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.”  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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Hand to Hand Combat: 1690 vs. 1691

          1690 and 1691 are both medieval Gospels-manuscripts that were photographed by CSNTM personnel in Athens in 2016-2017 at the National Library of Greece.  Both manuscripts are fully indexed at the CSNTM website.  1690 is assigned to the 1200s or 1300s.  The text on the last page of Mark in 1690 is written in a cruciform pattern.  1691 is older, assigned to the  1000s.  Its text is written in two columns per page.  Let’s see which manuscript has the more accurate text in a sample passage, using the Solid Rock GNT as the standard of comparison.  In the spirit of the season, I have selected Luke 2:1-20 as today’s textual arena.   As usual, sacred-name contractions and other abbreviations, and minor orthographic variants, are noted, but are not counted in the final tallies.

1691 in Luke 2:1-20:

1 – no -ν, just εζηλθε (-1)

2 – no variants

3 – no variants

4 – no variants

5 – no variants

6 – no variants

7 – no variants

8 – no variants

9 – no variants

10 – πεν instead of ειπεν (-2) (This might just be an unusual writing-style.)

11 – no -ν, just εστι (-1)

12 – has τη before φάτνη (+2)

13 – no variants, but the scribe apparently momentarily skipped the phrase εις τον ουρανον, which is in the margin (in the main scribe’s handwriting), correcting his mistake before the manuscript was completed.

14 – no variants

15 – has δει instead of δη (-1, +2,)

16 – no variants

17 – no variants

18 – has περι instead of προς before αυτους (+3, -3)

19 – no variants

20 – no variants

Thus, Luke 2:1-20 in 1691 has a total of 7 non-original letters, and is missing 8 original letters, for a total of 15 letters’ worth of corruption.  Setting trivial orthographic variants aside, Luke 2:1-20 in 1691 has 5 non-original letters, and is missing 5 original letters, for a total of 10 letters’ worth of corruption.  Or, with that weird “πεν” in verse 10 removed from the picture (did candle-wax hurt the text??), Luke 2:1-20 in 1691 is missing 3 letters and has 5 non-original letters, for a total of eight letters’ worth of corruption.

Now let’s see how 1690 does.

Luke 2:1-20 in 1690:

1 – no -ν, just εζηλθε (-1)

2 – no variants

3 – no variants

4 – no variants

5 – no variants

6 – no variants

7 – (has τη written in superscript before φατνη)

8 – no variants

9 – no variants

10 – no variants

11 – no -ν, just εστι (-1)

12 – no variants

13 – no variants

14 – no variants

15 – no variants

16 – does not have τη before φάτνη (-2)

17 – no variants

18 – no variants

19 – no variants

20 – no variants

Luke 2:1-20 in GA 1690 thus has no non-original letters, and is missing 4 original letters, for a total of 4 letters’ worth of corruption.  Setting aside trivial orthographic variants, 1690 has only 2 letters’ worth of corruption (the missing τη in v. 16) in Luke 2:1-20.  

Thus, today's winner is 1690, with only two letters’ worth of corruption,.  But 1691, which has only ten letters’ worth of corruption, showed its quality too, and the contest was very close. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Patristic Presents

         Here are some presents for Christmas 2022:  online patristic resources in English - volumes of the old Ante-Nicene Church Library series, and a significant number of other materials, all accessible for free.  (Some materials may be duplicated; I made this post in a hurry to get it done before Christmas.)

 ANF Vol. 1

ANF Vol. 2

ANF Vol. 3

ANF Vol. 4

ANF Vol. 5

ANF Vol. 6

ANF Vol. 7  

ANF Vol. 8

ANF Vol. 9

ANF Vol. 10 (Bibliographical Synopsis and Index)

Irenaeus - Proof of the Apostolic Preaching (1952)

Origen (mainly) - Philocalia

Eusebius – Ecclesiastical History (1865)

Eusebius – Ecclesiastical History (again)

Eusebius - Ad Marinum (This is Roger Pearse's book, which contains the definitive Greek text with English translation.  He also has done some interesting research about the early Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, which is summarized here.)

