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Thread: distinctively Byzantine readings - the Harry Sturz analysis - 150 in papyri

  1. Default distinctively Byzantine readings - the Harry Sturz analysis - 150 in papyri

    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
    Last edited by Steven Avery; 11-29-2018 at 05:51 AM.

  2. Default distinctively Syrian - the Hortian convoluted circularity charade

    Now let's include the information from my two 2011 posts on "distinctively Byzantine" on the TC-Alternate forum.

    [TC-Alternate-list] Kenyon mangles Hort on the ECW distinctively Byzantine readings
    Steven Avery - June 11, 2011

    [TC-Alternate-list] distinctively Byzantine - a phrase distinctly from the Hortian Fog
    Steven Avery - Oct 28, 2011

    Summary here:

    Facebook - Pure Bible
    CBGM and the "distinctively Byzantine" charade

    [TC-Alternate-list] Kenyon mangles Hort on the ECW distinctively Byzantine readings
    Steven Avery - June 11, 2011

    Hort is quite a master at obfuscatory writing, able to be easily distorted by others.

    Watch this little section from Kenyon, who is discussing how Hort answers the overwhelming numbers of Greek manuscripts by an appeal to the early church writers. We will use Byzantine and Syrian interchangeably. Notice that Kenyon considers this question foundational and critical to the Hortian Vaticanus (and Sinaiticus) theory.

    Talking about Burgon and others who felt the Hort theories were deficient :

    ... they regarded the Vatican and Sinaitic codices, with their few allies, as scanty survivals of a corrupt tradition, which perhaps owed their survival to their very badness.

    Kenyon offers his trump counterpoint.

    Against this appeal to numbers the supporters of Hort, among whom were included the large majority of trained textual critics, opposed the principles of criticism and a detailed examination of the evidence. The crux of the controversy lay in the testimony of the ancient Fathers. Hort's contention, which was the corner-stone of his theory, was that readings characteristic of the Received Text are never found in the quotations of Christian writers prior to about AD 350. Before that date we find characteristically 'Neutral' and 'Western' readings, but never 'Syrian'. This argument is in fact decisive: and no subsequent discovery of new witnesses, and no further examination of the old, has invalidated it. It would be superfluous to recapitulate here the course of the controversy, which was heated but short. When once the weight of this argument is realized, and when it is also understood that the critical ... (Sir Frederic George Kenyon Recent developments in the textual criticism of the Greek Bible, p. 8 1933 )

    While Hort's argument is confused enough, and worth examination, it is nothing like Kenyon blunderama claims.

    readings characteristic of the Received Text are never found in the quotations of Christian writers prior to about AD 350. Before that date we find characteristically 'Neutral' and 'Western' readings, but never 'Syrian'.

    Hort set up a whole convoluted structure about "distinctively Syrian" variants, about which even his own supporters really had very little idea what he meant, or where it applied .. a similar situation as we saw with the "neutral text". (Later, one writer, J. O. F. Murray, writing to respond to Edward Miller, made a valiant attempt to apply the Hortian ideas to practical verses in Mark 1 and 1 Timothy, however he had to largely ignore the actual definitions and assertions of Hort.)

    If this general topic of the history and examination of the ECW claims is of interest, I will share some of the historical and textual findings over a couple of posts.

    Returning to Kenyon, Hort made absolutely no claims at all about
    "readings characteristic of the Received Text". Nor did Hort use anything like a 350 AD cutoff date. Nor did he make general statements about "readings characteristic", he had a carefully honed approach of trying to separate out "distinctively Syrian" variants .. meaning that if the Western evidences and the Byzantine evidences and ECW agreed against the Alexandrian minority reading, that could be ascribed to the Western and ignored as a Byzantine evidence.

    Hort was a true master at circularity.

    Yet the Kenyon approach remains commonplace today, the Hortian confusion and deception lives on in various textual writers and can often be seen today on the discussion forums.

    The amazing element here is the level of disinformation involved, it is almost like peeling an onion, there is level upon level.

    Feel free to give your thoughts on the Kenyon statement, what you know of Hort and others (Metzger, the Fee-Pickering points etc.), and let us see if we can unravel some of the errors, from the Hort-sauce forward.

