Antiquity of the Byzantine Text

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Martin Marprelate, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    It is often claimed that the Byzantine Text is of more recent origin than the Critical or Alexandrian text. Dean John Burgon, one of the main opponents (along with Scrivener) of Westcott and Hort,did immense work analysing the writings of the Early Church Fathers (ECFs) to see if their quotations of the New Testament used the Byzantine or Alexandrian Texts.

    I have been browsing through his findings and here are some of them.

    The Apostolic Fathers and the Didache quoted from the Byzantine Text 11 times and from the Alexandrian 4 times.

    Epistle to Diognetus: Byz 1, Alex 0
    Papias: Byz 1, Alex 0
    Justin Martyr: Byz 17, Alex 20
    Athenagoras: Byz 3, Alex 1
    Irenaeus: Byz 63, Alex 41
    Clement of Alexandria: Byz 82, Alex 72
    Tertullian: Byz 74, Alex 65
    Hyppolytus: Byz 26, Alex 11
    Origen: Byz 460, Alex 491

    And so on. These are just a few of the better-known ECFs. Having listed all the ECFs who would have written before the composition of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, he comes to the total number of quotations as follows:-

    Byzantine Text 2,630, Alexandrian 1,753. However, the numbers are perhaps less important than the fact that the very earliest Fathers were acquainted with the Byzantine Text. It is therefore impossible to argue that it is of any later vintage than the Aklexandrian Text, so the main argument of the Critical Text proponents is seen to be spurious.

    When we come to a verse like Matt 5:44, it reads

    NKJV. 'But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.'

    ESV. 'But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.'

    The ESV (Alexandrian) version is, of course, supported by Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. The NKJV (Byzantine) version is found in around 98% of the extant manuscripts, including the Washington Manuscript, dating back to the 5th Century. More importantly, however, the NKJV version was known to
    The writers of the Didache (1st Century)
    Polycarp (2nd Century)
    Justin Martyr (2nd Century) as well as
    Athenagoras, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius and several others. Cyprian and Irenaeus are the earliest to quote the shorter version of the verse.

    The oldest writers, therefore, show a familiarity with the Byzantine Text of Matt 5:44. How then can it be supposed that the Alexandrian Text is older?

    Steve
     
    #1 Martin Marprelate, Dec 4, 2011
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  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Which of Burgon's works are you perusing?
     
  3. rsr

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    Gordon Fee warns that analyzing the ECFs involves the same tools as textual criticism of the scriptural manuscripts themselves because, as works of the fathers were copied, the scribes increasingly adapted the scripture quotations to the received text they were familiar with.

    He says, in a footnote (p. 28) in Modern Textual Criticism and the Revival of the Received Text (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 1978) that:

    Elsewhere (pp. 28-29) he says:

     
  4. John of Japan

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    Upon which we must ask, what are the textual critical presuppositions of those doing the editing of the church fathers' works? If they are presupposed towards the Alexandrian texts, then it seems that they would automatically lean towards Alexandrian readings in their version of the church fathers.
     
  5. Rippon

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    No single author was cited only" Admin",but here are some snips from an article posted at Bible.org

    Gordon Fee --There were no ante-Nicene fathers who quoted the Byzantine text.

    ...the more research that is done on the versions and fathers the less they look Byzantine.

    1%-25 of all textual scholars make the claim that the Byzantine text existed early in the versions and fathers.

    There are vast hordes of textual scholars of all theological stripes who see no real evidence that the Byzantine text was early.
     
  6. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    OK then. Here's the oldest of the all- the Didache.

    It is perfectly clear that the writer(s) was/were familiar with the Gospel of Matthew, and the text they were familiar with was the Byzantine. I have emphasized the relevant passage.

    Now, can you find me a version of the Didache that does not have these Byzantine references to Matt 5:44? I have looked at two texts on line, and both of them include them.

    Steve
     
  7. Rippon

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    The following snips are taken from Philip Comfort's book on textual variants.

