Are Not the Oldest MSS the Best?

Burgon recognized the "antecedent probability" with these words:

The more ancient testimony is probably the better testimony. That it is not by any means always so is a familiar fact. . . . But it remains true, notwithstanding, that until evidence has been produced to the contrary in any particular instance, the more ancient of two witnesses may reasonably be presumed to be the better informed witness.[1]

This a priori expectation seems to have been elevated to a virtual certainty in the minds of many textual critics of the past century. The basic ingredient in the work of men like Tregelles, Tischendorf and Hort was a deference to the oldest MSS, and in this they followed Lachmann.

The `best' attestation, so Lachmann maintained, is given by the oldest witnesses. Taking his stand rigorously with the oldest, and disregarding the whole of the recent evidence, he drew the consequences of Bengel's observations. The material which Lachmann used could with advantage have been increased; but the principle that the text of the New Testament, like that of every other critical edition, must throughout be based upon the best available evidence, was once and for all established by him.[2]

Note that Zuntz here clearly equates "oldest" with "best." He evidently exemplifies what Oliver has called "the growing belief that the oldest manuscripts contain the most nearly original text." Oliver proceeds:

Some recent critics have returned to the earlier pattern of Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort: to seek for the original text in the oldest MSS. Critics earlier in the 20th century were highly critical of this 19th century practice. The return has been motivated largely by the discovery of papyri which are separated from the autographs by less than two centuries.[3]

But, the "contrary evidence" is in hand. We have already seen that most significant variants had come into being by the year 200, before the time of the earliest extant MSS, therefore. The a priori presumption in favor of age is nullified by the known existence of a variety of deliberately altered texts in the second century: Each witness must be evaluated on its own. As Colwell has so well put it, "the crucial question for early as for late witnesses is still, 'WHERE DO THEY FIT INTO A PLAUSIBLE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE HISTORY OF THE MANUSCRIPT TRADITION?'"[4]

It is generally agreed that all the earliest MSS, the ones upon which our critical texts are based, come from Egypt.

When the textual critic looks more closely at his oldest manuscript materials, the paucity of his resources is more fully realized. All the earliest witnesses, papyrus or parchment, come from Egypt alone. Manuscripts produced in Egypt, ranging between the third and fifth centuries, provide only a half-dozen extensive witnesses (the Beatty Papyri, and the well-known uncials, Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Ephraem Syrus, and Freer Washington).[5] [To these the Bodmer Papyri must now be added.]

But what are Egypt's claims upon our confidence? And how wise is it to follow the witness of only one locale? Anyone who finds the history of the text presented herein to be convincing will place little confidence in the earliest MSS.

Their quality judged by themselves

Quite apart from the history of the transmission of the text, the earliest MSS bear their own condemnation on their faces. P66 is widely considered to be the earliest extensive manuscript. What of its quality? Again I borrow from Colwell's study of P45, P66, and P75. Speaking of "the seriousness of intention of the scribe and the peculiarities of his own basic method of copying," he continues:

On these last and most important matters, our three scribes are widely divided. P75 and P45 seriously intend to produce a good copy, but it is hard to believe that this was the intention of P66. The nearly 200 nonsense readings and 400 itacistic spellings in P66 are evidence of something less than disciplined attention to the basic task. To this evidence of carelessness must be added those singular readings whose origin baffles speculation, readings that can be given no more exact label than carelessness leading to assorted variant readings. A hurried count shows P45 with 20, P75 with 57, and P66 with 216 purely careless readings. As we have seen, P66 has, in addition, more than twice as many "leaps" from the same to the same as either of the others.[6]

Colwell's study took into account only singular readings—readings with no other MS support. He found P66 to have 400 itacisms plus 482 other singular readings, 40 percent of which are nonsensical.[7] "P66 editorializes as he does everything else—in a sloppy fashion."[8] In short, P66 is a very poor copy and yet it is one of the earliest!

P75 is placed close to P66 in date. Though not as bad as P66, it is scarcely a good copy. Colwell found P75 to have about 145 itacisms plus 257 other singular readings, 25 percent of which are nonsensical.[9] Although Colwell gives the scribe of P75 credit for having tried to produce a good copy, P75 looks good only by comparison with P66. (If you were asked to write out the Gospel of John by hand, would you make over 400 mistakes?[10] Try it and see!) It should be kept in mind that the figures offered by Colwell deal only with errors which are the exclusive property of the respective MSS. They doubtless contain many other errors which happen to be found in some other witness(es) as well. In other words, they are actually worse even than Colwell's figures indicate.

P45, though a little later in date, will be considered next because it is the third member in Colwell's study. He found P45 to have approximately 90 itacisms plus 275 other singular readings, 10 percent of which are nonsensical.[11] However P45 is shorter than P66 (P75 is longer) and so is not comparatively so much better as the figures might suggest at first glance. Colwell comments upon P45 as follows:

Another way of saying this is that when the scribe of P45 creates a singular reading, it almost always makes sense; when the scribes of P66 and P75 create singular readings, they frequently do not make sense and are obvious errors. Thus P45 must be given credit for a much greater density of intentional changes than the other two.[12]

As an editor the scribe of P45 wielded a sharp axe. The most striking aspect of his style is its conciseness. The dispensable word is dispensed with. He omits adverbs, adjectives, nouns, participles, verbs, personal pronouns—without any compensating habit of addition. He frequently omits phrases and clauses. He prefers the simple to the compound word. In short, he favors brevity. He shortens the text in at least fifty places in singular readings alone. But he does not drop syllables or letters. His shortened text is readable.[13]

Of special significance is the possibility of affirming with certainty that the scribe of P45 deliberately and extensively shortened the text. Colwell credits him with having tried to produce a good copy. If by "good" he means "readable," fine, but if by "good" we mean a faithful reproduction of the original, then P45 is bad. Since P45 contains many deliberate alterations it can only be called a "copy" with certain reservations.

P46 is thought by some to be as early as P66. Zuntz's study of this manuscript is well-known. "In spite of its neat appearance (it was written by a professional scribe and corrected—but very imperfectly—by an expert), P46 is by no means a good manuscript. The scribe committed very many blunders . . . . My impression is that he was liable to fits of exhaustion."[14]

It should be remarked in passing that Codex B is noted for its "neat appearance" also, but it should not be assumed that therefore it must be a good copy. Zuntz says further: "P46 abounds with scribal blunders, omissions, and also additions."[15]

. . . the scribe who wrote the papyrus did his work very badly. Of his innumerable faults, only a fraction (less than one in ten) have been corrected and even that fraction—as often happens in manuscripts—grows smaller and smaller towards the end of the book. Whole pages have been left without any correction, however greatly they were in need of it.[16]

Hoskier, also, has discussed the "large number of omissions" which disfigure P46.[17] Again Zuntz says: "We have observed that, for example, the scribe of P46 was careless and dull and produced a poor representation of an excellent tradition. Nor can we ascribe the basic excellence of this tradition to the manuscript from which P46 was copied (we shall see that it, too, was faulty)."[18]

It is interesting to note that Zuntz feels able to declare the parent of P46 to be faulty also. But, that P46 represents an "excellent tradition" is a gratuitous assertion, based on Hort's theory. What is incontrovertible is that P46 as it stands is a very poor copy—as Zuntz himself has emphatically stated.

