Monday, January 30, 2023

Pseudo-Cyril: More Support for Mark 16:9-20

Sometimes it is tempting to dismiss patristic witnesses whose names begin with “Pseudo-.”  After all, “pseudo” means “false,” and such a name might convey that the reader is encountering the work of an imposter.   Yet, just as the devil can quote Scripture for his own purpose, imposters in ancient times could also do so, allowing the reader to get a look at the Scriptural text the imposter was using.

Pseudo-Cyril, the author of Homily on the Virgin Mary and Her Birth and Her Dormition, might initially appear to be one such imposter.  (The Cyril being referenced is Cyril of Jerusalem, who died in 386.)  But he does not describe himself as Cyril of Jerusalem, and he refers to Cyril of Jerusalam in the course of his homily.  Pseudo-Cyril is simply an anonymous writer whose homily is thrown in with the works of Cyril of Jerusalem.

I think that Pseudo-Cyrils homily has been assigned to the first half of the 500s.  (His manuscript of the Gospels, if it was brand new when he used it, was about 225 years younger than Codex Vaticanus.)

E.A.W. Budge translated Pseudo-Cyril’s homily into English in 1915; the translation can be found online here.  Budge used the text in Brit. Mus. MS. Oriental No. 6784 as the basis for his translation.   

After a verbose beginning, Pseudo-Cyril mentions the widow’s two mites, and the fish that Peter was commanded to catch.  Pseudo-Cyril zooms in on the heresies that had been spread by Ebion and Harpocratius (Carpocrates?).  He then presents an account of Mary’s family.  Mary the mother of Jesus is identified as Mary Magdalene.  It must be emphasized that Pseudo-Cyril is not saying that Mary the mother of Jesus is the same individual who is named “Mary Magdalene” in the Gospels.  Pseudo-Cyril is merely claiming that Mary the mother of Jesus was born in the village of Magdala.  Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene are pictured as two distinct individuals in the course of Pseudo-Cyril’s homily.

Pseudo-Cyril proceeds to relate the story of Mary’s birth to her parents Joakim (who is also named Cleopas by Pseudo-Cyril) and Anna (relying in part on the Protevangelium of James).  He then relates a brief account of the childhood of Mary and her service in the temple.  (The veracity or non-veracity of Pseudo-Cyril’s account is not my focus here.)  He then changes the subject and tells about Cyril’s encounter with Annarikhus, a monk who had been mislead by the books written by Ebion and Harpocratius.  Cyril and Annarikhus discuss whether the Gospel of the Hebrews ought to be a fifth Gospel along with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  (Cyril says no; Annarikhus says yes.)

Pseudo-Cyril then attributes to Cyril of Jerusalem a few quotations of New Testament material (Matt 12.24, Second John v. 7 and Second John v. 10) in the course of opposing the Gospel of the Hebrews.  Annarikhus, in the anecdote in Pseudo-Cyril’s homily, promptly repents, and invites Cyril to burn Annarikhus’ books.

Pseudo-Cyril relates that Cyril, after doing so, taught Annarikhus against the Ebionite heresy that Mary had been the incarnation of some kind of mystical force, and then Annarikhus, upon receiving Cyril’s teaching, repented of being fooled by Ebion and Harpocrates’ books.

The Dormition of Mary, as depicted by Jacopo Torriti
in a cathedral-apse in Rome in 1296.

Pseudo-Cyril then turns to the subject of the death/departure/dormition of Mary (quoting Luke 1.36 along the way), and he says that he is informed that John and Mary “lived in the same house in Jerusalem.”  He relates that Mary called for Peter and James to come to her there.  Several passages of the Gospels (and Acts 1) are used in this part of the homily, as Mary is depicted speaking to John, Peter, and James.  Mary Magdalene then enters the picture, “out of whom the Christ had cast several devils.”  After Peter, James, and John have told a group of virgins that Mary the mother of Jesus has announced that she is about to “depart to the Jerusalem of heaven,” Mary Magdalene begins preparations for Mary’s funeral-observance.  Most of the rest of the homily is an account of the dormition of Mary.

Getting back to what Pseudo-Cyril attributed to Annarikhus:  at one point, Pseudo-Cyril says that Cyril asked Annarikhus, “Who sent thee to teach about these things,” and that the answer that Annarikhus gave was, “The Christ said, “Go ye forth into all the world, and teach ye all the nations in my name in every place.”

This is a blended use of Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19.(with possible indirect use of Mark 16:17 (for "in My name") and 16:20 (for "in every place")).

So:  Annarikhus-according-to-Pseudo-Cyril should be added to the list of individuals whose copies of Mark included Mark 16:9-20.  (As a contemporary of Cyril of Jerusalem, Annarikhus lived in the 300s, and his copy of Mark, if it was brand new, would have been about as old as Codex Sinaiticus.) 

