Egypt contained Egyptian forms of the text.    
            In other locales, papyrus was much more vulnerable to natural decay, which is why we don’t find a lot of New Testament papyri in, say, Ephesus and Athens, for the same reason that we don’t find a lot of ancient Greek sales-receipts there. 
            And yet some New Testament papyri with distinctly non-Alexandrian contents have survived.  Papyrus 45, for example – a heavily damaged manuscript that contains text from the four Gospels and Acts – is the substantial manuscript of (part of) the Gospel of Mark (the surviving portion is from Mark 4-12).  While there is general agreement that P45’s text of Acts is Alexandrian, this is not the case regarding its text of Mark.  Researcher Larry W. Hurtado, in the 2004 paper P45 and the Textual History of the Gospel of Mark, affirmed that P45’s text of Mark was neither Byzantine nor Western nor Alexandrian nor Caesarean.  Hurtado also stated that “This third-century manuscript had numerous readings that previously had been thought to be “Byzantine.””
            Here are some examples of non-Alexandrian readings in Mark in Papyrus 45:
            ● 6:16 – Byz and P45 include οτι (not included in B À).
            ● 6:22 – Byz and P45 read αρεσάσης (B À:  ηρεσεν).
            ● 6:22 –Byz and P45 (here P45 is corrected; the scribe first wrote Herod’s name instead of “the king”) have the word-order ειπεν ο βασιλευς (B À read ο δε βασιλευς ειπεν)    
            ● 6:38 – Byz and P45 have the word-order αρτους εχετε (B L:  εχετε αρτους)  
            ● 6:41 – Byz and P45 have αυτου (not in B À L)
            ● 6:41 – Byz and P45 have παραθωσιν (B À* L have παρατιθωσιν)
            6:45 – Byz and P45 have απολύση (B À L D have απολυει)
            6:48 – Byz and P45 have ειδεν (B À L D have ιδων) [The letters ιδε in P45 here are tentatively reconstructed]
            6:50 – Byz and P45 have -ον so as to read ειδον (B À read ειδαν; D omits)   
            ● 7:5 – Byz and P45 have the word-order οι μαθηται σου ου περιπατουσιν (B À L have a different word-order)
            ● 7:6 – Byz and P45 have αποκριθεις (B À L do not have the word)
            ● 7:6 – Byz and P45 have οτι (B À L do not have the word) 
            ● 7:10 – Byz and P45 have τιμα (B D have τειμα)
            ● 7:14 – Byz and P45 have ελεγεν (B has λέγει)
            ● 7:15 – P45 has -ν κοιν-, supporting inclusion of κοινωσαι (which B does not include)
            ● 7:29 – Byz and P45 have the word-order το δαιμονιον εκ της θυγατρός σου (B À L have a different word-order)
            7:30 – Byz and P45 share the same word-order (B À L have a different word-order; so does D)
            7:31 – Byz and P45 share the word-order, with ηλθεν after the reference to Tyre and Sidon.  B À L D have ηλθεν after Τύρου and before δια Σιδωνος (in B, δια Σειδωνος)
            ● 7:35– Byz and P45 include ευθέως (not included in B À)
            7:35 – P45 is difficult to read but it ends the word with –χθησαν, supporting the Byzantine reading διηνοιχθησαν (B À D have ηνοιγησαν)
            7:36 – P45 is difficult to read but appears to support the inclusion of αυτος (agreeing with Byz and disagreeing with B À L D.
            ● 8:13 – P45 has εις το πλοιον, agreeing with D; Byz has εις πλοιον; B À L do not have the phrase)
            ● 8:15 – P45 ends the verse with Ηρωδιανων, agreeing with the Caesarean text (W Θ 565 f1  f13)
            8:19 – P45 and Byz share the word-order πληρεις κλασματων ηρατε (B À L have κλασματων πληρεις ηρατε; D has κλασματων ηρατε πληρεις
            ● 8:20 – P45 and Byz have ειπον (B L have λεγουσιν αυτω; À has λεγουσιν)  
            ● 8:34 – P45 and Byz have ακολουθειν (B À L have ελθειν)
            ● 8:35 – P45 and Byz share the word-order αυτου σωσαι (B has εαυτου before ψυχην σωσαι) 
            ● 8:36 – P45 and Byz have εαν (B À L do not have the word)
            ● 8:36 – P45 and Byz have κερδηση (B À have κερδησαι)
            ● 8:37 – P45 and Byz have δωσαι (B À* have δοι; Àc has ιδω)
            ● 8:37 – P45 and Byz have αυτου (B has εαυτου)
            9:2 – P45 and Byz have μεθ’ (B À L D have μετα)          
            9:6 – P45 and Byz have ησαν (B À D have κφοββοι)
            9:20 – P45 and Byz share the word-order ευθεως το πνευμα (B À L have το πνευμα ευθυς; D has το πνευμα.
            Thus, while P45 is far from a strong ally of the Byzantine Text, it is certainly not an Alexandrian manuscript in Mark chapters 8 and 9.  In addition, notice the eleven readings introduced by red dots; these readings shared by P45 and the Byzantine Text are not shared by the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian and Western forms of the text.  (How seriously should we take Dan Wallace’s claim – repeated by James White – that there are no more than eight uniquely Byzantine readings to be found among the papyri?  A question of methodology occurs to me:  if Dan Wallace were to take in hand the text of Mark 6-9 in the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, would he ever find the Byzantine Text?  How many readings in Mark 6-9 are uniquely Byzantine?)    
           Papyrus 38, a single damaged leaf from a codex of the book of Acts, has been assigned to the early 200s – about the same period when P45 was made – and its text is definitely Western, not Alexandrian.  Papyrus 29 was also identified by Bruce Metger as an ally of the Western Text.
