Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Do Any Textual Variants Impact Doctrine?

           Do any textual variants in the New Testament have the potential to make a significant doctrinal impact?

          In the past, major champions of the traditional text answered that question with a simple “No.”  Robert L. Dabney wrote in 1871, that the received text – the Textus Receptus, the base-text of the KJV, while “not asserted to be above emendation,” “contains undoubtedly all the essential facts and doctrines intended to be set down by the inspired writers,” and “If it were corrected with the severest hand, by the light of the most divergent various readings found in any ancient MS or version, not a single doctrine of Christianity, nor a single cardinal fact, would be thereby expunged.”

          More recent writers have expressed similar sentiments.   D.A. Carson, for example, has written that the Westminster Confession’s affirmation that the Biblical text has been kept pure in all ages ought to be understood to mean that “nothing we believe to be doctrinally true, and nothing we are commanded to do, is in any way jeopardized by the variants.” (from p. 56 of The KJV-Only Controversy – A Plea for Realism.) 

          The view of Dan Wallace, however, is better-informed and more nuanced.  It amounts to this:  no viable and meaningful variant jeopardizes any cardinal doctrine.  The adjectives in that sentence are important, so let’s look into what they mean.  A viable variant is one which textual critics regard as potentially original; it is favored by weighty (though not necessarily decisive) evidence.  A meaningful variant is one which affects the meaning of the passage in which it occurs.  And a cardinal doctrine is one that expresses a fundamental point of the Christian faith.  

          Using this nuanced approach, a question immediately arises:  which doctrines are cardinal?  Is inerrancy a cardinal doctrine?  Looking at the website of Dallas Theological Seminary (where Dr. Wallace has taught), a statement can be seen that requires students to agree with seven beliefs; the seventh is “the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.”  And looking at the requisite Statement of Faith – “requisite” in the sense that faculty members at DTS are required to affirm it annually – one sees a statement that “We believe that the whole Bible in the originals is therefore without error.”

          Michael Kruger argued at the Ligonier website (in 2015) that the doctrine of inerrancy is essential, and that it supplies “the foundation for why we can trust and obey God’s Word.”   Don Stewart has also proposed that “inerrancy is an essential, foundational concept and its importance should not be minimized.”  Dan Wallace, meanwhile, has downplayed the centrality of inerrancy, stating in 2006 (in a post that is still online) that “inerrancy and verbal inspiration are more peripheral than core doctrines.”  In other words – if I understand him correctly – Dr. Wallace does not, and has not, for some time, regarded inerrancy as a cardinal doctrine – and so his statement to the effect that no viable and meaningful variant significantly affects cardinal doctrines should not be interpreted to mean that no viable and meaningful variants affect the doctrine of inerrancy. 

          Some apologists have followed the example of Wallace’s nuanced approach very closely; for example, in an article at Stand To Reason’s website, Tim Barnett wrote in 2016 that “No major doctrines depend on any meaningful and viable variants.” 

          However, I can think of at least two variants that jeopardize the doctrine of inerrancy, both of which occur in the first book of the New Testament:  in Matthew 13:35 and Matthew 27:49.  Only the one in Matthew 13:35 is acknowledged by a footnote in the NLT, NASB, and ESV.  (At least, this is the case in the copies that I have.  So many editions of modern versions are in circulation that it would be burdensome to keep track of them all – which might make one wonder how seriously the “Standard” part of their names should be taken.)  Neither of these variants is given a footnote in the CSB, nor in the NKJV, nor in the hyper-paraphrase known as The Message.  And the Tyndale House Greek New Testament does not have a footnote at Matthew 13:35 or at Matthew 27:49. 

          Most of the English versions I have named so far are currently ranked among the ten most-popular versions of the Bible in America.  So much for the idea that no one is hiding these variants.

          Let’s see what those variants in Matthew 13:35 and 27:49 say.  

