the phantom Lucian recension - Hort's bogus reasoning for the Byzantine Text creation muddles on

Steven Avery

the phantom Lucian recension - Hort's bogus reasoning for the Byzantine Text creation muddles on


Posted on the TC-Alternate forum

[TC-Alternate-list] Comfort, Elliot, Wallace, Bruce --> riding the Lucian recension pale horse


The big 5 who supported the Lucian recension from 1881 to 2000

1) 1881 - Fenton Hort - The New Testament in the original Greek - Westcott ambivalent
2) 1907 - Caspar Rene Gregory - Canon and Text of the New Testament - out-Horts Hort
3) 1924 - Burnet Hillman Streeter - The Four Gospels - source for Elliott
4) 1963 - Bruce Manning Metzger - The Lucianic Recension of the Greek Bible -word-parsing, kitchen sink, one clear NT claim
5) 1971 - Kurt and Barbara Aland - Der Text Des Neuen Testaments - flip in 1995


Now we are going to look at current supporters.
As James pointed out, the theory arises here and there.
In a hydra-headed manner.

> James Snapp on CARM
> The other MSS used in the Lucianic Recension, as proposed by Hort, and perpetuated by Metzger (and Wallace, and Comfort), were Alexandrian.



The first four are actually considered today's textual scholars.

2010 - James Keith Elliott
2000 - Phillip Wesley Comfort
1990 - Frederick Fyvie Bruce
2004 - Daniel Wallace -
"decent hunch that may well be correct"

For these two, the main impetus is contra TR-AV

2006 - James Price
2007 - Alan Kurschner -
(James White website)

LXX scholars touching on NT

2010 - Karen Jobes, Moses Silva
1968 - Sidney Jellicoe -
(a little earlier)


James Keith Elliott

New Testament Textual Criticism:The Application of Thoroughgoing Principles: Essays on Manuscripts and Textual Variation (2010)
T. C. Skeat on the Dating and Origin of Codex Vaticanus
James Keith Elliott

Streeter ... notes that when Jerome was in Constantinople (c. 380) he found that the authorities there advocated the text of Lucian--in effect the Byzantine text type--precisely because this included the longer ending to Mark.

We covered Elliott earlier.

[TC-Alternate-list] Jerome - the Constantinople authorities advocate the Lucian text?
Steven Avery - May 23, 2013

[TC-Alternate-list] Jerome Prologue - is Lucian involved with the NT? - James Keith Elliott reporting wild Streeter conjectures as fact
Steven Avery - Sat May 25, 2013


Phillip Wesley Comfort sees a Hortian Lucian recension.

The Essential Guide to Bible Versions (2000)
Philip Wesley Comfort
The Byzantine text likely traces back to the work of Lucian of Antioch (in Syria). According to Jerome, Lucian compared different readings of the New Testament with those with which he was acquainted and produced a revised form of the text. This revised text soon became very popular, not only at Antioch, where Lucian worked, but also at Constantinople and eventually all over the Mediterranean area. From what can be judged in later manuscripts bearing a "Lueianic" text, Lucian's work was the first major recension of the Greek New Testament. This recension involved a great deal of harmonization (especially in the Gospels), emendation, and some interpolation.

From the fourth century onward, Lucian's recension became the most prevailing type of text throughout the Greek-speaking world. In fact, it became (with minor modifications) the received text of the Greek Orthodox Church. From the fourth until the eighth century, the Byzantine text was revised even further until it was nearly standardized. From then on, almost all Greek manuscripts followed the Byzantine text, including those manuscripts that were used by Erasmus in compiling his edition of the Greek New Testament (which became the basis of the English King James Version, discussed in later chapters).
Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (2005)
Philip Wesley Comfort
Historical Overview of Textual Variation in the Greek New Testament

Manv scholars think a full-scale recension of the New Testament text was occurring in Antioch in the latter decades of the third century and early part of the fourth century, during a period in which the church was free from persecution---i.e.,between the persecutions under Decius (AD 250) and Diocletian (AD 303-313). It has been thought by some that Lucius of Antioch in Syria completed this project before or during the Diocletian persecution, in which he suffered martyrdom (AD 312). According to Jerome (in his introduction to his Latin translation of the Gospels: Patrologia Latina 29, col. 527), Lucian's text was a definite recension (i.e., a purposely created edition). Jerome complained of Lucian's bad recension, as opposed to the older, excellent manuscripts that he (Jerome) used. Lucian's text was the outgrowth and culmination of the popular text; it is characterized by smoothness of language, which is achieved by the removal of barbarisms, obscurities, and awkward grammatical constructions, and by the conflation of variant readings. Lucian (and/or his associates) must have used many different kinds of manuscripts of varying qualities to produce a harmonized, edited New Testament Greek text. The kind of editorial work that went into the Lucianic text is what we would call substantive editing. While Lucian was forming his recension of the New Testament text, the Alexandrian text was taking on its final shape. The formation of the Alexandrian text involved minor textual criticism (i.e., selecting variant readings among various manuscripts) and minor copyediting (i.e., producing a readable text). There was far less tampering with the text in the Alexandrian text type than in the Lucian, and the underlying manuscripts for the Alexandrian text type were superior than those used by Lucian....

Here we have more fabrication embellishment.

