Saturday, February 27, 2021

Video Lecture 23: Consult the Evidence


Lecture 23 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism is available to view, with captions, on YouTube, about the advantages of consulting the external evidence for the New Testament text.  Special attention is given to 14 manuscripts and one inscription.  Links to some online manuscript-collections are included in the captions at the end of the lecture.

It can also be viewed, without captions, on Bitchute.

Here is an excerpt:

            Fifth, the Book of Kells.  The Book of Kells is so famous, because of its artistry, that it's easy to overlook it as a textual witness might be overlooked.  Widely regarded as the most beautifully written of all Gospels-manuscripts, the text in the Book of Kells might be considered just another copy of the Vulgate.  For the most part, that is what it is – but it also has some readings that echo Old Latin ancestors that pre-dated the Vulgate.

             One of the readings in the Book of Kells, and several other Latin copies, occurs in Matthew 27:49.  After Matthew’s report that some of the bystanders at Jesus’ crucifixion said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him,” the very next thing that happens, in most copies, is that Jesus cries out with a loud voice, and yields up His spirit.   But in the Book of Kells, before verse 50, there is more.  It says,      

            And another person took a spear, and pierced His side, and there came out water and blood.”

            This is an approximate parallel to John 19:34.   The significant difference is that in John, when Jesus is pierced, He is already dead; the soldiers pierce His side to remove any doubt that He has died.  The reading in the Book of Kells appears to be an interpolation, inserted by a scribe trying to make a harmonization – but the insertion was made at the wrong place, before Jesus dies.

            But the originator of this reading cannot have been a Latin scribe, because the same reading is also found in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, the two Greek manuscripts that form the backbone of the base-text of the New Testament in the NIV and ESV. 

             As a side-note, I have noticed that although the NIV and ESV rely very heavily on these two manuscripts, the reading of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in Matthew 27:49 has not been adopted in their text, and, as far as I can tell,  is not mentioned in the NIV and ESV in a footnote, even though it is supported by some other Alexandrian witnesses such as Codices C and L.

            If we reckon that witnesses that share the same readings tend to have the same origin, then the thing to see is that the witnesses with this relatively rare reading in Matthew 27:49 must be connected in some way, even though some of them represent a stratum of the Latin Text in Ireland, and some of them represent a very early form of the Greek Gospels-text used in Egypt. 

            This connection is also suggested by similarities between some of the artwork in the borders of the Book of Kells, and in the artwork that appears in some Coptic manuscripts.

          Which brings us to our sixth witness:  the Fadden More Psalter.   The discovery, in 2006, of the Fadden More Psalter is another piece of evidence that increases the plausibility of a connection between a Biblical text in Ireland, and a Biblical text in Egypt.  The Fadden More Psalter is is a very heavily damaged Latin copy of the Book of Psalms that was made in about the year 800.

            The parchment pages of the Faddan More Psalter were found along with a leather cover.  It was found in a bog, near the city of Tipperary.  The discoverer, Eddie Fogerty, exercised remarkable skill and competence in preserving the manuscript once it was discovered.  One of the interesting things about the cover is that there is definitely papyrus in the cover’s lining.

             Sometimes, we cannot access the evidence directly because it does not exist anymore.  That is probably the case with our seventh witness:  Codex Gissensis.  For a few decades after its discovery in Egypt in 1907, a small Gothic and Latin fragment, with text from Luke 23 and 34, was kept in Germany.  Unfortunately, it was reportedly destroyed as a result of bombing during World War II.  But black and white photographs of the manuscript have survived.

            Similarly, when Lake Nasser was enlarged on the southern border of Egypt around the year 1970, many artifacts from the ancient site of Faras were heroically rescued by a team of researchers from Poland, and they can still be visited at the National Museum in Warsaw.  Some inscriptions had to be left behind, though, and were subsequently submerged. 

            But photographs of them were taken, including a photograph of our ninth witness:  an inscription that features the beginning and ending of each Gospel.  Even this small witness can help track the geographic spread of variants in these portions of the text.            