Aland says concerning P47: "We need not mention the fact that the oldest manuscript does not necessarily have the best text. P47 is, for example, by far the oldest of the manuscripts containing the full or almost full text of the Apocalypse, but it is certainly not the best."[19]

Their quality judged between themselves

As to B and Aleph, we have already noted Hoskier's statement that these two MSS disagree over 3,000 times in the space of the four Gospels. Simple logic imposes the conclusion that one or the other must be wrong over 3,000 times—that is, they have over 3,000 mistakes between them. (If you were to write out the four Gospels by hand do you suppose you could manage to make 3,000 mistakes, or 1,500?) Aleph and B disagree, on the average, in almost every verse of the Gospels. Such a showing seriously undermines their credibility.

Burgon personally collated what in his day were "the five old uncials" (À, A, B, C, D). Throughout his works he repeatedly calls attention to the concordia discors, the prevailing confusion and disagreement, which the early uncials display between themselves. Luke 11:2-4 offers one example.

"The five Old Uncials" (ÀABCD) falsify the Lord's Prayer as given by St. Luke in no less than forty-five words. But so little do they agree among themselves, that they throw themselves into six different combinations in their departures from the Traditional Text; and yet they are never able to agree among themselves as to one single various reading: while only once are more than two of them observed to stand together, and their grand point of union is no less than an omission of the article. Such is their eccentric tendency, that in respect of thirty-two out of the whole forty-five words they bear in turn solitary evidence.[20]

Mark 2:1-12 offers another example.

In the course of those 12 verses . . . there will be found to be 60 variations of reading. . . . Now, in the present instance, the 'five old uncials' cannot be the depositories of a tradition—whether Western or Eastern—because they render inconsistent testimony in every verse. It must further be admitted, (for this is really not a question of opinion, but a plain matter of fact,) that it is unreasonable to place confidence in such documents. What would be thought in a Court of Law of five witnesses, called up 47 times for examination, who should be observed to bear contradictory testimony every time?[21]

Hort, also, had occasion to notice an instance of this concordia discors. Commenting on the four places in Mark's Gospel (14:30, 68, 72a,b) where the cock's crowing is mentioned he said:"The confusion of attestation introduced by these several cross currents of change is so great that of the seven principal MSS ÀA B C D L D no two have the same text in all four places."[22] He might also have said that in these four places the seven uncials present themselves in twelve different combinations (and only A and D agree together three times out of the four).If we add W and Q the confusion remains the same except that now there are thirteen combinations. Are such witnesses worthy of credence?

Recalling Colwell's effort to reconstruct an "Alexandrian" archetype for chapter one of Mark, either Codex B is wrong 34 times in that one chapter or else a majority of the remaining primary "Alexandrian" witnesses is wrong, and so for Aleph and L, etc. Further, Kenyon admitted that B is "disfigured by many blunders in transcription."[23] Scrivener said of B:

One marked feature, characteristic of this copy, is the great number of its omissions. . . . That no small portion of these are mere oversights of the scribe seems evident from the circumstance that this same scribe has repeatedly written words and clauses twice over, a class of mistakes which Mai and the collators have seldom thought fit to notice, . . . but which by no means enhances our estimate of the care employed in copying this venerable record of primitive Christianity.[24]

Even Hort conceded that the scribe of B "reached by no means a high standard of accuracy."[25] Aleph is acknowledged on every side to be worse than B in every way.

Codex D is in a class by itself. Said Scrivener:

The internal character of the Codex Bezae is a most difficult and indeed an almost inexhaustible theme. No known manuscript contains so many bold and extensive interpolations (six hundred, it is said, in the Acts alone). . . . Mr. Harris from curious internal evidence, such as the existence in the text of a vitiated rendering of a verse of Homer which bears signs of having been retranslated from a Latin translation, infers that the Greek has been made up from the Latin.[26]

Hort spoke of "the prodigious amount of error which D contains."[27] Burgon concluded that D resembles a Targum more than a transcription.[28]

Their quality judged by the ancient Church

If these are our best MSS we may as well agree with those who insist that the recovery of the original wording is impossible, and turn our minds to other pursuits. But the evidence indicates that the earliest MSS are the worst. It is clear that the Church in general did not propagate the sort of text found in the earliest MSS, which demonstrates that they were not held in high esteem in their day.

Consider the so-called "Western" text-type. In the Gospels it is represented by essentially one Greek MS, Codex Bezae (D, 05), plus the Latin versions (sort of). So much so that for many years no critical text has used a cover symbol for "Western". In fact, K. and B. Aland now refer to it simply as the "D" text (their designation is objective, at least). The Church universal simply refused to copy or otherwise propagate that type of text. Nor can the Latin Vulgate legitimately be claimed for the "Western" text—it is more "Byzantine" than anything else (recall that it was translated in the 4th century).

Consider the so-called "Alexandrian" text-type. In more recent times neither the UBS nor the Nestle texts use a cover symbol for this "text" either (only for the "Byzantine"). F. Wisse collated and analyzed 1,386 MSS for chapters 1, 10 and 20 of Luke.[29] On the basis of shared mosaics of readings he was able to group the MSS into families, 15 "major" groups and 22 lesser ones. One of the major ones he calls "Egyptian" ("Alexandrian")—it is made up of precisely four uncials and four cursives, plus another two of each that are "Egyptian" in one of the three chapters. Rounding up to ten, that makes ten out of 1,386—less than 1%!

Again, the Church universal simply refused to copy or otherwise propagate that type of text. Codex B has no "children". Codex Aleph has no "children"—in fact, it is so bad that across the centuries something like 14 different people worked on it, trying to fix it up (but no one copied it). Recall Colwell's study wherein he tried to arrive at the archetype of the "Alexandrian" text in chapter one of Mark on the basis of the 13 MSS presumed to represent that type of text. They were so disparate that he discarded the seven "worst" ones and then tried his experiment using the remaining six. Even then the results were so bad—Codex B diverged from the mean text 34 times (just in one chapter)—that Colwell threw up his hands and declared that such an archetype never existed. If Colwell is correct then the "Alexandrian" text-type cannot represent the Autograph. The Autograph is the ultimate archetype, and it did indeed exist.

