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The Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism


It would have to be considered an independent text-type which simply hasn't endured
as well as the Alexandrian. But, given the size of the sample, it is quite possible that if
we gathered a truly large sample, we might ?nd the Byzantine text equalling or
surpassing the Alexandrian.
We should also note the presence of eight readings where the Byzantine text stands
alone. This is a strong indication that the Byzantine text is not simply a combination of
Alexandrian and Western (or even Alexandrian, Cæsarean, and Western) readings. It is
either independent of the other three, or it includes contributions from some other
unidenti?ed (“proto-Byzantine”?) text-type.
As an alternative to the above procedure, we might look for variants where one reading
is clearly, obviously, and undeniably easier than the other. Examples of this would be
readings such as Mark 1:2 (Byz add/Alex omit ?sa?a) and James 5:7 (Byz add/Alex
omit ?et??). Such readings, however, are very rare. (Readings where internal evidence
favours a particular reading are not rare, but absolutely decisive cases such as the two
listed above are highly unusual.) But not all such readings favour the Alexandrian text;
consider 1 Corinthians 13:3, where only the Byzantine reading ?a???s?µa? can be
said to explain the others (since, if it were original, it would invite the two other readings;
if either of the other readings were original, there would be no reason for a variant to
arise). That being the case, we must ?nd all such readings, which is probably not
practical.
Summary and author’s expression of opinion:
When I started this article, I expected the Byzantine text to come off as clearly and
signi?cantly inferior to the other text-types. I was wrong. While I believe additional tests
are needed, I cannot help but suspect that Hort was in error, and the Byzantine text has
independent value. This does not make me a believer in Byzantine priority, but I am
tempted toward a “Sturzian” position, in which the Byzantine text becomes one of the
constellation of text-types which must be examined to understand a reading.
The basic dif?culty, and the reason this issue remains unresolved, is the matter of
pattern. It is not suf?cient to do as Sturz did and show that some Byzantine readings are
early; this does not mean that the type as a whole is early. But it is equally invalid to do
as Hort did and claim, because some Byzantine readings are late, that the type as a
whole is late. The only way to demonstrate the matter as a whole is to examine the
Byzantine text as a whole. One must either subject all the readings in a particular
passage to the test, or one must use a statistically signi?cant sample of randomly
selected readings. It is not suf?cient to use readings which, in some manner, bring
themselves forward (e.g. by having the support of a papyrus). It's like taking a political
The Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism
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