The purpose of New Testament Textual Criticism is to recover the originalNew Testament text. This, obviously, requires the textual critic to resolvevariants. This entry gives an assortment of variants, plus descriptionsof how they have been resolved by various scholars .
Entries in the document fall into two parts: Those where most if not allmodern scholars agree, and "challenge readings" -- places wheredifferent scholars assess the readings differently. The first section cantherefore be used to see the agreed-upon methods of interpretation; thesecond allows you to examine methods used only be certain scholars.
Each entry begins with a presentation of the evidence, in the fullestpossible manner. The variant portion of the reading is shown in bold.All major variants are presented (with the variant preferred by the UBSeditors listed first), with support listed in the usual order (papyri,uncials, minuscules, versions, fathers). The printed texts that supportthe reading will also be listed. This is followed by the various scholars'interpretations.
The examples in the section which follows are accepted by all, or nearlyall, modern scholars. (The major exception, in most cases, is the scholarswho believe in Byzantine priority.)They thus serve as good examples of the ways in whichscholars work, and demonstrate the methods used.
This reading (except for the question of including or excludingΕΝ, which is relativelytrivial) can be resolved based on either internal or external evidence.The external evidence overwhelmingly favours the reading "Isaiahthe Prophet;" it is supported by the Alexandrian(ℵ BL Δ 33 892 1241 2427 sa bo),"Western" (D it vg), and "Cæsarean"(Θ f1 565 700 arm geo)texts. In favour of "in the prophets" we have only theByzantine text.
Internal evidence is equally decisive -- because the quotation isnot from Isaiah alone, but from Malachi and Isaiah. The attribution toIsaiah is an error, and scribes would obviously have been tempted tocorrect it. (Neither of the parallels in the other gospelsmentions Isaiah.) Thus it becomescertain that the original reading was "In Isaiah the prophet."
At first glance it may seem that the evidence for the longer reading isoverwhelming in its magnitude. Careful consideration shows this not to bethe case. The shorter reading is clearly that of the earliest Alexandriantexts (P75 ℵ B),and it is also the apparent "Cæsarean"reading (1+1582 22 700). It also has the support of the original vulgate. Thus itsexternal support is at least as strong as, if not stronger than, thatfor the longer reading.
But it is the internal evidence that is absolutely decisive. The longerreading is, of course, that found in Matthew 6:9, and in Matthew thereis no variation. Equally important, every one of these copyists must haveknown his paternoster, and they would all know it in Matthew's form (sinceit is at once fuller and earlier in the canon). If they found a short formin Luke, they would inevitably have been tempted to flesh it out. And underno circumstances would they ever have removed the longer words. Thus it ismorally certain that the short form is original (here and in the severalother expansions found in the Lukan version of the Lord's Prayer).
There are two questions about this reading: Is it part of the Gospel of John,and if not, where and how should it be printed? The fact that most of the editionsinclude the passage in the text in some form does not address whether they regardit as original.
The external evidence against the reading is almost overwhelming; it isomitted by all significant Alexandrian witnesses except except 579, 892, andsome Bohairic manuscripts (all of which are secondary texts) and the"Cæsarean" witnesses omit it or move it elsewhere. It is foundin some "Western" texts, but others (including the very important a)omit, and even the earliest Byzantine texts, such as A N, lack the reading.The external evidence alone is sufficient to prove that this is no partof the Gospel of John.
Some scholars have tried to rescue the passage on internal grounds, arguingthat scribes would omit it because they disapproved of mercy to an adulteress.But while this might explain its omission from a few texts, it cannot possiblyexplain its absence from so many -- nor why it appears so often as a correction.
It should also be noted that the passage has a style very unlike the rest ofJohn, and uses a great many words not found elsewhere in that gospel.
There is a mention in Eusebius (at the very end of book III) of a story told byPapias and found in the Gospel of the Hebrews of a woman falsely charged with many sins.It has been suggested that this is the origin of the story of the adulteress. This isperfectly reasonable, but the evidence at our disposal does not allow us to say more thanthat.
