The following is excerpted from The New Testament in the Original Greekaccording to the Byzantine/Majority Textform, © 1991, Original Word Publishers, Inc.,Atlanta, GA. Posted on this web site by permission of the authors and thecopyright holder.
(Note: This web page is derived from a scan of the original Introduction, notthe actual text data, and may concern errors of scanning. If you find an error,let me know.)
It is an awesome task to attempt to present the Greek New Testament inits greatest possible integrity. Faithful scribes through the centurieshave labored to preserve and transmit the written Word as originallygiven by inspiration of God. Building upon this tradition, the textualcritic seeks not to produce a merely "good" text, nor even an "adequate"text, but instead to establish as nearly as possible the precise form ofthe written Word as originally revealed.
The discussion which follows provides evidence to support the hypothesisthat the Byzantine Textform more closely represents the originalautographs than any other texttype. It is the opinion of the presenteditors that this text, as currently printed, reflects the closestapproximation yet produced to a true Byzantine-Text edition of the GreekNew Testament.
The present Byzantine/Majority Text was jointly edited and refined byMaurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont during the period 1976-1991.The primary textual apparatuses utilized in the preparation of thisedition were those of Hermann Freiherr von Soden and Herman C.Hoskier.These same apparatuses were utilized by Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L.Farstad in their "Majority Text" edition of the Greek NewTestament.
Although the present text parallels that of Hodges-Farstad, there aresignificant differences in the texts since they were constructed on thebasis of different principles. Textual distinctions from Hodges-Farstadare due either to their particular interpretation of identical data,their use or rejection of additional data, or because some items in thedifficult-to-read Von Soden apparatus were neglected or misinterpreted bythem. Minor differences are most noticeable where closely-dividedByzantine readings appear sporadically from Matthew through Jude (marked"Mpt" in the Hodges-Farstad apparatus). Many of these divided readingsappear in brackets [ ] in this edition when simple omission or inclusionis indicated (see further on this matter, pp. [xlix-l]).
Major differences from the text of Hodges-Farstad appear in John7:53-8:11 (the "Pericope Adultera"), as well as in the entire book of theRevelation. These significant variations derive from the Hodges-Farstadstemmatic approachin those two portions of Scripture, which closelyfollowed the stemmatic approaches of Von Soden and Herman C. Hoskier. Thepresent edition does not utilize stemmatics anywhere in regard to thesacred text. Instead, the editors have followed the critical canons ofJohn W. Burgon throughout the entire Greek New Testament.
The present edition attempts to recreate an acceptable and exclusivelyByzantine text for the Pericope Adultera, as evidenced among the typicalByzantine manuscripts, most of which contain that passage withoutquestion. To accomplish this task, Von Soden's stemmatic data for thePericope Adultera was converted into numerical equivalents (percentages).Von Soden in that portion of the text provided only basic stemmaticevidence rather than his normal K-group data (K = koinh = ByzantineTextform). To edit this passage, the evidence of the Von Soden apparatusand introduction has been carefully compared with that of other criticaleditions, including the current and generally accurate Nestle-Aland 26thedition. The Appendix to this volume presents the various forms of thePericope Adultera, both as they appear in manuscript groupings as well asin various editions of the Greek New Testament.
For the book of the Revelation, the present editors have constructed aworking "Byzantine Text" from the full collation data of Herman C.Hoskier. In the Revelation there is no single representative"Byzantine/Majority Textform" such as exists in the rest of the NewTestament; rather, two major and complementary textual traditions exist,each supported by an approximately equal number of manuscripts. Onetradition is termed the "An" text (named for the church father Andreas,whose commentary accompanies most manuscripts of this type); the othertradition (the remaining large group of manuscripts) is called the "Q"text.
Where the "An" and "Q" groups agree, a true "Byzantine/Majority"consensus text exists. Where they disagree, however, a working text hasbeen reconstructed on the basis of acceptable external and internalstandards of New Testament textual criticism, following the basiccriteria of John W. Burgon and Ernest C. Colwell rather than thestemmatic approach of Hodges-Farstad. (Colwell suggested a 70% agreementas sufficient to establish a texttype relationship; the present textplaces all readings with 70%+ support as clearly "Byzantine"in the Revelation, whereas the Hodges-Farstad approach favorssome stemmatically-determined readings which possess only 20-30% support).Although Robinson in 1977 developed a strictly numerical"majority-consensus" text of Revelation for dissertation researchpurposes, the text since that time has been carefully and extensivelyrevised by the present editors on more thoroughly Burgonian principles.The present edition reflects the latest and most complete revision ofthat text.
For over four-fifths of the New Testament, the Greek text is considered100% certain, regardless of which texttype might be favored by anycritic. This undisputedbulk of the text reflects a common pre-existingarchetype (the autograph), which has universal critical acceptance. Inthe remaining one-fifth of the Greek New Testament, theByzantine/Majority Textform represents the pattern of readings found inthe Greek manuscripts predominating during the 1000-year Byzantine era.Early printed editions of the Greek New Testament reflect a generalagreement with the Byzantine-era manuscripts upon which they were based.Such manuscripts and early printed editions are commonly termed "TextusReceptus" or "Received Text" documents, based upon the term applied tothe Elzevir 1624 printed Greek edition. Other editions commonly termed"Textus Receptus" include the editions of Erasmus 1516, Stephens 1550,and Beza 1598. George Ricker Berry has correctly notedthat "in the main they are one and the same; and [any] of them may bereferred to as the Textus Receptus."
All these early printed Greek New Testaments closely paralleled (but werenot identical with) the text which underlies the English-language KingJames or Authorized Version of 1611. That version was based closely uponthe Greek text of Beza 1598, which differed but little from its TextusReceptus predecessors or from the derived text of the few Byzantinemanuscripts upon which those editions were based. Nevertheless, neitherthe early English translations nor the early printed Greek New Testamentsreflected a perfect agreement with the predominant Byzantine/MajorityTextform, since no single manuscript or small group of manuscripts is100% identical with the aggregate form of that text.
Most of the significant translatable differences between the early TextusReceptus editions and the Byzantine/Majority Textform are clearlypresented in the English-language "M-text" footnotes appended to mosteditions of the New King James Version, published by Thomas Nelson Co.Those M-notes, however, are tied to the Hodges-Farstad Majority Text anddo not always coincide with the present Byzantine/Majority Textformedition.
There are approximately 1500 differences between any Receptus edition andeither the present text or that of Hodges-Farstad. Nevertheless, allprinted Receptus texts do approximate the Byzantine Textform closelyenough (around 98% agreement) to allow a near-identity of reading betweenany Receptus edition andthe majority of all manuscripts. Due to the greater quantity ofmanuscript evidence presently available, however, no one today shouldchoose to remain bound to any early printed Greek text based upon arelative handful of manuscripts. The bibliographical resources listed atthe end of this edition provide additional information regarding theseand other matters of text-critical history.
