THE FACTS OF NEW TESTAMENT TEXTUAL CRITICISM
Facts are the temporal truths which God, the eternal Truth, establishes by His works of creation and providence. God reveals facts to men through their thought processes, and in and through the facts God reveals Himself. In the facts of nature God reveals Himself as the almighty Creator God, in the facts of Scripture God reveals Himself as the faithful Covenant God, and in the facts of the Gospel God reveals Himself as the triune Saviour God. Certainty is our clear perception of the clearly revealed facts. Probability is our dimmer perception of the less clearly revealed facts. Error is the sinful rejection of the facts, and especially of God's revelation of Himself in and through the facts.
In New Testament textual criticism, therefore, we must start at the highest point. We must begin with God, the supreme and eternal Truth, and then descend to the lower, temporal facts which He has established by His works of creation and providence. We must take all our principles from the Bible itself and borrow none from the textual criticism of other ancient books. It is only by following this rule that we will be able to distinguish facts from the fictions of unbelievers.
1. An Enumeration Of The New Testament Documents
For information concerning the vast fleet of documents which have transported the New Testament text across the sea of time under the direction of God's special providence let us apply to two of the leading experts in this field, namely, Kurt Aland (1968), (1) who currently assigns official numbers to newly discovered manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, and B. M. Metzger (1968), (2) author of many books and articles concerning the New Testament text.
(a) The Greek New Testament Manuscripts
How many New Testament manuscripts are there? In order to answer this question let us turn to the latest statistics as they are presented by Kurt Aland. According to Aland, there are 5,255 known manuscripts which contain all or part of the Greek New Testament. (3)
The earliest of these Greek New Testament manuscripts are the papyri. They are given that name because they are written on papyrus, an ancient type of writing material made from the fibrous pith of the papyrus plant, which in ancient times grew plentifully along the river Nile. Eighty-one of these papyri have now been discovered, many of them mere fragments. (4) The most important of these papyrus manuscripts are the Chester Beatty Papyri and the Bodmer Papyri. The Chester Beatty Papyri were published in 1933-37. They include Papyrus 45 ( Gospels and Acts, c. 225 A.D. ), Papyrus 46 (Pauline Epistles, c. 225 A.D.), and Papyrus 47 (Revelation, c. 275 A.D. ). The Bodmer Papyri were published in 1956-62. The most important of these are Papyrus 66 (John, c. 200 A.D.) and Papyrus 75 ( Luke and John 1: 15, c. 200 A.D.).
All the rest of the Greek New Testament manuscripts are of velum ( leather), except for a few late ones in which paper was used. The oldest of the velum manuscripts are written in uncial (capital) letters. These uncial manuscripts now number 267. (5) The three oldest complete (or nearly complete) uncial manuscripts are B (Codex Vaticanus), Aleph (Codex Sinaiticus), and A (Codex Alexandrinus). Codex B was written about the middle of the 4th century. It is the property of the Vatican Library at Rome. When it arrived there is not known, but it must have been before 1475, since it is mentioned in a catalogue of the library made in that year. Codex Aleph was discovered by Tischendorf in 1859 at the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. Tischendorf persuaded the monks to give it as a present (requited with money and favors) to the Czar of Russia. In 1933 it was purchased from the Russian government by the Trustees of the British Museum. It is generally considered by scholars to have been written in the second half of the 4th century. Codex A was for many years regarded as the oldest extant New Testament manuscript. It was given to the King of England in 1627 by Cyril Lucar, patriarch of Constantinople, and is now kept in the British Museum. Scholars date it from the first half of the 5th century. Other important uncial manuscripts are W (Gospels, 4th or 5th century), D (Gospels and Acts, 5th or 6th century), and D2 (Pauline Epistles, 6th century).
About the beginning of the 9th century minuscule (small letter) handwriting began to be used for the production of books. Thus all the later New Testament manuscripts are minuscules. According to Aland, 2,764 minuscules have been catalogued. (6) These date from the 9th to the 16th century.
Another important class of Greek New Testament manuscripts are the lectionaries. These are service books which contain in proper sequence the text of the passages of Scripture appointed to be read at the worship services of the Church. These lectionaries are of two kinds, the synaxaria, which begin the year at Easter, and the menologia, which begin the year at September 1. Aland sets the number of the lectionary manuscripts at 2,143. (7)
(b) Cataloguing the New Testament Manuscripts
To discover and catalogue all these manuscripts was the first task of New Testament textual criticism. As early as 1550 Stephanus began to do this. This scholarly printer placed in the margin of his 3rd edition of the Textus Receptus variant readings taken from 15 manuscripts, which he indicated by Greek numbers. One of these manuscripts was D and another L, and most of the rest have been identified with minuscule manuscripts in the Royal (National) Library at Paris. Stephanus' pioneer efforts were continued 100 years later by the English scholar Brian Walton. In the 6th volume of his great Polyglot Bible (1657) he included the variant readings of Stephanus and also those of 15 other manuscripts. These were listed along with the libraries in which they were kept. In 1707 John Mill, another English scholar, published his monumental edition of the New Testament in which almost all the available evidence of the Greek manuscripts and the early versions was presented. Scrivener (1883) gives a list of the 82 Greek New Testament manuscripts which Mill knew and catalogued in his epoch making work. (8)
The modern system of cataloguing the New Testament rnanuscripts was introduced by J. J. Wettstein in his two volume edition of the New Testament, published at Amsterdam in 1751-52. He designated the uncial manuscripts by capital letters and the minuscule manuscripts by Arabic numerals. According to K. W. Clark (1950), Wettstein catalogued about 125 Greek New Testament manuscripts. (9)
After the opening of the 19th century the process of cataloguing New Testament manuscripts speeded up tremendously due to the improved means of travel and communication. During the years 1820-36 J. M. A. Scholz listed 616 manuscripts which had not previously been known. In the four editions of his Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (1861-94) F. H. A. Scrivener extended the catalogue to almost 3,000 manuscripts. Between the years 1884 and 1912 C. R. Gregory enlarged this list to over 4,000 manuscripts. (10) After Gregory's death in World War I, the task of registering newly discovered manuscripts was taken over by von Dobschuetz, and then by Eltester, and is at present the responsibility of K. Aland. As stated, he lists the total number of Greek New Testament manuscripts at 5,255. In view of these large numbers, it may very well be that almost all the extant New Testament manuscripts have now been discovered and catalogued.
(c) Collating the New Testament Manuscripts
After a manuscript is discovered and catalogued, it must be studied to find out what it says, and its readings must be published. Usually this is done by collating (comparing) the manuscript with some well known printed text and noting the readings in regard to which the manuscript varies from this printed text. If the collation is perfectly accurate, these variant readings, when again compared with the printed text, will exhibit perfectly the text of the manuscript which has been collated. Unfortunately, however, the collations of the earlier New Testament scholars were not very reliable. It was not considered necessary to record every variant of the manuscript that was being examined.
