Why are Alexandrian manuscripts better?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Bluefalcon, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    That's the $100 question, my friends. Manuscripts may be "grouped" together by similarities that are peculiar to all other MSS. For example, many scholars favor the so-called Alexandrian MSS because of the "quality" of text they preserve.

    On the other hand, certain peculiarities show that the best Alexandrian MSS descended from a single MS, and therefore one might reason that their combined testimony only amounts to the witenss of a single MS or edition. For example, at Mt. 27:49, "But the rest began to say, 'Leave him alone. Let us see if Elijah will come and save him,'" the principal Alexandrian MSS (Aleph B C L) add the following: "But another man, after he had taken a spear, pierced his side, and water and blood came out."

    Although this example shows the imperfect reliability of these Alexandrians even when they agree, the more important point is that these MSS most likely descended from a single original. In addition, the fact that they disagree with each other as often as they do shows that the copying process from that original (presumably in Egypt) was also less than commendable.

    Yours,

    Bluefalcon
     
  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Which is also true of the Byzantine text type ... and forms one of the strong arguments against the Majority text. Remember the old saying, One hundred copies of an error is still an error. To count the Majority text as different witnesses is largley misguided on the same principle that you state here.

    The fact that they agree with each other as much as they do shows that they are in fact reliable witnesses to the text of Scripture. "Commendable" is a tricky term, especially in hand copying in less than ideal conditions. The remarkable uniformity of the texts as a whole testify to the preservation of God. It is misguided to rule out a particular text type or manuscript merely because it differs. We must try to discern why it differs.
     
  3. superdave

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    Amen Pastor Larry [​IMG]
     
  4. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    Absurdly simple? Perhaps, but my presumption is that the consensus of Byzantine MSS indeed counts as only one witness; I just deduce to count that one witness the original.

    So you agree that the addition in Mt. 27:49 by the chief Alexandrian MSS is original? I cannot understand your logic.

    Yours,

    Bluefalcon
     
  5. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Yes, very simple ... as was yours. I didn't know what your position was. I was simply pointing out the fact that we textual criticism should be concerned with readings, not number of manuscripts in which readings are found.

    You would have to refresh my memory on Matt 27:49 ... But my point is not to say that any particular reading is original. My point is that the great agreement among the Alexandrian texts demonstrate that they are a reliable witness to the text of Scripture.
     
  6. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    Pastor Larry,

    My original post, 2nd paragraph, tells the addition or harmonization from John that the great Alexandrians are guilty of in Mt. 27:49, pointing to their common origin and less than reliable testimony even when they are agreed -- that is, if you believe they are in error at this point. Do you? No translation I know of has included this passage in the text, at least so far.

    Yours,

    Bluefalcon
     
  7. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    I didn't see that. I am of the opinion that that was a gloss and not original. The Byzantine texts are certainly guilty of the same thing in other places, such as Col 1:14 and 1 John 5:7, notably. Yet, we do not write off the value of the Byzantine texts simply because they also have copyists errors. The Byzantine texts are usually the longer texts, that most agree came from scribal harmonization. These are not serious issues, but nor can they be attributed only to one text type.
     
  8. Bluefalcon

    Bluefalcon
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    First, thanks for your answer. Translation to those who didn't catch it: even the consensus of Alexandrian MSS may be corrupt at any given point.

    Second, at Col. 1:14 the consensus of Byzantine MSS does not include "through his blood" after "redemption", although some Byzantine MSS, "more than a few" but not "many" according to Nestle-Aland, have this apparent harmonization to Eph. 1:7. The fact that the harmonization could not overcome the textual tradition is testimony to the trustworthy presumptions (1) that it was introduced relatively late, and (2) that although attractive, most scribes failed to include it because they simply faithfully copied the text before them. BTW, there's a rumor that this bracketed text in the first edition of the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Greek NT will not even appear in the next edition.

    Third, at 1 Jn. 5:7, the overwhelming consensus of Greek MSS do not include the interpolation to which you must be referring, and thus the consensus of all Greek MSS remains the presumably true testimony of the original.

    You should get some better examples than these to "prove" corruption in the consensus of all Greek MSS.

    Yours,

    Bluefalcon
     
  9. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    You appear to be misunderstanding me.

    First, yes, the consensus of Alexandrian manuscripts may be wrong. The consensus of Byzantine manuscripts may also be wrong. In fact, where the two are different, one is most certainly wrong. The question is, What method do we use for determining which is wrong and which is right? That is the question of textual criticism, and taht question is not answered by pulling your favorite English version off the shelf as the last word.

    Second, with respect to the examples, I pointed out two clear instances where the Byzantine text includes the same type of scribal gloss that the Alexandrian manuscript does in Matt 27:44.

    My point is simply this: If you use a variant to argue against the trustworthiness of the Alexandarian text type (as you appear to be doing), you must also use variants to argue against the trustworthiness of the Byzantine text type. Now, obviously that is simplistic for the sake of time, space, and those who don't have a clue about what is being said. But the truth is that you cannot hold a standard for the Alexandrian text that you do not hold for the Byzantine text. God has preserved both for us. We must avail ourselves of them.

    I am not proving corruption in the consensus of all Greek MSS. I am showing that all text families have variants and those variants must be dealt with. If the entire Byzantine text were absolutely unanimous, then I imagine that all evangelicals would agree that the Byzantine text is the final word. But it is not. The Byzantine text type has the same types of issues that the Alexandrian text type does. The KJVOs just don't tell you that, probably because they haven't studied enough to actually know that.
     
  10. Bluefalcon

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    Your two examples, as I've already shown, clearly do not show the consensus or clear majority of all Greek MSS including the glosses. When the KJV translators included the glosses, they were NOT following the consensus of all Greek MSS, but rather a minority. Perhaps it would be better if you chose clear examples where the consensus of all Greek MSS is wrong in your opinion, and then we can debate that.

    Yours,

    Bluefalcon
     
  11. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Actually, they do show a clear consensus of the Byzantine manuscripts. The consensus of the Byzantine manuscripts is that those passages are spurious. Yet they are still included.

    I am not trying to prove the consensus wrong. Perhaps you misunderstood what I was saying. You seemed to be saying that one Alexandrian witness has an addition in Matt 27. You rightly say that no version (or Greek text that I know of apart from WH) includes it. And for good reason. The existence of a reading does not make it right. I used two examples from the TR where the existence of a reading does not make it right. The consensus of manuscripts agree that those passages should not be included.
     
  12. Ziggy

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    PL: "You seemed to be saying that one Alexandrian witness has an addition in Matt 27."

    On the contrary, BF's point was that the *four* primary uncial MSS of the Alexandrian texttype (Aleph B C L, plus about 36 other mostly non-Alexandrian MSS) contain the longer reading at Mt 27:49. Generally in the Nestle/UBS editions, the union of Aleph B C L tends to be accepted as original, since it reflects a true early Alexandrian consensus.

    As I noted previously, Abidan Shah just presented a persuasive paper at the ETS suggesting on some very solid eclectic grounds that the modern critical editions *should* follow Westcott-Hort and *include* the longer reading in this passage as part of the original archetype, in accordance with their normal operative principles.
     

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