Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Seven Interesting Variants in Jude

           Today we venture beyond the four Gospels again to briefly investigate seven  interesting variants in the one-chapter book of Jude.  The Greek text of Jude has been studied with exceptional thoroughness:  2006 saw the publication of Dr. Tommy Wasserman’s book The Epistle of Jude:  Its Text and Transmission (still available on Amazon for $50), in which one can find a list of 560 manuscripts of Jude – each of which was collated in the course of Wasserman’s research, plus his compilation of the text of Jude, a phenomenally detailed textual apparatus, and a meticulously detailed textual commentary (105 pages; compare to 4 pages covering Jude in Metzger’s  Textual Commentary on the GNT for UBS).  

● In Jude verse 3, there is a contest, mainly between κοινῆς σωτηρίας (favored by a majority of manuscripts) and κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας.  Although the latter was adopted in Nestle-Aland (and by Tregelles and Souter – but not by Scholz,), it is not easy to discern why any scribe whose exemplar had the longer reading here would omit ἡμῶν.  The sentence is easier to understand with ἡμῶν included – which is a point in favor of the shorter reading.     

          But there are couple of other horses in the race.  Κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας has the support of P72, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, 1739, 2200 et al; κοινῆς σωτηρίας is supported by 018 020 025 049 and hundreds of minuscules, but what does À say?  Something very different:  κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας και ζωης – that is, “our common salvation and life.”  (This reading also turns up in 044!)  And nestled in the text of some members of the cluster of manuscripts known as the Harklean Group (a.k.a. family 2138 – MSS 206, 429, 522, 614, 630, 1292, 1505, 1611, 1799, 1890, 2138, 2200, 2412, and 2495 – but especially 2138) are the readings κοινῆς ἡμῶν ζωης (1611 2138) and κοινῆς υμῶν ζωης (1505 2495).  Putting À’s reading alongside the others, it looks very, very much like a conflation of the readings in B and in family 2138.  

          In which case, in order for the conflation to have been made in À’s text, the Harklean Group’s text of this passage had to already exist before À was made, even though the Greek manuscripts which attest to it are medieval.  This is an instructive demonstration of how precarious it is to assume that the readings in later manuscripts must themselves be later.

● In Jude verse 4, after δεσπότην, most manuscripts (including 018 020 044 049) include the word θεον, or ΘΝ.  The major Alexandrian MSS, and 1739, and the Vulgate, support the non-inclusion of this word.  θεον could be omitted accidentally, via simple parablepsis (see the Comment-section for some data about this from Matthew Rose!) but it is easy to see why it would be added:  without the word θεον, there is one individual who is being denied by the false teachers Jude is opposing:  “our only Ruler and Lord Jesus Christ.”  With θεον included, two persons are being denied, as it says in the KJV:  “our only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (δεσπότην has been translated as the “Lord” before “God;” κύριον is the “Lord” before “Jesus Christ”).  The reading with θεον, despite its majority support, looks very much like a scribal tweak of what was initially intended to refer to a single person –  “the only Ruler, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The decision to reject θεον here as non-original goes back, among textual  critics, as least as far back as J. A. Bengel (in Gnomon V, p. 164).

● In Jude verse 5, there is an ongoing debate about whether Jude said that Jesus saved the people out of Egypt, or that the Lord saved people out of Egypt.  Wasserman adopted κύριος; as did Hort (commenting that “the best attested reading Ἰησοῠς can only be a blunder”), Tregelles, Souter, and most editions of the Nestle-Aland compilation.  But the 28th edition has adopted Ἰησοῠς.  Ἰησοῠς was also the reading adopted into the base-text of the ESV, CSB, and NET.  It was also favored by the translator Grenfell Penn in his 1836 translation – although he rendered it somewhat uniquely, so as to make the verse refer not to Jesus, but Joshua.  (These two names in Greek are identical).

          Contracted as nomina sacra, the competing variants are ΚΣ (“Lord”) and Ὁ ΙΣ (“Jesus”), or, if the article is considered secondary, ΚΣ and ΙΣ.   Setting aside a question about the arrangement of the phrases in this verse (a question which is extraordinarily complex), and focusing on the simpler question of which word at this point is original, it is initially difficult to resist the appeal of  Ἰησοῠς.  Not only is it supported by Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, 1739, 1881, the Vulgate and the Sahidic version, but, from a utilitarian perspective, it conveys an apologetically convenient point about the pre-existence of Jesus.  (This doctrine is also expressed in what is probably the earliest manuscript of Jude, P72, which reads ΘΣ ΧΡΣ (“God Christ”), but nobody seems to find this singular reading plausible.) 

          Ἰησοῠς was the reading in the 1966 edition of the UBS GNT, and a note in Metzger’s Textual Commentary shows that he and Allen Wikgren pressed for its adoption.  Years ago, I too favored the reading ΙΣ – but upon further consideration, ΚΣ commends itself as original.  I would argue that an early scribe felt that κύριος was too ambiguous (does it refer to the Father, or to the Son?) and, prompted by a tendency to see a typological pattern of the pre-existent Christ in the career of Joshua (expressed, for example, in the early composition The Epistle of Barnabas, ch. 12), replaced ΚΣ with ΙΣ – the same kind of interpretive scribal change seen in P72.  Also, it would be extraordinary for Jude, coming from the same household as Jesus of Nazareth, to attribute His actions in the days of Moses to “Jesus.”

●● Two variants in Jude verse 22, though not as famous as the one in verse 5, have an interesting history:  Tregelles, back in 1865, read the verse as καὶ οὓς μὲν ἐλέγχετε διακρινομένους.   This yields a meaning that is different from what is found in almost all English versions in print today:  instead of something like “and have mercy on those who are doubting,” Tregelles’ text of verse 22 (followed perfectly here in the Tyndale House GNT) means something more like, “And refute those who cause disputes.”  Tregelles rejected ἐλεατε and ελεειτε – the first of which has early attestation (À B), and the second of which is supported by very many copies (including 020 049  056 1175) – in favor of ἐλέγχετε, which is attested by A C* 33, 1739 1611 1739 1881, the Vulgate, and the Harklean Syriac version.  