It was not until the 19th century that scholars began to aim at perfect accuracy and completeness in the collation of New Testament manuscripts. The most famous of these 19th century publishers and collators of New Testament manuscripts was C. Tischendorf. The 8th edition of his Greek New Testament (1869) is still a mine of information concerning the readings of the New Testament documents and indispensable to the student who desires to examine these matters for himself. Other eminent 19th century investigators of New Testament manuscripts were S. P. Tregelles, F .H. A. Scrivener, and J. W. Burgon.
During the 20th century there have been many who have taken part in the work of collating New Testament manuscripts. Included among these are C. R. Gregory, K. Lake, H. C. Hoskier, and many contemporary scholars. One of the goals, as yet unattained, of 20th century scholarship has been to produce a critical edition of the New Testament which shall take the place of Tischendorf's 8th edition. Von Soden attempted to supply this need in his monumental edition (1902-10), but did not succeed, at least in the judgment of most critics. In 1935 and 1940 S. C. Legg published critical editions of Mark and Matthew respectively, but inaccuracies have also been found in his presentation of the evidence. In 1949 an international committee was formed of British and American scholars, and since that time work on a critical edition of Luke has been in progress. Not long ago (1966) a specimen of this committee's work was rather severely criticized on various counts by K. Aland, who is now working with other European scholars in yet another attempt to produce a new critical edition of the New Testament. (11)
Such then are the impressive results of more than four centuries of New Testament manuscript study. Thousands of manuscripts have been catalogued and many of these manuscripts have been collated and studied. Myriads of facts have been gathered. As believing Bible students we should seek to master these facts. We must remember, however, that facts are never neutral. (12) All facts are temporal truths which God establishes by His works of creation and providence. Hence we must not attempt, as unbelievers do, to force the facts into an allegedly neutral framework but should interpret them in accordance with the divine Truth, namely, God's revelation of Himself in the pages of holy Scripture. When we do this, the consistency of believing thought and the inconsistency of unbelieving thought become evident also in the realm of New Testament textual criticism.
(d) The Ancient New Testament Versions
When and where the New Testament was first translated into Latin has been the subject of much dispute, but, according to Metzger, most scholars now agree that the first Latin translation of the Gospels was made in North Africa during the last quarter of the 2nd century. Only about 50 manuscripts of this Old Latin version survive. These manuscripts are divided into the African Latin group and the European Latin group according to the type of text which they contain. In 382 A.D. Pope Damasus requested Jerome to undertake a revision of the Old Latin version. Jerome complied with this request and thus produced the Latin Vulgate, the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church. There are more than 8,000 extant manuscripts of the Vulgate. (13)
Of the Syriac versions the most important is the Peshitta, the historic Bible of the whole Syrian Church, of which 350 manuscripts are now extant. The Peshitta was long regarded as one of the most ancient New Testament versions, being accorded a 2nd-century date. In more recent times, however, Burkitt (1904) and other naturalistic critics have assigned a 5th-century date to the Peshitta. (14) But Burkitt's hypothesis is contrary to the evidence, and today it is being abandoned even by naturalistic scholars. (15) All the sects into which the Syrian Church is divided are loyal to the Peshitta. In order to account for this it is necessary to believe that the Peshitta was in existence long before the 5th century, for it was in the 5th century that these divisions occurred.
The Philoxenian Syriac version was produced in 508 A.D. for Philaxenus, bishop of Mabbug, by his assistant Polycarp. In 616 this version was re-issued, or perhaps revised, by Thomas of Harkel, who likewise was bishop of Mabbug. The Philoxenian-Harclean version includes the five books which the Peshitta omits, namely 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. (16)
The so-called "Old Syriac" version is represented by only two manuscripts, (17) the Curetonian Syriac manuscript, named after W. Cureton who published it in 1858, and the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, which was discovered by Mrs. Lewis in 1892 at the same monastery on Mount Sinai in which Tischendorf had discovered Codex Aleph almost fifty years before. These manuscripts are called "Old Syriac" because they are thought by critics to represent a Syriac text which is older than the Peshitta. This theory, however, rests on Burkitt's untenable hypothesis that the Peshitta was produced in the 5th century by Rabbula, bishop of Edessa.
The Egyptian New Testament versions are called the Coptic versions because they are written in Coptic, the latest form of the ancient Egyptian language. The Coptic New Testament is extant in two dialects, the Sahidic version of Southern Egypt and the Bohairic version of Northern Egypt. According to Metzger, the Sahidic version dates from the beginning of the 3rd century. The oldest Sahidic manuscript has been variously dated from the mid-4th to the 6th century. The Bohairic version is regarded as somewhat later than the Sahidic. It is extant in many manuscripts, most of which are late. In the 1950's however, M. Bodmer acquired a papyrus Bohairic manuscript containing most of the Gospel of John which was thought by its editor, R. Kasser, to date from the mid-4th century. (18)
In addition to the Latin, Syriac, and Coptic versions, there are a number of other versions which are important for textual criticism. The Gothic version was translated from the Greek in the middle of the 4th century by Ulfilas, the renowned missionary to the Goths. Of this version six manuscripts are still extant. Of the Armenian version, 1,244 manuscripts survive. This version seems to have been made in the 5th century, but by whom is uncertain. Whether it was made from the Greek or from a Syriac version is also a matter of debate among scholars. The Christians of Georgia, a mountainous district between the Black and Caspian seas, also had a New Testament in their own language, several copies of which are still extant. (19)
(e) The Quotations of the Church Fathers
The New Testament quotations found in the writings of the Church Fathers constitute yet another source of information concerning the history of the New Testament text. Some of the most important Fathers, for the purposes of textual criticism, are as follows: the three Western Fathers, Irenaeus (c. 180), Tertullian (150-220), Cyprian (200-258); the Alexandrian Fathers, Clement (c. 200)
Origen (182-251); the Fathers who lived in Antioch and in Asia Minor, especially Chrysostom (345-407). Another very important early Christian writer was Tatian, who about 170 A.D. composed a harmony of the Four Gospels called the Diatessaron. This had wide circulation in Syria and has been preserved in two Arabic manuscripts and various other sources.
(f) Families of New Testament Documents
Since the 18th century the New Testament documents have been divided into families according to the type of text which they contain. There are three of these families, namely, the Western family, the Alexandrian family, and the Traditional (Byzantine) family.
