Hi Folks, While I was involved in some studies on the Lukan verses (placed on a Fighting Fundamental forum :) ), and checking out the Western non-interps, I
Message 1 of 1
, Mar 13, 2011
While I was involved in some studies on the Lukan verses (placed on a
Fighting Fundamental forum :) ), and checking out the Western
non-interps, I noticed that there seems to be a basic misunderstanding
as to what means the Hortian term --> "neutral
Especially as to whether this neutral text includes western
The principle purpose of this study will be to examine the relationship
between Hort's neutral text and western non-interpolations.
In this post I do not plan to get into the use of
brackets>> in their text, and the
attendant sense of vacillation (including on Matthew 27:49). James Rendal
Harris has a good section on this (Side-lights on New Testament research:
Seven lectures delivered in 1908, p. 83-85).
Overall it is clear that Hort's theory, in his
writings, considered the non-interpolations, the omissions, as
My purpose here is also not to discuss the
text" as a
myth (see the textualcriticism thread
below). It is to show the actual Hortian usage contra the different
ways it has been addressed by writers for over a century.
Personally, I believe "myth" is a reasonably good term (and I
believe it is very relevant to textual studies as a whole that a myth was
elevated to a text-type on one hand while hundreds of manuscripts and
references ("Syrian") could be discarded with the other as
non-relevant). Dean John Burgon used the phrase
fable" (Revision Revised p. 396) and
the text-type category breakdown (including using neutral text) as
fiction" (p. 301). Nor is the
point here to look at term as
, accurate logically as that phrase can
However none of that is really relevant to this study, which is about
what Hort meant .. contra what people say he meant.
STANDARD TEXTCRIT WRITING - HORT'S NEUTRAL TEXT INCLUDES
The first group is closer to the times, so more interesting to study,
one by one.
A companion to the Greek Testament and
the English version (1883)
http://books.google.com/books?id=7o0sAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA220 genealogical method .. "Western
non-interpolations" ... Matt xxvii.49 .. The significance of snch
exceptions as the one under discussion is simply this; in a few rare
cases the stem from which the classes diverge received corruption after
the Western divergence, and before the Neutral or Alexandrian divergence;
in other words, between z and k on the diagram.
(pic of diagram from p. 216)
Although this chart is a bit unusual, it
would in fact show the Neutral text as not the True Text and as having
the corruption of the western non-interpolations. Even though
Schaaf was close to Hort, and this chart was done early, and possibly in
consultation with Hort .. the problem, we will see, is that the
chart does not fit the words of Hort.
This chart does however, give a good picture of the idea of 3 lines,
"Neutral, Alexandrian, an Western", with the mass of
"Syrian" evidence unto virtual irrelevance.
Also from Schaaf.
http://books.google.com/books?id=7o0sAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA220 Here, lience we are justified in dividing the authorities into
different families, and to speak of an Alexandrian or Egyptian, a
Constantinopolitan or Byzantine (also called Antiochan or Syrian), a
Western, and a neutral text (chiefly represented by B and next by
Aleph, and presumably the oldest extant).
http://books.google.com/books?id=7o0sAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA275 (4.) The Neutral text. This is most free from later corruption and
mixture, and comes nearest the autographs. It is best represented by B
(which is complete except the Pastoral Epistles, the Apocalypse, and the
last four chapters of Hebrews), and next by Aleph (which contains the
whole New Testament without a gap).
If there is a major counterpoint to this
whole study, it is Schaff above.
What has to be done is compare his representation to the words of Hort
And two contradictory representations of the basic theory, can go a long
way to explaining the century long and more confusions.
An introduction to the textual criticism
of the New Testament (1887)
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield
http://books.google.com/books?id=1g0-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA175 Matt. xxvii:49 .. thus forces us to decide against the combination of
the Neutral and Alexandrian and for the Western standing alone.
Warfield is saying that Matthew 27:49 would
not be in the neutral text. (Matthew 27:49 is a special case within
the special cases, the omission is well supported, so it is a bit of a
fudge for Warfield to use that as his verse example. The same applies to
Since Warfield was early, at least he understood that in the Hortian
terminology, the Neutral and Alexandrian texts are different lines,
referring to "the Neutro-Alexandrian
combination of the Neutral and Alexandrian"
(above). This distinction quickly
vanished in most textcrit writings.
