Byzantine Priority

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by larryjf, May 20, 2006.

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  1. larryjf

    larryjf
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    I found an interesting article regarding the Byzantine Priority. It was in one of the issues of "TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism"...

    http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/vol06/Robinson2001.html

    It seems that his main problem with the eclectic critical text is its lack of transmissional history.

    I would like to know what you guys think about this.

    Some quotes from the article...

    the best modern eclectic texts simply have no proven existence within transmissional history, and their claim to represent the autograph or the closest approximation thereunto cannot be substantiated from the extant MS, versional or patristic data.

    It is one thing for modern eclecticism to defend numerous readings when considered solely as isolated units of variation. It is quite another matter for modern eclecticism to claim that the sequential result of such isolated decisions will produce a text closer to the autograph (or canonical archetype) than that produced by any other method.

    A major problem arises, however, as soon as those same readings are viewed as a connected sequence; at such a point the resultant text must be scrutinized in transmissional and historical terms.

    That the original text or anything close to such would fail to perpetuate itself sequentially within reasonably short sections is a key weakness affecting the entire modern eclectic theory and method.

    the problem with the resultant sequential aspect of modern eclectic theory is that its preferred text repeatedly can be shown to have no known MS support over even short stretches of text--and at times even within a single verse.

    Modern eclecticism creates a text which, within repeated short sequences, rapidly degenerates into one possessing no support among manuscript, versional, or patristic witnesses.
     
  2. TCassidy

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    M. M. Parvis, in his article "The Nature and Task of New Testament Textual Criticism," ("The Journal of Religion," XXXII, 1952, Page 173) states, "We have reconstructed text-types and families and sub-families and in so doing have created things that never before existed on earth or in heaven.
     
  3. Deacon

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    In the book “Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism [LINK]” Moisés Silva provides a closing chapter which addresses many points brought out by Maurice A. Robinson’s contribution titled, “The Case for Byzantine Priority”.

    He writes: “[T]he more you reflect on it the more you realize that the appearance of a mishmash is exactly what you would expect unless you have the prior conviction that one particular witness or group of witnesses has not been susceptible to normal scribal changes. But if every copyist is vulnerable to such changes and thus is fallible, we should hardly be surprised to notice a lack of correspondence between a properly reconstructed text and the surviving witnesses.” (p.148)

    He goes on to note that similarly there is a “lack of an early evidence for the pattern of readings characterizing the [Byzantine] Majority text”.

    Rob
     
  4. larryjf

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    Very interesting Deacon.

    This lack of early evidence, does it take into account the Peshitta Syriac (150 AD) and P66 (200 AD), as well as quotes from Ignatius (who died in 110 AD)?

    I understand that some theorize that early Church Fathers quotes that resembled the Byzantine text were edited to match that text - but i have never seen proof of it.

    I was also my understanding that the earliest years after the formation of the Canon, there were no distinguishable families of manuscripts - although i forget exactly where i read that (I think it was in Paul D. Wegner's "A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism").
     
  5. Deacon

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    P66 as you note, has been dated to around A.D. 200.
    It was found in the Dishna plain, east of the Nile River and is considered an Alexandrian-type manuscript.
    It contains John 1:1–6:11; 6:35–14:26, 29–30; 15:2–26; 16:2–4, 6–7; 16:10–20:20, 22–23; 20:25–21:9, 12, 17.
    Of special note: P66 is the earliest witness not to include the pericope of the adulteress (John 7:53–8:11)!

    I’m not very familiar with the Peshitta, although I believe the date you offer is much too early; I think it dates to around the fourth or fifth century.

    The testamony of the early church fathers (as you mentioned) are an enigma.
    It has been suggested that their references to Scripture were modified to bring them into line with the text at the time and place where they were being transcribed.
    There might have been an even greater tendency to adjust the text in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch to the Byzantine textform since he espoused some very “Catholic” doctrine.
    Just as there are critical texts of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, we may soon see critical texts of the church fathers.

    This would only make sense, wouldn’t it?

    Modern eclecticism does have its problems.
    I don’t think we have reached the stage where all questions are answered in a single paradigm.
    Maurice A. Robinson has shaken things up a bit and perhaps allowed a re-evaluation of things.
    There is still much work to do

    Rob
     
  6. larryjf

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    Thanks much Deacon. Your posts have been most helpful.