The "Byzantine" Textform (otherwise called the "Majority"or "Traditional Text")predominated throughout the greatest period of manual copying ofGreek New Testament manuscripts -- a span of over 1000 years (ca. AD 350 toAD 1516). It was without question the dominant text used bothliturgically and popularly by the Greek-speaking Christian community.Most Greek manuscripts in existence today reflect this ByzantineTextform, whether appearing in normal continuous-textstyle or speciallyarranged in lectionary format for liturgical use. Of over 5000 totalcontinuous-text and lectionary manuscripts, 90% or more contain abasically Byzantine Textform.
This statistical fact has led some simply to refer to this Textform asthe "Majority Text." This misnomer, however, gives a false impressionregarding the amount of agreement to be found among Byzantine manuscriptswhere places of variation occur. No two Byzantine-era manuscripts areexactly alike, and there are a good number of places where the testimonyof the Byzantine-era manuscripts is substantially divided. In suchplaces, the archetypical "Byzantine Textform" must be established fromprinciples other than that of "number" alone.
An important consideration is that, except for a few small "family"relationships which have been established, the bulk of the Byzantine-eradocuments are not closely-related in any genealogicalsense. Apresumption, therefore, is toward their relative independence from eachother rather than their dependence upon one another. This makes theByzantine majority of manuscripts highly individualistic witnesses whichcannot be summarily lumped together as one "mere" texttype, to be playedoff against other competing texttypes. This relative autonomy has greatsignificance, as will be explained.
The Byzantine/Majority Textform is not the text found in most moderncritical editions, such as those published by the United Bible Societiesor the various Nestleeditions. Byzantine readings, however, are oftencited in the apparatus notes to those editions. The critical Greekeditions favor a predominantly "Alexandrian" text, deriving primarilyfrom early vellum and papyrus documents having an Egyptian origin -- a clearminority of manuscripts in any case. It should be remembered that most ofthe variant readings pertaining to one or another texttype are trivial ornon-translatable, and are not readily apparent in English translation(significant translatable differences are discussed above).
Not all early manuscripts, however, favor the Alexandrian text, and feware purely Alexandrian in character. Many early papyri reflect mixturewith a more "Western" type of text; but few (if any) scholars today favorthe "Western" readings found in such manuscripts. Such rejection,although well-founded, is basically subjective. On a similar basis, theearly date and certain "preferred" readings currently cause the minorityAlexandrian manuscripts to be favored by critics over against those comprising theByzantine/Majority Textform.
Many scholars, particularly those from within the "Evangelical" camp,have begun to re-evaluate and give credence to the authenticity-claimsfor the Byzantine Textform, as opposed to the textual preferences of thepast century and a half. The Alexandrian-based critical texts reflect thediverse textual theories held by various critics: a preference for earlywitnesses (as espoused by Lachmann, Tregelles or Aland); a partiality fora favorite document (as demonstrated by Tischendorf or Westcott andHort); a "reasoned" eclectic approach (as advocated by Metzger and Fee);and a "rigorous" eclectic approach (as argued for by Kilpatrick andElliott). The weakness of each of these positions is the subjectivepreference for either a specific manuscript and its textual allies, for asmall group of early manuscripts, and/or for certain types of "internalevidence" regarding a reading's length, difficulty, style, or contextualconsiderations.
In contrast, the "Byzantine-priority" position simply urges, as a primaryconsideration, a return to external evidence following the soundprinciples of John W. Burgon and in agreement with an initial objectiveprinciple of F. J. A. Hort. Hort wrote in his "Introduction" volume that
A theoretical presumption indeed remains that a majority of extantdocuments is more likely to represent a majority of ancestral documentsat each stage of transmission than viceversa.
Yet Hort immediately proclaimed that this objective principle (whichwould favor "Byzantine/Majority-priority") was too weak in itself tostand "against the smallest tangible evidence of other kinds." Hort'ssupporting evidence in favor of an Alexandrian priority, however, wasdeficient, and many of those who today favor an Alexandrian-based texthave rejected certain of Hort's main principles. Hort, however, made itclear that, were hisfoundation-pillars to be overthrown, his theory would crumble. In such acase, a return to his initial "theoretical presumption" would appear tobecome the only logical position for textual scholars to hold, namely,that "a majority of extant documents is more likely to represent amajority of ancestral documents." The Byzantine Textform, therefore,would hold a strong claim toward autograph authenticity.
The main pillars of Hort's theory are presented here in their mostlogical sequence:
Nevertheless, most modern scholars, while rejecting Hort's mainprinciples, continue to favor his conclusions regarding the "original"Alexandrian-based text and the supposed inferiority of the "later"Byzantine/Majority Textform. This academic anomaly derives from holding aconclusion based upon no solid theory of textual transmission-history.
In response to Hort's five "pillars," modern scholarship can declare thefollowing counter-arguments:
Many Byzantine readings have been strongly defended by non-partisans oninternal grounds; in fact, all Greek New Testament editions sinceWestcott-Hort have increasingly adopted Byzantine readings to replacethose advocated by Westcott and Hort.
Despite the inherent subjectivity of this approach, Byzantine-priorityadvocates maintain that a successful internal-evidence case can be madefor nearly every Byzantine reading over against the Western,Caesarean, and Alexandrian readings.(Hort claimed that every purely Byzantine reading was "inferior"on all sound principles of internal evidence).
Hort adamantly maintained that the concurrence of all five points wasessential to the establishment of an Alexandrian-preference theory. Hismodern successors have retreated from all these points into a positionwhich in essence favors only the external age of documents, theirparticular texttype, and/or the internal quality of the readings theycontain. Unlike Hort, however, the modern critics fail to offer asystematic history of textual transmission which satisfactorily explainsthe phenomenon of the Byzantine Textform. Hort at least postulated adeliberate authorized revision as a possible explanation for the laterByzantine predominance. Yet today, the supposed rise and overwhelmingdominance of the Byzantine Textform out of the presumed primordialWestern and Alexandrian texttypes is accounted for merely as the resultof a lengthy, vague "process." But, as Hodges has cogently pointed out,
No one has yet explained how a long, slow process spread out over manycenturies as well as over a wide geographical area, and involving amultitude of copyists, who often knew nothing of the state of the textoutside of their own monasteries or scriptoria, could achieve thiswidespread uniformity out of the diversity presented by the earlier[Western and Alexandrian] forms of text.... An unguided process achievingrelative stability and uniformity in the diversified textual, historical,and cultural circumstances in which the New Testament was copied, imposesimpossible strains on our imagination.