The Origin of the Bible (2012)
Texts and Manuscripts of the New Testament
Philip Wesley Comfort

At the end of the third century, another kind of Greek text came into being and then grew in popularity until it became the dominate text type throughout Christendom. This is the text type first instigated by Lucian of Antioch, according to Jerome (in his introduction to his Latin translation of the Gospels). Lucian's text was a definite recension (i.e., a purposely created edition)--as opposed to the Alexandrian text type which came about as the result of a process wherein the Alexandrian scribes, upon comparing many manuscripts, attempted to preserve the best text--thereby serving more as textual critics than editors. Of course, the Alexandrians did do some editing--such as we would call copy-editing. The Lucianic text is the outgrowth and culmination of the popular text; it is characterized by smoothness of language, which is achieved by the removal of obscurities and awkward grammatical constructions and by the conflation of variant readings. Lucian (or his associates) must have used many different kinds of manuscripts of varying qualities to produce a harmonized, edited New Testament text. The kind of editorial work that went into the Lucianic text is what we would call substantive editing.

Lucian's text was produced prior to the Diocletain persecution (c. 303), during which time many copies of the New Testament were confiscated and destroyed. Not long after this period of devastation, Constantine came to power and then recognized Christianity as the state religion. There was, of course, a great need for copies of the New Testament to be made and distributed to churches throughout the Mediterranean world. It was at this time that Lucian's text began to be propagated by bishops going out from the Antiochan school to churches throughout the east taking the text with them. Lucian's text soon became the standard text of the Eastern church and formed the basis for the Byzantine text--and is thus the ultimate authority for the Textuss Receptus.

While Lucian was forming his recension of the New Testament text, the Alexandrian text was taking on its final shape. As was mentioned earlier, the formation of the Alexandrian text type was the result of a process (as opposed to a single editorial recension). The formation of the Alexandrian text involved minor textual criticism (i.e., selecting variant readings among various manuscripts) and copyediting (i.e., producing a readable text). There was far less tampering with the text in the Alexandrian text type than in the Lucian, and the underlying manuscripts for the Alexandrian text type were superior than those used by Lucian. Perhaps Hesychius was responsible for giving the Alexandrian text its final shape, and Athanasius of Alexandria may have been the one who made this text the archetypal text for Egypt.

As the years went by, there were less and less Alexandrian manuscripts produced, and more and more Byzantine manuscripts manufactured. Very few Egyptians continued to read Greek (with the exception of those in St. Catherine's Monastery, the site of the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus), and the rest of the Mediterranean world turned to Latin. It was only those in the Greek-speaking churches in Greece and Byzantium that continued to make copies of the Greek text. For century after century--from the sixth to the fourteenth--the great majority of New Testament manuscripts were produced in Byzantium, all bearing the same kind of text. When the first Greek New Testament was printed (c. 1525), it was based on a Greek text that Erasmus had compiled, using a few late Byzantine manuscripts. This printed text, with minor revisions, became the Textus Receptus.
Early Manuscripts and Modern Translations of the New Testament (2001)

Here we find Comfort quoting a 1950's book from L. D. Twilley

Scholars are more certain about the development of another text typecalled “Syrian,” “Byzantine,” or “Koine.” Once the Diocletian persecution passed (c. 311), which was a persecution noted for its destruction of many copies of the NT, the church was anxious to reproduce many copies of the Greek NT. In Syria, Lucian of Antioch labored toward this end. L. D. Twilley wrote, “Lucian carefully compared different readings of the New Testament with those with which he was acquainted and produced a revised form of the text. This ‘revised text’ soon became very popular, not only at Antioch, where Lucian worked, but also at Constantinople, and, before long, all over the Mediterranean area” (The Origin and Transmission of the New Testament, 44—45).

Comfort brings these textual-historical blunders and textual bias to his contributions to the Tyndale Bible Dictionary and The Origin of the Bible and other writings. Thus helping to make sure that people can stay in the Hortian fog in order to try to perpetuate acceptance of the textus corruptus over the historic Bible.

Philip Wesley Comfort, like many writers, wrongly gives the Vulgate Gospel Prologue (Letter to Damasus) comments of Jerome as the evidence for a Lucian recension. Allowing Comfort to try to go around direct Hortian support.


Frederick Fyvie Bruce

The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary (1990)
Frederick Fyvie Bruce
The Byzantine Text
From the early fourth century on comes evidence for a recension of the NT text which combines many distinctive features of the chief existing texts and in fact represents a revision of these. This revision was evidently carried through under the direction of Lucian of Antioch (martyred in 312), whence it has been called the Syrian text (as by Westcott and Hort) or the Antiochian text (as by J. H. Ropes). Since, however, it was soon carried to Byzantium (Constantinople) and was diffused from there, it is perhaps most convenient to refer to it as the Byzantine text. During the following centuries this text increasingly superseded other and earlier forms of text; the great mass of later MSS and versions from the fifth century on is Byzantine in character. For this reason the Byzantine text is sometimes referred to as the "majority text." This was, with minor deviations, the text of the first printed editions of the Gk. NT (from 1516 on), the text which came to be known as the Textus Receptus, and the text underlying the Reformation versions of Western Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including Luther's German NT (1522), Tyndale's English NT (1526,2-1534), and the AV/KJV of 1611.


