TTer gone CTer

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Robert Truelove, Nov 6, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    The subject of textual criticism has been a passion of mine over the years. I have found one of the greatest difficulties in having an interest in this subject is that, by and large, I find I am almost the only person I know off the Internet that can enjoyably yap on and on about this subject.

    For the longest time I was an avid proponent of the Traditional Text (as found in the Majority Text). Earlier this year I was studying to take my church through a series of lectures on this subject. At the end of the series the session was going to formerly adopt the KJV as our official translation.

    However, as I went through the study this time around (I have spent a lot of time in this study in the past), I wound up flip flopping on my position. I came to see the Critical Text as actually being superior to the Traditional Text.

    I was wondering if there were any other Critical Text converts out there. What were some of the things you saw that led to your change of persuasion from the Traditional Text to the Critical Text? I'd be interested if you saw some of the same things I saw.
  2. nicnap

    nicnap Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, went the exact opposite route...but that's not what you are asking, so I'll just go back to lurking now.
  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor


    I've also had an interest in this subject for several years. Having been on the fence for some time, I would be interested in knowing what it was that led to your change of mind on this issue.
  4. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    It's a pity the reformers didn't have this "superior test" to work with while they were pumping out those spurious translations. just my:2cents:
    As for me, I'll stick with the TR.
  5. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    It started with recognition that, concerning variants, the argument for the Traditional Text that says it was the text in use by the church universally down through the ages is fallacious.

    The Traditional Text (used broadly here for Byzantine Text form) was the text of the later Greek speaking church (become the Eastern Orthodox Church). So to put it simply, it is the text of the Eastern Orthodox Church not the church as a whole.

    The western church used the Latin Vulgate through this time and the Vulgate has more in common with the Western Text Form. There are also other texts used for peoples of other languages that are not really examples of the Byzantine Text Form (Coptic, Old Syriac, Old Latin, etc.).

    Before the 4th Century, we see within the Greek texts used, different manuscript traditions. Considerations regarding Western and Alexandrian readings prior to the 4th Century will establish the fact that as long as we have had the manuscript traditions, there has been variance.

    One of the ways I got around these problems in the past was to assume that only the Greek manuscripts should be considered when assessing the variant readings. The problem here is that you cannot claim to only acknowledge the Greek manuscripts and at the same time use the argument that this was the textual family at use by the church through the ages. This arguement also doesnt deal with the varying Greek manuscript traditions in use in large sections of the empire during the first 4 centuries.

    The point is, I came to see that there is no Traditional Text in the sense that most Traditional Text proponents claim. I believe the Traditional Text position is fundamentally a theological argument, not an argument from the actual evidence. As some of my presuppositions began to change I was able to see that much of the evidence I would use for the Traditional Text position was not very sound. Without my theological presuppositions to hold them up they toppled.

    I developed a great appreciation for the Alexandrian manuscripts. I had believed before that they were corrupt works of Gnostics or other heretics. That they were not used because of their poor quality and that is the only reason they had survived.

    The facts of the matter are, the Alexandrian manuscrptis were used, and used much for centuries. The scribal notes in some of these make it clear that they were used.

    Regarding the heretical arguement, the facts simply did not bear these things out to be true. If these manuscripts are the works of heretics, they represent the works of the most inept heretics the world may have ever known. Simply pointing to texts where the deity of Christ is 'removed' (compared with later Byzantine manuscripts) does not prove these manuscripts were heretical corruptions. Heretical copies are characterized by the systematic expulsion of certain doctrines from the text. If the short version of the Lords Prayer in Luke is due to heretical corruption, then why didn’t they also do the same thing to the version in Matthew?

    And the Lord's Prayer is a very good case study. Tradition Text adherents generally say that the Lord's Prayer as found in Luke in the Alexandrian Text Form is a corruption though the same thing is not found of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew. Critical Text people say that this is a clear case of later harmonization in the Byzantine Text form (where a scribe copied the longer version from Matthew into a copy of look making them match). Harmonizations are one of the things that identify a manuscript tradition to be secondary.

    So, looking at the Lord's Prayer, saying the Alexandrian readings are heretical corruptions just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense while the argument of subsequent harmonization in the Byzantine Text Form is perfectly logical.

    It was many such things as this that led me to seeing that a Critical Text based primarily on the Alexandrian manuscripts is the best text available.
  6. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    The Reformers did not deal with this subject if at all because they were not, by and large, aware of the scope of the problem (they also had bigger fish to fry at the time :) ). Having ANY edition of the Greek text commonly available was a new revolution thanks to the printing press. (not to mention how the printing press also assured uniformity of all the copies in any given edition which would further cloud the scope of the issue of textual varients in the manuscripts).

    It was not until the later part of the 1600s that the textual issue with the manuscripts began to come to light more broadly through the works of men like Dr John Fell (Bishop of Oxford) and John Mill (Queen's College, Oxford). Mill's edition of the Greek New Testament in particular caused a stir because he also included an apparatus that revealed many of variants (and these mostly varients with the Byzantine Text Form itself!).

    As more scholars became aware of the problem, scholarship began to develop that would address it and seek to aid us in comprehending the best readings.
  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Good post, especially with regard to the charges of heretical corruption of the Alexandrian manuscripts. This is an assertion that we often hear but one for which evidence is never produced. As you say, if it is a case of heretical corruption, then they must have been the most inept heretics in the world!

    If I'm not mistaken (and correct me if I'm wrong), the TR that many refer to is the Scrivener text which I understand to be basically a reverse engineered critical text that represents what Scrivener thought to be the Greek underlying text of the KJV. If that's the case (and I don't mean to malign Scrivener here) and if we're told that this text is the "original" and any deviation from it is akin to tampering with the Word of God, how is this point of view really any different from Ruckman's statement that when the English (KJV) and Greek differ, correct the Greek with the English!?
  8. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    People need to understand that when a TR person defends the TR as THE text they are doing far more than what their underlying theological presuppositions actually allow.

    They say that the Critical Text is based upon rationalistic science that puts men in the place of judges of the word of God. Sometimes I have heard them say that textual scholars act like little popes.

    This makes their strict TR position extremely problematic as they are claiming that Erasmus and the subsequent editors had an almost infallible oversight of the text. This fact is made obvious when one notes that the Majority Text has around 1500 Textual Variations from Scrivener's TR.

  9. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    I believe that the word has been 'kept pure in all ages'. Not in the Byzantine Text Form alone, but also in the other Text Types as well. None of them are so abberant that they are not 'pure'. This does not mean that some are not more pure than others, but all are God's word, varients notwithstanding.

    If you try to claim absolute inerrancy for the TR, you will not be able to demonstrate that the edition of the TR you choose was in use before its publication. It is not enough to say the TR is essentially the same (or very close to ) the Majority Text or Byzantine text form; not if your arguement is dealing with preservation in an absolute sense.

    This is a slippery slope. For God to give 'infallible oversight' over editors, you are really back into the realm of inspiration, not preservation. You are dealing with that which is miraculous, not providential.

    As I see the text, I see it 'pure in all ages'. I believe God's providence made it so and the nature of the transmission is exactly what we would expect from providential preservation. I can demonstrate that in spite of the variants in the different textual traditions, the word was pure and profitable. I can also demonstarte this throughout the age of the church.

    The TR position cannot do this. With its strict view of preservation, one cannot demonstrate the same strict text in use in all ages.
  10. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    If the method is indeed the same, then we must confess what the confession states, "The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error."
  11. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    What had a big impact on me was the 14 theses put forth by D.A. Carson in his book, "The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism."

    1. There is no unambiguous evidence that the Byzantine text-type was known before the middle of the fourth century.

    2. The argument that defends the Byzantine tradition by appealing to the fact that most extant manuscripts of the Greek New Testament attest to this Byzantine text-type, is logically fallacious and historically naive.

