Friday, February 03, 2017

Vaticanus’s ‘least doubtful’ Byzantine impurity

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The familiar text of Rom 11.6 as read in NA/UBS is found in P46 01* A C D F G P 1739 1881 lat co as follows:
εἰ δὲ χάριτι, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων, ἐπεὶ ἡ χάρις οὐκέτι γίνεται χάρις
and if by grace, then it [election] is no longer of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace
However, 01c (B) 33vid Byz vg(ms) (sy) add the corollary to Paul’s axiom which is
ει δε εξ εργων, ουκετι εστιν χαρις, επει το εργον ουκετι εστιν εργον
and if it is from works, then it is no longer grace, otherwise the work is no longer work
Sanday and Hedlam say of this longer reading that “there need be no doubt that it is a gloss” (Romans, p. 313). I think they are right in this.

Rom 11.6 in Vaticanus (photo link).
Note the marginal dots.
What is surprising is to see B line up with Byz here against P46 01* etc. The agreement is not perfect, however, because B lacks the first εστιν and has χαρις instead of the final εργον. It would be worthwhile to consider whether Byz preserves a reading earlier than B here. B’s text could explain the shorter reading as a case of parablepsis (χαρις ... χαρις), but B’s reading doesn’t make much sense in the context.

Either way, B shows a striking agreement with Byz and one that receives a special mention from Westcott and Hort. They refer to this reading on p. 150 of their Introduction where they admit that it may be the one exception to B’s consistent purity from “Syrian” (= Byz) influence. They write:
...B is found to hold a unique position. Its text is throughout Pre-Syrian, perhaps purely Pre-Syrian, at all events with hardly any, if any, quite clear exceptions, of which the least doubtful is the curious interpolation in Rom. xi.6.
Did you notice the tortured circumlocution there? They don’t say that Rom 11.6 is a possible case of B’s Syrian corruption. Instead, they say it is “the least doubtful” of possibly clear exceptions to B’s pre-Syrian purity. It’s as if they can’t quite bring themselves to say that B might, even in this one case, be corrupted by the Syrian text-type. So a “possible impurity” becomes “the least doubtful exception to B’s purity.” I suppose this is akin to their infamous phrase “Western non-interpolations” which are just as easily termed “Alexandrian additions.” Which, of course, brings us back to the importance of rhetoric in textual criticism.

16 comments :

  1. Peter,
    By asking whether the Byz txt preserves possibly an earlier text than B, are you insinuating that this text might also be original? Or is this just another case of trying to make the Byzantine text what it is not, early?
    Tim

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    1. Because there are 3 variant readings here, Byz’s reading can be older than B’s and still not be original. That’s the possibility I’m raising here.

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    2. First of all, claims that the Byzantine text cannot be early are totally based on an argument from silence. No Greek NT manuscripts from the early centuries exist from the areas of the Empire where the books of the NT were originally propagated; however, hundreds of manuscripts from the later centuries have been found there, and they are overwhelmingly Byzantine. The observation that their earliest exemplars have all perished does not equal proof of their non-existence.
      Secondly, it is a common misconception that the NA printed editions preserve the earliest form of the GNT text, hence the easily trotted out claim that "The familiar text of Rom 11.6 as read in NA/UBS is found in P46 01* A C D F G P 1739 1881 lat co." This is a misconception so blatant on its face, that only constant repetition could cause anyone to believe it. This is a list of manuscripts/editions that SUPPORT the reading which follows, not that CONTAIN it; obviously Latin and Coptic manuscripts do not contain a Greek reading, and even if they did (as diglots) they would vary one from another as much as the monoglots do. For example:
      p46 does not read either χαριτι or ουκετι. All p46 does is support the inclusion of those words in the printed edition, by containing similar words to those claimed to belong to the original text. What p46 does not support is any sort of idea that by being the oldest extant ms to contain Romans 11:6 it therefore has the purest text.
      And lastly, I've found it increasingly difficult to post comments here. I trust when this finally comes through there will only be one copy of it, or--if there are multiple copies--that readers will understand that the earliest one is not necessarily the best one.
      [this copy has been completely overwritten, in the scriptorium, by the original scribe, using an electronic eraser.]