    [TC-Alternate-list] distinctively Byzantine - a phrase distinctly from the Hortian Fog
    Steven Avery - Oct 28, 2011

    Hi Folks,

    In a recent discussion James Snapp was focusing in on the "distinctly Byzantine" concept that was broached by Hort, as it came up in what can be called a "low-level" sermon.

    The Superiority of the Majority Text by Brian Schwertley

    James Snapp
    Those 2,630 readings, and those 151 readings, are not *distinctly* Byzantine; they are either Byzantine *and* Alexandrian, or else they are Byzantine *and* Western. They are not *distinctly* Byzantine. Of course, some early readings *are* distinctly Byzantine – but that's another story.

    Actually, if James read Hort carefully, I think he would find that by definition no "distinctly Byzantine" readings can be early, by definition. Once an early writer like Origen or Tertullian quotes a variant, that fact alone will remove it from the Hortian category. (I am doing this from memory, check it out by following the post below.)

    And if this concept from the Hortian Fog is going to be used as a possible wedge against the Received Text or the Byzantine Text, it would be important to know what it means. With a definition and with real verifiable examples. However, this is something that afaik has never been done, even a century later. And then "distinctly Byzantine" readings could be compared in value to "distinctly Alexandrian" or "distinctly Western" readings and the import discussed.

    A few months ago I pointed out that even Kenyon mangled what Hort meant by this phrase.

    Kenyon mangles Hort on the ECW distinctively Byzantine readings

    The point is simple. If Hort used the concept without examples, explanation and context, and if even Frederic G. Kenyon mangles the whole idea into a mess of porridge, and if nobody else has ever made this into a systematic, even-playing-field concept of some validity ...

    Why use a phrase that is simply propaganda, of no scholarship worth ?


    Another part on the thread:

    "the new versions are a rejection of all reformation translations. I would like to see that expanded to include the rejection of the Old Latin, the Vulgate, Gothic, Syriac and Ethiopic as well"

    Steven Avery
    Jim is pointing out that the sermon speaker Brian spoke in a limited way. However there is a reason for this, since TR spokesmen are often conditioned into thinking of the Latin Vulgate as "the enemy, all bad".

    Maurice Robinson
    If you are seriously suggesting this, you must not be aware of the huge amount of non-Byzantine, non-TR, non-traditional readings in those versions that would oppose the so-called "reformation translations" to which you refer.

    This response from Maurice is not really sensible. The learned men of the Reformation text were influenced by the Vulgate and Old Latin already (and to a far lesser extent the Syriac by the time of Theodore Beza). The influence of especially the Vulgate and Old Latin is already there (a simple truth that leads to convoluted positioning by all sides, pro and contra). Being aware of and influenced by the Latin does not mean discarding the Greek Byzantine fountainhead. Au contraire !

    Maurice Robinson
    Once more, this is usually a KJVO/TRO-type argument, and not one that a majority/Byzantine supporter would normally make

    Steven Avery

    Quite obviously the Byzantine Priority advocate can not make this argument, since they similarly ignore these evidences, except in a very limited tie-breaker mode.

    Maurice Robinson
    (for the record, I am also a strong advocate of modern translation, formal equivalence preferred, and I make no use whatever of the KJV or its predecessors, in case anyone was curious)

    Steven Avery
    Actually, I do not see how it helps any Byzantine Priority position to repeatedly declare your hostility and animus against the Received Text position of which your position is simply a one-dimensional subset. It looks like an attempt to sell out your own textual heritage for a mess of modern textual criticism approval porridge. This is even more a problem after attacking the perceived fideistic aspects of the TR position and then declaring the perfection of the Byzantine text, an approach which must be seen as fideistic, making the TR attack that much more puzzling.

    Steven Avery

  3. Default Hort's circularities and gibberish in his "distinciively Syrian" category assertions

    With Hort, you always deal with circularities.

    The New Testament in the Original Greek, Volume 2
    Westcott and Hort

    "Before the middle of the third century, at the very earliest, we have no historical signs of the existence of readings, conflate or other, that are marked as distinctively Syrian by the want of attestation from groups of documents which have preserved the other ancient forms of text. This is a fact of great significance, ascertained as it is exclusively by external evidence, and therefore supplying an absolutely independent verification and extnsion of the result already obtained by comparison of the internal character of readings as classified by conflation." p. 114-115
    There is no "fact of great significance" (and there is no list of variants), it is simply circular to Hort's definition of "distinctively Syrian", which is given much later. The opposition to "distinctively Syrian" readings (never listed) is a linch-pin of the Hortian system.