    3. The Byzantine text-type is demonstrably a secondary text.

    4. The Alexandrian text-type has better credentials than any other text-type now available.

    5. The argument to the effect that what the majority of believers in the history of the church have beleived is true, is ambiguous at best and theologically dangerous at worst; and as applied to textual criticism, the argument proves nothing very helpful anyway.

    6. The argument that defends the Byzantine text by appealing to the providence of God is logically and theologically fallacious.

    7. The argument that appeals to the fourth-century writing practices to deny the possibility that the Byzantine text is a conflation, is fallacious.

    8. Textual arguments that depend on adopting the TR and comparing other text-types with it are guilty, methodologically speaking, of begging the issue; and in any case they present less than the whole truth.

    9. The charge that the non-Byzantine text-types are theologically aberrant is fallacious.

    10. The KJV was not accepted without a struggle, and some outstanding believers soon wanted to replace it.

    11. The Byzantine text-type must not be thought to be the precise equivalent of the TR.

    12. The argument that ties the adoption of the TR to verbal inspiration is logically and theologically fallacious.

    13. Arguments that attempt to draw textual conclusions from a prejudicial selection of not immediately relevant data, or from a slanted use of terms, or by a slurring appeal to guilt by association, or by repeated appeal to false evidence, are not only misleading, but ought to be categorically rejected by Christians who, above all others, profess both to love truth and to love their brothers in Christ.

    14. Adoption of the TR should not be made a criterion of orthodoxy.

    Of course he also had the argumentation following each thesis.
  12. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    One can’t say that God’s providence was effective in preserving the Byzantine text-form and then deny His providence in preserving the Alexandrian text-form. In fact God’s providence was there in 1611 with the production of the KJV and it is here today with the production of modern versions. God's providence touches everything that happens, not just the Byzantine textform.

    Using that line of logic it would seem to imply a denial of God’s providence in the first few centuries of the Church as there is no record of any Byzantine text during that period.

    Preservation is a different issue. And I've heard some say that God wouldn't preserve His word hidden away somewhere only to be discovered later. But that is quite a presumption on the means that God has chosen to preserve His word. Especially when we read from the Bible that His word has been lost only to be found later…

    Hilkiah responded and said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. (2Ch 34:15, NASB)
  13. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    Preservation and Providence are two different things.

    Being preserved in all ages does not mean it has been accessible in all ages. As the Scripture reference i used pointed to, the Bible gives evidence that its preservation is not connected to the accessibility of it.

    Clearly if the Alexandrian text was not preserved, how could translators be using it today?
  14. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Going back to your post #6, I concur with the first six paragraphs, where you elaborate on the idea that “the argument for the Traditional Text that says it was the text in use by the church universally down through the ages is fallacious.” As you show, this is a misunderstanding some TT or AV proponents hold. In another thread (contemporaneous to this one) I discuss this issue (I will give the link to the post so as not to make this too long): (that is from “The Merits of the AV” thread). It is far more nuanced than those you critique have claimed. Seeing their errors, some – perhaps yourself – have flown the coop of such bad information.

    A little further in your post (#6) you say you “developed a great appreciation for the Alexandrian manuscripts”; I can also agree that they are not “the works of heretics” but are indeed valuable items in our repository of MSS. Although P75 and B are very close, the other primary Alexandrian MS, a (Sinaiticus) differs (I am sure you have heard these stats before!) from B in 3,036 places just in the Gospels. Some of the excisions based almost exclusively upon B & a include the last 12 verses of Mark and the word “God” in 1 Timothy 3:16. Were Hort’s theory of the Antiochian rescension true, and were his conjecture that B and a represented a neutral (uncorrupted) text, then you had somewhat of a case for exalting these two almost lone witnesses against the thousands who testify against them. But modern scholarship has shown Hort’s theory on both counts false, the first with utterly no historical evidence at all – mere supposition – and the second these exalted codices shown to be ancient yet unreliable. Have you ever considered the work of Burgon, or Hoskier, or – in more modern times – Pickering, or Robinson on the assessment of the Critical Text?

    I am not sure what you are referring to in this paragraph:

    And the Lord's Prayer is a very good case study. Tradition Text adherents generally say that the Lord's Prayer as found in Luke in the Alexandrian Text Form is a corruption though the same thing is not found of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew. Critical Text people say that this is a clear case of later harmonization in the Byzantine Text form (where a scribe copied the longer version from Matthew into a copy of look making them match). Harmonizations are one of the things that identify a manuscript tradition to be secondary.​

    In the CT the end of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew – “for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” – is omitted; the note in the NIV says “some late manuscripts add” it, as not belonging in the original. Would you like to make this a “case study” of the reliability of our respective texts?

    I can appreciate your being disillusioned because of the often poor presentation of the TT position. I try to make the case cogent, accurate, and winsome, for it is the word of our Lord we are discussing!

    But as I once heard said, “You can’t argue someone into liking the taste of beer.”

    Last edited: Nov 11, 2006
  15. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior

    Accuracy vs. Ancientness


    Critical Text advocates tend to deny the findings of Herman Hoskier. In his book, "Codex B and its Allies", he lists 3036 references where Vaticanus and Sinaiticus contradict each other in the four Gospels. These are very real differences, not a matter of punctuation or differences in spelling. In every case one or the other must be in error; and in a multitude of situations both of them err.

    Hoskier, a distinguished scholar, in a magnificent rebuttal of the outrageous claims made in favour of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, has published over 900 pages of scholarly refutation. The differences in the four Gospels alone amount to 3,036; as follows:

    Matthew 656+ Mark 567+ Luke 791+ John 1022+ Total 3036+

    It is my contention that the liberal scholars of the 19th and 20th Century made use of these differences in order to create a text that is more acceptable to their theological persuasion. In other words: by claiming that Aleph and B were the "older mss" they could substitute whatever change in the Greek Text they wanted. That they were successful in arguing that the older texts are better despite the errors of these texts is exemplified by some Reformed types, such as White and Carson, who make similar arguments.

    I would suggest that Accuracy is far more important than Ancientness.


  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Early Greek and Latin writers -- The "Fathers"

    The writings of early champions of the truth (and heretics) contain copious references to the Scriptures and again testify concerning the Greek text as it was in the 2nd century onwards. The majority of these witnesses support the "Byzantine" or "Received" or "Traditional" text underlying the Authorised Version, and they establish the antiquity of this text and its superior acceptance in the early period.

    So who is lying?
  17. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Would you be up to the challenge of backing up the statement of the CT being more in line with liberal theology? We often hear these assertions, and like the charge of Arian or Gnostic tampering, seldom if ever is any evidence brought to the table to prove the assertions.
  18. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior

    Certainly Chris:

    Here is an example:

    Codex Vaticanus in Hebrews 1:3 reads: "Who manifesting, (phanerôn) the all by the Word of His power ...."
    The correct reading thus: "Who upholding (Greek: pherôn) all things by the Word of His power ...."

    The difference seems slight. However, the use of the word "manifesting the all" lends itself to early Gnosticism, and especially the school Valentius. The doctrine at stake is the fact that Jesus actually came in physical flesh. The Gnostics held that Jesus was simply a phantasm or ghostly manifestation on earth. This is not the only problem here. The redactor at this point writes in the margin:

    "Why don't you leave the original alone and stop altering it?" (Greek: amathestate kai kake, aphes ton palaion, mê metapoiei.) The language indicates that the original scribe of the Vaticanus had altered other parts of the manuscript as well. I took the liberty of not translating the first part out of politeness.


    Grace and Peace,

    Last edited: Nov 11, 2006
  19. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Larry, in post #16 you list Carson’s 14 theses. I would like to comment on the first:

    1. There is no unambiguous evidence that the Byzantine text-type was known before the middle of the fourth century.​

    I cite the following to show there are more recent and abundant scholarly findings to the contrary. I hope no one will object that it is a bit lengthy (not too), for it is a serious and technical assertion that has been posited, and the rebuttal must do justice to the matter. The footnotes are given after the text.

