Thursday, July 03, 2014

A Beautiful Error in Aland's Synopsis Quattor Evangeliorum

In Kurt Aland's Synopsis [I am using the 4. korrigierter Druck 2005] a gorgeous error appears. In Mark 8:25 the text as printed reads και ενεβλεπεν τηλαυγως απαντα, 'and he saw everything clearly'. There are variants: παντα (not interesting now) and απαντας, 'and he saw everyone clearly'.
However, in the apparatus of the Synopsis this last variant is not given as απαντας (see e.g. in Alexandrinus), but incorrectly as αναστας, leading to a text that says something like 'and he saw clearly after he arose'.

Is the non-existing variant in the Synopsis an error of reading, influence from the wider context, or is this theologically motivated? Can we talk about its intention, its effect, and its reception history? Or is this an example of that most useful and most neglected of text-critical categories, namely 'errors just happen, get over it'?


  1. Nice and baffling. αναστας occurs in a variant reading on Mk 7:24, but that is several pages before.
    Your "4. Druck" concerns the 15th edition; you may want to know that the error is already found in the 13th edition (1985), but not in the 1st (1964). It can be safely assumed that it originated when the apparatus was reset and changed for the 13th edition.

  2. That's a great find, Dirk. It would make a nice classroom illustration.

  3. Wow, I wonder how often what we see in the manuscript tradition had its beginning in just this way and was subsequently copied over and over and we are looking for far more motivated reasons. BTW, this is why I have read this blog and comments from first to current, thank you all for the opportunity to continually gain knowledge of NTTC that is not available elsewhere.


  4. It is not in the 1978 10th edition

  5. A Beautiful Error in Jongkind’s Article Title. (¹)

    1. QuattUor…

  6. Nice, Richard.
    As said, 'Errors just happen, ...' And in this particular case I will leave it in the title, after all This Is What Was Written (which would make for a nice monograph title after Jan Krans's Beyond What is Written and Ryan Wettlaufer's No Longer Written)

  7. /PART 1/
    Dear Users,
    I’ve just found this blog and I decided to post my problem here. It gives me a headache right now. I can’t sleep at night because I think and I think and I think about this matter, and can’t find a good solution!
    English is not my native language, so I apologize for any mistakes, I hope that my massage would be at least understandable.

    The problem is with textual variants of Acts 13:20.
    There are two variants of this passage.
    Now, before I’ll go on with the matter, I’d like to say that I am quite convinced that critical text is generally a better text than TR or majority text, because it is based mostly on early manuscripts. I’ve examined arguments of both sides, and I am quite convinced that CT proponents are closer to the truth. I don’t know what position is held here. I am very interested in what both sides have to say. I’m open.
    The whole passage is:
    (I don’t know from which Bible version to quote so I’ll be quoting from NASB because it is known to be formal equivalent)

    16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!
    17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country;
    18 for about forty years he endured their conducta in the wilderness;
    19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance.
    20 All this took about 450 years.“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet.
    21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years.
    22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
    Acts 13

    And know, let’s look at verse 20. There are two variants of this passage in greek, which differ with the position of the phrase “450 years”.

    The first one goes like this:
    ... giving their land to his people as their inheritance – 450 years - After this, God gave them judges...
    This one is found in alexandrian text and is found in all CT-based Bible translations.

    The second variant is:
    ... giving their land to his people as their inheritance. After this, God gave them judges – 450 years - until the time of Samuel...
    This variant is found in byzantine text and is found in KJV.

    So the first variant basically says that sojourn in Egypt + 40 years in wilderness + conquering Canaan = about 450 years.
    The second variant says that the time of judges = about 450 years.
    The popular allegation is that KJV variant makes contradiction with I Kings 6:1, which gives 480 years from going out of Egypt to starting to build a temple. And one cannot put 450 years of judges into this. And therefore alexandrian variant must be true.
    The problem is that the alexandrian variant makes contradiction too. Sojour in Egypt took 430 years + 40 years in the wilderness + about 7 years to conquer Canaan = about 477 years. Not 450 years. Didn’t Paul knew calculus?
    The issue is this: how would CT proponents find a solution to this contradiction?
    One cannot just assume 400 years instead of 430 as some kind of approximation. Genesis 15:13 is not approximation but says about the time of affliction!
    Israelites were in the land of Egypt 430 years (Exodus 12:40).
    But Egyptians were bashing them for 400 years (Genesis 15:12). Apparently, after 30 years there must have arose first untolerance for Israelites in Egypt.