Also, Pseudo-Cyril should be included in the textual apparatus’ list of patristic writers who cite Mark 16:15 (or, at least, whose writings affirm Mark 16:9-20).  (Pseudo-Cyril, along with Palladius and Fortunatianus, is one of numerous patristic writers whose names have been overlooked in the UBS and N-A apparatuses - and by Christian teacher Mike Winger, among others.)

(I note, in passing, that if it was known to Mark
s readers that Mary the mother of Jesus was from Magdala, then Mark would have a very good reason for mentioning (in Mark 16:9) that Mary Magdalene was the person from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons:  to avoid giving the impression that Jesus mother Mary was the individual visiting the tomb.) 

(I also note, in passing, that the unnamed companion of Cleopas in Luke 24 may have been Mary herself - which would be a subtle confirmation by Luke of his
use of Marys own testimony as one of his sources.) 


Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Longer Reading in Matthew 25:13

           A textual variant in Matthew 25:13 may shed some light on a mechanism that elicited some expansions in the Byzantine Text.  In the EOB-NT, Matthew 25:13 reads, “Watch, therefore, for you do not know the day or the hour that the Son of Man is coming.”  The words “that the Son of Man is coming” are framed by “<” and “>.”  The WEB, based on the Majority Text, says similarly, “Watch therefore, for you don’t know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”  The KJV reads similarly, and the Textus Receptus agrees with the Byzantine Textform at this point.  In the EHV, Matthew 25:13 only says, “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  There is no footnote in the EHV to indicate the existence of the longer Byzantine reading. 

          The ESV, CSB, NIV, and NASB all end the verse at the word “hour.”  The NLT, apparently abandoning its base-text, continues with “of my return.”

          What’s going on here?  Did Matthew write the words ν υἱὸς το νθρπου ερχεται or not?

          Short answer:  Not.

          The Byzantine/Majority Text supports the inclusion of “in which the Son of Man is coming,” but the Peshitta does not.  Codices A, D, L, W, Δ, and Σ end the verse with ραν (hour).  So do some minuscules, including 33, the first hand of 157, 892, and the first hand of 1424.   The Alexandrian codices À and B weigh in for the shorter reading, and so do P35 and Codex D, and patristic witnesses such as Chrysostom, Athanasius, and Augustine.  The Vulgate and the Old Latin also solidly support the shorter reading here.

          To perceive what has happened here, it is helpful to know that Matthew 25:1-13 was the lection assigned to the 17th Saturday after Pentecost in the Byzantine lectionary.  (It is also a lection in Lectionary 846, to be read in honor of female virgins and martyrs.)  When this segment is read separately from the rest of the chapter, the final sentence was expanded to tell listeners what day and hour were referred to (perhaps using Mt. 24:42 and 24:44 as a model). 

          This expansion can be seen happening in Byzantine manuscripts.  In Codex Y (034), the verse ends ραν in the text, but someone – apparently the same person who supplemented the manuscript for lection-reading – added in the margin, “εν η υς του ανου ερχεται.”  There’s the longer variant.

          Bruce Metzger’s dismissal of the longer reading is correct, but his explanation for its existence (as a “pedantic addition”) seems to show little appreciation for the influence of the lectionary on the Byzantine Text.  When Metzger wrote his Textual Commentary, he was all-in on Hort’s now-defunct theory of the Lucianic Recension.   A more mature Metzger would probably adjust his wording, acknowledging the longer reading as having been made under the influence of lectionary-usage.

          When was the longer reading introduced?  Probably sometime after Codex A (400s), and before 017 (Cyprius) (800s) and the marginalia in 034 (800s, if the marginalia is of the same date as the main text).  [Update:  Andy Vogan has observed that 07, assigned to the 700s, also has the longer reading.]  Someone influenced by a lectionary, wishing to benignly introduce an expansion at the end of Mt. 25:13 to wrap up a lection, created the longer reading, and it was so edifying that so many scribes adopted it that it eventually became the majority reading.  The removal of such intrusions into the text can be achieved relatively easily by filtering the majority text against the Alexandrian Text, the Western Text, and the text of family Π.


Monday, January 2, 2023

About That "Embarrassment of Riches" (and Quantities of Manuscripts)

“We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the evidence for the New Testament.”   Ever hear that one?  Such a claim is routinely made by Christians who fill, or appear to fill, two roles as apologists and researchers.  And they are mostly right:  the quantity of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament is staggeringly superior to the evidence for any other literary work of a comparable age.  But they are partly wrong, for at least three reasons. 