This consideration should again force the scholars who forsake Hort todo as Colwell suggested; namely, to come up with a better reconstructionof the history of the transmission of the New Testament text which offersa credible explanation for the utter dominance of the Byzantine/MajorityTextform.A "process" view is not necessarilywrong -- only theinsistence that the process begin with the Alexandrian and Westerntexttypes rather than the Byzantine Textform. In light of the precedingdiscussion, it would appear that "process" advocates are forced to returnto Hort's initial presumption regarding "a majority of extant documents,"and acknowledge that the Byzantine/Majority Textform indeed has a strong(if not the best) claim to reflect the original text.
No one should deny that a case for the Byzantine Textform can be stronglyadvocated. Nevertheless, certain objections are presented by those whooppose this Textform, and some of these need to be briefly addressed.
The most common criticism concerns the fact that there are in existenceno manuscripts of the Byzantine Textform earlier than AD 400. At firstglance, this appears to be a formidable objection, and indeedunanswerable in view of the absence of the hard data required forrefutation. A defense which provides sound reasons for this situation,however, can be effectively made.
First of all, the extant early manuscript evidence we possess allapparently stems from the Egyptian region, and reflects the mixed typesof text prevalent in that area during the second century. Indeed, had itnot been for the fortuitous discovery of P75 (ca. AD 175) in 1955, wetoday would have no certain evidence that manuscripts which werepredominantly Alexandrian in character predated the great uncial codicesVaticanus and Sinaiticus (ca. AD 350) -- only a hypothesis. That hypothesiswould becalled into serious question by the remaining papyri, each of whichpossesses a good degree of "mixture" between Alexandrian and Westernreadings (with some "distinctively Byzantine" readings thrown in for goodmeasure). Any bold assertion that the point is settled, since nopredominantly Byzantine manuscripts of the second century have yet beenrecovered, certainly seems to beg the question from an argument based onsilence.
Secondly, the overall presence of Western + Alexandrian "mixture" in theknown papyri from Egypt indicates a far more complex textual situation inthat region than might have been imagined for the Greek-speaking Easternportion of the Empire. The local situation of Egypt would thus not be themost appropriate for preserving a more "general" text -- a text which hadits origin and its essence above and beyond any purely "local" orregional texts. The complexityof the text in the Egyptian papyri isstrongly paralleled among the Old Latin manuscripts which predominated inthe Western portion of the Empire -- thoroughly "mixed" manuscriptspossessing "African" and "European" readings which reflected no commonarchetype in their "uncontrolled" state.
Thirdly, in postulating a reconstruction of the history of textualtransmission which favors the Byzantine-priority hypothesis, it is not atall necessary that a Byzantine manuscript be expected or produced fromthese earliest centuries. In fact, a "pure" Byzantine text may havealmost vanished in certain locales shortly after the completion of theautograph form of the canonical books, especially among non-churchmanuscripts in areas relativelydistant from their original source.Such a puzzling and paradoxicalnotion stems from the knowledge of the uncontrolled "popular" nature ofsome localized textual transmission (evidenced by many surviving papyri)as practiced during the first few centuries and the status of the churchat that time as a persecuted entity. It appears that when the earlycopies of the autographs arrived in regions distant from their sourcesthere must have been less constraint against altering their wording insuch locales. "Popular"alterations and regional "corrections" wouldcombine in a continual process of scribal corruption and resultantmixture of texts. This process would occur as scribally-alteredmanuscripts were later cross-corrected from other "popular" manuscriptspossessing differing readings -- whether intentionally (with good motives)by the orthodox, or accidentally.
Thus, in some localities during this early period, there arose"uncontrolled" and "popular" types of copies, which were apparentlywidely distributed in those areas. Pious attempts to "correct" some ofthe aberrations intensified the problem as time went on. This situationwas further complicated by the increasing persecution against the church,which effectively cut off certain controlling and correcting factors.This reconstruction of the history of textual transmission seems to be demanded in view of theconfusion evidenced by the early surviving Greek papyrus and uncialmanuscripts, both in their originally-copied text and in the variousattempts to re-edit and "correct" them into a more satisfactory product.
Although oral recollection and liturgical repetition of biblical textscould serve as a stabilizing factor for the Greek New Testament text,neither of these "unwritten standards" would be foolproof. Only awell-preserved written standard could serve to secure and safeguard acorrect and reliable "original text."
Had there been no original "common archetype" (the autographs), thisuncontrolled process would have produced much the same result among theGreek manuscripts as found among the Old Latin -- a veritable hodgepodge ofreadings created by individualist scribes ("translators" as regards theOld Latin), with no characteristically-prevailing "majority" text,whether Byzantine or any other. Such indeed was the situation whenJerome was commissioned to make sense out of the Old Latin in order tocreate a "standard text" for the Latin-speaking Church.
Jerome's revision was absolutely necessary to unify the Latin tradition.Apart from a similar "Byzantine revision" (of which there is nohistorical evidence), the Byzantine Textform dominance cannot besatisfactorily explained by those who reject its possible "autographarchetype" status. Nor can appeal to a simplistic "process" hypothesissolve the problem.
An unrestricted "process" would lead only to greater mixture and less andless unity of text, such as had occurred with the Old Latin manuscripts.Only a common pre-existing archetype will permit order ever to come out ofchaos. Even that possibility depends upon both the process of time andsufficient scribal concern for the text being copied so that othermanuscripts beyond the current exemplar (master copy) would be regularly consulted forcorrective purposes.
The original Byzantine Textform must have rapidly degenerated into thevarious uncontrolled popular texts which prevailed in certain times andlocalities, due to the events and circumstances which surroundedmanuscript copying during the first three centuries. These "popular"texts, in the normal process of copying and re-copying (with scribal"improvements" and blunders coupled with cross-correction changes fromother exemplars), eventually would have developed into the distinctive"local text" forms which centered around various metropolitan regions.These in effect became the birthplaces of various "texttypes" -- some nowprobably lost to history, since they prevailed in regions where theclimate was too damp to allow a preservation of such manuscripts. Ofthose locally-preserved texttypes, we find in manuscripts of the presentday those minority groups which we term the Western, Alexandrian, andCaesarean (the Byzantine Textform is specifically excluded from theenumeration of local texts under the present hypothesis since itrepresents the original Textform from which all the others derived).
All this occurred during the period of greatest persecution for the earlychurch. It is understandable, given these circumstances, that thepreservation of the precise "autograph form" of the text by commonscribes did not always have the highest priority. The rise of local textforms was the best possible result that could have been expected in somelocales. Local text forms would arise only as a side effect of thedeposition of certain "popular" texts in a given locality, regardless oftheir genealogical derivation.
