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Re: [textualcriticism] Re: How many Variants per category

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  • Eddie Mishoe
    Dr. Finney: Thank you for your reply. The more data I can acquire the better. I think I found the origin of the 200,000 to 400,000. It may come from John Mills
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 1 9:42 AM
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      Dr. Finney:

      Thank you for your reply. The more data I can acquire
      the better.

      I think I found the origin of the 200,000 to 400,000.
      It may come from John Mills in 1707 edition of the
      GNT. In his critical apparatus, he has some 30,000
      variants listed, but this includes versions and church
      fathers.

      I also read, but have yet to verify, that the total
      number of "words" in ALL Greek MSS, ALL
      versions/translations, and ALL church father
      quotations approaches 1 billion. Now, are the (worst
      case) 400,000 variants to be compared to 1 billion?

      Also, your numbers seem different than Dr. Daniel
      Wallace's numbers with regard to meaningful variants.
      If I understood you correct, you offer 10,000 such
      variants, whereas Dr. Wallace has 1,400 meaningful and
      viable variants. Of the 1,400, he contends that no
      cardinal doctrine is affected by these.

      Dr. Kruger notes that Dr. Ehrman mentions 400,000
      variants, but is only able to find a handful of
      "significant" variants that change our view of early
      Christianity. Several have responded to his claims of
      these passages, such as Christ being angry, or dying
      "apart from" God.

      Dr. Wallace also gives a pie chart in Reinventing
      Jesus, but it appears his pie chart is not intended to
      be to scale.

      Oh well, off to find more sources. It amazes me how
      many scholars quote the number 200,000 to 400,000
      without knowing its source or validity.

      Eddie Mishoe
      Pastor


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    • yennifmit
      Dear Eddie, ... I don t know how many words there are in all of the witnesses of the New Testament. My figures show that in the ~ 30 papyrus and uncial MSS of
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 1 8:51 PM
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        Dear Eddie,

        --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, Eddie Mishoe <edmishoe@...>
        wrote:

        > I also read, but have yet to verify, that the total
        > number of "words" in ALL Greek MSS, ALL
        > versions/translations, and ALL church father
        > quotations approaches 1 billion. Now, are the (worst
        > case) 400,000 variants to be compared to 1 billion?

        I don't know how many words there are in all of the witnesses of the
        New Testament. My figures show that in the ~ 30 papyrus and uncial MSS
        of Hebrews, there are ~ 300 substantive variations among ~ 5000 words.
        I don't know how this figure scales up as more categories of witnesses
        are added but my guess is not that much, maybe a factor of two. To get
        an answer we would need to collate more and more witnesses. We could
        get an estimate by looking at how the number of substantive variations
        increases with the number of witnesses. I imagine that the curve rises
        quickly at first then levels out.

        >
        > Also, your numbers seem different than Dr. Daniel
        > Wallace's numbers with regard to meaningful variants.
        > If I understood you correct, you offer 10,000 such
        > variants, whereas Dr. Wallace has 1,400 meaningful and
        > viable variants. Of the 1,400, he contends that no
        > cardinal doctrine is affected by these.

        Not all of those 300 have an equal effect on meaning. You could go
        through them and decide which ones you consider significant. I would
        be interested to know what number you arrive at. (This exercise might
        be considered too subjective, but I would still like to know how many
        of the 300 substantive variants others consider significant. You don't
        need Greek to do it as translations of the variants are included in
        the list.)

        Here is something to illustrate the potential difficulty of deciding
        whether a substantive variant (i.e one that actually results in a
        different word once scribal quirks have been smoothed out) is
        significant. Say I have these texts:

        The cat sat on teh mat.
        The kat sat on the mat.
        The manx sat upon the rug.