          In Matthew 13:35, the scribe of Codex Sinaiticus, rather than writing that a prophecy was spoken by “the prophet,” wrote that it was spoken by “Isaiah the prophet.”  This reading collides with reality:  the referred-to prophecy is from Psalm 78:2 – a composition by Asaph, and not from Isaiah.  In addition to the scribe of Codex Sinaiticus, witnesses that support “Isaiah the prophet” in Mt. 13:35 include (according to the textual apparatus of UBS4) Q, f1, f13, 33, and the reading was known to Jerome; Jerome wrote (in Homily 11 on Psalm 77) that “in all the ancient copies,” the prophecy is explicitly attributed to Asaph, and Jerome offers the theory that scribes who were unfamiliar with Asaph replaced his name with Isaiah’s name.  The editors of UBS4 assigned this reading a ranking of “C,” which, as they explain in their Introduction, “indicates that the Committee had difficulty in deciding which variant to place in the text.”                   

          In an earlier generation, F. J. A. Hort – who edited, with Westcott, the primary ancestor of the base-text of the New Testament used for the NIV, ESV, NLT, CSB, NASB and NRSV – argued for including “in Isaiah the prophet” in the text.  His argument ran as follows:  “It is difficult not to think Ἠσαίου genuine.  There was a strong tendency to omit it (cf. xxvii 9; Mc 1 2); and, though its insertion might be accounted for by an impulse to supply the name of the best known prophet, the evidence of the actual operation of such an impulse is much more trifling than might have been anticipated.  Out of the 5 (6) other places where the true text has simply τοῦ προφήτου, in two (Mt ii 15 [Hosea]; Acts vii 48 [Isaiah]) , besides the early interpolation in Mt xxvii 35 [Psalms], no name is inserted; in two a name is inserted on trivial evidence (Mt ii 5, Micah rightly, and Isaiah [by a] wrongly ; xxi 4, Isaiah and Zechariah both rightly [Zech by lat.vt]) ; and once (Mt i 22) Isaiah is rightly inserted on various Western evidence.  Also for the perplexing Ἰερεμίου of xxvii 9, omitted by many documents, rhe has Ἠσαίου.  Thus the erroneous introduction of Isaiah’s name is limited to two passages, and in each case to a single Latin MS.  On the other hand the authority of rushw and aeth is lessened by the (right) insertion of Ἠσαίου by one in Mt i 22, and by both in xxi 4.  The adverse testimony of B is not decisive, as it has a few widely spread wrong readings in this Gospel.”   

          Constantine von Tischendorf included Ἠσαίου in Matthew 13:35 in the 8th edition of his compilation of the Greek New Testament.  And in 1901, Eberhard Nestle wrote (on p. 251 of his Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the Greek New Testament) that διὰ Ἠσαίου τοῦ προφήτου “is certainly, therefore, original.”  Anyone using a Greek New Testament compiled by Tischendorf or Nestle today would be rather challenged if he were to attempt to maintain the doctrine of inerrancy, inasmuch as if Matthew attributed Psalm 78:2 to Isaiah, then Matthew erred.  

Mt. 27:49 in Codex L.
         In Matthew 27:49, major Alexandrian witnesses (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Codex C, Codex L), some important versional witnesses (Mae1, Mae2, the Ethiopic version, and assorted witnesses (listed by Willker as U, Γ, 5, 26, 48, 67, 115, 127, 160, 175, 364, 782, 871, 1010, 1057, 1300, 1392, 1416, 1448, 1555, 1566, 1701, 1780, 2117, 2126, 2139, 2283, 2328, 2437*, 2585, 2586, 2622, 2680, 2766, and 2787) support the reading, at the end of the verse, ἄλλος δὲ λαβών λόγχην ἔνυξεν αὐτοῦ τήν πλευράν καί ἐξῆλθεν ὕδωρ καί αἷμα.  (In the underlined witnesses the final words are αἷμα καί ὕδωρ instead of ὕδωρ καί αἷμα.)  This means:  And another [person], taking a spear, pierced his side, and out came water and blood.   Then, in Matthew 27:50, Jesus dies.

