Evidence of textual corruption

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Mexdeaf, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. Mexdeaf

    Mexdeaf
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    I have been studying a bit more about texts and it seems to me that all of the hoopla about the 'Alexandrian texts' being corrupt is based on supposition and hearsay rather than facts.

    Is anyone here aware of specific examples of corruption of the texts?

    Thanks
     
  2. franklinmonroe

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    Yes, the fact that none of the over 5000 manuscripts are exactly the same indicates corruption! Mostly these differences can be explained by unintentional scribal error, however there exist some fairly obvious attempts at intentional alterations (fortunately these tend to be limited to only a few copies and didn't become part of the main textual streams).

    The Byzantine MSS tend to agree with each other much more than the Alexandrian types, but the Byzantine documents are much later copies (sixth century until printing press). The theory is that most copyist errors (on purpose, or accidental) occurred very early (second century), which supposedly explains why the earlier Alexandrian MSS show greater variation. The reason that early copyists made more mistakes is because they were: 1) not professional scribes; and 2) were more concerned with protecting and developing doctrines than precisely preserving the original text.

    Even later 'professional' scribes (monks) made errors. Imagine, if you can, siting in cold or uncomfortable conditions, copying by hand with quill and ink for hours in the weak flickering candlelight a worn manuscript that has no spaces between letters, no punctuation, or verse numbers and written in a language you may not even know well. But early copyists might have been any semi-literate person in the local church that was so inclined to make a copy an epistle for themselves, or to share. They doubtfully took little more care to transcribe from a copy of an apostle's letter than if today you handcopied a lengthy email correspondence from an out of state pastor for your neighbor (you wouldn't be likely concerned about preserving it absolutely perfect).

    There may be some good reasons to think that early copies made around Alexandria might be closer to the original text because of the high level of literacy and scholarship associated with the region.
     
  3. Mexdeaf

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    Perhaps my questions should have been framed differently...

    On what basis do some claim that the Alexandrian texts are 'more corrupt' (for lack of better terminology) than Antiochan (Byzantine- one and same?) ones?

    Thanks.
     
  4. franklinmonroe

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    Partly, as I stated above, the fact that the Alexandrian MSS differ more widely among themselves (less consistancy) than the Antiochan does (I don't know a distinction between that label and the 'Byzantine' label). More later...
     
  5. Keith M

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    Since the original autographs are no longer available, it is hard to say exactly what is right or what is wrong. There are varying opinions but without the original autographs these can be nothing more than opinions (on either side of the issue). We can look at evidence to support one reading or another, but we have no way of knowing with 100% certainty. Of course there are those who think they know, but their biggest problem is that they rely too much on their own thinking and not on facts.
     
    #5 Keith M, Feb 9, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2007
  6. Keith M

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    Nah! If my neighbor had e-mail he would get it that way. If he had no e-mail, I would copy and paste the correspondence to a Word document and print a copy for my neighbor. Saves lots of time and insures perfection of the copy. Now if they only had such things back in the days when copies of manuscripts were being made...
     
  7. Mexdeaf

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    You see, that is just the thing.... where's the beef? Where's the proof? Where's the smoking gun? So far I have a big bun, no DNA evidence and the smoking gun is actually a BB pistol.

    I have found some interesting sites, though- here's one:

    http://www.bible-researcher.com/majority.html

    Has some good links- look at the one about the differences between the two Majority Text readings.
     
  8. Keith M

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    Very interesting article indeed. It should be logically accepted that the older the manuscripts the more likely they are to more accurately reflect what was originally written while the newer manuscripts obviously had more time for errors to develop. The point was made that "very few competent scholars have argued in favor of the Majority Text." Makes lots of sense not not argue in favor of what had more time for errors to pop up. When you add later errors to earlier errors, the number of errors tend to multiply right on down the line. By the time you get so many hundreds of years down the road then the number of errors have grown tremendously.

    But since we have no original autographs to compare with these manuscripts then we cannot know with absolute certainty that any particular reading is more accurate then another. So while there are some who accept in faith that the older manuscripts are more likely to be accurate, there are others who accept in faith that the majority of texts must be more accurate. We will know one day, but when we are worshipping Jesus at His throne, it really won't matter to us, will it?
     
  9. John of Japan

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    Mexdeaf, this article is prejudiced somewhat against the Majority text, but a fairly accurate article.

    I'm no textual critic, but have read a good bit on the subject. Concerning the so-called "corruption" of the Alexandrian text-type, here are some thoughts. (I hate the term "corruption" when used of the Bible. It originally came from secular textual criticism, and the textual critics mean nothing bad by it, but I still hate it.)

    (1) The Alexandrian mss. were generally copied in the Latin half of the Roman Empire, meaning the copyists were not usually "native speakers" of Greek. To me that means they would make more mistakes. The UN requires interpreters to be native speakers. Makes sense to me.

    (2) Burgon in his book on the longer ending of Mark shows where Sinaiticus leaves room for the longer ending of Mark, but then doesn't add it. It seems clear that the passage was missing from the end of the copy the scribe was working from, but he figured it should be in there and was waiting until he had a better manuscript. But of course an Alexandrian advocate would come up with some other kind of explanation. :smilewinkgrin:

    (3) Vaticanus and Siniaticus, the two main mss used for the modern Greek texts (UBS, Nestles, etc.) are notorious for having many corrections written in the margins by various different scribes. This says to me that the Greek text of the 4th-5th century was not nearly as solid as Alexandrian advocates would say. On the other hand, Byzantine/Majority mss are much closer together in content. I can vouch for this personally, since I have compared over half of Robinson's Byzantine Textform with the TR texts of Stephanus and Scrivener.