    Indeed this is only repeating in other words that all distinctively Syrian readings must be at once rejected. p. 119
    A good example of Hortian gibberish is on p. 118, where Hort, in his normal circular fashion, wants to say that even a Western and Byzantine agreement is of no worth, that the Byzantine agreement, (e.g. 1000-1500 mss) adds nothing to the small number of Western mss supporting a reading.

    167. The same facts lead to another conclusion of equal or even greater importance respecting non-distinctive Syrian readings, which hold a conspicuous place by their number and often by their intrinsic interest. Since the Syrian text is only a modified eclectic combination of earlier texts independently attested, existing documents descended from it can attest nothing but itself: the only authority which they can give to readings having other documentary attestation, that is to readings Syrian but not distinctively Syrian, is the authority of the Syrian text itself, which resolves itself into that of a lost ancient MS of one or possibly more of those older texts from which the Syrian text was in any given variation derived. Accordingly a reading supported both by the documents belonging to the Syrian group and by those belonging to e.g. the Western group has no appreciably greater presumption in its favour than if it were supported by the Western group alone: the only accession is that of a lost Western MS not later in date than the time when the Syrian text was formed; and in almost all cases this fact would add nothing to our knowledge of the ancestry of the reading as furnished by the Non-Syrian documents attesting it. p. 118
    Only much later do you get the supposed definition.

    B. 225, 226. Identification and rejection of Syrian readings

    225. The first point to decide with respect to each reading is whether it is Pre-Syrian or not. If it is attested by the bulk of the later Greek MSS, but not by any of the uncials אBCDLPQRTZ (Δ in St Mark) Ξ (also 33) in the Gospels (the smaller fragments we pass over here), אABCDEs (also 13 61) in Acts, אABC (also 13) in the Catholic Epistles, or אABC D2 G3 (also 17 67**) in the Pauline Epistles, and not by any Latin authority (except the latest forms of Old Latin), the Old or the Jerusalem Syriac, or either Egyptian version, and not by any certain quotation of a Father earlier than 250, there is the strongest possible presumption that it is distinctively Syrian, and therefore, on the grounds already explained (§ 158), to be rejected at once as proved to have a relatively late origin. p. 163
    Ξ is Zacynthius.

    (§ 158) is on p. 112 and explains nothing about rejecting "distinctively Syrian" readings. In fact, it totally contradicts the idea of limiting early church writers to 250 AD as he references (quite incompletely) additional Ante-Nicene church writes. You should compare his abbreviated list with the one at:

    Early Christian Writings

    And you will see many additional omissions of important writers and writings than Hort's short list.

    158. When we examine the remains of the Ante-Nicene Christian literature with a view to collect evidence respecting the ancient texts which the groupings of the extant documents shew to have existed, we are for some time after the apostolic age hampered both by the paucity of the writings preserved and by the scantiness and comparative vagueness of the textual materials contained in them. The only period for which we have anything like a sufficiency of representative knowledge consists roughly of three quarters of a century from about 175 to 250: but the remains of four eminent Greek Fathers, which range through this period, cast a strong light on textual history backward and forward. They are Irenaeus, of Asia Minor, Rome, and Lyons; his disciple Hippolytus, of Rome; Clement, of Athens and Alexandria; and his disciple Origen, of Alexandria and Palestine. To the same period belong the Latin representatives of North Africa, Tertullian and Cyprian, as also Cyprian’s Roman contemporary Novatian. Towards the close of the third century we have somewhat considerable remains of Methodius, of Lycia and Tyre, an enemy of the Origenian school; and in the first third of the fourth century several writings of Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine, the most learned of its disciples. For the second half of the third century we have other fragments, but they are few in number.
    (§ 158)
    Ante-Nicene Christian literature
    roughly 175 to 250:
    four eminent Greek Fathers,
    Irenaeus (W)
    Hippolytus (W)
    Clement, of Alexandria (Western quotations prominent place, (§ 160) many non-Western)
    Origen (Western quotations hold a prominent place) (§ 161)