Consider one more detail. Zuntz says of the scribe of P46: "Of his innumerable faults, only a fraction (less than one in ten) have been corrected and even that fraction—as often happens in manuscripts—grows smaller and smaller towards the end of the book. Whole pages have been left without any correction, however greatly they were in need of it."[30]

A similar thing happens in P66. Why? Probably because the corrector lost heart, gave up. Perhaps he saw that the transcription was so hopelessly bad that no one would want to use it, even if he could patch it up. It should also be noted that although many collations and discussions of MSS ignore errors of spelling, to a person in the year 250 wishing to use a copy, for devotional study or whatever, errors in spelling would be just as annoying and distracting as more serious ones. A copy like P66, with roughly two mistakes per verse, would be set aside in disgust.

Further, how could the early MSS survive for 1,500 years if they had been used? (I have worn out several Bibles in my short life.) Considering the relative difficulty of acquiring copies in those days (expensive, done by hand) any worthy copy would have been used until it wore out. Which brings us to the next possible objection.

Why Are There No Early "Byzantine" MSS?

Why would or should there be? To demand that a MS survive for 1,500 years is in effect to require both that it have remained unused and that it have been stored in Egypt (or Qumran). Even an unused MS would require an arid climate to last so long.

But is either requirement reasonable? Unless there were persons so rich as to be able to proliferate copies of the Scriptures for their health or amusement, copies would be made on demand, in order to be used. As the use of Greek died out in Egypt the demand for Greek Scriptures would die out too, so we should not expect to find many Greek MSS in Egypt.

It should not be assumed, however, that the "Byzantine" text was not used in Egypt. Although none of the early Papyri can reasonably be called "Byzantine", they each contain "Byzantine" readings. The case of P66 is dramatic. The first hand was extensively corrected, and both hands are dated around A.D. 200. The 1st hand is almost half "Byzantine" (a. 47%), but the 2nd hand regularly changed "Byzantine" readings to "Alexandrian" and vice versa, i.e. he changed "Alexandrian" to "Byzantine", repeatedly. This means that they must have had two exemplars, one "Alexandrian" and one "Byzantine"—between the two hands the "Byzantine" text receives considerable attestation.

Consider the case of Codex B and P75; they are said to agree 82% of the time (unprecedented for "Alexandrian" MSS, but rather poor for "Byzantine"). But what about the 18% discrepancy? Most of the time, when P75 and B disagree one or the other agrees with the "Byzantine" reading. If they come from a common source, that source would have been more "Byzantine" than either descendant. Even the Coptic versions agree with the "Byzantine" text as often as not.

"Orphan children"

The study and conclusions of Lake, Blake, and New, already discussed in a prior section, are of special interest here. They looked for evidence of direct genealogy and found virtually none. I repeat their conclusion.

. . . the manuscripts which we have are almost all orphan children without brothers or sisters.

Taking this fact into consideration along with the negative result of our collation of MSS at Sinai, Patmos, and Jerusalem, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed their exemplars when they had copied the sacred books.[31]

Is it unreasonable to suppose that once an old MS became tattered and almost illegible in spots the faithful would make an exact copy of it and then destroy it, rather than allowing it to suffer the indignity of literally rotting away? What would such a practice do to our chances of finding an early "Byzantine" MS? Anyone who objects to this conclusion must still account for the fact that in three ancient monastic libraries equipped with scriptoria (rooms designed to facilitate the faithful copying of MSS), there are only "orphan children." Why are there no parents?!

Van Bruggen addresses the problem from a slightly different direction. He says of the "Byzantine" text:

The fact that this text-form is known to us via later manuscripts is as such no proof for a late text-type, but it does seem to become a proof when at the same time a different text is found in all older manuscripts. The combination of these two things seems to offer decisive proof for the late origin of the traditional text.[32]

He answers the "seeming proof" in the following way:

Let us make ourselves aware of what we have presupposed with this seemingly convincing argumentation. What conditions must be satisfied if we wish to award the prize to the older majuscules? While asking this question we assumed wittingly or unwittingly that we were capable of making a fair comparison between manuscripts in an earlier period and those in a later period. After all, we can only arrive at positive statements if that is the case. Imagine that someone said: in the Middle Ages mainly cathedrals were built, but in modern times many small and plainer churches are being built. This statement seems completely true when we today look around in the cities and villages. Yet we are mistaken. An understandable mistake: many small churches of the Middle Ages have disappeared, and usually only the cathedrals were restored. Thus, a great historical falsification of perspective with regard to the history of church-building arises. We are not able to make a general assertion about church-building in the Middle Ages on the basis of the surviving materials. If we would still dare to make such an assertion, then we wrongly assumed that the surviving materials enabled us to make a fair comparison. But how is the situation in the field of New Testament manuscripts? Do we have a representative number of manuscripts from the first centuries? Only if that is the case, do we have the right to make conclusions and positive statements. Yet it is just at this point that difficulties arise. The situation is even such that we know with certainty that we do not possess a representative number of manuscripts from the first centuries.[33]

The conclusion of Lake, Blake, and New reflects another consideration. The age of a manuscript must not be confused with the age of the text it exhibits. Any copy, by definition, contains a text that is older than it is. In Burgon's words, it "represents a MS, or a pedigree of MSS, older than itself; and it is but fair to suppose that it exercises such representation with tolerable accuracy."[34]

The ninth century transliteration process

Van Bruggen discusses yet another relevant consideration.

In the codicology the great value of the transliteration process in the 9th century and thereafter is recognized. At that time the most important New Testament manuscripts written in majuscule script were carefully transcribed into minuscule script. It is assumed that after this transliteration-process the majuscule was taken out of circulation. . . . The import of this datum has not been taken into account enough in the present New Testament textual criticism. For it implies, that just the oldest, best and most customary manuscripts come to us in the new uniform of the minuscule script, does it not? This is even more cogent since it appears that various archetypes can be detected in this transliteration-process for the New Testament. Therefore we do not receive one mother-manuscript through the flood-gates of the transliteration, but several. The originals have, however, disappeared! This throws a totally different light on the situation that we are confronted with regarding the manuscripts. Why do the surviving ancient manuscripts show another text-type? Because they are the only survivors of their generation, and because their survival is due to the fact that they were of a different kind. Even though one continues to maintain that the copyists at the time of the transliteration handed down the wrong text-type to the Middle Ages, one can still never prove this codicologically with the remark that older majuscules have a different text. This would be circular reasoning. There certainly were majuscules just as venerable and ancient as the surviving Vaticanus or Sinaiticus, which, like a section of the Alexandrinus, presented a Byzantine text. But they have been renewed into minuscule script and their majuscule appearance has vanished. Historically it seems as though the most ancient majuscule manuscripts exclusively contain a non-Byzantine text, but the prespective [sic] is falsified here just like it is regarding church-building in the Middle Ages and at present.[35]

The significance of the transliteration process was explained by A. Dain as follows: "The transliterated copy, carefully written and securely bound, became the reference point for the subsequent tradition. The old papyrus and parchment exemplars that had been copied, doubtless quite worn out, were of no further interest and were usually discarded or destroyed."[36] Apparently there was an organized movement to "transliterate" uncial MSS into minuscule form or script. Note that Dain agrees with Lake that the "worn out" exemplars were then destroyed (some may have been "recycled", becoming palimpsests). What if those exemplars were ancient "Byzantine" uncials? Come to think of it, they must have been since the cursives are "Byzantine".