First, the relative poverty of textual support for specific readings in the works of Suetonius (to pick one ancient author) does not make other authors (such as the authors of the books of the New Testament) rich. 

Second, the New Testament did not initially circulate as a single book, but as 27 books - which were not copied and distributed evenly.  (There are over 1,600 Greek Gospels-manuscripts; there are fewer than 400 Greek MSS of Revelation.) 

Third, quantity is not necessarily quality.  Kurt & Barbara Aland (as in "Nestle-Aland compilation of Novum Testamentum Graece," the primary base-text of the New Testament in the ESV, NIV, CSB, NRSV, NLT, and NASB), after listing numerous Greek manuscripts, candidly stated in their 1981 handbook The Text of the New Testament (translated into English by Erroll F. Rhodes), “All of these minuscules exhibit a purely or predominantly Byzantine text.  And this is not a peculiarity of the minuscules, but a characteristic they share with a considerable number  of uncials.  They are all irrelevant for textual criticism, at least for establishing the original form of the text and its development in the early centuries.”

How many Greek manuscripts did Kurt and Barbara Aland consider “irrelevant” to the task of reconstructing the original New Testament text?  Looking over their list on pages 140-142 (“Table 7”), I count 887 manuscripts.  Aland & Aland, though, seem willing to put “more than 1,175 minuscules” (p. 138) into the category which they dismiss as “irrelevant.”

The number of minuscules that they did not consider “irrelevant” is given on page 138:  “a little more than 175.” 

What about uncials, a.k.a. majuscule MSS?  The total number of majuscules is easy to calculate, since each is identified by a number preceded by a zero, and we saw the addition of 0315 in 2015 – so the current total number of majuscules is just a bit higher than 315, right?  Wrong.  Some majuscule manuscripts were obtained by researchers, and were given identification numbers, after the manuscripts had been torn up.  Only later did researchers discern that they had portions of the same manuscript, with a different identification-number given to each portion. 

029 is same manuscript catalogued (in portions) as 0113, 0125, and 0139. 

070 is the same manuscript catalogued (in portions) as 0110, 0124, 0178, 0179, 0180, 0190, 0191, 0193, 0194, 0124, and 0202. 

063, according to Aland & Aland, “belongs with 0117.”

064 is the same manuscript (in portions) as 074 and 090.  (Part of this manuscript was found among the New Finds at St. Catherine’s monastery.)

073 is the same manuscript as 084.

083 is the same manuscript (in portions) as 0112 and 0235.  (Take note NET-readers; this manuscript is erroneously double-counted in the NET’s notes.)

087 is the same manuscript as 092b.

089 is the same manuscript as 092a and 0293.

0100 is the same manuscript as 0195, and neither one merits an identification-number among continuous-text uncial MSS, because each one is part of lectionary 963.

0102 is probably (according to Aland & Aland) the same manuscript as 0138.       

0129 is the same manuscript as 0203, and neither one merits an identification-number among continuous-text uncial MSS, because each one is part of lectionary 1575.

0137 is the same manuscript as 0138.

0152 is a talisman, technically not a continuous-text uncial manuscript.

0153 is an ostracon, technically not a continuous-text uncial manuscript.

0192 is lectionary 1604.

0212 is not a continuous-text uncial manuscript, and thus does not merit inclusion in the list.

A simple (perhaps too simple) count brings the total number of continuous-text majuscule (uncial) manuscripts down from 315 (in 2015) to 285.    

Uncial manuscripts that display a Byzantine text (according to Aland & Aland), and which are thus “irrelevant,” include 07, 09, 011, 013, 014, 017, 018, 021, 022, 023, 024, 026, 027, 028, 030, 031, 033, 034, 036, 039 (the same manuscript as 566 (Codex L; the text of Matthew and Mark is written in minuscule; Luke and John are written in majuscule – but it is all a single manuscript), 041, 042, 043, 045, 046, 047, 049, 052, 056, 0104, 0116, 0133, 0135, 0197, 0211, 0248, 0253, 0255, and 0257.  These forty majuscules are in the same “irrelevant” category in which Aland & Aland placed about 1,175 minuscules.

So the maximum number of continuous-text majuscule parchments that were used for the compilation of the Nestle-Aland NTG is . . . (let’s see:  285 – 40 . . . ) 245.

Most of these are not complete.  It should be kept in mind than even a tiny fragment, if it is not part of another manuscript, receives its own identification-number, and is counted as one manuscript.  A complete New Testament = one manuscript, and a fragment of a single page = one manuscript.  Without this factor constantly in mind, people who hear about the “embarrassment of riches” might tend to imagine that we have 245 relevant majuscule continuous-text copies of the New Testament.  But in real life, as I mentioned, many of the majuscules are fragmentary. 

