Friday, September 02, 2011

Two sources of information re variation in the order of books in NT MSS, with a note on 33


In a comment to the previous blog post, the question was raised regarding variation in the order of books in NT manuscripts. Two good resources re this issue include Bruce Metzger’s book on the NT canon (OUP, 1987), which includes a section on variations in the order of books (and also groups of books) in the NT, and an appendix in the back of at least two, probably three (and perhaps all four) of the volumes by Reuben Swanson on the text of Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corithians, and Galatians. In this appendix Swanson lists the order of books in a substantial number of NT manuscripts (papyri, majuscules, and minuscules).

Examples of unusual arrangements among the MSS Swanson lists include 33, which in its current state presents this sequence: the text of the OT Prophets is followed by (starting at the top of a right-hand page) 1 Cor, 2 Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, Col, 1 Th, 2 Th, Heb, 1 Tim, 2 Tim, Titus, Philemon. Then comes (starting on a fresh page) a section of 8 pages containing a prologue for the Catholic letters; hypotheses for James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John (presumably, as the heading is only partially readable; there does not appear to be a hypothesis for Jude); hypotheses for Romans, 1 Cor (?; heading obscured/unreadable), 2 Cor, one hypothesis with an obscured/unreadable heading, Phil, Col, 1-2 Thess, 1-2 Tim, Titus, and Philemon. Then comes (beginning on the same page as the hypothesis for Philemon) the text of Acts, Jas, 1 Pet, 2 Pet, 1 Jn, 2 Jn, 3 Jn, Jude, Romans, Matt, Mark, Luke, John.

The unusual position of the gospels is due to a binder’s error, acc. to Scrivener; the gospels orginally followed the Prophets. The position of Romans after Jude, however, is not the result of a binder’s error; Romans begins on the same page on which Jude ends. There is one more oddity about Romans in 33: its strongly Byzantine textual character (if I read the information in Text und Textwert correctly) is significantly different from the textual character of the other Pauline letters in the manuscript. Did the scribe of 33 work from an exemplar that was missing Romans, which was then added in later (from a different exemplar) at the end of the manuscript? In all, a most curious situation.


  1. Thanks Mike, that is helpful. 33 is interesting.

  2. There are a lot of binding problems in 33, but it seems that the original order was 'normal', that is, Gospels, Praxapostolos, Paul.

  3. Dirk,
    yes, probably so; the Prologue to the CE starts on a fresh page, followed by the hypotheses, and then the text of Acts immediately after the last hypothesis, on the same page; the letters follow, each immediately after the one preceding it. So gospels, praxapostolos, Pauline letters. But Romans remains an anomaly in two respects: it has a blank space (ca. 1/3 of a page) after it, with 1 Cor starting at the top of a new page—the only case, I think, of a letter not being followed immediately by the next one—and (again, assuming I am reading the data in Text und Textwert correctly) its textual character differs from the rest of the Pauline corpus. One wonders: was the scribe confronted by some problem with his exemplar of Romans, and as a result, decided to leave space for it, start 1 Cor on a fresh page, and then return later to deal with Romans, perhaps using a different exemplar? In any case, a curious situation.

  4. The present order of 33 follows the order of the scripture readings during the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Church: Prophets, Apostolos and Gospels.