Byzantine readings of Paul

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larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
I was wondering if there were any pro-TR/pro-Byzantine responses to the statement that there are no distinctive Byzantine readings of Paul's writings until the 9th century.

I'm not limiting the discussion to those who are pro-TR/pro-Byzantine, but i am interested in their responses.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I was wondering if there were any pro-TR/pro-Byzantine responses to the statement that there are no distinctive Byzantine readings of Paul's writings until the 9th century.

I'm not limiting the discussion to those who are pro-TR/pro-Byzantine, but i am interested in their responses.

The argument would probably be that the copies wore out.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
I was wondering if there were any pro-TR/pro-Byzantine responses to the statement that there are no distinctive Byzantine readings of Paul's writings until the 9th century.

I'm not limiting the discussion to those who are pro-TR/pro-Byzantine, but i am interested in their responses.

The argument would probably be that the copies wore out.
The argument is not that weak. Warm dry sands would (of course) preserve fragile texts, the ones going to the original "destinations" would have been more humid and as the Apostolic destinations they would have been handled a lot more from the time of arrival, both these would have lead to faster decay of the text and a need to recopy.:2cents:
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
Would it be a fair argument to say that there was a system of copying over manuscripts in which the old were destroyed after the copy was made? I've heard this type of thing with Van Bruggen.

And speaking of the first 4 centuries would it be fair to say that because the Byzantine history for those centuries is lacking it wouldn't be fair to judge from those centuries? In other words, do we have the right to make judgments on manuscripts without having a full spectrum of the history?
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
Would it be a fair argument to say that there was a system of copying over manuscripts in which the old were destroyed after the copy was made? I've heard this type of thing with Van Bruggen.

And speaking of the first 4 centuries would it be fair to say that because the Byzantine history for those centuries is lacking it wouldn't be fair to judge from those centuries? In other words, do we have the right to make judgments on manuscripts without having a full spectrum of the history?
To be honest Matthew Winzer or Jerusalem Blade could give you a MUCH better defense of the Byzantine than I can, I am just an "armchair" student.:2cents: Either of these Gentlemen would, I am sure give you some pretty solid fare. :book2:
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hi Larry,

The question is raised, why are there so few manuscripts of the Byzantine text earlier than the 9th century? There must have been many thousands of manuscripts in the great days of Byzantine prosperity between the 4th and 9th centuries!

Lake has come to the conclusion that like the scribes of the O. T., during this period the N. T. scribes destroyed their exemplars when they copied the Scriptures.

Two weeks ago someone gave me a ragged and falling-apart old AV family-style Bible. I guess they didn't have the heart to throw it out. The pages were cracking and falling from the binding. It was no longer an intact Bible. It was time for it to die a quick and clean death. Likewise, when mss were no longer intact and reliable (due to damage and wear) it was fitting they be destroyed. This is just one factor. There is also the weather, and what is required for a ms to be preserved.

In his (online version of) The Identity of the New Testament Text, Wilbur Pickering addresses this matter in the chapter, “Some Possible Objections”,

Why Are There No Early "Byzantine" MSS?

Why would or should there be? To demand that a MS survive for 1,500 years is in effect to require both that it have remained unused and that it have been stored in Egypt (or Qumran). Even an unused MS would require an arid climate to last so long.

But is either requirement reasonable? Unless there were persons so rich as to be able to proliferate copies of the Scriptures for their health or amusement, copies would be made on demand, in order to be used. As the use of Greek died out in Egypt the demand for Greek Scriptures would die out too, so we should not expect to find many Greek MSS in Egypt.

It should not be assumed, however, that the "Byzantine" text was not used in Egypt. Although none of the early Papyri can reasonably be called "Byzantine", they each contain "Byzantine" readings. The case of P66 is dramatic. The first hand was extensively corrected, and both hands are dated around A.D. 200. The 1st hand is almost half "Byzantine" (a. 47%), but the 2nd hand regularly changed "Byzantine" readings to "Alexandrian" and vice versa, i.e. he changed "Alexandrian" to "Byzantine", repeatedly. This means that they must have had two exemplars, one "Alexandrian" and one "Byzantine"—between the two hands the "Byzantine" text receives considerable attestation.

Consider the case of Codex B and P75; they are said to agree 82% of the time (unprecedented for "Alexandrian" MSS, but rather poor for "Byzantine"). But what about the 18% discrepancy? Most of the time, when P75 and B disagree one or the other agrees with the "Byzantine" reading. If they come from a common source, that source would have been more "Byzantine" than either descendant. Even the Coptic versions agree with the "Byzantine" text as often as not.

"Orphan children"

The study and conclusions of Lake, Blake, and New, already discussed in a prior section, are of special interest here. They looked for evidence of direct genealogy and found virtually none. I repeat their conclusion.

. . . the manuscripts which we have are almost all orphan children without brothers or sisters.

Taking this fact into consideration along with the negative result of our collation of MSS at Sinai, Patmos, and Jerusalem, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed their exemplars when they had copied the sacred books.[31]​

Is it unreasonable to suppose that once an old MS became tattered and almost illegible in spots the faithful would make an exact copy of it and then destroy it, rather than allowing it to suffer the indignity of literally rotting away? What would such a practice do to our chances of finding an early "Byzantine" MS? Anyone who objects to this conclusion must still account for the fact that in three ancient monastic libraries equipped with scriptoria (rooms designed to facilitate the faithful copying of MSS), there are only "orphan children." Why are there no parents?!​

To read further in Pickering’s study, go to: Chapter 6. Starting at the section, “Why are there no early Byzantine MSS?”