    Latin representatives of North Africa,

    Later era
    Methodius, (W)
    Eusebius of Caesarea (W predominantly)

    (§ 159)
    Before 250
    Marcion (W)
    Justin Martyr (W)

    (§ 162)
    Before the middle of the third century, at the very earliest, we have no historical signs of the existence of readings, conflate or other, that are marked as distinctively Syrian by the want of attestation from groups of documents which have preserved the other ancient forms of text. This is a fact of great significance, ascertained as it is exclusively by external evidence, and therefore supplying an absolutely independent verification and extension of the result already obtained by comparison of the internal character of readings as classified by conflation.


    Contemporary Review (1883)
    Henry Wace

    Dr. Scrivener observes, “ regarding his speculative conjecture as indubitably true,”Dr. Hort names the new text “Syrian,” and does not shrink from declaring that all distinctively Syrian readings must be at once rejected, “thus making a clean sweep of all critical materials, Fathers, versions, manuscripts uncial or cursive, comprising about nineteen-twentieths of the whole mass, which do not correspond with his preconceived opinion of what a correct text ought to be.”


    Marvin R. Vincent

  4. Default CBGM, the Harklean Syriac and the "distiinctively Syrian" charade

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    CBGM and the "distinctively Byzantine" circularity charade

    If you have any doubt that the CBGM works with various Hortian errors as its presuppositions:


    The Harklean Syriac and the Development of the Byzantine Text: A Historical Test for the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM)

    Peter Gurry antine_Text_A_Historical_Test_for_the_Coherence-Based_Genealogical_Method_CBGM_Prepub


    "important questions have been raised about the CBGM’s ability to elucidate the textual history that Westcott and Hort rightly saw as basic to restoring the text of the New Testament."

    So CBGM start their search as Hortian dupes.


    "Westcott and Hort ... Crucially, they defined a “distinctively Byzantine reading” as one found in the bulk of later manuscripts without support from the major uncials, the earliest versions (Latin, Syriac, and Coptic), and without support from certain Church Father prior to A.D. 250. If a reading was not to be found there, then it was deemed to be produced (rather than merely adopted) as part of the “Syrian revision” (Introduction, 163-164)."

    Again, Hortian gibberish is used to determine CBGM definitions, theory and methodology You will find very few Byzantine variants that actually match this criteria.

    Plus the supposed "major uncials" are generally the Alexandrian uncials.

    Hortian Circular Rigging Around "Distinctively Syrian"

    Even Codex Alexandrinus is carefully omitted in the Gospels

    This is because, as in Aland's later circular Category system, the Byzantine uncials need not apply!
    (Aland was simply following Hort.)

    Even the Peshitta is carefully omitted from the Versions

    And some Old Latin support is specifically omitted.

    And their stopping the church writers at 250 AD was one of many rigging elements. Why not include all the ECW before the supposed date of their Vaticanus manuscript?

    And the ECW quotes have to be "certain" which is a good way to omit many strong references.
    Plus, W&H they totally unscholarly and inconsistent in discussing supposed "distinctively Byzantine" readings. This is a point I studied and documented back in 2011, in the two TC-Alternate posts below.

    Facebook - Pure Bible
    Distinctively Byzantine Variants

    Facebook - King James Bible Debate tn%3AR%7D

    "Hort's "distinctively Byzantine" construct was a worthless circularity"

    And the details are in:

    [TC-Alternate-list] Kenyon mangles Hort on the ECW distinctively Byzantine readings
    Steven Avery - June 11, 2011

    [TC-Alternate-list] distinctively Byzantine - a phrase distinctly from the Hortian Fog
    Steven Avery - Oct 28, 2011

    I'll plan on bringing this over to the PBF - Pure Bible Forum, with the details more readable.


    "Where the Byzantine text is rejected as later and derivative, its unique readings are likewise rejected; where this same text is viewed an accumulative development with early roots, its unique readings may be accepted as original particularly when the internal evidence warrants."

    Actually the theory of "unique readings" in the Byzantine manuscripts is the same error as "distinctively Byzantine" from Hort.

