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Do Any Two MSS Share Identical Texts?

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  • James Snapp, Jr.
    You hear the statement often: there are thousands of New Testament MSS, and no two of them agree completely. And no doubt that is a pretty good estimate of
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 18, 2006
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      You hear the statement often: there are thousands of New Testament
      MSS, and no two of them agree completely. And no doubt that is a
      pretty good estimate of the case. But it's usually not treated as an
      estimate; it's usually treated like a statement that no two MSS with
      text from the New Testament completely agree.

      Is that true, and if so, how do we know? If some Byz MSS have yet to
      be collated, how do we know that no two of them contain the same
      text? And what about fragments? There are some pretty small
      fragments in the list of MSS; do none of them display the same
      contents as some other MS?

      In Aland & Aland, p. 322, there's a chart ("Table 10") in which MS
      614 is compared to other MSS. It shows that 614 and 2412 agree in 86
      out of 89 "mutually extant passages." 2412 thus gets the blue ribbon
      in the Agree-With-614 contest, so to speak. But there's another MS
      that had 100% agreement with 614. 0246, a fragment (James 1:12-14
      and 1:19-21), had 2-out-of-2, 100% agreement with 614, where they are
      both extant. But 0246 is disqualified on account of its small size.

      A&A explain in a footnote: "The 100 percent agreement between 0246
      and 614 may be ignored. It is irrelevant because the figure is based
      on only two test passages: 0246 is a fragment." Okay; for the
      purposes of the sort of investigation they were making, 0246 isn't
      relevant. But it might be relevant in regard to the common
      assumption that no two MSS completely agree. Apparently that
      statement needs to be qualified.

      On the next page, A&A offer a similar comparison; this time, MS 618
      is used as the control manuscript and other MSS are compared to it.
      FOUR manuscripts are shown to have 100% agreement with 618 in
      mutually extant passages:

      1526 agrees with 618 in 7 out of 7 shared passages.
      640 agrees with 618 in 5 out of 5 shared passages.
      0246 agrees with 618 in 2 out of 2 shared passages.
      P54 agrees with 618 in 1 out of 1 shared passages.

      And on p. 324, four more comparison-tables are provided; each one
      features some fragment that has 100% agreement with the control-MS in
      the test-passages. It's usually only a 3-out-of-3 or 2-out-of-2
      agreement, but it's still 100% agreement in mutually extant passages.

      So, either A&A were only using selected passages for these
      comparisons, or else there are some small New Testament MSS which
      completely agree with one another in all passages in which they are
      mutually extant.

      Plus, Aland & Aland say on p. 331, "Considering the high degree of
      uniformity which characterizes the Byzantine text (with frequent 100
      percent agreement among manuscripts!), the limitation of citing only
      the 66 most closely related manuscripts as in the present volume
      would be inadequate." . . . What was that about "frequent 100%
      agreement"???

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
      Curtisville Christian Church
      Indiana (USA)
      www.curtisvillechristian.org/BasicTC.html
    • Daniel J. Mount
      James, Perhaps, until farther research proves or disproves the original statement, one should say that no two complete manuscripts are completely identical,
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 18, 2006
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        James,

        Perhaps, until farther research proves or disproves the original statement, one should say that "no two complete manuscripts are completely identical," or that "no two non-fragmentary manuscripts are completely identical."

        Sincerely,
        Daniel J. Mount
        Ohio

        James Snapp, Jr. wrote:

        You hear the statement often: there are thousands of New Testament
        MSS, and no two of them agree completely. And no doubt that is a
        pretty good estimate of the case. But it's usually not treated as an
        estimate; it's usually treated like a statement that no two MSS with
        text from the New Testament completely agree.

        Is that true, and if so, how do we know? If some Byz MSS have yet to
        be collated, how do we know that no two of them contain the same
        text? And what about fragments? There are some pretty small
        fragments in the list of MSS; do none of them display the same
        contents as some other MS?

        In Aland & Aland, p. 322, there's a chart ("Table 10") in which MS
        614 is compared to other MSS. It shows that 614 and 2412 agree in 86
        out of 89 "mutually extant passages." 2412 thus gets the blue ribbon
        in the Agree-With-614 contest, so to speak. But there's another MS
        that had 100% agreement with 614. 0246, a fragment (James 1:12-14
        and 1:19-21), had 2-out-of-2, 100% agreement with 614, where they are
        both extant. But 0246 is disqualified on account of its small size.

        A&A explain in a footnote: "The 100 percent agreement between 0246
        and 614 may be ignored. It is irrelevant because the figure is based
        on only two test passages: 0246 is a fragment." Okay; for the
        purposes of the sort of investigation they were making, 0246 isn't
        relevant. But it might be relevant in regard to the common
        assumption that no two MSS completely agree. Apparently that
        statement needs to be qualified.

        On the next page, A&A offer a similar comparison; this time, MS 618
        is used as the control manuscript and other MSS are compared to it.
        FOUR manuscripts are shown to have 100% agreement with 618 in
        mutually extant passages:

        1526 agrees with 618 in 7 out of 7 shared passages.
        640 agrees with 618 in 5 out of 5 shared passages.
        0246 agrees with 618 in 2 out of 2 shared passages.
        P54 agrees with 618 in 1 out of 1 shared passages.

        And on p. 324, four more comparison-tables are provided; each one
        features some fragment that has 100% agreement with the control-MS in
        the test-passages. It's usually only a 3-out-of-3 or 2-out-of-2
        agreement, but it's still 100% agreement in mutually extant passages.

        So, either A&A were only using selected passages for these
        comparisons, or else there are some small New Testament MSS which
        completely agree with one another in all passages in which they are
        mutually extant.

        Plus, Aland & Aland say on p. 331, "Considering the high degree of
        uniformity which characterizes the Byzantine text (with frequent 100
        percent agreement among manuscripts! ), the limitation of citing only
        the 66 most closely related manuscripts as in the present volume
        would be inadequate." . . . What was that about "frequent 100%
        agreement"?? ?

        Yours in Christ,

        James Snapp, Jr.
        Curtisville Christian Church
        Indiana (USA)
        www.curtisvillechri stian.org/ BasicTC.html

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