Western Text-Type of Greek New Testament Manuscripts

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

The Western text-type is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts. It is the predominant form of the New Testament text witnessed in the Old Latin and Peshitta translations from Greek, and also in quotations from certain 2nd and 3rd-century Christian writers, including Cyprian, Tertullian, and Irenaeus. The Western text had many characteristic features, which appeared in the text of the Gospels, Book of Acts, and Pauline epistles. The Catholic epistles and the Book of Revelation probably did not have a Western form of text. It was named “Western” by Semmler (1725–1791), having originated in early centers of Christianity in the Western Roman Empire.

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

Description

The main characteristic of the Western text is a love of paraphrase: “Words and even clauses are changed, omitted, and inserted with surprising freedom, wherever it seemed that the meaning could be brought out with greater force and definiteness.” One possible source of glossing is the desire to harmonize and to complete: “More peculiar to the Western text is the readiness to adopt alterations or additions from sources extraneous to the books which ultimately became canonical.” This text type often presents longer variants of text, but in a few places, including the end of the Gospel of Luke, it has shorter variants, named Western non-interpolations.

Only one Greek Uncial manuscript is considered to transmit a Western text for the four Gospels and the Book of Acts, the fifth-century Codex Bezae; the sixth century Codex Claromontanus is considered to transmit a Western text for the letters of Saint Paul and is followed by two ninth-century Uncials: F and G. Many “Western” readings are also found in the Old Syriac translations of the Gospels, the Sinaitic, and the Curetonian, though opinions vary as to whether these versions can be considered witnesses to the Western text-type. A number of fragmentary early papyri from Egypt also have Western readings, P29, P38, P48; and in addition, Codex Sinaiticus is considered by some to be Western in the first eight chapters of John. The term “Western” is a bit of a misnomer because members of the Western text-type have been found in the Christian East, including Syria.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

Bruce M. Metzger writes,

The so-called Western text, which was widely current in Italy and Gaul as well as in North Africa and elsewhere (including Egypt), can also be traced back to the second century. It was used by Marcion, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian. Its presence in Egypt is shown by the testimony of 𝔓38 (about a.d. 300) and 𝔓48 (about the end of the third century). The most important Greek manuscripts that present a Western type of text are Codex Bezae (D) of the fifth century (containing the Gospels and Acts), Codex Claromontanus (D) of the sixth century (containing the Pauline epistles), and, for Mark 1:1 to 5:30, codex Washingtonianus (W) of the fifth century. Likewise, the Old Latin versions are noteworthy witnesses to a Western type of text; these fall into three main groups, the African, Italian, and Hispanic forms of Old Latin texts.

The chief characteristic of Western readings is fondness for paraphrase. Words, clauses, and even whole sentences are freely changed, omitted, or inserted. Sometimes the motive appears to have been harmonization, while at other times it was the enrichment of the narrative by the inclusion of traditional or apocryphal material. Some readings involve quite trivial alterations for which no special reason can be assigned. One of the puzzling features of the Western text (which generally is longer than the other forms of text) is that at the end of Luke and in a few other places in the New Testament certain Western witnesses omit words and passages that are present in other forms of text, including the Alexandrian. Although at the close of the last century certain scholars were disposed to regard these shorter readings as original (Westcott and Hort called them “Western non-interpolations”), since the acquisition of the Bodmer Papyri many scholars today are inclined to regard them as aberrant readings (see the Note on Western Non-Interpolations, pp. 164–166).

In the book of Acts, the problems raised by the Western text become most acute, for the Western text of Acts is nearly ten percent longer than the form that is commonly regarded to be the original text of that book. For this reason, the present volume devotes proportionately more space to variant readings in Acts than to those in any other New Testament book, and a special Introduction to the textual phenomena in Acts is provided (see pp. 222–236).[1]

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

Witnesses

Sign Name Date Content
P37 Papyrus 37 ca. 300 fragment of Matt 26
P38 Papyrus Michigan c. 300 fragment of Acts
P48 Papyrus 48 3rd fragment of Acts 23
P69 Oxyrhynchus XXIV 3rd fragment of Luke 22
0171 4th fragments Matt and Luke
(01) ﬡ {Codex Sinaiticus} 4th John 1:1–8:38
Dea (05) Codex Bezae c. 400 Gospels and Acts
W (032) Codex Washingtonianus 5th Mark 1:1–5:30
Dp (06) Codex Claromontanus 6th Acts, CE, and Pauline Epistles
Fp (010) Codex Augiensis 9th Pauline Epistles
Gp (012) Codex Boernerianus 9th Pauline Epistles

Other manuscripts: P25, P29 (?), P41, 066, 0177, 36, 88, 181 (Pauline epistles), 255, 257, 338, 383 (Acts), 440 (Acts), 614 (Acts), 913, 915, 917, 1108, 1245, 1518, 1611, 1836, 1874, 1898, 1912, 2138, 2298, 2412 (Acts).