Once the status of the churches had become sanctioned under Constantine,however, the predominantly "local" nature of the church was permanentlyaltered. Official sanction engendered wider communication between thechurches, including regional and Empire-wide councils. Greatercommunication meant wider travel and exchange of manuscripts among boththe churches and individual Christians. It was only natural thatcross-comparison and correction of one manuscript by another should thenproceed on a numerical and geographical scale far greater than everbefore.
The result of this spontaneous "improvement" of manuscripts throughcross-correction would not manifest itself immediately. Over the processof time, however, all manuscripts would slowly but inexorably tend towarda common and universally-shared text -- a text with its own subgroups andminor differences among the manuscripts, but a text which was basicallyunitary in form and content, though not itself an ingrown "local text"nor identical with any single localtext. This "universal text" couldonly be one which would approach the common archetype which lay behindall the local text forms. For the Greek manuscripts, that archetype couldonly be the autograph form itself.
Scribal "creativity" formed no part of this "autograph restoration"process; readings created by individual scribes would be effectivelyweeded out during the next copying generation or soon thereafter bycross-correction. The vast amount of "singular readings" obviouslycreated by scribes, as seen in our existing manuscripts, amplyillustrates the fact of the relative nonproliferation of unique scribalalterations.
The result inevitably arrived at would be a continually-improving,self-consistent Textform, refined and restored, preserved (as would beexpected) in an increasing number of manuscripts which slowly wouldovercome the influence of "local texts" and finally become the dominanttext of the Greek-speaking world. This explains both the origin anddominance of the Byzantine/Majority Textform.
This reconstruction adequately explains why no early Byzantinemanuscripts appear among our existing documents, as well as thephenomenon of the Byzantine Textform. It has offered aplausible reconstruction which requires no extreme theological "leaps offaith," nor a general assignment of blame to "heretics" for non-Byzantinetexttypes or readings. Nor are any "wild" speculations presented whichstrain the sensibilities of the inquirer. A sound, rational approachwhich accounts for all the phenomena and offers a reconstruction of thehistory of textual transmission is all that is demanded for anytext-critical hypothesis. It is the opinion of the editors that thesecriteria have begun to be fulfilled in the presentation and advocacy ofthe present Textform so as to overcome a predominant objection that hasbeen urged against a Byzantine-priority hypothesis.
The first orthodox Father who consistently cites a Byzantine type of textis John Chrysostom (d.407). The earliest Church Father who isacknowledged to have used a Byzantine type of text is Asterius, a hereticwho died in AD 341. Early Fathers quoted a "mixed bag" of Alexandrian,Western, and commonly shared readings with the Byzantine text. Hortclaimed that "distinctively Byzantine" readings were not found in theearly Fathers; hence, such readings did not exist.
However, the presence of "distinctively Byzantine" readings in the earlypapyri amply demonstrates that the component elements of the ByzantineTextform may well have been known to these early Fathers. Of course, hadthey utilized such readings they would no longer be "distinctivelyByzantine" according to Hort's definition (i.e., possessing no support inthe Fathers orversions before AD 350); thus the "circle of Byzantine exclusion" wouldhave been pushed back further. Point three below looks toward anotherpossible explanation of these phenomena.
It may be readily affirmed that the same phenomena which resulted in theabsence of early Byzantine manuscripts would also affect the textsavailable to the Church Fathers in their various locales. It becomes nosurprise to find the "popular" or local readings predominating among theearly Fathers. This explains only a portion of the problem, however.
First, the supposed "text of a Father" is based upon a gratuitousassumption: namely, that a Father in any single locale or at anyparticular time used one and only one manuscript. In fact, a Father mayhave switched manuscripts daily in some cases. This possibility aloneprecludes any suggestion that "the" text used by a Father can indeed bereconstructed with confidence. Certainly, while a Father was in a singlelocation, most manuscripts available to him in that region would reflectthe local text of the area; but what if now and then another manuscriptfrom a different region came his way? It becomes no surprise to find thatsome Fathers possess a text that is "mixed" in a significant degree. Thefact is, we can only determine which readings a Father may have quoted atcertain times in his works; the actual text of the manuscript(s) he mayhave used remains an open question.
Secondly, Fathers often paraphrase, quote faultily from memory, ordeliberately alter a quotation to make a point. Unless a Father statesunambiguously that he is actually quoting a manuscript (which cases arein the minority), one cannot be certain that the Father was reproducing atext that lay before him. The goal of the Fathers was theological ratherthan primarily text-critical, and they often altered readings which didnot fit their dogmatic purposes (e.g., John 1:13).
Thirdly -- and most importantly -- the common practice among patristic scholarsis to dismiss distinctively Byzantine readings found in the writings ofthe Fathers unless the Father expressly comments on the significance ofthe Byzantine reading. This is due to their hypothesis that the scribes(who also copied the works of the Fathers as well as the New Testamentmanuscripts) would habitually and deliberately tend to alter thescriptural quotations of the Fathers into those with which they were familiar,namely, the Byzantine readings. This argument is similar to that madeagainst the Byzantine manuscripts in regard to scribal "harmonization."Scribes are assumed to have a "tendency" to alter the text of amanuscript they are copying into that with which they are more familiar,whether from personal memorization, liturgical usage, "easier" synonyms,or the like. However, this "harmonizing" or "easier/more familiar"principle was not a major factor among Byzantine-era scribes as seenreflected in scribal habits among the New Testament documents themselves;nor is it likely that any different copying policy was applied withregard to the text of the Fathers. The simplest refutation of such asupposition is that, were widespread Byzantine alteration a fact, itbecomes incredible that the scribes would have left so many obvious andsensitive places utterly untouched.
Byzantine-era scribes as a whole were less inclined to gratuitously alterthe text before them than simply to perform their given duty. It was theearlier scribes in some locales who, during the uncontrolled "popular"era of persecution and the initial years of Imperial "freedom," felt moreat liberty to deal with the text as they saw fit.
This suggests the contrary hypothesis: namely, that patristic readingswhich are non-Byzantine and not expressly commented on by the earlyFathers might be questioned. But this perspective need not be pressed. Ifthe Byzantine readings now summarily dismissed in the early Fathers werelegitimately included, the Fathers' overall text would be seen as more"Byzantine" than current scholarly opinion claims. This was Burgon'soriginal contention, which was dismissed out of hand, due to his use of"uncritical" editions of the Fathers. Current "critical" editions of theFathers, however, follow the above-mentioned practice of eliminatingdistinctive Byzantine readings where unconfirmed by direct comment. Werethis not so, the text of the Fathers would be recognized as far moreByzantine than current opinion allows.
Another problem which arises when dealing with the text of the Fathers aswell as with Alexandrian and Western manuscripts in general is that ofthe "Hortian blinders" which have been so skillfully applied to the eyesof modern critics.
