Byzantine Superiority ??

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Phillip, Dec 24, 2004.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Most Biblical Scholars today reject the Byzantine superiority theory; looking instead towards other text types as being older and more accurate.

    Let us discuss some of the actual facts regarding the manuscripts and see why some say "Byzantine" and others feel more comfortable with other manuscripts, which may include the Alexandrian.

    Also, are they both preserved well enough to be considered the Word-of-God? Are doctrinal changes enough to question the claim as the Word-of-God by either any of the major text types?

    What say you?

    (Can we stick to facts and not feelings here? At least as much as possible ---- Please.) I do understand that certain theories will have to be presented here, but let us try to stay away from theories based solely on emotional grounds. Thanks.
     
  2. Ziggy

    Ziggy
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    2
    Phillip: "are they both preserved well enough to be considered the Word-of-God?"

    Yes. The degree of common text between the Alexandrian and Byzantine traditions is approximately 87.5% in the gospels (as per Westcott and Hort's estimate), and around 96% in the Epistles (as per someone's estimate who I can't recall).

    Philip: "Are doctrinal changes enough to question the claim as the Word-of-God by either any of the major text types?"

    No. As Bentley said in the 1700s, you could choose the worst manuscript by design, and it would still be the word of God, retaining all NT doctrines.

    A further question that your did not express:

    Are both texttypes therefore equal?

    No. Either one texttype has to be closer to the original than the other, or both have to be to some degree less precise than the originals.

    That of course is where the debate exists, and everyone will have their particular opinions (like me, like you, like everyone else). [​IMG]
     
  3. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    915
    Likes Received:
    4
    The main obstacle Byzantine priority must overcome is the absence of pre-4th c. documents that consistently contain uniquely Byzantine sequences of readings. This is not a fatal objection, however, because nearly 100% of all pre-4th c. NT MSS are from the dry region of Egypt, and thus they should naturally reflect readings of that particular locality.

    Against Alexandrian priority is the fact that Alexandrian MSS hardly ever unite to form a strong consensus over consecutive sequences of readings, and thus one finds in any given sequence of readings any number of the Alexandrians either disagreeing among themselves or uniting with the mainstream consensus of all Greek MSS (i.e., the Byzantines).

    Although most of the Byzantine MSS are from the 9th c. or later (i.e., written in minuscule script), it has yet to be documented that hardly any two of them are directly related, and so each MS's value as a relatively independent witness of the text it contains is greatly increased. While this factor should not be diminished in any discussion of the NT text's relativly reliable transmission, nevertheless were every 9th c. or later MS to vanish today the Byzantine texttype as preserved in earlier majuscule or uncial documents would still remain basically 100% unchanged from its "later" representation.

    While the Early Versions and Church Fathers are not "primary" witnesses for the NT text, their testimony in no way solves but rather only offers corroborative testimony. Byzantine priority nevertheless fears no testimony from these secondary witnesses, and in fact one frequently finds even the Versions from Egypt (e.g. sy-s, sy-c, sy-h, ac, bo, mae, sa) agreeing with the Byzantines against even a limited consensus of Alexandrians, and even the most Alexandrian Father Origen is found agreeing with the Byzantines around 2 times for every 3 times against, and disagreeing with both the Byzantines and Alexandrians more often than agreeing with either (i.e., demonstrating singular readings), but thus is the nature of the limited and flawed character of much patristic testimony, anyway.

    Internal considerations of textual character should only offer corroborative evidence of the external nature of the situation described above, but even if one dismisses this crucial criterion of textual criticism the Byzantines, when given a chance, may be shown to have resisted textual and transmissional corruption to a much higher degree than their Alexandrian counterparts. They are not perfect, for indeed on occasion any half of them can be seen to have transmitted error, but altogether with their diverse and relatively independent streams they unite to present a consensus that can be defended on internal grounds against any exclusive Alexandrian alternative. While such argumentation is not wholly fruitless, it usually ignores not only the overall textual character of the individual MSS involved (i.e., how each MS performs on a reading by reading basis over long sequences of text), but also the primarily corroborative function of internal evidence regarding readings first qualified by external distinction.