    Matthew 5:44 : WH NU : pray for those persecuting you
    var/TR : bless those who curse you,do good to those who hate you,pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you


    The textual evidence favors the shorter reading on three counts (1) the Greek manuscripts are one century earlier (fourth century) for the shorter reading than for those for the longer (fifth century and beyond); (2) the citations of the church fathers for the shorter reading come from earlier fathers; (3) the additional words in the longer reading must have been borrowed from Luke's account of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:27-28),for had they originally been in Matthew's gospel,there is no good explanation for how they were dropped.
    ...The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is not a verbatim copy of Luke's Sermon on the Plain. Various scribes,however, thought it their duty to make one gospel harmonize with the other in passages they perceived were covering the same event. TR incorporates most of these harmonizations,which were then translated into KJV and NKJV. Most modern versions do not include the harmonization here. (pages 12,13)
     
  8. Deacon

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    Wasn't the Didache a type of compilation of the gospels?
    If that was the case using it as proof that the passage was in Matthew is problamatic.

    Personally I'm not too concerned what others feel about these transposed passages. They are found in scripture afterall!

    Generally the meaning of the passage remains the same.
    I haven't personally encountered anybody who espouses any bizarre doctrine based upon them.

    Rob
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    The Didache is ante-Nicene.

    That's because the researchers swallow the WH canard that "shorter is better."

    Huh? What does "1%-25" mean??
    That's baloney. There are not even "vast hordes" of textual scholars of any stripe. A true textual scholar is a rare bird. And a number of those writing about textual criticism are Greek scholars, not textual scholars. Plus, on the other thread I gave you quite a few Byzantine priority scholars. And their tribe is increasing.

    In the book I'm reading, Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, David Alan Black writes humbly, "I must confess that I do not consider myself a textual scholar" (p. 103). And in a footnote, Daniel Wallace also writes humbly, "Ironically, here I am, debating a point about textual criticism when I am the least qualified person in this volume!" (p. 8). Yet Maurice Robinson has his Ph. D. in textual criticism. As wonderful as the other scholars in the book are, to me that means his views deserve extra weight.
     
  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    No, the Didache was a very early discipleship manual. Some scholars place it as early as the end of the 1st century.
     
  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    No disrespect to Comfort. I'm sure he's a good man. But what even qualifies him to be a textual critic? Why should I trust his book over say, Metzger's textual commentary or the writings and views of Robinson?

    Here is Comfort's education: Philip Comfort studied Greek and English at the Ohio State University (where he received an MA), then went on to get a doctorate in literary interpretation from the University of South Africa. (http://www.hiddenbrookpress.com/Book-PhilipComfort-AquaPlanet.html)
    No degrees in textual criticism or even apparently a NT Greek degree in there.
     
  12. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    What we're looking at here is as follows:-
    For the Alexandrian Text
    2 MSS dated around A.D. 330-340
    1 MS dated around AD. 550
    1 MS dated around AD. 750
    6 (say) MSS dated 950-1350
    For the Byzantine Text
    1 MS dated around AD. 400
    1 MS dated around AD. 450
    2 MSS dated around AD. 500
    approx. 16 dated around 650-850
    approx. 1000 dated around 850-1350.

    To my mind, to dismiss the many for the few on this basis is madness.

    I have quoted from the Didache above, which is the earliest of all the texts that mention Matt 6. I have been unable to find a different text anywhere on-line. Unless you can find such a text, then Comfort is found to be a false witness, or at least, a mistaken one.
    This is absolute nonsense, and you know it, even if Comfort doesn't. The simple explanation is that an inattentive scribe missed out the words in question in Luke's Gospel. That is far more logical than to imagine some dark plot to destroy the supposedly true text.

    Again, Comfort surmises without the least evidence. If these mythical scribes had really thought it their duty to harmonize between Matthew and Luke. they would surely have done the job properly instead of only doing half the job.
    On this basis, I am pretty much as big an expert as Comfort. :laugh: I studied Greek and Latin at London University in a course that included some study of secular Textual Criticism. I would certainly not call myself an expert, but nor would I call Comfort one.