C.H. Roberts comments upon a practice of early Christians that would have had a similar effect.

It was a Jewish habit both to preserve manuscripts by placing them in jars . . . and also to dispose of defective, worn-out, or heretical scriptures by burying them near a cemetery, not to preserve them but because anything that might contain the name of God might not be destroyed. . . . It certainly looks as if this institution of a morgue for sacred but unwanted manuscripts was taken over from Judaism by the early Church.[37]

Note that the effect of this practice in any but an arid climate would be the decomposition of the MSS. If "Byzantine" exemplars, worn out through use, were disposed of in this way (as seems likely), they would certainly perish. All of this reduces our chances of finding really ancient "Byzantine" MSS. Nor is that all.

Imperial repression of the N.T.

There is a further consideration. "It is historically certain that the text of the New Testament endured a very hard time in the first centuries. Many good and official editions of the text were confiscated and destroyed by the authorities during the time of the persecutions."[38]

Roberts refers to "the regular requisition and destruction of books by the authorities at times of persecution, so often recorded in the martyr acts."[39] Such official activity seems to have come to a climax in Diocletian's campaign to destroy the New Testament manuscripts around A.D. 300.

If there was any trauma in the history of the normal transmission of the text, this was it; the more so since the campaign evidently centered upon the Aegean area. Many MSS were found, or betrayed, and burned, but others must have escaped. That many Christians would have spared no effort to hide and preserve their copies of the Scriptures is demonstrated by their attitude towards those who gave up their MSS—the Donatist schism that immediately followed Diocletian's campaign partly hinged on the question of punishment for those who had given up MSS. The Christians whose entire devotion to the Scriptures was thus demonstrated would also be just the ones that would be the most careful about the pedigree of their own MSS; just as they took pains to protect their MSS they presumably would have taken pains to ensure that their MSS preserved the true wording.

In fact, the campaign of Diocletian may even have had a purifying effect upon the transmission of the text. If the laxity of attitude toward the text reflected in the willingness of some to give up their MSS also extended to the quality of text they were prepared to use, then it may have been the more contaminated MSS that were destroyed, in the main, leaving the purer MSS to replenish the earth.[40] But these surviving pure MSS would have been in unusually heavy demand for copying (to replace those that had been destroyed) and been worn out faster than normal.

In short, if the history of transmission presented herein is valid we should not necessarily expect to find any early "Byzantine" MSS. They would have been used and worn out. (But the text they contained would be preserved by their descendants.) An analogy is furnished by the fate of the Biblia Pauperum in the fifteenth century.

The Biblia Pauperum

Of all the Xylographic works, that is, such as are printed from wooden blocks, the BIBLIA PAUPERUM is perhaps the rarest, as well as the most ancient; it is a manual, or kind of catechism of the Bible, for the use of young persons, and of the common people, whence it derives its name,—Biblia Pauperumthe Bible of the Poor; who were thus enabled to acquire, at a comparatively low price, an imperfect knowledge of some of the events recorded in the Scriptures. Being much in use, the few copies of it which are at present to be found in the libraries of the curious are for the most part either mutilated or in bad condition. The extreme rarity of this book, and the circumstances under which it was produced, concur to impart a high degree of interest to it.[41]

Although it went through five editions, presumably totaling thousands of copies, it was so popular that the copies were worn out by use. I maintain that the same thing happened to the ancient "Byzantine" MSS.

Adding to all this the discussion of the quality of the earliest MSS, in the prior section, early age in a MS might well arouse our suspicions—why did it survive? And that brings us to a third possible objection.

"But There Is No Evidence of the Byzantine Text in the Early Centuries"

Although Hort and Kenyon stated plainly that no "Syrian readings" existed before, say, A.D. 250, their present day followers have been obliged by the early papyri to retreat to the weaker statement that it is all the readings together, the "Byzantine" ("Syrian") text that had no early existence. Ehrman states the position as baldly as anyone: "No early Greek Father from anywhere in the early Christian world, no Latin nor Syriac Father, and no early version of the New Testament gives evidence of the existence of the Syrian text prior to the fourth century."[42]

Evidence from the early Fathers

This question has already received some attention in Chapter 4, "'Syrian' Readings before Chrysostom," but K. Aland offers us some fascinating new evidence. In "The Text of the Church?" he offers a tabulation of patristic citations of the N.T.[43] The significance of the evidence is somewhat obscured by the presentation, which seems to be a bit tendentious. The turn of phrase is such as to lead the unwary reader to an exaggerated impression of the evidence against the Majority Text. E.g., Origen is said to be: "55% against the Majority text (30% of which show agreement with the 'Egyptian text'), 28% common to both texts, and 17% with the Majority text." 55 + 28 + 17 = 100. The problem lies with the "of which". In normal English the "of which" refers to the 55% (not 100%); so we must calculate 30% of 55%, which gives us 16.5% (of the total). 55 minus 16.5 leaves 38.5% which is neither Egyptian nor Majority, hence "other". I will chart the statistics unambiguously, following this interpretation.

**(With reference to Hippolytus and Epiphanius, the first line reflects the statistics as given in Aland's article, but they do not add up to 100%. The second line reflects the statistics as given in a pre-publication draft of the same article distributed by the American Bible Society. For Epiphanius the second line is probably correct, since it adds up to 100%—the 33 and 41 were presumably copied from the line above. For Hippolytus the second line doesn't add up either; so we are obliged to engage in a little textual criticism to see if we can recover the original. The third line gives my guess—the 31 and 19 were probably borrowed from the line below [in his article Methodius is placed before Origin—I put them in chronological order]. Six errors in the pre-publication draft were corrected, but another four were created.)

One thing becomes apparent at a glance. With the sole exception of Marcion, each of the Fathers used the Majority Text more than the Egyptian. Even in Clement and Origen (in Egypt, therefore) the Majority text is preferred over the Egyptian, and by the end of the third century the preference is unambiguous. This is startling, because it goes against almost everything that we have been taught during this entire century. Perhaps we have misconstrued Aland's statement. Returning to Origen, we are told that he is "55% against the Majority text (30% of which show agreement with the 'Egyptian text'), . . ." On second thought, the "of which" is probably supposed to refer to the total. In that event a less ambiguous way of presenting the statistics would be to say: "30% with the Egyptian text, 17% with the Majority text, 28% common to both and 25% differing from both." I will chart his statistics in this way, using "other" for the last category.