          The adoption of this reading into the text would be fatal to the doctrine of inerrancy, because the Gospel of John candidly states (in 19:34) that Jesus was pierced in His side with a spear, resulting in a flow of blood and water, after He died, and this contradicts the text of Matthew if this reading – supported by the two early manuscripts (À and B) that are the primary basis for the heading and footnote that draw into question Mark 16:9-20 in the ESV, CSB, NRSV, etc. – is adopted.

          In 2018, in a post at Evangelical Textual Criticism, Tyndale House GNT editor Dirk Jongkind acknowledged that this variant probably should have been mentioned in the apparatus of the Tyndale House GNT.  He also acknowledged that “On external evidence, the addition has definitely a very good shout” – which  – I think – is tantamount to granting that the reading is viable.  But Jongkind rejects the reading, admitting that “The ‘best and earliest manuscripts’ do not always present us with the ‘best and earliest readings.’”   Perhaps this statement should be printed in large letters alongside the ESV’s bracketed heading between Mark 16:8 and 16:9 (which reads, “Some of the earliest manuscripts do no include 16:9-20.”).

          But this reading in the most significant manuscripts representative of the Alexandrian Text certainly was treated as viable by Westcott and Hort, who included the variant, within double brackets, in their compilation.  In Westcott & Hort’s Notes on Select Readings, after analyzing the evidence pertaining to this variant, they concluded as follows:  “Two suppositions alone are compatible  with the whole evidence.  First, the words  ἄλλος δὲ κ.τ.λ. [“κ.τ.λ.” meaning “etc.”] may belong to the genuine text of the extant form of Mt, and have been early omitted (originally by the Western text) on account of the obvious difficulty.  Or, secondly, they may be a very early interpolation, absent in the first instance from the Western text only, and thus resembling the Non-Western interpolations in Luke xxii xxiv except in its failure to obtain admission into the prevalent texts of the third and fourth centuries.  The prima facie difficulty of the second supposition is lightened by the absence of the words from all the earlier versions, though the defectiveness of African Latin, Old Syriac, and Thebaic evidence somewhat weakens the force of this consideration. We have thought it on the whole right to give expression to this view by including the words within double brackets, though we did not feel justified in removing them from the text, and are not prepared to reject altogether the alternative supposition.”

          Competent textual critics – including some who laid the foundation for the compilations of the ESV, CSB, NLT, and NRSV – have treated one or two readings that convey erroneous statements as if they are viable and meaningful.  Therefore, the notion that there are no viable and meaningful textual variants in the New Testament that jeopardize any cardinal doctrine can only be maintained by those who do not consider the doctrine of inerrancy to be a “cardinal doctrine.”    

           So:  do any textual variants in the New Testament have the potential to make a significant doctrinal impact?  If you consider the doctrine of inerrancy a significant doctrine (which most evangelical Christians do), the answer is yes.        



Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Sinaiticus' Cancel-Sheets: What Did They Replace?

           Usually, when a textual critic encounters a manuscript, it’s taken for granted that its text was written down by a single copyist.  But this is not always the case, especially with large manuscripts.  In Codex Sinaiticus, for example, “Scribe A” is the moniker given to the scribe who copied the New Testament – but the diorthōtēs (proof-reader/supervisor) who oversaw the production of the manuscript, and who was probably responsible for selecting the exemplars upon which it was based, also contributed three cancel-sheets, forming a total of 12 pages of the manuscript.  (The diorthōtēs also wrote the opening verses of Revelation.)  Each cancel-sheet consists of a double-sided parchment page connected to another double-sided parchment page.  Scribe D’s cancel-sheets contain

          (1) Matthew 16:9-18:12 (front and back),

          (2) Matthew 24:36-26:6 (front and back),

          (3) Mark 14:54-16:8 and Luke 1:1-56 (front and back and front and back),

          (4) First Thessalonians 2:14-First Thessalonians 5:28, (front and back) and

          (5) Hebrews 4:16-8:1 (front and back).

