IS THE BYZANTINE TEXT THE RESULT OF “A LONG PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT AND STANDARDIZATION”? An Examination of Klaus Wachtel’s Text Critical Model

IS THE BYZANTINE TEXT THE RESULT OF “A LONG PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT AND STANDARDIZATION”? An Examination of Klaus Wachtel’s Text Critical Model

© 2018, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

[N.B. READ THE FOOTNOTES, FOLKS.  THEY ARE IMPORTANT!]

Westcott and Hort’s “dethroning” of the Byzantine text as the original text of the New Testament in favour of the text compiled from a handful of Alexandrian manuscripts required an explanation of the origin and dominance of the Byzantine text, which is the form of the text found in about 90-95% of the extant Greek NT manuscripts.  For a long time, that explanation was that the Byzantine text was a recension (i.e. a deliberately edited and altered version of the original New Testament) made in the 4th century AD, ascribed to one Lucian of Antioch.[1]  Despite a dearth of actual evidence for such a happening, this remained the party line of mainstream textual criticism for more than a century.

According to Peter Gurry, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Phoenix Seminary, however, this view is now passé; he vouchsafes that

I know of no text critic today who would argue that the Byzantine text as we find it promulgated in the minuscules is the result of a concerted fourth-century recension … No major textual critic, to my knowledge, holds to Westcott and Hort’s fourth-century revision view anymore though it may well linger among those in the wider NT guild.[2]

If Gurry is correct and “major” textual critics has moved on from the long-time party line, it is well past time that it did so.  The claim of a Lucianic recension was a scam from the beginning, being unsupported by any genuine evidence.[3]

But if this long-time party line is abandoned, what are we to do about the Byzantine text?  According to Gurry,

The most serious work on the Byzantine text’s development has been done by Klaus Wachtel, especially in his 1995 dissertation.[4]

Gurry seems quite enthused about Wachtel’s model, saying,

I myself have found this view persuasive at least as far as the Catholic Letters are concerned … it is the most detailed and substantiated view of the Byzantine text’s origin on offer.

He goes on to aver that

Byzantine prioritists (of whatever stripe) need to address Wachtel’s arguments not Westcott and Hort’s.

If Gurry’s enthusiasm for Wachtel’s work is merited, it must indeed be considered carefully.  Let us see whether Wachtel has found a new way forward on the matter of the Byzantine text.

The Wachtel Model

Klaus Wachtel details his model in “The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process?”, a “paper prepared for the NTTC session 23-327 at SBL 2009” and delivered there.[5]

He argues that there was no recension done that created the Byzantine text, by Lucian or anyone else;[6] that doesn’t mean, however, that no “recensional activity” was involved.  According to Wachtel, this recensional activity was a process, unfolding across centuries; the current Byzantine text

has its headwaters in pre-Byzantine times, in fact in the very first phase of our manuscript tradition, and it underwent a long process of development and standardization. The final phase began with the introduction of the minuscule script in the 9th century and ended up in a largely uniform text characterized by readings attested by the majority of all Greek manuscripts from the 13th – 15th centuries counted by hundreds and thousands.[7]

Wachtel claims that Codex Alexandrinus, a manuscript of the New Testament that dates to the early 5th century AD and in which the Gospel books are Byzantine text, clearly must have been edited:

Standardization means editorial activity, and in fact, a text form so similar to the late majority text as represented by Codex Alexandrinus cannot have emerged from a linear copying process without conscious editing. It is indeed likely that the text in Codex Alexandrinus is the result of editorial activity which may have been carried out in one or, more likely, several steps.[8]

Wachtel concludes that

The Byzantine text as found in the majority of Greek manuscripts from the 13th to the 15th century is the result of a process starting together with the manuscript tradition itself. Although this process was advanced by editorial activity, it was not steered and controlled by a central institution like the Patriarchate of Constantinople. A marked feature of the process before the 9th century is movement towards the stage found in late Byzantine manuscripts, but the development was not homogeneous and consistent.[9]