The Western family consists of those New Testament documents which contain that form of text found in the writings of the Western Church Fathers, especially Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian. A number of Greek manuscripts contain this text, of which the most important are D and D2. Three other important witnesses to the Western text are the Old Latin version, the Diatessaron of Tatian, and the Curetonian and Sinaitic Syriac manuscripts.
The Alexandrian family consists of those New Testament documents which contain that form of text which was used by Origen in some of his writings and also by other Church Fathers who, like Origen, lived at Alexandria. This family includes Papyri 46, 47, 66, 75, B, Aleph., and about 25 other Greek New Testament manuscripts. The Coptic versions also belong to the Alexandrian family of New Testament documents. Westcott and Hort (1881) distinguished between the text of B and the text of other Alexandrian documents. They called the B text Neutral, thus indicating their belief that it was a remarkably pure text which had not been contaminated by the errors of either the Western or Alexandrian texts. Many subsequent scholars, however, have denied the validity of this distinction.
The Traditional (Byzantine) family includes all those New Testament documents which contain the Traditional (Byzantine) text. The vast majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts belong to this family, including A (in the Gospels) and W (in Matthew and the last two thirds of Luke). The Peshitta Syriac version and the Gothic version also belong to the Traditional family of New Testament documents. And the New Testament quotations of Chrysostom and the other Fathers of Antioch and Asia Minor seem generally to agree with the Traditional text.
2. The Early History Of The Western Text
The Western text may actually have originated in the East, as Ropes (1926) (20) and other noted scholars have believed, but if so it was probably taken to Rome almost immediately and adopted by the Christian community of that great city as its official text. Then from Rome the use of the Western text spread to all parts of the civilized world, the prestige of the Roman Church securing for it a favorable reception everywhere. As Souter (1912) observed, "The universal diffusion of the Western text can best be explained by the view that it circulated from Rome, the capital and centre of all things." (21)
(a) Western Additions to the New Testament Text
The Western text is singularly long in many places, containing readings which are not found in the Alexandrian or Traditional texts. Some of the most interesting of these Western additions to the New Testament text are as follows:
Matt. 3:15 To the account of Christ's baptism certain Old Latin manuscripts add, and a great light shone around.
Matt. 20:28 After the familiar words, The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many, D and certain Old Latin manuscripts add, But as for you, seek to increase from that which is small, and from that which is greater to be come less. And when ye come in and are invited to dine, do not sit at the best places; lest some one more honorable than thou approach, and the host come and say to thee, Move farther down, and thou be ashamed. But if thou sit down at the lower place, and some one less than thou approach, the host also will say to thee, Move farther up, and this shall be profitable for thee.
Luke 3:22 At Christ's baptism, according to D and certain Old Latin manuscripts, the heavenly voice states, Thou art My Son. This day have I begotten Thee.
Luke 6:4 At the end of this verse D adds this apochryphal saying of Jesus. On the same day, seeing a certain man working on the sabbath, He said to him, Man, if thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed, but if thou
knowest not, thou art cursed and art a transgressor of the law.
Luke 23:53 After the words, wherein never man before was laid, D c Sahidic add, And when He was laid there, he placed before the tomb a stone, which twenty men could scarcely roll.
John 6:56 After Christ's solemn statement, He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me and I in him, D and the Old Latin add, according as the Father is in Me and I in the Father. Verily, verily I say unto you, except ye take the body of the Son of Man as the bread of life, ye have not life in Him.
Acts 15:20 To the apostolic decree D Sahidic Ethiopic add these words ( the Golden Rule in negative form ), And whatsoever they do not wish to be done to themselves, not to do to others.
Acts 23:24 Here the Old Latin and the Vulgate give an interesting explanation why Claudius Lysias sent Paul away by night to Felix the governor, For he feared lest the Jews should seize him and kill him and he meanwhile should be accused of having taken a bribe.
These longer Western readings have found few defenders and are one of the many indications that the Western New Testament text is a corrupt form of the divine original.
(b) The Westem Omissions
In the last portion of Luke there are eight readings which The Revised Standard Version (R.S.V.) and The New English Bible (N.E.B.) remove from the text and consign to the footnotes. These readings are usually called Western omissions, because (with two exceptions) they are omitted only by a few manuscripts of the Western group, namely, D, certain Old Latin manuscripts, and one or two Old Syriac manuscripts. These Western omissions are as follows:
Luke 22:19-20 (the Lord's Supper) from which is given for you to is shed for you, omitted by D and the Old Latin version.
Luke 24:3 (referring to Christ's body) of the Lord Jesus, omitted by D and the Old Latin version.
Luke 24:6 (the angelic announcement) He is not here but is risen, omitted by D, the Old Latin version, the Old Syriac version (?), and certain manuscripts of the
Luke 24:12 (Peter's journey to the tomb) whole verse omitted by D, the Old Latin version, and the Old Syriac version (?).
Luke 24:36 (salutation of the risen Christ) and saith unto them, Peace be unto you, omitted by D, the Old Latin version and the Old Syriac version (?).
Luke 24:40 (proofs of Christ's resurrection) And when He had thus spoken, He shewed them His hands and His feet, omitted by D and the Old Latin and Old Syriac versions.
Luke 24:51 (the ascension of Christ) and was carried up into heaven, omitted by Aleph, D, the Old Latin version and the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript.
Luke 24:52 (recognition of Christ's deity) worshipped Him, and omitted by D, the Old Latin version and the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript.
The omission of these eight readings in the R.S.V. and the N.E.B. is certainly not a matter that can be taken lightly, for it means, as far as these two modern versions can make it so, that all reference to the atoning work of Christ has been eliminated from Luke's account of the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:19-20) and that the ascension of Christ into heaven (Luke 24:51) has been entirely removed from the Gospels, Mark's account of the ascension having already been rejected by the critics. Certainly no believing Bible student can remain indifferent to this mutilation of the Gospel record.
In their Greek New Testament text (1881) Westcott and Hort placed these Western omissions in double brackets, thus indicating their opinion that these readings were interpolations which had been added to the text of Luke in all the New Testament manuscripts except D and those few others mentioned above. But the fact that all eight of these readings have recently been found to occur in Papyrus 75 is unfavorable to their hypothesis that these readings are additions to the text. For if this were so, it is hard to see how all these readings could have made their way into so early a witness as Papyrus 75. Surely some of them would have failed to do so and thus would be absent from this papyrus. Hort's answer to objections of this sort was vague and scarcely satisfactory. He believed that these readings were added to the text at a very early date just after the Neutral text "had parted company from the earliest special ancestry of the Western text," perhaps "at the actual divergence," (22) but where or by whom this was done he didn't say.