        Cat/manx, on/upon and mat/rug are all what I call substantive
        variants--the words are actually different. By contrast, cat/kat might
        be called a spelling variation and teh/the an error. Turning to the
        substantive variations, is the cat/manx difference significant? How
        about on/upon? How about mat/rug? I imagine the answer to all three is
        "it depends". The message conveyed by each text is pretty much the
        same: the cat sat on the mat. Whether you think the specific "manx"
        rather than general "cat" is important depends on all kinds of
        factors. Getting others to agree with your view is another matter. For
        a generally acceptable result you could select a random sample of
        people and ask each whether the difference is significant.

        >
        > Dr. Kruger notes that Dr. Ehrman mentions 400,000
        > variants, but is only able to find a handful of
        > "significant" variants that change our view of early
        > Christianity. Several have responded to his claims of
        > these passages, such as Christ being angry, or dying
        > "apart from" God.

        Based on the list, the proportion of substantive variations per word
        is about 300/5000. This is only based on the papyrus and uncial MSS
        (and one minuscule) of Hebrews, so is an underestimate. My guess is
        that the figure might double if all the minuscules were included. If
        it turns out to be 500/5000 variants/word for Hebrews, the figure for
        the whole New Testament would be more like 10,000 substantive variants
        among the Greek manuscript witnesses. How many of those are generally
        regarded as significant would be a lesser number but hard to define.

        BTW, the "apart from God" variant (Heb 2.9) is one of the few in
        Hebrews that strike me as significant. I don't think this variant is
        anything to do with Christ's cry of dereliction--"Why have you
        forsaken me." Instead, it seems to me that XWRIS (apart from) instead
        of XARITI (by the grace of) is a qualification of Christ's "tasting
        death on behalf of all". That is, Christ died on behalf of all, being
        careful to exclude God from "all" because God doesn't need anyone to
        make a sacrifice for Him because He hasn't sinned. Neither variant
        (Christ tasted death for all by the grace of God; Christ tasted death
        for all except God) is telling us anything we don't already know from
        the rest of the New Testament. It seems to me that redundancy in the
        New Testament (i.e. saying the same thing in more than one place and
        in more than one way) makes its message robust against corruption by
        scribes, even orthodox ones.

        Best,

        Tim Finney
      • mydogregae01
        ... +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ... ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Mr. Dykes responds, Be careful that one clarifies how the variants are
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 2 4:51 PM
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          --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com,
          +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

          Eddie Mishoe <edmishoe@...> wrote:

          > Thank you for your reply. The more data I can acquire
          > the better.


          > Oh well, off to find more sources. It amazes me how
          > many scholars quote the number 200,000 to 400,000
          > without knowing its source or validity.
          >
          > Eddie Mishoe
          > Pastor

          ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
          Mr. Dykes responds,

          Be careful that one clarifies how the variants are counted!! One
          variation might be the word "Lord" for "God". This should count as one
          variant.....but some folks count all the manuscripts which show this
          variant (perhaps all 65 or whatever number) thus they would show a
          number of 65 instead of one.

          As to your request...this may assist.

          In my work on Corinthians, I collate about 100 Greek MSS. (Fresh
          collations, not copied from previous editions!! Papyri and parchment,
          and all eras before 1450 A.D.).

          In my essay titled: "The Doctrine of Inerrancy and the Manuscript
          Variants", at its end, I give some actual data.

          The essay is on my website (www.Biblical-data.org), in the Textual
          Criticism page.

          Chapter one of I Cor. has 31 verses, I count 156 variants from the 100
          witnesses I use. (this does not include simple phonetic errors, nor
          simple itacism errors, or moveable nu et al). BASED upon this actual
          data, I then figure (estimate) a total of 2200 variants for all of the
          437 verses in I Cor. I further estimate a complete total of about
          3,000 variants if all known (circa 600 MSS) Greek manuscripts were
          collated which contain I Cor. chapter one..

          Rough, but it has some actual basis. Using 3,000 variants for I Cor.
          we can further estimate at total of about 54,000 variants for all of
          the 7,959 verses in the KJV. This averages about 6.8 variants per
          verse for the entire NT.

