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[textualcriticism] Rev 5:9 - why did modern textcrit circle the horses around the Codex Alexandrinus nothing omission ?

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  • Steven Avery
    Hi, Revelation 5:9-10 (AV) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2012

      Revelation 5:9-10 (AV)
      And they sung a new song, saying,
      Thou art worthy to take the book,
      and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain,
      and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred,
       and tongue, and people, and nation;

      And hast made us unto our God kings and priests:
      and we shall reign on the earth.

      Some interesting discussions have been going on about these two verses. On this forum, I note that scribe-reading is a major part of the discussion, when really on this verse it is even more worthless than normal,  Requiring you to delve into your theories 1st and 2nd century eschatological thinking, perhaps angelology too (where is that Edersheim section ?) and you can dash that up with your soteriology ... and easily allowing the same evidences to be interpreted in opposite directions, for convenience. 

      On a far simpler level, authorial consistency, Steve Rafalsky, referencing Jack Moorman, points out:

      Revelation 5:9-10 1st Person ("us") or 3rd Person ("them")?
      Steve Rafalsky - 6-18-2007
      And that is with “made us” –
      ettoihsaj hmaj – vs. “madest them” – ettoihsaj autouj – of the Andreas group of mss and the 046 group, respectively. Before comparing the merits of these two groups, let me mention that, as Moorman notes, “There is no previous mention as to who ‘them’ would be; ‘us’ refers to the 24 elders representing the church before the throne.” He says the same regarding the “they reign” we looked at previously.

      Granted, in the subset wild world of modern no-faith-consideration textual criticism, authorial consistency can be considered a negative attribute.  However that particularly scholastic convolution, to argue for the weaker and inconsistent text as original, is not the purpose of this post.


      Allow me to try to offer a simple observation that really gets to the heart of the matter:

      Rev 5:9 - Why did modern textual criticism circle the horses around the Codex Alexandrinus nothing omission ?

      From Glenn Conjurske (1947-2001), writing in 1996 on the Revelation 5:9-10 question.
      (pic of "Olde Paths.." newsletter title)

      Olde Paths and Ancient Landmarks
      B. B. Warfield on J. W. Burgon
      With Remarks by the Editor

      In this we see the advocate of Hort's system, and his assertion that the extremes which he mentions are not inherent in it is open to question. If it “may possibly be true” (and in fact is true) that Hort himself was guilty of those extremes
      ----if it “may possibly be true” (and in fact is true) that others were guilty of the same when they “followed him”----what is this but the practical admission that those extremes belong to Hort's system? Hort's system was “Codex B,” and he must be very naive who can believe that his elaborate textual theories were anything other than the means by which to establish the authority of Codex B and its allies.

      “Cod. B and its characteristic peculiarities are never out of the author's mind, and those lines of thought are closely followed which most readily lead up to the theory of that manuscript's practical impeccability.” (Scrivener, Introd., 3rd. ed., p. 541).

      As infatuation with Codex Aleph was Tischendorf's peculiarity, infatuation with Codex B was Hort's. The real animus of his system was the determination to overthrow the common text----“all distinctively Syrian readings must be at once rejected,” says Hort (Introd., pg. 119)----and the modern adherents of that school have carried it to yet further extremes. They do not require Aleph or B, but will take almost anything against the common text. In one of the readings mentioned above, “Jesus Barabbas” in Matt. 27:17, they take Theta alone of the old uncials, against AlephABDKLW 064, against most of the ancient versions also, and, of course, against the whole mass of cursives, and against the Received Text. I have pointed out in these pages before that they take A alone (against even Aleph) in Revelation 5:9. Examples of this sort serve to illustrate how little there is of objective criticism among modern critics. They will take almost anything as evidence, so long as it overturns the common text.


      Glenn Conjurske had gone into some of this back in 1993-4.

      The Crowned Elders
      .....But A is not the only old uncial which gives its testimony here.  The celebrated Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph) speaks also ---- and speaks for the insertion of ---- speaks, that is, for the reading "thou hast redeemed us ."  'Tis strange that the critics here desert for A, (for they generally give the greater weight to ).  But perhaps not so strange ---- for in this place stands with the great bulk of the cursive manuscripts, and with the Textus Receptus, while A stands against them.  May I venture an opinion?  If (as is more usual) A had stood with the common text, and Aleph against it, the critics would have followed Aleph, as they usually do.  But regardless of that, the fact is, "us" in this verse has the support of almost every witness in the world, ancient and modern, uncial and cursive, versions and manuscripts, so that its absence from the various critical editions of the Greek New Testament can prove only one thing, namely, the prevailing infatuation which reigns in that field, and its determination to overturn the common Greek text. ...

      Hoskier on the Text of Revelation 5:9-10

      And again, you do not have to agree with his eschatology to get the basic textual riff, which is very sound.


      A full account and collation of the Greek cursive codex Evangelium 604 (Egerton 2610 in the British Museum):
      with two facsimiles : together with ten appendices (1890)
      Herman Charles Hoskier
      (pic of Hoskier verse and 2 paragraphs)

      Note that proclivi scriptioni praestat ardua (aka lectio difficilior) is one of those canons that is easily used to convenience. So I do not see this as an issue of applying the canon, simply letting the text fall correctly on the overwhelming external evidence, which stands quite sensibly with the super-majority reading.  So you get verse 9 clearly and obviously right, sufficient for the day is the textual difficulty thereof, and then you can seek to puzzle out verse 10.


      For advanced studies, discussing from the evangelical perspective, earlier Steve Rafalsky (one url and quote is above) battled with the Alexandrinus (Hortian) position of Alan Kurshner of aomin.org, the organization of James White. On this Revelation 5:9 textual question. An interesting discussion on the net, mostly on Puritanboard and aomin.org.

      Steven Avery
      Queens, NY

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