    Virtually all Byzantine readings have support in some of the areas of early church writers, the Latin and Syriac manuscripts and the Greek uncials.


    " Wachtel himself defined the Byzantine text in his original study. Instead, he defined the Byzantine text as those readings attested by the majority of manuscripts wherein—and this is the key—they differ from the original text?"

    Here Gurry and the CBGM are simply refuting another Hortian circular stupidity. Defining the Byzantine Text as those readings differing from the corruption text that is called "original".

    Occasionally the CBGM people get something right, although they refrain from pointing out the circular nonsense of Wachtel and company.


    There is much more about "distinctively Byzantine" which is not defined in the paper.

    "Across the Catholic Epistles, there are 206 distinctively Byzantine readings."

    Really? Name the 10 most significant and let's study the variants. I can virtually guarantee that many do not match up to the rigged Hortian definition. The more basic question, why use the Hortian rigged definition?


    "Harklean ... unique readings should be taken seriously especially where they do not show the Byzantine text’s more typical tendency toward smoothing the text.."

    More Hortian presuppositional error.



    Now I have placed the fundamental problems of "distinctively Syrian (Byzantine)", from the two TC-Alternate 2011 posts (also including an astute comment from James Snapp) on:


    Pure Bible Forum
    distinctively Syrian - the Hortian convoluted circularity charade

    Note that I am bypassing the Sturz post for these purposes, and going straight to post #2.


    And these errors are used as one major foundation of CBGM analysis.

    GIGO - garbage in, garbage out.


    Steven Avery
    Shared for Peter Gurry on The Received Text forum:

    Facebook - The Received Text
    The CBGM reliance on Hort's "distinctively Syrian" (Byzantine) category.

  5. Default John William Burgon rips "distinctiively Syrian" assertions of Hort to shreds

    John William Burgon noticed the worthlessness of the Hortian claims

    Revision Revised (1883)
    John William Burgon

    XII. Next come 8 pages (pp. 107-15) headed—Posteriority of Syrian to Western and other (neutral and Alexandrian) Readings, shown by Ante-Nicene Patristic evidence.

    In which however we are really shown nothing of the sort. Bold Assertions abound, (as usual with this respected 267 writer,) but Proof he never attempts any. Not a particle of Evidence is adduced.—Next come 5 pages headed,—Posteriority of Syrian to Western, Alexandrian, and other (neutral) Readings, shown by Internal evidence of Syrian readings (p. 115).

    But again we are shown absolutely nothing: although we are treated to the assurance that we have been shown many wonders. Thus, the Syrian conflate Readings have shown the Syrian text to be posterior to at least two ancient forms still extant (p. 115): which is the very thing they have signally failed to do. Next,

    Patristic evidence has shown that these two ancient Texts, and also a third, must have already existed early in the third century, and suggested very strong grounds for believing that in the middle of the century the Syrian Text had not yet been formed.

    Whereas no single appeal has been made to the evidence supplied by one single ancient Father!—

    Another step is gained by a close examination of all Readings distinctively Syrian.—(Ibid.)

    And yet we are never told which the Readings distinctively Syrian are,—although they are henceforth referred to in every page. Neither are we instructed how to recognize them when we see them; which is unfortunate, since it follows,—(though we entirely fail to see from what,)—that all distinctively Syrian Readings may be set aside at once as certainly originating after the middle of the third century. (p. 117) ... Let us hear a little more on the subject:—

    The same Facts—(though Dr. Hort has not hitherto favoured us with any)—lead to another conclusion of equal or even greater importance respecting non-distinctive Syrian Readings ... Since the Syrian Text is only a modified eclectic combination of earlier Texts independently attested,—

    (for it is in this confident style that these eminent Scholars handle the problem they undertook to solve, but as yet have failed even to touch),—

    existing documents descended from it can attest nothing but itself.—(p. 118.)

    Presently, we are informed that it follows from what has been said above,—(though how it follows, we fail to see,)—that all Readings in which the Pre-Syrian texts concur, must be accepted at once as the Apostolic Readings: and that all distinctively Syrian Readings must be at once rejected.—(p. 119.)