This is not a statement about the truth or falsity of the story -- if it goes back toPapias, it is at least a very early tradition from a good source. But there canbe little doubt that the story of the adulteress is no part of the original gospelof John.
This reading is interesting because it has been omitted from every criticallyprepared edition ever published, including even the Majority Text editions. But itis found in the Textus Receptus and the King James version.
The evidence for verse 37 is usually stated to be weak. It isn't, really;the verse has the support of the "Western" text (D is defective here,but we find it in E and the Old Latins), as well as Family 1739 (323 630 945 1339 1891).Still, it is missing from the Alexandrian text, and probably also from Family 2138.So the external evidence is slightly against the verse.
Internal evidence also argues against the verse. Its style is regarded asun-Lukan, and there is no reason for it to have been omitted had it originallybeen present. The best explanation for its appearance seems to be that scribesfelt that the eunuch needed to make some sort of confession of faith beforebaptism, and so added one. Thus it seems best to omit the verse.
This reading can be approached based on either internal or external evidence.The internal evidence says that longer readings are often suspect -- at leastwhen they are more liturgical or Christological. Thus the reading with "ourLord" is highly questionable. It has been suggested that the words arederived from verse 23 -- though there is no real need for such an explanation,as there is absolutely no reason why the words might be omitted had they originallybeen present.
The external evidence points the same way. Although the longer reading hasthe support of most parts of the Alexandrian text (ℵ C 81 1506 family 2127 bo),the words "our Lord" are omitted by P46-B-sa, by the "Western"text (D F G 629 Old Latin and all the best Vulgate witnesses), and by Family 1739(1739* 630 2200). Thus the plurality of text-types also stand against the reading.We can be confident that the words "our Lord" are spurious.
The external evidence here is rather split; a large part of the Alexandrian text,including ℵ A 33 81 436 bo,read "dead"; they are supported by the entiretyof Family 2138. "Unproductive," however, also has good Alexandrian support(B 1175 sa), as well as many of the better Family 1739 manuscripts (322 323 945 1739).(The reading "empty" of P74 may have been suggested byΚΕΝΗ in the preceding clause.)
If the external evidence is divided, the internal evidence is clear. In verses17 and 26, we read that faith without works is dead. And there is no variation ineither of those verses. Since assimilation to local parallels is an extremely commonsort of corruption, we may feel confident that the reading "dead" isa corruption, and "unproductive" original.
This reading illustrates well the danger of applying rules over-critically.The canon "prefer the shorter reading," if applied without discretion,might lead us to prefer reading #2. This is simply a mistake. The shorter readingobviously arose due to homoeoteleuton (the preceding clause also ends withΤΟΝ ΠΑΤΕΡΑΕΧΕΙ). When one observesthat the longer reading is also supported by the best representatives of allthe text-types (Alexandrian: ℵ A B 33 and the Coptic versions;Family 2138: 614 630 1505 1611 1799 2138 2412 2495 and the Harklean Syriac;Family 1739: C 323 1739 Origen; also the vulgate), it becomes clear that thelonger reading is original.
The readings in this section are not universally accepted by critical editors.However, there seems to be no reason in these instances to depart from theaccepted readings of the UBS/GNT editions (which usually, but not always,follow the readings of Westcott and Hort). They are thus offeredfor further guidance, with the note than some editors will produce differentresults by different methods.
The evidence of text-types here is clear: The "Caesarean"text reads Jesus Barabbas; all other texts omit Jesus. Onthis basis we are inclined to omit Jesus, but we must look at internalevidence to determine the history of the passage. And it is clear that the reading JesusBarabbas can explain the reading Barabbas, but not vice versa.Origen himself shows this; although most of the manuscripts he knew readJesus Barabbas, he preferred Barabbas. Many other scribesmust have felt this way, meaning that the reading Jesus Barabbasis almost certainly original.