    The following discussion of the early appearance of the Byzantine text-type is taken from Wilbur N. Pickering’s, The Identity of the New Testament Text II (Wipf and Stock Pub; 3rd edition: 2003) [], chapter 4:

    A biased expedient

    Before closing this section, it remains to take up the expedient, alluded to earlier, whereby many seek to evade the ante-Nicene patristic evidence for the "Byzantine" text. Vincent Taylor states the expedient as baldly as anyone. "In judging between two alternative readings [of a given Father in a given place] the principle to be adopted is that the one which diverges from the later ecclesiastical text (the TR) is more likely to be original."[122]

    This expedient is extended even to cases where there is no alternative. The allegation is that copyists altered the Fathers' wording to conform to the "Byzantine," which the copyists regarded as "correct."[123] It is obvious that the effect of such a proceeding is to place the "Byzantine" text at a disadvantage. An investigation based on this principle is "rigged" against the TR.[124]

    Even if there appear to be certain instances where this has demonstrably happened, such instances do not justify a widespread generalization. The generalization is based on the pre-supposition that the "Byzantine" text is late—but this is the very point to be proved and may not be assumed.

    If the "Byzantine" text is early there is no reason to suppose that a "Byzantine" reading in an early Father is due to a later copyist unless a clear demonstration to that effect is possible. Miller shows clearly that he was fully aware of this problem and alert to exclude any suspicious instances from his tabulation.

    An objection may perhaps be made, that the texts of the books of the Fathers are sure to have been altered in order to coincide more accurately with the Received Text. This is true of the Ethica, or Moralia, of Basil, and of the Regulae brevius Tractatae, which seem to have been read constantly at meals, or were otherwise in continual use in Religious Houses. The monks of a later age would not be content to hear every day familiar passages of Holy Scripture couched in other terms than those to which they were accustomed and which they regarded as correct. This fact was perfectly evident upon examination, because these treatises were found to give evidence for the Textus Receptus in the proportion of about 6:1, whereas the other books of St. Basil yielded according to a ratio of about 8:3. [But might it possibly be the case that, precisely because of the "continual use in Religious Houses" (the more so if that use began early on), the 6:1 ratio reflects a pure/faithful transmission while "the other books" suffered some adulterations?]

    For the same reason I have not included Marcion's edition of St. Luke's Gospel, or Tatian's Diatessaron, in the list of books and authors, because such representations of the Gospels having been in public use were sure to have been revised from time to time, in order to accord with the judgment of those who read or heard them. Our readers will observe that these were self-denying ordinances, because by the inclusion of the works mentioned the list on the Traditional side would have been greatly increased. Yet our foundations have been strengthened, and really the position of the Traditional Text rests so firmly upon what is undoubted, that it can afford to dispense with services which may be open to some suspicion. (Yet Marcion and Tatian may fairly be adduced as witnesses upon individual readings.) And the natural inference remains, that the difference between the witness of the Ethica and Regulae brevius Tractatae on the one hand, and that of the other works of Basil on the other, suggests that too much variation, and too much which is evidently characteristic variation, of readings meets us in the works of the several Fathers, for the existence of any doubt that in most cases we have the words, though perhaps not the spelling, as they issued originally from the author's pen. Variant readings of quotations occurring in different editions of the Fathers are found, according to my experience, much less frequently than might have been supposed. Where I saw a difference between MSS noted in the Benedictine or other editions or in copies from the Benedictine or other prints, of course I regarded the passage as doubtful and did not enter it. Acquaintance with this kind of testimony cannot but render its general trustworthiness the more evident.[125]​

    After this careful screening Miller still came up with 2,630 citations, from 76 Fathers or sources, ranging over a span of 300 years (100-400 A.D.), supporting readings of the "Byzantine" text as opposed to those of the critical text of the English Revisers (which received 1,753 citations). Will anyone seriously propose that all or most of those citations had been altered? What objective grounds are there for doing so?

    Hills discusses the case of Origen as follows:

    In the first fourteen chapters of the Gospel of John (that is, in the area covered by Papyrus Bodmer II) out of 52 instances in which the Byzantine text stands alone Origen agrees with the Byzantine text 20 times and disagrees with it 32 times. Thus the assertion of the critics that Origen knew nothing of the Byzantine text becomes difficult indeed to maintain. On the contrary, these statistics suggest that Origen was familiar with the Byzantine text and frequently adopted its readings in preference to those of the Western and Alexandrian texts.

    Naturalistic critics, it is true, have made a determined effort to explain away the "distinctively" Byzantine readings which appear in the New Testament quotations of Origen (and other ante-Nicene Fathers). It is argued that these Byzantine readings are not really Origen's but represent alterations made by scribes who copied Origen's works. These scribes, it is maintained, revised the original quotations of Origen and made them conform to the Byzantine text. The evidence of Papyrus Bodmer II, however, indicates that this is not an adequate explanation of the facts. Certainly it seems a very unsatisfactory way to account for the phenomena which appear in the first fourteen chapters of John. In these chapters, 5 out of the 20 "distinctively" Byzantine readings which occur in Origen occur also in Papyrus Bodmer II. These 5 readings at least must have been Origen's readings, not those of scribes who copied Origen's works, and what is true of these 5 readings is probably true of the other 15, or at least of most of them.[126]​

    This demonstration makes it clear that the expedient deprecated above is in fact untenable.

    The testimony of the early Fathers

    To recapitulate, "Byzantine" readings are recognized (most notably) by the Didache, Diognetus, and Justin Martyr in the first half of the second century; by the Gospel of Peter, Athenagorus, Hegesippus, and Irenaeus (heavily) in the second half; by Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Clementines, Hippolytus, and Origen (all heavily) in the first half of the third century; by Gregory of Thaumaturgus, Novatian, Cyprian (heavily), Dionysius of Alexandria, and Archelaus in the second half; by Eusebius, Athanasius, Macarius Magnus, Hilary, Didymus, Basil, Titus of Bostra, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nyssa, Apostolic Canons and Constitutions, Epiphanius, and Ambrose (all heavily) in the fourth century. To which may be added the testimony of the early Papyri.

    The testimony of the early Papyri

    In Hort's day and even in Miller's the early Papyri were not extant—had they been the W-H theory could scarcely have appeared in the form that it did. Each of the early Papyri (300 A.D. or earlier) vindicates some "Byzantine" readings. G. Zuntz did a thorough study of P46 and concluded:

    To sum up. A number of Byzantine readings, most of them genuine, which previously were discarded as 'late', are anticipated by P46. . . . How then—so one is tempted to go on asking—where no Chester Beatty papyrus happens to vouch for the early existence of a Byzantine reading? Are all Byzantine readings ancient? In the cognate case of the Homeric tradition G. Pasquali answers the same question in the affirmative.[127]​

    Colwell takes note of Zuntz's statement and concurs.[128] He had said of the "Byzantine New Testament" some years previous, "Most of its readings existed in the second century."[129]

    Hills claims that the Beatty papyri vindicate 26 "Byzantine" readings in the Gospels, 8 in Acts and 31 in Paul's epistles.[130] He says concerning P66:

    To be precise, Papyrus Bodmer II contains thirteen percent of all the alleged late readings of the Byzantine text in the area which it covers (18 out of 138). Thirteen percent of the Byzantine readings which most critics have regarded as late have now been proved by Papyrus Bodmer II to be early readings.[131]​

    Colwell's statement on P66 has already been given.

    Many other studies are available, but that of H. A. Sturz sums it up.[132] He surveyed "all the available papyri" to discover how many papyrus-supported "Byzantine" readings exist. In trying to decide which were "distinctively Byzantine" readings he made a conscious effort to "err on the conservative side" so that the list is shorter than it might be (p. 144).