Wachtel provides several tables of data to back up these claims, the first showing what he calls “Characteristic later additions to the NT text,” the second showing “Parallel Pericopes: Comparison of manuscripts with large shares of majority readings,” and the third showing, “Parallel Pericopes: Proportion of majority readings (in descending order).”  It is this last one that Wachtel describes as “fresh evidence,[10] and it is this that Gurry says that “Byzantine prioritists (of whatever stripe) need to address.[11]

Analysis: Initial Observations

Whether Wachtel has provided a valid new model of Byzantine text origins depends, of course, on the evidence he offers, and we shall consider that presently.  Prior to that, however, a couple of observations must be made.

First, Wachtel has not, in fact, offered a genuinely new model of Byzantine origins; he has not examined the evidence from ground up but continues to accept without apparent question the idea that the Byzantine text does not represent the original text of the New Testament but is a later, edited version, which is the quintessence of the old model.

That Wachtel does this is evident in a number of ways.  His first table of evidence is “Characteristic later additions to the NT text,” in which he considered the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20, John 7:53-8:11, and Luke 22:43-44 to be examples of passages added to the text by recensional activity.  In fact, all three passages are part of the original NT text,[12] but Wachtel seems to discount that possibility out of hand.

Furthermore, Wachtel “reconstructs” a non-existent manuscript that he dubs 01Ca, which he dates to the “V-VII” centuries and describes as “one text form preserved in Codex Sinaiticus, reconstructed from the middle layer of its many corrections” and avows that

the text resulting from this revision can and should be treated as a stand-alone witness that deserves as much respect as the codex itself.[13]

He claims that

the diverse layers of correction in Codex Sinaiticus give us a clue as to what editorial activity looked like in the fifth-seventh centuries.[14]

Yet, this is simply an assumption; it could just as well have been an attempt to correct a corrupt manuscript back to the original, correct readings.

In addition, Wachtel’s statement we cited earlier that “a text form so similar to the late majority text as represented by Codex Alexandrinus cannot have emerged from a linear copying process without conscious editing[15] is senseless; since scribes were trying to reproduce the text precisely through the generations, a great similarity in the text between earlier and much later manuscripts is exactly what we should see,[16] and it is impossible to discern how Wachtel thinks such a similarity demonstrates that conscious editing took place.  Regardless of how he came up with that idea, it is nonsense.

In sum, then, it is clear that Wachtel has not offered a new model for the origin of the Byzantine text.  He continues to adhere to the mainstream party line that the Byzantine text is a later text created by recension.  All he has offered is a new model for how that recension took place.

 In fact, all of this is very much like a reverse mirror image of what took place in the field of evolutionary biology, viz. the proposal of “punctuated equilibrium.”

  • Darwin posited the evolution took place by gradualism. The evidence he required to prove this, fossils of genuine transitional forms, was not there, but he believed it would inevitably be found.
  • Textual critics posited that the Byzantine text was created by a “point event,” the Lucianic recension in the 4th century AD.
  • After more than a century of searching and the discovery of billions of fossils, it became clear that the evidence Darwinism needed would never be found.
  • Despite the best efforts of scholars such as Metzger, it eventually became clear that the claim of a Lucianic recension could not be maintained on an evidentiary basis.
  • In 1972, Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge proposed a new model for evolution, substituting “point events” for gradualism; most of the history of the Earth was characterized by stasis (“equilibrium”) in species, which was “punctuated” by brief periods during which most of the actual evolution book place. Thus, evolution took place during a series of “point events.”[17]
  • In 1995, Klaus Wachtel proposed a new model for the origin of the Byzantine text, substituting gradualism for a point event; instead of a one-time recension, the Byzantine text came about by a lengthy process of recensional activity.
  • The punctuated equilibrium model was not supported by actual evidence; it was a ad hoc proposal to explain the lack of evidence for the claims of evolutionary biology.
  • ?

So here is the question: Does Wachtel give good and sufficient evidence for his model?  It is to this we now turn our attention.