(I will assume that this second display is more probably what Aland intended, so any subsequent discussion of the evidence from these early Fathers will be based upon it.)

Something that Aland does not explain, but that absolutely demands attention, is the extent to which these early Fathers apparently cited neither the Egyptian nor the Majority texts—a plurality for the first four. Should this be interpreted as evidence against the authenticity of both the Majority and Egyptian texts? Probably not, and for the following reason: a careful distinction must be made between citation, quotation and transcription. A responsible person transcribing a copy will have the exemplar before him and will try to reproduce it exactly. A person quoting a verse or two from memory is liable to a variety of tricks of the mind and may create new readings which do not come from any textual tradition. A person citing a text in a sermon will predictably vary the turn of phrase for rhetorical effect. All Patristic citation needs to be evaluated with these distinctions in mind and must not be pushed beyond its limits.

Evidence from Clement of Alexandria

I wish to explore this question a little further by evaluating a transcription of Mark 10:17-31 done by Clement of Alexandria. Clement's text is taken from Clement of Alexandria, ed. G.W. Butterworth (Harvard University Press, 1939 [The Loeb Classical Library]); Clemens Alexandrinus, ed. Otto Stahlin (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1970); the Library of Greek Fathers (Athens, 1956, vol. 8). It is compared to UBS3 as a representative of the Egyptian text, to the H-F Majority Text as a representative of the Byzantine text, and to Codex D as a representative of the "Western" text. The Greek text of these four sources has been arranged for ease of comparison and is given on the following pages. The four lines in each set are always given in the same order: Clement first [where the three editions are not in full agreement, I follow two against one], Majority Text second, UBS3 third and Codex D fourth. The result is interesting and, I think, instructive.

The total number of variation units in this passage may vary slightly according to differing ways of defining such units (e.g., I treated each long omission as a single variant), but the same basic patterns will emerge.
According to my calculation:

Clement has a total of 58 "singular" readings (within this comparison),
Codex D has a total of 40 "singular" readings,
UBS3 has a total of 10 "singular" readings,
MT has a total of 4 "singular" readings.

Clement and Codex D agree alone together 9 times,
Clement and MT agree alone together 5 times,
Clement and UBS
3 agree alone together 1 time.

This does not necessarily mean that Clement is more closely related to D than to the others.

Within the variation units:
the total agreements between Clement and Codex D are 14,
the total agreements between Clement and UBS
3 are 26,
the total agreements between Clement and MT are 33.

It thus appears that of the three most commonly mentioned "text-types"—Byzantine, Egyptian, and Western—Clement has least relationship to the "Western" (in this passage), although the 9 singular agreements suggest some common influence. It has been commonly stated that Clement is one of the most "Alexandrian" or "Egyptian" of the early Church Fathers, in terms of his textual preference. In this passage, at least, Clement is closer to the Byzantine than to the Egyptian text-type. 24 of the 26 UBS3 agreements with Clement are in common with the MT.

Codex D has long been notorious for its "eccentricity", and this passage provides an eloquent example. But compared to Clement Codex D almost looks tame. I would say that Clement has over 60 mistakes (involving over 120 words) in these 15 verses, or an average of four mistakes per verse! How should we account for such a showing?

Conventional wisdom would argue that with a passage so extensive as this one, 15 verses, the father must have been copying an exemplar that was open in front of him. But it is hard to imagine that an exemplar could have been this bad, or that Clement would have used it if one did exist. I feel driven to conclude that Clement transcribed the passage from memory, but was not well served. I wonder if this doesn't give us a possible explanation for the statistics offered by Aland.

Comparing "other", "Egyptian" and "Majority" the four earliest fathers have "other" leading with a plurality. Among them is Clement, who sides with "other" 32%. However, Aland's statistics are based on a selection of variation units (variant sets) considered to be "significant". If we plot all of Clement's readings within the variation units in Mark 10:17-31 (as given above) on the same chart we get:

E = 2(2%) E&M = 24(23.5%) M = 9(9%) O = 67(65.5%) # 102

The value of "other" rose dramatically. This is because O does not represent a recognizable text-type. In this exercise E and M are discrete entities (UBS3 and MT) while O is a wastebasket that includes singular readings and obvious errors. Perhaps we could agree that true singular readings should be excluded from such tabulations, but any limitation of variant sets beyond that will presumably be influenced by the bias of whoever conducts the exercise.

So what conclusions should we draw from this study of Clement? I submit that all statements about the testimony of the early Fathers need to be re-evaluated. Most NT citations were presumably from memory—in that case allowance must be made for capricious variation. If they would be likely to make stylistic alterations of the sort that are typical of the Egyptian text (such as moving toward classical Greek) they could happen to make the same "improvement" independently. Such fortuitous agreements would not signal genealogical relationship. Also, anti-Byzantine bias needs to be set aside. For instance, faced with Clement's preference for Majority readings in Mark 10:17-31 it is predictable that some will try to argue that medieval copyists "corrected" Clement toward the Byzantine norm. But in that event, why didn't they also correct all the singular readings? Question begging tactics, such as assuming that the Byzantine text was a secondary development, need to be dropped.

Now I wish to return to the chart of the Fathers (the second one) and apply my classification (see Chapter 5) to those statistics. The result looks like this:

(Epiphanius, Chrysostom and Severian presumably did most of their writing in the IV century, and their MSS would date well back into it.)

I imagine that almost everyone who has studied NT textual criticism, as generally taught in our day, will be surprised by this picture. Where is the Egyptian text? The II and III centuries are dominated by O—only in Origen does E manage a plurality while tying with O in Methodius. By the end of the III century (Adamantius), M has taken the lead, and is in clear control of the IV and V. The detractors of the Byzantine text have habitually argued that while Byzantine "readings" may be attested in the early centuries the earliest extant attestation for the Byzantine "text", as such, comes from the V. In contrast, say they, the Egyptian "text" is attested in the III and IV. Well, the tabulations of actual readings from the Fathers and uncials that Aland has furnished seem to tell a different story. In the first place, just what is the "Egyptian text"? How did Aland arrive at the "norm"? Could it be that there is no Egyptian "text" at all, just "readings"? Many of the readings that have fallen under "O" have frequently been called "Western". There are Western "readings", but is there a Western "text"? Many scholars would say no. If there is no Western "text", how can there be Western "readings"? On what basis is a reading to be identified as "Western"? How about the Byzantine "text", can it be objectively defined? Yes. That is why we can tell when we are looking at a Byzantine "reading"—it is characteristic of that objectively defined "text". If the Byzantine "readings" that occur in the II and III century Fathers and papyri do not constitute evidence for the existence of the "text", then neither do the Egyptian and Western "readings" constitute evidence for those "texts".