The text of the New Testament (1900)
http://books.google.com/books?id=Ggc-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA70 suggests that there is a considerable class of Neutral
interpolations (or Western non-interpolations as WH call them) which
have affected every text
http://books.google.com/books?id=Ggc-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA91 At present it has scarcely been touched, and it would be out of place
to say anything at length on the point; but the present writer cannot
help thinking that the solution of the origin of the Western
interpolations, or Neutral interpolations, is connected somehow with
the sources of the New Testament rather than with its
Like many, even as early as 1900, Lake
thinks that Hort defines the Neutral text as the Vaticanus or Alexandrian
On a technical level, he places the Hortian distinctions as follows,
without giving any specific references.
Thus, Kirsopp Lake defines the Hort neutral text as deficient,
since it is basically the Aleph-B text, per Lake.
Notice that his graph places the interpolations into the
Without any supporting words from Hort.
http://books.google.com/books?id=Ggc-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA67 The Neutral text therefore (which is best preserved in Aleph-B., esp.
B.) is W.H.'s idea of the true authentic text. But they make one
exception. If the Western omits anything, they consider that such
omission deserves great consideration, because the genius of the
Western text is so inclined to addition that, if it omits any reading
found elsewhere, the probability is that it does so because the omission
is primitive; in other words, they regard Western omissions as not
omissions so much as non-interpolations, and consider that these
passages are to be regarded as corruptions which have affected all texts
except the Western.
Handbook to the textual criticism of the
New Testament (1901)
Sir Frederic George Kenyon
http://books.google.com/books?id=q5MwAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA280 " Neutral " .... Hort finds this text pre-eminently
in the Codex Vaticanus (B); indeed one may almost define his
"Neutral" text as the
text of B (scribe's blunders excluded), and of other MSS. so far as they
agree with B. The most notable exception to this rule occurs in the case
of certain verses (mostly in the latter chapters of St. Luke) which are
found in B and the great majority of MSS., but are omitted in D and other
authorities of the .
These verses Hort believes not to have formed part of the original text,
and designates as "Western non-interpolations."
Kenyon is careful with his words, using
"almost define" and then getting into the western
non-interpolations. He does not directly say the position of the neutral
text with those verses, but the implication is that the neutral text is
the perfect text, per Hort.
Various - 1910-2005 - (Including Metzger, Parsons, Parker,
You will see that the general rule became to write as if the neutral
text actually would have the "interpolations".
The Historicity of the Apostolic Decree (1912)
Conrad H. Moehlmann
Hort ... neglected the readings of the "Western" text, except
in a few instances which he described as "Western
The text of the New Testament: its transmission, corruption, and
The exceptions to their preferences for the Neutral text are several
passages that they term "Western non-interpolations." They
doubtless chose this cumbersome nomenclature simply because they could
not bring themselves to refer to "Neutral interpolations,"
which is exactly what, on their own reconstruction, is involved in these
(Also Metzger and Ehrman)
The departure of Jesus in Luke-Acts: the
Ascension narratives in context
Mikeal Carl Parsons - (1987) ..
Unable to bring themselves to identify these textual problems as Neutral
interpolations, they instead preferred the clumsy nomenclature Western
Mikeal Carl Parsons has a paper specifically
supporting the western non-interps.
Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt
the two scholars, perceiving perhaps the logical problem inherent in
saying that a neutral text had been interpolated, preferred to emphasize
that at these points the 'Western' text had not been subject to
interpolation, and to describe these longer readings coined the phrase
The living text of the Gospels (1997)
David C. Parker
It would have been simpler to describe the passages as 'Neutral
interpolations'. This, out of trust in the Neutral tradition as a whole,
Hort declined to do. Moreover, he and Westcott did not remove the
doubtful verses from their text. All that they did was to print them
within double square brackets .... But Sinaiticus and Vaticanus
were their Neutral Text, that which they considered to be original
Defending the "Western Non-Interpolations":
The Case for an Anti-Separationist Tendenz in the Longer Alexandrian
Michael Wade Martin
http://www.jstor.org/pss/30041013 Whereas B. F. Westcott and F. J, A. Hort on the basis of internal
evidence had relegated to double brackets nine verses or partial verses
judged to be rare "Neutral" interpolations lacking in the
TODAY'S INTERNET STUDIES - Waltz, Wilker
http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/WestNonInterp.html If Hort's theory is to be believed, the "Western
Non-interpolations" are in fact places in which readings have been
interpolated into the
Neutral text (and usually the Byzantine text as well). Although Hort
usually rejects "Western" readings, in this case he regards
them as original
A Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels
http://www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/Western-non-interpolations.pdf Wester non-interpolations
Westcott and Hort identified 27 instances in the text of the Gospels
where, contrary to normal behavior, the Western text has a shorter text
which, on internal considerations, has some merit to be original. They
called them "Western non-interpolations", possibly to avoid the
inescapable term "Neutral interpolations". Compare WH Intro §
240-42 and 383:
The above group all make the assertion that
the neutral text would have the interpolation, and would be corrected by
AND ... WHAT DOES FENTON HORT SAY ?
Howvever, Fenton Hort never says the "neutral text" has
these non-interpolation verses and phrases, since, as far as anyone
can tell, the "neutral text" is shorthand for the Westcott
and Hort text. Working backwards, since it is never defined,
this would be largely Vaticanus plus western non-interpolations + fill-in
(often Sinaiticus, where Vaticanus does not speak, or speaks too
Now, it is clear that Hort considers Vaticanus and Sinaiticus as impure,
since they have these interpolations, even with the funny name given by
Hort (western non-interpolation).
The New Testament in the original Greek, the
text revised by B.F. Westcott (1881)
303. That absolute purity cannot be ascribed to all readings attested
by Aleph-B is implied in the existence of the Western
non-interpolations (§ 240).
Notice that Hort is willing to say that
Vaticanus is not absolutely pure, Hort never says this about the
When we go back to (§ 240).
http://books.google.com/books?id=gZ4HAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA176 Western Non-interpolations
241- These exceptional instances of the preservation of the original text
in exclusively Western readings are likely to have had an exceptional
origin. They are easily reconciled with the other phenomena if we
suppose, first, that the text which became fixed at Alexandria,
and in due time was partially adulterated by Alexandrian corruptions,
was an offshoot from the text which we have called the neutral
text, and which had parted company from the earliest special
ancestry of the Western text at a yet earlier date; and
secondly, that the interpolations which give rise to the appearance of
Western omissions took place in the interval, if not at the actual
divergence, and thus stand in all Non-Western texts, whether derived
through Alexandria or not.
This is written with a bit of Hortian
denseness, so you have to take out your Ginsu word-parsing knife, you
will notice that the neutral text left the Western before the
interpolations, (or at the time of the interpolations, but not
after). Thus, in Hortian theory, the original neutral text would not
have the interpolations, since the Western text is
non-interpolated. And It is easy to see that there is nothing
here about the neutral text being tainted, it existed before the
NOTE ! - the words above do not match the Philip Schaff chart.
neutral text ... had parted company from the
earliest special ancestry of the Western text at a yet earlier date
(than the Alexandrian text)
In the Schaff chart, the departure from the Western text is way before
any Alexandrian-Neutral departue.
Ironcially its seems, through the verbal denseness, that Hort then claims
the interpolations that are not western-non-interpolations have a western
character (perhaps in a style sense). All that is Fenton Hort at work and
play, and not the point of this post (for details, read further down on
p. 176). Hort looks for a way to minmize these Alexandrian
interpolations, so they are described as something like ... western
character non-western interpolations.
You might notice that Kirsopp Lake, for all his graphs and such, does
not represent this accurately.
To be fair, Hort is not particularly consistent.