    This is long enough for round one.

    Yours,

    Bluefalcon
     
  4. Anti-Alexandrian

    Anti-Alexandrian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2002
    Messages:
    764
    Likes Received:
    0
    A thorough study into the book of Acts would clear up any doubt about the Byzantine superiority.
     
  5. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you, Bluefalcon, I appreciate your post. It is quite interesting. I know there will be people who disagree, but you put up a good argument.

    Anti-Alexandrian, would you please explain why a thorough study into the book of Acts would clear up any doubt about the Byzantine superiority?

    Based specifically on what you have said, and not on information provided by Bluefalcon; what exactly is your point?

    Do you say to 'compare' the Byzantine vs. the Alexadrian? If so, how does this prove which one is correct,

    At this point I am not arguing with you. I will save any debate until after I understand what exactly what you expect us to look at?

    Also, are you tlking about using English translations or Greek documents, and if so, which?
     
  6. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Ziggy, I think it all boils down to your answer. I have heard strong evidence in both directions, but as you say, both contain the Word-Of-God. IMHO. [​IMG]
     
  7. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    29,402
    Likes Received:
    12
    The main support for the Byz is that it was used for the AV1611. IF one assumes the AV1611 is perfect, then it MUST have superior manuscripts.

    This is, of course, a logical fallacy that BEGINS with an unproven conclusion (ie, the AV1611 is perfect) and then tries to support that conclusion by unproven assumptions (ie, the Byz documents of 900 CE are closer to the original than others from 300 CE).

    It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see the almost fanatical motivation to make SURE the Byz are considered "superior".

    Conclusion: Of folks who do NOT think the AV1611 is perfect, most will accept ALL the Greek witnesses, not just the Byz.
     
  8. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    It simply makes sense to me to take every single manuscript ever found, date them and compare them making your study from this. I am NOT a scientist who can even begin to comprehend the process of modern textual science.

    But, from using ALL manuscripts with different weightings, it appears that a much closer manuscript to the original will form.

    Although we believe that each contains the Word-Of-God because we believe the KJV to be the Word-Of God.

    It seems that a method such as mentioned above would yield a higher degree of accuracy.

    I do feel there is truth to the backwards reasoning of "If it is good enough for the KJV, it must be the right one." This is the same as the evolution theory (by the way, go vote on evolution in another Baptist debate thread). Evolutionists first take the basis that no supernatural power can be used. Bah, Humbug.
     
  9. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    915
    Likes Received:
    4
    Complete nonsense (!), because Byzantine MSS available today are more than a thousand years older than the AV, and thus the KJV has nothing to do with Byzantine priority, although 17th c. scholars seemed to have realized the more ancient and superior textual quality reflected in Byzantine-type MSS, e.g., they have resisted textual and transmissional corruption in successive sequences of readings to a higher degree than their Alexandrian and Western counterparts.

    And here's a challenge: present any successive sequence of readings in the Greek NT where the Byzantines present every time the inferior text. It cannot be done much less defended beyond any degree of reasonable doubt. But if any wishes to try, let's have a knock-down, drag-out debate over the Greek text, 'cause it's the best thang goin' tuhday, woooooooooh!

    Yours,

    Bluefalcon
     
  10. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bluefalcon, how do you determine that a reading is inferior or incorrect?

    How can you show that the Alexandrian documents are not cleaner and kept in a purer state?

    I know what you said about addition is not as easy as subtraction, but I cannot buy that because it has been known for marginal writing to become incorporated into the text over time.

    Or for example, to bring the gospels into better harmony?

    I took Greek in school, but I do not know it well enough to debate with you from the manuscripts. I have enough trouble translating John with reference books stacked on my desk. I am just not good at languages...never have been. I'm better at concepts than specifics or memorization.
     