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    3. Daniel: claims that the Byzantine text cannot be early are totally

      I didn't claim that.

      Sorry about the trouble with comments. Not sure what the problem is.

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    4. Peter,
      I claimed that! So I would imagine that Daniel's response was to my post.
      Daniel,
      Defending the Byzantine text by attacking the earliest manuscripts just shows that this text cannot stand on its own. The very homogeneity of the Byzantine text argues against its originality, assuming human copying methods.

      Tim

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    5. Tim,
      I don't follow your logic so I won't attempt to respond yet. Perhaps you could give some examples of how homogeneity disproves originality, using other than circular reasoning.

      Peter,
      I determined that my settings on Chrome and Firefox don't allow me to post here. IE works fine (I run into the same thing trying to bank online). Now I've downloaded Avira Scout and it appears to be working.

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  2. On the other hand, the reading of B (including its differences from Byz) might well reflect an archetype predating the Alexandrian/Western alliance in omission -- a reading otherwise "lost" among its remaining close relatives due to a leap from χαρις to χαρις.

    Rather than representing a poorly rendered reflection of the Byzantine reading, the reading of B -- with its errors intact -- could provide an early proximate cause for the lack of the phrase among various Alexandrian and Western MSS, and thereby allow a quite plausible explanation for the remaining alternative variants.

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    1. MAR, are you arguing that 03’s reading is the original reading??

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    2. No -- only that the reading in B represents a sole-surviving reflection of an archetypal precursor of the remaining Alexandrian/Western MSS; an archetype that itself was erroneously corrupted by attraction to the three earlier occurrences of χαρις, followed by a subarchetypal haplography that would account for the widespread omission among those MSS. A quite plausible scenario that (from my perspective) still leaves the primary Byzantine reading in the catbird seat.

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    3. So the reading of this archetypal precursor left no trace but in B? I find that a bit tough to swallow. But tell me more about this catbird seat? How did Byz find its way to that seat here?

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    4. Peter, there is no reason why B -- representing a "very pure line of very ancient text" -- could not by itself retain an archetypal reading predating the Alexandrian/Western contingent, a reading otherwise lost (or not retained) among the remaining members of such.

      As for the "catbird seat", the reference is to the Byzantine in this variant unit as the proximate cause of the (erroneous) reading in that posited archetype of B, which earlier archetypal reading then led (in a separate subline of transmission) to what appears among the MSS otherwise representative of the Alexandrian/Western reading. Nothing more.

      Ryan should appreciate the concept, since had the B reading not existed, the same might have been conjectured to account for the major differences between the respective transmissional streams.

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    5. Dr. Robinson,

      Dr. Gurry's post sparked a renewed interest in me to gain a better understanding of the Byzantine text form. Would you recommend that I begin by examining your commentary and work in The New Testament in the Original Greek [2005]? Is there anything else with which I could supplement this knowledge?

      Thanks,

      Rob

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    6. Rob, start there, but also try to locate my various published articles so as to broaden the perspective. Also not to be neglected (though offering a differing perspective) is Klaus Wachtel's book on the Byzantine text of the General Epistles. Mike Arcieri also published a "Byzantine bibliography" in the Digging for the Truth Festschrift volume (if you can locate a copy).

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    7. In addition, if I may add a word, check out tcgnt.blogspot.com. There you'll fairly detailed interactions with specific variation units (all from the first chapters of Matthew, so far) by a Byzantine-priority theorist.

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    8. Much appreciated. The content from both comments has already helped me tremendously.

      Rob

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  3. Or the Vatican mss is simple the corrupt, apostate mss Burgon and others proven it was and the Byzantine reflects what the Apostles wrote. There is no doubt as to the words of the Bible. God has preserved them for us. All this textual criticism is a waste of time, and all the works related to it after 1611 WILL BURN UP BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST.

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