         The intrusion of a different scribe upon the work of another scribe at these points, replacing the main scribe’s work, is not indicated in the textual apparatus of the Nestle-Aland and UBS compilations.

             What elicited the introduction of these cancel-sheets?  Did the main copyist make a bad haplographic error, skipping a passage so big that the page he copied could not be salvaged?  Had he made a huge dittographic mistake, writing a large portion of text twice?

          Dr. Peter Head, in his 2008 article The Gospel of Mark in Codex Sinaiticus: Textual and Reception-Historical Considerations at TC-Journal, wrote, “We cannot know what was wrong with the original work of Scribe A at these points.”  Let’s test that claim.  We may not be able to know with certainty what elicited the removal of Sinaiticus’ initial pages, to the same extent that we know that diamonds are hard, but we can make some relevant deductions by looking in the cancel-sheets for evidence that Scribe D was supplying text that had been skipped by the first scribe, or that Scribe D was removing text that had been written twice by the first scribe.   Probably nothing was drastically wrong on at least half of the replaced pages – but each folio had to be accepted as a unit. 

          The first step toward gaining some idea as to what elicited Sinaiticus’ cancel-sheets is to simply count the letters on each page, upon each of which the text is arranged in four columns.  Then we can compare the amounts of letters on these pages to the amounts of letters typical of Scribe D (who also wrote the text in Codex Sinaiticus in Genesis, Tobit, the first part of Psalms, etc.).

          An often-overlooked resource is particularly helpful here.  In 1961, T.B. Smith completed the publication of Contributions to the Statistical Study of Codex Sinaiticus, which contained the research of his father-in-law Christian Tisdall (1878-1951).  Tisdall’s work included an appendix in which he listed the letter-counts of each column in the New Testament portion of the manuscript.  Using Tisdall’s data, here are the letter-counts for the replacement-pages.  I have identified the cancel-pages by numbers (1,2,3,3,5,6), and by letters (r,v, representing recto and verse) for each individual page:

          1r (Mt. 16:9-17:10) =  Q75-f.2r):  2,432 letters
          1v (Mt. 17:10-18:12) = Q75-f.2v):  2,531 letters      

           2r (Mt. 24:36-25:21) = Q75-f.7r):  2,537 letters

          2v (Mt. 25:21-26:6) = Q75-f.7v):  2,624 letters

           3r (Mk. 14:54-15:16) = Q77-f.4r):   2,614 letters

          3v (Mk. 15:16-16:1) = Q77-f.4v):   2,617 letters

           4r (Mk. 16:2-Lk. 1:18) = Q77-f.5r):  1,960 letters

          4v (Lk. 1:18-Lk. 1:56) = Q77-f.5v):  2,792 letters

           5r (I Thess. 2:14-4:13) = Q85-f.3r):  2,645 letters

          5v (I Thess. 4:13-5:28) = Q85-f.3v):   1,940 letters

           6r (Hebrews 4:16-6:18) = Q85-f.6r): 92]  2,551 letters

          6v (Hebrews 6:18-8:1) = Q85-f.6v): 93]  2,482 letters

Mt. 25:44 in Sinaiticus
           On the first three pages of the first cancel-sheet, there in nothing suggestive of either haplography or dittography on the main scribe’s pages.  On the fourth page, though, there are four consecutive lines of text at the top of the fourth column (in Matthew 25:44) that are nowhere close to filling the line.  Conceivably, the diorthōtēs didn’t fill these four lines so as to convey a rhythmic cadence for this passage.  But probably, the main scribe make a bad error at or near this point, and that is what led to the removal of the pages he had produced.  Perhaps his line of sight had drifted from Τότε at the beginning of v. 44 to the Τότε at the beginning of v. 45.

          The second cancel-sheet has several consecutive columns of the text of Luke with a number of letters greatly exceeding the usual rate:  the text in columns 11-16 of the cancel-sheet is written at an average rate of 691 letters per column.  The main scribe had probably skipped a large segment of text; either consisting of 311 letters (by jumping from Επεν δ Μαριμ at the beginning of v. 34 to Επεν δ Μαριμ at the beginning of v. 38) or consisting of 319 letters (by jumping from γένετο at the beginning of v. 5 to the γένετο at the beginning of v. 8).  The diorthōtēs had to compress his lettering quite thoroughly to fit the passage that had been skipped by the main scribe.