Friday, January 29, 2021

Minuscule 1241 and the Ending of Mark

 Minuscule 1241, housed at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai, is sometimes cited as apparent support (“1241vid”) for the abrupt ending at Mark 16:8.  More specifically, in the 1966 Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies, in the textual apparatus, in a list of witnesses that “add vv. 9-20 with asterisks, obeli, or critical note in ms,” we see the entry “1241vid.”

The basis for this frugally presented entry is found in Six Collations of New Testament Manuscripts, by Kirsopp Lake and Silva New (which was the 1932 Harvard Theological Studies #17).  The author(s) wrote on page 111, “The end of f. [folio] 55 is εφοβουντο γαρ written in the centre of the line.  The scribe has not done this elsewhere.”

By the time the fourth edition of the  UBS Greek New Testament was released, the apparatus’ report about the testimony of 1241 was changed.   The textual apparatus, instead of having an entry for witnesses that “add vv. 9-20 with asterisks, obeli, or critical note in ms,” the fourth edition had an entry for “add vv 9-20 with critical note or sign,” and the witnesses thus described are “f1 205 and others.”  1241 is included (without “vid”) in the list of witnesses which “add vv 9-20.”


There is a good reason for this change:  in the real world, the scribe did do this elsewhere.    If one visits the website of the Library of Congress and finds the microfilm page-views of 1241, a tour of the pages containing the four Gospels will show that there are several pages on which the final line contains only a word or two; for instance, if one looks at Image 15, it can be plainly seen that the final line on the page contains only the single word αρτους from the middle of Matthew 14:19.  This phenomenon occurs repeatedly.    But final lines consisting of a single non-centered word are not really the thing to see. 

The thing that Lake and New claimed only occurred at the end of Mark 16:9 also occurs at Image 23 (Matthew 18:19), and at Image 105 (John 5:44), and at Image 116 (John 14:5) and at Image 123 (John 20:18).        

In addition, Mark 16:9 is identified in the side- margin of 1241 as the third Heothinon-reading.  John 20:19, which follows a centered final line concluding John 20:1 on the previous page, is identified as the ninth Heothinon.  And, within the text of Mark 16:9, Jesus’ name is part of the text of the opening phrase – that is, the text of Mark 16:9 is slightly expanded for liturgical reading. 

It should be perfectly clear that Lake and New’s claim that centered final lines only occur at the end of Mark 16:8 is untrue.  It should also be perfectly clear that 1241 provides no support whatsoever for the abrupt ending.  Rather, 1241 attests that when and where it was made, Mark 16:9-20 was treated as authoritative Scripture.

We have here another example of pseudo-evidence to which a paraphrase of Balak’s words in Numbers 24:10 may be applied:  “This witness was cited to draw these twelve verses into question, and, behold, it has altogether blessed them!”

 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Hand To Hand Combat: Sinaiticus vs. 162 in Matthew 9:1-17

             Today, let's look at the text of Matthew 9:1-17 in two manuscripts – the famous Codex Sinaiticus, and the little-known medieval minuscule 162, a copy of the Gospels which is housed in the Vatican Library as Barb. Gr. 449.

            According to the colophon that appear after the end of John, 162 was finished by a scribe named Manuel in 1153.  Its text is primarily Byzantine, but it has some unusual readings, the best-known of which is in Luke 11:2:  instead of saying, “Your kingdom come,” it says. “Let your holy Spirit come (upon us) to cleanse us” – a reading which is also supported by GA 700, and was known to Gregory of Nyssa. 

            In Tertullian’s composition Against Marcion, Book 4, Part 26, the author asks several rhetorical questions which seem to be drawn from a sequence of phrases in Luke 11, indicating that this reading was in the text used by Tertullian:

             First, “To whom can I say, “Father”? 

            Next, “Of whom can I ask for His Holy Spirit?”

            Next, “Whose kingdom shall I wish to come?” 

            Next, “Who shall give me my daily bread?”. 

            Next, “Who shall forgive me my trespasses?” 

            And next, “Who shall not allow us to be led into temptation?”. 

This indicates that a textual variant consisting of a request for the Holy Spirit to come and cleanse us, in Luke 11:2, although supported among Greek manuscripts  by only 700 and 162, was known to Tertullian in the second century.