Thus Westcott and Hort believed that in Luke's account of the Lord's Supper, for example, all the extant New Testament manuscripts are in error except D and a few Old Latin manuscripts. According to these two scholars and also Kilpatrick (1946) (23) and Chadwick (1957), (24) the reading, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. Likewise the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you, is an interpolation which some very early scribe borrowed from Paul's account of the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:24-25). The scribe's motive, these scholars claim, was to make Luke agree with Matthew and Mark in having the cup come after the bread. This interpolation, these scholars believe, was so extraordinarily successful that it is found today in all the extant New Testament manuscripts except D and those few others.
The R.S.V. and the N.E.B. are certainly to be condemned for using such doubtful speculations as a basis for their alterations of the Lucan account of the Lord's Supper. For this theory is rejected even by many liberal scholars. As Kenyon and Legg (1937) and Williams (1951) (25) have pointed out, no scribe would have tried to harmonize Luke's narrative with that of Matthew and Mark by borrowing from 1 Cor. 11:24-25. For this would make the supposed contradiction worse. There would then be two cups where before there had been only one.
The ascension of Christ into heaven is another important Western omission which the R.S.V. and the N.E.B. have wrongly relegated to the footnotes. The words and was carried up into heaven are found not in "some" documents or "many" documents, as these two modernistic versions misleadingly state in their footnotes, but in all the New Testament documents except those few mentioned above. Westcott and Hort believed that these words were not originally a part of Luke's Gospel but were inserted by a scribe who thought that the ascension was implied by the preceding words, He was parted from them. According to Westcott and Hort, Luke did not intend even to hint at the ascension in his Gospel but was saving his account of it for the first chapter of Acts. (26) But, as Zahn (1909) pointed out, this theory is contradicted by the opening verses of Acts, which make it clear that Luke thought that he had already given an account of the ascension in the last chapter of his Gospel. (27)
It is much more reasonable to suppose with Streeter (1924), (28) Williams 1951), (29) and other scholars that the ascension into heaven was omitted by some of the early Christians in order to avoid a seeming conflict with the first chapter of Acts. The account in Luke may have seemed to them to imply that the ascension took place on the very day of the resurrection, and this would seem to be out of harmony with the narrative in Acts, which plainly states that the ascension occurred forty days after the resurrection. In order to eliminate this difficulty they may have omitted the reference to the ascension in Luke 24:51. This drastic remedy, however, was in no wise necessary. For, contrary to the opinion of Streeter and Williams, there is no real contradiction between the Gospel of Luke and Acts in regard to the ascension of Christ. The Gospel of Luke need not be regarded as teaching that the resurrection and ascension of Christ took place on the same day.
Because these eight omitted readings have been found to occur in Papyrus 75, critics are now changing their minds about them. Kurt Aland (1966), for example, has restored these Western omissions to the text of the Nestle New Testament. (30) Hence the R.S.V., the N.E.B., and the other modern versions which omit them are already out of date. And this rapid shifting of opinion shows us how untrustworthy naturalistic textual criticism is. Christians who rely upon it for their knowledge of the New Testament text are to be pitied. Surely they are building their house upon the sands.
(c) The Westem and Caesarean Texts in Egypt
The Western text circulated not only in the East and in Italy and North Africa but also in Egypt. This was first proved in 1899 by P. M. Barnard in a study entitled The Biblical Text of Clement of Alexandria. (31) Barnard analyzed Clement's quotations from the Four Gospels and Acts and found them to be of a fundamentally Western character. Then in 1926 Papyrus 37, a 3rd-century fragment of Matthew, was shown by H. A. Sanders to be Western in its text, (32) and again in the following year Sanders showed the same thing to be true of Papyrus 38, a 3rd or 4th-century fragment of Acts. (33)
During the 1920's and 30's another type of New Testament text was discovered to have circulated in Egypt, namely, the Caesarean text. This text occurs in certain late manuscripts (e.g., Theta 1 13 28 565 700) in places in which these manuscripts do not agree with the Traditional (Byzantine) text. In 1924 Streeter gave this newly discovered text the name Caesarean because he believed that Origen used this type of text in Caesarea after he had fled there from Alexandria in 231 A.D. (34) In 1928, however, Kirsopp Lake brought out the possibility that the Caesarean text was an Egyptian text. According to Lake, when Origen first moved to Caesarea, he used the Alexandrian text, not switching to the Caesarean text until later. This might mean that he found the Alexandrian text in Caesarea and used it only temporarily until the Caesarean text could be sent to him out of Egypt. (35) Then, finally, in 1933-37 F. G. Kenyon published the newly discovered Chester Beatty Papyri. In Acts, the Pauline Epistles and Revelation he found them to possess an Alexandrian type of text, but in the Gospels, and especially in Mark, he discovered them to be Caesarean. (36) This discovery provided one more link in the chain binding the Caesarean text to Egypt.
Thus these discoveries and these researches into the New Testament text of ancient Egypt are unfavorable to the theory of Westcott and Hort that the Alexandrian text, and especially the text of B. represents the pure original New Testament text. For, as Kenyon pointed out, the evidence shows that the Alexandrian text was not dominant even in Egypt. Clement never used it, and Origen used it only some of the time. (37) Clearly it is wrong to suppose that the Alexandrian text enjoyed an official status that kept it pure.
3. The Early History Of The Alexandrian Text
Concerning the relationship of the Alexandrian New Testament text to the Western New Testament text there has been a difference of opinion dating back to the early days of New Testament textual criticism. Some critics have believed that the Western text was the earlier and that the Alexandrian text came into being as a refinement of this primitive Western text. Among those who have thought this are Griesbach (1796), Hug (1808), Burkitt (1899), A. C. Clark (1914), Sanders (1926), Lake (1928), Glaue (1944), and Black (1954) . Other critics have regarded the Alexandrian text as prior and have looked upon the Western Text as a corruption of this purer Alexandrian text-form. Some of those who have held this view are Tischendorf (1868), Westcott and Hort (1881), B. Weiss (1899), Ropes (1926), Lagrange (1935), and Metzger (1964). In the paragraphs that follow we shall bring forth evidence to show that neither of these positions is correct.
(a) Early Alterations in the Alexandrian Text
At a very early date the Alexandrian text was altered in many places. The following are some of these alterations occurring in B. which Westcott and Hort (WH) regarded as the purest of all extant manuscripts, and also in the Chester Beatty Papyri and the Bodrner Papyri.
Luke 10:41-42 One thing is needful. Traditional Text, Pap 45 (dated 225 A.D.) Pap 75 (dated 200 A.D.).
Few things are needful, or one. B Aleph WH & footnotes of R.V., A.S.V., R.S.V., N.E.B. This Alexandrian alteration makes Jesus talk about food rather than spiritual realities.