          On the third cancel-sheet, the rate of letters-per-page on the second set of pages looks ordinary.  The rate of letters-per-page is only slightly higher on the first page (containing I Thess. 2:14-4:13).  The rate of letters-per-page is significantly lower on the second page (containing I Thess. 4:13-5:28):  it hold just 1,940 letters.  This is due mainly to the end of I Thessalonians in the fourth column, followed by the closing title, after which the rest of the column is blank.  A blunder of the main scribe probably affected the portion of text on this page, but its nature cannot be determined.


Saturday, June 4, 2022

Pen, Print, & Pixels: Peter Gurry: Textual Notes in Early English Bibles

Daniel Buck reports on another session of the Pen, Print, & PIxels Conference:

Peter Gurry

          Peter Gurry gave a brief history of printed English Bibles up to the King James, focusing on their text-critical marginal notes.  The first of these editions was Tyndale’s of 1525, printed in Cologne as far as the 22nd chapter of Matthew before the printing was stopped by the local authorities.  This edition had extensive printed notes in the margins.

          Tyndale’s second edition, the first complete NT, was printed in Worms in 1526, a press run of six thousand of which only three copies remain, none of them quite complete:  the British Museum’s copy is missing the title page.  In that copy, the first owner not only colorized the illustrations but added his own marginal notes [in Latin]!  This edition was reprinted by a Bible printing firm in Antwerp several times before 1534, when George Joye undertook to anonymously edit the text for them, putting some of his own theology into the revision.  This provoked Tyndale enough to issue his own revision in which he criticized Joye by name in the introduction.

          This 1534 edition, Tyndale’s third, contained substantial marginal notes (but none of a textual nature), very interpretative and marked with stars.  For example, the word “sandals” which had been introduced to the English Bible by Wycliffe, was retained, but with a note at Mark 6:9 explaining what they were.  Like the second edition, this 1534 NT has chapters subdivided into paragraphs, and lacks the line in John 8 about the adulterous woman’s detractors being accused of their own conscience.

          We now move on to the Whittingham NT of 1557, printed in Geneva.  It was the first English NT to be printed in Roman type, the first to be subdivided into verses, and the first to use italics for implied words.  Conrad Badius printed it, brother in law of Stephanus. There was a real brain trust then in Geneva.  According to the introductory pages, this translation was “Compared with the Greke, and best approued translations.”  It was based on Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza’s Latin-only 1556 NT.    Whittingham mentions “divergent readings in diverse Greek copies,” using a symbol for a word-length variant and || for a sentence-length variant. (Peter Gurry had searched in vain for any examples of these in the margins, finally finding a series of the latter in Acts!) All but one of the nine are a full verse long. 

A conjectural emendation offered in the 
margin of the 1611 KJV
         Textual margin notes are always italic and in a bigger font. Of Beza’s 350 textual variants noted in Acts, only 9 were included, kind of clustered on a few pages. In the Geneva NT, which came out three years later, variants were marked by double bars. There are only 21 such in NT, all 9 carried over from Whittingham in Acts, and the rest mostly in the Gospels from Beza’s text.

          Finally: the KJV.  Up until now, title pages of English Bibles have been keen to point out the inclusion of notes to help the reader, but not so the King James, even though it contained 6000 marginal notes in the OT and 300 in the NT.  Instead, the editors actually felt a need to apologize in the preface for providing the notes. In doing so, they took a slight swipe at Sixtus VI, who disallowed any variety of readings in the margin of his Vulgate. 

