In addition, we have to realize that accidential omissions,
juxtapositions and additions do not substantially change the textgroup
a manuscript belongs to.
What e.g. P75 omits in one place, P45 may have, and the other way round
etc. Where B has omissions (singular readings), aleph may provide,
and so on. That does not apply to all accidental omissions etc., but to
most of them. So, with the less care of the early scribes you cannot
the emergence of (what we call in want of a better name) textgroups.
The same applies to the Byzantine manuscripts (where, of course,
textual variants ocurred on a much less dramatic scale, and copying was
much more sophisticated).
I don't think it is legitimate to say that the shorter reading
is better or worse. I've transcribed a few manuscripts before, and
I've yet to transcribe an entire manuscript without accidentally
omitting something. A line here, 3 words there, etc.....It just
happens. I've never added anything to what I've transcribed. That's
not to say that glosses never happened, but with 99% of all scribes, I
would suspect that they dropped text, not added.
I think the whole idea that we can PRESUME the shorter text is
better was first proposed to make the whole Alexandrian primacy
argument carry more weight. But it reality, I don't think we can
presume that shorter is better or worse. I think we have to look at
all evidence to determine whether a variant was added or omitted.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, December 17, 2005 9:50 PM
Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: Interesting articles in
(When I qualify my statements with "I think," this is a
reminder to everyone that I have little or no idea of what I'm
talking about, and that I'm probably not even qualified to ask
questions! This is true of my earlier suggestion that Andrew
Wilson's work seemed to me to be a backdoor approach to Byz
I just finished re-reading James Royce's "Scribal Tendencies in the
Transmission of the Text" (in The Text of the New Testament in
Contemporary Research) and a few other lesser items regarding
scribal tendencies. I was struck by Dr. Royce's conclusion that the
six early papyri which he (and Colwell before him) analyzed (P45 P46
P47 P66 P72 P75) had a pronounced tendency to omit rather than add.
However, Dr. Royce also says, "Most of these omissions were no doubt
accidental" (246). He cites Dr. Head's "Observations on Early
Papyri of the Synoptic Gospels, Especially on the 'Scribal Habits'"
(Bib 71  240-247) to confirm his analysis.
Dr. Royce's qualifier that most omissions are accidental is
important, I think, but I'm not sure that he integrates the point
into his analysis. We normally discard from our discussion those
readings which are due to obvious scribal carelessness, yet now we
seem willing to overturn the canons by employing such data.
Wouldn't the canon lectio brevior potior already have as a caveat
such accidental omissions? Doesn't it already imply that the
shorter reading is better only if elements were not omitted
accidentally? Shouldn't we conclude that intentional changes were
Of course, this is all asked with special reference to the
conclusions made by Andrew Wilson at the aforementioned link.
--- In email@example.com, "feeite_christian"
> I explored the aforementioned webiste ( http://www.nttext.com ).
> Nice, easily accessible, appealing site.
> Sophisticated approach to argue for Majority or Byzantine Text, I
> think. A reversal of the canons of criticism to achieve support
> the theory.
> Two criteria in particular are discussed: much more singular
> readings omit than add; much more singular readings confound
> than simplify. This big picture impresses.
> However, one wonders if this will stand to scrutiny as these
> singular readings are examined individually for idiosyncracies
> might undermine the big picture.
> If the conclusions of the website are legitimate, it would be yet
> indication that tc is in incredible disarray.
> Jim Leonard
> Southwestern Pennsylvania
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Daniel Buck"
> <bucksburg@y...> wrote:
> > Wieland Willker wrote:
> > << There are two interesting articles in the latest
> Biblique. Both articles are in French:
> > Wim M.A. HENDRIKS
> > "Brevior lectio praeferenda est verbosiori"
> > RB 2005 T.112-4 (pp. 567-595)
> > Abstract:
> > As in all disciplines that claim to be scientific, sound
> methodology is of extreme importance in the textual criticism of
> New Testament. In this perspective I want to return once again to
> the directing principle brevior lectio probabilior, "the shorter
> reading is to be preferred to the longer", because it is the more
> probable. >>
> > Interesting information at http://www.nttext.com/short.html:
> > "Until recently, the shorter reading has been preferred by
> textual critics. Colwell and Royse, however, in their separate
> studies on scribal habits of early NT papyri cast some doubt on
> maxim (Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits: A study of P45, P66
> P75, Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New
> Testament, NTTS 9, Leiden, Brill, 1969, p 106ff, and Scribal
> in Early Greek New Testament Papyri, Th.D. dissertation, Graduate
> Theological Union, 1981).
> > Royse's examination extended Colwell's study on P45, P66 and
> to also include three other significant early papyri. His figures
> for omission and addition were based on singular readings in the
> papyri. They are as follows: P45P46P47P66P72P75additions28 (30.8%)
> 55 (24.8%)5 (21.7%)14 (42.4%)16 (35.6%)12 (22.6%)omissions63
> 167 (75.2%)18 (78.3%)19 (57.6%)29 (64.4%)41 (77.7%)Royse comments
> these results: 'All the scribes do make additions, and it is
> possible that at any particular variant we have such an addition.
> But these figures suggest strongly that the general tendency
> the early period of textual transmission was to omit. The
> corresponding general principle of textual evaluation would thus
> seem to be that, other things being equal, one should prefer the
> longer reading' (Studies and Documents Vol. 46, p246, emphasis
> added). "