           162 can be viewed page by page at the website of the Vatican Library.  Here is a selective index:   

Ad Carpianus begins

Eusebian Canons begin

Icon of Matthew

Matthew 1:1

Matthew 9:1

Matthew 16:1

Matthew 22:1

Matthew 25:1

Matthew 28:16-20 (cruciform)

Mark 1:9-1:18 

Mark 1:18-27

Mark 1:1 (w/icon headpiece)  

Mark 6:1

Mark 9:1

Mark 14:1

Luke 1:1 (w/icon headpiece)  

Luke 4:1

Luke 6:1

Luke 11:1

Luke 11:2     

Luke 15:1 

Luke 20:1 

John 1:1 (w/icon headpiece)

John 5:1

John 7:53 

John 14:1  

John 18:1  

John 20:1  

John 21:25

 

Now let’s see how accurate the text of Matthew 9:1-7 in 162 is compared to the same passage in the Tyndale House Greek New Testament.

1 –  162 has Ις­ after εμβας (+3)

1 – 162 has το after εις (+2)

1 – 162 has διεπέρασε instead of διεπέρασεν (-1)

2 – 162 has κλινης instead of κλεινης (-1)

2 – has ειπε instead of ειπεν (-1)

2 – 162 has αφεωνται instead of αφίενται (+2, -2)

2 – 162 has σου (+3)

4 – 162 has ιδων instead of ειδως (+1, -2)

4 – 162 has υμεις after τί (+5)

4 – has ενθυμεισθαι instead of ενθυμεισθε (+2, -1)

5 – 162 has αφεωνται instead of αφίενται (+2, -2)

6 – 162 has κλινην instead of κλεινην (-1)

7 – no variations

8 – 162 has εθαυμασαν instead of εφοβήθησαν (+5, -6)

9 – 162 has Ματθαιον instead of Μαθθαιον (+1, -1)

10 – no variations

11 – 162 has ειπον instead of ελεγον (+3, -4)

12 – 162 has Ις­ before ακουσας (+3)

12 – 162 has αυτοις after ειπεν (+6)

13 – 162 has ελεον instead of ελεος (+1, -1)

13 – 162 has εις μετάνοιαν (+12)

14 – 162 contracts Ιωάννου to Ιω

14 – has νηστευουσι instead of νηστευουσιν (-1)

15 – no variations

16 – no variations

17 – 162 has απολουνται instead of απολλυνται (+1, -1)

 

So, compared to the Tyndale House compilation, 162 has 51 non-original letters in Matthew 9:1-17, and is missing 25 original letters, for a total of 76 letters’ worth of corruption.  If we set aside orthographic variants, the following remain: 

1 –  162 has Ις­ after εμβας (+3)

1 – 162 has το after εις (+2)

2 – 162 has αφεωνται instead of αφίενται (+2, -2)

2 – 162 has σου (+3)

4 – 162 has ιδων instead of ειδως (+1, -2)

4 – 162 has υμεις after τί (+5)

5 – 162 has αφεωνται instead of αφίενται (+2, -2)

8 – 162 has εθαυμασαν instead of εφοβήθησαν (+5, -6)

11 – 162 has ειπον instead of ελεγον (+3, -4)

12 – 162 has Ις­ before ακουσας (+3)

12 – 162 has αυτοις after ειπεν (+6)

13 – 162 has ελεον instead of ελεος (+1, -1)

13 – 162 has εις μετάνοιαν (+12).

 

And thus, with orthographic variants set aside, 162 has 48 non-original letters in Matthew 9:1-17, and is missing 17 original letters, for a total of 65 letters’ worth of corruption.

Now let’s compare the text of Matthew 9:1-17 in Codex Sinaiticus to the same passage in the Tyndale House Greek New Testament.

SINAITICUS: MATTHEW 9:1-17 compared to Tyndale House GNT.

