Monday, September 25, 2017

Payne Again on Punctuation

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Last week co-blogger Peter Gurry turned our attention to Philip B. Payne’s recent article in New Testament Studies: “Vaticanus Distigme-obelos Symbols Mark Added Text Including 1 Corinthians 14.34–5,” NTS 63 (2017): 604-25.

I thought I should comment on another interesting feature in Codex Vaticanus (that Larry Hurtado also highlights). Payne observes that in Vaticanus there is a high presence of high stops marking the end of sentences in the Epistles, whereas this feature is virtually absent in the Gospels (Payne, “Vaticanus,” 621-622).

I do not think this evidence permits us to say, as Payne does, that the gospel text in Vaticanus must therefore be older than 𝔓75 which has punctuation. Payne points out that 𝔓75 uses high stops extensively in contrast to Vaticanus and the papyri traditionally assigned to the second century (𝔓52, 𝔓90, 𝔓98, 𝔓104) and takes this as a sign that the text in Vaticanus is older than in 𝔓75 (“Vaticanus,” 622). In my opinion, the presence of punctuation cannot be used in this way to construct a relative chronology between the early witnesses of the Greek New Testament.

Punctuation is present in Greek MSS from the fourth century BCE and, as Alan Mugridge observes, “[t]here is some punctuation in a large number of the Christian papyri from the early centuries . . .” Alan Mugridge, Copying Early Christian Texts (WUNT 362; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck), 81.

In this connection, I should also point out that punctuation (cola in high position and dicola) is present in 𝔓4, 𝔓64+67.

29 comments :

  1. Just for interest:
    In P66 there are 574 midpoints ('cola in high position') of which 98.6% make sense, and 85% coincide with punctuation in NA27.
    There are 19 dicola of which 18 make sense, and 8 are followed by ekthesis (out-denting of the following line). 16 coincide with punctuation in NA27.

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    1. Wasserman writes, “I do not think this evidence permits us to say, as Payne does, that the gospel text in Vaticanus must therefore be older than P75 which has punctuation.” First of all, my article never states that the gospel text in Vaticanus “must” therefore be older than P75. Rather, on both NTS p. 622 and 624 I write that the lack of high stops in the Vaticanus Gospels “indicates” a text even earlier than P75’s text.

      Wasserman writes, “In my opinion, the presence of punctuation cannot be used in this way to construct a relative chronology between the early witnesses of the Greek New Testament.” Do you mean by this that the lack of punctuation is irrelevant to constructing a relative chronology between early witnesses of the Greek New Testament?

      Do you not see the relevance of Metzger and Ehrman’s observation to chronology, “the earliest manuscripts have very little punctuation”? [B. Metzger and B. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (New York: Oxford University Press, 20054) 41] Do you reject the Alands’ statement that “the original texts … naturally also lacked punctuation”? [K. Aland and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism (trans. E. Rhodes; Leiden/Grand Rapids: Brill/Eerdmans, 19892) 287]

      Since none of the NT papyri NA28 identifies as second-century contains a high stop, the Alands appear to be correct that the original texts of the NT lacked high stops. The virtually complete lack of high stops in the Vaticanus Gospels and absence of any high stops in any of the three papyri containing Gospel text that NA28 identifies as second century (P52, P90, P104) confirms the existence of an early text of the Gospels without high stops. The presence of high stops throughout P75 strongly indicates that high stops were added at some point to the text stream that P75 preserves. Once high stops were added at any point in the text stream, it is unlikely they would be removed since they would then be part of the manuscript to be copied. The presence of punctuation in some Greek MSS from the fourth century BCE supports that once entered, they would be retained, as does Alan Mugridge’s observation that “[t]here is some punctuation in a large number of the Christian papyri from the early centuries . . .”. It does not undermine the clear evidence that the original form of the Gospels was without high stops, and it makes it more likely that once added, they would not be removed. It is precisely the evidence that P75 and Vaticanus arise from the same text stream that strengthens the case that the lack of high stops in Vaticanus indicates that it preserves an earlier form of the text than P75 does.

      The fact that scribe B preserves high stops throughout every one of the Vaticanus epistles proves that scribe B was not averse to copying high stops where they occurred in the Vaticanus exemplars.