          The variant notes read much as do those in modern editions:  “As some read” or “many copies wanting.”  Most variant notes are indistinguishable from translation notes, usually starting with “Or.”  About three-fourths of the NT notes are just alternate renderings.  Acts 13:18 has a conjecture, proposing ἐτροφοφόρησεν for ἐτροποφόρησεν.  [This is, as far as Peter could see in a quick run through the margins, the only note in the entire KJV with Greek in it – but Daniel Buck has observed that there’s another one on the same page: τα οσια at verse 34].

          I John 2:23 is the only place the KJV uses typefont to indicate a textual variant, instead of a marginal note. That variant was found either in the text or margin in their Greek sources. The KJV editors included many more variants than the Geneva, but not as many as were in Beza’s GNT, making their own judgment on which of Beza’s to include.

          And now some conclusions. 

          ● It is striking how many editions made their notes a selling point, for which Geneva is so famous.  But they go along with other features now common:  book summaries, chapter summaries, cross references, readers’ introductions.

          ● Those who produced these English Bibles knew that many of their readers would be reading the Word of God in their own language for the first time. So they also included extensive book prefaces. Tyndale’s preface to Romans is the longest in the whole NT, longer than Romans itself – and almost entirely directly translated from Luther.  

          ● Early English Bible translators made only a vague distinction between translation differences and textual differences. They didn’t see them as distinctly as we do.

          ● Finally, I’m not sure we’ve improved much on the KJV notes.


Friday, June 3, 2022

Pen, Print, & Pixels - Kathleen Maxwell's Session

Daniel Buck reports on Kathleen Maxwell’s presentation, “Decorative Systems in Byzantine Manuscripts,” given at the Pen, Print, & Pixels conference in May.  Just imagine yourself listening to the following from Dr. Maxwell: 


Dr. Kathleen Maxwell

          Decorative systems are an important element in the paratext.  During the latter Byzantine period, scribes also had to include illustrations, or at least leave space for them.  To be a scribe was to be a book producer and graphic artist as well as a copyist.  A beautifully illustrated MS allows us to make significant conclusions about its patron.  By the end of the sixth century a system of illustrations in Greek gospel books had emerged, but we wait until the middle of the ninth century for initials and headpieces.

          Art historians have ignored the pandects as art, focusing only on their column layout. There is a dramatic evolution in ornament across Codices Sinaiticus (À, 01), Alexandrinus (A, 02), Vaticanus (B, 03), with focus on the endings of books rather than the beginnings.  The pandects have a coronis at the end of every book; in 01 it is what we call a half eta form.  The horizontal axis separates the end of the text from the subscription.

          The entire post-text inkwork is called the tailpiece, including a vignette or colophon.  Sometime it takes the form of a Xi-rho, such as above the end title of Isaiah, but the next column just says IEREIMIAC, with almost a dotted line frame around it, slightly indented in the column.

          At the end of Mark in 01 and 02 there are distinctive tailpieces.  Many coronides in 03 are simple, but the one at the end of Numbers is heavy, suggesting a candlestick. The end of John is the most elaborate of all. In 02, there is more fanfare for the initials of each book—the first 203 lines are rubricated. The ending coronis is a full right angle frame across the column. The ending of OT books feature a rectangle- or triangle-shaped series of forked paragraphos or diples.  In 02, there are some vases in the endpiece similar to vases in the Greek classical period, and four-sided decorative frames such as to end John.  Apocalypse ending has a headband, like those frequently found in later MSS.

          Thus the late antiquity. Sixth century illustrated manuscripts consist of:  three purples (the Rossano Gospels), and the Gold London Canon tables.  That’s it for Greek MSS!  But a HUGE jump from the fifth century. Little evidence of decoration in the text though. Canon table lost.  Seated Mark is the only full-page portrait left from pre-726, when iconoclasts took over, but now those have been added later.

          Two fragmentary canon tables are 6/7th cent, just 2 leaves, with more round-framed busts of the apostles. Rabbula gospels are AD 586 in Syriac, and Abu Garimas in Ge’ez dated to the 6th or 7th century by Carbon 14. Still no headpieces or decorated initials at this period.  To Carpianus in the Rabbula Gospels is illustrated with the same circled busts, but way more, and smaller.  The Garima Gospels also have lavishly illustrated canon tables. Both are thought to be copied from Greek Gospel books. The Ethiopic Garima Gospels has paragraphos, diples, asterisks, and rubrics.  There seems to be a hard line between the artist and the scribe here.

