One weak element of textual criticism is finding, categorizing and explaining the "non-external" evidences. And trying to make a clean distinction between the external evidences and the "internal" (a mediocre word) and trying to figure out how much import these evidences have, which can vary tremendously.

On this thread, if I run into short descriptions of the evidences (ran into one yesterday but it vanished) I will put it here as part of a project of explaining.

Clearly, these elements were major with the Reformation Bible experts, Erasmus, Stephanus and Beza.

Comma Johanneum (l John 5:7, 8): An approach to its genuineness on the basis of textual criticism and its interpretation. Revised and expanded ed. of the Greek original. (Forthcoming)
Pavlos D Vasileiadis

3 Textual criticism, as applied to critical editions of the NT,

"seeks to discover, as far as is possible, the original version of the text found in a manuscript and to remove errors or alterations that have been made by scribes when they transcribed the document" (J. K. Elliott, "Textual criticism," in Gooder (2009) 49).

The "task and aim" of the textual criticism of the NT is

"the effort, as far as is possible, to ascertain and reconstruct the sacred text to the form produced by the hands of its holy writers" (lereidis (1927) 225, 226),

"to find out the reading best approaching that of the original, as it was penned by its author's hand" and "to present a text as similar to the original text as possible (constitutio textus)" (Koutlemanis (2001) 20).

It is based on “external criteria (such as the number of manuscripts or representatives of a reading, their age, etc.) and

internal criteria (such as language style, train of meaning, coherence, reasoning sequence, the spirit of the writer)" (Koutlemanis (2001) 21, 37).

For the raison d'etre of Biblical criticism and its methodology, see Vassiliadis (2003) 52-54
Petros Vassiliadis
author of:
The Canon of the Bible (An Orthodox View)
Inspiration, Canon and Authority of Scripture: An Orthodox Hermeneutical Perspective

And other books and article.


I appreciate this list from Koutlemanis (likely translated from a Greek work):

language style
train of meaning
reasoning sequence
the spirit of the writer

To this can be added various other elements, which may overlap with the above:

grammatical and stylistic authorial consistency
presence of solecisms in a variant
lacuna (e.g. Acts 8 without Acts 8:37)
localized consistency
unlikelihood of major doctrinal hapax legemenon (e.g. the CT of John 1:18)

The goal on this thread will be to coalesce various non-external evidences, and group them together sensibly, and give examples. The significance of non-external evidences varies immensely.