          Tregelles (along with Hort, Souter, and the editors of Nestle-Aland/UBS) also rejected the Byzantine reading διακρινομένοι in favor of διακρινομένους, which seems to fit Jude better stylistically, although it is rather difficult to define a writer’s style with a single chapter as the only basis of comparison.

          If Tregelles was correct, then most English New Testaments are based on a form of verse 22 that renders a sense that the original text did not convey.  (In the ASV, CSB, CEV, EHV, ESV, KJV, MEV, NASB, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, and NRSV, the verse refers to having compassion.)  This is a difficult variant, or set of variants, but I think the balance of evidence favors both of Tregelles’ decisions here – and this ought to be considered a bright bold star in the Tyndale House GNT. 

 ● At the beginning of Jude verse 25, most manuscripts, including 020 049 056 1175, along with most lectionaries, refer to μόνω σοφῶ Θεῷ (“the only wise God”).  The reading adopted in the Nestle-Aland compilation, supported by À A B C, does not have σοφῶ, which Metzger regarded as “an obvious interpolation derived from Ro 16.27.”  

    A counter-argument in favor of the majority reading, though, consists of three points:  (1) σοφῶ could be accidentally dropped via parablepsis, (2) μόνω σοφῶ Θεῷ is the more difficult reading, capable of raising the question of whether there is another deity who is not wise (Θεῷ is omitted in Romans in a smattering of copies, and transposed in Claromontanus), and (3) it seems unlikely that a scribe copying the book of Jude would think there was a need to harmonize Jude’s final verse here with Romans 14:26 (which is where μόνω σοφῶ Θεῷ appears in most copies of Romans) but not continue the harmonization by adding something about Jesus Christ – which bring us to today’s last variant under consideration.      

● Near the end of Jude verse 25, the phrase διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν (“through Jesus Christ our Lord”) – or, with contracted nomina sacra, διὰ ΙΥ ΧΥ τοῦ ΚΥ ἡμῶν – is not included in most manuscripts.   Its inclusion, however, is supported by À B A C and an array of less weighty witnesses including 020 044 33 81 323 1505 1611 1881 and the Vulgate and the Harklean Syriac.  The phrase was accidentally omitted by an early scribe whose line of sight drifted from the ἡμῶν that appears immediately before this phrase to the ἡμῶν at the end of the phrase.    


Thursday, December 16, 2021

A New Book About the Text of Codex Bezae

Peter Lorenz

           You might think that there would be little more to say about the text of Codex Bezae after D. C. Parker’s 1992 Codex Bezae - An Early Christian Manuscript and Its Text.  But Peter Lorenz has a lot more to say in his new book, A History of Codex Bezae’s Text in the Gospel of MarkReaders of Dr. Lorenz’s blog will be aware that he has been studying Codex Bezae for some time.  His new book is based on the dissertation that he successfully defended in July of 2020.

          Lorenz calls into question the idea that Codex Bezae’s distinctive Greek text of the Gospels and Acts represents an ancient native Greek tradition that begat the Old Latin version(s).  Lorenz argues that the Greek text found in Codex Bezae should be assigned to the late 300s, immediately prior to the production of the manuscript, and represents the conformation of a Greek text to a Latin model (different from the Latin text preserved in the manuscript itself). 

Here are ten intriguing implications of Lorenz’s analysis, in his own words:

● (1) there are very few parallels between Bezae’s distinctive text and Justin Martyr or Marcion, certainly not enough to justify the view that they knew a text like Bezae’s,

● (2) Bezae’s parallels with Irenaeus appear to be secondary relative to this author’s text, 

● (3) Bezae’s nomina sacra reflect Latin practice in the choice and representation of sacred names,

● (4) Bezae’s Greek and Latin columns are independent of each other, i.e. in general, the Greek text has not been corrected to the Latin column and the Latin column is not a translation of the Greek text,

● (5) Bezae’s text does not seem to represent the source of the Latin version or, at least, this version does not require a text like Bezae’s to account for its distinctive readings,

● (6) much of Bezae’s text is quite close to the Greek “mainstream”, much more than is generally observed, it is certainly not a “paraphrase,”

● (7) Bezae’s text appears to contain erroneously copied corrections suggesting that its text derives from heavily corrected exemplar,

● (8) Bezae’s distinctive parallels with the Latin version apparently reflect instances of borrowing from the Latin version, i.e. like Jerome’s revision of the Old Latin version to Greek copies, only in reverse,

● (9) Bezae’s distinctive variations are not evenly distributed throughout its text but tend to concentrate in certain places,

● (10) Bezae’s producers seem not to have been native speakers of either Greek or Latin. 

          Incidentally, Lorenz’s research (already released in the Tyndale Bulletin and described at his blog in October 2021) does not bode well at all for the 2011 NIV’s adoption of οργισθεις in its base-text of Mark 1:41.  Bill Mounce, take note! 

           A History of Codex Bezae’s Text in the Gospel of Mark is available as a hardcover at Amazon for $150 – just in time for Christmas!


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Invisible Variant in Luke 2:15

           Although promoters of an assortment of Bible versions frequently insist that footnotes give their readers plentiful information about textual variants, many variants, especially those which scarcely affect the meaning of the text, are not mentioned in any footnotes in any major English versions.  An example of this appears in Luke 2:15:  in the middle of Luke’s Christmas narrative, after a multitude of heavenly hosts finishes praising God (regarding the famous variant in Luke 2:14, see this post), and as the shepherds decide to investigate the town of Bethlehem, immediately following οἱ ἄγγελοι, the Byzantine text has the words καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι (“and the men”) before οἱ ποιμένες (“the shepherds”).