Luke 12:31 Seek ye the kingdom of God. Traditional Text, Pap 45.
Seek ye the kingdom. Pap 75.
Seek ye His kingdom. B Aleph, WH, R.V., A.S.V., R.S.V., N.E.B.
A similar Alexandrian alteration is made in Matt. 6:33, where B alters the text still further into, But seek ye first His righteousness and His kingdom.
Luke 15:21 B Aleph D add Make me as one of thy hired servants. As Hoskier observes, (38) this tasteless Alexandrian addition (accepted by WH and placed in the footnotes of modern versions) spoils the narrative. In the true text the prodigal never pronounces the words which he had formulated in vs. 19. As soon as he beholds his father's loving face, they die on his lips. This addition is not found in Pap 75.
Luke 23:35 saying, He saved others, let him save himself, if this is the Christ, the chosen of God. Traditional Text. they said to Him, Thou savedst others, save thyself, if thou art the Son of God, if thou art Christ, the chosen.
D c aeth.
saying, He saved others, let him save himself, if this is the Christ, the Son of God, the chosen. Pap 75.
saying, He saved others, let him save himself, if he is the Son, the Christ of God, the chosen. B.
We see here that the Traditional Text was altered by the Western text at a very early date. Then this alteration was adopted in part by Pap 75 and then in still a different form by B.
Luke 23:45 And the sun was darkened. Here Pap 75, Aleph B C L Coptic, WH, R.V., A.S.V., R.S.V., N.E.B., read, the sun having become eclipsed. This rationalistic explanation of the supernatural darkness at the crucifixion is ascribed to the Jews in the Acts of Pilate and to a heathen historian Thallus by Julius Africanus, but, as Julius noted, it is impossible, because at Passover time the moon was full. (39)
John 1:15 John bare witness of Him and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me etc. Traditional Text, Pap 66 (dated 200 A.D.), Pap 75. John bare witness of Him and cried, saying (this was he that said) He that cometh after me etc. B WH & footnotes of R.V., A.S.V. This Alexandrian alteration, this was he that said, makes no sense. It had already been stated that John was speaking.
John 8:39 If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. Traditional Text. If ye are Abraham's children, do the works of Abraham. Pap 66 B. WH, R.V., A.S.V., and footnotes of N.E.B.
If ye are Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. Pap 75 Aleph D.
Here we see that the Traditional Text has the original reading. This was altered at a very early date by Pap 66, who was followed by B and, in modern times, by WH, R.V., A.S.V., and N.E.B. (footnotes). Then, also at a very early date, the scribe of Pap 75 combined the first two readings in an ungrammatical way, and he was followed by Aleph and D.
John 10:29 My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all. Traditional Text, Pap 66, Pap 75.
That which My Father hath given unto Me is greater than all. B Aleph, WH & footnotes of R.V., A.S.V., R.S.V., N.E.B.
This alteration is of great doctrinal importance, since it makes the preservation of the saints depend on the Church rather than on God. So Westcott expounds it, "The faithful, regarded in their unity, are stronger than every opposing power." (40)
(b) The Alexandrian Text Influenced by the Sahidic (Coptic) Version
Coptic is the latest form of the language of ancient Egypt. At first it was written in native Egyptian characters, but after the beginning of the Christian era Greek capital letters were mainly employed. At least a half a dozen different Coptic dialects were spoken in ancient Egypt, but the most important of these were the Sahidic dialect spoken in southern Egypt and the Bohairic dialect spoken in northern Egypt. At a very early date the Greek New Testament was translated into Sahidic, and some of the distinctive readings of this Sahidic version are found in Papyrus 75, thus supporting the contention of Hoskier (1914) that the Alexandrian text was "tremendously influenced" by the Sahidic version. (41)
For example, in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19) Papyrus 75 says that the Rich Man's name was Neves. The Sahidic version says that the Rich Man's name was Nineve. Why was the Rich Man given this name? Metzger (1964) says that it was because there was a wide-spread tradition among the ancient catechists of the Coptic Church that the name of the Rich Man was Nineveh a name which had become the symbol of dissolute riches. (42) Grobel (1964), on the other hand, argues that this name was derived from an old Egyptian folk-tale and that the name Nineve in Sahidic means Nobody. (43) But, however this may be, it is obvious that this reading was taken early into the text of Papyrus 75 from the Sahidic version.
Another Sahidic reading that found its way into the text of Papyrus 75 occurs in John 8:57. Here the majority of the New Testament documents read, Hast thou seen Abraham? But Papyrus 75, Aleph, T. Sahidic, Sinaitic Syriac read Hath Abraham seen thee?
In John 10:7 Papyrus 75 agrees with the Sahidic version in reading, I am the shepherd of the sheep, instead of, I am the door of the sheep.
In John 11:12 Papyrus 75 agrees with the Sahidic version against all the rest of the New Testament documents. In the other documents the disciples say (referring to Lazarus), Lord, if he hath fallen asleep, he will be saved. Papyrus 75 and the Sahidic version, however, read, he will be raised.
(c) Have True Readings Been Hiding for Centuries in the Papyri?
In John 7:52, according to the Traditional Text, the chief priests and Pharisees say to Nicodemus, Search and look: for out of Galilee hath arisen no prophet. In the early 19th century the rationalists Bretschneider and Baur insisted that these Jewish rulers could not have said this because they would have known that several prophets, e. g., Elijah, Nahum, Hosea, Jonah, were of Galilean origin. (44) More recently Bultmann (1941) and others have suggested that the true reading is the Prophet, referring to the great Prophet whose coming had been foretold by Moses long ago (Deut. 18:18). (45) Still more recently this suggested reading, the Prophet, has been found to occur in Papyrus 66 and is regarded by J. R. Michaels (1957) and others as "almost certainly" correct. (46) For support appeal is made to Luke 7:39 where B similarly adds the before prophet. But this appeal cuts both ways, for this B reading is accepted only by WH and the footnotes of R.V. and A.S.V. Hence if B is wrong in Luke 7:39, it is reasonable to suppose that Papyrus 66 is wrong in John 7:52. And as Fee (1965) observes, (47) a correction appears in this verse in Papyrus 66 which may indicate that even the scribe who wrote it may not, on second thought, have approved of the novelty which he had introduced into the text. Certainly there is no need to change the text to answer the criticism of Bretschneider and Baur. We need only to suppose that the Jewish rulers were so angry that they forgot their biblical history.