    Trenchant decrees of this kind at last arrest attention. It becomes apparent that we have to do with a Writer who has discovered a summary way of dealing with the Text of Scripture, and who is prepared to impart his secret to any who care to accept—without questioning—his views. We look back to see where this accession of confidence began, and are reminded that at p. 108 Dr. Hort announced that for convenience he should henceforth speak of certain groups of documents, by the conventional names Western—Pre-Syrian—Alexandrian—and so forth. Accordingly, ever since, (sometimes eight or ten times in the course of a single page,
    719) we have encountered this arbitrary terminology: have been required to accept it as the expression of ascertained facts in Textual Science. Not till we find ourselves floundering in the deep mire, do we become fully aware of the absurdity of our position. Then at last, (and high time too!), we insist on knowing what on earth our Guide is about, and whither he is proposing to lead us?... More considerate to our Readers than he has been to us, we propose before going any further, (instead of mystifying the subject as Dr. Hort has done,) to state in a few plain words what 269 the present Theory, divested of pedantry and circumlocution, proves to be; and what is Dr. Hort's actual contention.

    719E.g. pp. 115, 116, 117, 118, &c.

    p. 267-268

  6. Default distinctively Byzantine - filling out the history

    For completeness, we can plan on filling out the historical review on this post.

  7. Default Maurice Robinson - " the actual number of "distinctively Byzantine readings" ends up painfully few

    Here Maurice Robinson and I were largely in agreement.

    Evangelical Textual Critcism
    Defining the Byzantine Text
    by Peter Gurry at 11:30 am 10

    Porter and Pitts
    Several other questions are left unanswered by the Majority text approach as well. Statistical probability of documents simply cannot explain why no distinctively Byzantine readings are identifiable in the Greek manuscripts, church fathers, or version from the first several centuries—certainly some remains would have been left, even if the manuscripts were in constant use. If the Majority text most accurately reflects the original, we would expect some traces of it chronologically close to the original. These significant obstacles to the Majority text approach still have not been convincingly overcome by its adherents (pp. 91–92 n. 3).

    Peter Gurry
    Now I admit that I find a form of the chronological argument against the Majority Text and the Byzantine text persuasive. But what I want to point out here is that this particular form of the argument hinges entirely on something that Porter and Pitts do not provide us with, namely, a definition of “distinctively Byzantine readings.” ... Now the problem should be obvious. An argument like that of Porter and Pitts risks circularity ... Now, perhaps Porter and Pitts have a definition of “distinctively Byzantine reading” that isn’t circular. From what they’ve written we simply don’t know because they don’t define their key term.
    Steven Avery
    2/05/2016 12:20 am

    Thank you, Peter! Spot-on.

    The circularity of how "distinctively Byzantine" (formerly "distinctively Syrian") has been used for 135 years is a glaring example of the logic difficulty that manifests in textual criticism circles.

    And I wrote on this in the following posts:

    [TC-Alternate-list] Kenyon mangles Hort on the ECW distinctively Byzantine readings
    Steven Avery - June 11, 2011

    [TC-Alternate-list] distinctively Byzantine - a phrase distinctly from the Hortian Fog
    Steven Avery - Oct 28, 2011

    "by definition no "distinctively Byzantine" readings can be early, by definition. Once an early writer like Origen or Tertullian quotes a variant, that fact alone will remove it from the Hortian category.
    maurice a. robinson 2/05/2016 8:20 pm

    Apparently lost sight of in this discussion is the definitional concept of what constitutes a "distinctively Byzantine reading". The claim originates with Hort (except that he termed the Byzantine "Syrian"), and is defined by him (quite reasonably) as a particular reading that appears among the later (post-AD 350) Byzantine MSS but which is not present in the early 4th century Aleph or B, nor appears in any early version or church father prior to AD 350 (this date plus or minus ca. 50 years).

    It was this particular definition that Sturz addressed in his dissertation, and that definition still can be used with profit today.

    Given these parameters, the actual number of "distinctively Byzantine readings" ends up painfully few, since nearly all readings found within the Byzantine Textform have at least some early support from versions and fathers
    The basic theme from Maurice Robinson is spot-on, although he actually is off a bit in describing Hort's methodology (see above.)

  8. Default Maurice Robinson confirms the error of considering the ECM 206 as "stinctinctively Byzantine"

    In our correspondence, Maurice made it clear that they had totally morphed the definition away from any idea that Hort may have been using.