          This is an invisible variant:  the KJV’s base-text (the Textus Receptus) includes καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι, and the ESV’s and NIV’s primary base-text (the Nestle-Aland compilation) does not; the WEB’s base-text is Byzantine; the NRSV’s base-text is (almost always) Alexandrian.  Yet this phrase – “the shepherds said to one another” – is identical in English in all four of these English versions (and in the EOB-NT, CSB, EHV, and NET).  One would never realize from the renderings in almost all English versions that one base-text has three more words.  Wayne A. MitchellNew Heart English Bible, which points out the variant in a footnote, is an exception, as are some editions of the KJV with a similar marginal footnote.

                This variant has become invisible in more ways than one.  It was in Tregelles’ 1860 Greek New Testament (albeit within single-brackets), but although the Tyndale House GNT (2017 edition), is, its editors say (in the Preface, p. vii) “based on a thorough revision of the great nineteenth-century edition of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles”), not only is καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι not included in the text, but there is no apparatus-entry to inform readers of the existence of this variant.  Likewise, although this variant was initially included in the apparatus of the UBS GNT, in the fourth and fifth editions it has mysteriously vanished without a trace. 

          Which reading is original?  Metzger acknowledged, in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (1971, corrected edition 1975), that “The fact that the longer reading is characteristically Lukan in style argues strongly in its favor.”  Nevertheless the longer reading was rejected by a majority of the UBS editorial committee which “preferred to make a decision on the basis of preponderance of external evidence.” 

          This statement from Metzger is not easy to defend when one looks at what the preponderance of external evidence is.  À B L W Q (which moves οἱ ἄγγελοι to precede εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν) X f1 565 (which also omits εις τον αγγελοι earlier in the verse) 700 and 1071 appear to be almost the only manuscripts that support the non-inclusion of καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι.  The Vulgate, the Sahidic version, and the Peshitta support the shorter reading, but versional evidence is inherently tenuous in this particular case because more than one translator could independently decide that the sense of the passage could be sufficiently rendered without translating the appositive phrase here, as can be seen from various English versions.   The Harklean Syrian (made in the early 600s) appears to support ἄνθρωποι καὶ οἱ ποιμένες.  Καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι is supported by Codex A, Codex D, Γ, K (017, Cyprius), M, Δ, P (024), S (028), U, Y, and Ψ.   Codex M ends a page exactly after οἱ ἄγγελοι, and καὶ οἱ ἄνοι begins the first line on the next page.  Minuscules 33 157 892 1010 and 1424 are among the many minuscules that support the longer reading, as does the Gothic version.  Codex D’s word-order is apparently unique in this verse; D begins verse 15 with Και εγενετο │ως απηλθον οι αγγελοι απ αυτων │εις τον ουρανον και οι ανθρωποι.  Small gaps appear in D before Και εγενετο and before και οι ανθρωποι.  Codices C, N, and T are lacunose here. 

Codex Delta supports
the longer reading

        At the outset of the third chapter of Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, John Burgon briefly commented on this variant, pointing out that the scribe of À omitted the οἱ before ἄγγελοι, “whereby nonsense is made of the passage (viz. οἱ ἄγγελοι ποιμένες).”  Burgon considered the shorter reading to have originated due to homoeoteleuton elicited by the six clustered-together recurrences of οἱ in this verse.  More recently, Michael Holmes seems to have agreed, inasmuch as καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι is included in the text of the SBL-GNT.  I consider Burgon’s observations completely valid, and Metzger’s appeal to the “preponderance of external evidence” is basically code for “the pro-Alexandrian bias of the editors.”  Καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι should be included in future compilations.


Friday, December 10, 2021

Manetti and the Greek New Testament


         Giannozzo Manetti (1396-1459) is not mentioned in either Metzger’s The Text of the New Testament or in Aland & Aland’s The Text of the New Testament.  But all students of the field of New Testament textual criticism should learn his name.  It was Manetti, a generation before Erasmus, who completed the first Latin translation of the New Testament (since the time of Jerome) that was based primarily on Greek manuscripts. 

         Born into a wealthy family in the city of Florence, Italy, Manetti was taught by the famous historian (and Chancellor of Florence) Leonardo Bruni, and was trained in classical Latin and Greek.  Manetti was committed to the principle of ad fontes before it was cool:   he learned Hebrew in order to produce a Latin translation of the Psalms, and defended his renderings against anticipated objections from fans of the traditional Vulgate in a detailed five-volume work titled Apologeticus.   He also wrote On Human Worth and Excellence, in which he maintained that human beings are creatures of dignity and quality.

          Shortly after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Manetti began his work on a Latin translation of the New Testament. Because much of Manetti’s library was donated to the Vatican (he had been friends with Pope Nicholas V in his youth), we can identify exactly which Greek manuscripts he used as his sources.  They reside to this day in the Vatican Library: 

          Pal.Gr. 171 (GA 171), which is a full Greek New Testament (including Revelation), Pal. Gr. 189, (GA 156) a Greek Gospels-MS (with illustrated headpieces before each Gospel; the text on the last page of John is cruciform and is followed by generous liturgical appendices), and Pal. Gr. 229 (a diglot, Greek-Latin, manuscript of the Gospels.  A supplemental Latin manuscript also used by Manetti was Pal. Lat.18, containing a Vulgate text of the Old Testament and New Testament.

           Two copies of Manetti’s Latin translation of the New Testament are also at the Vatican Library:  First is Pal. Lat. 45, which presents a straightforward Latin text.  The attribution to Manetti can be seen before each Gospel:  Matthew on fol. 1rMark on fol. 21r  (where it can be seen that Manetti rendered his Greek text in Mark 1:2 as “est in prophetis,” unlike the Vulgate’s “est in Esaia propheta.”), Luke on fol. 33v, and John on fol. 55v.

Annet den Haan
          Second is Urb. Lat. 6, a more ornate copy, produced after Manetti’s death. 