A surprising number of editors have preferred reading #2, probably because itsounds so much better. The problem here is a case of internal and externalcriteria conflicting. Internal criteria argue for the Byzantine readingΚΑΥΘΗΣΩΜΑΙ, becauseit, and only it, can explain the other two readings in one step (that is,the other two both differ fromΚΑΥΘΗΣΩΜΑΙby only one letter). However, a reading supported only by the Byzantine textis extremely unlikely to be original. So we are confronted with either #1 or #2.But that implies that to get from #1 to #2, or viceversa, requires two changes, an accidental change from the original reading(whether ΚΑΥΧΗΣΩΜΑΙor ΚΑΥΘΗΣΟΜΑΙ) toΚΑΥΘΗΣΩΜΑΙ, andthen a secondary change fromΚΑΥΘΗΣΩΜΑΙ.And reading #1, we note, is supported by P46-B-sa,by ℵ-A-33-bo, and by 1739* -- our three earliest and best setsof witnesses. Reading #2 is supported primarily by D F G -- witnessesknown to be prone to paraphrase. So the strong evidence is that reading#1 is original, because to assume anything else forces us to a highlyimprobable historical reconstruction.
The readings in this section illustrate points where criticaleditions are very divided. They are presented to illustrate thedifficulty of resolving certain readings.
These readings, like many others in the Synoptic Gospels, can onlybe considered together. The setting is the listing of the Twelve, andthe evidence for each reading is set out in this table:
|Reading||Matt. 10:3||Mark 3:18|
|Θαδδαιον/ Thaddeus||ℵ B 69 788 826 892 983 185 2211 aur c ff1 l vg sa meg bo Jerome Augustine [UBS WH Merk Bover Vogels Souter]||ℵ A B C E F G H (K Δαδδαιον) L Δ(* Ταδδαιον) Θ Π Σ 0134 f1 f13 28 33 157 565 579 700 892 1010 1071 1079 1241 1243 1342 1424 1505 1546 2427 Byz aur c f l vg sin pesh hark sa bo arm geo goth eth slav Origen [all editions]|
|D d (k) μ Origenlat [Tischendorf NEB]||D a b d ff2 1 q r1|
|Θαδδαιος ο επικληθεις Λεββαιος/ Thaddeus called Lebbaeus||13 346 543 828 547|
|Λεββαιος ο επικληθεις Θαδδαιος/ Lebbaeus called Thaddeus||C(*) E F G K L N W X Δ Θ Π Σ f1 28 33 157 565 579 700 1010 1071 1079 1243 1342 1424 1505 1546 Byz f pesh hark palmss (arm) geo (eth) slav [Soden Hodges-Farstad TR]|
|Judas Zelotes||a b g1 h q (palms)|
|Judas of James (and transpose)||sin|
Despite the confusion of readings here, it is obvious that, inboth Matthew and Mark, the original reading must be either Thaddeusor Lebbaeus; the important witnesses all have the same reading in thetwo gospels. The difference is between text-types, not books, andthe conflate readings in Matthew are clearly attempts to combine the two names.
But which is original?
In this case, the easiest place to start is Mark. Although internalevidence doesn't really apply here (neither name has any particularsignificance, since this particular disciple doesn't ever do anything),the external evidence clearly favours "Thaddeus."This reading has the support of every Alexandrian, "Cæsarean"witness, and Byzantine witness; the supporters of "Lebbaeus" areall "Western." While we cannot be certain in such a case, thereading "Thaddeus" seems much the stronger of the two.
So what does this say about Matthew? Here the matter is much less clear,since only the Alexandrian text unequivocally supports "Thaddeus."Ordinarily we might suspect that this variation arose because Matthew andMark had different readings. This is, in fact, why the NEB chose thereading it did.