  11. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    915
    Likes Received:
    4
    As I mentioned before, a reading qualified first by external distinction or by MSS scattered from all over, from relatively independent streams genealogically, with corroborative support from Fathers and Versions, is ready to stand the primarily corroborative test of internal criticism.

    One way is to show the corruption externally and then with internal corroboration. For example, in Mt. 24:1 the bulk of the Byzantines along with some non-Byzantines (C W 0102) have EPOREUETO APO TOU IEROU, Codex Vaticanus with a few minuscules has EK TOU IEROU EPOREUETO, while a variation of the Byz reading, APO TOU IEROU EPOREUETO, is shared by P83(vid) and the rest of the Alexandrians along with Codex Bezae that was copied in Egypt and some Byzantines.

    Codex Vaticanus here first of all is not qualified externally to stand up to the other two readings, and in fact internal considerations corroborate such a designation, for it is plain here that B is a variation of or harmonization to the parallel passage of Mk. 13:1 (where EK is used instead of APO).

    The consensus of Alexandrians, while not as bad off externally as Vaticanus on the reading mentioned above, is still rather wanting and quite localized. The Alexandrian reading contains obviously the more "pure" Greek, recording the verb after the prepositional phrase rather than before it, and this classical "improvement" is just the sort of thing that shows its secondary nature in comparison to the more rugged Koine expression reflected in the consensus of all Greek documents. There is reason for editors or scribes to "enhance" the text linguistically, not to remove enhancements, and such apparently is exactly what the Alexandrians exhibit here.

    Such indeed has been offered to explain away the consensus of all Greek documents on more than one occasion, and on some occasions one may indeed see how such occurred on a limited scale outside of the Greek MS Consensus, but within the Consensus such has never even attempted to have been proven (i.e., the revealing of an abundance of "transitional forms" in the MS tradition, which does not exist).

    So continuing to the next variant in Mt. 24 in the NA27 apparatus, Mt. 24:3 has the Greek MS consensus along with non-Byz MSS D W 0102 f13 reading a THS before SUNTELEIAS, whereas the localized and basically exclusively Alexandrian reading does not. Now why would a scribe add THS before SUNTELEIAS in the margin when such would be completely redundant and demonstrate an extreme tautology, for here the THS before SHS PAROUSIAS with the conjunction KAI governs the rest of the clause? It's a demonstration of absurdity to add the THS before SUNTELEIAS had it not been there originally (which is perfectly fine Koine Greek), but a simple editorial "improvement" to the text to remove the unnecessary word, and apparently that's exactly what the Alexandrian archetype has done. So we see there is no reason to add it, but every reason to remove it, and thus one will find with the majority of cases elsewhere.

    Codex Vaticanus seems guilty of this in 24:1, not the Greek MS Consensus, and 24:3 has no parallel case. Here are only two, but if I were to continue by examining consecutive sequences of readings in the Olivet Discourse I could show very reasonably the secondary nature of the minority defector readings, which only corroborates what we already know from their inferior external attestation that demonstrates their secondary nature in the first place.

    Yours,

    Bluefalcon
     
  12. Ziggy

    Ziggy
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    2
    DrBob: "The main support for the Byz is that it was used for the AV1611. IF one assumes the AV1611 is perfect, then it MUST have superior manuscripts."

    Except that the various Byzantine or majority text editions clearly differ over 1800 times from any TR edition, and in particular the reconstructed TR that purportedly underlies the KJV. Out of those 1800+ differences, probably 600 or so would cause translatable changes in the KJV.

    So no one arguing in favor of the Byzantine text should be doing so because of the KJV, and equally, no KJV supporter should be claiming the Byzantine text in support of their position, when their favored version or even underlying TR edition differs so significantly from the Byzantine.

    Bottom line: As a basic scholarly issue, Greek texttype preference is not and should not be tied to *any* English translation issue, whether KJV or MV. On the other hand, the underlying Greek text of any translation *can* be an issue for discussion where the underlying variation happens to affect translation. Clear?
     

Share This Page

Loading...