           Two modern-day researchers, Annet den Haan and David Marsh, have made major contributions to a revival of interest in Manetti’s translation-work.  Marsh has written a detailed biography of Manetti, available from Harvard University Press.  Annet den Haan of Utrecht University has become a one-woman encyclopedia of all things related to Giannozzo Manetti, and has made many of her articles and essays available at for free.  Additional information about Manetti, his writings, and his manuscripts can be found at this link

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Romans 12:11: “Lord,” or “Time”?

           Venturing outside the Gospels today, let’s look into Romans 12:11.  Nowadays there is virtually no debate about how the fourth phrase in this passage should be read:  τῷ κυρίῳ δουλεύοντες – “serving the Lord.”   A search through the NIV, KJV, ESV, NKJV, NASB, CSB, NLT, and NET shows no sign that there is a textual variant here.  Bruce Metzger, in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, used four and a half lines of text to dismiss the alternative reading τῷ καίρῳ δουλεύοντες – “serving the time” – assigning the usually-found κυρίῳ an “A” rating (which indicated, according to the preface of the UBS Greek New Testament, p. 3*, that “the text is certain.”)  In the SBL-GNT, there is no footnote about this phrase.  Likewise the Tyndale House GNT does not indicate a textual variant here.

          In the 1500s, this phrase was an epicenter of textual dispute.  The editions of the Greek New Testament released by Erasmus in 1519, 1522, 1527, and 1535, as well as Stephanus’ 1550 edition, read τῷ καίρῳ δουλεύοντες – “serving the time.”  (Erasmus’s first edition, in 1516, had a misprint, reading κυρίου, with the final -ου combined into a single character.)

          Consequently, William Tyndale’s 1534 New Testament read here, Applye youre selves to ye tyme. The 1535 Coverdale New Testament likewise read, “Applye youre selues vnto the tyme,” and so did the 1537 Matthews Bible, echoing Tyndale’s rendering.  The 1539 Great Bible, issued with the endorsement of Henry VIII, also read “Applye youre selues to the tyme.”  Martin Luther, using Erasmus’ second edition, also translated the final phrase of Romans 12:11 as the German equivalent of “serving the time.”  John Calvin, in his commentary on Romans, used the reading “serving the time,” but Calvin also noted that he did not dare to altogether reject the reading “serving the Lord,” on the grounds that it was supported by many ancient copies.

          In the Preface of the 1582 Rheims New Testament, the Roman Catholic translators took to task some of their Protestant counterparts on account of their handling of this phrase, claiming, “They translate not according to the Greek text, Tempori servientes, serving the time, which Beza says must be a corruption, but according to the vulgar Latin, Domino servientes, serving our Lord.”

            The 1560 Geneva Bible and the 1568 Bishops’ Bible, however, had “seruing the Lord.”  And when the 1611 King James Version was issued, it also had “seruing the Lord.”   

          The reading “τῷ κυρίῳ δουλεύοντες” dominates both the Byzantine Text and manuscripts such as P46, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus, as well as versional evidence such as the Old Latin, Peshitta, and Coptic and Armenian versions.   

          In the Greek-Latin Codex Claromontanus (06, D), a majuscule manuscript from the 400s (or maybe the early 500s), the initial writing of the last line of Romans 12:11 reads τῷ καίρῳ δουλεύοντες.  (This was changed to the usual reading, and then was changed back.)  The majuscules F (010, Augiensis) and G (012, Boernerianus), both from the 800s, also read τῷ καίρῳ δουλεύοντες here, as does minuscule 5 (which was consulted by Stephanus).  It was once thought that minuscule 2400 contained this phrase, but it does not.  (2400 is a richly illustrated New Testament manuscript from the 1100s which is online as part of the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection at the University of Chicago, catalogued as MS 965 in the collection; this phrase in Romans 12 begins the first line on Image 321.) That’s it, as far as extant Greek manuscript-evidence for is concerned.

          An assortment of patristic evidence indicates that in the first several centuries of Christianity, “serving the time” in Romans 12:11 was much more widespread than it is today.  The Latin writer known as Ambrosiaster, writing the second half of the 300s, maintained that this was the correct reading.  Jerome, in his Epistle 27, To Marcella, energetically defended the Vulgate against some of its critics, calling them “two-legged asses.”  In the course of his lively defense he wrote that his critics “may say if they will, ‘Rejoicing in hope, serving the time,’ but we will say, ‘Rejoicing in hope, serving the Lord.”  Rufinus, a contemporary of Jerome, also favored “serving the Lord” but was aware that copies existed which supported “serving the time.” 

          Earlier, Cyprian, who wrote in Latin about halfway through the 200s, seems to allude to the phrase serving the time, in his Letter 5, although this reference is far from a direct quotation, and he does not use the wording of Romans 12:11 found in Codex Claromontanus.   

          In the first, second, and third editions of the UBS Greek New Testament, the writer Theophilus of Antioch (who lived in the 100s) is cited as if he supported κυρίῳ.  But as J. L. North ascertained in the course of research his thesis about this verse, this is erroneous; it is perhaps a result of an inattentive editor misreading an abbreviated reference to the medieval author Theophylact.  But only slightly later than Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria used Romans 12:11 with κυρίῳ. 

          Origen is cited in the fourth edition of the UBS Greek New Testament as if he was aware of manuscripts that supported καίρῳ.  The reference in question, however, is to Origen’s material as translated into Latin by Rufinus – who did not always strictly separate Origen’s comments from his own.  Origen accepted the reading “serving the Lord” but also – apparently – attested to the existence of Latin copies in the early 200s that read “serving the time.”   Κυρίῳ is also supported by John Chrysostom. 

          Athanasius, advising his contemporary Dracontius to embrace the office of bishop at Alexandria around 355, in the third paragraph of his Epistle 49, To Dracontius, wrote, “If you feared the times and acted as you did from timidity, your mind is not manly.  For in such a case you ought to manifest zeal for Christ, and rather meet circumstances boldly, and use the language of blessed Paul, ‘In all these things we are more than conquerors’ – and the more so, inasmuch as we ought to serve not the time, but the Lord. [emphasis added]  Whether this is entirely coincidental, or is based on his awareness of the textual contest in Romans 12:11, is hard to say.