Daniel Wallace

James, above, mentioned Daniel Wallace. However, the Wallace equivocation abounds.
Here is one comment from Daniel Wallace:

"(Lucian was proposed by Hort as the father of the Byzantine text. This proposal, incidentally, was by no means necessary to Hort's theory, but was a decent hunch that may well be correct.)"

Mark 1:2 and New Testament Textual Criticism, Daniel Wallace, 2004

Also we have this from Wallace.

Interview with Dan Wallace
March 20, 2006

How would you explain origins of the Byzantine text?
Daniel Wallace

Aland did some nice work showing that the first father to use the Byzantine text qua text was Asterius, one of Lucian's students. Fee and Ehrman have shown that the Byzantine text just didn't seem to exist anywhere prior to the fourth century, and that its earliest form is decidedly different from later forms. This also was the point of Tim Ralston's doctoral dissertation at Dallas Seminary. Holmes has shown that, in the words of Samuel Clemens, 'There are lies, damn lies, and statistics' -- and statistics are no way to measure authenticity. My best guess on the origins of the Byzantine text -- *a view that is constantly being shaped -- is that it originated in the early fourth century as a consciously edited text, cannibalizing readings from earlier textforms, even to the point of almost obliterating any traces of one of those textforms (the Caesarean). But then it took on a life of its own, developing into a growing text that had several sub-branches. Two major recensions were done on it, one in the ninth and one in the eleventh century. Ironically, the text that Hodges and Farstad produced, and the one that Robinson and Pierpont produced, did not, in every respect, represent the majority until the fifteenth century. Hort's threefold argument against the Byzantine text is still a good argument that demonstrates the Byzantine text to be secondary, late, and inferior. Although there are a few leaks in the Hortian boat, it's not enough to sink the ship.

Wallace hedges as a "decent hunch" and then says that major recensions were done in the 9th and 11th century. No definition of major given. James may have had additional refs from Wallace, behind his comment, however the above is sufficient to include him in this review of the modern proponents.


James Price

Price worked on the NKJV, despite being a supporter of the Critical Text. It is my view that Price is not particularly familiar with the scholarship, ran with Metzger's 1963 disaster, and did so more out of his knee-jerk opposition to the Authorized Version than any real studies. Since Price supports the CT, his work on the NKJV should be seen more as an anti-AV work than pro-TR, and the Lucian recension is critical to the CT anti-TR position.

Curriculum Vitae -James D. Price

King James Onlyism: A New Sect (2006)
James D. Price

The Lucian Recension Has Historical Support

A common assumption among the advocates of the Majority Text view is that the text tradition extends back to the autographic text. In fact, this assumption is essential to the Majority Text view. On the other hand, there are those who reject this assumption, and point out historical evidence that Lucian (or someone close to him) made a recension of the text near the beginning of the fourth century. This evidence is either ignored or regarded as inconclusive by those of the Majority Text persuasion. .... Lucian did something significant with the texts of both Old and New Testament. Whether Lucian's work can be considered a recension is another matter. But whatever the case, the history of the Byzantine tradition was appreciably affected, a fact which cannot be ignored. (p. 241-242)

The Antiochan text corresponds to Westcott and Hort's Syrian Text. The text is supported by Antiochan Greek manuscripts, quotations from Syrian Church Fathers, and the Syriac translations. It is the ancestor of the Byzantine text which is the result of a fourth century recension (or equivalent). (p. 192)

The Byzantine tradition seems to have developed in two stages. Probably in the late third century, the Christian community in Antioch, in Syria, attempted to restore the text of its Greek New Testament. This restoration may be likened to the recension Lucian made of the Greek Old Testament, since the texts of the Old and New Testaments were not isolated from one another in the early churches. (p. 143) with note lauding Metzger and Aland

Likewise, evidence from just one book does not determine the history of the entire text tradition, but confirming evidence from nearly
all the New Testament books relegates the Byzantine Text into the category of a late recension. (p. 458)

Robinson claims to be a true follower of Burgon, but his view is not without its flaws. It has its built-in biases. His reconstruction of history presupposes, contrary to some evidence, that the Byzantine tradition did not originate through a recension, although he admits that all surviving witnesses from the second and third century are badly mixed—a condition that strongly suggests a later recension. (p. 241)
James Price follows the 1963 paper of Metzger, where Metzger took a kitchen sink approach to most any reference regarding Lucian and worked largely by inference from non-evidence. (In fact, Metzger tried to emphasize as a specific evidence the Illustrious Lives Lucianea reference, based on the plural of Scripture!)

Price is far less a word-parsing master than Metzger. Thus he bypasses the Metzger equivocations and makes a number of bold, false, unsupported claims. Giving us a situation where the Price is not right.

(Note: James Price pulled some other super-doozies in the book referenced.)


Alan Kurschner

Writing on the James White website, Kurshner is a de facto Lucian recension proponent, while keeping the name Lucian hush-hush, mush-mush. (Afaik, White has not drunk the Lucian recension scholarly kool-aid.)

The emergence of the Byzantine text (again, what is roughly the basis behind the King James Version) can be explained as a conflation around the turn of the fourth century in the corner of the Byzantine region. - Alan Kurschner 4-19-2007 5-28-2007

[TC-Alternate-list] Alan Kurschner and the Byzantine Text
James Snapp - August 14, 2013
And you thought the Lucianic Recension theory was dead. Behold; it has risen from the dead!