The main line of neutral and
comparatively pure text was from an early time surrounded and
overshadowed by two powerful lines containing much aberration, the
'Western' being by far the most licentious and the most widely spread,
and the Alexandrian being
formed by skilful but mostly petty corrections which left the neutral
text untouched, at all events in the Gospels and Pauline Epistles, except
in a very small proportion of its words. (p. 178)
As usual, Hort makes a definite distinction
between the Alexandrian and the Neutral, however here he uses
"comparatively pure", a term which would allow some errors.
On page 220 Hort says that the "common
original of Aleph B .. had a very ancient and very pure
text". While on p. 251 he
describes B as having "a very ancient
text, but a very pure line of very ancient text, and that with
comparatively small depravation either by scattered ancient corruptions
otherwise attested or by individualisms of the scribe
Here Hort says that the primary Greek
MSStogether give a
"specially pure text;"
263. Now if each of the Greek MSS singled out as primary is individually
entitled to this exceptional distinction as a representative of
Pre-Syrian texts, we should naturally expect the complete combinations of
them to attest a specially pure text; the text thus attested being
certified by the concurrence of all the great lines of transmission known
to have existed in the earliest times, since undoubtedly all known
Pre-Syrian forms of text are sufficiently represented among the primary
MSS except the Western texts of the Catholic Epistles (in so
far as they have a Western text) and of part of the Acts ... (continues)
When Hort discusses primary Greek MSS, you
can see they include D, the Old Syriac and the Old Latin. (p. 187,
also p. 189 and page 192 also shows D as one of these primary Greek
MSS). On page 193-194 he discusses the splits that can include the
certain peculiar omissions excepted, the
Western text is probably always corrupt as compared with the Non-Western
text. (p. 194)
However, our verses are the peculiar
omissions. Hort will grant that the Non-Western text is corrupt, he does
not remotely mention the neutral text. Similarly he will say that
the Western text, in these verses, has
"incorrupt transmission" (p.
294). These have
"exceptional claim to adoption".
(p. 121). They could have been caused
by "textual events unknown to us"
http://books.google.com/books?id=gZ4HAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA170 234- If then a Pre-Syrian text exists which is neutral, that is,
neither Western nor Alexandrian, the phenomena of attestation provide two
resources for learning in what documents we may expect to find such a
text preserved, comparison of the two fundamental types of
binary variations, and direct inspection of the ternary or yet more
complex variations last mentioned.
http://books.google.com/books?id=gZ4HAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA171 We learn next that B very far exceeds all other documents in
neutrality of text as measured by the above tests, being in fact always
nearly always neutral, with the exception of the Western element already
mentioned (§ 204) as virtually confined to the Pauline
Note: This idea that Hort's neutral text is essentially Aleph and B
that we saw in Kirsopp Lake (above) is common in secondary sources, and
comes up on our forum. Here are three posts, there are more, so
read the section, please, for the full discussion.
And William Peterson used a more precise phrasing than those above ...
New Testament textual criticism, exegesis,
and early church history (1994)
What Text can NT Textual Criticism Ultimately Reach ?
William L. Peterson
http://books.google.com/books?id=Z4xXSlE_ZvcC&pg=PA138 "Western non-interpolations". This
question-begging designation ...
The changes are not "Western non-interpolations," but
Even though the "neutral text" as
the perfect text is the prima facie understanding of Hort, Philip
Comfort, like David Washburn on our forum, is one of the few who stated
Encountering the manuscripts: an
introduction to New Testament paleography (2005)
http://books.google.com/books?id=nPVHbSscCwYC&pg=PA100 They called this text the Neutral Text. (According to their
studies, the Neutral Text described certain manuscripts that had the
least amount of textual corruption.) This is the text that Westcott
and Hort sought to reproduce in their edition called The New Testament
in the Original Greek.
There is a 5-page section on Western non-interpolations in Ehrman's
"Orthodox Corruption, 1996" (p. 223-227). I have
not yet had an opportunity to review that section. Note: on a
technical level this Ehrman article has been criticized for not
addressing the Aland position and in specific Lukan verses for not
addressing the arguments of John Muddiman and Frans Neirynck.
However, all of that is not directly relevant to the purpose of this
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