The textual blind spot occurs in regard to certain dually-alignedreadings (i.e., readings supported by both Alexandrian and Byzantinemanuscripts or by both Western and Byzantine manuscripts). Those readingswhich are supported by a Byzantine-Alexandrian combination are termed"Alexandrian," and are considered to have been "later" incorporated intothe emerging Byzantine text. Likewise, readings supported by aByzantine-Western combination are considered solely "Western," lateradopted by the Byzantine-era scribes The unprejudiced mind can readilysee how seriously this approach begs the entire question. From thepresent perspective, the Byzantine-Alexandrian and Byzantine-Westernalignments are merely those autograph readings of the Byzantine Textformfrom which the Alexandrian or Western manuscripts did not deviate -- a verydifferent picture.
Thus, the Alexandrian manuscripts are themselves far more "Byzantine"than they have been given credit for, if only their readings are firstconsidered from a Byzantine-priority perspective. Likewise, the Westernmanuscripts also are far more "Byzantine" than has been claimed, ifviewed from the Byzantine-priority standpoint. Researchers simply mustnot beg the question by assuming the point to be proven, but must fairlyplace themselves in the midst of opposing hypotheses in order to gain aproper perspective of each view.
When this principle is applied to the readings found in the Fathers, theresult will appear striking. Many dually-aligned Alexandrian or Westernreadings which "typify" and categorize the text of various Fathers willsuddenly be seen to have been Byzantine all along -- reclassified onlybecause the Byzantine alignment with such readings was ignored, inaccordance with atheory requiring the removal of anything "Byzantine" which happened toconcur with other "earlier" texttypes. By default, the only remaining"Byzantine" readings in the early Fathers are those classified as"distinctive" by Hort, and many of these are summarily dismissed asscribal accommodation to the later dominant text if no express comment ismade regarding them. It is thus no wonder that the prevailing opinionconcerning the text of the Fathers clashes so severely with Burgon'sclaims that a far greater number of Patristic readings were essentiallyByzantine.
The Patristic evidence, therefore, requires a full and completereinvestigation from within the Byzantine-priority perspective to seewhether any statistical change might occur. It is also important to notethat the "writing theologian" Fathers of the fifth century from theEastern (Greek-speaking) portion of the Empire already had in hand whatappears to be a basically Byzantine text. One is hard pressed to explainwhere this text came from so quickly if no Byzantine revision occurred.The present reconstruction of the history of transmission wouldsatisfactorily account for the presence of a thoroughly ByzantineTextform in the fifth-century Fathers. It would also explain the lack ofa clearly Byzantine text in any Father during the period when manypopular, uncontrolled manuscripts circulated in the midst of persecution,and for a while thereafter.
In view of the transmissional history suggested, the fallacy of the"older is necessarily better" argument should already have been madeclear. Going beyond the contents of the earliest manuscripts, however,the editors would stress (following Burgon and many other critics) thatit is not the age of the manuscript itself, but the quality and antiquityof the text it contains which is the real item of value.
Most early manuscripts in existence today have been affected by theuncontrolled nature of textual transmission which prevailed in theirlocal areas, as well as by the persecutions which came continuallyagainst the church. The whole matter of early copying practices ishypothetical, regardless of which textual theory one prefers. We knownothing beyond what can be deduced from what survives. In the earlypapyri, we may have only personal copies, and not those which were generally used by thechurches themselves. Also, the papyri all come from a single geographicarea, and reflect a good deal of corruption, both accidental anddeliberate. One should not summarily question the integrity of all earlymanuscripts because of the character of this limited sample from Egypt.
There is good reason to presume that most early copies -- many made directlyfrom the autographs themselves -- would have been as accurate as ordinarycare would humanly permit, especially for Holy Writ. Church sources inparticular would not knowingly send forth what they would have considered"defective" copies. At least the first and second copying generationsshould have been generally secure. Responsible scribes would presumablytake general care with their sacred deposits.
Although a healthy respect for the sacred text generally prevailed,keeping corruption to a minimum, even the orthodox sometimes took theopportunity to alter the text, under the supposition that they were"improving" or "restoring" the text with their corrections. Hereticaltampering did occur, as witnessed by the work of Tatian and Marcion, butthe church as a whole, and especially its leaders and theologians, werekeen watchdogs against such deliberately-perverted manuscripts. It is notwithout significance that today we know of Marcion's heretical text onlyfrom citations in the Church Fathers, and the heretic Tatian'sDiatessaron is seen in but one Greek manuscript fragment, despite itsearly widespread popularity even among the orthodox.
Yet, even though heretical alterations were not tolerated, nowhere in theearly Fathers do we find any indication that in those early centuries auniformity of text was a concern or demand. Had common scribal alterationbeen a concern, the Fathers would have spoken out as strongly as they didagainst the theology and text of the heretics. The evidence of theexisting early manuscripts as well as the Patristic quotations ofScripture is plain in this regard. The manuscript text in the earliestcenturies had been corrupted to a degree, chiefly through the agency ofcommon orthodox Christians. The Fathers, like all other Christians, hadto make do with the manuscripts currentlyavailable. They did not actively seek to "restore" the autograph form ofthat text; such was not their purpose.
The text found in the manuscripts of the second and third centuries,therefore, is in many cases corrupt, and to that extent somewhat removedfrom the autograph text. Not all manuscripts showed the same degree ofcorruption, however, as even the early papyridemonstrate. Only thecontinual process of manuscript comparison and cross-correction aspracticed throughout the centuries would succeed in weeding out earlyscribal corruption and conflicting variant readings. The same processwould later keep the vagaries of individual Byzantine-era scribes incheck.
With the increased cross-cultural communication which followed thelegitimization of Christianity, such a practice would slowly butnaturally purge manuscripts from both the conspicuous and even theless-obvious corruptions to which they earlier had been subjected, and atruly "older" and purer text would result. This "process" could not besuccessful were the basic text of all Greek manuscripts not in largemeasure "secure." A mish-mash of conflicting readings, such as prevailedin the Old Latin tradition, would never allow for the restoration of anolder or purer Textform by a natural "process."
In light of the general uniformity of the Greek text as found in thelater Byzantine-era manuscripts, it therefore appears more rather thanless likely that these later manuscripts would preserve a form of textclosely approximating the autograph. Certainly this would be far morelikely than the chances for the autograph readings to survive only in aconflicting handful of second- and third-century manuscripts which werecopied under less-than-favorable uncontrolled conditions.
Even more to the point, later manuscripts may often preserve an "early"text. This was one of the main considerations of Hort's genealogicalhypothesis. A manuscript of the twelfth century may have been copieddirectly from a manuscript of the thirdcentury. There is no way of knowing this directly, except where a scribemakes mention of such a fact in a colophon (closing writtencomment).Most colophons, however, do not address the issue of the type ofmanuscript (papyrus, uncial, or minuscule) from which they were copied,but only those items of pressing concern to the scribe, many of which areinsignificant to us, being devotional in nature (we should dearly love tohave even the date when each manuscript was copied, but most scribes didnot consider that to be of major importance).