          Iconoclastism:  726-787.  Interlude: 878-815. [843: triumph of orthodoxy]  Second: 845-843, and the creative explosion that brought it down and led to the flourishing of Byzantine art.

          Uspenski Gospels, earliest dated MS (from 835).  GA 461, written by a reformer of Byzantine monasticism.  Still more attention on the end of books than the beginning.  Not a whole lot more at front end than 01!

          The earliest MS of Ptolemy’s Almagest shows typical ninth-century tailpieces. Same whether religious or secular MSS, and often made by the same scribes.

          Finally invented the headpiece in 861, GA 844 Sinai Gr 210 Lectionary.

          Paris Grec 510, circa 880 of Greg Nazianus. Full color endpieces. “Earliest elaborated & painted headpieces of any Byz MSS.” But with the subscriptions that are very subdued. Now a three-sided endframe has emerged.

          GA 07 takes it a step further. Kephalaia are now present with lavish two color red and green designs. Red and green titles also.


Q: Is the cross at the kephalaia supposed to be a front-piece for Matthew?

A: Matthew also ends in red & green, but with a frame, so more decorated than at the beginning.  No systematic approach to decoration had yet emerged, so that pushes its date back to the eighth century.


          Two minuscule purples are from this period, late ninth century, and probably from the same scribe. John is the only Gospel-title written in gold, and the John portrait uniquely has a purple parchment codex pictured on John’s lectern.  GA 1143 Berat and GA 565 Grec 53 St. Petersburg.  Simple motifs at end of Mark.

          By GA 420 we have quadrolobe starting the gospel books. Matthew only extant portrait. In GA 030, from the early 900s, the Tholos temple is pictured, much like an illustration in the Garima Gospels.  Once we get into the 900s we have a wealth of riches, even manipulation of the text. Princeton Garrett 1 opens Mark in cruciform uncial, and features a hugely lavish tailpiece.

          The Leo Bible is a very archaizing MS dated to c. 940 (the first volume is extant).  Vat Reg Gr 1 looks like a knockoff of 02.  

          In the Rabbula Gospels there are peacocks adorning the canon tables.  Paris Grec 70 also has peacocks in the canon tables.  Matthew’s portrait was replaced by just a framed headpiece.  It has a Bluutenleitspiel, flower-petal style, in the headpiece.

          GA 1110 is held up as the standard for elaborate Byzantine art on the canon tables, topped by birds as usual.  Canon table design really comes into its own in the 11-12th century.  Gospel portraits are very elaborate with Roman imperial backgrounds. Finally in the tenth century, the full decorative system takes over, complementing the text without overwhelming it, with endings more minimized from now on.


Dan Wallace asked:  two of them had the evangelist facing away from the biblical text. Any change or standardization?

A:  That was the “pensive John” often shown this way, contemplating rather than writing.


Daniel Buck asked:  What was the system for the text in the codex pictured within the evangelists’ portraits?

A: Usually if legible, the opening words of their own gospel.  You can learn so much more about how a MS was produced when you find one unfinished. Sometimes drawn in but not painted, sometimes just blank.

Additional information about the Pen, Print, & Pixels conference is available at the blog of CSNTM.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Pen, Print, and Pixels - Day 2

Daniel Buck

Daniel Buck reports on two of the sessions he attended on Day Two of the conference:

(1)  Holger Strutwolf:  The ECM of Mark

             This latest fascicle of the Editio Critica Maior is being produced in two forms simultaneously:  the online edition on the website, and the printed edition in three volumes. [Daniel Buck:  I took a look at them, and they seem to all be German/English diglots, with the English either in alternate paragraphs or alternate columns, marked either way with a solid line along the left margin.]  The process began with Text und Textwert, compiled by Aland.  1,754 MSS were known and available for Mark:  the majority are stable and uniform, so most of them were left out of consideration as redundant.  In TuT of Mark, there were 196 test passages for which all MSS on the list were photographed and compared.      