But look at the situation again. In both gospels, we find "Thaddeus"supported by the Alexandrian witnesses (with some supporting evidence), whilewe find "Lebbaeus" exclusively in "Western" witnesses.In other words, each of the two main text-types had its own reading, whichit used consistently. There is no confusion in the witnesses, merely disagreement.
This argues that only one reading is original; one or the othertext-type (for some unknown reason) altered both lists. And if this is thecase, it is almost certain that it is the "Western" text which didthe adapting. We therefore, and with much hesitation, adopt the reading"Thaddeus" in both passages.
The readings in this section were selected by Robert Waltz to conform withmy views on textual criticism. Note that most of these examples will berejected by the majority of scholars.
I am what is called a "historical-documentary" scholar --that is, I start by examining the manuscripts and searching for early text-types.Only after I have determined the text-types do I turn to variants. If allthe text-types agree, well and good. If not, I try to construct a localgenealogy to explain the variants.
It should be obvious that, in order for this method to work, the historyof the text must be known in the greatest possible detail. In Paul, forexample, I find four basic non-Byzantine text-types: P46/B(P46 B sa), "Alexandrian"(ℵA C I 33 bo; also 81 1175 etc.), "Western" (D F G OldLatin; also 629), and family 1739 (1739 0243; also 0121 1881 6 424** 6302200 etc.). In the Catholics there are three: "Alexandrian" (p72+B,ℵ, A+33+81+436+bo), family 1739 (C 1241 1739; also 323 945 1881 2298etc.), family 2138 (614 630 1505 1611 1799 2138 2412 2495 Harklean etc.).In the gospels my results are incomplete, and in Acts and the Apocalypsethey are barely begun; therefore I concede that my results there are tentative.
It's rare to see the evidence so nicely divided as this. The Alexandriantext clearly supports ΟΥΤΩΣ, the"Caesarean" ΚΡΑΞΑΣ,and the Western (with some minor variations)ΟΥΤΩΣΚΡΑΞΑΣ. Criticaleditors have hastened to adopt the Alexandrian reading, perhaps explainingthe presence ofΚΡΑΞΑΣ as coming from Matthew 27:50. But this verseisn't really parallel; if it had been harmonized, why wasΚΡΑΞΑΣthe only word to show up? Given that the three early text-types differ, wemust ask ourselves which reading best explains the others. Is the Western/Byzantinereading conflate? Possibly -- but if so, it is a remarkably early conflation.It also produces a difficult construction. It is easier to believe thatthe longer reading is original, and that the Alexandrian and "Caesarean"copyists separately shortened it.
This complex reading requires careful analysis. In looking at text-types,it is clear that the "Western" text included the longer reading.The "Caesarean" manuscripts are divided, but even so, it is clear thatthe type omits (since the reading is missing from family 1, family 13 (part)700* arm geo). The evidence of P45 for a reading such as this is littlehelp; this is just the sort of phrase it likes to omit. This leaves theAlexandrian text. Which is distinctly divided;ℵ B C 33 579 892 boinclude the reading while p75 LΞ 070 1241 sa omit. If we consider the"phases" of the Alexandrian text, however, we find that the earlier(P75 sa, though not B) and the latest(L Ξ 070 1241) omit; only the middlephase (ℵ C 33 579 892 bo) includes the words. Thus the evidence oftext-types stands slightly against the reading.
The internal evidence is also slightly mixed, since this passage hasno exact parallels. However, the partial parallels in Matt. 5:15 and Mark4:21 are probably enough to account for the addition here. It is hard tosee how the phrase could have been lost; perhaps it was haplography, orthe loss of a line from a manuscript with about sixteen letters per line,but both explanations are far-fetched. Thus both the evidence of text-typesand internal evidence are against the reading; it is better to omit thephrase.
To my mind, this reading shows clearly the danger of assessing readingsstarting from the internal evidence. It gives the critic too much chanceto be imaginitive.