Analysis: Assessing Wachtel’s Data

Wachtel’s “fresh evidence” is based on an analysis of collations of certain synoptic pericopes (i.e. brief sections of text each constituting one story or idea) in 154 manuscripts, as done by a research project provisionally known as “Parallel Pericopes.[18]  He explains this thus:

38 synoptic pericopes in 154 manuscripts were collated in full. The selection includes all 46 manuscripts differing from the majority text at least at 15% of the test passages of two Synoptic Gospels. The other end of the scale is represented by 29 manuscripts differing from the majority text at less than 5% of the test passages of two Synoptic Gospels. Then there are 75 manuscripts from between these extremes, differing from the majority text at 15-5% of the test passages of two Synoptic Gospels.

The results of these collations are now stored in a database ready for evaluation. In this table I ordered the manuscripts according to their proportion of majority readings in our parallel periscopes.[19]

In his table, Wachtel lists the “running number of entries, …. GA number, …. [and] Percentages and absolute numbers of majority readings relating to the number of relevant variant passages covered by the respective witness.[20]  The following is a reproduction of the first ten entries in Wachtel’s table:

RNGA NumberMajority Readings
  1 134198.9%  (1359/1374)
  2    1898.8%  (1362/1378)
  3      398.8%  (1362/1378)
  4    3598.8%  (1361/1378)
  5129698.8%  (1361/1378)
  6133998.6%  (1359/1378)
  7111098.4%  (1355/1377)
  8  03198.4%  (1322/1344)
  9132898.3%  (1346/1369)
10  15098.2%  (1351/1376)

 

The following is a table for Wachtel’s entries #30-41:

RNGA NumberMajority Readings
 30133694.9%  (1303/1371)
 31  23394.9%  (1300/1370)
 32134694.8%  (1298/1369)
 33133894.8%  (1246/1315)
 34237294.7%  (1279/1350)
 35  79194.7%  (1300/1373)
 36254694.7%  (1280/1351)
 37  04194.6%  (1235/1306)
 38123094.5%  (1300/1375)
 39  03394.4%  (992/1051)
 40  17494.2%  (1288/1368)
 41160294.0%  (1287/1369)

 

The following is a table for Wachtel’s entries #60-70:

RNGA NumberMajority Readings
 60160492.8%  (1271/1370)
 61273792.7%  (1278/1378)
 62    3192.6%    (802/866)
 63    1692.6%  (1274/1376)
 64  85192.6%  (1258/1359)
 65  13192.5%  (1273/1376)
 66    0292.4%  (878/950)
 67  73592.4%  (697/754)
 68169292.2%  (1270/1377)
 69145792.2%  (1271/1378)
 70  37292.1%  (1269/1378)

 

The following is a table for Wachtel’s entries #80-90:

RNGA NumberMajority Readings
 80  02291.4%  (636/696)
 81    6191.4%  (1259/1377)
 82127391.3%  (1248/1367)
 83157991.3%  (1252/1371)
 84  19191.2%  (1255/1376)
 85  04291.2%  (885/970)
 86  11891.2%  (1130/1239)
 87  22291.2%  (1183/1297)
 88278691.2%  (1222/1340)
 89  82991.1%  (1038/1140)
 90272691.0%  (1254/1378)

 

The following is a table for Wachtel’s entries #148-153:

RNGA NumberMajority Readings
148  79282.4%  (1120/1360)
149  03882.2%  (1106/1345)
150  01Ca82.0%  (1127/1375)
151  01981.5%  (1057/1297)
152    0381.1%  (1117/1377)
153  57980.7%  (1038/1286)