Eusebius - Against Hierocles

Sozomen – More Ecclesiastical History (1865)

Aphrahat – Homilies (1869)

Didascalia Apostolorum (1903)

Fortunatianus of Aquileia

Phoebadius of Agen (Against the Arians)

Marcellus of Ancyra

Teachings of the Twelve Apostles (Apostolic Constitutions)

Gregory Thamaturgus - On the Mother of God 

Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, Rufinus

Hippolytus & Callistus

Eusebius – Ecclesiastical History, Life of Constantine, & In Praise of Constantine

Jerome – Letters & Other Works

Augustine – Confessions & Letters

Socrates, Sozomen – More Ecclesiastical History

Augustine – City of God and On Christian Doctrine 

Augustine – On the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises, Moral Treatises 

Augustine – Against Manichaeans & Against Donatists 

Athanasius – Select Works & Letters 

Augustine – Anti-Pelagian Writings and Other Works

Gregory of Nyssa

Jerome – Letters & Select Works (links embedded on-site)

Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzus

Augustine – Expositions on Psalms

Basil of Caesarea – Letters & Select Works

Chrysostom – On the Priesthood and Other Works  

Hilary of Poitiers and John of Damascus

Ambrose:  Select Works & Letters 

Chrysostom:  Homilies on Acts and Romans        

Chrysostom:  Homilies on I & II Corinthians

Leo the Great & Gregory the Great

Gregory, Ephrem Syrus, and Aphrahat

Chrysostom:  Homilies on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon

Chrysostom – Homilies on John and Hebrews

Seven Ecumenical Councils

New Advent's Collection (Fathers of the Church)

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Glitches in Christ's Genealogy

          The genealogy of Jesus Christ, which appears in Matthew 1:1-17 and the genealogy of Jesus Christ which appears in Luke 3:23-38, may both be skipped by casual Bible-readers, but they are both interesting passages to both the textual critic and the Christian apologist.  Today, let’s look at some of the ways in which copyists treated – and mistreated – parts of these two portions of Scripture.

          Perhaps the most famous variations within the genealogy in Matthew appear at the end of verse 7 and in verse 10.  These were the first two variant-units to be commented upon by the late Bruce Metzger in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.  The Alexandrian text reads Ἀσάφ instead of the Byzantine Ἀσὰ in verse 7, and it reads Ἀμώς instead of Ἀμών in verse 10.    Neither Asaph the psalmist nor Amos the prophet was ever a king of Judah, so the presence of their names in the genealogy is surprising.  If the canon prefer the more difficult reading is applied, in both cases the Alexandrian reading will be adopted.  This was the course taken by Elijah Hixson in 2019, and it has been for over a century the usual decision.   (Hixson briefly described the main external evidence, so in the interest of brevity I will not review that here.)

          I argued in 2012, and again in 2016, however, in favor of Ἀσὰ and Ἀμών, proposing that lectio difficilior potior has been applied here too mechanically. As I showed in 2016, there was quite a bit of orthographic variety in the spelling of names by early Alexandrian copyists.  And I still propose that these erroneous readings originated as an attempt by an early copyist (one with “Western” proclivities) to “pad the resume” of Jesus, by including prophets in his genealogy. 

          Less famous, but no less interesting, is the treatment of Jesus’ genealogy in Luke in Codex Bezae (D, 05).  (Matthew 1 is not extant in D.)  The text in D omits Luke 3:24-31, and has instead the names of the ancestors listed in Matthew 1:6-16, in reverse order (Zadok’s name is not included), and there are other aberrations, including the names Ασαφ and Αμως) before resuming Luke’s list of Jesus’ ancestors in verse 31b.

          In Codex W (032), the genealogy in Luke is missing.  After Joseph’s name in Luke 3:23, the text of 032 simply jumps to chapter 4.  Perhaps this reflects a scribe’s awareness that the genealogies were absent in Tatian’s Diatessaron, or it could conceivably be a deletion by a recklessly bold scribe who did not want to transcribe anything that could be construed as a contradiction of the genealogy in Matthew 1.

