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Byzantine Textform

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Re: Byzantine Textform

Postby mwh » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:59 pm

Hi Uberdwayne,
The civilized tone of our discussion is something you can take full credit for! You've given me no cause for annoyance. :)

No argument over the early currency of byz readings. As I said earlier, it may well be that many or most or even all of the readings that eventually formed the byz text were in circulation before 200—along with others. But we can’t go back-projecting a before-the-fact discrete textual entity recognizable as "the byz text" on that basis. It's anachronistic even to refer to them as "byz readings"; that shorthand formula in itself misleadingly implies the preexistence of the byz text. When you say "one could infer that these readings were copied from somewhere" I hope you're not implying they were copied from a byz text. They were copied—except for any that originated in the manuscript in question—from a manuscript which had a similar mixture [anachronistic term!] of readings. A manuscript only partially exhibiting "byz" readings does nothing to strengthen the case for byz priority (contrary to what you say of P75 and B). What I see is a host of readings jostling for preference. Find me an early MS with exclusively "byz" readings and I'll recant.

Manuscripts from Egypt die off with the Arab conquest. (I recognize this is not what you meant!) Do what we might call Egyptian readings die out though? I'm largely ignorant here, but again I suspect it's at least partly a matter of terms (and hence of conceptualizations). If by Egyptian readings we mean readings found exclusively in Egyptian manuscripts, i.e. alien to the other "text types", well, they would die out by definition, wouldn't they? But what kind of readings are we talking about?, what is the nature of the difference between the Egyptian texts and the rest? You say (in somewhat different context)
" Two things that are noteable though, is that these Manuscripts are markedly different than what we have in the Byzantine, Western, and Ceasarean (I realize the dispute with this "type") traditions, and they typically show a shorter text, ergo, they get lumped into their own "type." "
Apply the "lectio brevior potior" principle ("the shorter reading's the better"), and you have the answer: the other text types are expanded versions of a more pristine text represented by the earlier (i.e. Egyptian) manuscripts. (Perhaps you're actually right in suggesting that the Egyptian texts "were considered inferior": that doesn't mean they were inferior.) But you may reject the principle—which certainly doesn't apply in all cases—and no doubt the whole situation is more complicated. Put the new Acts papyrus side by side with cod.Bezae and we see varying expansions in both manuscripts along with contractions (if they're to be accepted as such).
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Re: Byzantine Textform

Postby Markos » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:11 pm

R.P. Mt 26:29:
λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐ μὴ πίω ἀπ' ἄρτι ἐκ τούτου τοῦ γεννήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης ὅταν αὐτὸ πίνω μεθ' ὑμῶν καινὸν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ πατρός μου.


N.A. 27 Mt 26:29:
λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ πίω ἀπ' ἄρτι ἐκ τούτου τοῦ γενήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης ὅταν αὐτὸ πίνω μεθ' ὑμῶν καινὸν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ πατρός μου.


γέννημα versus γένημα came up on another thread.

Metzger does not discuss this variant. If he were fair and consistent, he would point out that the Byzantine reading γέννημα is the more rare and difficult form, while the Alexandrian reading would appear to be an assimilation to the form γένημα found in Mark and Luke. If in fact γέννημα is never used elsewhere of vegetable products, it would make the Byzantine reading even more difficult, and there would be no good reason why a scribe would have substituted it for γένημα.
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Re: Byzantine Textform

Postby mwh » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:10 pm

Is that the only response I get to my post?! I thought there was a genuine discussion going on here.

Markos – I really don't think you can hang an argument on this sort of thing, or not without accumulating the totality of instances. And first we'd have to get the facts straight – which I admittedly have not made the effort to do, but for one thing the double-nu form is used of vegetable products, in Polyb. etc. acc. to LSJ, and so also in the papyri, where however the single-nu form is overwhelmingly predominant. There's the LXX to take into account too, the occurrence in Isaiah. And the ancient OT and NT commentators etc seem to go pretty uniformly for the geminate form (unless this is merely editorial preference). I imagine that was deemed the more "correct." But if the "Byz" text has genn- in Mt but gen- in Mk & Lk, while the "Alex" text has gen- in all three (assuming it does), well, I hardly think that can be used as an argument for the superiority of the Byz text, nor indeed for anything much else. Seems to me it's very complicated, and at the same time doesn't amount to a hill of beans. The papyrus evidence indicates that they were not regarded as different words, and single consonants are often written for geminates anyway.