Now, what does Wachtel do with this data?  He focuses on five manuscripts: Codex 02 (Codex Alexandrinus, 5th century); Codices 022 and 042 (Codex Purpureus et Petropolitanus and Codex Purpureus Rossanensis, 6th century);[21] 01Ca (5th-7th century);[22] Codex 041 (9th century), and Codex 18 (14th century).[23]  (These are highlighted in our excerpts from Wachtel’s table).  Wachtel highlights the fact that with Codex 18, from the 14th century, “we have reached the Byzantine text in its purest form, although you see that it does not represent the majority text at a 100%.[24]  Its agreement with the majority text is actually 98.8%.  Codex 041, from the 9th century, agrees with the majority text in 94.6% of the cases, and Codex Alexandrinus, from the 5th century, in 92.4% of the cases.  For Codices 022 and 042, from the 6th century, Wachtel does not in his explanation list the amount of agreement they show with the majority text.  (From his table, it is 91.4% and 91.2% respectively, which calls into question Wachtel’s treatment of these as one manuscript textually.)  Finally, his invented manuscript, 01Ca from the 5th-7th century, shows an agreement with the majority text of 82%.[25]

This, then, is the basis for Wachtel’s claim that the Byzantine text is a secondary text that came about though a long period of recensional activity.  We are bound to ask how.  How does this data support Wachtel’s claim?

Now, remember that according to Wachtel’s model, the Byzantine text “has its headwaters in pre-Byzantine times … it underwent a long process of development and standardization … and [it] ended up in a largely uniform text characterized by readings attested by the majority of all Greek manuscripts from the 13th – 15th centuries[26]  How does Wachtel’s data show that?  The answer is that it does not.  If Wachtel’s model is correct, we should see an inverse correlation between the age of the manuscripts and their agreement with the majority text; in other words, as we move forward in time, the manuscripts should be showing increasing agreement with the majority text.

Yet even in the very limited selection of data Wachtel made from what was available to him, we do not see that!  Out of only five data points, the 5th-century 02 shows greater agreement with the majority text than does the 6th-century 022/042 and the 5-7th-century reconstructed 01Ca.[27]  So how can this possibly prove, or even support, Wachtel’s model?  It cannot.  It does not.  How anyone became convinced of Wachtel’s model is a riddle for the ages.

What it does show is a complete ignorance of proper data handling.  Let us look at the data in the light of such proper methods and see what we see.

First, let us return to Wachtel’s table of data and ask what it shows.  The astute will realize that all it shows is the ability of a person to arrange manuscripts in descending order of agreement with the majority text.  Other than that trivial fact, nothing can be gleaned from the data as it stands.  Wachtel has omitted the crucial fact, which is the dates of the manuscripts in the table.  To show the sort of increasing “standardization” of the Byzantine text through time that his model calls for, that data is sine qua non, and it is a wonder that neither Wachtel nor his examiners nor those enthused with his model caught that.

Let us present those tables again, but this time let us add the dates of the manuscripts:

RNGA NumberMajority ReadingsCentury
  1 134198.9%  (1359/1374)12/13
  2    1898.8%  (1362/1378)     14
  3      398.8%  (1362/1378)     12
  4    3598.8%  (1361/1378)     11
  5129698.8%  (1361/1378)     13
  6133998.6%  (1359/1378)     13
  7111098.4%  (1355/1377)     14
  8  03198.4%  (1322/1344)       9
  9132898.3%  (1346/1369)     14
10  15098.2%  (1351/1376)     11

 

The following is a table for Wachtel’s entries #30-41:

RNGA NumberMajority ReadingsCentury
 30133694.9%  (1303/1371)     14
 31  23394.9%  (1300/1370)     13
 32134694.8%  (1298/1369)10/11
 33133894.8%  (1246/1315)     12
 34237294.7%  (1279/1350)     13
 35  79194.7%  (1300/1373)     12
 36254694.7%  (1280/1351)     12
 37  04194.6%  (1235/1306)       9
 38123094.5%  (1300/1375)     12
 39  03394.4%  (992/1051) 9/10
 40  17494.2%  (1288/1368)     11
 41160294.0%  (1287/1369)     14

 

The following is a table for Wachtel’s entries #60-70:

RNGA NumberMajority ReadingsCentury
 60160492.8%  (1271/1370)     13
 61273792.7%  (1278/1378)     16
 62    3192.6%    (802/866)     13
 63    1692.6%  (1274/1376)     14
 64  85192.6%  (1258/1359)12-14
 65  13192.5%  (1273/1376)     12
 66    0292.4%  (878/950)       5
 67  73592.4%  (697/754)     15
 68169292.2%  (1270/1377)     12
 69145792.2%  (1271/1378)12/13
 70  37292.1%  (1269/1378)     16

 

The following is a table for Wachtel’s entries #80-90:

RNGA NumberMajority ReadingsCentury
 80  02291.4%  (636/696)      6
 81    6191.4%  (1259/1377)    16
 82127391.3%  (1248/1367)    12
 83157991.3%  (1252/1371)    11
 84  19191.2%  (1255/1376)    12
 85  04291.2%  (885/970)      6
 86  11891.2%  (1130/1239)    13
 87  22291.2%  (1183/1297)    14
 88278691.2%  (1222/1340)    14
 89  82991.1%  (1038/1140)    12
 90272691.0%  (1254/1378)    13

 

The following is a table for Wachtel’s entries #148-153:

RNGA NumberMajority ReadingsCentury
148  79282.4%  (1120/1360)     13
149  03882.2%  (1106/1345)       9
150  01Ca82.0%  (1127/1375)   5-7
151  01981.5%  (1057/1297)      8
152    0381.1%  (1117/1377)      4
153  57980.7%  (1038/1286)    13

What we see here is fascinating; there is no correlation between the dates of the manuscripts and their agreement with the majority text.  The results are all over the map.  In the first group, with the highest agreement, we see manuscripts ranging from the 9th century to the 14th century.  In the third group, with lower agreement, we see 16th-century manuscripts.  The 5th-century 02 has a greater agreement with the majority text than does the 15th-century Codex 735 or the 16th-century Codex 372.  And 02, as well as the 6th-century 022, have greater agreement with the majority text than does the 16th-century Codex 61.  Even a cursory examination of the evidence shows that Wachtel’s model cannot possibly be correct.  This certainly lends support to my inclination to think that people who want to do textual criticism really do need to be trained in how to do scientific data handling.

How should this data be analyzed?  Instead of cherry-picking five data points out of the 154 available, they should all be used.  The manuscripts should be grouped by century, the average percent agreement with the majority text calculated for each century, and then the percent agreement plotted against century.  This way, the trend with respect to time will be clearly visible and the results unequivocal.  So let us do that.

Here are the results:

CENTURYAGREEMENT WITH MT# OF DATA POINTS
       5th     92.4%         1
       6th     92.5%         4
       7th     91.6%         1
       8th     90.7%         4
       9th     92.6%       16
  9/10th     90.0%         2
     10th     93.8%         6
10/11th     94.8%         1
     11th     92.9%       14
11/12th     89.6%         1
     12th     91.0%       30
12/13th     93.1%         5
12-14th     92.6%         1
     13th     89.3%       26
13/14th     93.4%         2
     14th     92.5%       19
     15th     90.1%       10
     16th     92.0%         4

The results are plotted below:

As is crystal clear, there is no upward trend in agreement with the majority text as the centuries pass.  There is no greater agreement with the majority text in the 16th century than in the 5th century.  (The agreement in the 6th century is actually slightly higher than in the 15th!)  The agreement is essentially unchanged throughout the centuries; there is no “standardization” whatsoever.

Below, these results are shown greatly magnified:

Again, we see that there is no upward trend; the agreement from one century to the next may go up or down, though the change is not large.  The average agreement is 91.9%, with deviation from this average of between +3.1% and -2.9%.

If we eliminate the centuries for which have only one or two data points, the following results:

Here, too, we see an essentially unchanging relationship in the percentage agreement with the majority text with respect to time.  The average agreement remains 91.9%, but the deviation from this average is even smaller: +2.1% and -2.8%.

The data, then is clear and unequivocal; there was no “a long process of development and standardization” that resulted in the final form of the Byzantine text.  On the contrary, the text has been stable and unchanging as far back as we can trace it in the historical record, which is the exact opposite of what Wachtel posited.  Wachtel’s model is completely wrong; there can be no doubt about it.