    After reading - "A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible" by: Paul D. Wegner - I was pretty convinced of the Reasoned Ecclectic approach. But then i read the article on Byzantine Priority, and that kind of threw a wrench in the works for me.

    The most helpful was the quote you gave...

    Thanks again.
     
  7. Bluefalcon

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    What's laughable is that even M. Robinson believes that his precious Byzantines were indeed susceptible to such normal scribal changes and thus made by fallible scribes, yet the evidence of those textual errors within the Byzantine Textform only confirms the non-standardized nature of the Consensus, the natural median text still dominant with only minor streams and aberrations that persisted in the transmission of the text regardless of their difference from the median text. Thus we see the MSS containing the Alexandrian Text still being almost perfectly reproduced with only minor variation through the 14th century in the Minuscules. The Alexandrian stream was a minor stream in the 4th century just as it was in the 14th century.

    And the pattern of readings of the consensus of the 10 earliest MSS found outside of Egypt is overwhelmingly Byzantine.
     
  8. Dave

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    Wouldn't the way to adjust for scribal error be to compare the witnesses that have survived and go with the text that is most repeated among those documents?

    By doing this exercise, wouldn't one be able to construct a reliable MS based on the agreement of the sources?

    Isn't this agreement of sources what is largely missing from the modern approach?

    If the Byzantine Textform includes the majority of manuscripts and those manuscripts largely agree, then I would think this the most reliable transmission.

    Older doesn't necessarily equate to better. Documents may have been discarded because of massive error, therefore not copied extensively, but with a priority given to older texts, may be taken as reliable now. This, to my mind, is the problem with the modern approach.
     
  9. bound

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    Great topic fellows I'm very happy to see scholarship in this area and not only emotional KJV onlyism debates.
     
  10. TCassidy

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    Even Hort would agree with you! Westcott/Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek, London, Macmillan, 1881, volume 2, page 45 says, "A theoretical presumption indeed remains that a majority of extant documents is more likely to represent a majority of ancestral documents at each stage of transmission than vice versa."

    Of course after making that excellent statement they figured out a way to ignore it. [​IMG]
     
  11. bound

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    It appears to me that one either questions the evidence or questions the scholarship or both when faced with conclusions which are not fitting ones expectations.

    I believe that we have some of the oldest extents of Scripture in history and we find ourselves unsatisfied with that fact.

    What is the problem?
     
  12. Deacon

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    In theory that would work, presuming:
    1. Each copy of each document was copied with equal care and,
    2. Each copy of each document was copied with equal precision and,
    3. Each copy of each document was copied an equal number of times.

    But we can demonstrate that each of these factors were not equivalent.
    There is a multiplicity of other factors that can distort the picture too.

    And then we should assign value to each of the known manuscripts.

    Older texts are closer in time to the original text and may display a lesser tendency of compounding error upon error.
    The closer to the original, the less hands that may have manipulated the text.

    If any given manuscript is copied a lot, does that make it original?

    Rob
     
  13. Dave

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    If any given manuscript is copied a lot, it doesn't make it original, but it may be an indicator that the people who copied it held it in higher regard than those that were copied less often, or not at all.

    Assigning value could be an idea, but then you run into what constitutes a higher value as opposed to a lower one. That would start a whole other load of angst. [​IMG]
     
  14. larryjf

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    Has the Church for the most part accepted the Byzantine Text from the 4th-18th centuries?
     
  15. David J

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    It's a matter of opinion.

    I prefer the CT because I feel it is closer to the originals. Less chance of scribal errors etc...

    Between the CT and BT there is not a single doctrine changed.
     
  16. larryjf

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    It seems to me that the doctrine of preservation would have to change. Isn't that in fact what we see today when looking at modern statements of faith (eg: Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancey) compared to historical statements of faith (eg: Westminster Confiession of Faith)?

    The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (article X) says this:

    We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.

    Technically speaking, since we don't have the originals we could never know to what extent copies of Scripture are faithful if we can only judge their faithfulness by the originals.

    The Westminster Confession of Faith (chapter 1, section 8) says this:

    The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in, the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the language of every people unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.