We do know that, after the 9th century, almost all manuscripts ceased tobe copied in the uncial style (capital-letters), and were systematicallyreplaced by the "modern" minuscule style (cursive-letters) which thenpredominated until the invention of printing This "copying revolution"resulted in the destruction of hundreds of previously-existing uncialmanuscripts once their faithful counterpart had been produced inminuscule script. Many truly ancient uncials may have vanished within acentury due to this change in the handwriting style. Thosepalimpsestmanuscripts which survive provide mute testimony to the fate of many ofthose ancient uncials, the remnants of which, having been erased andre-used to copy sermons or liturgical texts, might simply have perishedor been discarded once those texts were no longer considered valuable.
Since Kirsopp Lake found only genealogically-unrelated manuscripts atSinai, Patmos, and Jerusalem, he concluded that it was "hard to resistthe conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed theirexemplars." Ifstrictly applied to all copying generations, this view would lead to anumber of logical fallacies.Some of these have been discussed by Donald A. Carson and WilburPickering.
However, the real explanation of Lake's comment revolves around the"copying revolution": scribes apparently destroyed uncial exemplars asthey converted the Greek text into the then-standard minuscule format.Thus, the apparently unrelated mass of later minuscules may in fact stemfrom long-lost uncial sources far older than the date of the minusculescontaining them. This in itself adds a significant weight to thetestimony of the minuscule mass, especially those copied in the ninth andtenth centuries, at the height of the copying revolution.
For modern researchers summarily to neglect the text of the minusculesbecause they mostly reflect a Byzantine type of text is to suggest thattheir text is all one and all late, in accord with Hort's thesisconcerning the ultimate origin of the Byzantine Textform. Yet Von Sodenand subsequent researchers have clearly shown the internal diversityfound among the manuscripts of the Byzantine Textform -- a diversity whichcannot be accounted for genealogically. An unprejudiced consideration ofthe present hypothesis will impart a value to (at least) the earlierminuscule testimony which ranges far beyond that allowed by moderncritics. This factor now makes the complete collation of all knownminuscule manuscripts an important task which should be completed asrapidly as possible.
The present editors allow that criticisms leveled against some advocatesof the "Majority Text" theory have a certain validity. These includeobjections to a primarily quantitative approach(using "Number" as the main criterion); the use of stemmatics (whichillegitimately overturns "Number," "Variety,"and "Continuity" in manyplaces); a transmission-history which permits but a single "orthodox"line of transmission, with all other lines being viewed as "unorthodox"or "heretical"; and the departure from the text-critical"mainstream" inthe complete rejection of the value of most ancient manuscripts, theelimination of texttype relationships and their significance, and thesuggestion that internal principles of textual criticism are useless forestablishing the text.
The present editors have attempted to avoid such pitfalls by working froma carefully-constructed theory of textual transmission, remaining withinnormal text-critical practice and principles. They advocate a"Byzantine-priority" rather than a solely "MajorityText" hypothesis. Ashas been explained, no stemmatic approach is utilized in this edition,nor is "Number" a sole or necessarily a primary criterion. The presentedition does not deliberately mingle the Byzantine, Western, or Caesareanwitnesses -- i.e., does not combine the testimony of Von Soden's K and Igroups -- to produce the preferred text. The suggested reconstruction of thehistory of transmission requires no single "orthodox" line of descent inopposition to a multitude of "heretical" lines; nor are standardtext-critical concepts summarily rejected. The testimony of the mostancient manuscripts, texttype interrelationships, and principles of soundinternal evidence were regularly considered to assist in determining theoriginal form of the text in places where Byzantine-era manuscripts weredivided.
Certain partisans claiming to affirm a "Majority Text" position haveabused that term to promote a sole objective of defending the TextusReceptus and ultimately the exclusive advocacy of the King James Version.To achieve such an end, however, all recognizable principles of textualcriticism must be discarded by them; their ultimate struggle becomespurely theological, and that in the extreme. God and the TR/KJV arepitted against Satan and the Alexandrian Text. The Alexandrianmanuscripts are thoroughly deprecated. In their eyes Westcott and Hortbecome "closet Jesuits," bent on destroying the "orthodox Bible" by substituting the readings of "heretical" manuscripts. Those who acceptany texts besides the TR and KJV are "liberal," "heretical," and/or dupesof a "Catholic conspiracy." Some authentic "Majority Text" advocates havebeen unfairly lumped with this extreme position, even though theseindividuals have made it plain that they are not in sympathy with such anabsurd agenda.
The present editors desire to make it absolutely clear that they are nottied to such an agenda in any way. Neither the Textus Receptus nor anyEnglish translation is in view under the Byzantine-priority theory -- onlythe restoration of readings considered most closely to reflect theoriginal form of the Byzantine text, and ultimately the autograph. TheByzantine Textform does not concur with any Receptus edition, and clearlynot with any English version presently available, including the KJV orNKJV. The present editors would welcome heartily a good moderntranslation based upon the Byzantine Textform (a project which will comein its own due time).
For advocates of the TR/KJV position, the "theological argument"regarding the conflict between God and Satan is primary, centering uponthe "providential preservation" of a specific and unique text, unlikethat found in any single manuscript or texttype, including the ByzantineTextform. For advocates of the Byzantine-priority hypothesis, theunderlying theological factors take a secondary role in the realm oftextual criticism. Nor can we summarily dismiss the manuscripts ofcompeting texttypes as "useless" or "heretical." Neither the Alexandriannor the Western manuscripts in themselves present a deliberately "evil"text -- only a text which (under the present hypothesis) has suffered fromscribal corruption and/or "creativity" to an adverse degree -- a situationwhich has lessened their overall value and authority.
Christians who use a translation based upon the Alexandrian (or even theWestern) texttype are only somewhat disadvantaged from aByzantine-priority perspective, specifically in the study of details. Thebest-selling NIV, the NASV, and most other modern translations arethemselves based upon a generally-Alexandrian text, and Christians seemto suffer no devastating effects from their use (one must remember that,regardless of texttype, over 85% of the text found in all manuscripts isidentical).
There are certain exegetical and theological problems found within themanuscripts of the Alexandrian and Western texttypes. Many readings areplainly erroneous or contradict other passages of Scripture. However, theprimary doctrinal emphases of Scripture remain sufficient and clearthroughout even the worst of these manuscripts. Their many textual errorsare in no way endorsed by the present editors, however, even though someof these erroneous readings appear in various modern English translationsand critical Greek editions.