            Papyrus 48, despite being small and difficult to read, is generally regarded as having a text that is more closely allied with the Western Text than with the Alexandrian Text.    
            Papyrus 41, from the 700s, is Greek-Coptic manuscript containing a form of the Western Text of Acts (chapters 17-22).                                                     
            In addition, although the text of uncial 0176 is written on parchment rather than papyrus, that is not a valid reason to ignore it.  Here we have a miniature codex from Oxyrhynchus, made in the late 300s or 400s, with a text that is practically indistinguishable from the Byzantine Text.   
            Also, analysis of the text of several other papyri is inconclusive as far as the task of categorizing the text’s type is concerned, usually because the papyrus is a small fragment, or because its text is hard to read, or because its contents are limited mainly to a passage where there are not a lot of textual contests.  These include Papyrus 17, Papyrus 19, Papyrus 69, Papyrus 70, Papyrus 98, Papyrus 107, Papyrus 108, Papyrus 109, Papyrus 110, Papyrus 111, Papyrus 113, Papyrus 114, Papyrus 115, Papyrus 116, Papyrus 118, Papyrus 121, Papyrus 122, and Papyrus 126.
            Papyrus 37, containing text from Matthew 26, has a non-Alexandrian text.    
            Papyrus 72 is basically Alexandrian in First Peter and Second Peter, but in Jude its text is definitely not Alexandrian.
            Papyrus 2 is probably not a continuous-text manuscript; assigned to the 600s, it contains text from Luke 7 and John 12, in a Western form. 
            Papyrus 3 is also probably the remains of a lectionary; it is assigned to the 500s or 600s and contains a non-Alexandrian form of Luke 7:36-45 and Luke 10:38-42.
            Papyrus 104, though very small, betrays non-Alexandrian influence via the non-inclusion of Matthew 21:44.
            And that, I think, is sufficient to demonstrate that the claim that all of the papyri support the Alexandrian Text is false. 
            Is the claim that the early New Testament translations were done on the basis of Alexandrian type manuscripts any better?  No.  Certainly the affinities of the Old Latin version(s) favor the Western Text far more than the Alexandrian Text.  The Gothic version has long been regarded as a strong ally of the Byzantine Text, and although research by Roger Gryson may yield a slight adjustment of that assessment, it is not a drastic reappraisal.  The Sinaitic Syriac and the Curetonian Syriac are both characterized as Western, and the Peshitta agrees with the Byzantine Text about 80% of the time.  The Gospels-text of the Armenian version, and the Old Georgian version which echoes an early form of it, are Caesarean rather than Alexandrian.
            Only in Egypt is there clear evidence that early translators were aware of the existence of the Alexandrian Text.  To different degrees, the Egyptian languages (or dialects) of Sahidic, Bohairic, Achmimic, and Middle Egyptian reflect a primarily Alexandrian base-text.  The earliest strata of the Sahidic version is aligned closely with the text of Codex Vaticanus.  This relationship is demonstrated succinctly and effectively by evidence from their texts of Acts 27:37, where Luke mentions (in the Nestle-Aland compilation) that there were 276 souls aboard the ship.  In both Codex Vaticanus and in the Sahidic version, the text says that “about 76” souls were on board.
            F. F. Bruce, in his commentary on Acts, offered a compelling explanation for the reading in B and the Sahidic version – an explanation that had already been offered by John Burgon in his book The Revision Revised.  It may be worthwhile to present a full extract from Burgon:
            “Whereas the Church has hitherto supposed that S. Paul’s company ‘were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls’ (Acts xxvii. 37), Drs. Westcott and Hort (relying on the authority of B and the Sahidic version) insist that what S. Luke actually wrote was ‘about seventy-six.’  In other words, instead of διακόσιαι ἑβδομηκονταέξ, we are invited to read ὩΣ ἑβδομηκονταέξ.  What can have given rise to so formidable a discrepancy?  Mere accident, we answer.  First, whereas S. Luke certainly wrote ἧμεν δέ ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ αἱ πᾶσαι ψυχαί, his last six words at some very early period underwent the familiar process of Transposition, and became, αἱ πᾶσαι ψυχαί ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ ; whereby the word πλοίῳ and the numbers διακόσιαι ἑβδομηκονταέξ were brought into close proximity.   (It is thus that Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, &c., wrongly exhibit the place.)  But since “276” when represented in Greek numerals is СΟϛ, the inevitable consequence was that the words (written in uncials) ran thus:  ΨΥΧΑΙΕΝΤΩΠΛΟΙΩϹΟϛ.  Behold, the secret is out!  Who sees not what has happened?  There has been no intentional falsification of the text.  There has been no critical disinclination to believe that ‘a corn-ship, presumably heavily laden, would contain so many souls,’ – as an excellent judge supposes.  The discrepancy has been the result of sheer accident:  is the merest blunder.  Some IInd-century copyist connected the last letter of ΠΛΟΙΩ with the next ensuing numeral, which stands for 200 (viz. Ϲ); and made an independent word of it, viz. ὡς – i.e., ‘about.’  But when Ϲ (i.e., 200) has been taken away from ϹΟϛ (i.e., 276), 76 is perforce all that remains.”
James White, February 19, 2019
            This faulty reading in the text of B and the Sahidic version requires such a special set of circumstances to come into existence that it suggests that the Sahidic version not only is related to the Alexandrian Text in general but also to Codex Vaticanus specifically.                       
            In conclusion:  the claims that have been tested here are not just wrong; they are horribly, catastrophically wrong.  One might say that they are laughably wrong, but considering that they continue to mislead readers of The King James Only Controversy (published by Bethany House), this is no laughing matter. 

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

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