      Why would scribe B include high stops throughout all the Vaticanus epistles but hardly ever in the Gospels? The only explanation of this that fits the primary task of a scribe, to copy the manuscript at hand, is that scribe B faithfully copied a manuscript of the Gospels that was so primitive it did not have high stops, and a separate manuscript of the epistles with high stops throughout. None of the papyri listed in NA28 contains text from both the Gospels and the epistles. The reason is probably that papyrus is simply too irregular a material for the entire text of the NT to be securely bound in one volume. So it should be no surprise that Vaticanus was copied from separate exemplars of the Gospels and epistles.

      to be continued

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  2. Payne response to Wasserman, part 2:

    I demonstrate in my NTS article that scribe B was extraordinarily faithful in preserving the Vaticanus exemplars’ text. See the summary on NTS pp. 622–23. Especially because of the close similarity between their texts, which at various points are our only witnesses to particular readings, the lack of high stops in the Vaticanus Gospels indicates a text even earlier than P75’s text. The absence of any of the five distigme-obelos marked blocks of added text in the text of the Gospels in Vaticanus confirms that the Gospels text in Vaticanus is extraordinarily early.

    The lack of high stops in the Vaticanus Gospels corroborates both halves of Metzger’s judgement: ‘Since B is not a lineal descendent of P75, the common ancestor of both carries the … text to a period prior to AD 175-225, the date assigned to P75 [B. Metzger, ‘Recent Developments in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament’, Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian (NTTS 8; Leiden/Grand Rapids: Brill/Eerdmans, 1968) 145–62, at 157–8], building on C. Martini, Il problema della recensionalità del codice B alla luce del papiro Bodmer XIV (AnBib 26; Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1966), 181–3. It also supports Pisano’s affirmation ‘of the text of B as an extremely reliable witness …, especially of the Gospels and Acts’. S. Pisano, ‘The Text of the New Testament’, Bibliorum Sacrorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus B: Prolegomena (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 1999) 27–41, at 40. The lack of high stops indicates that Vaticanus’s Gospels text came from a stage in the tradition from which P75 descended but before the addition of high stops.

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  3. But Philip, one must surely sit loosely to the datings of papyri in NA. The dates are given as approximate indications rather than firm facts. Secondly, those identified as 2nd century are so brief that the absence of particular punctuation in the parts that survive is no firm indication that these papyri originally had no punctuation. Thirdly, the Aland and Aland quotation goes well beyond the evidence. It is itself opinion, not evidence. Metzger and Ehrman say 'very little punctuation', but that doesn't equal none. In some cases, such as the end of John 1:5, the weight of common punctuation between P66, P75 and Sinaiticus, must weigh strongly in indicating a tradition of punctuation here stronger than any tradition of non-punctuation (if such is indeed what Vaticanus attests here).

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    1. If you agree with Metzger and Ehrman that the original texts of the NT had "very little punctuation", then doesn't the presence of "very little punctuation" in the Vaticanus Gospels reflect this feature of the original texts? This observation is independent of the dating of manuscripts. Do you agree with Tommy that "that the scribe of Vaticanus was a careful copyist that copied different exemplars in the Gospels and Epistles, respectively"? If you do, you should also agree that the Vaticanus Gospels'exemplar in respect to punctuation was closer to the original text than the Vaticanus epistles' exemplar.

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  4. Philip asked: “Do you mean by this that the lack of punctuation is irrelevant to constructing a relative chronology between early witnesses of the Greek New Testament?”

    Yes. One of the absolute earliest manuscript(s), copied by the same scribe, P4+P64+P67 has punctuation including the high stop, and the dicola. This MS has recently been dated by Orsini and Claryssee to 175-200 CE. I suggest you look at the recent comprehensive study by Alan Mugridge, to which I refer. He has a section on punctuation. You can not draw the conclusion that the text of Vaticanus is older than P75 based on this matter, at all. Period (that is a joke). To be continued.

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  5. Philip asks, "Do you not see the relevance of Metzger and Ehrman’s observation to chronology, 'the earliest manuscripts have very little punctuation'? [B. Metzger and B. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (New York: Oxford University Press, 20054) 41]

    It is irrelevant to the question about which text is older, that of P75 or Codex Vaticanus.

    Philip asks: "Do you reject the Alands’ statement that 'the original texts … naturally also lacked punctuation'? [K. Aland and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism (trans. E. Rhodes; Leiden/Grand Rapids: Brill/Eerdmans, 19892) 287]"

    We cannot draw this conclusion from the attestation of punctuation in ancient papyri. We may possibly draw the conclusion based on other factors, a discussion I will not go into here.