I know you have your heels dug in over this, but I do wish you'd engage with the larger argument.
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Re: Byzantine Textform

Postby uberdwayne » Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:40 pm

Hello Michael,

Sorry for my absence, its been getting busy around hear, especially with the Christmas season upon us! So let me rospond :D

mwh wrote:The civilized tone of our discussion is something you can take full credit for! You've given me no cause for annoyance.

Thanks for the compliment :D

mwh wrote:But we can’t go back-projecting a before-the-fact discrete textual entity recognizable as "the byz text" on that basis. It's anachronistic even to refer to them as "byz readings"; that shorthand formula in itself misleadingly implies the preexistence of the byz text.


I think this is a miss-communication somewhere... Byz readings, in the context of this discussion, and in general, refer to readings that are the same or similar to the later Byzantine manuscripts which are extant. I've always used the term "byz reading" to point forward, rather than backward, for the simple fact that we don't have an early papyrus in Egypt (or elsewhere for that matter) that is completely byzantine, and I think we all agree with that. However, I would think that if we were to ever find any early Manuscripts from the east they would likely be purely, or almost purely byzantine. If they were not, than the Byzantine priority would simply fall apart.

My evidence for early byzantine manuscripts in the east is the shear quantity of Byzantine type manuscripts in the later centuries and that there are a number of distinct "lines of transmission" within the byzantine textform. These lines differ enough to warrant a distinction, but do not show the divergence that we see in the early Egyptian manuscripts. My conclusion on these facts are that these byzantine "lines of transmission" could not have been created from an archetype that was in existence after the 8th century. (most extant Byzantine manuscripts start to appear around the 9th century). I think its safe to assume that these lines of transmission did indeed come for a purely byzantine manuscript. My 8th century date is also a very conservative time frame, as we're not entirely sure how far back these transmissional lines extend (due to a dearth in extant evidence in the early centuries). We then find Byzantine readings among the old Egyptian papyri that are clearly from a different textual tradition than the later byzantine texts. Why is this so? Is it possible that, in the east, there was a relatively pure line of transmission, where as in Egypt there was a jostling of readings that never did get figured out?

mwh wrote:A manuscript only partially exhibiting "byz" readings does nothing to strengthen the case for byz priority (contrary to what you say of P75 and B).


By this reasoning, any full text could never be supported since every single one of them are only partially supported by a number of readings. None of them are supported in the whole, that would mean we have the autographs, which clearly we don't. And, as a presupposition, I don't believe we need the autographs to know what they said.

So, I disagree with this statement. If there were no byz readings from the early centuries, than there would be no case at all for any of the later minuscules. However, we do have a large number of readings from early manuscripts and patristic sources that do in fact include byzantine readings). What would be interesting is to compile a list of the readings and the father who quoted it, and where he was overseeing when he quoted it. We might be able to come up with a more coherent history of transmission in the East.

When you say "one could infer that these readings were copied from somewhere" I hope you're not implying they were copied from a byz text.


Its at least a possibility, which of course does not necessarily mean it happened, but in Egypt, I would would say that these readings came from manuscripts that had mixture. It is however, my assumption, that the originals would have been byzantine-like (which is of course, our discussion), and, if they were, then its only a matter of course that we find byzantine-like readings in Egypt. Of course, we could say the same thing about the Alexandrian text, but if we consider the whole of the manuscript tradition, the byzantine text has a huge advantage, where did the later minuscule text come from? We cannot ask this of the Alexandrian readings, because the don't exist much past the 5th century, there is no later witness to them.

mwh wrote: But you may reject the principle—which certainly doesn't apply in all cases—and no doubt the whole situation is more complicated.


Your right, I do reject this principle in general, we cannot judge a reading by its length, especially since most text critical scholars would say that intentional changes were few and far between. If intentional changes are few, that would mean that most variants are unintentional. In my experience, and I'm sure most will attest, words and phrases are more often ommited accidentally than they are created. So now you have a "general canon" that is effective for only a minority of readings!

Let us also consider the consistency of the Byzantine manuscripts. It shows plain and simple that scribes can be fairly accurate. There is a larger number of Byzantine manuscripts (around 5000), and a larger time frame of their existance (9th century to printing in the 16th, thats 750 years). When we compare this with the just 300 Egyptian manuscripts over a period of 300 year, we find that there really is no consistency in their readings, INTF has gone as far as to deny the Existance of an Alexandrian text type. Put simply, the text in Egypt is wild, a shortened version of the text in the west.