Karen Jobes, Moses Silva

With Jobes and Silva you can wink at it a bit since the NT is not their bailiwick. Still it is a mess and the editor,Merrill C. Tenney, should have caught the error.

The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 5: Revised Full-Color Edition, Volume 5 (2010)
Karen Jobes, Moses Silva
B. The Lucianic Recension
The revision commonly attributed to Lucian, or more vaguely to the Syrian church, is especially evident in the book of Psalms and in the NT Indeed, most of the surviving MSS that include either of those two portions of the Greek Bible contain a revised text that is somewhat fuller--and sttylistically more homogeneous--than other text forms. Whether or noot Lucian was responsible for this work, it is generally agreed that the revision can be traced back to Antioch around the year 300. ... The most difficult and important problem related to this recension has to do with the presence of "Lucianic" readings attested long before Lucian lived....

Sidney Jellicoe

With some nuance and equivocation, Jellicoe was still able to follow the errors of Hort and Streeter.

The Septuagint and Modern Study (1968)
Sidney Jellicoe
Lucian and his Recension
Chrysostom ... Much of his extensive writings has survived, and provides par excellence the patristic evidence for the recension of Lucian, a revision which constitutes the starting-point of Westcott and Hort's epoch-making theory of the textual criticism of the New Testament. (p. 158)...

There are, however, much stronger grounds for identifying the 'Syrian' recension with Lucian than the Hesychian with the Egyptian bishop. ... The Lucianic presents a fuller text, which is further amplified by conflate readings--characteristicss of this recension which extend also to the Old Testament. .....

In the light of more recent evidence, however, 'new variant' may have to be discarded as a misnomer, and 'conjectural emendation' give place to other early variants known to and adopted by the recensionist, thus further validating Burkitt's judgement, that both the Antiochian text of the New Testament and Lucian's recension of the Old are 'texts composed out of ancient elements welded together and polished down'.
Is the Lucian recension dead in the more informed scholarly circles? The recent, 1995, Aland flip, is a pointer in that direction. A review of textual articles, textualcriticism forum discussions, and such, may be less clear.

My point here is that in real-world Bible discussion, the Lucian recension is very much alive. If some or all of Comfort, Elliott, Wallace and Bruce made clear public statements renouncing the idea, that would be helpful.
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Steven Avery

[TC-Alternate-list] Lucian recension - the Aland flip
Steven Avery - Sept 29, 2013

"The notion of an early Lucianic recension leading to the imperial Byzantine text has largely been abandoned already, but the value judgement combined with it in eclectic NTTC has not."
Klaus Wachtel, The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process?, SBL paper, 2009

If the Lucian recension horse were truly dead and buried, then my posts about the development and abandonment of the theory would still have historical import. Who fell for the nonsense? When, why?

(e.g. Note the Caspar Rene Gregory material, where the recension is combined with a bitter attack on the Received Text, de facto acknowledging the centrality of the theory to Critical Text development.)

We would also wonder why, as Klaus Wachtel points out, the residue of the theory remains. However, as I plan to show in a later post (you have given me a good idea for the subject line!) and as James and I have pointed out from Elliott and Comfort and Wallace and other sources, this Lucian recension theory is still quite alive in textual discussions.

This is true despite the various levels of absurdity. Until this thread, afaik no one had placed many of the issues together in one spot, and later I will also plan on an index of the discussions.

Plus the proper understanding of the Jerome Prologue to the Gospels (Letter to Damasus), as you recently shared, is still rarely known today. And is the crux, along with the word-parsing and errant paper of Metzger and the pre-flip book by Aland, of the residue Lucian recension position.


and I'm not sure I have much more to offer due to time restraints,

What you translated and offered from Gunther Zuntz was A1+ material, especially since it helped unravel the Jerome mystery. You did mention you might give a little more from that source, so I will gently prod to try to find time and share a bit more.


but you may remember that Klaus Wachtel, after reminding readers of several more difficult readings, some with harder-to-understand argumentation, some with tautologies, states in his Der Byzantinische Text der Katholischen Briefe (ANTF 24; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995), "Above all, these readings make it improbable that the Byzantine text could have had its beginning in a proper recension of the 4th century" (p. 199). Then, after summarizing his theory of the Byzantine text's gradual development, he further remarks, "So also from the perspective of the development of the Byzantine text the traditional concept, namely, that the transmission history of the New Testament was determined by recensions, proves to be no longer viable" (p. 201).

Also here was the Aland flip documented, although note all the hedging in language e.g.

"without reservation"
"one simply cannot determine if and to what extent Lucian was involved"

The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research
"The Greek Minuscule Manuscripts of the new Testament" p. 43-61
Klaus Wachtel and Barbara Aland - translated by Bart D. Ehrman
Also here: p. 69-92 2012 edition

We can no longer maintain without reservation the view that was still held by the present author (B. Aland) in The Text of the New Testament. 64-66. that the Koine text is to be attributed to a recension produced by Lucian. Although editorial activity played an important role in the development of the Koine, one simply cannot determine if and to what extent Lucian was involved in producing a recension of the NT. On good grounds. H. C. Brennecke ("Lucian von Antiochien." TRE 21.478) is inclined “to ascribe Jerome's vague information about Lucian as a critical reviser of the biblical text... to the hagiographic tradition of the Homoeans. with its strong apologetic tendencies aimed at legitimating the Homoean church."