    Steve
     
  13. rsr

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    Is not reliance on the Didache as a witness to text type a bit problematic? The earliest substantially complete Greek copy dates from the 11th century, and it came from Constantinople, where the Byzantine text form was predominant. Now, it may be that the borrowing from Matthew in the Didache does represent a confirmation of the accuracy of the Byzantine text; or it may be that the text of the Didache has conformed to the dominant readings in use in Constantinople.

    Even where the Didache leans toward the Byzantine text form, it does not necessarily agree with the Byzantine in full, such as in the doxology to the Lord's Prayer, where the Didache omits "and the kingdom," and may in fact suggest an early step in partially incorporating the doxology as canonical, which was fully realized in the Byzantine text.
     
  14. Rippon

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    For the so-called Alexandrian Text:
    One document dated in the 3rd century.
    Two manuscripts dated from the 4th century.
    One MSS dated between the 4th to 5th century.
    Two MS dated from the 5th c.
    Another document from the 9th century.

    For the Byzantine:
    Two from the 5th.
    One from the 8th.
    Two from the 9th.
    One dated somewhere between the 11th to 15th century.

    And to other of a more settled mind the antiquity and diversity of the few outweighs the majority rule.



    This has been your constant drumbeat Steve. You never have allowed the possibility to enter your mind that it was not a case of forgetfulness of a single scribe. Multiple scribes left sections out that were not there in the exemplar.

    They did what they could to make it work --but came up short. One can't improve the sacred text.

    You're dipping down rather low there Steve. comfort deserves better than the stuff your dishing out. Whether you like it or not he is an expert. You aren't in the same category.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    How can it be "so-called" if everyone on both sides calls it that??
    What in the world does diversity have to do with it?
    The most recent thinking in textual criticism is to reject the tradtional canon of "shorter is better," going back to the work of Earnest Colwell in 1965, and more recently James Royce. Thoroughgoing eclectic J. K. Elliot says, "In general, the longer text is more likely to be the original providing that the text is consistent with the language, style, and theology of the context" (quoted by Eldon Jay Epp in Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, ed. by David Alan Black, p. 28; Epp himself is not ready to completely reject it).
     
  16. Rippon

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    Geographical diversity.The early scribes did their copying in a wide area -- not just in one locality.

    Well in 1976 Epp thought that generally speaking --the shorter --the better.
     
  17. Rippon

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    It means 1% to 2%.

    The word "hordes" does have a negative connotation.

    Wouldn't you grant that scholars who favor the Byzantine Text are in the minority? (I love the irony of that statement.)
     
  18. Rippon

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    Regarding Matthew 5:44,the NET notes offer;

    Most manuscripts read, "bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you," before;"those who persecute you." But it is surely a motivated reading importing the longer form of this aphorism from Luke 6:27-28. The shorter text is in B E pc sa as well as several fathers and versional witnesses.
     
  19. Greektim

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    If you guys want to see that antiquity of the Byzantine text... might I recommend Harry Sturz's book The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism (you might need to go to a good theological library to find it). It does a good job of demonstrating from a non-biased viewpoint that the Byzantine has ancient readings that put the arrival of its text-type to the same time period as the others -- 2nd century!

    David Alan Black (a student of Sturz) wrote a good review of the book and the man here.
     
  20. John of Japan

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    This is a mistake if you are trying to claim that the Alexandrian had a wide distribution in the early centuries. Are you not aware that the text types are divided geographically? Hence the geographic names of Alexandrian--a city of Egypt--Western, Ceasarean (a city) and Byzantine (after a city and thus the Eastern area of the Roman Empire).
    1976 is ancient history in the current climate of textual criticism. Epp is now having to rethink the "shortest is best" canon, according to my quote.
     
    #20 John of Japan, Dec 7, 2011
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