1 – no  variations

2 – À has κλινης instead of κλεινης (-1)

2 – À has ειδων instead of ιδων (+1)

3 – no variations

4 – À has ϊδων instead of ειδως (+1, -2)

4 – (À has a spelling-correction in καρδι{αι}ϲ but it may have been made during production)

5 – À does not have και after εγειρε (-3)

6 –  À has εχι instead of εχει (-1)

6 – À has κλινην instead of κλεινην (-1)

6 – À has πορευου instead of υπαγε (+7, -5)

7 – no variations

8 – no variations

9 – À does not have εκειθεν (-7)

9 – À does not have και after λεγομενον (-3)

9 -  has λεγι instead of λεγει (-1)

9 – has ακολουθι instead of ακολουθει (-1)

9 – À has ηκολουθει instead of ηκολούθησεν (+2, -4)

10 – À does not have εγένετο αυτου before ανακειμενω (-12)

10 – has ανακειμενω instead of ανακειμενου (+1, -2)

10 – does not have και before ιδου (-3)

10 – À does not have ελθοντες (-8)

10 – has ϲυνανεκιντο instead of ϲυνανεκειντο (-1)

10 – À has μαθητεϲ instead of μαθηταιϲ (+1, -2)

11 – no variations

12 – À has χριαν instead of χρειαν (-1)

12 – has ϊατρω instead of ϊατρου (+1, -2)

13 – À has μαθεται instead of μαθετε (+2, -1)

14 – À has ημιϲ instead of ημειϲ (-1)

14 – (À has πολλα, added by a corrector, in the side-margin)

15 – À is missing ελευσονται δε ημέραι οταν απαρθη απ αυτων ὁ νυμφίος (-43)

16 – À has παλεω instead of παλαιω (+1, -2)

16 – has αιρι instead of αιρει (-1)

16 - À does not have αυτου before απο (-5)

16 – À has γεινεται  instead of γινεται (+1)

17 – À has αλλ instead of αλλα (-1)

17 – À does not have βάλλουσιν (-9)

17 – À has βλητεον after καινουϲ (+7) 

Thus, compared to the text of Matthew 9:1-7 in the Tyndale House Greek New Testament, the text written by the main scribe of Sinaiticus contains 25 non-original letters, and is missing 104 original letters, for a total of 129 letters’ worth of corruption.    

If we take orthographic variants out of the picture, the accuracy of the text written by  Sinaiticus’ main scribe improves:

4 – À has ϊδων instead of ειδως (+1, -2)

5 – À does not have και after εγειρε (-3)

6 – À has πορευου instead of υπαγε (+7, -5)

9 – À does not have εκειθεν (-7)

9 – À does not have και after λεγομενον (-3)

9 – À has ηκολουθει instead of ηκολούθησεν (+2, -4)

10 – À does not have εγένετο αυτου before ανακειμενω (-12)

10 – does not have και before ιδου (-3)

10 – À does not have ελθοντες (-8)

14 – (À has πολλα from a corrector but this correction may have been made after production)

15 – À is missing ελευσονται δε ημέραι οταν απαρθη απ αυτων ὁ νυμφίος (-43)

16 - À does not have αυτου before απο (-5)

17 – À does not have βάλλουσιν (-9)

17 – À has βλητεον after καινουϲ (+7) 

 

So, with orthographic variants set aside (even ϊατρω in verse 12), the text of Sinaiticus has 17 non-original letters, and is missing 103 original letters, for a total of 120 letters’ worth of corruption.  The text of Matthew 9:1-17 written by the main scribe of Codex Sinaiticus is far less accurate than the text of 162, even with orthographic variants removed from consideration – and the comparison is not close.

But the work of the main scribe is not the only factor to consider when it comes to Codex Sinaiticus, because this manuscript had a proof-reader, who often served as a fellow-scribe (even replacing some pages of the manuscript where the main scribe had committed some particularly egregious error).  It is not always easy to tell the difference between the work of this corrector – working before the manuscript had left its scriptorium – and some later correctors.  But my impression is that the main corrector of Codex Sinaiticus was responsible for the following corrections:

He added, in the upper margin, for verse 10, the εγένετο αυτου that is missing in the main text.

In the lower margin, he added verse 15’s missing ελευσονται δε ημέραι οταν απαρθη απ αυτων ὁ νυμφίος.  

(I attribute the addition of ελθοντες to a later corrector, and the change in verse 10 from τελωνε to τελωναι I treat as a self-correction by the main scribe.)

With the proof-reader’s input taken into consideration, Sinaiticus’ testimony is much improved:  upon leaving the scriptorium, and setting  aside orthographic variants, the codex contained 17 original letters in Matthew 9:1-17, and was missing 48 original letters, for a total of 65 letters’ worth of corruption.