Note that the error of placing the Jerome comment as New Testament remains, even from Wachtel. The paper by Hanns Christof Brennecke was published in 1991. The idea that the Homoeans (the Arians in the 4th-century controversies) were the influence for the Jerome comment to Damasus seems quite weak, especially as we saw that Jerome was not referencing the New Testament.

The original Aland Hortian blunder was still being published in English in 1995 (same year as the flip) in The Text of the New Testament. As for the source editions of Der Text Des Neuen Testaments, I do not know.

Note how definite were the claims, definitely much stronger than Metzger, more along the lines of the slavishly Hortian writers, Gregory and Streeter. In fact, Kurt and Barbara Aland here might be the leaders in conjectural fabrication in regard to the Lucian recension, in competition with James Keith Elliott.


The Text of the New Testament (1995 - 2nd edition, paperback)
Kurt and Barbara Aland - translated by Erroll F. Rhodes

This period of peace was critical for the development of the New Testament text. In Antioch the early form was polished stylistically, edited ecclesiastically, and expanded devotionally. This was the origin of what is called the Koine text, later to become the Byzantine Imperial text. Fourth-century tradition called it the text of Lucian. At the same time another scholarly theologian working from a papyrus with an early text under took a more thorough revision (probably of only the Gospels and Acts). But in the fourth century the text of Lucian received strong support, while its rival text (a precursor of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis) was given no official support and was consequently preserved in only a few manuscripts, no more than Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D-ea, 05) and a few minuscules and papyri. ... (p. 64)

The exegetical school of Antioch, where students of Origen's theology and Arians maintained a well-organized center, provided bishops for many dioceses throughout the East (here again a knowledge of church history is indispensable for understanding the history of the text). Each of these bishops took with him to his diocese the text of Lucian (i.e., the Koine text), and in this way it rapidly became very widely disseminated even in the fourth century. (p. 65)

Notice that they continue with the New Testament error of interpretation regarding Jerome, in a section referring to Hesychius. Afaik, this has not been corrected, even in the equivocal manner above. In any event, these statements (from Jerome) attest the existence of two text types: the Alexandrian text (Hesychius) and the Koine, the later Byzantine text (Lucian). (p. 66)


Note: I call this the Aland flip because the Alands are well known, and Barbara Aland's name was specifically attached to the theory in the Wachtel-Aland disclaimer, and the book with the conjectural fabrication does not have Wachtel as co-author, it has Kurt and Barbara.

Archived at:

[TC-Alternate-list] Lucian recension - the Aland flip
Steven Avery - Sept 29, 2013

Yours in Jesus,
Steven Avery
Bayside, NY

Jonathan Borland

Of course, Wachtel sees editorial treatment occurring in "every epoch" of the transmission history, but bases his claims largely on the later Kr form of text, a revision of the Koine claimed to have occurred in the 12th century

Daniel Wallace talks of two "major revisions" in the 9th and 11th century.

and comprising some 1/4 to 1/3 or more of the Byzantine mss.
P.S. For the sake of convenience, I transcribe the German of the above English citations below:
Der byzantinische Text der katholischen Briefe: eine Untersuchung zur Entstehung der Koine des Neuen Testaments (1995)
Klaus Wachtel

p. 199 - "Diese Lesarten vor allem machen es unwahrscheinlich, daß der Byzantinische Text seinen Ursprung in einer regelrechten Rezension des 4. Jahrhunderts haben könnte."

p. 201 - "So erweist sich auch aus der Perspektive der Entwicklung des Byzantinischen Textes, daß das traditionelle Konzept, nach dem Rezensionen die Überlieferungsgeschichte des Neuen Testaments geprägt haben, als nicht mehr tragfähig."
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Steven Avery


The Revision Revised: (1881)
John William Burgon

"But then, since not a shadow of proof is forthcoming that any such Recension as Dr. Hort imagines ever took place at all, — what else but a purely gratuitous exercise of the imaginative faculty is it, that Dr. Hort should proceed further to invent the method which might, or could, or would, or should have been pursued, if it had taken place?

Having however in this way

(1) Assumed a "Syrian Recension"
(2) Invented the cause of it, — and
(3) Dreamed the process by which it was carried into execution, p. 273-274
"XX. Now, instead of insisting that this entire Theory is made up of a series of purely gratuitous assumptions, — destitute alike of attestation and of probability : and that, as a mere effort of the Imagination, it is entitled to no manner of consideration or respect at our hands: — instead of dealing thus with what precedes, we propose to be most kind and accommodating to Dr. Hort. We proceed to accept his Theory in its entirety.... " p. 277-278


Thus Metzger was simply a deceptive charlatan, taking the 'revision' quote from p. 29, where "revised" was carefully put in quotes, and ignoring Burgon's actual position.

"not a shadow of proof"

"a series of purely gratuitous assumptions, — destitute alike of attestation and of probability"

Thus, we have yet another lie on this topic from Glynn Brown, starting with his ignorance about the Aland's retraction.