          The meaning and application of both readings are unobjectionable:  we are certainly instructed to serve the Lord, and we should also serve the time, in the sense that we should make the most of the opportunities we have – “redeeming the time,” as Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5.

An unusual sacred-name contraction
in Codex Augiensis.

          If we grant that κυρίῳ, with its extremely broad support, is the original reading, how did the reading καίρῳ originate?  It probably had something to do with both the way the sacred name κυρίῳ (”Lord”) was contracted (normally, it was written in New Testament manuscripts as κω), and with the way the word και was sometimes abbreviated (as ϗ, the kai-compendium).  Rarely, the kai-compendium replaced the letters και when και was part of a larger word.  And it is possible that in a time and place where the nomina sacra were not entirely standardized, κυρίῳ could be contracted as κρω.  (See the very unusual contraction of κυριον as κρν in First Corinthians 9:1 in Codex Augiensis.)  A copyist who read κρω in his exemplar could, in theory, think that he was not looking at a nomina sacra, but at a kai-compendium embedded within a word, and decide to de-contract it, as καίρῳ.

          On the other hand, if we approach the question on the premise that καίρῳ was the original reading, it is conceivable that κυρίῳ originated after a copyist wrote καίρῳ as ϗρω, and a subsequent copyist, not recognizing the kai-compendium, thoughtfully expanded ϗρω into κυρίῳ.  But this is not likely to have influenced the majority of manuscripts, early or late. 

          Meanwhile, multiple transmission-streams support Κω.  Κυρίῳ was the original reading here.  But a text-critical footnote acknowledging the early existence of καίρῳ would not be out of the question, considering the historical impact of Tyndale and Erasmus.

          Readers wishing to investigate this textual contest further may wish to consult the mercilessly detailed and meticulous research found in J. L. North’s 1988 thesis “Romans 12.11: a Textual, Lexical and Ethical Study.” 


Thursday, November 18, 2021

A New Referee - Hand to Hand Combat in Mark 8:27-38


        GA 2370 is a medieval minuscule manuscript of the Gospels that resides in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.  It was produced in the late 1000s.  Some readers may recollect that 2370 went head-to-head against Codex D in 2019, winning a contest about which of the two manuscripts has the better text of Luke 2:1-18.  (Using NA27’s text as the standard of comparison, Codex D has 162 letters’ worth of corruption, while 2370 has 65 letters’ worth of corruption.)  2370 is fully indexed at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. 

          Today, 2370 once again goes up against a famous ancient manuscript:  Codex Sinaiticus.  Instead of using the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland as the only standard of comparison, considering that its editors have adopted readings which have zero Greek manuscripts in their favor, I shall use instead a less famous compilation:  the Solid Rock Greek New Testament, which was edited by James (Joey) McCollum and Stephen  L. Brown.  The Scholars Edition of the Solid Rock GNT is available at Amazon and pre-orders for its digital form are being taken at Logos. 

         The text of the Solid Rock GNT is also available for free at Joey McCollum’s GitHub page.  Most readers will probably want a bit more than just the text, though, because the apparatus of the Scholar’s Edition of the Solid Rock GNT is remarkably thorough.  As Dr. Paul A. Himes has suggested, it “has a higher probability of having preserved all the original words of the apostles somewhere in its text than any other version/edition in existence.” 

Joey McCollum and Stephen Brown,
at the Museum of the Bible
in Washington, D.C.
          Its text – released into the public domain in 2018 – is very, very similar to what can be found in the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform.  Its apparatus, though, makes comparisons to Stephanus 1550, Wilbur Pickering’s family-35 archetype, Westcott & Hort’s 1881 edition, the 25th, 27th (=26th), and 28th editions of the Nestle-Aland compilation, Michael Holmes’ SBL-GNT, the base-text of the NIV (1984 and 2011 editions, which are different from one another) and, for select books, the text supported in Eadies commentaries on some of the Pauline epistles, the compilation of Galatians made by Stephen C. Carlson, the compilation of Philemon made by Matthew Solomon, and the compilation of Jude made by Tommy Wasserman.  Thus while the text of the Solid Rock GNT Scholar’s Edition is Byzantine, its apparatus is eclectic and up-to-date.

            Stephen Brown began his text-critical research with a reasoned eclectic approach, but he went on to favor a Byzantine Priority model.  Joey McCollum, meanwhile, respects the Byzantine Priority position but in his research he has gained an appreciation for classical stemmatic approaches, augmented by an appreciation for internal evidence.

          Now that today’s referee has been introduced, let’s see how the two combatants compare, in a famous segment of the Gospel of Mark 8:27-38.  This textual arena is famous for containing Simon Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, and also Jesus’ declaration, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

          2370 has a lot of contractions and abbreviations in its text, but when they are unraveled, it looks like this:

Mark 8:27-38 – 2370 compared to the Solid Rock GNT

Mark 8:37-9:5 in 2370.

27 – no variations

28 – does not have και after βαπτιστήν (-3)

29 – no variations

30 – has λέγουσι  instead of λέγουσιν (-1)

31 – no variations

32 – no variations

33 – has ἐπετίμησε instead of ἐπετίμησεν (-1)

34 – has εἶπε instead of εἶπεν (-1)

34 – has ελθειν instead of ἀκολουθεῖν (+2, -6)

35 – no variations

36 – no variations

37 – no variations

38 – no variations

Thus 2370 has, in Mark 8:27-38, a total of 14 letters’ worth of deviation from SRGNT – but three of those letters involve movable-ν and are thus very trivial. 