This reading is settled instantly on the evidence of text-types. Clearlythe "Western" text omitted the reading(so ℵ* -- here "Western"-- D it). So too, clearly, did the "Caesarean" text (family 122 565 arm geo). But so too, evidently, the earliest phase of the Alexandriantext, since the words are missing from p75 sa. There really isn't any reasonto look at internal evidence (though it's worth noting that it is indecisive);the words should be omitted.
At first it might seem that the evidence of text-types would favourΠΟΛΛΟΙ/many.This is true in part; clearly this is the reading of theAlexandrian text and of family 1739. But the "Western" text favoursΛΟΙΠΟΙ/[the] rest, and p46 and B are split. (The Byzantine text is also split,but this has little effect on our deliberation except to explain why 6and 630 defect from family 1739.) Although the external evidence favoursmany, the margin is very slight; we must look at internal evidence.And this clearly favours [the] rest. Either word could easily have beenconfused for the other, but which is more likely to survive? Obviouslymany. Scribes would not approve of Paul lumping all other preachers-- including themselves! -- as God-peddlers. The fact that the reading[the] others survived at all is a strong testimony for its originality.And Paul was certainly willing to use such extreme language (note his condemnationof everyone except Timothy in Phil. 2:21). While the matter cannot be certainin the face of the external evidence,ΛΟΙΠΟΙ is clearly the betterreading.
As always, I start by looking at text-types. But text-types aren't muchhelp here. It is evident that the Alexandrian text readΚΑΙΠΡΟΣΚΟΛΛΗΘΗΣΕΤΑΙ ΤΗΝΓΥΝΑΙΚΑ ΑΥΤΟΥ, the "Western" text readΚΑΙΚΟΛΛΗΘΗΣΕΤΑΙΤΗΝ ΓΥΝΑΙΚΑ ΑΥΤΟΥ and family 1739 omitted. The P46/B text is divided.Thus no reading commands the support of the majority of text-types. Indeed,none of the readings can even be said to have "strong" support(though the support forΚΑΙΠΡΟΣΚΟΛΛΗΘΗΣΕΤΑΙ ΤΗΝΓΥΝΑΙΚΑ ΑΥΤΟΥis strongest). So we turn to internal evidence.
In assessing this, we note that readings 1, 2, and 4 are all harmonizations,and 3 is singular and probably an error for 2. Is it possible that oneof these three could have given rise to the others? Of course. But it is by nomeans obvious which reading of the three is most original.
On the other hand, if we assume that reading five, which omits the phrase,is original, then all becomes clear. Scribes, confronted with this quotation,would observe that the middle phrase had been left out. They would instinctivelyconform it to the version most familiar to them. And once the phrase wasin place, there would be few further alterations.
It has been proposed that the omission in family 1739 was caused byhomoioarcton. This is possible, leaps from ΚΑΙto ΚΑΙ were commonenough. But this would be an awfully suspicious location for it to happen...why at this place where so many other readings exist? It is also possiblethat the omission from 1739 came because scribes marked in some sort ofcorrection which was interpreted as a deletion. But, again, it is sucha convenient error.
Back in the nineteenth century Hort said of the possibility of omittingthe phrase, "A singularreading, which would not be improbable if its attestation were not exclusivelypatristic; the words might well be inserted from Gen ii 24." We nowknow that the reading is not exclusively patristic. Although the manuscriptswhich omit it are few, its support among the fathers is diverse,and on internal grounds it is well-founded. Although we cannot be surein this case, this seems to me to be clearly the best reading.
Until the discovery of P72, no one paid much attention to this variant.The fact that scribes were more likely to add than subtractΤΩΝ ΑΙΩΝΩΝ was largely ignored.
It should not have been so. Even if we ignore 69 as prone to such errors,the words are missing from family 1739 (945 1739) and from family 2138(206 614 630 1505 1611 2138 2495 hark). This leaves, apart from the Byzantinetext, only the Alexandrian text-type to support the longer reading. Whenwe note that the earliest witnesses of this type (P72 and many Coptic manuscripts)omit, and that they are joined by the best of the Latins, the short readingbecomes distinctly preferable.