Steven Avery

The Metzger charlatan section is:

The Lucianic Recension of the Greek Bible

3 It is significant that Bishop John W. Burgon, who ardently and, at times, acrimoniously opposed Hort's estimate of the secondary character of the Syrian text, nevertheless acknowledged that Lucian revised the text of the New Testament; see his volume, The Revision Revised (London, 1883), p. 29.
Here is Revision Revised

We know that Origen in Palestine, Lucian at Antioch, Hesychius in Egypt, ‘revised’ the text of the N. T. Unfortunately, they did their work in an age when such fatal misapprehension prevailed on the subject, that each in turn will have inevitably imported a fresh assortment of monstra into the sacred writings.
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Steven Avery

Hort also worked with a phantom Syriac recension

Hort claims a Syriac revision:

The New Testament in the original Greek, the text revised
by B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort. (1881)

(p.135) At an (p.136) early period of modem textual criticism it was perceived that the Vulgate Syriac version differed from early versions generally, and from other important early documentary authorities, in the support which it frequently gave to the common late Greek text: and as the version enjoyed a great traditional reputation of venerable antiquity, the coincidence attracted much interest. Eventually, as has been already noticed (§ 118), it was pointed out that the only way of explaining the whole body of facts was to suppose that the Syriac version, like the Latin version, underwent revision long after its origin, and that our ordinary Syriac MSS represented not the primitive but the altered Syriac text: and this explanation has been signally confirmed in our own day by the discovery of part of a copy of the Gospels in which the national version is preserved approximately in its Old or unrevised state. Two facts render it highly probable that the Syriac revision was instituted or sanctioned by high authority, personal or ecclesiastical; the almost total extinction of Old Syriac MSS, contrasted with the great number of extant Vulgate Syriac MSS; and the narrow range of variation found in Vulgate Syriac MSS, so far as they have yet been examined. Historical antecedents render it tolerably certain that the locality of such an authoritative revision, accepted by Syriac Christendom, would be either Edessa or Nisibis, great centres of life and culture to the churches whose language was Syriac, but intimately connected with Antioch, or else Antioch itself, which, though properly Greek, was the acknowledged capital of the whole Syrian population of both tongues. When therefore we find large and peculiar coincidences between the revised Syriac text and the text of the Antiochian Fathers of the (p. 137) latter part of the fourth century, and strong indications that the revision was deliberate and in some way authoritative in both cases, it becomes natural to suppose that the two operations had some historical connexion.
p. 135-137

189. .... These lesser irregularities shew that the Greek Syrian revision in its ultimate form, the only form adequately known to us, and the Syriac revision, though closely connected in origin, cannot both be due to a single critical process performed once for all. The facts would, we believe, be explained by the supposition, natural enough in itself, that (i) the growing diversity and confusion of Greek texts led to an authoritative revision at Antioch, which (2) was then taken as a standard for a similar authoritative revision of the Syriac text, and (3) was itself at a later time subjected to a second authoritative revision, carrying out more completely the purposes of the first; but that the Vulgate Syriac text did not undergo any corresponding second revision. The revision apparently embodied in the Harklean Syriac will be noticed further on. p. 137

Burgon dealt with this as well:

Quarterly Review

Now the first consideration which strikes us as fatal to Dr. Hort’s unsupported conjecture concerning the date of the text he calls ‘Syrian’ or 'Antiochian' is the fact that what he so designates bears a most inconvenient resemblance to the Peschito or ancient Syriac Version ; which, like the old Latin, is by consent of the Critics generally assigned to the second century of our era. Aware of this, our Editors assure us that—
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Steven Avery


James Sheffield

@Maestrohbill I notice you didn't say my statements were not factual. They were originally tossed out because Anthony Hort and F.C. Burkitt said their were revisions by Lucian of Antioch (c. 240 – January 7, 312), and Rabbula, (born c. 350, Qenneshrin, near Aleppo, Syria—died c. 435, Edessa), but has now been abandoned for a magical process theory proposed by Kenyon/Wachtel . Dr. Bart Ehrman said we don't have a place or a name, but we know it happened. The fact is in medieval times there was no way the different Greek churches could collate their texts to produce a similar text form. The only one to download from the cloud to a tablet in the ancient world was Moses. Blessings.
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Steven Avery

process theory proposed by Kenyon/Wachtel

The Origin of the Byzantine Text (2015)
Ernst Boogert


From Westcott and Hort onward, it was generally accepted that the Byzantine text was the result of a fixed recension or recensions. Nowadays, most scholars have dropped that key part of Westcott and Hort’s theory,77 although they were much more cautious than generally thought.

According to Westcott and Hort, the origins of the “Syrian”[= Byzantine] text must be sought in two separate stages. They deduced these stages in three steps. Firstly, they observed that the Syriac Peshitta version closely resembles the Syrian text, but is not identical, because it frequently sides with “Pre-Syrian”[=Pre-Byzantine] texts. Secondly, they established that the Peshitta version was an officially sanctioned version, made in Edessa or Nisibis―which had close relations with Antioch―or in Antioch itself. In conclusion, they stated that the Syrian text as we know it, cannot be equated with the Greek text, which was the source text of the Peshitta version. Hence, they supposed an earlier Syrian revision of the Greek text―which was authoritative for the Peshitta version―, which in its turn was revised too.