          Finally, in I Cor. I find that about 60-70 of the 2200 variants affect
          any sort of a doctrine (some major doctrines, some minor). If this is
          a valid estimate, then we ought to expect that 2.9 % of all Greek
          variants (not phonetic or simple mispleelings, [:-)]or moveable nu et

          al) of the 54,000 total to reflect a possible major variation. Using
          my estimates we would see 1,566 variants in the NT which affect
          various religious doctrines (Trinity, resurrection, baptism, laws, et
          cetera).

          At least I base this rough estimate on accurate collations of chapter
          one of I Cor.. When I finish Corinthians, I will have a slightly
          clearer picture.

          Consequently, God-fearing textual critics have a responsibility to
          assist when any of these major variants occur in our Bible studies.
          Kind of an awesome responsibility!! But what an opportuinty to
          illuminate truth and to spread Biblical teachings!!

          Sincerely,
          Mr. Gary S. Dykes
        • mjriii2003
          Eddie Mishoe, According to the sixth edition of Warfield s An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, 1899 (Preface, 1886), Warfield
          Message 4 of 12 , Apr 2 6:29 PM
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            Eddie Mishoe,

            According to the sixth edition of Warfield's An Introduction to the
            Textual Criticism of the New Testament, 1899 (Preface, 1886),
            Warfield mentions over 200,000 variants among at that time over 2,000
            known Greek MSS.

            http://books.google.com/books?output=html&id=lSOSAZ3uN44C&jtp=21

            Our present knowledge is based upon over 5,000 known Greek MSS. The
            question of significant/insignificant variants is still negligible
            whether one cites W-H, Metzger, Robinson, or Wallace.

            Malcolm
            ________________


            --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, Eddie Mishoe <edmishoe@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Dr. Finney:
            >
            > Thank you for your reply. The more data I can acquire
            > the better.
            >
            > I think I found the origin of the 200,000 to 400,000.
            > It may come from John Mills in 1707 edition of the
            > GNT. In his critical apparatus, he has some 30,000
            > variants listed, but this includes versions and church
            > fathers.
            >
            > I also read, but have yet to verify, that the total
            > number of "words" in ALL Greek MSS, ALL
            > versions/translations, and ALL church father
            > quotations approaches 1 billion. Now, are the (worst
            > case) 400,000 variants to be compared to 1 billion?
            >
            > Also, your numbers seem different than Dr. Daniel
            > Wallace's numbers with regard to meaningful variants.
            > If I understood you correct, you offer 10,000 such
            > variants, whereas Dr. Wallace has 1,400 meaningful and
            > viable variants. Of the 1,400, he contends that no
            > cardinal doctrine is affected by these.
            >
            > Dr. Kruger notes that Dr. Ehrman mentions 400,000
            > variants, but is only able to find a handful of
            > "significant" variants that change our view of early
            > Christianity. Several have responded to his claims of
            > these passages, such as Christ being angry, or dying
            > "apart from" God.
            >
            > Dr. Wallace also gives a pie chart in Reinventing
            > Jesus, but it appears his pie chart is not intended to
            > be to scale.
            >
            > Oh well, off to find more sources. It amazes me how
            > many scholars quote the number 200,000 to 400,000
            > without knowing its source or validity.
            >
            > Eddie Mishoe
            > Pastor
            >
            >
            >
            ______________________________________________________________________
            ______________
            > You rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one month of
            Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.
            > http://tc.deals.yahoo.com/tc/blockbuster/text5.com
            >
          • James Snapp, Jr.
            Eddie, Recently at the TC-Alternate list I noted the following: How many variants exist among the Greek manuscripts of the books of the New Testament?
            Message 5 of 12 , Apr 3 8:06 AM
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              Eddie,

              Recently at the TC-Alternate list I noted the following:

              How many variants exist among the Greek manuscripts of the books of
              the New Testament? Estimates have ranged from 30,000 to 50,000 to
              200,000 to 300,000 to 400,000.