Instead of referring to “New Testament manuscripts,” majuscule or minuscule, it would be more accurate to refer to “Gospels-manuscripts,” (about 1,800) and to manuscripts of Acts and the Epistles,  and to manuscripts of Revelation, and to manuscripts that contain the entire New Testament, whether majuscule or minuscule, are anomalies.  (I think about 70 such copies exist.)   (Manuscripts with other combinations also exist.)

Minuscules are not immune from the same (or similar) kind of double-counting that slices off the number of real continuous-text majuscule manuscripts by ten percent.  Georgi Parpulov, of the Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, reported in 2022 in the open-access journal Fragmentology that GA 674 and GA 1284 are portions of the same manuscript.  And one minuscule, GA 2427, which was featured prominently in the apparatus of the Nestle-Aland NTG, but was proven to be a nineteenth-century forgery, has to go.  Another, GA 2795, is lectionary 2198.

Finally we come to lectionaries.  Minuscule 2795 is part of the same manuscript as lectionary 2198.  Parpulov also reported that lectionary 849 and lectionary 309 are portions of the same lectionary.   There are over 2,300 lectionaries to consider (and here again one should differentiate between Gospel-lectionaries, and lectionaries of the remaining New Testament books).  But although lectionaries have been the focus of considerable research, one would think from the apparatus in the Nestle-Aland NTG and the UBS GNT that hardly anyone is considering them.  Almost all of them display (with expansions and modifications) the Byzantine Text that Aland & Aland dismissed as irrelevant.
As Maurice Robinson has observed – as noticed by Peter Gurry in 2017 at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blogThe resources of the pre-fourth century era unfortunately remain meager, restricted to a limited body of witnesses. Even if the text-critical evidence is extended through the eighth century, there would be only 424 documents, mostly fragmentary.”  

 Am I disturbed by individuals who, in one breath, give soothing assurance about the “embarrassment of riches,” and in the next breath endorse the Nestle-Aland compilation that was made with the working premise that over 1,175 minuscule manuscripts, and 40 majuscule manuscripts, are irrelevant?  Well, to answer that question, I must diverge from today’s main topic. 

It is disturbing that anyone would brag about our “embarrassment of riches” and then proceed to dismiss 85% of the coins in the royal treasury as counterfeit.  (Meaning:  Wallace & Co. talk about our “embarrassment of riches” but at the same time habitually reject the reading found in the vast majority of manuscripts (not just 85%, but sometimes 95% – keeping in mind that MSS should be generally divided into Gospels/Acts-Epistles/Revelation categories) when that reading disagrees with a favored reading in the Alexandrian Text.)

But this is essentially a point against bad rhetoric, bad apologetics, and bloviations (or combinations of all three), not a point against the evidence for the New Testament text, about which I am not disturbed.  I disagree with the idea that the Byzantine text, and the manuscripts supporting it, are irrelevant.  Aland & Aland’s anti-Byzantine bias is obsolete. 

The approach used to compile the New Testament base-text of the ESV, NIV, NLT, CSB, and NRSV is basically the same obsolete, never-was-valid approach that was used for the 1881 edition of Westcott & Hort.  (NA27 and WH1881 fully disagree in only 661 readings; I use “fully” to modify “disagree” because the editors of NA27 made non-decisions at multiple points and put some readings in brackets and double-brackets (a feature which I guarantee was not in the original text).  The number of tenuous disagreements is higher:  1,372, as I have explained here.) 

One doesn’t have to think about that long and hard to discern that the Nestle-Aland compilation is unstable at 711 points – not counting the 34 readings introduced in NA28, which included a conjectural emendation (based on zero Greek manuscripts).  (Many of which are trivial as far as meaning is concerned.)

That doesn’t make the Byzantine Text synonymous with the original text of the New Testament.  But it should make it a lot more than “irrelevant.”  English translations that take the Byzantine Text seriously (not the similar Textus Receptus) are already on the market.  More are coming, and I hope some major Bible-publishers will see this as an opportunity to amend the mistakes of publishers in the past 142 years.  So should English Bible-readers who desire the text in their English Bibles (not just the footnotes!) to reflect the text found in the rich manuscript-evidence that is available. 

This should not be interpreted to mean minority readings cannot be original.  Sometimes they are original (as I have repeatedly insisted), and in such cases the reading found in the majority of MSS must give way, lest scribal inventions, no matter how popular, usurp the original text.  But today’s main point should not be diminished:  talk about the “embarrassment of riches” by advocates of a New Testament compilation that is 99% Alexandrian (at points where the Alexandrian Text and Byzantine Text disagree) should stop.