Alexandrian corruptions

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Bluefalcon, Apr 27, 2006.

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  1. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    First of all, all Alexandrian MSS in my opinion are at least 90 percent perfect if you will, and many of them are even more perfect than that. Therefore, I would never say anything like, "Alexandrian MSS must be corrupt," because such would be untrue at least 90 percent of the time, and sometimes even more than that. Since no complete NT MS is known to be without a mistake of some kind somewhere, we can only talk about degrees of perfection.

    The only thing I'm interested in when arguing Alexandrian vs. Byzantine is which group is the most accurate, the most perfect, if you will. It is my belief that the Byzantines, as a consensus, are more perfect than the Alexandrians. I will even go so far as to say that I do not know for sure any place in the NT where an overwhelming majority of the Byzantines are definitely corrupt. I cannot say that for the Alexandrians.

    For example, the chief Alexandrians (Aleph B L) at the end of Mt. 27:49 include an apparent interpolation from Jn. 19:34, "But another took a spear and pierced his side, and water and blood came forth." This Alexandrian corruption (if I may be permitted to call it that) at this point in the narrative puts Jesus screaming with a loud voice and giving up the ghost (Mt. 27:50) apparently as a result of this vicious action of the one who took up the spear. Not exactly the way Jesus is traditionally remembered to have died, and also at odds with the other accounts.

    SCORE:
    Byzantine Consensus: 1
    Alexandrian Chiefs: 0

    So here is the challenge, and the rules for the challenge, since it is MY thread. In the same post, present (1) your best arguments for the authenticity of what I call a Chief Alexandrian corruption above, and (2) present a place where the Byzantine Consensus is, in your opinion, definitely corrupt, and the reasons for your decision.
     
  2. Deacon

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    Is this what your thinking?

    Byzantine witness: Matthew 5:44 KJV
    “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

    Alexandrian witness: Matthew 5:44 NAS
    “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

    Falcon Point 1: Best argument for authenticity of Alexandrian witness

    Maxim: In general the shorter reading is to be preferred.
    Matthew 5:44 looses about a third of its bulk in the Alexandrian texts.

    Maxim: The reading which can most easily explain the derivation of the others forms is itself most likely the original.
    Byzantine witness is mixed with many divergent witnesses leading credence to the shorter version.

    Additionally the shorter version is strongly supported by the early textual witnesses including Alexandrian manuscripts, western manuscripts and church fathers.

    Falcon Point 2: Byzantine Divergence

    The suggested addition came from Luke 6:27-28 which reads:
    “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
    bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (NAS)

    SCORE:
    Byzantine Consensus: 1
    Alexandrian Chiefs: 1

    Doctrinal importance: none!

    Rob
     
  3. Bluefalcon

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    You did not play by the rules by posting a defense of the Alexandrian Chiefs in Mt. 27:49 in addition to your attack of the Byzantine Consensus. Nevertheless, in good gentlemanlike fashion I will prepare a thorough refutation of your cliams on Mt. 5:44 and also reasons why the Byzantine Consensus there certainly cannot be said to be definitely in error as soon as I get back from vacation next week!
     
  4. Phillip

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    This is a good point, Bluefalcon. IMHO you have broken no rules by using "corruptions" in texts since we all know that corruptions in this case refer to additions, subtractions or changes.

    I have to say that my feelings are the same as yours, although I am not nearly as educated on the subject. Thank you for the patience you take in explaining these issues to those of us who are less gifted than you.
     
  5. Askjo

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    Rob, I do not buy your misleading comment concerning Matthew 5:44 because massive MSS contained it -- FULL reading gone back to 2nd Century.
     
  6. Bluefalcon

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    While indefensible error is already proven to exist in the Alexandrian Chiefs (cf. Mt. 27:49), I maintain that definite error cannot be proven without a doubt to exist in any overwhelming Consensus of the Byzantines.

    What about Mt. 5:44 (cf. Deacon's post above)?

    External evidence for the Alexandrian reading is weak. First, there is no early primary support for it outside of Africa (i.e., only 2 Greek MSS before the 12th century have it), and so at once the reading is suspect as merely local and thus secondary. Second, the lone Old Latin MS that has it is African and widely associated with Cyprian of Carthage, who also appears to have the Alexandrian reading here. Third, the two Old Syriac MSS that have it were found in and are tied by paleography to Egypt. Fourth, the one and a half Coptic Versions that have it are of course Egyptian.