          A small cluster of manuscripts (including M U Θ 1 1582 33, and over 150 minuscules) reflects a reading that was known to Epiphanius (in the late 300s):  somebody inserted, between Josiah and Jeconiah, a reference to Jehoiakim (Ἰωακείμ).  This is a harmonization to First Chronicles 3:15.  Some copyists, it appears, were not averse to attempting to correct their exemplars, even if it meant disrupting the total in one of Matthew’s groups of fourteen generations.  (Matthew probably intended foe this 14x structure to bring to his readers’ minds the memory of the numerical value of David’s name).

          Other glitch-readings occur in other manuscripts.  A notable error by the scribe of GA 109 was mentioned by Metzger (Text of the New Testament, p. 195):  the copyist mechanically copied the text of his exemplar, in which the individuals in the genealogy in Luke were formatted in two columns, as if they were one continuous piece, thus making a garbled mess of things.  A detailed analysis of how this occurred can be found near the entry of an entry at CSNTM’s “From the Library” blog from 2018.  
The beginning of the genealogy in Luke in GA 1273.

           The copyist of GA 1273 (the George Grey Gospels) also was discombobulated when formatting the genealogy in Luke.  Putting the names of Jesus’ ancestors in three columns, he mixed up the whole series of names, concluding with “of Adam, of Serug, of God.”  A little detective work (which Daniel Buck has done) can reveal the format of the genealogy in Luke in the exemplar used by the scribe of GA 1273.  It might be interesting to compare the format in 1273’s reconstructed exemplar with the three-names-per-line format in GA 2. 

The end of the genealogy in Luke in 1273.
Other treatments of Luke’s genealogy have been identified by Daniel Buck; he has noticed that glitchy treatments in Luke’s genealogy seem to arise especially in verse 33, and that GA 1305, 1424, 2563, 2658, 2661, 2756, and 2882 all have glitches of one kind or another.  GA 28 also has some unusual readings, such as the insertion of τοῦ Ἀρὰμ in verse 33.

          Quite a few scribes, when listing the names in Luke’s genealogy, gave each name a single line.  These include the copyist of Sinaiticus (À) and Codex Vaticanus (B, 03) – mostly.  In B, near the end of the last column on a page, the copyist wrote Ιωσηφ του Ηλει (“Joseph, of Heli”) on one line, as long as his normal lines, with a space between “Ιωσηφ” and “του Ηλει”, but on the next line (the last line on the page), του Ματθατ gets a line all its own, and on the next page, each ancestor’s name, preceded by του, gets its own line.

          One glitch that has received special attention is the omission of τοῦ Καϊναν (or τοῦ Καϊναμ) at the beginning of Luke 3:36 in P75vid and Codex Bezae (D, 05).  Kainan’s name is not in Genesis 10:24 in the Masoretic Text, or in the Samaritan Pentateuch.  It may be that due to its absence in Genesis in these witnesses, a scribe deliberately removed it from the Western text as it appears in D.  A question arises:  the texts of P75 (early Alexandrian) and D (Western) are so different from each other, how could they share this reading if it is not original?

          But do they?  In 2019, Henry B Smith Jr. and Kris J. Udd published a 46-page essay in the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, On the Authenticity of Kainan, Son of Arpachshad, in which this variant-unit was minutely examined.  A reconstruction of the relevant part of P75 (the MS is extremely fragmentary in this portion) was made by Smith and Udd in which “The inclusion of -Α TOΥ KAINAN at the beginning of line 5 would only increase its line length to 26 letters, fitting the context well.”  This reconstruction helps clear up some inaccurate records of P75’s text in Luke 3:36.  It also demonstrates that P75 never lacked Καϊναμ, though the question is open as to whether P75 read Καϊναμ or Καϊναν. 

          Thus the only manuscript that omits Kainan’s name in Luke 3:36 is Codex D.  Finding Kainan’s name absent in the early Alexandrian text and in a relatively early Western manuscript such as Codex D would have been remarkable.  But finding Kainan’s name omitted only in in the Western text of Luke attested by D is like finding a hamburger at McDonald’s; it is not remarkable at all, considering the other liberties that have been taken in Luke’s genealogy in D.

          While some readers might be taken aback by how some scribes messed up the genealogy of Jesus Christ, one should remember that the bulk of manuscripts in different transmission-streams maintain the original text of the genealogies very well.  A blizzard of scribal errors does not make the sun stop shining.