Robinson and Pierpont also discuss this in the Introduction to their edition of the Byzantine NT: Introduction to Robinson & Pierpont. Scroll down to the section “The Allegation of No Early Byzantine Manuscripts” (p. xxvi in hardcopy book).

I realize this entails a little bit of reading, but for serious inquirers it will be nothing.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
Hi Larry,

The question is raised, why are there so few manuscripts of the Byzantine text earlier than the 9th century? There must have been many thousands of manuscripts in the great days of Byzantine prosperity between the 4th and 9th centuries!

Lake has come to the conclusion that like the scribes of the O. T., during this period the N. T. scribes destroyed their exemplars when they copied the Scriptures.

Two weeks ago someone gave me a ragged and falling-apart old AV family-style Bible. I guess they didn't have the heart to throw it out. The pages were cracking and falling from the binding. It was no longer an intact Bible. It was time for it to die a quick and clean death. Likewise, when mss were no longer intact and reliable (due to damage and wear) it was fitting they be destroyed. This is just one factor. There is also the weather, and what is required for a ms to be preserved.

In his (online version of) The Identity of the New Testament Text, Wilbur Pickering addresses this matter in the chapter, “Some Possible Objections”,

Why Are There No Early "Byzantine" MSS?

Why would or should there be? To demand that a MS survive for 1,500 years is in effect to require both that it have remained unused and that it have been stored in Egypt (or Qumran). Even an unused MS would require an arid climate to last so long.

But is either requirement reasonable? Unless there were persons so rich as to be able to proliferate copies of the Scriptures for their health or amusement, copies would be made on demand, in order to be used. As the use of Greek died out in Egypt the demand for Greek Scriptures would die out too, so we should not expect to find many Greek MSS in Egypt.

It should not be assumed, however, that the "Byzantine" text was not used in Egypt. Although none of the early Papyri can reasonably be called "Byzantine", they each contain "Byzantine" readings. The case of P66 is dramatic. The first hand was extensively corrected, and both hands are dated around A.D. 200. The 1st hand is almost half "Byzantine" (a. 47%), but the 2nd hand regularly changed "Byzantine" readings to "Alexandrian" and vice versa, i.e. he changed "Alexandrian" to "Byzantine", repeatedly. This means that they must have had two exemplars, one "Alexandrian" and one "Byzantine"—between the two hands the "Byzantine" text receives considerable attestation.

Consider the case of Codex B and P75; they are said to agree 82% of the time (unprecedented for "Alexandrian" MSS, but rather poor for "Byzantine"). But what about the 18% discrepancy? Most of the time, when P75 and B disagree one or the other agrees with the "Byzantine" reading. If they come from a common source, that source would have been more "Byzantine" than either descendant. Even the Coptic versions agree with the "Byzantine" text as often as not.

"Orphan children"

The study and conclusions of Lake, Blake, and New, already discussed in a prior section, are of special interest here. They looked for evidence of direct genealogy and found virtually none. I repeat their conclusion.

. . . the manuscripts which we have are almost all orphan children without brothers or sisters.

Taking this fact into consideration along with the negative result of our collation of MSS at Sinai, Patmos, and Jerusalem, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the scribes usually destroyed their exemplars when they had copied the sacred books.[31]​

Is it unreasonable to suppose that once an old MS became tattered and almost illegible in spots the faithful would make an exact copy of it and then destroy it, rather than allowing it to suffer the indignity of literally rotting away? What would such a practice do to our chances of finding an early "Byzantine" MS? Anyone who objects to this conclusion must still account for the fact that in three ancient monastic libraries equipped with scriptoria (rooms designed to facilitate the faithful copying of MSS), there are only "orphan children." Why are there no parents?!​

To read further in Pickering’s study, go to: Chapter 6. Starting at the section, “Why are there no early Byzantine MSS?”

Robinson and Pierpont also discuss this in the Introduction to their edition of the Byzantine NT: Introduction to Robinson & Pierpont. Scroll down to the section “The Allegation of No Early Byzantine Manuscripts” (p. xxvi in hardcopy book).

I realize this entails a little bit of reading, but for serious inquirers it will be nothing.
Yes! What Steve said!:popcorn:
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
Steve,

You did answer part of my later post when i asked...
Would it be a fair argument to say that there was a system of copying over manuscripts in which the old were destroyed after the copy was made? I've heard this type of thing with Van Bruggen.

I'm wondering what you feeling is about the other q that i asked in that post...
And speaking of the first 4 centuries would it be fair to say that because the Byzantine history for those centuries is lacking it wouldn't be fair to judge from those centuries? In other words, do we have the right to make judgments on manuscripts without having a full spectrum of the history?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Larry,

you asked,

And speaking of the first 4 centuries would it be fair to say that because the Byzantine history for those centuries is lacking it wouldn't be fair to judge from those centuries? In other words, do we have the right to make judgments on manuscripts without having a full spectrum of the history?​

That's a good question. There is a gap in our knowledge -- in the data available -- and folks make different assumptions concerning it. But I would say you are right, it is not sound (a better word to me than "fair") to posit judgments on a text-form during a period in which we have little data on it, especially in light of that text-form blossoming into the vast majority from a certain point on. Hort himself said,

A theoretical presumption indeed remains that a majority of extant documents is more likely to represent a majority of ancestral documents at each stage of transmission than vice versa. (Vol 2, p. 45, of his Intro accompanying the edition of his Greek NT)​

But what he gave with one hand he took away with the other, asserting an abnormality in the transmission of the text -- the alleged Antiochian recension -- which evidently existed only in his imagination, no historical proofs ever coming to light.

If you consider the arguments of both Pickering and Robinson (noted in a previous post) you can see how they deal with this period of time. Jakob Van Bruggen, in his book, The Ancient Text of the New Testament also discusses it.
 
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