What is the original reading: (1) “you may devote yourselves to prayer” or the longer (2) “you may devote yourselves to fasting and to prayer”?
What is the original reading: (1) “This kind does not come out except by prayer” or the longer (2) “This kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting”?
The reading απεστερημενος (“having been withheld by fraud”) or αφυστερημενος (“having been withheld”) is a bit of a hand ringer because of the split evidence.
Because there are so many individual manuscripts, textual critics are hard-pressed to know the individual characteristics of each manuscript. Consequently, many textual critics categorize the manuscripts into text-types, which they then use in their evaluation of textual variants.
Kurt Aland (1979, 43) favors a type of textual criticism that he calls the local-genealogical method. He defines it as follows:
It is my opinion that scribal gap-filling accounts for many of the textual variants (especially textual expansions) in the New Testament—particularly in the narrative books (the Four Gospels and Acts). What is scribal gap-filling?
Confronted by a mass of conflicting readings, editors must decide which variants deserve to be included in the text and which should be relegated to the apparatus. Although at first, it may seem to be a hopeless task amid so many thousands of variant readings to sort out those that should be regarded as original, textual scholars have developed certain generally acknowledged criteria of evaluation.
In the earliest days of the Christian church, after an apostolic letter was sent to a congregation or an individual, or after a gospel was written to meet the needs of a particular reading public, copies would be made in order to extend its influence and to enable others to profit from it as well. It was inevitable that such handwritten copies would contain a greater or lesser number of differences in wording from the original.