Evidence from the early papyri

On page 140 Aland also appeals to the papyri: "There is not a trace to be found of the Majority text (as defined by Hodges and his colleagues) in any of the forty-plus papyri of the early period (prior to the period of Constantine), or of the fifty more to the end of the 8th century." He is referring to "text", not "readings", but what does he mean by "not a trace"? In normal usage a "trace" is not very much. After his tabulation of the citations in the earliest Fathers, Aland states: "At least one thing is clearly demonstrated: it is impossible to say that the existence outside Egypt in the early period of what Hodges calls the 'Egyptian text' is unproved" (p. 139). He then refers to the first five Fathers by name. Notice that he is claiming that the 24% preference for Egyptian "readings" in Irenaeus, for example, "proves" the existence of the Egyptian text outside Egypt in the II century. If 24% is enough to prove the existence of a "text", surely 18% would qualify as a "trace"? If Aland's argument here is valid then Marcion's 18% preference for Majority "readings" proves the existence of the Majority "text" in the middle of the II century! If Aland is unwilling to grant that the percentage of Byzantine "readings" to be found in these early Fathers constitutes a "trace", then presumably they contain no trace of the Egyptian text either. But what about the papyri?

Unfortunately Aland's book does not contain a summary of the "systematic test collation"[47] for the papyri, as it does for the uncials, so brief mention will be made of Eldon Epp's study of P45 and Gordon Fee's study of P66. With reference to 103 variation units in Mark 6-9 (where P45 is extant) Epp records that P45 shows a 38% agreement with D, 40% with the TR, 42% with B, 59% with f13, and 68% with W.[48] Fee records that in John 1-14 P66 shows a 38.9% agreement with D, 44.6% with Aleph, 45.0% with W, 45.6% with A, 47.5% with the TR, 48.5% with C, 50.4% with B, and 51.2% with P75.[49] Does 40% not constitute a "trace"? The picture is similar to that offered by the early Fathers. If we plotted these papyri on a chart with the same headings there would be a significant number of variants in each column—"Egyptian", "Majority" and "other" were all important players on the scene in Egypt at the end of the second century.

Mention should be made of the study done by Harry A. Sturz.[50] He himself collated P45,46,47,66,72 and 75, but took citations of P13 and P37 from apparatuses in Nestle texts (p. 140). He compared these papyri with the Byzantine, Alexandrian and Western texts throughout the NT. He charts the results as follows:

"PB = papyrus readings supporting the Byzantine text; A = the Alexandrian text; and W = the Western text. Thus PB/A/W means the Papyrus-Byzantine readings are being compared against the Alexandrian where it differs from the Western readings" (p. 228). It thus appears that Sturz identified 152 places where early papyri side with the Byzantine text against both the Alexandrian and Western texts. He gives evidence for 175 further papyrus-supported Byzantine readings but which have scattered Western or Alexandrian support as well, and thus are not "distinctively Byzantine" (pp. 189-212). He refers to still another 195 cases where the Byzantine reading has papyrus support, but he doesn't list them (p. 187). The 169 PBW/A instances remind us of the statement made by Gunther Zuntz. "Byzantine readings which recur in Western witnesses must [emphasis his] be ancient. They go back to the time before the Chester Beatty papyrus [P46] was written; the time before the emergence of separate Eastern and Western traditions; in short, they reach back deep into the second century."[51] One could wish that Sturz had also given us the PA/BW and PW/AB alignments, but he didn't. In any case, doesn't all that early papyrus attestation of Byzantine readings deserve to be called at least a "trace"?

Evidence from the early Versions

It has been affirmed that the early versions, Latin, Syriac and Coptic, do not witness to the "Byzantine" text. This is part of the larger question-begging procedure, wherein these versions are assigned to the Alexandrian or Western "text-types" (whose own existence has not been demonstrated) and thus denied to the "Byzantine" text. But what would happen if we looked at the performance of these versions without any such preconceived ideas? I just did a rough check of the statements of evidence in the UBS3 apparatus for John. 172 variant sets are listed (recall that they included only "significant" ones), but 13 of them are variant sets within disputed verses—these I disregarded since the prior question is whether or not to include the passage. That left 159, some three dozen of which were not very applicable (some differences are ambiguous in a translation). With reference to the Latin, Syriac and Coptic witness, I asked whether it was with the Byzantine text, against it, or if there was a significant split. Here is the result of that rough count:[52]

Even the Coptic sides with the Byzantine more often than not, but the tendency of both the Latin and the Syriac is clearly toward the Byzantine. And there seems to be no predictable correlation between any of these versions and the important early uncials and papyri. The Old Latin frequently disagrees with D, for instance, or divides. I would say that the Old Latin gives clear testimony to the early existence of the Byzantine "text". If the Syriac and Coptic do not witness to the Byzantine "text" then presumably they may not be claimed for any other "text" either.

Summary and conclusion

The distinction between "readings" and "text" is commonly made in a misleading way. For instance, it is not legitimate to speak of "Western" readings until one has defined a "Western" text, as such. To define a "text" one should reconstruct the presumed archetype. Having done so, then one can identify the readings that are peculiar to that archetype and therefore characteristic of it. No one has ever reconstructed a "Western" archetype, and there is general agreement among scholars that there never was one. That is why critical editions of the Greek NT do not include a cover symbol for the "Western" text. In their recent textbook the Alands now speak of the "D" text, referring to Codex Bezae. It follows that it is not legitimate to speak of "Western" readings. It is even less legitimate to assign MSS, Fathers or Versions to the phantom "Western" text. It is true that early MSS, Fathers and Versions certainly contain many readings that are neither "Alexandrian" nor "Byzantine", but they appear to be largely random, with a common influence discernible here and there. If the "Western" text has no archetype, it cannot represent the original.

Similarly, it is not legitimate to speak of "Alexandrian" readings until one has reconstructed the presumed archetype. Colwell tried and gave it up, declaring that it never existed. The UBS editions and N-A26 no longer use a cover symbol for the "Alexandrian" text. By Aland's figures, the strongest "Alexandrian" witness, Codex B, is only 72% 'pure' in the Synoptics—where shall we go to find the other 28%? P75 and B are said to have an 82% agreement—where shall we go for the other 18%? The witnesses commonly assigned to the "Alexandrian" text are in constant and significant disagreement between and among themselves. A common influence is indeed discernible, but there is a great deal of seemingly random variation as well. They all show significant agreements with the "Byzantine" text, in different places and in varying amounts. In fact, Codex C is more "Byzantine" than "Alexandrian" in the Synoptics. Since there is no "Alexandrian" archetype in hand, I challenge the legitimacy of speaking of "Alexandrian" readings and of claiming early MSS, Fathers and Versions for that supposed "text". If the "Alexandrian" text has no archetype, it cannot represent the original.

In contrast, a "Byzantine" or "Majority" archetype can indeed be reconstructed, with over 99% certainty. This is why modern critical editions of the Greek NT still use a cover symbol for this type of text. It follows that it is entirely legitimate to speak of "Byzantine" or "Majority" readings—they are defined by the archetype. Since the "Byzantine" archetype is the only one that has been demonstrated to exist, where did it come from if not the Autographs?