(Thanks to Kris Udd and Daniel Buck for their help obtaining some of the data in this post.)


Thursday, December 8, 2022

Considering the Claims of the "Preserved Word" Website

            At the PreservedWord website, some material has been circulated that provides some insight regarding the basis for the motivation of some KJV-Onlyists.  Today, let’s evaluate the claims of the website.

l “Bible scholarship of the past 150 years has placed much attention on a very small number of manuscripts.”

This is not quite true, since attention has been given to newly discovered manuscripts such as Codex W and Codex Y, and the hundreds of minuscule manuscripts which have been catalogued in the past 150 years.   But the writer of the Preserved Word site is partly right:  special attention has been given to a small number of manuscripts, particularly Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (À), which, as the writer noted, have been described in Bible-footnotes as the “oldest and best” manuscripts.    Meanwhile, manuscripts which support the Byzantine Text have been treated as if they are “all irrelevant for textual criticism, at least for establishing the original form of the text and its development in the early centuries,” as Kurt & Barbara Aland dismissively acknowledged on p. 142 of The Text of the New Testament (Ó  1987 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).

l “The public needs to know the truth about these manuscripts [À and B].”

This is certainly true; when NIV (1984) readers were told “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20,” it would have been helpful if, somewhere in the heading or footnote (unlikely to be seen by readers of digital Bibles), reader had been told that the “earliest manuscripts” was limited to two manuscripts, and that over 99.8% of the rest of the Greek manuscripts support the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20 (as does earlier testimony from the 100s in Epistula Apostolorum, Preaching of Peter, Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus).  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, for the most part, represent the Alexandrian Text, a form which was used in the early centuries of Christendom in Egypt, but which never dominated the Greek copying-centers where the Byzantine Text was used instead.

l “Contrary to what has been taught in most seminaries, these two manuscripts are worthless, and hopelessly corrupt.”

That is not quite true.  “Corruption” is a technical term in textual criticism; any manuscript that contains non-original material, or which fails to include material which was in the original text, is corrupt.  No doubt the texts found in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are corrupt – but not hopelessly.


l  “It has been speculated by some scholars that one or both were produced by Eusebius of Caesarea on orders of Emperor Constantine. If this is true, then these manuscripts are linked to Eusibus’s teacher Origen of Alexandria, both known for interpreting Scripture allegorically as opposed to literally.”

This is not quite true either.  The late T.C. Skeat (an erudite scholar)  did indeed suspect that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were among the 50 copies of Scripture prepared by Eusebius of Constantinople for the Emperor Constantine.  But there is no evidence that Origen (d. 254) originated or edited the  Alexandrian Text; Origen appears to have used whatever text was already in use in the location he happened to be in.  


l   “Scholars have designated these manuscripts as Alexandrian, linking them with Alexandria, Egypt, the region responsible for early heresies such as Gnosticism and Arianism.”

This is not quite true either.  The Alexandrian Text was popular in Egypt, but there is little textual evidence that Gnostics or Arians were responsible for more than a smattering of readings in the Alexandrian Text.


l  “Vaticanus adds to the Old Testament the apocryphal books of Baruch, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, and the Epistle of Jeremiah.”

That is not quite true either.  Codex Vaticanus does indeed contain these books, but in this respect its scribes were simply perpetuating the canon of the Septuagint, which is also found in Codex Alexandrinus.


l  Vaticanus omits Mark 16:9-20, yet there is a significant blank space here for these verses. Sinaiticus also lacks these verses, but has a blank space for them.

That is not quite true either.  Vaticanus has a blank space following Mark 16:8 that is sufficient to hold verses 9-20 (in slightly compressed lettering).  But Sinaiticus, which contains replacement-pages for Mark 14:54-Luke 1:56, displays no special blank space after Mark 16:8; after Mark 16:8 in À there is an especially emphatic coronis, and the book’s closing-title, after which is the same blank space which the scribe normally would leave blank after the end of a book.  It is not sufficient for verses 9-20.  The Gospel of Luke begin in the next column.

l Tischendorf “found it [Codex Sinaiticus] in a trash can, waiting to be burnt!”