So which manuscript’s text of Matthew 9:1-17 is better?  The spelling of the main scribe of Sinaiticus is obviously atrocious, but if we set orthographic variants aside, Sinaiticus' accuracy improves substantially.  And if we do not ignore the work of the proof-reader of Codex Sinaiticus, then Codex Sinaiticus’ text of Matthew 9:1-17 has a total of 65 letters’ worth of corruption – meaning that in terms of letters’ worth of non-orthographic corruption, the amount of corruption in Matthew 9:1-17 in À and the amount of corruption in 162 are exactly the same.


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

           


           

  

 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Codex Alexandrinus: An Index

 Codex Alexandrinus is one of the most important manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.  Produced in the first half of the 400s, its readings have been known to European researchers ever since 1627, when it was entrusted to the king of England by Cyril Lucar.  

Digital images of the New Testament portion of Codex A (Volume 4) have been placed online at the website of the British Library. Site-visitors can use the search-bar to search from page to page.  Here is an index of the beginnings of each book, and other often-consulted passages:

List of Contents – 1v

Matthew 1:1-25:6 is all gone.

Mt. 25:7 – 2r –

Mt. 26:47 – 3v

Chapter-list for Mark – 5v

Mk.1:1 – 6r

Mk 6:1 – 9r (“6” written in inner margin)

Mk. 9:1 – 11v (“9” written in inner margin)

Mk 12:1 – 14v (“12” written in outer margin)

Mk 14:1 – 16r

Mk 16:9 – 18r

Chapter-list for Luke – 19r

Lk. 1:1 – 20r (Notice book-title in upper margin)

Lk. 4:1 – 22v (“4” written in inner margin)

Lk. 6:1 – 24v (“6” written in outer margin)

Lk. 8:1 – 26v (“8” written in outer margin)

Lk. 11:1 – 30r (“11” written in outer margin)

Lk. 15:1 – 33v (“15” in margin)

Lk.20:1 – 37r (“20” in margin)

Lk. 22:40 – 39r (SE portion)

Lk.24:1 – 40v (“24”in margin)

Chapter-list for John – 42r

Jn. 1:1 – 42r
Jn. 3:1 – 43v (“3” in margin)

Jn. 5:1 – 45r (“5” in margin)

[Missing:  6:50 katabainwn – 8:52 [leg]eis]

Jn. 9:1 – 47r

Jn. 11:1 – 48v

Jn. 11:55 – 49r (SE section)

Jn. 14:1 – 51r (“14” in margin)

Jn. 18:1 – 53r (“18” in margin)

Jn. 20:1 – 54v (“20” in margin)

Acts 1:1 – 56r

Acts 6:1 – “6” in margin)

Acts 9:1 – 61v (“9” in margin)

Acts 12:1 – 63v (“12” in margin)

Acts 15:1 – 65v (“15” in margin)

Acts 20:1 – 69v (“20” in margin) 

Acts 24:1 –  72v (“24” in margin)

Acts 27:1 – 74r (“27” in margin)

James 1 – 76r

First Peter 1 – 78r 

Second Peter 1 – 80r

First John 1 – 81v

Second John – 83v

Third John – 84r

Jude – 84r

Romans 1 – 85r

Romans 3 – 86r (“3” in margin)

Romans 8 – 88r (“8” in margin)

Romans 10 – 89r (“10” in margin)

Romans 12 – 90r (“12” in margin)

Romans 15 – 91r (“15” in margin)

First Corinthians 1 – 92v

First Corinthians 6 – 94r

First Corinthians 9 – 95r

First Corinthians 10 – 95v (“10” in margin)

First Corinthians 13 – 97r (“13” in margin)

First Corinthians 15 – 98r (“15” in margin)

Second Corinthians 1 – 99v

[Missing:  2 Cor. 4:13b gegramme[non] – 12:7 uperbolh]

Galatians 1 – 101v

Galatians 4 – 103r (“4” in margin)

Ephesians 1 – 104r

Philippians 1 – 107r

Colossians 1 – 108v

First Thessalonians 1 – 110v

Second Thessalonians 1 – 112r

Hebrews 1 – 113r

Hebrews 5 – 114v

Hebrews 10 – 116v

Hebrews 12 – 118r

First Timothy 1 – 119r

Second Timothy 1 – 121r

Titus 1 – 123r

Philemon – 124r

Revelation 1 – 125r

Revelation 4 – 126r

Revelation 8 – 127v

Revelation 13 – 129r

Revelation 18 – 131r

Revelation 21 – 132v

First Clement 1 – 134r

First Clement 20 – 136r

First Clement 51 – 140r (This is why we don’t use chemical reagents!)