    Philip said, "Since none of the NT papyri NA28 identifies as second-century contains a high stop, the Alands appear to be correct that the original texts of the NT lacked high stops."

    So, again, P4+P64+P67 has punctuation and other paratextual features. This is an example of a high end production.

    Please compare the "text stream" of P4 with P75 and Vaticanus. Or read the work of Scott Charlesworth, or Bill Warren, or Tommy Wasserman.

    Philips says, "The fact that scribe B preserves high stops throughout every one of the Vaticanus epistles proves that scribe B was not averse to copying high stops where they occurred in the Vaticanus exemplars."

    YES, you are right here. I absolutely agree with that part of your argument, i.e., that the scribe of Vaticanus was a careful copyist that copied different exemplars in the Gospels and Epistles, respectively. Good observation. I refer to it in a forthcoming publication. Well done. This is a different argument which I don't object to.

    I also agree with Pisano's observation that Vaticanus is a very reliable witness in Gospel and Acts, but would add the Epistles as well! (Cf. the ECM edition).

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  6. Tommy writes, “It is irrelevant to the question about which text is older, that of P75 or Codex Vaticanus.” Surely you agree that the original text of each of the Gospels either had high stops or did not have high stops. If the Alands are correct (to which you write, “We may possibly draw the conclusion based on other factors”) then it would necessarily be true that one or more copyists later in the text stream added high stops. Once added, those high stops would be part of the manuscript text that a careful copyist would copy. Any subsequent copy of any manuscript with the added high stops would necessarily have been made from the later stage of the text stream after the high stops were added.

    You write, “I absolutely agree with that part of your argument, i.e., that the scribe of Vaticanus was a careful copyist that copied different exemplars in the Gospels and Epistles, respectively.” The fact that the Vaticanus Gospels have virtually no high stops shows that scribe B copied a manuscript with virtually no high stops added. This could only happen if scribe B’s exemplar came from a portion of the text stream that had not yet been influenced by the addition of high stops. How can this be “irrelevant” to which text is older, especially since the texts of P75 and Vaticanus share so many similar features?

    The presence of punctuation in P4+P64+P67, if anything, further confirms how early the text of the Gospels in Vaticanus is without high stops. It certainly does not make this surprising feature “irrelevant to the question about which text is older, that of P75 or Codex Vaticanus.”

    If you could demonstrate that specific features in the text of P75 were later than the text of Vaticanus, would you say those features are “irrelevant to the question about which text is older, that of P75 or Codex Vaticanus”?

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  7. Philip: "Surely you agree that the original text of each of the Gospels either had high stops or did not have high stops."

    Yes.

    Philip: "Once added, those high stops would be part of the manuscript text that a careful copyist would copy. Any subsequent copy of any manuscript with the added high stops would necessarily have been made from the later stage of the text stream after the high stops were added."

    There are many comments to be made here. First, we must distinguish between the age and quality of the text, on the one hand, and the age of the manuscript that carries it on the other hand. I will not take any time here to explain the difference, but this is also a relevant point when it comes to evaluating the overall quality of a text (this is related to the issue of so-called contamination).

    However, for the sake of the argument, let's just assume that P75 was copied in 250 CE from an exemplar (a) from 150 CE which did not have punctuation, i.e, the scribe of P75 decided to add punctuation. Let us then assume that Codex B was copied from another exemplar (b) dated to 200 which also lacked punctuation, and the scribe of B did not add any punctuation. Then, let's assume that b derives from a. This is only an example of a certain scenario, where punctuation was added at a certain point, but the text of the MS with punctuation is derived from an older exemplar than the one without punctuation.

    What I am saying is that we have manuscripts from the second century (along the B-Text trajectory) that have punctuation and other paratextual features in the Gospels. I am not saying that I know what the originals looked like, and they might likely have been without punctuation (as I said, based on other factors). But, just because P75 has them does not mean that its text is later ... If this copyist was careful (which we think he was), the text may reflect an exemplar which is older than the text of B. I just don't see how we can know this based on the punctuation.

    Perhaps we don't have the same understanding of what "text" is, in relationship to the manuscript that carries it.