    That said, all remaining early Greek MSS and versions support either the Byzantine Consensus reading or a variant of it. This includes universal geographical standing by way of text-types including the Alexandrian (L 33 579 892 1241 etc.), Western (D and the Old Latin and Vulgate traditions), Caesarian (Theta W etc.), and Byzantine (vast bulk of the Greek MS tradition, Syriac Peshitta tradition, etc.). In short, the Byzantine Consensus reading predominates among the external witnesses.

    Internal evidence corroborates the external evidence. The prevailing question is why the longer text was made shorter. While difficulty is discernible in the words "bless those who curse you" and "do good to those who hate you" (commands apparently so hard to swallow that one might have been moved to delete them), a more prevailing editorial decision may have been at play. That is, why say with many words what may be said with few? For example, the Alexandrian p46 at Ro. 12:14 says, "Bless the persecutors and do not curse them," instead of, "Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them." Such from by far the earliest Greek MS we have of the passage! In such cases as Ro. 12:14 and here in Mt. 5:44, the shorter reading in one or two local MSS, no matter how early, is not to be preferred against universally prevalent external support.

    A secondary question regards the variety of forms -- all with minimal external support -- of the longer and unvaried reading of the Byzantine Consensus. Yet if the shorter Alexandrian reading was introduced early and enjoyed the brief prestige and promulgation the educated center had to offer, the events that must have followed are obvious. Those encountering the shorter reading, but remembering -- perhaps imperfectly -- the original longer reading, would have tried to reconstruct the original form from memory, or, as it appears, from Luke's account. Furthermore, all such meagerly supported varieties of the proposed original, when viewing the external evidence macroscopically, actually amount to an irrefutable argument for the secondary character of the shorter reading. In other words, without the weakly attested shorter reading, the equally weakly attested variants of the original longer reading would never have occurred.

    Whether one agrees with my assessment or not, it certainly cannot be said that Mt. 5:44 presents an irrefutable case of error in the Overwhelming Consensus of the Byzantines.

    SCORE:
    Byzantine Consensus: 1
    Alexandrian Chiefs: 0

    Soon I will present another case of definite Alexandrian corruption.
     
  7. Deacon

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    Welcome back from vacation!

    I have never studied this particular variant in Matthew 27:49
    (In fact I never even heard of it until you brought it up here!).
    I had to do a little studying. This is what I came up with.

    The Westcott and Hort GNT delineate this portion of the text with double brackets indicating a “strong presumption of having been introduced by scribes.”

    οι δε λοιποι ειπαν αφες ιδωμεν ει ερχεται ηλιας σωσων αυτον [[αλλος δε λαβων λογχην ενυξεν αυτου την πλευραν και εξηλθεν υδωρ και αιμα]]
    ο δε ιησους παλιν κραξας φωνη μεγαλη αφηκεν το πνευμα
    Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament (1881) (bolding added for clarification)

    As noted in the OP, Alexandrian manuscripts noted to have this particular (and peculiar) variant are:
    Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph/01 or S) fourth century;
    Codex Vaticanus (B/03) (renowned for being the oldest complete manuscript of the New Testament) fourth century;
    and
    Codex Regius (L/019) eighth century [L is not classically Alexandrian, the first three-quarters of Matthew agrees almost entirely with the Majority Text].

    The variant is absent from other important Alexandrian witnesses including,
    33 (9th century), 579 (13th century) 882, 1241 (12th century) and the Coptic: Bohairic (3rd/4th century), as well as Origen (ca. 182-251).

    Manuscripts dated from the early second century to the beginning of the fourth (100–300 A.D.) do not provide us with any additional data.
    P64 [dated c. 150–175] unfortunately ends at Matthew 26:33.


    Web research [@ http://www.laparola.net/greco/index.php] gives some information that needs further confirmation for reliability (also note that the server is not always available for this site).

    αὐτόν. ἄλλος δὲ λαβὼν λόγχην ἔνυξεν αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευράν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὕδωρ καὶ αἷμα] (see John 19:34) ‭א B C L (U Γ 48 67 115 127 160 364 782 1392 1448 1555 1780 2117 2139 2283 2328 2437 2586 2680 2787 αἷμα καὶ ὕδωρ) 5 26 175 871 1010 1011 1057 1300 1416 1566 1701 2126 2585 2622 2766* vgmss syrpal(mss) copmae ethro ethms slav Chrysostom[according to Severus] [[WH]] [[NM]]


    It seems to indicate that the variant is seen in Alexandrian texts in: ‭א (Aleph), B, L