There is no compelling reason, therefore, to conclude that in John 7:52 the true reading has been hiding for centuries in Papyrus 66 and has just now come to light. And such a conclusion is contrary to the doctrine of the special providential preservation of the Scriptures, since no one knows where Papyrus 66 comes from. As its name implies, this manuscript is the property of the Bodmer Library in Geneva, Switzerland. According to Kurt Aland (1957), it is part of a collection of more than fifty papyrus documents which was purchased in 1954 by the Bodmer Library from E. N. Adler of London. (48) And to this information Mile. O. Bongard, secretary of the Bodmer Library, adds little. "We can only tell you," she writes (1957), "that it was purchased at Geneva by M. Bodmer. The numerous intermediaries are themselves ignorant of the exact source. And so we ourselves have given up looking for it." (49)
The Chester Beatty Papyri, which are housed in the Beatty Museum in Dublin, are in no better position. According to the information which Prof. Carl Schmidt obtained from the dealer, they were found in a pot on the east bank of the Nile south of Cairo. (50) Aland (1963) believes that there may be a connection between the Chester Beatty Papyri and the Bodmer Papyri. According to Aland, "the Bodmer Papyri seem to have been found in one place and to have come from an important Christian educational center, which was very old and which flourished for a long time." (51) Aland thinks it possible that the Chester Beatty Papyri also came from this same place. The reason for supposing this lies in the fact that a fragment of Bodmer Papyrus 66 (from chapter 19 of John) has been found among the Chester Beatty Papyri in Dublin. (52)
But however all this may be, it is evident that as Bible-believing Christians we cannot consistently maintain that there are true readings of the New Testament text which have been hiding in papyri for ages, enclosed in pots, waiting for the light of day, and just now discovered. If we thought this, our faith would be always wavering. We could never be sure that a dealer would not soon appear with something new from somewhere. Thank God that He has not preserved the New Testament text in this secret way but publicly in the usage of His Church and in the Traditional Text and the Textus Receptus which reflect this usage.
(d) Christ's Agony and Bloody Sweat
Luke 22:43-44 "And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
The evidence for these precious verses may be briefly summed up as follows: They are found in the vast majority of the New Testament manuscripts, including Aleph, D, and L. They are also found in the Old Latin versions and in the Curetonian Syriac. They occur also in the Peshitta and Palestinian Syriac versions and in certain manuscripts of the Armenian and Coptic versions.
The evidence against Luke 22:43-44 is as follows: These verses are omitted by Papyrus 75, B. A, N. R, T. W. and a group of later manuscripts called Family 13, which contain the Caesarean text. They are also omitted by one Old Latin manuscript, the Sinaitic Syriac, and Harclean Syriac margin, and the Coptic and Armenian versions.
On the strength of this negative evidence Westcott and Hort decided that the account of Christ's agony and bloody sweat was not part of the original Gospel of Luke but a bit of oral tradition which was inserted into the sacred text somewhere in the western part of the Roman empire. "These verses," they concluded, "and the first sentence of 23:34 (Christ's prayer for His murderers) may safely be called the most precious among the remains of this evangelic tradition which were rescued from oblivion by the scribes of the second century." (53)
In arguing for this theory, however, Westcott and Hort ran into an insoluble difficulty. They insisted that this alleged interpolation was a distinctive feature of the Western text. The early Fathers who cited this reading, they maintained, were all Westerners. "The early patristic evidence on its behalf is purely Western." (54) But if this had been so, how did these verses find acceptance in the 4th century among Eastern Fathers such as Epiphanius, Didymus, Eusebius, and Gregory Nazianzus? For then the Arian controversy was at its height and orthodox Christians were on their guard against anything which detracted from Christ's deity. The account of the Saviour's bloody sweat and of the ministering angel seems, at first sight, to do this, and therefore it would never have been accepted as Scripture by 4th-century Christians if it had come to them as something new and not previously a part of their Bible. According to Epiphanius, precisely the opposite development had taken place. Arius had used these verses to support his low view of Christ, and for this reason some of the orthodox Christians had removed them from their Gospel manuscripts. (55)
In more recent years the genuineness of Luke's account of Christ's agony and bloody sweat has been defended by such well known scholars as Streeter (1924), (56) Goguel, Williams (1951), (57) and especially Harnack (1931). (58) Harnack defended the Lucan authorship of these verses on linguistic grounds. "In the first place," he wrote, "this short passage bears the stamp of the Lucan viewpoint and speech so distinctly that it is in the highest degree mistaken to explain it as an interpolation." Harnack gives two reasons why this passage was offensive to orthodox Christians of the 2nd century and therefore might have been omitted by some of them. "In the first place, it was offensive that an angel strengthened the Lord—especially offensive in the earliest period, when, beginning with the epistles to the Colossians and the Hebrews, it was necessary to fight for the superiority of Jesus over the angels. In the second place, the agony with its bloody consequences was also offensive.... The more one emphasized against the Jews and heathen that the Lord endured suffering of His own free will (see Barnabas and Justin), so much the more strange must this fearful soul-struggle have appeared."
The fact that Luke 22:43-44 does not occur in Papyrus 75 indicates that Harnack was right in supposing that it was during the 2nd century that these verses began to be omitted from certain of the New Testament manuscripts. It is not necessary to suppose, however, that this practice originated among orthodox Christians. It may be that the docetists were the first ones to take the decisive step of omitting these verses. These heretics would be anxious to eliminate the account of Christ's agony and bloody sweat, since this passage refuted their contention that Christ's human nature was merely an appearance (phantom) and was one of the biblical texts which Irenaeus (c. 180) (59) and other orthodox writers were urging against them. The easiest way for the docetists to meet this orthodox appeal to scripture was to reject Luke 22:43-44 altogether. And when once this omission was made, it would be accepted by some of the orthodox Christians who for various reasons found these verses hard to reconcile with Christ's deity.
(e) Christ's Prayer His Murderers
Luke 23:34a "Then said Jesus, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
This disputed reading is found in the vast majority of the New Testament manuscripts, including Aleph, A, C, L, N. and also in certain manuscripts of the Old Latin version, in the Curetonian Syriac manuscript and in the Peshitta, Harclean, and Philoxenian versions. It is also cited or referred to by many of the Church Fathers, including the following: in the 2nd century, Tatian (60) Irenaeus; (61) in the 3rd century, Origen; in the 4th century, Basil, Eusebius, and others. The reading is omitted, on the other hand, by the following witnesses: Papyrus 75, B. D, W. Theta, 38, 435, certain manuscripts of the Old Latin version, the Sinaitic manuscript of the Old Syriac version, and the Coptic versions (with the exception of certain manuscripts). Cyril of Alexandria is also listed as omitting the reading, but, as Hort admitted, this is only an inference.