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    1. The point I was trying to convey is that the lack of high stops in the Vaticanus Gospels indicates that the text of the Vaticanus Gospels is earlier than the date of the P75 manuscript since it reflects an earlier form of the text than the form we have in P75. That is why I affirm Metzger's statement, "the common ancestor of both carries the ... text to a period prior to AD 175–225." I never in my NTS article state or imply that the text of Vaticanus is earlier than the exemplar of P75 if that exemplar was so primitive that it lacked high stops.

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    2. Philip: "The point I was trying to convey is that the lack of high stops in the Vaticanus Gospels indicates that the text of the Vaticanus Gospels is earlier than the date of the P75 manuscript since it reflects an earlier form of the text than the form we have in P75."

      This is a very different from how I have read your argument. Now you are comparing the exemplar of Vaticanus (without punctuatiom) with the actual P75 and not its "textual stream" as I thought you were talking about before. By the way, I have never disagreed with Metzger (and Fee) that the common ancestor of P75 and B takes us into the second century.

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  8. TW, wouldn't you have to argue that the P75 scribe ACTUALLY added the punctuation if you are going to dismiss Payne's line of thinking for the chronological priority of the Gospels text in B over the text presented in P75?

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  9. Bill, it is possible that P75 added the punctuation (we just don’t know), but that is not “necessary” to dismiss Payne’s line of thinking, no. We all agree that P75 and B has a common ancestor somewhere, but how many steps of copying in between each of the two manuscripts? We do not exactly know, do we? P75 could be copied from a manuscript from 200 which had added punctuation, which in turn was copied from a manuscript from 150 without punctuation which is the common ancestor. And Vaticanus could be copied from an exemplar without punctuation, which in turn was copied from the common ancestor of P75 and B. All of this is speculation, I am just trying to explain that one cannot say that the text of Vaticanus is older than the text of P75 based on punctuation.

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  10. I assumed Payne's chronological claim related to texts and not manuscripts. The disagreement seems to turn, as I think you've indicated earlier, on whether a "text" includes the punctuation once added. I defer to you all as TC experts on providing clarity on that question.

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  11. Thank you for this excellent question. Of course text includes punctuation. Punctuation can change meaning and so should be regarded as part of the text. The text of P75 is its text with its punctuation. One can distinguish the "underlying text" or "the text of the exemplar" but that is almost certainly not identical to the text of P75. The reason I gave dates in my NTS article was not to make any new claim regarding the dating of P75, but to specify that the text of Vaticanus is older than the date of P75, which is usually dated AD 175–225. Whatever the actual date P75 was written, the lack of high stops in Vaticanus indicate that its text is older than that. The underlying text of P75 is surely older than P75 and may be even older than the extant text of Vaticanus. But the importance of my argument is that it gives us a reason for believing that the entire text of the Gospels Vaticanus is a text that precedes the writing of P75 and goes back to that very early period before the addition of high stops to the Gospels. This is important not only confirming or checkng the text of P75, but even more so for the portions of Luke and John not in P75 and especially for the entire text of Matthew and Mark.

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  12. "But the importance of my argument is that it gives us a reason for believing that the entire text of the Gospels Vaticanus is a text that precedes the writing of P75 and goes back to that very early period before the addition of high stops to the Gospels."

    This is the part of the argument I find least acceptable. Surely on any normal view of transmission, unless P75 and B are in a parent-descendant relationship (either way), then it is more likely to be the case that part of the text of the former is older than that of the latter and part of the text of the latter is older than that of the former.

    I've done a lot of work on the spelling of Vaticanus. Sometimes it's really well supported by other mss, at other times it's very isolated, and it seems in these cases it is more innovative. Why start talking as if the 'entire text' of the Gospels of Vaticanus has to have a single origin? It can consist of earlier and later elements. On current evidence it is possible that B's lack of high point could be a preservation or innovation. The data don't tell us, but I do think the data on ekthesis in B (used lots in Matthew, less in Mark and Luke, not in John) are naturally read as indicating that the scribe changed habit during the copying process.

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  13. Thanks Peter, earlier and later elements brings us to the factor of contamination which I implied above.

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  14. Peter Williams writes “Why start talking as if the ‘entire text’ of the Gospels of Vaticanus has to have a single origin?”