    Alexandrian / Byzantine: C

    Western: (1448) vg(mss) cop(mae)

    Byzantine tradition: (U) (Γ) 5 26 (48) (67) (115) (127) (160) 175 (364) (782) 871 1010 1011 1057 1300 (1392) 1416 (1555) 1566 1701 (1780) (2117) 2126 (2139) (2283) (2328) (2437) 2585 (2586) 2622 (2680) 2766* (2787) syr(pal(mss)) eth(ro) slav Chrysostom (according to Severus) ?: eth(ms)

    Again, examine the information and the data critically for I am not only unsure of my interpretation of its data but also unsure of it’s reliability.
    The texts mentioned above are not available for me to study or check.


    Personally rather than a point for the Majority text, I would put this example in the category of a point of the science of textual criticism.


    Rob
     
  8. Deacon

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    Askjo, what document has the (expanded) text of Matthew 5:44 dating back to 2nd century???

    Rob
     
  9. Bluefalcon

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    Good research. It's true that small minority of usual Byzantine MSS deviate from the Consensus at Mt. 27:49, along with the Alexandrian Chiefs. The point is that the corruption, by the very nature of its late introduction into the textual tradition, was powerless to influence in any significant way the Overwhelming Consensus of the Byzantines, whereas those MSS commonly deemed to be the earliest and best unite in support of the interpolation.
     
  10. Deacon

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    And yet even despite the err noted in these documents it did not contribute or influence later Alexandrian documents.

    What is curious here is how we revere the Hebrew Masorites for their steadfast facility in keeping the Hebrew text intact through the ages.
    Even areas that they were uncertain about, that seemed to contradict or were in obvious err, they copied intact, perhaps leaving a note or mark in the margin to signify a questionable issue.

    In the NT era, we exalt the correctors that deleted, changed or clarified questionable portions of the test rather than leave them intact.
    We see this in all the textforms.
    This is one reason why I believe 'reasonable eclecticism' is the best method to recover the original text.

    Rob
     
  11. Bluefalcon

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    Reasoned eclecticism usually ignores late Alexandrian documents (e.g., Mt. 5:44). But your point is a good one. In general, scribes simply copied the text before them. But errors, mainly minor, did creep into the MS tradition over time. Yet what we find is that such errors not only began locally but also were later in the MS tradition than the majority of the descendants of the original text at any point in the Greek MS transmission process. This combination yields a high presumption of the originality of the Consensus of All Manuscripts at any point in the transmissional framework, unless it can be shown without a doubt that the Consensus has definite error throughout its MSS that would render its testimony virtually useless.

    I don't think anyone exalts these correctors, rather, we pity them. And I have yet to see a good, unmistakable example of the result (i.e., error) of a corrector permeating the overwhelming Consensus of the Byzantines. In fact, that was actually the point of this thread.
     
  12. Deacon

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    ...and one of the problems with the thread too.

    Comparing a few selected ancient (Alexandrian) manuscripts to the modern “Byzantine Consensus” is like boxing shadows.

    In this thread, are you talking about the Majority text or Textus Receptus?
    There are quite a few disagreements between the two.

    I’d guess that if this forum ever got off the KJVO kick, quite a ruckus could develop over advocates of one over the other…
    ...and I have no doubt that charges of unmistakable errors (dare we say corruption? ;) ) would result between the various “Consensus” advocates.

    Rob
     
  13. Bluefalcon

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    Let's just say I'm talking about when all Greek MSS are 80%+ in agreement they cannot be proven without a doubt to be corrupt, ever. That is quite a claim, and one a consensus of the so-called "earliest and best" Alexandrians can hardly boast.

    By the very nature of the broad Greek MS consensus I mentioned, the TR is necessarily not included some of the time, because, as you mentioned, it sometimes disagrees with the overwhelming Consensus.

    And is it wrong to pit the so-called "earliest and best" MSS against the so-called latest and worst Byzantine MSS? If the Alexandrians are really the best, why not prove it? If they are the earliest and best, and I don't think they are, shouldn't it at least be demonstrable?
     
  14. Bluefalcon

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    Anyone wish to defend the consensus of Alexandrians (Aleph C 0243 [original] 33 1739) at 1 Co. 15:51: "... We will all sleep, but we will not all be changed"?

    This contradicts the overwhelming consensus of all Greek MSS which reads: "We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed."

    NOTE: Codex C in Paul is classified as Alexandrian.
     