Another historical and contemporary circumstance to which Westcott and Hort paid attention, was the period of peace between the persecutions under Decius and Valerian (ca. AD 250-260) and Diocletian (AD 303-313). After the mass destruction of churches and MSS, multiplication of MSS was desired, because of the increasing number of converts. Such a state of things would also increase the need of a textual revision. It was in this very period, that Lucian―who was educated in Edessa―was active in Antioch.79 According to Westcott and Hort, his name is best to be associated with the early Syrian revision, although the presence or absence of his name is not considered as decisive for the argument.80

It is important to notice that they seriously considered the possibility of a process completed in the midst of the fourth century, but eventually rejected it.81They saw two considerations as decisive: 1) the contraction of the sphere of influence of the Greek Church,because of the separation of the Latin and Greek Churchesand the conquests of whole regions by the barbarians and Muslims, bywhich many local MSSwere lost;2) the Greek Church became centred in Constantinople, of which Antioch―which promoted the Antiochian recension [=Byzantine text]―was the true ecclesiastical parent. Because of these circumstances, it is probable that the Antiochian recension became more and more the standard textin the East. However, Westcott and Hort werewell aware of the differences between the Byzantine minuscules.82 In other words, they did not consider the development of the Byzantine text as a process, but its increasing influence.

Initially, subsequent scholars fully honoured this sketch of history,83 although critical views were expressed early. One of the major problems of a fixed recension is that it is highly remarkable that no early historian or Church Father mentions such an influential recension.84 On the contrary, if the origin of the Byzantine text is considered as a process, it also accounts for the differences between the Byzantine text and the Syriac Peshitta, which led Westcott and Hort to divide the recension into two stages. Thus according to Kenyon, “{i}t seems probable (...) that the Syrian revision was rather the result of a tendency spread over a considerable period of time than of a definite and authoritative revision or revisions.”85 The process view, which was quickly taken over as an acceptable modification of the theory of Westcott and Hort, has dominated subsequent research, although the concept of a recension remained still alive.86

Later on, both theories were combined, to clarify the complexities of the Byzantine texts. According to Kurt Aland, there was a tendency among scribes to gloss over the textduring the second and third centuries.At the end of the third century, Lucian createdby comparison and further recensional activity the “Antiochene [=Byzantine] text.”After the Diocletian persecutions (AD 303-313), many students of the Antiochian theological school were called to serve as bishops in Asia Minor, who carried their Byzantine MSS with them. Nevertheless, it took centuries before the Byzantine text supplanted the otherearlier texts, which is seen by the increase of Byzantine elements from century to century.87 Such a combination of theories has two advantages: 1) it accounts forthe unnoticed rise of a quite different text, and 2) it accounts for the existence of the many internal differences and mixed forms of text.

However, more detailed investigation of the data brought an important turn. In 1995, Klaus Wachtel published his investigation of the Byzantine text of the Catholic Epistles. His important study of these letters brought him to three observations:88

1) Characteristic readings of the Koine text are evidenced in early MSS too, that represent older traditions;
2) The characteristics of Koine readings show the normal way of variant formation;
3) The untypical Koine readings,89 are incompatible with the hypothesis that the Koine text was edited according to fixed principles

It was these observations that brought him to challenge the whole idea of a (Lucianic) recension―at least for the Catholic Epistles. Furthermore, he observed that the actual MSS evidence can be explained best as the result of a long process of development, which brought the text of the Catholic Epistles to its final form in the ninth century only.90 The next considerations are significant:91

1) There is no MS that has the Majority reading in all its variants;
2) All Majority readings are also evidenced in representatives of older text traditions;
3)Many readings of older text forms are evidenced in some Koine MSS as well; many times in the larger minorities.

In the light of these remarks, the theory of Westcott and Hort becomes untenable.


77 Holmes, "The 'Majority Text Debate'," 15.“While most scholars continue to view the Majority text as late and secondary, Hort’s explanation of its origin is widely rejected. There is no direct evidence that Lucian ever worked on the New Testament text, nor can the Majority text any longer be traced back to a single event. In fact, ‘neither the origin of the Byzantine text viewed as entirety nor the origin of its various sub-forms in the course of history is known’. Thus most textual critics are in the position of rejecting a key part of Hort’s argument while continuing to accept his results.”

78 Westcott and Hort, Introduction: 135-137.As stated in §2.1.4., this argument does not hold anymore, because of changed views regarding the date of the Peshitta version.

79 Lucian suffered martyrdom in AD 312

80 Westcott and Hort, Introduction: 137-139. The Lakes saw the connection of Lucian with the supposed Byzantine recension as very problematic. See for their comments: Lake and Lake, "The Byzantine Text of the Gospels," 252.

81 Westcott and Hort, Introduction: 142.“It follows that, however great and long continued may have been the blending of texts, the text which finally emerged triumphant in the East was not a result of any such process, in which the Antiochian text would have been but one factor, however considerable.” [Emphasis added]. And some paragraphs before: “The Syrian text must in fact be the result of a ‘recension’ in the proper sense of the word, a work of attempted criticism, performed deliberately by editors and not merely by scribes.” Ibid., 133.[Emphasis added] Nevertheless it should be admitted that their use terminology is somewhat ambiguous, because on page 137 they speak about the “final process.” [Emphasis added]

82 Ibid., 142-146.

83 For instance Lake, The Text of the New Testament: 72.“How can you explain an eclectic text, except by a revision? No one has answered this question as yet. But if there be any answer, it might be adopted without upsetting W.H.’s views in the least.”