The Byzantine-priority hypothesis is advocated, not because it is theonly "pure" and therefore "good" form of the text, but because it appearsto possess a greater claim toward "autograph originality" than otherproposed hypotheses. The goal of textual criticism is not to produce amerely "good" text, nor even an "adequate" text, but instead to establishas nearly as possible the precise form of the original text. That alonehas been the goal of the present editors.
1 Hermann Freiherr Von Soden, Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihreräItesten erreichbaren Textgestalt, 2 vols. in 4 parts (Göttingen:Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1911); Herman C. Hoskier, Concerning the Textof the Apocalypse, 2 vols. (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1929). (back)
2 Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad, eds., The Greek New TestamentAccording to the Majority Text, 2nd ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985[1st ed. 1982]). (back)
3 "Stemmatics" or a "stemmatic approach" is simply the attempt toconstruct a "family tree" of descent for manuscripts which appear to beclosely related through the sharing of certain readings where places oftextual variation occur. Normally, a genealogical stemma ("branch" ="family tree") would be constructed solely on the basis of shared errorsamong closely-related "family" groups of manuscripts. Some moderncritics, however, have applied the genealogical principle to any sharedreadings among manuscripts in order to determine texttypeinterrelationships. They have thus reconstructed family trees fortexttypes and have attempted to reconstruct hypothetical intermediate"lost ancestor" manuscripts to fill in the gaps where necessary. Thepresent editors consider that approach to be invalid and inapplicable tothe New Testament manuscripts en masse. (back)
4 See John W. Burgon, The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels Vindicatedand Established, arranged, completed, and edited by Edward Miller(London: George Bell and Sons, 1896), pp. 40-67. Burgon's canons aresummarized under seven heads: Antiquity, Number, Variety, Continuity,Respectability of Witnesses, Context, and Internal Reasonableness.Burgon's full discussion of each of these points should be read carefullyby all textual students. This will prevent any false claim that Burgonmerely elaborated "Number" into seven similar statements.(back)
5 Ernest C. Colwell, "Method in Establishing Quantitative Relationshipsbetween Text-Types of New Testament Manuscripts," in his Studies inMethodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament, New TestamentTools and Studies, IX, edited by Bruce M. Metzger (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 1968), p.59; idem, "Hort Redivivus: A Plea and a Program,"Studies, p.163. Cases where the Hodges-Farstad text clearly has less than30% support can be found in Rev. 3:2; 11:15, 17:3, 18; 18:3, 6, 23; 19:9,17; 21:10. A much larger number of cases exist where the Hodges-Farstadtext has only between 30-40% support over against the clear majorityreadings of the manuscripts. (back)
6 A texttype is a specific pattern of variant readings shared among afairly distinct group of manuscripts. The manuscripts which "belong" to acertain texttype are not themselves equal to that generalized text, sinceeach manuscript has its own peculiar readings, as well as some mixturefrom readings of other texttypes. The texttype exists apart from andbeyond the manuscripts which comprise it. (back)
7 George Ricker Berry, ed., The Interlinear Literal Translation of theGreek New Testament (New York: Hinds & Noble, 1897), ii. Note fromBerry's apparatus that most of the variant readings found in manuscriptsof other texttypes are trivial or untranslatable. Only about 400-600variant readings seriously affect the translational sense of any passagein the entire New Testament. (back)
8 The "NU-text" (Nestle-UnitedBible Societies' Greek text) notes in theNKJV reflect significant translatable differences between the TextusReceptus editions and the Nestle/UBS Alexandrian-based critical texts.The NU notes do not apply to the present discussion, but reflect a widertextual difference than that found among the manuscripts of the ByzantineTextform. Note that the two apparatuses of the Hodges-Farstad editionshow almost all the Greek language differences between the Alexandriantexttype and the Textus Receptus or Byzantine/MajorityTextform. (back)
9 "Continuous-text" manuscripts are thosewhich present the full text ofa New Testament book or books in consecutive order, as in our EnglishBibles. Certain manuscripts designed for liturgical use (lectionaries)present the biblical text arranged in the order in which portions areread in the liturgical service week by week or even day byday. (back)
10 For the Gospels about 2000 continuous-text and 2000 lectionarymanuscripts exist today; this number lessens considerably for the otherbooks of the New Testament, with only about one-third of this total beingpresent for the Acts, Pauline and General Epistles, and less than 300manuscripts (and no lectionaries) existing for the text of theRevelation. All Byzantine-era manuscripts can be subdivided into smaller,loosely-connected subgroups which possess minor differences, one fromanother. (back)
11 This was the conclusion of Lake, Blake, and New after examining themanuscripts in monasteries at Mt. Sinai, Patmos, and Jerusalem. (KirsoppLake, R. P. Blake, and Silva New, "The Caesarean Text of the Gospel ofMark," Harvard Theological Review 21  349). (back)
12 Aland, Kurt, et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, 3rd ed. (New York:United Bible Societies, 1975); idem, Novum Testamentum Graece, 26th ed.(Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1979). (back)
13 Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort,The New Testament in the Original Greek, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan,1881), 2:45. (back)
14 Colwell was bold enough to admit this fact in his "Hort Redivivus,"Studies, pp. 158-159. (back)
15 Colwell, "Hort Redivivus," Studies, p.158.Colwell stated in 1947 that "genealogical method as defined by Westcottand Hort was not applied by them or by any of their followers to themanuscripts of the New Testament. Moreover, sixty years of study sinceWestcott and Hort indicate that it is doubtful if it can be applied toNew Testament manuscripts in such a way as to advance our knowledge ofthe original text of the New Testament." ("Genealogical Method: ItsAchievements and Limitations," Studies, p. 63). Yet at the time ofColwell's statement, the stemmatic approaches of Hoskier (to theApocalypse) and of Von Soden (to Jn. 7:53-8:11) had been in print forabout 20 and 45 years respectively. Colwell doubtless would have declaredthe same today regarding the approach of Hodges-Farstad to the sameportions of Scripture. The principle remains: genealogical stemmaticshave not been applied successfully to the New Testament Greek documentsbecause such cannot be applied to a textually "mixed" body ofmanuscripts. Kinship in such a case is remote in the extreme, and themixture within the manuscripts varies not only from book to book but evenwithin chapters of the same book (See Thomas C. Geer, Jr., "The Two Facesof Codex 33 in Acts," Novum Testamentum, 31  39-47, for ademonstration of this point). (back)
16 See Wilbur N. Pickering, "Conflation orConfusion," Appendix D in hisThe Identity of the New Testament Text, rev. ed. (Nashville: ThomasNelson, 1980), pp. 171-200. Contributors to that Appendix includedWilliam G. Pierpont, Maurice A. Robinson, Harry A Sturz, and PeterJohnston. (back)
