Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hand to Hand Combat: GA 1691 vs. Sinaiticus in Matthew 7:26-8:5

          Earlier this month, we looked at a page in GA 1691 that contained most of Matthew 7:26-8:5.  GA 1691 is one of many manuscripts featured at the CSNTM website.  More than one reader of that post had a question:  is GA 1691 really more accurate than Codex Sinaiticus?  Today we shall investigate this question, as far as Matthew 7:26-8:5 is concerned, via a quick round of hand-to-hand combat – that is, a comparison of the text of both manuscripts.  The standard of comparison shall be the Nestle-Aland NTG (28th edition), although the Solid Rock Greek New Testament (third edition) will also be consulted.  The passage in which both manuscripts will be compared is Matthew 7:26-8:5, the same passage featured in the previous post (slightly expanded to include the entirety of the verses on the page of 1691).  

          As usual, the comparison is scored as follows:  every extra letter earns the manuscript a point, and every missing letter earns the manuscript a point.  Word-order differences that do not change the meaning and which do not result in any loss of text do not receive a score.  Contractions of nomina sacra (sacred names) and other contractions are not counted as variants.  The number of points = the total amount of corruptions, so the lower score wins.

GA 1691 compared to NA28:

26 – 1691 transposes to τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ instead of αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν

27 – no variants

28 – 1691 has συνετέλεσεν instead of ετέλεσεν (+3)

29 – 1691 does not have αυτων at the end of the verse (-5)

1 – 1691 has Καταβαντι δε αυτω instead of Καταβαντος δε αυτου (+2, -4)

2 – 1691 has ελθων instead of προσελθων (-4)

3 – 1691 has ο Ις after αυτου (+7, uncontracting the n.s.)

4 – 1691 has εκαθερισθη instead of εκαθαρισθη (+1, -1)

4 – 1691 has προσενεγκε instead of προσενεγκον (+1, -2)

5 – 1691 has Εισελθοντι instead of Εισελθοντος (+1, -2)

5 – 1691 has αυτω instead of αυτου (+1, -2)

5 – 1691 has Καπερναουμ instead of Καφαρναουμ (+2, -2)

Thus, using NA28 as the standard of comparison, GA 1691 has 17 non-original letters and is missing 20 original letters, for a total of 37 letters’ worth of corruption.

          Now let’s see how the scribe who copied the Gospels in Codex Sinaiticus did in Matthew 7:26-8:5, compared to NA28.

À compared to NA28:

(from Codex Sinaiticus)

26 – no variants

27 – À has ελθαν instead of ελθον (+1, -1)

27 – À does not have καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι (-19)

27 – À has εκινη instead of εκεινη (-1)

28 – À has ἐξεπλήττοντο instead of ἐξεπλήσσοντο (+2, -2)

28 – À transposes to επι τη διδαχη αυτου οι οχλοι instead of οι οχλοι επι τη διδαχη αυτου

1 – À has Καταβαντι δε αυτω instead of Καταβαντος δε αυτου (+2, -4) (A corrector has erased the ω but it is noted in the trnscription)

2 – no variants

3 – À has εκτινες instead of εκτεινες (-1)

3 – À has αυτου after χειρα (+5)

3 – À does not have ευθεως (-6)

4 – À has ειπεν instead of λέγει (+5, -5)

4 – À has αλλα instead of αλλ՚ (+1)

4 – À has διξον instead of δειξον (-1)

4 – À has προσενεγκε instead of προσενεγκον (+1, -2)

5 – À has εκατοναρχης instead of εκατοναρχος (+1, -1)

            Thus, the text of Codex Sinaiticus, uncorrected, has 18 non-original letters and is missing 42 original letters, for a total of 60 letters’ worth of corruption in Matthew 7:26-8:5.  Even if we remove from the equation all the minor (and not-so-minor) orthographic variants in 7:27, 8:3, 8:4, and 8:5, that still leaves 44 letters’ worth of corruption. 

            Want to see how both manuscripts compare to the Solid Rock Greek New Testament?  Well, GA 1691 reads exactly like the Solid Rock Greek New Testament (third edition) throughout Matthew 7:26-8:5 except for two little orthographic variants in Matthew 8:4 (where 1691 has εκαθερισθη instead of εκαθαρισθη, and Μωϋσης instead of Μωσης).  There is no need, considering the variants in À noted above, to ask which manuscript agrees more with the Solid Rock GNT.   

            GA 1691 is the clear winner of this round of hand-to-hand combat.  