    So this modern confession states that Scripture has "great accuracy." But the historic confession states that Scripture is "pure."

    That is a difference in doctrine.
     
  17. David J

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    Not really.

    As a Baptist I could care less about confessions. Sola Scriptura is all that matters to me.
     
  18. larryjf

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    Perhaps you don't care about confessions, but it is at least an indicator of the evolution of Church belief. You see more and more Christians denying the doctrine of preservation or redefining what preservation means.

    How would you define your belief of preservation?
     
  19. DesiderioDomini

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    Perhaps someone could explain how things were left out of the earlier manuscripts if they in fact did belong. This explination escapes me still.

    Doesnt it make more sense that later scribes would attempt to harmonize, rather than early scribes blatantly delete phrases?

    It just doesnt make sense to me.

    Now, as to the number, didnt Greek cease to be used as the common language around the 4th century everywhere EXCEPT around Byzanthium? Also, I'm sure everyone is aware of how manuscripts last longer there than they would in Egypt.

    How does this show what the true numbers would have been back then?

    Also, there are CLEAR corruptions in the Byzantine manuscripts that even KJV users admit, such as 1 John 5:7-8.
     
  20. TCassidy

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    The most prevalent vehicles for textual corruption are scribal errors due to the following:

    Errors of either reading or writing by the scribe.

    1. Confusion of similar letters. When letters look similar to one another the scribe, often working in poor lighting and with poor eyesight (prior to LASIX) the scribe would make an error in the reading or writing of the copy.

    2. Transposition of letters. We still tend to do that today. There is something about the human brain that seems not to care about letter order when writing. The brain seems to look at the entire word rather than each letter separately. For instance, "fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!"

    3. Haplography - a word that means when there were two or more identical or similar letters, groups of letters, or words all in sequence, one of them gets omitted by error. When the scribe looks at the word, then away to the copy as he writes, then back to the exemplar, his eye is drawn to the later similar or identical letters and begins copying there thus leaving out everything between the two similar or identical sets of letters.

    4. Dittography - a word that which refers to an error caused by repeating a letter, group of letters , a word or a group of words. The opposite of Haplography. This can be seen in the AV of 1611 in Exodus 14:10 where the 1611 reads "And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD."

    This was caused by the typesetter seeing "children of Israel" in the second part of the verse, then, when his eye went back to the hard copy he was setting in type he went back to the first occurrence of "children" and reset everything from that phrase to the end of the sentence.

    5. Homoioteleuton - a word which refers to the error that occurs when two words are identical, or similar in form, or have similar endings and are close to each other. It is easy in this sort of situation for the eye of the copyist to skip from one word to the other, leaving out everything in between.

    6. Errors of Joining and Dividing Words.

    As we all know Greek manuscripts were written well into the middle ages without spacing or dividing signs between words. This is probably the cause of the problem in the TR with Revelation 17:8.

    But, were there some deliberate alterations? Probably. John 1:18 in the Alexandrian textform is most likely a Gnostic alteration of the text.

    No. The causes of errors cited above tend to leave out words or phrases for more often than adding them. About 4 to 1 is the most often given estimate.

    Greek was used in the Byzantine Empire until its fall in 1453. It was at that time that Europe was flooded with Greek texts of the New Testament. However, it is the other way around regarding how long a manuscript lasts. It was the very hot dry climate of Egypt that allowed parchment and papyrus manuscripts to last for such a long time. The more humid climate of the Byzantine Empire was very hard on both papyrus and parchment manuscripts.
    The very different climates give us good evidence that manuscripts lasted less long in the Byzantine Empire and, as they became bedraggled, they were destroyed. What is also often overlooked was the practice of making several minuscules from a single majuscule, then destroying the majuscule, thus explaining the rarity of ancient Byzantine majuscules.
    Maybe it is clear to you, but the grammar of 1 John 5 is very troubling to someone familiar with Greek grammar and syntax. If the comma is spurious, then either the scribes made a huge blunder in grammar, or, if not the scribes, then God doesn't understand Greek grammar. If it was a scribal error of omission then the gender discordance is understandable. But if there was no scribal error of omission then the error of gender discordance must be viewed as an even bigger error. Either way you want it, there is a huge error in 1 John 5.
     
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