  15. Deacon

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    The Consensus theory does provide a nice and clean text. It has been whitewashed, sanitized by history and time. But just like whitewash, it can cover-over things that could be important.

    Just some scattered thoughts from an insomnic mind:

    It does not appear that the NT authors required such a clean text since there is evidence of the use of the Septuagint in their writings.

    We live in the information age; all available documents can be examined. Some scribal variants are obvious errs and can be discarded; other variants need to be examined much more closely to see if they contain truth.

    What would happen if archeologists discovered the mother-load, an original document signed by Paul or even Moses [​IMG] (of course it would have to be notarized [​IMG] ): would we accept it or would parts of it be outside the Consensus?

    What was the consensus in ca. 300?
    Using all available documents the consensus appears to have changed substantially!

    Rob

    [ May 04, 2006, 06:53 AM: Message edited by: Deacon ]
     
  16. Bluefalcon

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    "Nice and clean," to use your terminology, has nothing to do with whether or not the original text had to or did not have to be that way. Actually the Consensus text has just as many "unclean" or rough phraseology as the Alexandrians. For example, look at the rough Dative Absolutes in the Consensus text (instead of the more smooth and eloquent Genitive Absolutes in the Alexandrians) in Mt. 8:1 KATABANTI DE AUTW, Mt. 8:5 EISELQONTI DE AUTW, Mt. 8:28 ELQONTI AUTW, etc.

    Agreed. What you call a "clean" text is not a requirement. The original text of the NT has many vulgarisms that the Alexandrians, like in the examples I use above, smooth over and clean up.

    I hold that the consensus of 300 was the same as the consensus today. But if you look at the surviving documents, the only Greek NT MSS from the year 300 and earlier still around today are all from Egypt. But we know that Egypt was not the only area in the world with Greek NT documents in 300. In fact, the area of Asia Minor had many more times the number of Christians and churches by 300 A.D., yet just because today we have not one single MS from 300 from that area of the world are we to assume that all those Christians had no Greek MSS from which to read? Of course not. The consensus of Alexandrian MSS in Egypt in 300 is probably the same as Alexandrian MSS today. The Consensus Greek text of the entire world in 300 is probably the same as the Consensus Greek text today. The burden of proof is on you to prove otherwise.
     
  17. Deacon

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    I agree with you perhaps 80+% of the time
    And I will agree with you about your main point here too. ;)

    Your thesis: I maintain that definite error cannot be proven without a doubt to exist in any overwhelming Consensus of the Byzantines.

    I'm not sure you understood my point when I said a Majority view leads to a clean text, one without obvious err.
    That agrees with you but to go on, I don’t believe the idea of merely counting the number of documents to identify a consensus leads us closer to the original text.

    Just counting numbers weighs the results toward the later history of the text
    It doesn’t lead us closer to the original document
    (Of course this also depends upon one’s doctrine of preservation).

    IMO, documents should be closely examined and weighted.
    This is where the disagreements among scholars should occur.


    Another point,

    You wrote: “I hold that the consensus of 300 was the same as the consensus today.”
    That’s an assumption! You assume that the texts of ancient Asia-Minor were the same as the current Byzantine majority.
    But you base this assumption upon the current (or today’s) text.
    There is little (if any) documentary evidence.
    The first distantly Byzantine document isn’t found until around the 6th century (P84).
    Until then, the witness from the primary documents, lectionaries and the church fathers is primarily Western or Alexandrian.
    I strongly protest your placing the burden of proof on me to prove otherwise!

    And lastly, one interesting avenue to determine where the Majority text might be in err is research the differences between the two different majority texts available today (Hodges/Farstad and Robinson/Pierpont).

    Rob
     
  18. Deacon

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    Uppps, typo :(

    Change one line to read:

    The first distinctly Byzantine document isn’t found until around the 6th century (P84).

    Rob (obviously Alexandrian) :rolleyes:
     
  19. Bluefalcon

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    That has nothing to do with anything. If the only MSS we have from 300 are all from Egypt, then that tells us nothing except what the Egyptian text was probably like in 300. But all the MSS, whenever their quality allows them to become extant, were copies of older documents and those copies of older documents. From all the evidence we have today, the Consensus Greek text outside of Egypt has never been Alexandrian. It has never been Western. It has always been Byzantine.
     
  20. Bluefalcon

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    Why don't you start proving your point by proving the overwhelming dominance of your preferred reading in Mt. 5:44 outside of Egypt/North Africa at any point in history.
     
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