    He found, and lists the evidence for, more than 150 "distinctively Byzantine" readings that have early (before 300 A.D.) papyrus support (pp. 145-59). He found 170 "Byzantine-Western" readings with early papyrus support (pp. 160-74). He found 170 "Byzantine-Alexandrian" readings with early papyrus support (pp.175-87). He gives evidence for 175 further "Byzantine" readings but which have scattered "Western" or "Alexandrian" support, with early papyrus support.[133] He refers to still another 195 readings where the "Byzantine" reading has papyrus support, but he doesn't bother to list them (apparently he considered these variants to be of lesser consequence).[134]

    The magnitude of this vindication can be more fully appreciated by recalling that only about 30 percent of the New Testament has early papyrus attestation, and much of that 30 percent has only one papyrus. Where more than one covers a stretch of text, each new MS discovered vindicates added Byzantine readings. Extrapolating from the behavior of those in hand, if we had at least 3 papyri covering all parts of the New Testament, almost all the 6000+ Byzantine readings rejected by the critical (eclectic) texts would be vindicated by an early papyrus.

    It appears that Hort's statement or treatment of external evidence has no basis in fact.


    [122]Taylor, p. 39. Fee continues to vigorously propound this expedient. "My experience is that in every instance a critical edition of the Father moves his New Testament text in some degree away from the Byzantine tradition" ("Modern Text Criticism," p. 160). He has recently observed that "all of Burgon's data . . . is suspect because of his use of uncritical editions" ("A Critique," p. 417).

    But there is reason to ask whether editors with an anti-Byzantine bias can be trusted to report the evidence in an impartial manner. Certainly a critical edition of Irenaeus prepared by Fee could not be trusted. In discussing the evidence for "in the prophets" versus "in Isaiah the prophet" in Mark 1:2 ("A Critique," pp. 410-11) Fee does not mention Irenaeus under the Majority Text reading, where he belongs, but says "except for one citation in Irenaeus" under the other reading. He then offers the following comment in a footnote: "Since this one citation stands alone in all of the early Greek and Latin evidence, and since Irenaeus himself knows clearly the other text, this 'citation' is especially suspect of later corruption." He goes on to conclude his discussion of this passage by affirming that the longer reading is "the only reading known to every church Father who cites the text." By the end of his discussion Fee has completely suppressed the unwelcome testimony from Irenaeus.

    But is the testimony of Irenaeus here really suspect? In Adv. Haer. III.10.5 we read: "Mark . . . does thus commence his Gospel narrative: 'The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as it is written in the prophets, Behold, . . [the quotations follow].' Plainly does the commencement of the Gospel quote the words of the holy prophets, and point out Him . . . whom they confessed as God and Lord." Note that Irenaeus not only quotes Mark 1:2 but comments upon it, and in both quote and comment he supports the "Byzantine" reading. But the comment is a little ways removed from the quote and it is entirely improbable that a scribe should have molested the comment even if he felt called upon to change the quote. Fair play requires that this instance be loyally recorded as 2nd century support for the "Byzantine" reading.

    Another, almost as unambiguous, instance occurs in Adv. Haer. III.16.3 where we read: "Wherefore Mark also says: 'The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets.' Knowing one and the same Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was announced by the prophets . . . ." Note that again Irenaeus not only quotes Mark 1:2 but comments upon it, and in both quote and comment he supports the "Byzantine" reading.

    There is also a clear allusion to Mark 1:2 in Adv. Haer. III.11.4 where we read: "By what God, then, was John, the forerunner . . . sent? Truly it was by Him . . . who also had promised by the prophets that He would send His messenger before the face of His Son, who should prepare His way . . . ." May we not reasonably claim this as a third citation in support of the "Byzantine" reading? In any case, it is clear that Fee's handling of the evidence from Irenaeus is disappointing at best, if not reprehensible.

    While on the subject of Fee's reliability, I offer the evaluation given by W.F. Wisselink [cf. footnote 167, below] after a thorough investigation of some of his work.

    While studying Fee's account ["P75, P66, and Origen: The Myth of Early Textual Recension in Alexandria," New Dimensions in New Testament Study, ed. R.N. Longenecker and M.C. Tenney (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), pp. 42-44] it became apparent to me that it is incomplete and indistinct, and that it contains mistakes. Fee gives account of his investigation in a little more than one page. He introduces this account as follows: "The full justification of this conclusion will require a volume of considerable size filled with lists of data. Here we can offer only a sample illustration with the further note that the complete data will vary little from the sampling" (Fee, 1974, 42).

    Therefore I called upon Fee for the complete data. I received six partly filled pages containing the rough data about the assimilations in Luke 10 and 11. After studying these rough data I came to the conclusion that the rough data as well are incomplete and indistinct, and contain mistakes. So question marks can be placed at the reliability of the investigation which those rough data and that account have reference to. [Wisselink, p. 69.]​

    Wisselink then proceeds to document his charges on the next three pages.

    I repeat that a critical edition of Irenaeus prepared by Fee could not be trusted, and I begin to wonder if any edition prepared by someone with an anti-Byzantine bias is to be trusted. This quite apart from their fallacious starting point, namely that the "Byzantine" text is late.

    The three quotations from Irenaeus are taken from A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1973, Vol. I, pp. 425-26 and 441, and were checked for accuracy against W. W. Harvey's critical edition (Sancti Irenaei: Episcopi Lugdunensis: Libros Quinque Adversus Haereses, Cambridge: University Press, 1857). I owe this material on Irenaeus to Maurice A. Robinson.
    [123]Of course this principle is also applied to the Greek MSS, with serious consequences. A recent statement by Metzger gives a clear example.

    It should be observed that, in accord with the theory that members of f1 and f13 were subject to progressive accommodation to the later Byzantine text, scholars have established the text of these families by adopting readings of family witnesses that differ from the Textus Receptus. Therefore the citation of the siglum f1 and f13 may, in any given instance, signify a minority of manuscripts (or even only one) that belong to the family. (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [companion to UBS3], p. xii.)​

    Such a procedure misleads the user of the apparatus, who has every right to expect that the siglum will only be used when all (or nearly all) the members agree. A distorted view of the evidence is created—the divergence of f1 and f13 from the "Byzantine" text is made to appear greater then it really is, and the extent of variation among the members is obscured. Greenlee's study of Cyril of Jerusalem (p. 30, see next footnote) affords another example. Among other things, he appeals to "the well-known fact that all the Caesarean witnesses are more or less corrected to the Byzantine standard, but in different places, so that the groups must be considered as a whole, not by its [sic] individual members, to give the true picture." Would not the behavior of the individual MSS make better sense if viewed as departing from the Byzantine standard?
    [124]I believe J.H. Greenlee's study of Cyril of Jerusalem is an example. The Gospel Text of Cyril of Jerusalem (Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard, 1955).
    [125]Burgon, The Traditional Text, pp. 97-98. I believe that Suggs tends to agree with Miller that the assimilating proclivity of medieval scribes can easily be overestimated ("The Use of Patristic Evidence," p. 140). The Lectionaries give eloquent testimony against the supposed assimilating proclivity. After discussing at some length their lack of textual consistency, Colwell observes: "Figuratively speaking, the Lectionary is a preservative into which from time to time portions of the living text were dropped. Once submerged in the Lectionary, each portion was solidified or fixed" (Colwell and Riddle, Prolegomena to the Study of the Lectionary Text of the Gospels, p. 17). Similarly, Riddle cites with favor Gregory's estimate: "He saw that as a product of the liturgical system they were guarded by a strongly conservative force, and he was right in his inference that the conservatism of the liturgy would tend frequently to make them media for the preservation of an early text. His analogy of the Psalter of the Anglican church was a good one" (Ibid., pp. 40-41). Many of the lessons in the Anglican Prayer Book are much older than the AV but have never been assimilated to the AV. In short, we have good reason to doubt that medieval copyists were as addicted to assimilating the text as scholars such as Taylor would have us believe.
    [126]Burgon, The Last Twelve Verses, p. 58. Sturz lists a number of further "Byzantine" readings that have had early Patristic support (Clement, Tertullian, Marcion, Methodius) and which now also have early Papyrus support (pp. 55-56). Here again it will no longer do to claim that the Fathers' MSS have been altered to conform to the "Byzantine" text.
    [127]Zuntz, The Text, p. 55.
    [128]Colwell, "The Origin of Texttypes," p. 132.
    [129]Colwell, What is the Best New Testament?, p. 70.
    [130]Burgon, The Last Twelve Verses, p. 50. (Hills wrote the Introduction.)
    [131]Ibid., p. 54.
    [132]H.A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism.
    [133]Pp. 188-208. Sturz remarks that a number of readings (15 from this list) really should be considered as "distinctively Byzantine" but one or another so-called "Western" or "Alexandrian" witness also has them and so. . . .