            These 196 were all cases where the reading of the majority differed from the NA text. 1,566 of the 1,754 MSS agreed with each other 90% or more.  Scholars determined which MSS were the most reliable representatives of the majority text and used them, about 100 total. Then they transcribed in full all 188 of the remaining MSS of Mark and 15 papyri, so 219 MSS altogether formed the database for the apparatus.

            All 219 selected MSS are compared to each other by percentage of shared reading in the 196 (or less, in case of damaged MSS) test passages.  Holger threw up a bunch of percentage-comparisons.[Daniel Buck:  I noticed that 2427, the long-discredited “Ancient Mark,” was only 79.3% same as Vaticanus.]  All this data is available on the Münster website, generated by computer manipulation of the entered transcriptions. There are also links to patristic citations, in the original language, in context! That alone represents a big accomplishment. You can also click through to the lexical definition of any word cited in the apparatus, and bring up line-by-line transcriptions. There is even hope in the near future to make ECM interactive.

            Holger then talked about CBGM.  He talked about pre-genealogical coherence, genealogical coherence, and stemmatic coherence (regarding which see Wasserman & Gurry’s “A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the CBGM”).  It seems that stemmatic coherence is rarely used, and never as the primary step.

            Textual flow diagrams connect every MS with its potential ancestors at every variant unit. For example, he showed flow from the texts found in 35 to 18 to 042. Visualization of variations hints at locations where changes took place.     


Holger Strutwolf
            Then came a very interesting section where he explained how the use of CBGM overturned the WH/SBL omission (and NA bracketing) of υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ in Mark 1:1.  In NA27, the majority text was not really considered to be a candidate for the original text, it was dismissed as an anti-adoptistic corruption.  But in view of Σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός already being in v. 11, there seemed no reason to add it to v. 1.  Also in favor of the shorter reading, it has been observed that jumps of the eye at the beginning of a MS are very improbable. And it’s been claimed that because it’s a nomina sacrum, homoeoteleuton would be unlikely.  

            Setting the CBGM’s Connectivity Level at 5 will show up to 5 ancestors.  If less than 5, it goes to other lines, with most likely at the top. CBGM showed the shorter reading, f, to have arisen five times independently in all the witnesses for it!  Because all five are way under 90% alike, all must have independently lost the a reading, υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ.       

            CBGM is thus able to falsify the arguments of Bart Ehrman regarding this variant-unit.  So, now it turns out that the jump of the eye even can happen in nomina sacra (as attested by it happening in very late MSS – a good reason to study them!).  In the stemma of 1:1, it was assumed that all five other ECM variants stemmed directly from the a reading, either by addition or omission.  But there is a problem. The flow diagram doesn’t show that 03 and 019 both had descent from 01.  Here, apparently, is where stemmatic coherence was brought in to show the individual steps.

            Another such case is at Matthew 3:11, units 18-26.  Here the majority reading is very classical Greek. A 03 has a koine form; it was common to use neuter plural as real plural.  This exemplifies a movement to standardize the majority text, but it entered in a chaotic network of ways. The Atticistic reading won out, but the copyists were used to koine Greek and kept changing it back.  So the flow diagram actually goes from A to Byz and back!  Text diagrams are not to be misused:  inconsistencies may show movement back to the original reading, not from it directly!  It is a tool that must be subject to methodological, historical, and even theological considerations!


Q:  Given that so many MSS were lost, would the results change, with more coherence, could they be added?

Strutwolf:  Yes, especially in the case of old MSS, of which we have very few.  But we have many newer MSS with texts.  We could fill out the coherence between the old MSS much better if the missing links were available.  Thus in many MSS there is a mixture of old and young readings with no surviving ancestors to show the sources of this co-mingling.

Next:  Kathleen Maxwell presents Decorative Systems in Byzantine Manuscripts.