17 See Harry A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament TextualCriticism (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984), pp. 137-230. (back)
18 See John William Burgon, The Revision Revised (Paradise, PA:Conservative Classics rep. ea., n. d. ), pp. 276-294; Colwell,"Hort Redivivus," Studies, pp. 157-159, 164-169. (back)
19 See for example, George Dunbar Kilpatrick,"The Greek New Testament Text of Today and the TextusReceptus," in The New Testament inHistorical and Contemporary Perspective: Essays in Memory of G. H. CMacGregor, ed. H. Anderson and W. Barclay (Oxford: Basil Blackwell,1965), pp. 189-208; J. Keith Elliott, "Rational Criticism and the Text ofthe New Testament," Theology 75 (1972) 338-343; also any other articlesby Kilpatrick or Elliott which favor the "rigorously eclectic"methodology, and as a result defend on internal principles theauthenticity of many "distinctively Byzantine"readings. (back)
20 Zane C. Hodges, "The Implications of StatisticalProbability for the History of the Text," Appendix C in Pickering,Identity, p. 168. (back)
21 Colwell, "Hort Redivivus," Studies,pp. 149-150, 155-157,164-169. (back)
22 Colwell, "Method in Establishing the Nature of Texttypes," Studies,pp. 53-55. (back)
23 See Burnett Hillman Streeter, The Four Gospels: A Study in Origins,4th impression revised (London: Macmillan, 1930), pp. 26-76, for adiscussion of "Local Text" theory and its implications for textualcriticism. The "Western" texttype is the local text typical of theLatin-speaking portions of the Roman Empire. It is subdivided into"European" and "North African" subtypes. The"Alexandrian" texttype isthe local text of the Egyptian region, heavily influenced by the Copticlanguage. The "Caesarean" texttype predominated in Palestine, andreflects a local mixture of Alexandrian and Byzantine readings, stemmingfrom that region's respective southern and northern geographical textual"neighbors." (back)
24 "Church manuscripts" would have been those designed for regular usein public worship as well as those formally prepared and distributed fromlocal churches to individual Christians. Manuscripts used in the churcheswere originally in continuous-text form; in later centuries the text ofChurch manuscripts was rearranged in the order of the readings (lections)for the liturgical year (hence, "Lectionaries"). "Non-church manuscripts"would indicate those documents prepared by individuals for personal useoutside the church context proper. (back)
25 We speak here primarily of Egypt and the Western Roman Empire regionswhere Coptic and Latin were the primary languages, in contrast to thenative Greek-speaking portions of the Mediterranean world. Many factorsrelated to the native language differences as well as to a strong oralproclamation of the Gospel message would have contributed to thesituation as we find it in the early manuscripts, Versions, and Fathersof the regions. (back)
26 Scribal error and cross-correction from another exemplar is clearlyexemplified by the scribe of P66. See Gordon D. Fee, Papyrus Bodmer n(P66): Its Textual Relationships and Scribal Characteristics, Studies andDocuments 34 ed. Jacob Geerlings (Salt Lake City: University of UtahPress, 1968). Heretical corruption of texts is not here in view; indeed,the existing New Testament manuscripts show no consistent marks of suchalteration as is reported in the early Fathers concerning manuscriptsproduced by the heretics Marcion or Tatian. (back)
27 Note that the "human factor" affecting translation into anotherlanguage naturally plays a larger role than mere scribal copying within asingle language group. Nevertheless, the uncontrolled "popular" form ofthe Greek text, with its sometimes freewheeling deliberate and accidentalscribal alterations plus cross-correction from other exemplars, providesa close parallel to the situation which so adversely affected thetransmission of the Old Latin manuscripts. (back)
28 This consideration alone rules out any notion that the ByzantineTextform was merely the "local text" of Constantinople, which somehowcould mysteriously overwhelm all other local texttypes. Neither the Arabconquest of Alexandria nor the degeneration of Western Christianity couldhave allowed such a development as a natural process. Even Kurt Aland hadto posit an "officially-imposed" authoritative decision in order for hisso-called "Byzantine Imperial Text" to spread rapidly and dominateEastern Christianity in such a short time. Such an imposition ofecclesiastical authority, however, once more falls under the samecondemnation that seriously weakened Hort's "revision" hypothesis: theresimply is no historical data to support such a contention. (back)
29 Our view summarized from available evidence is this: the earliestsurviving copies show a very wide range of difference among themselves,yet with a "backbone" of general consistency running quite strongly allalong, in spite of their plain blunders and/or deliberate alterations.The pre-existing "backbone" thus served as some sort of standard whichprovided that relative consistency in the midst of some rather wild localdeviation. Yet almost suddenly, from the late fourth century onward, aquite solid and consistent Textform is seen in almost all quarters. Thisnear-universality can be explained only because the Textform already hadbeen present all along, or a "legislated" and forced imposition of arevised text was almost simultaneously adopted in nearly all quarterswithout complaint. Since there is no hard evidence for the latter option,the former necessarily commends itself as the best way in which toaccount for the data we now possess. This is a strong argument, basedupon evidence that, even in the "wild" early manuscripts, this great"universal" type of text was already in existence. This evidence appearsin the commonly-shared text of each of those early papyri. (back)
30 See Maurice A. Robinson, "Scribal Habits among Manuscripts of theApocalypse," Ph.D. dissertation, Southwestern Baptist TheologicalSeminary, Fort Worth, IX, 1982, for evidence regarding these points. (back)
31 Colwell, "Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits,"Studies, p 106 (back)
32 See Colwell, "Scribal Habits," where he compares the relative accuracyof the scribes of P45, P66, and P75. (back)
33 The post-Apostolic document, The Martyrdom ofPolycarp, has a colophonwhich states it was first copied by Gaius from the writings of Irenaeus.It was then copied in Corinth by one Socrates, and later by one Pionius,who had diligently sought out this document and "gathered it togetherwhen it was almost worn out by age" (Martyrdom 22 2). This is a clearcase of a "new" copy reflecting a text which was already quiteold. (back)
34 From the Greek, "to rub again." The termdenotes a manuscript fromwhich the original text was erased and a second, differing text placed ontop of the original writing. Through the use of various methods (e.g.,ultraviolet light), the original text can often be recovered with extremeaccuracy. (back)
35 Lake, Blake, and New,"Caesarean Text of Mark," p.349. (back)
36 Donald A. Carson, The King James Version Debate: A Plea forRealism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), pp. 47-48, note 5. Pickering offereda clarification and rebuttal of Carson's critique which differs at points fromthe present hypothesis; see Pickering, Identity,pp. 230-231, note 30 (back)
37 See further W. J. Elliott,"The Need for an Accurate and CompleteCollation of all known Greek NT Manuscripts with their IndividualVariants noted in pleno," in J. K Elliott, ed., Studies in New TestamentLanguage and Text [G. D. Kilpatrick Festschrift] (Leiden: E. J. Brill,1976), pp. 137-143. (back)