That is not quite true either.  Tischendorf did claim to have encountered pages of Sinaiticus in a basket, but he never described it as a “trash basket.”  It was simply a basket, of the sort which J. R. Harris (who visited St. Catherine’s Monastery) confirmed was used by the monks of the monastery to transport manuscripts. 


l  “Why would the monks of St. Catherine’s thrown out such a valuable manuscript?”

Why indeed?  It appears that the monks had no intention of throwing it out, or of burning it.  Tischendorf either concocted the story about what he was told (that “two heaps of papers like these, mouldered by time, had been already committed to the flames”), or he misunderstood what he was told.  He may have happened to serendipitously encounter, in 1844, pages of Sinaiticus at the same time the monks were undertaking a fresh re-binding of its pages. 


l [Quoting John Burgon] “Tregelles has freely pronounced that “the state of the text, as proceeding from the first scribe, may be regarded as very rough.”


That is true.  Tregelles’ observation, however, should be complemented by an understanding of how the New Testament portion of À was made:  there was the main copyist, and there was also the proofreader, or diorthotēs; the main copyist was truly a terrible speller, and frequently inattentive, but much of his carelessness was undone by the proof-reader, so, before the manuscript left the scriptorium, many of the main copyist’s mistakes had already been corrected.

l  “Sinaiticus has also been corrected by “…at least ten revisers between the IVth and XIIth centuries…”

That is true, but all this means is that, in addition to the corrections made by the diorthotēs,
À features readings drawn from manuscripts besides its exemplar. The “corrections” are not all true corrections (i.e., they do not all bring the text in the manuscript closer to the original text), but testify to the contents of manuscripts valued by the correctors. 


l Codex Sinaiticus “looks like a much-corrected rough draft.”

That is true – but looks can be deceiving.  What is shown in the image presented at the PreservedWord website is part of a page of Codex Sinaiticus that contains the Greek text from Second Esdras 21 and 22, and a variety of corrections, all of which can be seen at the website. 

l “Sinaiticus also includes spurious, uninspired, apocryphal books, including 2 Esdras,Tobit, Judith, 1 & 4 Maccabees, Wisdom and Sirach in the Old Testament.”

That is true, but, again, the scribes of the manuscript were simply perpetuating the (unfixed) canon of the Septuagint handed down to them. 


l Sinaiticus includes the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. “These two false writings (Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas) promote New Age and Satanism.”

This statement springs from a profound misunderstanding of the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas.  Neither composition supports the doctrines of the “New Age,” and neither one supports Satanism.  They were both generally regarded as orthodox in the early church, but their authors were not considered equal in authority to the authors of the New Testament books.

l “Burgon had personally examined these two manuscripts, and noted that their text differed greatly form that of 95% of all manuscripts.”

Another way of saying that their text differed greatly from the form of text found in 95% of all manuscripts is that the Alexandrian Text (of which
À and B are the fullest Greek representatives) differs greatly from the Byzantine Text, which is attested by the vast majority of Greek manuscripts.  The Alexandrian Text, though supported by early manuscripts such as Papyrus 75, circulated mainly in Egypt, and when the dominant language in Egypt shifted away from Greek, the Greek Alexandrian Text gradually was supplanted by manuscripts written in the local dialects (Sahidic, Bohairic, etc.).


l “When examining the Gospels as found in Vaticanus, Burgon found 7578 deviations from the majority, with 2370 of them being serious. In the Gospels of Sinaiticus, he found 8972 deviations, with 3392 serious ones.”


Four thousand deviations are indeed serious, but the simple fact that the text of manuscript #1 disagrees with the text of manuscript #2 four thousand times does not automatically settle any specific textual variant.  Those 3,392 variants counted by Burgon only show that the majority of manuscripts disagree with the text of À in 3,392 places; they do not mean that the reading in Sinaiticus is non-original every time (nor does it mean that the reading of the majority of manuscripts is non-original every time). 


l Burgon found that “In the Gospels alone, Vaticanus has 197 particular readings, while Sinaiticus has 443.” 

The number of singular readings in B, and in
À, does not say a lot for the carefulness of their scribes.  On the other hand, quite a few of the singular readings in B are orthographic and do not affect translation.  Meanwhile, many of the singular readings in À are the effects of (a) the main scribe’s carelessness and abysmal spelling, and (b) the use, in the first seven chapters of John, of a different exemplar. 


l “Manuscripts repeatedly proven to have incorrect readings loose respectability.”