In any case, the considerations presented demonstrate that if the evidence from the II and III centuries does not attest the presence of the Byzantine "text", then neither does it attest the presence of the Western or Alexandrian "texts". However, I affirm that the evidence is clear to the effect that the Byzantine "text", as such, must have existed in the II century.

Should Not Witnesses Be Weighed, Rather Than Counted?

The form of the question, which reflects that of the assertion usually made, is tendentious. It infers that weighing and counting are mutually exclusive. But why? In any investigation, legal or otherwise, witnesses should be both weighed and counted. First they should be weighed, to be sure, but then they must be counted—or else why bother weighing them, or why bother with witnesses at all? I will discuss the two activities in order, beginning with the weighing.

Weighing first

Just how are MSS to be weighed? And who might be competent to do the weighing? As the reader is by now well aware Hort and most subsequent scholars have done their "weighing" on the basis of so-called "internal evidence"—the two standard criteria are, "choose the reading which fits the context" and "choose the reading which explains the origin of the other reading."

One problem with this has been well stated by Colwell. "As a matter of fact these two standard criteria for the appraisal of the internal evidence of readings can easily cancel each other out and leave the scholar free to choose in terms of his own prejudgments."[53] Further, "the more lore the scholar knows, the easier it is for him to produce a reasonable defense of both readings. . . ."[54]

The whole process is so subjective that it makes a mockery of the word "weigh." The basic meaning of the term involves an evaluation made by an objective instrument. If we wish our weighing of MSS to have objective validity we must find an objective procedure.

How do we evaluate the credibility of a witness in real life? We watch how he acts, listen to what he says and how he says it, and listen to the opinion of his neighbors and associates. If we can demonstrate that a witness is a habitual liar or that his critical faculties are impaired then we receive his testimony with skepticism. It is quite possible to evaluate MSS in a similar way, to a considerable extent, and it is hard to understand why scholars have generally neglected to do so.

Please refer back to the evidence given in the discussion of the oldest MSS. Can we objectively "weigh" P66 as a witness? Well, in the space of John's Gospel it has over 900 clear, indubitable errors—as a witness to the identity of the text of John it has misled us over 900 times. Is P66 a credible witness? I would argue that neither of the scribes of P66 and P75 knew Greek; should we not say that as witnesses they were impaired?[55]

Recall from Colwell's study that the scribe of P45 evidently made numerous deliberate changes in the text—should we not say that he was morally impaired? In any case, he has repeatedly misinformed us. Shall we still trust him?

Similarly, it has been shown by simple logic/arithmetic that Aleph and B have over 3,000 mistakes between them, just in the Gospels. Aleph is clearly worse than B, but probably not twice as bad—at least 1,000 of those mistakes are B's. Do Aleph and B fit your notion of a good witness?

Even when it is not possible to affirm objectively that a particular witness is misinformed, his credibility suffers if he keeps dubious company. Several references have already been given to the phenomenon Burgon called concordia discors. I will add one more. Burgon invites us to turn to Luke 8:35-44 and collate the five old uncials À,A,B,C,D throughout these verses. Comparing them to each other against the background of the majority of MSS—A stands alone 2 times; B, 6 times; À, 8 times; C, 15 times; D, 93 times—A and B stand together by themselves once; B and À, 4 times; B and C, once; B and D, once; À and C, once; C and D, once—A, À and C conspire once; B, À and C, once; B, À and D, once; A, B, À and C, once; B, À, C and D, once. Not once do all five agree against the majority. As Burgon observed, they "combine, and again stand apart, with singular impartiality," which led him to conclude:

Will any one, after a candid survey of the premises, deem us unreasonable, if we avow that such a specimen of the concordia discors which everywhere prevails between the oldest uncials, but which especially characterizes À B D, indisposes us greatly to suffer their unsupported authority to determine for us the Text of Scripture?[56]

Must we not agree with him?

We need also to check out the opinion of a witness' contemporaries. Do they testify to his good character, or are there reservations? To judge by the circumstance that Codices like Aleph and B were not copied, to speak of, that the Church by and large rejected their form of the text, it seems they were not respected in their day. What objective evidence do we have to lead us to reverse the judgment of their contemporaries?

Scholars like Zuntz will protest that a MS may represent an excellent tradition in spite of the poor job done by the scribe.[57] Perhaps so, but how can we know? I see only two ways of reaching the conclusion that a certain tradition is excellent—either through the testimony of witnesses that commend themselves as dependable, or through the preference and imagination of the critic. In neither case does the conclusion depend upon the poor copy itself—in the one case it rests upon the authority of independent, dependable witnesses, and in the other it rests upon the authority of the critic. The poor copy itself has no claims on our confidence.

Counting next[58]

Having weighed the witnesses, we must then count them. In the counting, preference must be given to those copies that are not demonstrably poor, or bad. Just as before the law a person is considered innocent until proven guilty, so a witness must be assumed to be truthful until it can be proved a liar. But before counting, we must try to determine if there has been any collusion among the witnesses. Any that appear to be mutually dependent should be lumped together. Then, each witness that appears to be both independent and trustworthy must be allowed to vote; such witnesses must indeed be counted. If several hundred such witnesses agree against three or four inveterate prevaricators, can there be any reasonable doubt as to the identity of the true reading? I will return to this matter in the following chapter.

Should anyone still care to raise the objection that "Byzantine readings repeatedly prove to be inferior," I reply: "Prove it!" Since all such characterizations have been based upon the demonstrably fallacious canons of "internal evidence" they have no validity. I consider the allegation to be vacuous. I would also require that he openly state his presuppositions. Differing presuppositions normally lead to differing conclusions.

I have demonstrated that the W-H critical theory and history of the text are erroneous. I have outlined the history of the transmission of the text which I believe best accords with the available evidence. It remains to give a coherent statement of the procedure by which we may assure ourselves of the precise identity of the original wording of the New Testament text.

[1]Burgon, The Traditional Text, p. 40.

[2]Zuntz, The Text, pp. 6-7.

[3]Oliver, pp. 312-13.

[4]Colwell, "Hort Redivivus," p. 157.

[5]Clark, "The Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament," p. 3.

[6]Colwell, "Scribal Habits," pp. 378-79.

[7]Ibid., pp. 374-76.

[8]Ibid., p. 387.

[9]Ibid., pp. 374-76.

[10]I am probably being unfair to the scribe who produced P75—some or many of those errors may have been in his exemplar. The fact remains that whatever their origin P75 contains over 400 clear errors and I am trying by the suggested experiment to help the reader visualize how poor these early copies really are. Carson takes a different view. "If P75, a second-century papyrus [?], is not recensional, then it must be either extremely close to the original or extremely corrupt. The latter possibility appears to be eliminated by the witness of B" (p. 117). How so? If P75 is "extremely corrupt" and B was copied from it, or something similar, then B must also be extremely corrupt. (Hoskier supplies objective evidence to that effect in Codex B and its Allies.)