              Dr. Tommy Wasserman's book "The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and
              Transmission" meticulously presents the extant Greek attestation of
              Jude's text. Wasserman's reconstructed text of Jude consists of 461
              words. Wasserman lists 1,271 textual variants (I think. Some of
              these are "defective," which means that they cannot be reconstructed
              with certainty.) If we work with the unproven premise that variants
              were created at the same rate in other books that they were created
              in Jude, then if we apply the ratio of 461-to-1,271 to the total
              number of words in the NT (put at 137,490 by Morgenthaler, as cited
              by Metzger on p. 1 of "Lexical Aids for Students of NT Greek"), then
              the total number of variants = 379,067. Or to loosen up the math a
              bit, we could estimate that the number of variants in a given book
              will be 2.75 times the number of words in the book.

              So, it initially looks like the total number of textual variants in
              the Greek NT is in the neighborhood of 380,000. One thing that I'm
              not sure about, though, is whether or not it's sensible to count the
              *authentic* readings as variants. When most folks talk about
              variants, they mean variations from the original text, even though
              technically a contested genuine reading is also a variant. If we
              subtract from 380,000 the *authentic* 137,490 words, with their
              authentic spelling, in their authentic word-order, then the number of
              inauthentic readings seems to drop to 242,510.

              Now, that unproven premise that I mentioned is probably incorrect.
              We should probably expect the rate of variants in the Gospels to be
              much higher than in Jude, since the Gospels have many more witnesses.
              So let's figure in, oh, another 75,000 variants. Depending on
              whether or not the authentic variants are counted, the total number
              of variants in the Greek witnesses to the NT text might be about
              455,000 or (subtracting the authentic readings) 317,510.

              (Btw, I don't mean to imply that I agree with Morgenthaler's word-
              count; I just used it because it was handy for the calculation.)

              Yours in Christ,

              James Snapp, Jr.
              Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
              Tipton, Indiana
              www.curtisvillechristian.org/BasicTC.html
            • Daniel Buck
              ... Not one doctrine is established or disestablished from the 6-7% in dispute.
              Message 6 of 12 , Apr 3 6:00 PM
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                "Gene Brooks" <gbrooks@...> wrote:

                >>92 to 93% of the text is agreed as autograph for everyone.
                Not one doctrine is established or disestablished from the 6-7% in
                dispute.<<

                A couple of considerations here.

                1. Every time an ancient koine mss of any appreciable size is
                unearthed, it adds to the number of listed variants; the older the
                ms, it seems, the more unique it is. Eliminate all pre-5th century
                mss, and that number of agreement climbs up to the high 90's,
                approaching 99% by the eighth century.

                2. How about the doctrine (teaching) of Jesus that certain kinds of
                demons can only be expelled by prayer and fasting? From being
                reiterated in the majority of mss, it is eliminated in the eclectic
                text. This despite the fact that the corpus is divided, with mss of
                all three textual families and four versions taking opposite sides on
                the question. Even arm and geo exhibit a rare disagreement here.

                Daniel
              • Eddie Mishoe
                Of the approximately 138,000 words in the GNT, it is interesting to note that one can reach the 400,000 variants by using the same 138,000 words. Here is how
                Message 7 of 12 , Apr 4 3:56 AM
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                  Of the approximately 138,000 words in the GNT, it is
                  interesting to note that one can reach the 400,000
                  variants by using the same 138,000 words. Here is how
                  that would happen visually.

                  Use any base text you like; it is irrelevant, other
                  than it must be a complete GNT. Just to cover all
                  bases, let's do two experiments: one using the
                  Majority Text, the other using the Critical Text.