Let’s see how À does:

Mark 8:27-38 – Sinaiticus compared to the Solid Rock GNT

27 – has Καισαριας instead of Καισαρειας (-1)

27 – has αυτους instead of αυτοiς (+1, -1)

28 – has ειπαν αυτω λεγοντες οτι instead of απεκρίθησαν (+19, -9)

28 – has Ηλειαν instead of Ηλιαν (+1)

29 – has οτι εις instead of ενα (+6, -3)

29 – has επηρωτα instead of λέγει (+7, -5)

29 – has αυτους instead of αυτοiς (+1, -1)

29 – has λεγεται instead of λεγετε (+2, -1)

29 – has εινε instead of ειναι (+2, -1) 

29 – has ο υιος του Θεου after Χριστος (+12) 

30 – no variations

31 – has διδασκιν  instead of διδασκειν (-1)

31 – has αποδοκιμασθηνε instead of αποδοκιμασθηναι (+1, -2) 

31 – has υπο instead of απο (+1, -1)

32 – no variations

33 – has επιστραφις instead of επιστραφεις (-1)

33 – does not have τω before Πετρω (-2)

33 – has και after Πετρω (+3)

33 – has λεγει instead of λεγων (+2, -2)

33 – has φρονις instead of φρονεις (-1)

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

34 – has ει τις instead of οστις (+1, -1)

34 – has ελθειν instead of ἀκολουθεῖν (+2, -6)

34 – has εαυτον instead of αυτον after σταυρον (+1)

34 – has ακολουθιτω instead of ακολουθειτω  (-1)

35 – has εαν instead of αν (+1)

36 – has ωφελι instead of ωφελησει after γαρ (+1, -4)

36 – has τον before ανθρωπον (+3)

36 – does not have εαν before κερδηση (-3)

36 – has κερδησαι instead of κερδηση (+2, -1)

36 – has ζημιωθηναι instead of ζημιωθη (+3)

37 – has δοι instead of δωσει (+2, -4)

38 – has επαισχυνθησετε instead of επαισχυνθησεται (+1, -2)

           Thus, À has 77 non-original letters, and is missing 56 original letters, for a total of 133 letters’ worth of corruptions.  If we remove from consideration the trivial orthographic variants, and errors that were probably corrected during Sinaiticus’ production, À still has 125 letters’ worth of corruption.

           The reading of 2370 in Mark 8:34 – ελθειν – is notable, since this reading agrees with À, B, A, K, Γ and Π, a formidable array of majuscules.  Meanwhile P45, D, W, Θ, family 1, and the usual Byzantine Text support ἀκολουθεῖν, as do the Peshitta, the Gothic version, the Sahidic version, and the Vulgate (Δ combines both variants with ελθειν και ακολουθιν; some Sahidic copies read similarly).  The SBLGNT reads ελθειν, as did the 1881 edition of Westcott & Hort.  But ελθειν could be a harmonization  in the midst of a passage subject to harmonization in all transmission-lines  to Matthew 16:24.

           No doubt some readers might suspect that 2370 owes its overwhelming victory over Sinaiticus to the choice of referee  and that is correct.  Using NA27 as the standard of comparison, in Mark 8:27-38, 2370 has 49 non-original letters, and is missing 66 original letters, for a total of 155 letters’ worth of corruption.  Meanwhile, Codex Sinaiticus, using NA27 as the standard of comparison, has 26 non-original letters, and is missing 21 original letters, for a total of 47 letters’ worth of corruption.

           One might suspect that in some contests in the Gospels between a manuscript that is strongly Byzantine, and a manuscript that is strongly Alexandrian, the winner is chosen when the referee is selected.


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


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Why Is James White Still Spreading a Myth?

           James R. White, the director of Alpha & Omega Ministries, continues to spread a false version of how Codex Sinaiticus was initially encountered by Constantine Tischendorf - and it looks likes his colleagues in/around Phoenix, Arizona are doing nothing to prevent him from doing so.  As far back as 1995, when the first edition of The KJV-Only Controversy was published, White claimed that in 1844, Constantine Tischendorf visited St. Catherine's monastery and saw "some parchment scraps" in a basket.  White went on to say that on a subsequent visit in 1853, Tischendorf's incessant search for manuscripts was "of no avail," but on another visit six years later, the steward of St Catherine's monastery showed him Codex Sinaiticus, have produced it from the close of his cell, "wrapped in a red cloth."
            This version of how Tischendorf first encountered Codex Sinaiticus was repeated in 2009, when the second edition of The KJV-Only Controversy was released.  Earlier, in March of 2006 (in material that is still online at Alpha & Omega Ministries' website), James White appealed to his own account in The King James Only Controversy in an attempt to refute the claim by Douglas Stauffer (currently a preacher in Niceville, FL) that Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in a trash can.  White writes:

            "So as you can see, Sinaiticus was not found in a trash can.  It was clearly prized by its owner, and well cared for.  The only reason Stauffer and those like him continue to repeat this story is for its impact upon those ignorant of history and unlikely to actually look into it for themselves.  But for anyone serious about the subject, such dishonesty destroys one's credibility."

            James R. White thus accused Dr. Stauffer of falsely saying that Codex Sinaiticus was found in a trash can ‒ and I'd say that he also appears to have accused Dr. Stauffer of dishonesty.  But it is James R. White who is telling a tale here, with help from Richard Pierce and from Bethany House Publishers (which has spread White's remarkably misleading version of events for over 20 years, in addition to many other inaccurate claims James White has made).

           Tischendorf's account of his first encounter with part of Codex Sinaiticus ‒ an account which is itself highly suspect in some respects ‒ can be found, in English, in his 1867 essay, verbosely titled, When Were Our Gospels Written?  An Argument by Constantine Tischendorf.  With a Narrative of the Discovery of the Sinaitic Manuscript - Translated and Published by the Religious Tract Society in London, Under an Arrangement with the Author.  Happily this document can be found online at Google Books and at among other places.