    In short, because the Vaticanus Gospels are unlike the rest of scribe B’s texts, including every one of the Vaticanus epistles, in that they have virtually no periods. A single exemplar with virtually no periods best explains this. I argue for various reasons, as have others, that scribe B of Vaticanus faithfully reproduced the exemplar manuscripts of Vaticanus. It is obvious that scribe B included high stops throughout the Vaticanus epistles but has virtually none in the four Gospels. Since in the fourth century it was customary for scribes to copy separate manuscripts for the Gospels and the epistles, it is reasonable to believe that scribe B copied a single manuscript of the Gospels, one with virtually no periods. The only explanation for the virtually complete absence of high stops in the Vaticanus Gospels that fits the primary task of a copyist, and especially a faithful copyist like scribe B, is that the exemplar for the entire Gospels had virtually no high stops.

    The symbols I designate as distigme-obelos symbols in Vaticanus all occur at the exact location of a multi-word block of widely-acknowledged added text. All five in the Gospels have a gap in the text at the exact location of a multi-word textual variant listed in NA28’s apparatus. Yet not even one of these blocks of added text is in the text of the Vaticanus Gospels. This confirms that the text of the Vaticanus Gospel was copied from a manuscript so early that it had not been contaminated by any of these blocks of added text.

    There have been scores if not hundreds of textual studies confirming the overall reliability of the Vaticanus Gospels text. Combine all these evidences with a text with virtually no high stops, and it is reasonable to believe that the Vaticanus Gospels were copied from a single exemplar with virtually no high stops. Since we know that P75 has high stops throughout, and because of the otherwise close resemblances between the text of B and P75, I argue this indicates that the text of Vaticanus precedes the composition of P75.

    to be continued

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  15. Payne response, part 2:

    Peter Williams writes, “On current evidence it is possible that B’s lack of high point could be a preservation or innovation. The data don’t tell us.”

    Ah, but the overwhelming weight of the evidence is that scribe B was careful to preserve the text of the Vaticanus exemplars, even in such small additions as high stops and obeloi in the prophets. NTS pp. 608-609 identifies five instances in Zechariah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah where scribe B marked in original Vaticanus ink that its LXX text had added words that are not in the MT with the abbreviation for “contains text that is not in the Hebrew text.” But in none of these did scribe B add an obelos even though scribe B inserted into the margin this same expression various times in Isaiah next to an obelos. This is evidence of how careful scribe B was not to add even obeloi to a Hexaplaric exemplar lacking obeloi at points scribe B knew were added to the MT, and so should have been marked with an obelos.

    Furthermore, in the 121 times scribe B does include an obelos in the Prophets, marking LXX additions to the MT, scribe B always leaves the added text in, again faithfully preserving the text of Vaticanus’s exemplar, even while marking these additions using the standard Alexandrian symbol for spurious text, the obelos.
    Similarly the distigme + characteristic bar followed by a gap at the exact location of the widely-acknowledged textual addition, “Let women keep silent in the churches ... for it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in church” almost certainly marks this text as a multi-word textual addition, but again, scribe B does not remove this text since it was in the Vaticanus exemplar.

    We have an abundance of evidence from surviving manuscripts that high stops were added to text that originally probably had virtually no punctuation. As professional scribes added punctuation, copyists gradually learned and adopted the new “technology.” We do not have anywhere near comparable amounts of evidence for the reverse.

    Textual critics have to work based on the preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance of the evidence makes it far more likely that scribe B is far more likely to have preserved the absence of high stops than to have innovated and removed high stops from Vaticanus’s exemplars. We know for certain that scribe B did not remove high stops from any of the Vaticanus epistles, so why conjecture that scribe B might have removed high stops from the Gospels as though that were an equally viable option, contrary to all the evidence that scribe B was careful to preserve Vaticanus’s exemplars?

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  16. Philip, I think part of the confusion, in light of your response here, is that you are unclear in your use of certain terms, in this case the use of the term “text” (as opposed to “manuscript” – a physical container of the text which we can try to date on palaeographic grounds)

    You write this sentence as a conclusion of one argument in your article: “The lack of high stops in the Vaticanus Gospels, therefore,indicates a text even earlier than P75’s text” (p. 622)

    You use “text” twice in this sentence. For me, I don’t have any problem with the first use – Vaticanus reflects a text which is considerably older than the physical manuscript that contains it (i.e., Vaticanus dated to ca. 350 CE), but then you go on and say it is even earlier than “P75´s text.” If you had said that it is earlier than Papyrus 75 (which you are now saying that you actually meant), I would not have objected. But, you are saying that it is earlier than “P75’s text”. Can you see the problem here?