                  Let's use John 1.1a as an example:

                  EN ARCH HN hO LOGOS (base text)
                  1. ARCH HN hO LOGOS (EN omitted)
                  2. EN ARCH hO LOGOS (HN omitted)
                  3. hO LOGOS HN EN ARCH (word order)
                  4. hO LOGOS EN ARCH HN (word order)
                  5. LOGOS HN EN ARCH (hO omitted)
                  6. HN EN ARCH LOGOS (2 variants, hO omitted, word
                  order)
                  7. ARCH HN hO LOGOS (EN omitted)
                  8. HN hO LOGOS ARCH (2 variants, EN omitted, word
                  order)
                  9. EN ARCH hO LOGOS (HN omitted)
                  10. EN ARC HN hO LOGOS (omitted letter in ARCH)
                  11. EN ACH HN LOGOS (omitted letter in ARCH and
                  omitted hO)
                  etc.

                  As you can see, I can exceed the 400,000 variants
                  without the need to ever use another word other than
                  those in the GNT. By the above permutations, I could
                  exceed millions of variants... all without using any
                  word outside the GNT. Of course, how hard would it be
                  to reconstruct the 'original' text in this instance.

                  Since most variants fall into the categories of
                  "insignificant," I'm wondering if there is a better
                  way to present the data so as to give people an
                  accurate estimate of the reliability of the mss
                  evidence.

                  I think Dr. Daniel Wallace's statement that there are
                  about 1,400 meaningful and viable variants, but not
                  one of these affects any cardinal doctrine, is on the
                  right track. And he also adds that this 1,400 means
                  99% of the original GNT has been reconstructed.




                  Eddie Mishoe
                  Pastor


                  ____________________________________________________________________________________
                  You rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one month of Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.
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                • Greg Sahlstrom
                  I recently read a 1966 article that estimated New Testament textual variants as perhaps 300,000. More recently estimates of 300,000 to 400,000 appeared in
                  Message 8 of 12 , Apr 4 4:25 AM
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                    I recently read a 1966 article that estimated New Testament textual
                    variants as perhaps 300,000. More recently estimates of 300,000 to
                    400,000 appeared in Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus". Yet, books
                    I've read have largely based their estimates of variants on
                    multiplying estimates that were based on John Mill's listing of
                    variants in 1707. Of the 300,000 - 400,000 variants in manuscripts
                    (or whatever the current total might be), I read that these represent
                    perhaps 10,000 places in the New Testament. Does anyone have sources
                    of newer information that include some sort of verification of the
                    numbers (more than educated guesses)?

                    Greg Sahlstrom
                  • Michael Marlowe
                    ... Eddie, thanks for this. I think it shows how useless this kind of number-crunching can be--especially in a linguistic field of study like TC--and how
                    Message 9 of 12 , Apr 5 9:13 AM
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                      Eddie Mishoe wrote:

                      > Let's use John 1.1a as an example:
                      >
                      > EN ARCH HN hO LOGOS (base text)
                      > 1. ARCH HN hO LOGOS (EN omitted)
                      > 2. EN ARCH hO LOGOS (HN omitted)
                      > 3. hO LOGOS HN EN ARCH (word order)
                      > 4. hO LOGOS EN ARCH HN (word order)
                      > 5. LOGOS HN EN ARCH (hO omitted)
                      > 6. HN EN ARCH LOGOS (2 variants, hO omitted, word
                      > order)
                      > 7. ARCH HN hO LOGOS (EN omitted)
                      > 8. HN hO LOGOS ARCH (2 variants, EN omitted, word
                      > order)
                      > 9. EN ARCH hO LOGOS (HN omitted)
                      > 10. EN ARC HN hO LOGOS (omitted letter in ARCH)
                      > 11. EN ACH HN LOGOS (omitted letter in ARCH and
                      > omitted hO)
                      > etc.
                      >
                      > As you can see, I can exceed the 400,000 variants
                      > without the need to ever use another word other than
                      > those in the GNT. By the above permutations, I could
                      > exceed millions of variants...


                      Eddie, thanks for this. I think it shows how useless this kind of
                      number-crunching can be--especially in a linguistic field of study like
                      TC--and how misleading statistics can be when they are presented without
                      exact and complete information about how they were generated.

                      Michael Marlowe
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