Conclusion

Now that mainstream textual critics have faced the fact that their long-touted Lucianic recension is bogus, they require a new model to explain the origin of the Byzantine text.  One could, of course, accept the reality of the majority text model[28], but since they are unwilling to do that, they require a new model, but there is no abundance of such.

A new one has finally surfaced, propounded by Klaus Wachtel, which proposes that the Byzantine text is the end result of a lengthy process of development via recensional activity.  As we have seen, this has caught the eye of Peter Gurry, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Phoenix Seminary, who avers that

it is the most detailed and substantiated view of the Byzantine text’s origin on offer” and that it “is now cited as such in both the major introductions to the field (Metzger-Ehrman’s, and Parker’s).[29]

Gurry insists that

Byzantine prioritists (of whatever stripe) need to address Wachtel’s arguments not Westcott and Hort’s.[30]

Such enthusiasm is sadly misplaced.  We have examined in detail the actual evidence offered by Wachtel in support of his model, and we have found it does no such thing.  On the contrary, the evidence clearly disproves Wachtel’s model and shows instead that the Byzantine text has been stable and unchanging as far back as it can be traced in the historical record.  No initial recension and no “long process of development and standardization”; mainstream textual criticism is left without a leg on which to stand.


Footnotes

[1] It was not considered certain that Lucian had been responsible, but the Byzantine text was said certainly to have originated as such a late recension..

[2] Gurry, Peter. “Where did the Byzantine text come from?” Posted on May 11, 2018, at Evangelical Textual Criticism.  Available at http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2018/05/where-did-byzantine-text-come-from.html.

[3] Perhaps the most detailed attempt to marshal evidence for the putative Lucianic recension was mounted by Bruce Metzger, in “Lucian and the Lucianic Recension of the Greek Bible” in New Testament Studies 8 (1961-62), pp. 183-203.  For a systematic refutation of his of his arguments, see my master’s dissertation (Ontario Theological Seminary, 1996), pp. 45-49.

[4] Gurry, op.cit.  Dr. Klaus Wachtel is currently Research Assistant at the Institute for New Testament Text Research at the University of Munster.  (See https://biography.omicsonline.org/germany/university-of-munster/dr-klaus-wachtel-8943.)

[5] Gurry, op.cit.  In his post, Gurry helpfully provides a link to this paper by Wachtel.

[6] Wachtel also seems to move away from the concept of text-type (classing manuscripts into one of three or four groups based on the specific variant readings found in it) entirely, saying that “The term ‘text-type’, however, still carries along relics of the old division of the New Testament manuscript tradition into three or four ‘recensions’ If we take the whole evidence into account, a picture emerges that is far more complex … we have to focus on individual manuscripts and explore their relationships with other manuscripts. Assigning them to text-types has become obsolete.” (footnote 7).  If so, that is a good move; Dr. Kurt Aland point out as far back as 1965 that the concept is unsustainable (Aland, Kurt. “The Significance of the Papyri for Progress in New Testament Research,” The Bible in Modern Scholarship. Ed. J.Philip Hyatt. New York: Abingdon Press, 1965, pp. 325-346.

[7] Wachtel, Klaus. “The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process?” Paper prepared for the NTTC session 23-327 at SBL 2009, p. 1.  By “manuscript tradition,” he means the entire history of the written New Tesament from its inception.

[8] ibid., p.2

[9] ibid., pp.7-8

[10] ibid., p.4

[11] Gurry, op.cit

[12] Regarding Mark 16:9-20, see my discussion in Tors, John. “Creation Ministries International and The Three-Headed Monster: Why the Monster Wins” at https://truthinmydays.com/creation-ministries-international-and-the-three-headed-monster-why-the-monster-wins/.  For more details, see Lunn, Nicholas P. The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014.  Regarding John 7:53-8:11, see Tors, John. “A Call for Serious Evangelical Apologetics: The Authenticity of John 7:53-8:11 as a Case Study” at https://truthinmydays.com/a-call-for-serious-evangelical-apologetics-the-authenticity-of-john-753-811-as-a-case-study/.  Luke 22:43-44 is missing from only 1.3% of extant manuscripts (which happen to be Alexandrian), and this is easily explained by accidental omission, which was the most common error that scribes committed.  The earliest evidence we have (citations in Justin Martyr and Irenaeus) include the passage.