By now, your likely asking within yourself, what does consistency matter if we only have late manuscripts of the Byzantine type. My reasoning is this, we have byzantine readings interspersed in a rough Alexandrian transmission, and in early patristic writings (presumably in the east, but I've yet to do the research to determine this, consider it a prediction of early eastern byzantine readings). We have numerous lines of transmission in the Byzantine text that point to some form of a byzantine archetype that existed long before the extant byzantine manuscripts. And finally we have a consistancy in the extant byzantine manuscripts that shows that accurate transmission over long periods of time is most certainly possible. It really does make a decent case for a Byzantine priority.

mwh wrote:(Perhaps you're actually right in suggesting that the Egyptian texts "were considered inferior": that doesn't mean they were inferior.)


This of course begs the question... Why were they considered inferior?

Markos:

This is one of the reasons I've moved away from the modern eclectic text. Its method of determining the text is way too subjective. You'll often find readings where one canon competes against another, or you end up determining a reading by vague internal notions. I would even scrutinize some of the guidelines such as "shorter reading is preferred" or "more difficult reading preferred." These imply that intentional change to the text was the norm, and that the original text was riddled with factual errors and grammatical mistakes.

anyway, I know its a long post, but it is indeed a complicated subject. Hopefully I was able to share my thoughts in a clear manner :D

τι νομιζετε;
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Re: Byzantine Textform

Postby mwh » Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:05 am

Dear Uberdwayne,

Very good. I really do appreciate such a long and considered response—which I regret I cannot return in kind, what with the holiday season upon us and impending deadlines looming for me. Also, I'm not at all sure we can progress beyond what each of us has already said. And I can only discuss in general terms, not having the intimate knowledge that you and Markos do of the actual text traditions. (I'm a classicist, not an NT specialist.) But let me address very briefly and quickly some of the points you make.

In essence, our assumptions differ, along with our methods. You are intent on constructing a case for the authority of the Byzantine text, and do so about as well as can be done, it seems to me. If I'm not convinced, you can understand why, since you are well aware it necessarily falls short of proof. It's a question of constructing the most plausible scenario. (And I do that without bringing theological presuppositions to bear.)

You see Byzantine readings as evidence of the prior existence of the Byzantine text: I don't. You ask where the later minuscule text (the Byzantine text, relatively uniform and in wide circulation) came from. A fair question. I propose that it came about through a gradual standardization and fossilization of the scriptural text, which shut out previously currrent variations. It's much the same with many classical texts: you end up with a received text, and then along comes early manuscript evidence to upset it all (the significance of which invariably meets with resistance). I don't dispute that Byzantine copyists were capable of faithful transcription (extraordinarily so, in fact, but not too surprising, now that the text was treated as immutably sacrosanct and its copying strictly supervised), but such texts as are presented by the cod.Bezae and the new Acts papyrus (to leave the "Alexandrian" text out of it) show that even as late as the 5th century the NT writings could be transmitted in much more free-wheeling fashion. To posit a "relatively pure" "Byzantine" line of transmission from the outset, deviations from which are, well, just that, deviations, aberrancies, requires a pretty large act of faith.

As to shorter vs. longer (though of course it amounts to much more than that, as we both know), I think you're on slippery ground. It's nothing unusual for narrative texts to be expanded, to develop longer versions. And your intentional/unintentional dichotomy doesn't always apply. There are all sorts of motivations, more or less unconscious—to make something clearer, to make a story more coherent or more consistent, …. Again I'd appeal to the additions in e.g. cod.Bez. & Acts pap. (different in each case), which I'm guessing you wouldn't defend as original. Texts tend in general to be accretive. Of course there will be omissions too, inadvertent or deliberate. But one of the features of a dynamic transmissional history is that losses tend to be made good, whereas additions tend to stick.

As to editorial practice, well now, any editor's text is necessarily "subjective": it involves choice and decision-making, whether at the outset or along the way. To follow one particular text-form consistently (the equivalent of the discredited method in classical texts of following the "codex optimus" through thick and thin) is no less subjective in its underpinnings than a more eclectic method. To stick to the received text simply saves an editor the trouble of thinking along the way.

That's all I can offer – though I see it's turned into quite a lengthy post after all. And who knows?, you could be right and I wrong.

Michael
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Re: Byzantine Textform

Postby uberdwayne » Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:02 pm

Hi Micheal,

mwh wrote:In essence, our assumptions differ, along with our methods. You are intent on constructing a case for the authority of the Byzantine text, and do so about as well as can be done, it seems to me. If I'm not convinced, you can understand why, since you are well aware it necessarily falls short of proof. It's a question of constructing the most plausible scenario. (And I do that without bringing theological presuppositions to bear.)