Not many orthodox Christians have agreed with Westcott and Hort in their rejection of this familiar reading which has become hallowed by many centuries of tender association. But these critics were nevertheless positive that this petition ascribed to Christ was not part of the original New Testament text but was interpolated into the Western manuscripts early in the 2nd century. This prayer of our Saviour for His murderers, they insisted, like the agony and bloody sweat, was "a fragment from the traditions, written or oral, which were, for a while at least, locally current beside the canonical Gospels, and which doubtless included matter of every degree of authenticity and intrinsic value.... Few verses of the Gospels," they continued, "bear in themselves a surer witness to the truth of what they record than this first of the Words from the Cross: but it need not therefore have belonged originally to the book in which it is now included. We cannot doubt that it comes from an extraneous source." (62)
Westcott and Hort's theory, however, is a most improbable one. This prayer of Christ would be interpreted as referring to the Jews and, thus interpreted, would not be something likely to have been added to the Gospel narrative by 2nd-century Christian scribes. For by that time the relationship between Jews and Christians had hardened into one of permanent hostility, and the average Christian would not have welcomed the thought that the Jews ought to be forgiven or that the Saviour had so prayed. Certainly the general tone of the 2nd-century Christian writers is markedly anti-Jewish. The Epistle of Barnabas, written about 130 A.D. reveals this emphasis. "In no other writing of that early time," Harnack tells us, "is the separation of the Gentile Christians from the patriotic Jews so clearly brought out. The Old Testament, he (Barnabas) maintains, belongs only to the Christians. Circumcision and the whole Old Testament sacrificial and ceremonial institution are the devil's work." (63)
For these reasons Harnack (1931) was inclined to accept Luke 23:34a as genuine and to believe that this prayer of Christ for His murderers was omitted from some of the manuscripts because of the offense which it occasioned many segments of the early Christian Church. "The words," he observed, "offered a strong offense to ancient Christendom as soon as they were related to the Jews generally. Indeed the connection, viewed accurately, shows that they apply only to the soldiers; but this is not said directly, and so, according to the far-sighted methods of the exegesis of those days, these words were related to the enemies of Jesus, the Jews generally. But then they conflicted not only with Luke 23:28 but also with the anti-Judaism of the ancient Church generally.... The verse ought in no case to be stricken out of the text of Luke; at the very most it must be left a question mark." (64)
Streeter also and Rendel Harris (65) were friendly to the supposition that Christ's prayer for His murderers was purposely deleted from Luke's Gospel by some of the scribes due to anti-Jewish feeling. But again it is not necessary to imagine that orthodox Christian scribes were the first to make this omission. It may be that Marcion was ultimately responsible for this mutilation of the sacred text. For, as Williams observes, "Marcion was anti-Jewish in all his sentiments." (66) It is true that, according to Harnack's analysis, Marcion still included this prayer of Christ in his edition of Luke's Gospel (probably relating it to the Roman soldiers), (67) but some of his followers may have referred it to the Jews and thus come to feel that it ought to be deleted from the Gospel record.
(f) The Only Begotten Son Versus Only Begotten God
John 1:18 "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him."
This verse exhibits the following four-fold variation:
(1) the only begotten Son, Traditional Text, Latin versions, Curetonian Syriac.
(2) only begotten God, Pap 66, Aleph B C L, WH.
(3) the only begotten God, Pap 75.
(4) (the) only begotten, read by one Latin manuscript.
The first reading is the genuine one. The other three are plainly heretical. Burgon (1896) long ago traced these corruptions of the sacred text to their source, namely Valentinus. (68) Burgon pointed out that the first time John 1:18 is quoted by any of the ancients a reference is made to the doctrines of Valentinus. This quotation is found in a fragment entitled Excerpts from Theodotus, which dates from the 2nd century. R. P. Casey (1934) translates it as follows:
The verse, "in the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God," the Valentinians understand thus, for they say that "the beginning" is the "Only Begotten" and that he is also called God, as also in the verses which immediately follow it explains that he is God, for it says, "The Only-Begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him." (69)
This passage is very obscure, but at least it is clear that the reading favored by Valentinus was precisely that now found in Papyrus 75, the only begotten God. What could be more probable than Dean Burgon's suggestion that Valentinus fabricated this reading by changing the only begotten Son to the only begotten God? His motive for doing so would be his apparent desire to distinguish between the Son and the Word (Logos). According to the Traditional reading, the Word mentioned in John 1:14 is identified with the only begotten Son mentioned in John 1:18. Is it not likely that Valentinus, denying such identification, sought to reinforce his denial by the easy method of altering Son to God (a change of only one letter in Greek) and using this word God in an inferior sense to refer to the Word rather than the Son? This procedure would enable him to deny that in John 1:14 the Word is identified with the Son. He could argue that in both these verses the reference is to the Word and that therefore the Word and the Son are two distinct Beings.
Thus we see that it is unwise in present-day translators to base the texts of their modern versions on recent papyrus discoveries or on B and Aleph. For all these documents come from Egypt, and Egypt during the early Christian centuries was a land in which heresies were rampant. So much was this so that, as Bauer (1934) (70) and van Unnik (1958) (71) have pointed out, later Egyptian Christians seem to have been ashamed of the heretical past of their country and to have drawn a veil of silence across it. This seems to be why so little is known of the history of early Egyptian Christianity. In view, therefore, of the heretical character of the early Egyptian Church, it is not surprising that the papyri, B. Aleph, and other manuscripts which hail from Egypt are liberally sprinkled with heretical readings.
(g) Son of God Versus Holy One of God
John 6:68-69 "Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
This verse exhibits the following four-fold variation:
(4) the Christ, the Son of God, Theta, 1 33 565, Old Latin, Vulgate, Sinaitic Syriac.
According to the critics, reading (2) the Holy One of God was the original reading. This was changed to reading (3) and then to reading (4) and then finally to reading (1). By these easy stages, the critics maintain, John 6:69 was harmonized to Matt. 16:16, which reads, "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
But internal evidence forbids us to adopt this critical conclusion. For if as Bible-believing Christians we regard Matt.16:16 and John 6:69 as actually spoken by Peter, then it is difficult to explain why on two similar occasions he would make two entirely different affirmations of his faith in Jesus, in one place confessing Him as the Christ, the Son of God and in the other as the Holy One of God. For in the other Gospels only the demons address Jesus as the Holy One of God. (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). And even if we should adopt a modernistic approach to John 6:69 and regard it as put in the mouth of Peter by the Gospel writer, still it would be difficult to receive Holy One of God as the true reading. For in John 20:31 the evangelist states that his purpose in writing his Gospel is that his readers may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Such being his intention, he surely would not have made Peter confess Jesus as the Holy One of God rather than as the Christ the Son of the living God.