    Sturz draws the following conclusions from the evidence he presents: 1) "Distinctively Byzantine" readings are found in early papyri (p. 55). 2) Such readings are therefore early (p. 62). 3) Such readings cannot be the result of editing in the 4th century (p. 62). 4) The old uncials have not preserved a complete picture of the textual situation in the 2nd century (p. 62). 5) The "Byzantine" texttype has preserved some of the 2nd century tradition not found in the others (p. 64). 6) The lateness of other "Byzantine" readings, for which early papyrus attestation has not yet surfaced, is now questionable (p. 64). 7) "Byzantine-Western" alignments go back into the 2nd century; they must be old (p. 70).

    (Fee speaks of my "misrepresentations of the papyrus evidence" and says with reference to it that I have "grossly misinterpreted the data" ("A Critique," p. 422). I invite the reader to check the evidence presented by Sturz and then to decide for himself whether or not there has been misrepresentation and misinterpretation.)
    [134]P. 189. This means that the early Papyri vindicate "Byzantine" readings in 660 (or 885) places where there is significant variation. One might wish that Sturz had also given us the figures for "distinctively Western" and "distinctively Alexandrian" readings, but how are such expressions to be defined? Where is an objective definition for "Western reading," for example?

    [End of Pickering]


    This book (available online, as can be seen) is full of wonderful eye-opening material. It is a wealth of scholarship.

    For those of you who aren't aware, Edward Hills' classic, The King James Version Defended, is also available online. It is a wonderful bonus that the preface is written by Ted Letis.

  20. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    After reading your post i can't really defend the thesis.

    To tell you the truth i have been back and forth on the issue of NT text for a while now. I was very convinced of the TR for quite some time until i started reading the Aland's, Carson, and some others that are pro-critical. Then i read some folks like Maurice A. Robinson and they made alot of sense to me.

    I have read D.A. Waite's pro-KJV book and started to read Hills recently.

    What would you consider to be the most comprehensive defense of the TR or Byzantine text in general?
  21. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    The problem with what you are citing is that proving there are Byzantine readings in the early Papryi does not prove the early existence of the Byzantine Text-Type.

    Textual Scholars have recognized for some time now that there are Byzantine readings in the early Papyri. These Byzantine readings here and there do not constitute proof for the text type as a whole.

    I understand that the current editions of the Critical Text follow the Byzantine readings in the majority of cases where they are corroborated by the early papryi (correct me if I am wrong...I have read that but have not confirmed it).

  22. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    The things that I have been (and will below be) citing may not prove the early existence of the Byzantine text to you, but it no doubt will to many. This is what I meant when I said “You can’t argue someone into liking the taste of beer.” A person’s presuppositions will screen out that interpretation of data which disagrees with their viewpoint.

    The instances I posed to you regarding Matthew 1:7 and 10 (Asaph and Amos replacing the rightful royal ancestors of Christ), and Mark 16:9-20 and “God” in 1 Timothy 3:16 were meant to provoke some discussion of the merits or lack thereof in the CT. These “talking points” are extremely important in establishing the reliability or unreliability of respective texts.

    What I am seeking to do here is establish the reliability of the KJV/1894 TR (and specifically, the Hebrew and Greek texts, as well as the translation), so that those who hold the presupposition based on God’s explicit promises that He has preserved His word – and that in the aforementioned texts – may have withal to resist the attacks of those who denigrate and deny their belief. I do not aggress, but defend, and if I go on the offensive it is to respond to “first blood” drawn. Not against people, mind you, but ideas and imaginations.

    The work of Pickering, Robinson & Pierpont, Van Bruggen, Hodges & Farstad, et al, provide a profound assault on the CT rationale. It is such that it has precipitated what has been called the “post-critical” study of the Biblical texts, so dismal has been the failure of textual criticism the past century or two. People are looking for alternatives to a discipline run amok. Even the Byz or MT position is greatly wanting, for they differ among themselves, and confess it may be ages before we can be provided with “the Biblical text” – and until that far-off “maybe” will have to make do with uncertainty. Not that there is, as Robinson says in his Intro, more than a 2% difference between the MT/Byz textforms (the 1894 TR being one of them), but we are looking at the minutiae of the providential preservation issue, which only the KJV view can; all other views are tentative (provisional) and uncertain – and contrary to God’s promises, as we understand them.

    I do not mean to denigrate your faith in your Bible, and it pains me to seek to undermine so important a belief you and others may hold, but this is a sorting out of truth-claims among friends and brothers, to the end of supporting a minority view which – so I aver – rightly defends a most precious possession: the authentic Biblical text, despite a terrific onslaught against it. I write not only for today but for posterity, for I am nearing the end of my course (but who knows for sure?). I write also to demonstrate that one not need be learned in Hebrew and Greek (though those are wonderful and valuable skills), nor an erudite text-critic, to be able to understand the issues involved in the defense of the Bible. What makes it somewhat difficult is that the knowledge of these things are to a great extent extra-Biblical, being matters of the history of the Scripture and its transmission and not the Scripture itself. Of course, the bases of our presuppositions are the Scripture, and on them we both stand and see.

    This is from David Cloud’s site, an excerpt from an article by Jeffrey A. Young Ph.D, touching on the Byzantine (AKA “Traditional”) text:


    Recent Papyri Finds Prove the Major Premise False

    When Westcott and Hort published their Greek Text in 1881, all but one of the more than 200 early Egyptian Papyri were yet to be discovered. According to their view, none of these Papyri (dated between 100 and 300 A.D.) should support the readings that are included in the traditional [i.e., Byzantine] text but not in ALEPH, B, or D. They believe their major premise (that the traditional text was fabricated in the fourth century).

    Sturz [14] has collected lists of readings found in Papyri dated between 100 and 300 A.D. that contradict the major premise of Westcott and Hort. His first list gives 150 different readings of the traditional text, that Westcott and Hort rejected because they were found in neither ALEPH, nor B, nor D. This evidence is extremely damning to the major premise because it is 50 times longer than the list Westcott and Hort offer for proof of conflation. A second list of Sturz contains 170 readings found in the traditional text that were confirmed by early Papyri, but were rejected by Westcott and Hort because they were not found in ALEPH or B but were found in D. A third list contains 80 readings found in the traditional text that were confirmed by early Papyri, but were rejected by Westcott and Hort because either ALEPH, or B, or D did not contain the reading.

    14. The Byzantine Text-Type & New Testament Textual Criticism, H. A. Sturz, H. A. Thomas Nelson, NY 1984.


    For those who are interested in evidences which support the presuppositions I have been both operating from and talking about, I give a link here to Robinson & Pierpont’s The New Testament in the Original Greek according to the Byzantine/Majority Textform, © 1991, Original Word Publishers, Inc., Atlanta, GA, Introduction:

    This Introduction is a valuable treatise. Needless to say, for those who have been following my arguments, Robinson and Pierpont do not support the King James view I espouse (they state so in this intro), yet I find their work most valuable in a) critiquing the CT theories, and b) defending the “Byzantine priority” which is an important component of my view. I list here the contents of their Intro so you may get an idea of what is in it. I then post an excerpt from the Intro having to do with the Byzantine text and its antiquity.