            When we open that text, we find that what White described as "parchment scraps" found by Constantine Tischendorf on his first visit to St. Catherine's Monastery (in 1844) were pages of Codex Sinaiticus, which at the time Tischendorf called Codex Frederico-Augustanus, in honor of one of his chief European benefactors, Frederick Augustus II of Saxony.  Tischendorf makes this perfectly clear, beginning in his description of his first encounter with pages of Codex Sinaiticus:

           "It was at the foot of Mount Sinai, in the convent of St. Catherine, that I discovered the pearl of all my researches.  In visiting the library of the monastery, in the month of May, 1844, I perceived in the middle of the great hall a large and wide basket full of old parchments; and the librarian, who was a man of information, told me that two heaps of papers like this, mouldered by time, had been already committed to the flames. What was my surprise to find amid this heap of papers a considerable number of sheets of a copy of the Old Testament in Greek, which seemed to me to be one of the most ancient that I had ever seen.  The authorities of the convent allowed me to possess myself of a third of these parchments, or about forty-five sheets, all the more readily as they were destined for the fire.  But I could not get them to yield up possession of the remainder. The too lively satisfaction which I had displayed, had aroused their suspicions as to the value of this manuscript.  I transcribed a page of the text of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and enjoined on the monks to take religious care of all such remains which might fall in their way."

              The reason why Doug Stauffer and D. A. Waite and various other individuals have spread the report that Tischendorf found pages of Codex Sinaiticus in a basket, about to be burned, is obvious:  they have rephrased the same thing that James White rephrased when he wrote that in 1844 Tischendorf was presented with "parchment scraps in a basket that was to be used to stoke the fires in the monastery's oven." (see The KJV-Only Controversy, p. 56, 2nd ed.).  The difference is that they grasped that Tischendorf was referring to pages of Codex Sinaiticus:  Tischendorf himself claimed to have found pages of Codex Sinaiticus in "a large and wide basket" which seemed in danger of being disposed of by the monks.  The "about forty-five sheets" of Codex Sinaiticus that Tischendorf took to Leipzig were stamped with the stamp of the Library of Leipzig University, which can still be seen to this day at the Codex Sinaiticus website, for instance in Lamentations.

            White went on to say that in 1853, "Tischendorf tried to find more manuscripts at the monastery in 1853 but to no avail."  This is very different from Tischendorf's own account:  "Having set out from Leipzig in January, 1853, I embarked at Trieste for Egypt, and in the month of February I stood, for the second time, in the convent of Sinai.  This second journey was more successful even than the first, from the discoveries that I made of rare Biblical manuscripts." 

            Only as James White describes Tischendorf's third visit to St. Catherine's Monastery, in 1859, does his version of events begin to converge with Tischendorf's.  In 1859, according to Tischendorf, the steward of the convent "took down from the corner of the room a bulky kind of volume wrapped up in a red cloth, and laid it before me.  I unrolled the cover, and discovered, to my great surprise, not only those very fragments which, fifteen years before, I had taken out of the basket, but also other parts of the Old Testament, the New Testament complete, and in addition, the Epistle of Barnabas and a part of the Pastor of Hermas."

           How James White has managed to repeat the detail about Codex Sinaiticus being wrapped in a red cloth (in a footnote on page 58 of The KJV-Only Controversy, 2nd ed.) and yet fail to realize that pages of Codex Sinaiticus  not mere "parchment scraps in a basket that was to be used to stoke the fires in the monastery's oven" (KJV-Only Controversy, p. 56)  were what Tischendorf encountered in 1844, is mind-boggling.  Nevertheless that is exactly what seems to have happened, and White's contorted version of events has been spread far and wide (with the endorsement of Craig Blomberg and D.A. Carson!) for over two decades.

            I recommend to those in charge at Bethany House Publishers (a division of Baker Publishing Group), and to whoever has any control over what Alpha & Omega Ministries produces, and to the leadership of Apologia Church including Jeff Durbin, Luke Pierson, and Zack Morgan in Mesa, Arizona (where James White is currently an elder), to arrange for a retraction of James White's false report about Codex Sinaiticus, and an apology from James White to those he has insulted and/or misrepresented in this regard, including Doug Stauffer.  James White wrote (at Alpha & Omega Ministries' blog), "Any "scholar" who can't even get this story straight is not really worth reading, to be honest."   Ten years ago when I made a short video attempting to prod James White to revise his distorted claims, I disagreed:  surely the gracious option is to think that although someone has made an inexplicable blunder, he can still be worth listening to.  But now, after ten years have passed in which James White has not retracted his version of the story, I agree.


Saturday, September 11, 2021

GA 34: The Manuscript with (Almost) Everything

             GA 34 doesn’t usually get much attention these days, even though in past generations it was seen by giants of the field of textual criticism such as Wettstein, Scholz, Tischendorf, and Gregory.  Its Gospels-text is generally considered normal and unremarkable.  It was produced in the 900s, possibly as one of the first manuscripts made on Mount Athos at the Stavronikita Monastery.  Currently it resides at the National Library of France, as Coislin Grec. 195.

            Its text is a very good example of the Byzantine Gospels-text that was circulated in the Middle Ages (while not being a member of f 35).  Physically, the manuscript is in good condition.  It has almost all the supplements to the Gospels-text that one could expect – there are even several pages of extra comments between Matthew and Mark, and between Mark and Luke.  There are beautiful full-page portraits of each evangelist, Eusebian canon-tables, Section-numbers alongside the text, Chapter-headings (titloi) and numbers written in crimson, and a commentary in the margins drawn from the writings of such patristic giants as Irenaeus, Origen, Apolinarius, Dionysius of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, Titus of Bostra (the main commentator in Luke), Theodore of Mopsuestia, Cyril of Alexandria, Hesychius of Jerusalem, and others (including, in Mark, Victor of Antioch).  A few pages from Michael Psellos’ Homilien precede the Gospels-text.

            The copyist’s script is very legible.  Toward the end of the Gospel of John, the Gospels-text has been reinforced on some pages by a copyist whose script was not so good, but this should not distract from the generally excellent condition of the manuscript.

            GA 34 includes Mark 16:9-20, but does not include John 7:53-8:11.  In Matthew 16, it has 16:2 up to αυτοις and then (on the same line) begins 16:4.  It includes Luke 22:42-44, Jesus’ prayer from the cross in Luke 23:34, and “who is in heaven” in John 3:13.