First  Clement 63 – 141v (This, too, is why we never use chemical reagents!)

Second Clement 1- 143r





Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Video Lecture 22: The New Testament in the Marketplace


            Lecture 22 in the series Introduction to NT Textual Criticism, "The New Testament in the Marketplace," is online at Bitchute and YouTube.  In this 22-minute lecture, I offer a critique of some methods used to market the NIV and other versions, especially the claim that the KJV's base text is late and minimally attested. I review the basis for the KJV's readings in Matthew 17:21, Matthew 18:11, Matthew 20:16, Matthew 23:14, Mark 6:11, Mark 7:16, Mark 9:44, 9:46, Mark 11:26, Mark 15:28, Luke 17:36, Luke 23:17, and John 5:3-4, and draw attention to some non-Alexandrian English versions of the New Testament such as the EOB (Eastern Orthodox New Testament).

Here is an extract:

In 1971, the preface to the RSV was very candid in its criticism of the KJV.  It stated, “The King James Version has grave defects.”   It also stated that the Greek base-text of the New Testament in the KJV was “marred by mistakes containing the accumulated errors of fourteen centuries of manuscript copying.”  It stated that the King James Version’s base-text was essentially the text as edited by Beza in the late 1500s, and that Beza’s text closely followed the work of Erasmus, “which was based upon a few medieval manuscripts.”

             This was technically true, but it is not the whole truth.  This incomplete caricature is still used in the promotion of several translations of the New Testament.  The King James Version is very frequently misrepresented, as if it is only supported by a smattering of late medieval manuscripts.  People are told that scholars today “Now possess many more ancient manuscripts of the New Testament” than were known in the 1500s.

            There are some minority readings in the Textus Receptus.  At Acts 9:5-6, the Textus Receptus has a harmonization that, as far as I can tell, is not supported by any Greek manuscripts.  In Ephesians 3:9 and Philippians 4:3, readings in the Textus Receptus look like the effects of  spelling-mistakes in the manuscripts used in the 1500s.  In First John 5:7-8, the Textus Receptus has a reading that originated in a branch of the Old Latin text, and which only appears in a few late manuscripts as far as Greek copies are concerned.  But these readings do not drastically alter the character of the text:  fewer than 700 readings in the Gospels in the Textus Receptus are not supported by a majority of Greek manuscripts.

            Materials written to promote new versions routinely avoid drawing attention to the strong level of agreement between the Textus Receptus and the majority of Greek New Testament manuscripts.  It is not the Byzantine Text, but the Alexandrian Text, that routinely disagrees with over 90% of the Greek manuscripts.

            But you would never realize this if you relied upon the marketing of modern Bible versions such as the New International Version.  Marketers of modern versions routinely describe the Nestle-Aland base-text as if it is based on very many ancient manuscripts.

            Instead of focusing on the agreements of the Textus Receptus with the majority of manuscripts in the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, attention is given to the most recent layers of corruption in the Textus Receptus:  as Eberhard Nestle pointed out in 1898:  do we really want to offer readers a text of Revelation that was based on a single manuscript?  Do we really need to go on distributing a text in which the last six verses of Revelation were based on Latin?  Is the Textus Receptus really the best compilation that can be produced?

            Clearly the answer is no.   I have no doubt that Erasmus and Stephanus would agree.  But I am not convinced that they would agree that the need to refine their work justifies throwing out the Byzantine Text and replacing it with the Alexandrian Text, which is what is done by the NIV.  Misrepresentation of the quality and age of the Byzantine Text is a tactic that has been used in many attempts to get people to embrace the Alexandrian Text.  This was done in the 1800s, and it is still attempted today.