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2

Compared to the Byzantine text-type distinctive Western readings in the Gospels are more likely to be abrupt in their Greek expression. Compared to the Alexandrian text-type distinctive Western readings in the Gospels are more likely to display glosses, additional details, and instances where the original passages appear to be replaced with longer paraphrases. In distinction from both Alexandrian and Byzantine texts, the Western text-type consistently omits a series of eight short phrases from verses in the Gospel of Luke; the so-called Western non-interpolations. In at least two Western texts, the Gospels appear in a variant order: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark. The Western text of the Epistles of Paul – as witnessed in the Codex Claromontanus and uncials F and G – does not share the periphrastic tendencies of the Western text in the Gospels and Acts, and it is not clear whether they should be considered to share a single text-type.

Although the Western text-type survives in relatively few witnesses, some of these are as early as the earliest witnesses to the Alexandrian text-type. Nevertheless, the majority of text critics consider the Western text in the Gospels to be characterized by periphrasis and expansion; and accordingly, tend to prefer the Alexandrian readings. In the letters of St Paul, the counterpart Western text is more restrained, and a number of text critics regard it as the most reliable witness to the original.

Textual Variants

Mark 13:2

  • και μετα τριων ημερων αλλος αναστησεται ανευ χειρων — D W it (“and in three days another will be raised without hands”)

Mark 13:33

  • omitted phrase και προσευχεσυε (and pray) by codices B, D, a, c, k

Mark 15:34 (see Ps 22:2)

  • ὠνείδισάς με (insult me) — D, itc, (i), k, syrh
  • ἐγκατέλιπές με (forsaken me) — Alexandrian mss
  • με ἐγκατέλιπες (see Mt 27:46) — Byzantine mss

John 1:4

  • ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἐστίν (in him is life) — Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Bezae and majority of Vetus Latina manuscripts and Sahidic manuscripts.
  • ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ᾓν (in him was life) — this variant is supported by mss of the Alexandrian, Byzantine and Caesarean texts

John 1:30:

  • ὑπὲρ — p5, p66, p75, Sinaiticus*, Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209, C*, WS
  • περι — Sinaiticus2, A, C3, L, Θ, Ψ, 063, 0101, f1f13, Byz

John 1:34

  • ὁ ἐκλεκτός — p5, Sinaiticus, itb,e,ff2, syrc,s
  • ὁ ἐκλεκτός ὑιος — ita, ff2c, syrpalmss, copsa
  • ὁ ὑιος — mss of the Alexandrian, Byzantine and Caesarean texts

John 3:15

  • ἐν αὐτῷ — p75, B, WS, 083, 0113
  • ἐπ’ αὐτῷ — p63, A
  • εἰς αὐτον — p63, Sinaiticus, A, Koridethi, Athous Lavrensis, 063, 086, f1f13, Byz

John 7:8

  • εγω ουκ αναβαινω εις την εορτην ταυτην — Sinaiticus, Bezae, Cyprius, Petropolitanus, 1071, 1079, 1241, 1242, 1546
  • εγω ουπω αναβαινω εις την εορτην ταυτην — Papyrus 66, Papyrus 75, Vaticanus, Regius, Borgianus, Washingtonianus, Monacensis, Sangallensis, Koridethi, Athous Lavrensis, Uncial 0105, 0180, 0250, f1f13, 28, 700, 892, 1010, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1253, 1344, 1365, 1646, 2148, mss of Byz.

Romans 12:11

  • it reads καιρω for κυριω, – Codex Claromontanus*, Codex Augiensis, Codex Boernerianus 5 it d,g, Origenlat.

1 Corinthians 7:5

  • τη προσευχη (prayer) – P11, P46, א*, A, B, C, D, F, G, P, Ψ, 6, 33, 81, 104, 181, 629, 630, 1739, 1877, 1881, 1962, it vg, cop, arm, eth
  • τη νηστεια και τη προσευχη (fasting and prayer) – אc, K, L, 88, 326, 436, 614, 1241, 1984, 1985, 2127, 2492, 2495, Byz, Lect, syrp,h, goth
  • τη προσευχη και νηστεια (prayer and fasting) – 330, 451, John of Damascus
Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

See Also

The article is from Wikipedia but has been updated and will be updated even more so by Edward D. Andrews for Christian Publishing House.

[1] Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), xix–xxi.

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