Yes, I think I've made it clear of my presuppositions. I believe that God has preserved the New Testament in its entirety in the manuscript tradition that is extant, and this belief has undoubtedly guided my "scholastic" research. We then, as Byzantine Prioritists, must try not to make the facts say anything more than what they do say, and I think I've been clear as to what the facts are, and what I've deduced from those facts, weather right or wrong. I understand that there is no complete "naturalistic" explanation linking the later Byzantine tradition to the autographs (a so called proof), but I think there is still enough evidence available to make a reasonable case (and that's all we can do for any textual persuasion). At the same time, the current eclectic texts suffers the same issue, a small sampling of manuscripts from a limited geographic area; early or not, its not much to go on. At some point, both sides run dry of naturalistic evidence, and as long as we are aware of the incomplete nature of the manuscript tradition, it should keep both sides humble. My prediction is that, if we start finding pre 300 texts in the east, they will exhibit a purely, or near pure, byzantine text, One that will likely explain the origin of the 3 main streams (Kr, Kx, Π), maybe even crown one king, so to speak.

mwh wrote: It's much the same with many classical texts: you end up with a received text, and then along comes early manuscript evidence to upset it all (the significance of which invariably meets with resistance).


Although I don't work much with other writings from antiquity, the one thing that immediately comes to mind is that the New Testament is in a class all its own when it comes to the number of witness to the autographs. From my understanding, there are, in general, very few manuscripts from most of the ancient works. Not just in comparison with the NT, but in general. I'm not entirely sure that there would be anywhere near enough evidence to say what your saying without a great deal of controversy, not because of a favorite tradition, but because there wouldn't be enough manuscripts to even make this distinction in the first place. Even if it were so, the NT has patristic evidence going back to the 2nd century which sees portions of the NT, especially the gospels, as Holy Writings which aught not to ever be tampered with. Consider the response to Marcion's heresy in 140 A.D. Its evident that there was a great deal of respect for the scriptures in the early church, and, as I've mentioned in my last post, scribes were capable of careful and accurate transmission. Undoubtly there would be some sloppy work, but the thing about sloppy work is that its easy to see; we see it today, and it's almost certain that the early church would be able to discern it also.

mwh wrote:There are all sorts of motivations, more or less unconscious—to make something clearer, to make a story more coherent or more consistent, ….Again I'd appeal to the additions in e.g. cod.Bez. & Acts pap. (different in each case), which I'm guessing you wouldn't defend as original.

unconscious changes maybe so, but I still don't think that this would result in more expansions than omissions. Additions takes creative effort, whereas omissions do not. Its easier to accidentally skip a phrase then it is to copy it twice, by virtue of the latter being noticeable by a reader. Its easier for later scribes to catch a suspect reading, then a reading which is not there. Quite simply, an omission is much easier to produce both accidentally and purposely. I'm not saying that this is always the case, but that omissions would occur more often then additions. This makes the "shorter reading" canon questionable.

Codex Bezae is a Western text known for its interpolations. Lots of them, and a number of them that are unique to this manuscript which makes Bezae an oddity, its not very authoritative. Along with the whole of the western text-type which is a very small portion of the manuscript tradition. The acts papyrus on the other hand, is an oddity among the manuscripts found in the papyri, this one manuscript is not the norm for transmission in Egypt.

mwh wrote:As to editorial practice, well now, any editor's text is necessarily "subjective"

True enough. But some are more subjective than others. Do we subjectively select reading by reading? you end up with the NA text that Maurice Robinson would consider a "piecemeal text with little or no witness to even small portions of the text." on the other end of the spectrum, you get a subjective pronouncement over the entire text as a whole, you end up with the KJV only movement. A balanced appraoch is necessary, and I think current principles are greatly unbalanced.

mwh wrote:And who knows? you could be right and I wrong.

That's the beauty of not having all the answers, we can both admit to the possibility of being wrong!
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Re: Byzantine Textform

Postby mwh » Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:13 am

Again, some good points here, and I applaud your honesty in argumentation, and appreciate your graciousness. But forgive me if I don't engage with this any further. We must agree to disagree. Sincere thanks for a most stimulating discussion.
Michael
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Re: Byzantine Textform

Postby uberdwayne » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:48 am

mwh wrote:Again, some good points here, and I applaud your honesty in argumentation, and appreciate your graciousness. But forgive me if I don't engage with this any further. We must agree to disagree. Sincere thanks for a most stimulating discussion.
Michael


Fair enough, I appreciated the conversation, thanks for your posts!
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