This is not quite true.   The singular readings in B and
À are not indicative of unreliable exemplars (except, perhaps, in the opening chapters of John in À); they are indicative of the shortcomings of the manuscripts’ scribes.  Other early manuscripts have comparable rates of singular readings in the Gospels. 


l “These two manuscript witnesses constantly disagree with the majority of the manuscript evidence, showing them to be suspect witnesses.”


That is not quite true.  The primary reason why the text of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus disagrees with the majority of the manuscript evidence is that Vatican and Sinaiticus display the Alexandrian Text, which dominated a different locale (Egypt) (as opposed to the Byzantine Text, which was dominant in Byzantium, Syria, etc.).   It was natural for John Burgon to regard their text with suspicion in the 1870s – but a few decades later, Grenfell and Hunt made excavations at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt which uncovered manuscripts (including some papyrus manuscripts older than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) that also supported the Alexandrian Text.  These were not nearly as numerous as the manuscripts that support the Byzantine Text, but they were earlier, and thus provide a window upon the text of the New Testament that was used in Egypt in the first few centuries of Christendom.    


l “The telling sign of false witnesses is a disagreement in their testimony. It will be seen that Sinaiticus and Vaticanus do not pass the false witness test.”

A distinction must be made between false readings (which can be as simple as bad spelling - something of which the PreservedWord website is sometimes guilty) and false statements.  Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus do share some readings which are also false statements (most notably at Matthew 27:49), but such cases do not occur as often as the PreservedWord website’s author suggests. 


l “Herman Hoskier did a full collation of these two manuscripts in the Gospels, and counted the following disagreements” which yield a total of 3,036 disagreements between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.


That is true, and yet it should be observed that this is a comparison of the text in Vaticanus to the text written by the main scribe of Codex Sinaiticus, not to the text of Sinaiticus as it existed after passing inspection by its scriptorium’s diorthotēs.  And it should be noted that many of À’s disagreements with B, when they are not the effects of scribal carelessness, are clustered in the opening chapters of the Gospel of John, for which a different exemplar (with a form of the Western text) was used.


l “Therefore, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are worthless manuscripts.”

That is not true.  The quality of the performance of the scribes of Sinaiticus left much to be desired, and both manuscripts have undergone some damage (Vaticanus lacks the text of Hebrews after 9:14, the Pastoral Epistles, and Revelation).  But the Alexandrian Text, although it contains its fair share of disagreements with the Byzantine Text, is not worthless.  It simply lacks the level of scribal thoughtfulness (good and bad) which the Byzantine scribes displayed.  

l “They display horrible penmanship, and have been subject to many correctors.”

That is not quite true.  The penmanship of the main scribes of Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus is usually quite neat
.  And it is no automatic point against a manuscript that it has been “corrected” on multiple occasions; this was a side-effect of its use in locales where there were manuscripts that disagreed (rightly or wrongly) with its exemplar.


l “They are false witnesses of the Word of God.”

That is not quite true.  Granted, there are some readings in Vaticanus that are scribal blunders (such as its reading in John 17:15, “I am not praying that you protect then from the evil one”), and the problem is worse in the text of Sinaiticus (such as its attribution of Psalm 78:2 to Isaiah, in Matthew 13:35).  But scribal blunders are by no means unique to these two manuscripts.  As a whole, the Alexandrian Text is almost as accurate as the Byzantine Text, and the Alexandrian Text frequently preserves the original form of the text where it has been benignly modified in the Byzantine Text (via the substitution of a proper name where originally there was only a pronoun, or via a harmonization to a parallel-passage, or via a lectionary-related expansion).


l The PreservedWord website presents a long quotation from John Burgon:  “I am utterly unable to believe, in short, that God’s promise [of preservation] has so entirely failed, that at the end of 1800 years much of the text of the Gospel had in point of fact to be picked by a German critic out of a waste-paper basket in the convent of St. Catherine; and that the entire text had to be remodelled after the pattern set by a couple of copies which had remained in neglect during fifteen centuries, and had probably owed their survival to that neglect; whilst hundreds of others had been thumbed to pieces, and had bequeathed their witness to copies made from them.”

