There is so much to unravel in Hort's use of "distinctively Syrian" readings. Some interesting writings are on the textual forums.

Quote Originally Posted by textual critic poster
As someone whom has surveyed all the pre 300CE papyri, I would absolutely love for you to show me where you think the papyri 'frequently' agree with the majority-text as opposed to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
Now that is a fair question, maybe you can redeem your tude.

Harry Sturz (1916-1989) in The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism, 1984, found "150 distinctively Byzantine readings" in the papyri, years back.

Harry Sturz discusses these "distinctively Byzantine" readings in his book, The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism.... undermined the confident appraisal that characteristically Syrian [Byzantine] readings are necessarily late" (p.55). The most important of these discoveries was several Egyptian papyri. Sturz lists "150 distinctively Byzantine readings" found in these papyri. Included in his list are papyri numbers 13, 45, 46, 47, 49, 59, 66, 72, 74, and 75 (pp.61, 145-159).

The Majority Text vs.The Critical Text
Gary Zeolla
The numbers now should be much higher, allowing that Hort did play a shell game with the term "distinctively Byzantine", which I discussed separately on the textual criticism forum.

Wilbur Pickering gives more detail and says about this:

The magnitude of this vindication can be more fully appreciated by recalling that only about 30 percent of the New Testament has early papyrus attestation, and much of that 30 percent has only one papyrus. Where more than one covers a stretch of text, each new MS discovered vindicates added Byzantine readings. Extrapolating from the behavior of those in hand, if we had at least 3 papyri covering all parts of the New Testament, almost all the 6000+ Byzantine readings rejected by the critical (eclectic) texts would be vindicated by an early papyrus.

Identity of the New Testament Text
Wilbur Pickering
While "almost all" might be an overstatement, the basic point is 100% valid.

This is directly from Sturz.

The Byzantine Text-Type and New Testament Textual Criticism

Distinctively Byzantine Readings Are Found In Early Papyri - chapter, p. 55

List I (see pp. 145-159) displays some 150 distinctively Byzantine readings now found to have early Egyptian papyri supporting them. Distinctively Byzantine readings are readings which are supported by the bulk of the later manuscripts but which at the same time are opposed (or not supported) by the principle manuscripts and witnesses to the Alexandrian and Western text. It may be recalled that WH considered such “Distinctive Readings” a special proof of the
editing and consequent lateness of the Syrian text (pp. 27-28 above). p. 61-62
A book Translations and the Greek Text by Leland M. Haines goes into the attempt by Gordon Fee (book review, Journal of the Evangelical Society, Vol. 28, pp. 239-242, June 1985.) to lessen the results from the Sturz study. And also quotes from the Willem Franciscus Wisselink book Assimilation as a Criterion for the Establishment of the Text, 1989, pp. 33-34 which does a superb job in response to Fee.

Authority of Scripture (2000)
Ch. 6 - Translations and the Greek Text

Leland M. Haines Sturz makes seven points to support this conclusion. They are summarized below.

  1. Papyrus-supported longer Byzantine readings show their early age. The Byzantine text also has readings shorter than the Alexandrian text. "Instead of finding (as was anticipated) the greater number of papyrus-confirmed variants in K where the Byzantine reading was the shortest, the greater proportion was of longer papyrus-supported Byzantine readings. This underscores the danger of making it a rule 'to prefer the shorter reading . . . .' long readings are old and short readings are old. Both are attested by manuscript evidence that places them deep in the second century. The criteria for judging between them must be something other than their respective lengths. Since 'long' readings are so early attested, and since such readings are not confined to K but also include H, WH's basic argument from conflation would appear to be disannulled."[79]

Some scholars have challenged Sturz's findings. Fee reduced Sturz's finding by claiming (1) it involved a questionable use of "distinctively Byzantine"; (2) some variants are textual trivia--"stylistic idiosyncrasies of [scribe's] own, not relationships with the Byzantine text-type"; (3) "few genuinely genetically significant readings" are found.[80] After reviewing Sturz's study and Fee's review, Wisselink[81] writes "Sturz has collected exactly those readings in his list, that are distinctively Byzantine according to Hort." Wisselink agrees with Fee that some of Sturz's readings have "minimum differents," but finds Fee's second and third point more an "excuse than to [be] an argument." Wisselink write, "If these points are handled consistently, what then is the value, for instance, of the investigation published" by Fee ("Codex Sinaiticus in the Gospel of John: A Contribution to Methodology on Establishing Textual Relations," New Testament Studies, 15, 1968-69). After this Wisselink writes, "Not a single Byzantine reading for which support can be found in the early papyri, can be rejected any longer as being young. In that respect it is of no importance if the support is casual or not." Wisselink did conclude that Fee might make the Sturz's number of readings with early papyri support shorter, but he cannot eliminate them. Sturz did find distinctive Byzantine readings with third century papyri support. "This conclusion is shared by a great many textual critices of divergent signatures."[82] He gives Fee's findings that P66 is "not recension of a kind that produced the Neutral texttype, but rather of a kind that culminates at a later date in the process of transmission called the Byzantine texttype." Hurtado writes, "in P45, a papyrus too early (third century) to have been revised by a Byzantine standard text, scholars found numerous readings previously regarded as Byzantine readings." Wisse writes, "P66 serves as a warning here for it contains some variants which had been considered late and thus secondary." Aland concluded that papyri cannot be fixed into text-types. From these, Wisselink concludes, "It is clear from all these quotations that the way in which Hort divided the manuscripts, does not satisfy any longer since the discovery of the papyri."[83]

Footnotes 79-83 online.


Steve Rafalsky is always excellent, and has more from Wisselink:

TTer gone CTer - 2006
Steve Rafalsky

I'll plan on using the Rafalsky material, and then what I have written about the shell game of Hort's usage of "distinctively Syrian".

Steven Avery