            Side-note:  an Alexandrian reading in NA28 in 8:1 (προσελθων instead of the Byzantine ελθων) is questionable.  ελθων is supported not only by the Byzantine text but also by C K L S U V W X  Γ Π 33.  Scholz and Griesbach and Knapp (1797)  read ελθων.  The προς in the immediately preceding λεπρος may have been accidentally repeated. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Happy 20th Birthday, CSNTM!

            On September 13, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts will celebrate its 20th year.  In honor of this occasion, let’s look at one of the manuscripts that CSNTM has brought to the public eye:  GA 1691, a Gospels-manuscript from the 1000s which resides in Athens, Greece, at the National Library of Greece.  Page-views of GA 1691 were digitized by CSNTM personnel (as reported here) and can be viewed at the CSNTM website.  The entire manuscript is indexed, making it possible for viewers to search its pages for specific passages.  

            Let’s look at a single page of GA 1691 and see what it tells us about its text and how it was used.  On the page containing Matthew 7:26b-8:5a, the following features can be seen:

(1)  Written across the top of the page is the chapter-number and chapter-title of a chapter that begins on this page:   Seven – ζ:  pe[ri] tou ekatontarch[ou] –  About the centurion (who had someone who was sick) –

(2)    A lectionary-related note, identifying the reading for the Fourth Sunday [after Pentecost].

(3)    The lection’s incipit-phrase (At that time there came to Jesus . . . ).  This is how the lector (the person who read the Scripture-passages in church-services) would begin the reading.

(4)  The chapter-number (6, represented by ϛ) and title “About the Leper” (abbreviated)

(5)  A Eusebian Section-number (63)

(6)  The chapter-number (6)

(7)  in light blue ovals:  the quick way to write “και” (“and”)

(8)  in a yellow circle:  a sacred name contraction for “Lord” (Κυριε)

(9)  in a green circle:  a τελος (telos) symbol, indicating the end of a lection

(10)  in purple cornerless rectangles:  An initial 

(11)  A sacred name contraction for “Jesus” (Iησους) 

(12) An αρχη (archē) symbol, indicating the beginning of a lection

(13) A τελος (telos) symbol, indicating the end of a lection

(14)  A Eusebian section-number (64)

And in red rectangles:  textual variants, all of which agree with the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform.

             Some may call GA 1691’s text ordinary – it is one of hundreds of representatives of the dominant Greek Gospels-text used in the Middle Ages.  But those who might yawn at 1691 should take note:  the text you see on this page is much more accurate than the text of the same passage in the ancient Codex Sinaiticus, regardless of whether one uses the Nestle-Aland NTG or the Solid Rock GNT as the basis of comparison.

            In commemoration of its 20th birthday, CSNTM has a special offer for those who join its Circle of Friends (more information about that here):  new registrants will receive free copies of the book Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, signed by co-editor (and CSNTM research fellow) Elijah Hixson.



Friday, September 9, 2022

How We Got the New Testament (in 22 minutes)

           A new video that I've prepared is at YouTube:  How We Got the New Testament.  It's  a slide-show presentation that covers the basics of the history of the transmission of the books of the New Testament from their initial distribution to the present day.  Viewers are introduced to papyrus copies, parchment copies, majuscule (uncial) script, and minuscule script.  They are also informed of a few developments the New Testament went through in the Middle Ages.   

          Pages of Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Bezae. and Codex Cyprius are shown, and early versions are also featured, such as the Vulgate and the Peshitta.   Viewers are then informed of a few developments the New Testament text went through in the Middle Ages, such as the recycling of parchment, and illumination.

Tyndale at the stake
         When a person asks, "How did we get the New Testament?" the identity of the "we" affects the answer.  After all, some people-groups still don't have the New Testament in their native language.  After the first nine minutes, the focus is on how the English-speaking church got the New Testament.  Viewers are briefly introduced to Lorenzo Valla, Desiderius Erasmus, William Tyndale, and other individuals from the Renaissance and Reformation era.   Early English versions are described, up to and including the King James Version, before the era of modern textual criticism is covered:  the contributions of Bengel, Griesbach, Scholz, Tregelles, Tischendorf, and Westcott and Hort are briefly described.

          The last five minutes focus on the spread of the New Testament in what is (for better or worse) English as it is spoken today. and developments subsequent to Westcott and Hort (such as the papyrus discoveries at Oxyrhynchus.  

        How We Got the New Testament is suitable for church-viewing and Bible-study groups.