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    1. Thank you, Tommy, for asking me to clarify what I mean by “text” and “manuscript” and specifically to comment on: “Vaticanus reflects a text which is considerably older than the physical manuscript that contains it (i.e., Vaticanus dated to ca. 350 CE), but then you go on and say it is even earlier than “P75’s text.” If you had said that it is earlier than Papyrus 75 (which you are now saying that you actually meant), I would not have objected. But, you are saying that it is earlier than “P75’s text”. Can you see the problem here?”

      When I refer to the text of Vaticanus I refer to the text exactly as it appears in Codex Vaticanus. When I refer to "Vaticanus Gospels’ text” I refer to the text as we know it from its manuscript written ca. AD 350. If one produces a modern electronic edition that faithfully reproduces of the text of Vaticanus including its punctuation or lack thereof and any notations that could affect the meaning of its original text, that, too is the "text of Vaticanus." "Text" in my usage is an abstraction of the text that is distinct from the physical manuscript, Codex Vaticanus, but identifies content derived solely from the content of that manuscript. When I refer to "the text of Vaticanus", I am not referring to the physical manuscript of Vaticanus, nor am I referring to the general state of the text in the mid 4th century, nor am I referring to the text of the exemplar of Vaticanus. I am referring to the text of Vaticanus, which we know only from the manuscript. Comparisons with other manuscripts enables us to determine with reasonable confidence that the date of the text we see in Vaticanus is a far earlier text than the mid fourth century. Its virtually complete lack of periods throughout indicates that its text goes back to that very early period before high stops were added throughout the text. Evidence such as the absence of any high stops in any of the manuscripts NA28 identifies as second century and widespread use of high stops very early in NT manuscripts in the early third century supports a dating for the entire text of the Vaticanus Gospels from the second century. Note, however, that the “text of the Vaticanus Gospels,” which I argue dates from before the writing of P75, is the actual text that is preserved in the Codex Vaticanus Gospels, including its paucity of high stops.

      When I refer to the "text of P75," I use “text” in the same way that I describe the "text of Vaticanus." Here, as well, the "text of P75" is an abstraction of the text that is distinct from the physical manuscript, but it is the text as found in that physical manuscript, including the high stops that demonstrate that it is not a text prior to the addition of high stops. It seems to me to be self evident that P75's text is the text as it exists in P75. Rather, I argue that the text of Vaticanus is earlier in form (lack of high stops) than the text of P75, and so should be dated before the date assigned to P75.

      When I speak of "the text of P75," I refer specifically to the text including its punctuation that is preserved in P75. This should be clear since I emphasize this difference between P75 and Vaticanus in my article. Since punctuation is a significant factor in meaning, it should be included in our understanding of text, especially when its high stops are the focus of the comparison, as in my use of “the text of P75.” The absence of high stops in Vaticanus indicates that the text of Vaticanus is, at least in this respect, older than the text of P75. I am not implying by this that the text of Vaticanus is earlier than a text that preceded the penning of P75. Nor am I stating or implying that in every respect the text of Vaticanus is earlier than the text of P75. My article never makes either of these statements.

      to be continued

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    2. Phil: "When I refer to the text of Vaticanus I refer to the text exactly as it appears in Codex Vaticanus. In other words, if one produces a modern electronic edition that faithfully reproduces of the text of Vaticanus including its punctuation or lack thereof and any notations that could affect the meaning of its original text, that, too is the 'text of Vaticanus.' 'Text' in my usage is an abstraction of the text that is distinct from the physical manuscript, Codex Vaticanus, but which derives it content from that manuscript. When I refer to 'the text of Vaticanus', I am not referring to the physical manuscript of Vaticanus, nor am I referring to the general state of the text in the mid 4th century, nor am I referring to the text of the exemplar of Vaticanus. I am referring to the text of Vaticanus, which we know from the manuscript."


      Very good. That is the sense I have read out of “the text of Vaticanus” all the time. You are just confirming what I thought from the beginning.


      Phil: "Comparisons with other manuscripts enables us to determine with reasonable confidence that the date of the text that we see in Vaticanus is a far earlier text than the mid fourth century."


      Yes, in particular a comparison with P4+P64+P67 since it has been rather securely dated to 175-200 CE, whereas P75 is perhaps not so early as thought (see Nongbri’s recent article on P75).


      Phil: "When I refer to the 'text of P75,' I use 'text' in the same way that I describe the 'text of Vaticanus.' Here, as well, the 'text of P75' is an abstraction of the text that is distinct from the physical manuscript, but it is the text as found in that physical manuscript, including the high stops that demonstrate that it is not a text prior to the addition of high stops."