    God bless. :type:
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Very true.
    The Antiochan label refers to the Westcott and Hort theory that Lucian of Antioch did a "recension" (revision) of the Byzantine text (what W & H called the "Syrian" text) that we have today. Almost all scholars today use the terms "Byzantine" or "Majority." W & H never really proved their theory. But even if we grant their theory, Lucian died in 312 A. D., meaning the present day Byzantine text is from mss at least as old as Vaticanus and Siniaticus. :smilewinkgrin: :applause:
     
  11. HankD

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    Books of possible interest:

    The Causes of Corruption of the Traditional Text John Burgon

    Dean Burgon gives detailed illustrations and explanations of five accidental causes and ten intentional causes (in his opinion) of the corruption of the original traditional text.

    The Traditional Text John Burgon

    In this book Burgon attempts to show that the "Byzantine" Text is the text of an over 1000 year orthodox church tradition.
    Burgon indicates that the preservation of this text is providential.

    Burgons books are available at: http://www.deanburgonsociety.org/idx_dbs_press.htm

    Also:

    The Byzantine Text-Type & New Testament Textual Criticism Harry A. Sturz

    A ThD dissertation, a contemporary work which includes papryri research and a 40 page indexed bibliography.

    Available at http://www.bibleviews.com/Books.html

    Sturz concludes that some of the suppositions upon which the variant reading "weight" system of texts are based are no longer valid.
    For instance many of the very early papyri texts (P66 - AD120) include Byzantine "conflated" readings.

    HankD
     
  12. Eliyahu

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    John,

    You summarized the important points one by one very well.:thumbs:
    The difference between Majority Text and TR is far narrower than that among the Alexandrian Texts, even though they may look quite a lot in numbers.
    On this site, the posters have not taken off from the ground of Alexandrian and Byzantine Texts yet. I think there are much more to deal with between Majority Texts and TR, and between TR and KJV. I believe there were sufficient reasons for TR to depart from Majority, in most cases. What I disagreed with was the criticism on KJV based on Vatian Text or Sinaiticus which were virtually preserved by Roman Catholic who eradicated the Bible or prohibited the Bible reading, or by Monastery monks who may have not known the problem with clergy system which is not found in the Bible or against the Bible teaching in 1 Pet 2:5-9, based on Ascetism.
    In fact, I have found some discrepancies between TR and KJV, as I mentioned some of them. But on this site, the level of the argument has been far from that in most threads.
    Can you post any Info or site for supporting the Byzantine Revision from Syrian Texts( What Lucian did)?
     
    #12 Eliyahu, Feb 10, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  13. tinytim

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    You bring up a good point.
    How many copies were made before the Canon was finalized.
    Some early copyists may have not realized the importance of the manuscript they were copying. How many of them actually recognized the letters to be God breathed scripture?
     
  14. John of Japan

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    I don't surf the web for textual criticism. Too many amateurs! :laugh:

    I don't know about the evidence on Lucian in particular without taking time to look through my library, and I don't have time right now. In the meantime, what HankD mentions is good. Burgon is good but old--none better on the evidence in the church fathers. Sturz is excellent. Add to that the intro to Hodges' Majority Text, The Identity of the New Testament Text by Wilbur Pickering, A Guide to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament by Edward Miller (an oldie but goodie from 1886). Someone may have scanned in Burgon and Miller somewhere on the web, I dunno.

    Gotta hit the sack. It's late in Japan. :sleeping_2:
     
  15. Deacon

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    It’s curious that the earliest example of the Byzantine type textform is Codex Alexandrinus [LINK]

    (which is Byzantine only in the Gospels, the rest being of the Alexandrian textform).

    Rob
     
  16. John of Japan

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    Wrong. Your info is behind the times. Bodmer (p66) has many Byzantine readings. Also, there are many Byzantine readings in other older mss.
     
  17. Mexdeaf

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    All excellent posts above. :applause:

    I will try to acquire some of those resources mentioned to add to my understanding. Since I am in Mexico right now I am limited to what I can get to the BB and the web.

    I am mulling over another question and when it becomes clearer I'll throw it out to you lions.:laugh:
     
  18. Deacon

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    Scattered readings do not a text-form make.

    Rob
     
  19. John of Japan

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    "Colwell and others rightly have postulated that, except for late singular or near-singular readings, all meaningful variants are 'old' and originate before ad 200." (Maurice Robinson, interviewed by David Alan Black at http://www.daveblackonline.com/interview_with_maurice_robinson1.htm). Hey, I've started surfing the Web for textual criticism. Hmm. :tonofbricks:

    Eclectic texts are more and more including readings from the Byzantine text type, which is why I said you are behind the times. More and more the view is less and less from text type.

    It is also interesting to see Hodges Majority Text NT and Robinson-Pierpont's Byzantine Text Form, neither one of which was available when I took any of my Greek classes, undergrad or grad, and both of which are respected by other textual critics. Also, the theories of W & H are less and less followed slavishly. Those things say to me that the Majority/Byzantine view is now mainstream.

    I don't expect the next UBS edition to include Acts 8:37, but it is a start.
     
  20. Deacon

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    I agree.
    Good post.

    Rob
     

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