            For example, Biblica, formerly known as the International Bible Society, has produced a video called “Is the NIV Bible Missing Verses,” which asks the question, “How did the KJV and other earlier Bibles end up having more words than ours do today?”.  Biblica’s presentation conveys that differences between English versions exist because the Biblical researchers in the 1500s only had a few manuscripts, which were not very early – but researchers today use many more manuscripts that are much more ancient.     

            Specifically, Biblica tells viewers that the main manuscripts used by the producers of the Textus Receptus were just a few hundred years old, only going back to the twelfth century.  In comparison, today’s scholars have “almost 6,000” manuscripts.  In addition, the manuscripts Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus provide a “much earlier” text.

            But viewers are not told that the text in the vast majority of those thousands of manuscripts is Byzantine, which means that in most textual contests where the Alexandrian and Byzantine forms disagree, they support the Byzantine reading, and disagree with the Alexandrian form.  In other words, they tend to oppose the base-text upon which the New International Version is based. 

            In addition, viewers are not told how soon the Byzantine readings are supported.  Instead, they are given the impression that their choice is between readings from the 300s, and readings from the 1100s, so, of course they will tend to prefer what they are led to believe is the reading with much earlier support.

             Let’s take a close look at some readings in the Gospels that are included in the King James Version, but are not included in the New International Version – not to delve into the intricacies of each textual contest, but to test how honest, or how dishonest, it is to tell people that when we look at these readings, we are looking at a text from the 300s as the basis for the NIV, versus a text from the 1100s as the basis for the KJV. 

(1) Matthew 17:21 is not in the text of the NIV.  It is supported by over 99% of the Greek manuscripts of Matthew, including Codex D and Codex W.  It is also supported by most of the Old Latin copies of Matthew including Codex Vercellensis.  It is supported by the Vulgate, and was cited by Origen, who died in the mid-200s – before Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.  Other patristic writers who used this verse include Hilary, Basil, Ambrose, Chrysostom, and Augustine, representing five different locales.

(2)  Matthew 18:11 is not in the text of the NIV.  It is supported by the vast majority of manuscripts, including Codex D.  It is also supported by the Vulgate, and by the Peshitta.  It was in the text used by Chrysostom.

(3)  The second part of Matthew 20:16, “For many are called, but few are chosen,” is not in the text of the NIV.  It is supported by most Greek manuscripts of Matthew, including Codex D, and by the Vulgate, and the Peshitta, and it was used by Chrysostom.  An additional consideration is that the final letters of the final word in this phrase are the same as the final letters in the word that comes before this phrase, which could make the whole phrase vulnerable to accidental loss via periblepsis.

(4)  Matthew 23:14 is not in the text of the NIV.  It is supported by the majority of Greek manuscripts of Matthew, including Codex W.  It was quoted by Chrysostom, and is included in the Peshitta.  Another point to consider is the potential of this reading to be accidentally lost via periblepsis, because it begins with the same opening word as the verse before it, and the verse after it. 

(5)  The last part of Mark 6:11 is not in the text of the NIV or the ESV.  It is supported by the vast majority of Greek manuscripts of Mark, including Codex Alexandrinus.  It is also supported by the Gothic version and the Peshitta.

 . . . 

(11)  Luke 23:17 is not in the text of the NIV.  It is included in most Greek manuscripts of Luke, including Codex Sinaiticus and Codex W.  It is supported by the Old Latin text, the Vulgate, and the Peshitta. 

(12)  John 5:3-4 is not in the text of the NIV or the ESV.  It is included in most Greek manuscripts of John, including Codex Alexandrinus.  Tertullian, writing in about the year 200, seems to have used a text of John that has this reference to an angel at the pool of Bethesda.  It inclusion is also supported by the Peshitta, and by Chrysostom in his Homily 36 on John.

             More than nine times out of ten in the Gospels, where a verse or phrase is included in the King James Version but is not in the NIV, its inclusion is supported by the majority of Greek manuscripts, and support for the KJV’s reading can be seen in evidence from the 300s, the same century when Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus were made.

            It is simply not true that the verses and phrases that are supported by the Byzantine Text typically only appear in late medieval manuscripts.  Claims that promote the idea that the KJV’s readings typically originate in the 1100s or later should be regarded as propaganda.