      Okay, very good, now we are back on square one again, and it is this statement I objected to. Because in an earlier comment on this blog you started saying that you never made this claim. In my eyes you are jumping back and forth. I hope you realize this.

      Very good to hear that my initial criticism then stands. You were changing position for a while, but now you are back where we started.

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  17. Philip,
    You seem to ignore my point that the text of Vaticanus in the gospels doesn't have to be seen as a single entity. A text can be a mixed thing. You seem to be jumping from the idea that Vaticanus preserves old feature A, to the conclusion that feature B in it must also be old. It simply doesn't follow. Besides, I think the jury is still out on whether the lack of punctuation is necessarily old. It's likely that Vaticanus dropped certain features (such as ekthesis -- I mentioned earlier the differential patterns in Matthew-John). It also displays some manipulated spelling. Why does everything have to be equally old?

    Can you answer this last sentence with one sentence? If your case is good, it should be manageable.

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    1. response to Peter Williams:

      Peter Williams writes “that the text of Vaticanus in the gospels doesn’t have to be seen as a single entity.”
      Ah, but three key factors encourage us to view the entire text of all four Gospels in Vaticanus as copied from a single exemplar.

      First, by the mid fourth century, from the evidence I have seen, it was not customary to create collections of the Gospels by searching out separate manuscripts for each gospel, just as it was not customary for collections of the epistles to be copied from a separate manuscript for 1 Timothy, a separate manuscript for Titus, a separate manuscript for Philemon, etc. It was far more efficient and of consistent quality to copy from a collection of all four Gospels and a separate collection of the NT epistles. Papyrus is a sufficiently irregular material that putting the entire NT in one papyrus volume would make it structurally unsound and prone to fall apart. This is probably why none of the papyri listed in NA28 contain text from any part of the Gospels along with any part of the epistles. No surviving Gospels papyri contain any text from the epistles, and no surviving epistles papyri contain any text from the Gospels. Thus, the normal convention of copying from a collection of the Gospels supports viewing the Vaticanus Gospels as a single entity.

      Second, the use of high stops is consistent within the epistles, occurring throughout all the epistles, and consistent within the Gospels, being virtually absent from all the Gospels. This is most easily explained if scribe B copied the entire collection of the Gospels from a single primitive exemplar. It is theoretically possible that scribe B found and copied a variety of different Gospel manuscripts, all of which were so primitive that they had virtually no high stops in them and which together provided a complete set of Gospels, and that if any of these were incomplete that scribe B found another primitive manuscript that filled in the missing text. But this seems far less likely. Another possible alternative is that scribe B filled in missing portions of Gospels from later manuscripts but removed high stops from them to make them all appear old. This, however, goes against all the evidence that scribe B was careful to preserve the text of the Vaticanus exemplars. Furthermore, scribe G wrote the Vaticanus text of Acts, which has long blocks of text with no high stops followed by blocks of text with high stops. This, provides more evidence that scribe B was faithful to the Vaticanus exemplars and evidence against the conjecture that scribe B doctored differing texts of the Gospels to make them appear harmonious in the use of high stops.

      Third, the widely held view among scholars who have studied the text of the Vaticanus Gospels is that they preserve a very early and reliable text. E.g. S. Pisano, ‘The Text of the New Testament’, Bibliorum Sacrorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus B: Prolegomena (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 1999) 27–41, at 40. Contributing to this evidence is the finding of my NTS article that none of the blocks of added text marked by distigme-obelos symbols in the Vaticanus Gospels are in the body text of the Vaticanus Gospels. This shows that the text of the Vaticanus Gospels is from a stream of the text so early that it was not contaminated by any of these five blocks of added text. In contrast, the one block of text marked by a distigme-obelos symbol in the epistles is in the body text of the Vaticanus epistles. This is yet one more evidence of the faithfulness of scribe B in preserving the text of Vaticanus’s exemplars, even where scribe B judged that text to be a later addition as scribe B also did 121 times with obeloi in the Vaticanus Prophets and five additional times where there is no obelos but scribe B marked that portion of the Vaticanus body text as “not in the Hebrew text.”

      to be continued

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  18. response to Peter Williams, part 2:

    There is an important distinction between the text of Vaticanus and the text of P75 as they exist in those two manuscripts that supports identifying the Vaticanus text as earlier. It is probable, based on the sharp contrast between the presence of high stops throughout the Vaticanus epistles and their virtually complete absence from all four of the Vaticanus Gospels and all the evidence that scribe B was exceptionally faithful in copying the text's exemplars, that Vaticanus was copied from a stream of the text with virtually no high stops. All the relevant evidence of which I am aware points to the Vaticanus Gospels being copied from a stream of text that had not yet experienced the regular addition of high stops. In other words, the evidence we have supports that not only the Vaticanus Gospels, but also Vaticanus’s exemplar probably had virtually no high stops. This positions the text of Vaticanus very early in the text stream.