    The Approximation of the Byzantine/Majority Textform
    A Case for Byzantine Priority
    Hort's Basic Contentions
    A Rebuttal of Hortian Logic
    Addressing Current Objections to Byzantine Priority
    Fallacies of Some Claimants of the "Majority Text" Position

    A Rebuttal of Hortian Logic

    In response to Hort's five "pillars," modern scholarship can declare the following counter-arguments:

    The genealogical argument was never actually applied to the New Testament text by Hort, and in fact has never been so applied by anyone. As Colwell noted, Hort utilized this principle solely to "depose the Textus Receptus," and not to establish a line of descent. His "stemmatic diagram" was itself a pure fabrication.[15]

    Even though a hypothetical stemma might "demonstrate" that "a majority of extant documents" may only have descended from the text of a single archetype (one branch on the genealogical "tree"), Hort was not able to establish that the Byzantine majority of manuscripts were genealogically dependent (and therefore belonged to a single branch of the stemma). Nor could he disallow that the essential archetype of the Byzantine Textform might not in fact be the autograph text itself rather than a later branch of the stemma. The virtual independence of the Byzantine-era manuscripts (as mentioned earlier) alone suffices to refute Hort's genealogical claim regarding the entire Byzantine/Majority Textform. Further discussion of this point will follow.

    Conflation is not exclusive to the Byzantine-era manuscripts; the scribes of Alexandrian and Western manuscripts conflate as much or more than what has been imputed to Byzantine-era scribal habits.[16] (Hort argued that only the Byzantine manuscripts practiced conflation, and that manuscripts of supposedly "earlier" texttypes never followed this practice).

    Over 150 "distinctively Byzantine" readings have been found in papyrus manuscripts predating AD 350, even though totally unattested by versions and Fathers.[17] (Hort emphatically maintained that, were this principle overthrown, his entire hypothesis would have been demolished).

    There never has been a shred of evidence that an "authorized revision" of the Greek New Testament text ever occurred, and the Greek church itself has never claimed such. (Hort maintained that, apart from such formally-authorized revision, there would be no way possible to explain the rise and dominance of the Byzantine Textform).[18]

    Many Byzantine readings have been strongly defended by non-partisans on internal grounds; in fact, all Greek New Testament editions since Westcott-Hort have increasingly adopted Byzantine readings to replace those advocated by Westcott and Hort.

    Despite the inherent subjectivity of this approach, Byzantine-priority advocates maintain that a successful internal-evidence case can be made for nearly every Byzantine reading over against the Western, Caesarean, and Alexandrian readings.[19] (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 was essential to the establishment of an Alexandrian-preference theory. His modern successors have retreated from all these points into a position which in essence favors only the external age of documents, their particular texttype, and/or the internal quality of the readings they contain. Unlike Hort, however, the modern critics fail to offer a systematic history of textual transmission which satisfactorily explains the phenomenon of the Byzantine Textform. Hort at least postulated a deliberate authorized revision as a possible explanation for the later Byzantine predominance. Yet today, the supposed rise and overwhelming dominance of the Byzantine Textform out of the presumed primordial Western and Alexandrian texttypes is accounted for merely as the result of a lengthy, vague "process." But, as Hodges has cogently pointed out,

    “No one has yet explained how a long, slow process spread out over many centuries as well as over a wide geographical area, and involving a multitude of copyists, who often knew nothing of the state of the text outside of their own monasteries or scriptoria, could achieve this widespread uniformity out of the diversity presented by the earlier [Western and Alexandrian] forms of text.... An unguided process achieving relative stability and uniformity in the diversified textual, historical, and cultural circumstances in which the New Testament was copied, imposes impossible strains on our imagination.[20]”

    This consideration should again force the scholars who forsake Hort to do as Colwell suggested; namely, to come up with a better reconstruction of the history of the transmission of the New Testament text which offers a credible explanation for the utter dominance of the Byzantine/Majority Textform.[21] A "process" view is not necessarily wrong[22] -- only the insistence that the process begin with the Alexandrian and Western texttypes rather than the Byzantine Textform. In light of the preceding discussion, it would appear that "process" advocates are forced to return to 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.


    15 Colwell, "Hort Redivivus," Studies, p.158. Colwell stated in 1947 that "genealogical method as defined by Westcott and Hort was not applied by them or by any of their followers to the manuscripts of the New Testament. Moreover, sixty years of study since Westcott and Hort indicate that it is doubtful if it can be applied to New Testament manuscripts in such a way as to advance our knowledge of the original text of the New Testament." ("Genealogical Method: Its Achievements and Limitations," Studies, p. 63). Yet at the time of Colwell's statement, the stemmatic approaches of Hoskier (to the Apocalypse) and of Von Soden (to Jn. 7:53-8:11) had been in print for about 20 and 45 years respectively. Colwell doubtless would have declared the same today regarding the approach of Hodges-Farstad to the same portions of Scripture. The principle remains: genealogical stemmatics have not been applied successfully to the New Testament Greek documents because such cannot be applied to a textually "mixed" body of manuscripts. Kinship in such a case is remote in the extreme, and the mixture within the manuscripts varies not only from book to book but even within chapters of the same book (See Thomas C. Geer, Jr., "The Two Faces of Codex 33 in Acts," Novum Testamentum, 31 [1989] 39-47, for a demonstration of this point).

    16 See Wilbur N. Pickering, "Conflation or Confusion," Appendix D in his The Identity of the New Testament Text, rev. ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980), pp. 171-200. Contributors to that Appendix included William G. Pierpont, Maurice A. Robinson, Harry A Sturz, and Peter Johnston.

    17 See Harry A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984), pp. 137-230.

    18 See John William Burgon, The Revision Revised (Paradise, PA: Conservative Classics rep. ea., n. d. [1883]), pp. 276-294; Colwell, "Hort Redivivus," Studies, pp. 157-159, 164-169.

    19 See for example, George Dunbar Kilpatrick, "The Greek New Testament Text of Today and the Textus Receptus," in The New Testament in Historical and Contemporary Perspective: Essays in Memory of G. H. C MacGregor, ed. H. Anderson and W. Barclay (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965), pp. 189-208; J. Keith Elliott, "Rational Criticism and the Text of the New Testament," Theology 75 (1972) 338-343; also any other articles by Kilpatrick or Elliott which favor the "rigorously eclectic" methodology, and as a result defend on internal principles the authenticity of many "distinctively Byzantine" readings.

    20 Zane C. Hodges, "The Implications of Statistical Probability for the History of the Text," Appendix C in Pickering, Identity, p. 168.

    21 Colwell, "Hort Redivivus," Studies, pp. 149-150, 155-157,164-169.

    22 Colwell, "Method in Establishing the Nature of Texttypes," Studies, pp. 53-55.


    Another excellent resource for appreciating what has been a factor in the emergence of the new paradigm of “post-critical” textual study is The Ancient Text of the New Testament, by Professor Jakob Van Bruggen. This now rare and out-of-print book is available online. I would suggest downloading it, as some sites have a short life.


  23. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    The early Byzantine readings are not even close to establishing the existence of the Byzantine Text Type. It is not a matter of my presuppositions, it is a fact of history. There are no early papryi that demonstrate a distinctly Byzantine Text Type; not even within a mixed text. Respectfully...arguements that the Byzantine Text Type is established within the early Papryi are either niave or dishonest.

    Now if I were going to swap sides a moment, based on the actual manuscript evidence, I would argue for the Byzantine upon two primary grounds.

    1. The dominance of the Byzantine Text Type from the 5th Century forward and not limited to one small geographical area is evidence for the antiquity of the text form. Unless one can demonstrate a recension of the text by the church in history, uniformity and geography are strong evidence that this text is much more ancient than its oldest exemplars.

