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[textualcriticism] Peshitta confluence with the GreekTR/Byzantine text

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  • Schmuel
    Hi Folks, Schmuel wrote: I agree that this is true about a few of very significant variants, that there is agreement with the Alexandrian text and the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 9, 2007
      Hi Folks,

      Schmuel wrote:
      I agree that this is true about a few of very significant variants, that there
      is agreement with the Alexandrian text and the Peshitta.

      Jeffrey Gibson
      How did you do your study when, as you've admitted elsewhere, that you read neither Greek nor Syriac?

      Hmmmm.... did I "admit" something ? 
      Did I ever claim anywhere to read Greek or Syriac or Hebrew (beyond phonetic Hebrew from Hebrew school and a bit of later refreshing) ? Or did I simply state the facts properly in every discussion ? 

      Shouldn't language be used properly on an email forum ? Is there really a place for unfounded attempts to impugn like "spin" and "admitted" that we have seen in the response to my discussion of the study of which I shared the basic results.

      And didn't I already write to this forum (emphasis added:)

      "If someone has a list of Byz=Alex variants handy I would be happy to do the checking.   The nice thing is that for the most part the study is  100% solid working with the translations in English, as long as the variant is significant."

      Jeffrey Gibson, did you even read my posts before writing in your par-for-the-course accusatory and hostile style ? 

      At any rate, your question I will take as simply an opportunity to share the methodology and some other points of interest.

      In fact, with major variants such a study is almost trivially easy to do in English.  One might wonder and puzzle about why it hasn't been done before with so many folks doing studies and learning in the textual field.  It seems like arcane analysis is popular in textual criticism -- while easily done, simple and effective analysis can be missed entirely.  (Whether having language skills necessary or not.) Why ?  An interesting question. 

      Similarly, notice how I questioned the statement about Codex Bezae, related here as from F. H. A. Scrivener info Bezae, being the source of the Syriac
      Harklensis Acts.  And this was easier to question since Codex Bezae in Acts is translated and easily available.  I do hope someone with more background in the field can try to answer the questions in that regard.  Quite puzzling.  Perhaps there is more context in Scrivener or a limited application not mentioned in the quotes given here.

      With the Peshitta especially there is little contention about the text, with a few eastern/western variants (such as Acts 20:28 and Hebrews 2:9).  My purpose was to use the earlier eastern text, however afaik there are not any differences (accepting the five books which they placed in their text later, one might want to separate those five books in the final analysis) between the eastern and western Peshitta versions when it comes to the major "inclusion/omission" variants in the alexandrian text. And this was confirmed by the fact that the Peshitta translations of John Wesley Etheridge, George Lamsa and James Murdock agreed on these 180 variants despite being translations from differing Peshitta editions.

      Those three editions, and the incomplete Paul Younan text, are available at:

      Aramaic Peshitta Bible Repository

      Then it was necessary to find differences between the Textus Receptus and Alexandrian texts.  The TR texts are well represented by the King James Bible, although similarly any English TR translation would be expected to give the exact same results, such as Young's or the NKJV or the MKJV or the Geneva or Tyndale Bible.

      Generally speaking every time the English modern versions omit a phrase or verse that is in the TR text this is because the NA-27 text recommends against the verse as original.  And the NA-27 does so on the basis principally of Vaticanus and/or Sinaiticus. 

      And from these many folks have already documented many of the major variants.  One website had gone so far as to list the text of 180 such variants.  This is the "magic marker" page of Brandon Staggs.

      Would you take a magic marker to your Bible and cross out words from passages?

      Please note, you don't have to agree with the textual views of Brandon Staggs to acknowledge
      that he has put together a very easy-to-use list.  It sticks with quite significant variants which
      is an advantage.  I have found that Brandon omitted a couple, but only one or two or three have
      I found so far. (I made no effort to include those and I did not even check them on the Peshitta,
      I do not know which way they fall.) 

      One advantage of such a list is that it is compiled completely outside of Peshitta issues,
      so any concern of cherry-picking is eliminated.

      If anybody is concerned that some of these may not be Alexandrian variants, please share away on specifics.  Of course some of them may have a split between Vaticanus and Sinaiticus however since NA-27 approved the variants, if there is a split Vaticanus likely has the omission rather than Sinaiticus.  At any rate, I would be very interested if there are any substantive objections to the approximately 180 variants given on the Brandon Staggs web site as actually representing TR-Alexandrian variants.

      Ok, with the list of independent (unrelated to Peshitta issues) variants and the Peshitta text available to check both in English, the study began.  I broke the results down book-by-book and in the Gospels and Acts the results were fairly close to the 75-80% mentioned in every book.  (I am doing this post from memory.)  The major exception in being "Peshitta agrees with Alexandrian" was 1 Timothy where there was something like a 5-1 variant split towards the Alexandrian.  As indicated before, I think this is quite interesting in any discussions where the evidentiary significance of the Peshitta in 1 Timothy 3:16 is discussed, since the Peshitta textual nature in 1 Timothy can be deemed exceptional.

      Anyway the book-by-book breakdown is available.  All the source materials are available.  My work can be checked (and corrected) very easily.  And additional steps could be taken, such as looking at variants that are not "inclusion/omission" but represent "alternative reading" textual variants.

      As to the significance of the Peshitta agreeing with the Textus Receptus text 75-80% against the Alexandrian text where they have significant omission variants, that I will leave aside for now.  Folks may easily have different views of its significance depending on their theories of when the Peshitta was translated, its importance as a textual witness and other factors.  To me it is at the very least a very helpful guide to knowing where the Peshitta text actually falls.

      Steven Avery
      Queens, NY

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