[13] Wachtel, op.cit., p. 3

[14] ibid.

[15] ibid., p. 2

[16] By and large, of course.  The occasional careless scribe could make a mess of things and give rise to a small minority of corrupted manuscripts (which is what we see).  Even this would be mitigated to an extent by subsequent cross-correction.

[17] These brief periods were in the order of tens of thousands of years, but this must be considered “point events” in the context of “deep time” (i.e. the supposed 4.6 billion-year history of the Earth).

[18] Wachtel, op.cit., p. 4

[19] ibid.

[20] ibid., p. 5.  The “GA number” is the Gregory-Aland number, a standard cataloguing system for NT manuscripts.

[21] According to Wachtel, these two manuscripts “are so similar that thy may very well be copied from the same exemplar.  Being so closely related, they are treated like one text” in his analysis (ibid., p. 2)

[22] As pointed out before, this is not an actual manuscript, but a reconstruction built out of the “middle layer” of corrections to the 4th-century Codex Sinaiticus (ibid., p. 3)

[23] ibid., pp. 2-3

[24] ibid., p. 5

[25] ibid., pp. 5-6

[26] ibid., p. 1

[27] Wachtel also spends some effort to pair his chosen manuscripts and show how often each agrees with the majority text reading where the other does not, discussing this in ibid. pp. 5-6 and shows the data in a table.  But here, too, there is no increasing standardization with respect to time.

[28] According to the majority text model, the reading found in the majority of manuscripts at any point of variation is considered the original.  For an explanation, see “The Tenth Bite” in Tors, John. “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism (In Manageable, Bite-Sized Chunks” at https://truthinmydays.com/a-primer-on-new-testament-textual-criticism-in-manageable-bite-sized-chunks/.

[29] Gurry, op.cit.

[30] ibid.

Comments: 2

  1. Rick Jones says:

    Very interesting article. A few thoughts. First, I’d like to know which majority text Wachtel used as a standard. Second, I agree with Tors that Wachtel should have examined agreement as a function of time. Third, how did Wachtel choose his manuscripts? Why were there 154? Fourth, why does Tors include only 147 of the 154 in the table that shows agreement by century?

    • John Tors says:

      Thank you for your interest in this article, and for your astute questions.

      Regarding which majority text Wachtel uses, he does not specify in his English-language article. As far as I know there are only two possibilities, the Hodges-Farstad edition and the Robinson-Pierpont edition. Since these differ in only forty-five place in the Synoptic Gospel books (from which all of Wachtel’s test passages are taken), the difference is only some 0.09%, far too small to affect our results.

      Regarding how Wachtel chose his manuscripts, he worked on the “Parallel Pericopes” project for the INTF in Münster. For this project, thirty-eight synoptic pericopes in 154 manuscripts were collated in full, so this data was already ready at hand for him. It should be noted that the manuscripts are stratified by data and the number is well above what is needed for statistical significance, so our results should not change materially if other manuscripts were chosen.

      Why are only 147 of the 154 manuscripts included? The purpose was to look at the development of the Byzantine text and so only Byzantine manuscripts should be included. Of the 154 manuscripts in Wachtel’s list, five were Alexandrian (33, 019, 03, 01, P45) and one Western (05), and these were therefore excluded. Codex Washingtonianus (032) is only partly Byzantine in the Synoptic Gospel books (specifically Matthew and Luke 8:13-24:25). So it, too, was excluded, leaving 147 manuscripts of the 154 to be used, which is still well above the number needed for statistical significance.

      I hope this helps.

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