    2. On the flip side of 1., lack of historical citations of an official recension of the text would indicate that such a recension did not take place. Where than did the Byzantine Text Form come from if it is not much more ancient than its oldest exemplars. Lack of a good answer to this questions provides support for the antiquity of this text form.

    Of course, I am comfortable with the way that I would answer those arguements. I submit them because I think they are particularly effective arguements for the Traditional Text and opponents cannot honestly dismiss them out of hand.

  24. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior

    Accuracy vs. Ancientness


    Does Ancientness necessarily mean Accuracy? I think not. Yet, the CT'ers will stake their theological reputation on this very point. When they are pushed the fact that the Alexandrian variants comprise the older texts is the only island that they stand on. I would suggest that simply because a text is ancient does not mean it is accurate. Consider the following:

    The Apostle Peter in the very first century complains that there are heretics who already are twisting Scripture to their own ends:

    As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned andunstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction, 2 Peter 3:16.

    If during the very time of the Apostles that heretics had the gall to redact the Scriptures, then why not during the successive ages? Is this not the testimony of the Church as well? F.F. Bruce notes:

    Dr. Scrivener notes:

    Considering this the obvious becomes evident: An ancient text may, in fact, be one of these corrupted texts used by heretics. Consequently, using such a text does not bring one "closer" to the Autographs, but much farther away.

    "Prior to the 4th Century there is no evidence of a Byzantine text." There are many answers to this one, of which, I will list a few:

    Sir Frederick Kenyon, a CT'er by the way, provides a window into how the Jewish and Early Church Fathers conducted the transmission of the Scriptures:

    The Dead Sea Scrolls have proven to us that this method of the transmission of the Scriptures was highly accurate. Consequently, the lack of "older" texts in the Byzantine tradition is a good indicator that they are the true apographia of the autographs. Once an official copy was made and verified the "older" text would be destroyed. One should not expect to find "older" texts in the tradition that closely follows the autographs.

    My pastor once pointed out to me that the reason why the Byzantine is in the majority is because it was considered the true apographia of the autographs by the Church. Certainly, Christians living in the 4th Century were more familiar with the apographia of the autographs than we would be today? That the Alexandrian variants were not so copied indicates the rejection of them by the Church.

    According to the Alands prior to the 4th Century there was a short span of non-persecution of Christians in the Empire. This time period (260-300 AD) was important for the transmission of the Scriptures:

    One can obviously see their bias in this paragraph: 1) If the text of Hesychius was a "more thorough revision" then why was it only of the Gospels and Acts? 2) Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis is considered a corrupt mss, and even Theodore Beza so argued. Finally, 3) They provide no evidence that Lucian's text (which was the father of the Byzantine text) was "polished stylistically, edited ecclesiastically, and expanded devotionally." They come to this conclusion because of the differences between their own CT and the BT. But, was not Paul considered the greatest scholar of his age? Would we not expect him to be eloquent? Or, Luke who was a Doctor of Medicine? And Peter, though a fisherman, had a massive gift of eloquence as evidenced by his sermon in Acts 2. Not to mention that all of the writers were inspired by God who created eloquence? We should expect the Autographs to exhibit a profound eloquence that the CT has not replicated, but the BT has as illustrated by the Johannine Comma.

    Prespastor has mentioned geography. I do not know what he means by this, but when one looks at where the autographs were written, and sent to, it becomes very evident that they are Byzantine in nature. Ephesus, Galatia, Phillipi, Colossae, Thessalonica, are all in modern day Turkey (Byzantine). Matthew was probably written for the Jews (Israel). Mark probably wrote for Roman gentiles. Luke for the people of Greece. John ministered all through Turkey and was exiled on an island nearby (Patmos). Peter explicitly states that his letters are for the people in Turkey (1 Pet. 1:1). While James was a leader in the Jerusalem Church as well as his brother Jude. Hebrews was obviously written for the Jews. Thus, the autographs would be found from Israel stretching north into Turkey, then west into Greece, and finally into Italy.

    So what does this prove? It shows that the Alexandrian churches did not possess the autographs, but copies that were made and distributed to them. I would also suggest that those churches that actually did possess the Autographs would be in a better position to recognize the true apographia when they saw them.

    After this period of peace mentioned by the Alands above the Church suffered severe persecution until Constantine took the throne around 313 AD. J. Harold Greenlee, another CT'er, writes about this time:

    Again, one can see the bias in his presentation. However, the undisputed fact is that the Lucian/Byzantine text was recognized by those churches that actually possesed the autographs as the received apographia of the autographs. The Church would continue to accept the Byzantine readings and reject the Alexandrian variants until the mid to late 19th Century.

    Grace and Peace,

  25. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Robert, you say,

    “The early Byzantine readings are not even close to establishing the existence of the Byzantine Text Type. It is not a matter of my presuppositions, it is a fact of history.”

    In a court of law there are conflicting truth-claims. The lawyers present their respective cases, and a judge or a jury decide which case has merit over the other. Can you support your claim that “it is a fact of history….the existence of the Byzantine Text Type [has not been established]”? That is a rather preposterous statement. The Byzantine Text Type is that text-form used by the Greek Orthodox Church for over a millennium. It is virtually identical with what in the West is termed the Majority Text, and comprises over 90% of the extant Greek MSS. The issue is the age of this text-type. The papyri demonstrate that Byzantine readings antedate the extant Alexandrian MSS, seeing these readings were in existence before they were (Aleph & B being written around 375 AD).

    Perhaps it was just your wording that threw me off. The Byz texttype exists; it is its own proof.

    “There are no early papryi that demonstrate a distinctly Byzantine Text Type; not even within a mixed text”

    This is from Leland M. Haines’ Authority of Scripture, chapter 6 “Translations and the Greek Text,” (

    Sturz's List I shows 150 "distinctively Byzantine readings . . . those supported by the bulk of the later manuscripts but which at the same time are opposed (or not supported) by the principle manuscripts and witnesses to the Alexandrian and Western text"[101] that have early papyri support. He emphasizes that these papyri are from the second century, preceding the time of Lucian (the "acknowledged" editor of the Byzantine text) by one hundred years, and thus they are not a fourth-century recension. "It is startling from the standpoint of the WH theory to find that so-called 'Byzantine' readings not only existed early but were present in Egypt before the end of the second century." Sturz makes a third point that "the Old Uncials have not preserved a complete picture of the second century. . . . have not retained all of the second-century tradition. . . . [This] is underscored further when P45, P66, P72, and P75 are also seen to confirm early and wide-spread existence of [Byzantine] readings which are neither Alexandrian nor Western." Sturz concludes that Westcott and Hort were "mistaken in regard to their insistence that all the pre-Syrian evidence for readings was to be found in the Alexandrian, Neutral, and Western texts, i.e., that these three text-types and their chief witnesses preserved the complete second-century picture of the textual tradition on which the Syrian editor(s) built. . . . The Byzantine text-type has preserved second-century tradition not preserved by the other text-types."[102]
    [101] Aland, op. cit., p. 64. Aland believes major text-types were due to the demand caused by Diocletianic persecution and to it being fulfilled in Constantine's times. See p. 65.
    [102] Ibid., p. 57.​

    The point of citing this work is to show that it will no longer do to simply deny the early existence of a “distinctly Byzantine text-type,” when the scholarly world does, even those not of an MT view.

    The following is taken from:

    Notes Upon the Byzantine Text-Type as Concerns the Pauline Epistles, by Gary S. Dykes:

    Excerpted from the appendix of his work on First Corinthians. A basic argument for the priority of the ancient Byzantine text-type. “As simple as its perspicuity. Clear step-by-step logic mingled with my oftentimes pristine suppositions, and not nearly as verbose as is this introduction!”