    And away from "distinctively Byzantine" to what would be called "characteristically Byzantine." The 206 ECM readings could have lots of early attestation from manuscripts, versions and ECW, but the bulk of their support was "characteristically Byzantine."

    Clearly this would have no function of the use attempted by Peter Gurry.

  9. Default Early (papyri) Witnesses to the Received Text

    This was done long ago, and really opened up the topic.
    A well done article.

    Early Witnesses to the Received Text
    David L. Brown

    Later came many forum and blog posts that touch on Sturz, Leland Haines and related material.
    Here is one example. More may be brought in later.
    Searching terms like "Sturz" "Received Text" "150" "distinctively Byzantine" brings them up.

    Leland Haines is on the next post.

    King James Wordings Found In Early Greek Papyri New Testament Manuscripts
    Bernard Pyron

  10. Default sample discussion with textcrit lemming bringing out canned arguments

    Moderated King James Bible
    (thread deleted by Brett - info saved here)

    Good smaller contributions by John Graves, Jack McElroy and TD Groppi.

    Brett Noll
    Explain why there are no extant Greek manuscripts with distinct KJV readings (or more specifically, distinct readings from a Greek Byzantine form of text) from the first 300 years of church history?

    Steven Avery
    Most all you have in that era is the papyri. From the gnostic desert sands of Egypt and wild texts that don't really match anything. It is possible that the Readers Digest abbreviated Vaticanus fits in that period, although I doubt it.
    The question itself is too vague in meaning, and suffers from awkward selection. As if it were designed for convolution.

    Brett Noll
    There is not a single Greek manuscript, papyrus, or early version for the first 300 years of church history that contains a distinct KJV (or Byzantine) reading from a manuscript that reflects a Byzantine text.

    Steven Avery
    There are tons of readings in the papyri that are TR-AV matches.150 are in the Sturz paper, and many more later.
    Are you trying to do some special word parsing, or just ignorant on the topic? I'm pretty sure that Sturz even used the phrase "distinctively Byzantine", although that phrase has been a disaster over the years, starting with Hort's bogus use

    Brett Noll
    Harry Sturz gives no example of a Byzantine reading in the early papyri (two of which - 59/74 - both dated to the 7th century CE - aren't 'early' papyri - ref for 59 & ref for 74)

    Steven Avery
    I have a number of resources here.

    Pure Bible Forum
    distinctively Byzantine readings - the Harry Sturz analysis - 150 in papyri

    Brett, why don't you list the precise mss (skipping minor fragments) that you think have no "distinctively Byzantine" readings AND definte "distinctively Byzantine".

    Otherwise we will be in a typical word parsing game.

    Oh, also tell us the definition of "distinctively Alexandrian" readings.
    And "distincitively Western",

    Just so we can folow this on a level playing field.

    Brett Noll
    150 readings is hardly 'frequent' - that accounts for less than 4% of the variants - what about the other 96% / 3,850 variants?

    Steven Avery
    You are strange.
    Precisely, what is a "distincitvely Byzantine" variant? I think you are a little weak on probability and statistics

    Steven Avery
    This was the first article I remember from about a decade back that looked at this question.

    Early Witnesses To The Received Text
    David L. Brown

    Leland Haines wrote on as well. And others.

    Translations and the Greek Text (2000)
    Papyrus Shows all Text Types Are Old
    Leland M. Haines

    My main contribution here has been getting to to the root of the charade of the term "distinctively Byzantine", from Hort to Peter Gurry in 2018, over a century of word-parsing deception contra the Received Text. ECM essentially has variants as what could be called "characteristically Byzantine", noted above.

    The confusion, faux definitions and word-parsing around "distinctively Syrian" (Hort) has been a major part of textcrit posturing.


    Also there is a fundamental circularity flaw in the way text-lines are defined. Essentially the Alexandrian line is little more than Vaticanus and P75 and a small number of manuscripts that are in partial agreement. And many of those are desert sand fragments from gnostic Egypt. While the Byzantine text-line involves 3000+ manuscripts. So terms like "distinctively" have an inherent asymmetrical element, even before parsing terms and questions.


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