            In addition, it should be pointed out that when marketers of the NIV refer to the high number of Greek New Testament manuscripts as an “embarrassment of riches,” they are strangely celebrating the abundance of evidence against the text that they promote, since the vast majority of Greek manuscripts support the readings that are not in the text of English versions such as the NIV, the ESV, the NLT and the NET   

            The base-text of the NIV is often described as an “eclectic” text.  By definition, an “eclectic” compilation takes all transmission-branches into consideration.  But in terms of its content, at points where the Alexandrian Text and the Byzantine Text disagree, the Nestle-Aland compilation adopts the Byzantine reading less than 1% of the time.

            The Nestle-Aland text represents the local text of Egypt, especially as represented by Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, from the fourth century.  Support for many Byzantine readings is just as old, or only slightly later.  For some Byzantine readings, it is earlier

           What about papyrus manuscripts?  Papyrus manuscripts from the 200s confirm the earlier use of the Alexandrian Text in Egypt.  We do not have papyrus evidence from other locations.  But, unless one wants to propose that Christians in the 300s spontaneously threw out the copies of Scripture that their predecessors had endured persecution to protect and preserve, the alternative is to reckon that there were papyrus manuscripts in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and Syria in the 200s, and that they were the ancestors of manuscripts used in the 300s and 400s which contained many Byzantine readings.    

            The humidity-level in Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and Syria is not conducive to the preservation of papyrus – but it is not equitable or reasonable to ignore the text from this area because of the weather.  The early stratum of the Byzantine Text deserves attention, especially the readings preserved in writings by individuals such as John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and others.

            This does not mean that future investigation of the text that was used in the northeastern Roman Empire in the 300s and 400s will vindicate every reading found in the majority of Greek manuscripts.  It won’t.  But the earliest discernible stratum of the Byzantine Text deserves much more attention than it has received in the so-called “eclectic” compilation upon which the NIV is based.

            There are alternatives to English translations that are based on the 99% Alexandrian Nestle-Aland compilation.  Some Bible-readers, particularly in the United States, have reacted to the challenge posed by new versions by answering all text-critical questions with one response:  “The King James Version is always right.”  That response is not scientifically sustainable, and in many cases it is fueled by a tendency to stick to the New Testament translation one is used to, whether it really is based on the original Greek text or not.    

            Other Bible-readers, acknowledging non-original elements in the Textus Receptus but regarding them as fairly benign, have decided to stick with the King James Version, on the grounds that although its base-text is far from perfect, it has been shown to be sufficiently accurate as an English representation of the meaning of the original text.  

             For Bible-readers who desire their English translation to conform to the original text as closely as possible, rather than be inordinately limited to the local text of Egypt, the challenge posed by the rise of versions based on a pseudo-eclectic base-text should be met by the application of a more equitable eclectic method of textual criticism – an approach that is not biased against the idea that the original text may be found in the Byzantine Text.  With that in mind, I refer you to the following four English translations.

            The base-text of the New Testament in the Evangelical Heritage Version, released in 2017, is far from consistently Byzantine, but its editors have taken the Byzantine Text seriously.  Of the 12 readings reviewed in this lecture, the EHV includes seven of them in the text.  The text of the EHV also includes Mark 16:9-20, Luke 22:43-44, all of Luke 23:34, and John 7:53-8:11.  More information about the Evangelical Heritage Version can be found at  wartburgproject.org – that’s W-a-r-t-b-u-r-g-project.org, all one word.    

            The Eastern Orthodox New Testament reflects an awareness of the critical text in its footnotes, but consistently favors the Byzantine Text.  It can be purchased from New Rome Press, and it can be read online, for instance at the website yorkorthodox.org/bible .  The text of the EOB includes all of the readings reviewed in this lecture, and also includes Mark 16:9-20, Luke 22:43-44, all of Luke 23:34, and John 7:53-8:11.

            The World English Bible is a copyright-free translation of the Old Testament and New Testament.  Its New Testament was intended to be based on the Majority Text.  It is available as a free PDF download at https://worldenglish.bible/ and is also available in print.

            In addition, if you read the New King James Version and pay special attention to its textual footnotes, especially where readings in the Majority Text are mentioned, it will be similar to reading a version based on the Byzantine Text.

             Thank you.