Most editors have preferred the reading ΑΠΑΤΑΙΣ,regarding ΑΓΑΠΑΙΣas an assimilation to Jude 12. If there were only two readings here, thismight be logical. But there are three. We must examine the readingmore fully.
As far as the evidence of text-types goes, ΑΠΑΤΑΙΣappears to be Alexandrian, but arguably the later form of the Alexandrian text.ΑΓΑΠΑΙΣhas less Alexandrian support, but what it has is generally early (A** Bsa). It also appear to be the reading of family 2138 (although the majorityof that family supports ΑΠΑΤΑΙΣ,this appears likely to be a Byzantinecorrection; the earliest reading is probably ΑΓΑΠΑΙΣ,as in 1611 and the Harklean margin). Finally,ΑΓΝΟΙΑΙΣ is read by family 1739.
It is obvious that we cannot make a decision based on text-types, Butwe must observe that all three readings are attested in early text-types.This means that the middle reading is most likely to be original.And the middle reading is obviously ΑΓΑΠΑΙΣ.It's easy to see how it could have turned intoΑΠΑΤΑΙΣ -- and also how it could havebecome ΑΓΝΟΙΑΙΣ. Whereas it is almostimpossible to see howΑΠΑΤΑΙΣ could have becomeΑΓΝΟΙΑΙΣ or vice versa.
The argument that ΑΓΑΠΑΙΣ is an assimilation to Jude 12 is alsoweakened when we recall that Jude is after 2 Peter in canonical order,that Jude was accepted into the canon very late, and is generally a weakepistle. Also, there is variation in Jude 12 (where A Cvid 1243al read ΑΠΑΤΑΙΣ and 6 424** readΕΥΩΧΙΑΙΣ). Colwellhas shown that assimilation of distant parallels is less common than previouslyassumed. So it should not be assumed here. Eberhard Nestle offered cogentinternal reasons why ΑΓΑΠΑΙΣ should be regarded as original in 2 Peter. Surely these offset the internal evidence of assimilation. The readingΑΓΑΠΑΙΣ belongs in the text.
Of all the New Testament books, Jude is probably the most afflictedby textual variation, and it is often difficult to decide where one variantends and the next begins. I think, though, that this variant (add/omitΕΘΝΕΣΙΝ) can be treated in isolation.
Most scholars look at this reading and say,"ΕΘΝΕΣΙΝ? Foundonly in minuscules. Forget it." The evidence of text-types says otherwise.It's true that the Alxandrian text omits the word, and obviously the Byzantinetext does also. But the word is found in both family 1739 (6 322 323 424**945 1241 1243 1739 1881) and family 2138 (614 1505 1611 2138 2412 2495hark) -- two early and unrelated text-types. In other words, on thebasis of text-types, it has as strong a claim to originality as the text withoutit.
Internal evidence, if anything, favours the reading. There is no textanywhere in scripture which is even vaguely parallel; the reading is unexpectedand strange. Frankly, it's easier to see scribes omittingΕΘΝΕΣΙΝ thanadding it. It might even have been an haplography induced by the followingΕΝ ΘΕΩ. I agree that it's hardto adopt a reading which completelylacks uncial support. I'm far from certain this is correct. But I thinkΕΘΝΕΣΙΝ belongs in the text.
No doubt my advocacy of a reading ignored by most other scholars willseem surprising. Strong internal grounds have been adduced forΕΞΕΤΕ,and it also has strong manuscript support.
However, the evidence of text-types does not favour it. A C have otherreadings (admittedly different readings), and Andreas also defects.Under the circumstances it can be said that all of the first three readingsare old -- old enough to possibly be original. In which case the reading most likelyto be original is the middle reading, ΕΧΕΤΕ.From here to the other two involves a change of only a single letter.
I admit that these are awfully thin grounds. But the evidence for theother readings is not overwhelming. When in doubt, one should follow therules.