84 The much cited letter of Jerome to Pope Damasus (No. 13: Epistula ad Damasum) in which is spoken of “codices quos a Luciano et Hesychio nuncupatos,” cannot be taken as evidence for a Lucianic recension, because Jerome does not accuse Lucian and Hesycius of tampering with the Greek text, but people who appeal to Lucian’s and Hesychius’ MSS. On the basis of other quotations of Jerome, it is highly questionable if he saw Lucian’s text as corrupt, neither gives he reasons to link Lucian with the Byzantine text. See: Wachtel, Der Byzantinische Text: 166-169. For the Epistula ad Damasum, see: Robertus Weber and Roger Gryson, Biblia Sacra, Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem, Vierte verbesserte ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994). 1515f

85 Thus Kenyon, Handbook: 324-327.(The quotation is taken from page 325). According to Kenyon, this was roughly what Hort actually meant, but in my opinion he neglected the explicit rejection of that view by Westcott and Hort, as the quotations show in note 81. It is also remarkable that Kenyon wholly passed over the two arguments of Westcott and Hort that led them to the rejection of a process view.

86 See for example Vaganay and Amphoux, Introduction: 109, (126).However, they comment that the recension was deteriorated in quality by continual alterations.It should be reminded that Tregelles abandoned already the whole idea of recensions well before Westcott and Hort developed their theory: “There is no proof of any recension of the text ever having taken place, or any revision on an extensive scale: it is evident that any corrections must have been partial and local, springing from copyists, and not from authority, ecclesiastical or critical.” It is thrilling that it took more than a century before this idea became fully revived by Wachtel! Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, ed. Introduction to the Textual Criticism and Study of the New Testament, 11th ed., vol. 4, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860), 104. Cited from: Epp, "Textual Clusters: Their Past and Future in New Testament Textual Criticism," 537.

87 Aland, "The Text of the Church?," 142-144.

88 Wachtel, Der Byzantinische Text: 89.

89 Wachtel describes the “Untypischen Mehrheitslesarten” as “Stolpersteine”:variants “die den Text eben nicht glätten und verdeutlichen, sondern eher schwieriger oder sogar eindeutig fehlerhaft


What about the TWO Syrian recensions per Hort.

"associated with the early Syrian revision"

p. 137 - Two Stages of Syrian Revision
The facts would, we believe, be explained by the supposition, natural enough in itself, that
(i) the growing diversity and confusion of Greek texts led to an authoritative revision at Antioch, which
(2) was then taken as a standard for a similar authoritative revision of the Syriac text, and
(3) was itself at a later time subjected to a second authoritative revision, carrying out more completely the purposes of the first;

but that the Vulgate Syriac text did not undergo any corresponding second revision. The revision apparently embodied in the Harklean Syriac will be noticed further on.

Westcott and Hort distinguished the families of texts proposed by Bengel into further divisions, and proposed two new ideas: first, that the Syrian text (the basis of the Byzantine text) had been subject to two separate recensions ..... by the original authors.72
72 Gregory 1900–1909, 2:917–921


And Lucian's recension per Jerome might be only the OT.
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Steven Avery

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Keith Mason

To establish the supremacy of their new Alexandrian text in 1881, Westcott, and Hort argued that the Byzantine textual tradition (which includes the Textus Receptus) did not originate before the mid-fourth century and that it was the result of merging earlier corrupt texts. This so-called recension of the text was theorized to have been perpetrated by Lucian of Antioch.

They further argued that this text was taken to Constantinople, where it became popular and spread throughout the Byzantine Empire. Westcott and Hort also theorized that such a prevailing text type could only have happened if it was sanctioned by the church.

All of these claim were made without a single shred of historical evidence for this supposed empire-wide church council, these men simply picked out a place (Antioch), and a time (250-350 AD) and a coordinator (Lucian) and concocted a theory. All this sounds impressive but to this day, there is not one piece of historical evidence to support any of this theory.

Westcott and Hort rewrote the history of the text with their "Lucian Recension". For the most part liberals, today reject the validity of the Westcott-Hort Lucian theory. However, this does not repair the damage already done by this fairytale.

One of the most striking revelations is the paradox of textual criticism insisting that manuscripts be extant while being all too willing to theorize why the Byzantine texts were so prolific in the 4th century without even the slightest piece of extant historical evidence.

The Westcott and Hort Lucian Recension is just the first of a series of rationalizations and theories that critical text advocates have produced over the years, to try and explain the situation from their point of view. One such theory is called: "Method in Establishing the Nature of Text-Types of New Testament Manuscripts —Ernest C. Colwell." All of these theories have failed to produce any historical support for their theories and fail to sufficiently account for the widespread dominance of the Byzantine texts among churches in the 4th century.

So widespread was the Byzantine text by the 4th century that it would have taken 100-200 years to become so well established across the known world. It therefore stands to reason, the Byzantine text is much older than many critical-text advocates would have people believe. The New Testament was not complete until the end of the 1st century and so it makes greater sense to conclude that the Byzantine text has been there from the very beginning.
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