[11]Colwell, "Scribal Habits," pp. 374-76.

[12]Ibid., p. 376.

[13]Ibid., p. 383.

[14]Zuntz, The Text, p. 18.

[15]Ibid., p. 212.

[16]Ibid., p. 252.

[17]H.C. Hoskier, "A Study of the Chester-Beatty Codex of the Pauline Epistles," The Journal of Theological Studies, XXXVIII (1937), 162.

[18]Zuntz, The Text, p. 157.

[19]Aland, "The Significance of the Papyri," p. 333.

[20]Burgon, The Traditional Text, p. 84.

[21]Burgon, The Revision Revised, pp. 30-31.

[22]Westcott and Hort, p. 243.

[23]Kenyon, Handbook, p. 308.

[24]Scrivener, A Plain Introduction, I, 120.

[25]Westcott and Hort, p. 233.

[26]Scrivener, A Plain Introduction, I, 130. Cf. Rendel Harris, A Study of the Codex Bezae (1891).

[27]Westcott and Hort, p. 149.

[28]Burgon, The Traditional Text, pp. 185-90.

[29]F. Wisse, The Profile Method for Classifying and Evaluating Manuscript Evidence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982).

[30]Zuntz, The Text, p. 252.

[31]Lake, Blake and New, p. 349. D.A. Carson offers the following response to this suggestion: "The answers to this ingenious theory are obvious: (1) If only one copy were made before the exemplar was destroyed, there would never be more than one extant copy of the Greek New Testament! (2) If several copies were made from one exemplar, then either (a) they were not all made at the same time, and therefore the destruction of the exemplar was not a common practice after all; or (b) they were all made at the same time. (3) If the latter obtains, then it should be possible to identify their sibling relationship; yet in fact such identification is as difficult and as precarious as the identification of direct exemplar/copy manuscripts. This probably means we have lost a lot of manuscripts; and/or it means that the divergences between copy and exemplar, as between copy and sibling copy, are frequently difficult to detect. (4) Why are there no copies of the Byzantine text before about A.D. 350, and so many [emphasis Carson's] from there on? This anomaly, it might be argued, demonstrates that the practice of destroying the exemplar died out during the fourth century" (The King James Version Debate, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979, pp. 47-48).

Perhaps it is fortunate that Lake is no longer available for comment upon this extraordinary statement. If I may presume to answer for him, it seems to me apparent that what Lake found was the end of the line, the last generation of copies. Neither Lake nor anyone else has suggested that only one copy would be made of any exemplar, but after a life of use and being copied a worn and tattered MS would be destroyed. Carson's point (4) is hard to believe. Lake, Blake, and New were looking at minuscule MSS, probably none earlier than the tenth century—they had to be copied from something, and it is a fact that Lake and company found no "parents." Carson offers no explanation for this fact. And what are we to understand from his strange remark about "Byzantine" MSS before and after A.D. 350? There are none from the fourth century, unless W (Matthew) be placed there, two partially so from the fifth, and a slowly expanding stream as one moves up through the succeeding centuries. It is only when we come to the minuscule era that we find "so many." Please see the next section, "the ninth century transliteration process," to find out why.

[32]Van Bruggen, p. 24.

[33]Ibid., p. 25.

[34]Burgon, The Traditional Text, p. 47.

[35]Van Bruggen, pp. 26-27.

[36]A. Dain, Les Manuscrits (Paris, 1949), p. 115.

[37]C.H. Roberts, p. 7.

[38]Van Bruggen, p. 29. Cf. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica VIII, II, 1.4 and F.H.A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction, pp. 265-66.

[39]Roberts, p. 8.

[40]Here was an excellent opportunity for the "Alexandrian" and "Western" texts to forge ahead and take "space" away from the "Byzantine", but it did not happen. The Church rejected those types of text. How can modern critics possibly be in a better position to identify the true text than was the Church universal in the early 4th century?

[41]T.H. Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, 4th American edition (4 vols.; Philadelphia: E. Little, 1831), vol. II, p. 217. I am indebted to Maurice Robinson for calling this material to my attention.

[42]Ehrman, p. 72.

[43]K. Aland, "The Text of the Church?", Trinity Journal, 1987, 8NS:131-144 [actually published in 1989], p. 139.

[44] D has a lacuna.

[45] D inverts vv. 24 and 25.

[46] The true MT probably agrees with UBS here.

[47]Not only that, we are not given the criteria used in choosing the variant sets to be collated. Similarly, we are not given the criteria used in choosing Fathers and citations for his article, "The Text of the Church?". Considering Aland's anti-Byzantine bias, we are probably safe in assuming that no choices were made so as to favor the "Byzantine" text; in that event a wider sampling could well increase the Byzantine percentages.

[48]Eldon Epp, "The Twentieth Century Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism," Journal of Biblical Literature, XCIII (1974), pp. 394-96.

[49]G.D. Fee, Papyrus Bodmer II (P66): Its Textual Relationships and Scribal Characteristics (Salt Lake City: U. of Utah Press, 1968), p. 14.

[50]H.A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984).

[51]G. Zuntz, The Text, pp. 150-51.

[52]Peter J. Johnston did an independent evaluation of this material and concluded that I was too cautious; especially in the case of the Syriac the attestation for the "Byzantine" text is stronger than my figures indicate (personal communication).

[53]Colwell, "External Evidence," p. 3.

[54]Ibid., p. 4.

[55]The fact that the transcriber of P75 copied letter by letter and that of P66 syllable by syllable (Colwell, "Scribal Habits," p. 380) suggests strongly that neither one knew Greek. When transcribing in a language you know you copy phrase by phrase, or at the very least word by word. P66 has so many nonsensical readings that the transcriber could not have known the meaning of the text. Anyone who has ever tried to transcribe a text of any length by hand (not typewriter) in a language he does not understand will know that it is a taxing and dreary task. Purity of transmission is not to be expected under such circumstances.

[56]Burgon, The Revision Revised, pp. 16-18.

[57]Cf. Zuntz, The Text, p. 157.

[58]Carson's representation of my position here calls for some comment. He says that I argue that "we must view most manuscripts as independent authorities that ought to be counted, not weighed" (p. 108). "Should not manuscripts be weighed, not counted? Pickering thinks counting is to be preferred because he has already dispensed with the genealogical principle—at least to his own satisfaction" (p. 107). "The only alternative [to eclecticism] is to resort to a method of counting manuscripts" (p. 105). Does not the reader of Carson's critique have the right to assume that he read my book with reasonable care? If Carson did so read my book he has deliberately misrepresented my position, as the reader can easily verify.

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