    The late Harry A Sturz, author of The Byzantine Text-Type & New Testament Criticism [Thomas Nelson, 1984], collected numerous samples illustrating various manuscript alignments. His conclusions are still largely valid. For example, on page 155 he shows:

    1 Corinthians 9:7 - ek tou karpou [of the fruit] P46, C(3), D(bc), E, K, pl, c, d, e, t, vg(sc), am, fu, sy, co, arm, Or, Aug, Amb, K, V

    ton karpon [the fruit] a*, A, B, C*, D*, F, G, P, 33, 1739, pc, f, g, tol, harl, floriac, al, sa, go, Or; WH​

    Generally, he is correct in the above demonstration that P46 does support the majority of miniscules and major Byzantine uncial manuscripts. In the list from which the readings are demonstrated, he states that this list shows Byzantine-papyrus agreements against the Alexandrian and Western texts. One might argue that the presence of some Latin manuscripts (c, d, e, t, fu) would nullify this but the primary Western representatives do not here support the Byzantine-P46 reading. Sturz makes his case overall, but some of his examples are weak. His text on the subject is a must read.

    It is true that with a little effort and an accurate apparatus one can show all sorts of alignments (such as P46 agreeing with just Western witnesses), however there are a small number of papyri readings which only agree with the Byzantine supported variants.

    So we do see the archaic features of the Byzantine text-type. We see ancient agreements betwixt the Syriac and the Gothic versions and the Byzantine/Antiochian text. I suspect that when we see old papyri readings and several Byzantine MSS in agreement against all other witnesses, that herein we have a strong case for an ancient Antiochian or original reading.​

    The above is cited to show an actual reading and the MSS/fathers/versions which support it.


    “Respectfully...arguements that the Byzantine Text Type is established within the early Papryi are either niave or dishonest.”

    Who said the Byzantine text-type was established within the early papyri? That would be a rather strange assertion! What I – and others – have been saying is that it is supported – attested to – by readings shown to be distinctively Byzantine in those papyri. As Sturz said, to deny this, the burden of proof is now upon you to back up such a view, given the numerous – and widely accepted – early Byzantine readings.* But if you refuse to acknowledge them, well, they are accepted and documented, even by CT adherents; they just interpret the data differently – but they don’t deny what all know to be so!

    It is established by its existence in over 90% of the extant Greek MSS, now proven to antedate the 4th century by MSS of both one and two centuries earlier. Robert, if all you are going to throw at me are unsubstantiated theories (following Hort’s method – now debunked even by CT adherents) without dealing with any particular MSS or Scripture passages, you are not effectively defending your position, or tearing mine down.

    *“Numerous distinctively Byzantine readings now proved early would seem to reverse the burden of proof. Instead of assuming that characteristically Byzantine readings are late, it may be more logical and more in accord with the facts to assume that they are early. The burden of proof now appears to rest on whoever claims that a Byzantine reading is late. Furthermore, making textual decisions on the basis of how three or four ‘old’ uncials read should be abandoned because they do not give a complete picture of the second century traditions.” [Harry A. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984), pp. 64, 65]​


    The old myth about an official edition of the New Testament at the hands of Lucian in the 4th century, and that this is the Byzantine/Antiochian/Majority Text has been long laid to rest. To make assertions – as Hort did – without a shred of supporting evidence eventually become insupportable, as his “Antiochian recension” did in the eyes of the critics. It was known that Lucian worked on the Old Testament, but there is no hint anywhere that he did any work on the New.

    So then where did the preponderating majority of Byzantine manuscripts come from? The papyri do show that the Byzantine readings existed very early – in the 2nd century at the least. It is asserted by some – myself included – that the apostolic writings themselves were the source of the “Byzantine” readings.

  26. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    P.S. Robert, to return to my first post to you, and which I have repeated, the matter of passages like Matt 1:7, 10 -- reflecting the Greek CT -- and Mark 16:9-20, and 1 Tim 3:16 (just a few of many I could mention), show the basic corruption of the CT, and its audacity (fueled initially by Hort) in seeking to overthrow the united majority with the intensely disagreeing duo B & a, evident to some, if not all, even as the emperor who didn't have his clothes.

    Will you ignore these? Pretend they are clothed with reliability?

  27. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have not denied the existence of the Byzantine Text Type. I am saying it is a later text and the the eariler 'readings' do not establish the text type as a whole from earlier periods.

    This has been my point. The Byzantine 'readings' in the early Papryi do not substantiate the early existence of the Byzantine Text Type as a whole. You may cite them as evidence but this is far from conclusive evidence for the text type as a whole.

    But this begs the point. When we are speaking of the actual evidence, while there are a few examples of what we now label as 'Byzantine' readings in the early Papryi, again, this does not constitute proof for the Byzantine Text Type as a whole.

    You keep using the term 'Byzantine Readings' as if it is synonymous with 'Byzantine Text Type'.

    I don't think I can make this any clearer than I have. Is there another CTer out there that can perhaps convey what I am saying in a way that might be more understandable?

    Here you make a clarification about 'readings' versus 'text type' but yet you continue to treat the as virtually the same thing in your logic.

    The truth of the matter is that since the objective data...the actual extant manuscripts we have, reveal the Alexandrian Text Type (as as a Text Type, not only readings) in the oldest manuscripts, it is up to those who hold to the Byzantine Text Type to prove their position.

    As for me, I can point out that 1. the manuscripts I view to generally have the most weight are the old ones (because they are old) and 2. The charactersitcs of the text in the oldest manuscripts best explain the readings found in the later manuscripts. Flip that around and it is inexplicable how many of the Alexandrian readings could have been derived from the Byzantine unless they were the result of heretics deliberatly tampering with the text (a point often made by Traditional Text defenders). As I said before, if the Alexandrian Text-Type is the result of heretics, they were the most inept, least consistent heretics who ever tampered with the scriptures. Casting off arguements that these Papryi were the works of heretics, the arguement from their age also bears much weight.
  28. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    Matthew 1:7

    Asaph is an alternate spelling for Asa. Alternate spellings for names was not uncommon as there were no standard spellings guidelines back then (as we have today). The same holds true in verse 10.

    If 'Asaph' is a corruption here, what was the heretic trying to accomplish that introduced it?

    If 'Asa' is the corruption, it makes sense that a scribe made what he thought was a correction to an error in the manuscript he was copying.

    1 Tim 3:16

    If the passages like 1 Tim 3:16 are the result of deliberate corruption by heretics, then why were they so inconsistent? Why did they leave numerous passages that clearly contain the diety of Christ?

    Mark 16:9-20

    This is not an easy one. This is a disputed text from ancient days. In the Codex Vaticanus there is what appears to be space left on the page for the long ending (as if the scribe were not sure whether or not to add it). This passage was also disputed by some early writers of the church.

    Some reject this passage based upon the internal evidence; that it contrasts sharply with the context (Mary Magdalene is introduced a second time though she had already been introduced at the beginning of the chapter) and Marks writing style.

    For me, I believe that the interal evidence is fairly conclusive that it was not penned by Mark but by a seperate author. This however does not mean that it is not inspired and to be received as the true ending of Mark. Deuteronomy 34 is a similiar example. Moses clearly didn't write that last chapter (it has the account of his death) but it is still God's word (God used a second human agent to complete it).
  29. Robert Truelove

    Robert Truelove Puritan Board Sophomore

    Jerusalem Blade,

    Let me fire one back at you if I may...

    What do you do with Acts 8:37?
  30. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior

    Lucian and Jerome

    Hi Steve:

    I have a question for you based on what you wrote here:

    Schaff in his History of the Christian Church writes:

    In the notes Dr. Schaff received his information from Hort's Introduction to the Greek New Testament. What derives my curiosity is how one can deny that Lucian did not work on the New Testament when Jerome makes a reference to it?

    Where can I find information that a Lucian Greek Text is a myth that has been long laid to rest?

    Grace and Peace, brother,

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page