    In contrast, it would be unwise to assume that the exemplar of P75 contained no high stops, since the fundamental task of copyist at that time was to copy the exemplar at hand. Though it cannot be proved, the basic task of the copyist supports that it is more likely that the exemplar of P75 also contained high stops than that it did not contain high stops. Therefore, it would be unwarranted conjecture to assume and that the scribe of P75 added them throughout. Consequently, the evidence we have from high stops supports dating the Vaticanus Gospels earlier than the writing of P75.

    Of course, this does not imply that specific readings Vaticanus are always or even regularly superior to readings in P75. Each case has to be weighted on its merits.

    Peter Williams writes, “You seem to be jumping from the idea that Vaticanus preserves old feature A, to the conclusion that feature B in it must also be old.”

    I do? Can you name one feature B that my article concludes must be old because Vaticanus preserves a text of the Gospel in a primitive form without high stops?

    Peter Williams writes, “Why does everything have to be equally old? Can you answer this last sentence with one sentence? If your case is good, it should be manageable.”

    My NTS article never states, nor do I believe, that everything in the Vaticanus Gospels has to be equally old. Footnote 74 on page 623 explicitly repudiates such a notion, “Of course, this limited set does not imply that there are no blocks of added text in the Vaticanus Gospels. B. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 19942) 59, argues convincingly that Matt 27.49b in Vaticanus is added text.”

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  19. I know you don't believe 'everything' in Vaticanus is equally old, but you seem to extrapolate from old lack of punctuation to old wording. Whether the lack of punctuation is necessarily old is unclear to me, but it's also possible for the punctuation to be older than many aspects of the wording.

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  20. Paolo Trovato9/30/2017 7:13 am

    Let me add some trivials considerations.

    The work and the behavior of any copyist depend on several, important unknowns: e.g., 1. his education (he can be a professional, a dilettante, a Father of the Church…); 2; the age and quality of the exemplar; 3; his age and inclinations and habits (e.g., his being more or less interested in new or recent features of the exemplar)…

    In Romance TC we have been observing, at least since 1872 (year of an important edition of Gaston Paris), that there is a different attention of scribes for substantive and non-substantive readings (linguistical variants, points, commas, etc.). Many Romance scholars consider that genealogical (eclectic) methods can reconstruct to some extent the substance of a work. Instead they consider out of reach the original linguistical features and the original punctuation of the text, for the recovery of which they conventionally use, whenever it is possible, a particularly old and consistent witness alone.

    In any way, only a learned, educated man (or his best copyist) could try hard to reproduce the punctuation of a very old copy. This of course don't allow us to date the Vaticanus, that is, the copy of any of the Vaticanus Gospels, which could descend from different exemplars. Nevertheless we can assume that, if the copy reproduces (we dont't know how faithfully) an exemplar which featured old linguistical features and an old system of punctuation, the text and the lost exemplar were old. If very old papyri are genealogically close to the Vaticanus at least for a single Gospel (i.e. they share significant innovations), we can assume that a very old family (anterior to the oldest Papyrus of the family, say, X) contained a test similar to Papyrus X + Vaticanus.

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  21. Paolo Trovato9/30/2017 7:20 am

    trivials > trivial
    test similar > text similar

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  22. Very well put, Paolo. Thank you. I apply your principle specifically to Vaticanus: Since Vaticanus reproduces (and substantial evidence indicates it was done faithfully) an exemplar which features old linguistic features and an old system of punctuation, the text of Vaticanus and its lost exemplar are old. Since very old papyri are genealogically close to Vaticanus at least for Luke and John (i.e. they share significant innovations), we can assume that a very old family (anterior to the oldest Papyrus of the family, say, Papyrus X) contained a text similar to Papyrus X + Vaticanus. My NTS article is based on this kind of logic.

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