            Greek numerals and various symbols written above the line within the Gospels-text correspond to Greek numerals designating sections of text in the catena.  In at least one instance (in the text at Mt. 10:17, and in the corresponding commentary), a comet-mark is used, like the comet-mark that occasionally appears in the Zelada Gospels (GA 2812).

            On some pages, (secondary) comments are written beyond their usual area on the page; this happens especially in Matthew 13, 24-25:13, the opening verses of Luke, Luke 3:1-22, Luke 8 (one page), Luke 10, Luke 12:48-13:17, Luke 20, John 1:48-2:12, John 10:22-42, and John 20:11-23.  At Luke 24:27 the main commentary for Luke concludes; on the next page the commentary-material (from some other source?) is very full and has been crammed onto the pages to the end of Luke (and a little beyond).

            There tends to be more Gospels-text per page in Matthew, and especially in Mark and Luke, than there is in John.   

            Here are some interesting readings of GA 34, as well as some example of corrections which appear (often in the side-margin in uncial letters). 


3:7 – αυτοις is in upper margin.

5:9 – θυ is missing at a page-break.

5:19 – τη is missing at a page-break.

5:22 – supports εικη.

5:24 – does not have εκει after αφες.

7:19 – does not have ουν before δενδρον.

9:4 – has ιδων instead of ειδως.

9:13 – includes εις μετανοιαν.

9:19 – does not have γε after μη.

9:30 – has εαυτοις in the side-margin, not in the text.

9:35 – does not have εν τω λαω.

9:36 – correction with overdots – εσκυλμενοι.

10:41 – The sentence inexplicably ends on one page with δικαιου although it continues with ληψεται on the next page.

12:25 – αυτης instead of εαυτης.

12:49 – has μαθητας added in the margin.

14:22 – does not have ο Ιησους.

14:22- does not have αυτου.

15:8 – does not have και τοις χειλεσι με τιμα in the main text; a secondary hand has added it in the side-margin.

16:2-3 – has 16:2 up to αυτοις and then (on the same line) begins 16:4.

17:4 – δε is added above the line.

17:14 – ειπεν αυτοις was initially skipped; the words are added in the side-margin.  There is a break in the line between Ιωαννου and του βαπτιστου.

17:20 – γαρ is added above the line.

18:34 – εαυτω is added at the end of the verse.

18:35 – On this page the commentary is sparse; there is no commentary to the side of the text.  

19:4 – there is a space between ποιησας and απ’ αρχης; there was an erasure here.

19:7 – There is no commentary to the side of the text.  

19:13 – και προσευηται is added in the margin.

20:3 – does not have εν τη αγορα.

22:29 – δε is added above the line.

22:43 – some sort of erasure has been made, but with no loss of text.

23:23 – δε is added above the line above ταυτα.

25:13 – does not have εν η υιος του ανθρωπου ερχεται.

25:22 – has ιδε αλλα δυο εκερδησα in the text (without ταλαντα), but an abbreviation ταντ is added above the line.

26:25 – δε is added above the line.

26:53 – a gap appears between λεγεωνας and αγγελον; probably there was an erasure here.

26:62 – does not have αυτω.

27:23 – has λεγοντες added in the side-margin.

28:2 – there is a blank space (cause:  erasure) after θυρας.

28:3 – has ως instead of ωσει at the end of a page.



2:17 – does not have εις μετανοιαν.

2:21 – has ρακκους instead of ρακους.

4:34 – has μετρηθησεται instead of αντιμετρηθησεται.

5:11 – has μεγάλη added in the margin.

5:20 – has και ην παρα τὴν θάλασσαν added in the side-margin.

7:10 – has εντολην added above the line.

8:34 – has ελθειν instead of ακολουθειν.

9:42 – has τουτων instead of των.

10:25 – does not have γαρ at a page-break.

10:29 – has η αγρους written in the side-margin.

10:29 – does not have the second ενεκεν.

13:1 – has των twice at a page-break.

15:7 – has στασιατων instead of συστασιατων.

15:19 – has αυτου in the side-margin.



1:19 – has σοι in the side-margin.

1:32 – has ο ΘΣ in the side-margin.

2:15 – has εις τον ουνον in the side-margin.

2:27 – has τους γονεις in the side-margin.

4:1 – has different word-order:  ΙΣ δε ΠΝΣ αγιου πληρης.

4:4 – has γεγραπται οτι in the side-margin.

4:9 – has εντευθεν in the side-margin.

5:33 – has οι (before των Φαρισαίων) in the side-margin.

5:37 – has ρη in the text; has ΖΕΙ in the side margin, and has ΣΣΕΙ above the line.

6:10 – has ωσ η αλλη in the side-margin.

7:8 – has τασσόμενος in the side-margin.

8:40 – has ᾡ in the side-margin.

10:22 – has εστιν in the side-margin.

10:23 – has ειπε in the side-margin.

12:41 – has Κε in the side-margin.

14:9 – has σοι instead of συ.

16:8 – has εαυτ- in the margin; an erasure is in the text where apparently ταυτων had been initially written.

17:28 – has ημέραις Λωτ in the side-margin.

17:31 – has αυτου in the side-margin.

17:34 – has word-order εσονται δυο.

17:35 – does not have verse 36.

18:7 – has των εκλεκτων αυτου in the side-margin.

18:8 – has αρα in the side-margin.

19:36 – does not have αυτων.

20:28 – does not have ὁ αδελφος αυτου.

23:7 – has εν ταυταις τοις ημεραις in the side-margin.

23:50 – has a cross-shape made of dots before verse 50.



4:46 – does not have ὁ Ις.

7:40 – has ουτός εστιν αληθως ὁ προφητης αλλοι ελεγον in the side-margin; this is the result of a parableptic mistake by the copyist.

11:52 – has τα διεσκορπισμενα in the side-margin.

13:22 – has ουν after εβλεπτον at the beginning of the verse.


Page-views of GA 34 can be downloaded from the Gallica website, and the entire manuscript has been indexed at CSNTM.