The external evidence also is against the critical hypothesis that the Holy One of God is the original reading of John 6:69. For some of the documents which favor this reading have quite evidently gone astray in John 1:34. Here instead of the Son of God (which is the reading of most of the New Testament documents) Papyrus 5, Aleph 77 218, Old Latin (some mss), Curetonian Syriac read the Chosen One of God. This reading is accepted by N.E.B. and placed in the margin by WH, but most critics reject it as false. And if Chosen One of God is a false reading in John 1:34, then it is surely reasonable to conclude that Holy One of God is a false reading in John 6:69. Both readings are used as substitutes for the reading Son of God and both seem to be supported by the same class of documents. The Gnostic papyri discovered in 1945 at Nag-Hammadi in Egypt seem to indicate that these 2nd-century heretics regarded the term Son of God as a mystic name which should not be pronounced except by the initiated, and so it may have been they who introduced these substitutes Chosen One of God and Holy One of God into the text of John. (72)
(h) Other Heretical Readings in the Alexandrian Text
Other examples of heretical readings in the Alexandrian New Testament text are as follows:
(1) In Mark 1:1 the Traditional Text reads with B and most other manuscripts, The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Aleph, Theta, 28 and several other documents omit the Son of God. This seems to be the work of heretics unfriendly to Christ's deity.
(2) In Luke 23:42, according to the Traditional Text and the Old Latin and the Sinaitic Syriac, the prayer of the dying thief was, Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom. But according to the Alexandrian text (represented by Papyrus 75, Aleph B C L, and the Sahidic), the thief said, Jesus, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom. Modern critics insist that this latter reading is the original one, but is this at all a reasonable hypothesis? The dying thief recognizes Jesus as the messianic King; he is praying to Him for pardon and mercy. Would it be at all natural for the thief to address his new found King rudely and familiarly as Jesus? Surely not. Surely he must have commenced his dying prayer with the vocative, Lord! In the Alexandrian text this prayer has been tampered with by the docetists, who believed that the divine "Christ" returned to heaven just before the crucifixion, leaving only the human Jesus to suffer and die. In accordance with this belief they made the thief address the Saviour not as Lord but as Jesus.
(3) In John 3:13 the Traditional Text reads with the Old Latin and the Sinaitic Syriac, No man hath ascended up to heaven but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven. But the Alexandrian text (represented by Papyri 66 and 75, Aleph B etc.) omits the clause who is in heaven. This mutilation of the sacred text ought also, no doubt, to be charged to heretics hostile to the deity of Christ.
(4) In John 9:35, according to the Traditional Text and the Old Latin version, Jesus asks the blind man, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? But according to the Western and Alexandrian texts (represented by Papyri 66 and 75, Aleph B D, the Sinaitic Syriac), Jesus' question is, Dost thou believe on the Son of Man? Tischendorf and von Soden reject this Western-Alexandrian reading. Very probably it represents an attempt on the part of heretics to lower Christ's claim to deity.
(5) John 9:38-39 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him. And Jesus said . . . These words are omitted by Papyrus 75, Aleph W. Old Latin manuscripts b 1, and the 4th-century Coptic manuscript Q. This confession of the blind man can scarcely have been left out accidentally. Its absence from these documents goes far toward proving that this passage was tampered with in ancient times by heretics.
(6) In John 19:5 Papyrus 66 omits the following famous sentence, And he saith unto them, Behold the Man. Four Old Latin manuscripts and the Coptic manuscript Q also omit this reading. This omission seems to be a mutilation of the sacred text at the hands of heretics, probably Gnostics. They seem to have disliked the idea that Christ, whom they regarded as exclusively a heavenly Being, actually became a man and was crucified.
(7) In Rom. 14:10 the Traditional Text speaks of the judgment seat of Christ, implying that Christ is that Jehovah spoken of in Isa. 45:23, to whom every knee shall bow. This Traditional reading is also found in Polycarp, Tertullian, and Marcion. But the Western and Alexandrian texts (represented by Aleph B D2 etc.) take away this testimony to Christ's deity by substituting judgment seat of God for judgment seat of Christ. It is difficult to believe that this substitution was not also made by heretics.
(8) In 1 Tim. 3:16 the Traditional Text reads, God was manifest in the flesh, with A (according to Scrivener), C (according to the "almost supernaturally accurate" (73) Hoskier), (Ignatius), (Barnabas), (Hippolytus), Didymus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Chrysostom. The Alexandrian text (represensed by Aleph) reads, who was manifest in the flesh, and the Western text (represented by D2 and the Latin versions) reads, which was manifest in the flesh. Undoubtedly the Traditional reading, God was manifest in the flesh, was the original reading. This was altered by the Gnostics into the Westem reading, which was manifest in the flesh, in order to emphasize their favorite idea of mystery. Then this Western reading was later changed into the meaningless Alexandrian reading, who was manifest in the flesh.
Since Westcott and Hort, critics have adopted the Alexandrian reading and have translated the word who as He who insisting that Paul is here quoting a fragment of an early Christian hymn. But what could Paul have meant by this quotation? Did he mean that the mystery of godliness was the fact that Christ was manifest in the flesh? If he did why then did he not make his meaning plain by substituting the word Christ for the word He who, making the quotation read, Christ was manifest in the flesh, etc.? Did he mean that Christ was the mystery of godliness? Why then did he not place the word Christ in apposition to the word who, making the quotation read, Christ, He who was manifest in the flesh, etc.? But, according to the critics, Paul did neither of these two things. Instead he quoted an incomplete sentence, a subject without a predicate, and left it dangling. The makers of the R.S.V. adopt the Alexandrian reading and translate it, He was manifested in the flesh, etc., and then place under it a note, Greek, who. But if the Greek is who how can the English be He? This is not translation but the creation of an entirely new reading. The change, therefore, that the translators felt compelled to make from who to He comes as a belated admission that the reading, who was manifest in the flesh, cannot be interpreted satisfactorily. And ought not unprejudiced students of the problem to regard this as proof that Paul never wrote the verse in this form but rather as it stands in the Traditional Text, God was manifest in the flesh?
Two other erroneous Alexandrian readings should also be mentioned:
In Mark 9:29, Acts 10:30 and 1 Cor.7:5 Aleph B and their allies omit fasting. These omissions are probably due to the influence of Clement of Alexandria and other Gnostics, who interpreted fasting in a spiritual sense and were opposed to literal fasting (Strom. 6:12, 7:12).
In 1 Cor.11:24 Aleph B and their allies read, This is My body which is for you, omitting broken, either for Gnostic reasons or to avoid a supposed contradiction with John 19:33ff. Many denominations have adopted this mutilated reading in their communion liturgies, but it makes no sense. Even Moffatt and the R.S.V. editors recognized this fact and so retained the traditional reading, broken for you.