Burgon’s criticism of the text of Westcott and Hort, who relied extremely heavily upon
À and B, has much to commend it.  Westcott and Hort favored the Alexandrian Text far too much, and this has been granted by most modern textual critics (although one could hardly notice from the current compilations of Nestle-Aland and UBS).  Hort described the mostly Byzantine Textus Receptus – the base-text of the New Testament in the King James Version – as “villainous” in 1851, and his mind does not seem to have changed at all from 1851 to 1881, when the Westcott-Hort revision of the text (titled “The New Testament in the Original Greek”) was printed.

            But Burgon’s other statements should be considered as well.  Burgon insisted that the Textus Receptus needed to be revised, writing in 1883 in The Revision Revised, p. 21, “Once for all, we request it may be clearly understood that we do not, by any means, claim perfection for the Received Text.  We entertain no extravagant notions on this subject.  Again and again we shall have occasion to point out (e.g., at page 107) that the Textus Receptus needs correction.”
            Burgon lamented that his generation lacked sufficient materials to undertake such a revision.  But nowadays, in 2022, when the Hodges-Farstad Majority Text and the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform have been produced, as well as the Patriarchal Text (which is primarily Byzantine), what was envisioned by Burgon is obtainable – and the textual adjustments/corrections involved in such an undertaking, giving readers an accurate reconstruction of the original text of the books of the New Testament, should take readings from the Alexandrian Text into consideration; i.e., if an Alexandrian reading is to be rejected, it should be rejected on the basis of internal or external evidence (or both), not merely because the manuscripts that support it are in a minority.

l “As Sinaiticus has been exalted in the public’s eye by the Codex Sinaiticus Project, I would not be surprised if Vaticanus is also exalted and placed online for all to see and venerate.”

This has already happened.  The Polonsky Foundation Digitalization Project has financed the digitalization of not only Codex Vaticanus, but many other manuscripts as well (including Papyrus 72, Papyrus 75, Codex S, and many minuscules, several of which are described here).  But the online images do not encourage idolatry; they are simply digital pictures.


l “These manuscripts may be the driving force to get “Protestants” to accept the Apocrypha as well as the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas, books so heretical that even the Roman Catholic Church does not accept them as Scripture.”

The issue of whether or not to accept the Apocrypha will not be settled by the introduction of À and B into the equation; the issue, rather, is a matter of respecting the Hebrew Bible (in 24 books, or 39 as Protestants usually divide them) or the longer canon of the Septuagint.


l “We need to be alert, and not fall for these manuscript idols.”


While it is incontestable that Christians should be alert, as First Corinthians 16:13 says, it does not follow that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, or any other New Testament manuscript, is an idol.  This is a touch of pejorative language from the writer at the PreservedWord website.


l “We also need to be aware that most Bible versions, other than the KJV, rely heavily on these manuscripts.”

In the case of the NIV, ESV, NLT, CSB, and NRSV, this is certainly true, but there are also translations which are based on the Textus Receptus (such as the MEV) and translations which are based on the Byzantine Text (such as the World English Bible) and the Patriarchal Text (such as the Eastern Orthodox Bible’s New Testament).


l “The NKJV, while using the correct text, includes “alternate readings” from Sinaiticus and Vaticanus in the margin. (Such as “The oldest MSS. say…”) We need to reject these for the tried and true King James Version.”

The NKJV’s margin also includes some “M” readings – “M” as in “majority.”  The KJV’s base-text contains about 1,000 minority readings which impact translation.  If Burgon’s hope – for a competently-made revision of the Textus Receptus – is to ever be achieved, it will involve acknowledging what Burgon knew very well:   “The Textus Receptus needs correction.”  Such correction will never take place as long as those who could contribute to it instead choose to demonize the Alexandrian Text, and set the Textus Receptus in concrete, so to speak, pretending that it is as close as we can come to the original text. 

            The PreservedWord website states, on another page, “The Word of God is found in the Byzantine text-type.”  If its writer, Luke Mounsey, ever wants to see the original text of the New Testament, he should engage in textual criticism, and consider all the available evidence, not just the relatively late manuscripts upon which the Textus Receptus was based.