  8. /PART 2/
    Now, I am convinced that Israelites were in the land of Egypt 430 years, not 215 as some say. I think this paper is excellent, it gives I think all major arguments for “long sojour view”:
    Also, there is not contradiction with Galatians 3:17.

    16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
    17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.

    “previously ratified” – the last ratification was when Jacob was entering to Egypt, so this passage in no way says that 430 years are from Abraham to events at Sinai. So there’s no contradiction with “long sojourn in Egypt” view. I think that this passage should go more like this (all translations to my language make this order of sentences):

    What I am saying is this: - a covenant previously ratified by God is not invalidated [by what?] – by the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later [after what? after the ratification, the last one was when the Jacob was entering the Canaan] - so as to nullify the promise.

    But let’s go back to Acts 13:20.
    So now we know that sojour in Egypt was 430 years + 40 years + about 7 years = 477 years, not 450 years. I can’t imagine how Paul could give a round number 450 for 477. And I can’t imagine why Paul would have take out these 30 years – there is no clue in the text that he is saying only about the bondage of Israelites in Egypt which took 400 years (Acts 13:17).
    So no, this can’t be a “round number”.
    Now, there is some uncertainty about how to translate this passage at the first place. Daniel Wallace says that this passage “about 450 years” points to the previous events, so nearly all translations insert “all this took”, which is not in the greek. ISV makes an other translation, which says:

    he destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan. Then God gave their land to the Israelis as an inheritance for about 450 years. "After that, he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel.

    Which makes absolutely no sense, because it says that Israelites had thair land for 450 years before there was a period of Judges. Even greater contradiction with I Kings 6:1!
    So, we now come to the conclusion that there is no good solution out of this contradiction when we have alexandrian variant.
    Now, let’s reconsider the byzantine variant:

    ... giving their land to his people as their inheritance. After this, God gave them judges – 450 years - until the time of Samuel...

  9. /PART 3/
    Actually, after further study, this variant makes NO contradiction at all! I think this guy found excellet solution:
    It is easy for us to think of period of Judges as a time of events included only in a book called in our modern beautiful volumes of Scriptures as “Book of Judges” but it is not entirely true. Judges were even at the time of Moses (Exodus 18:13-27). And apparentley they ceased when Israel become a kingdom (people were going from all country to David, who was judging, 2 Samuel 15). So when Paul was talking about judges, he probably didn’t have on his mind only the “period of Judges” as recorded in the book of judges. The problem is word “after” in Acts 13:20, that would mean, that this hypotetical period of Judges must have begin after Israel conquered Canaan, which is not true (Exodus 18:13-27). I’ve found that in reality, a word translated as “after” can mean also something like “according to” or simply in this context: “so then”.
    It would go like this:
    ... giving their land to his people as their inheritance. So then, God was giving them judges for 450 years until the time of Samuel...
    And in such understanding of period of judges it makes no contradiction with I Kings 6:1.
    Now what about critical text and alexandrian variant? At the first glance, byzantine variant is far more difficult variant, so it would be quite unsubstantiated for any scribe to make a willful change from alexandrian variant to byzantine variant and create seemingly even greater contradiction. Let’s put it this way – the solution I presented for byzantine variant isn’t easy and popular one, and anybody would just rather assume that Paul was giving some kind of “round number” in alexandrian variant, than to create even more – seemingly – problem with moving this phrase “450 years”. Byzantine variant, though not making any contradiction after examination, seems to be this “more difficult one”, and more difficult ones are prefered with such fervour by CT scholars. I prayed and prayed, and asked Holy Spirit to show me some way out of this problem, some solution, and for now, I can’t find any other solution then to recognize that byzantine variant is a better candidate for a original reading. But what about that whole critical aparattus used by CT scholars? If internal evidence makes Byz variant more probable, why the other variant is so uniform in the earliest manuscripts in the early centuries? If we could recognize Byz variant as original reading, what does it say about the whole critical apparatus of modern scholars? Without internal evidence, there simply should be no discussion about the fact that Alex. variant should be recognized as original based on manuscript evidence (list of manuscripts for both variants is given here: What are your thoughts about this matter? This really destroys my view on the matter on “where the word of God really is”. I don’t know who is right, CT scholars, or majority text proponents... Please help, maybe somebody could produce a note on a blog on this matter?

  10. Dear M.K.,

    It is a principle in NTTC that each textual location is in a sense unique. Whichever variant is deemed original on the basis of probabilities says nothing about the critical apparatus per se. Its function is to list the known variants and the external evidence which supports them.

    Without making an issue of this, there are textual variants in the OT text as well. You should check them too.

  11. M.K. why not write it up as a blog post and send it to me (otherwise it is a bit lost here in the comments to a very different topic).