Introduction to the BGNT

Historical Background of Byzantine NT MSS

The text of the Greek New Testament has been faithfully copied, preserved and transmitted in the Christian Church by skillful and trustworthy scribes from the time of the Apostles. While Churches in the Latin speaking Western Church preserved the New Testament through scribal production of Vulgate MSS of the New Testament, the Churches in the Byzantine Empire continued early scribal copying of the Greek New Testament in the traditional or Byzantine Majority textform beyond the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

By the late 4th century liturgical worship became established within the Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches. Private devotional reading of Scripture in continuous text New Testament MSS paralleled the scribal copying and preservation of lectionary MSS for liturgy and worship. The beginning of lectionary manuscript reading in worship and liturgy further promoted the copying of Greek New Testament manuscripts. By the time of the late 4th century, Byzantine text MSS of the Greek New Testament had multiplied throughout the Empire from Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and beyond. During this early period of the Byzantine Empire, various forms of the Byzantine text were utilized for both liturgical and private devotional reading. All Byzantine MSS of the Greek New Testament shared a large percentage of the textual readings found in most of the copied MSS. This common, or shared textual basis, was preserved and transmitted through newly established monasteries and scriptoriums founded for the scribal transmssion of the Word of God, within the Eastern Churches. This type of Greek New Testament text would later become known in the West as the traditional or Byzantine Majority texttype.

Establishment of even larger monasteries and scriptoriums immediately prior to the iconoclast controversy of the 9th century, allowed for further MS production and transmission of the Byzantine textform of the Greek New Testament. The establishment of the well known monastery of the Studite, or Studion Monastery in Constantinople, later led to the founding of its prominent scriptorium in the early 9th century for MS production. The earliest extant dated MS [Gregory-Aland 461], was written by monk Nikolaos at the Studion Monastery in 835 AD. Other highly decorated, illuminated MSS of the Byzantine texttype were also produced at this famous monastery and scriptorium, from the 8th to the 13th century. This commonly copied Byzantine textform of the Greek New Testament was produced by scribes at the Studite Monastery Scriptorium and at other smaller scriptoriums around the Byzantine Empire. This Byzantine, or Majority textform, would be classified later in the West as the Kappa or K-texttype of the Greek New Testament. Due to the Western 4th Crusade sack of Constantinople in 1204, and the subsequent ruin and abandonment of the Studite Monastery and its scriptorium, this particular textform gradually declined in its textual transmissional dominance. The further disarray of the Byzantine Empire in place of Latin rule over Constantinople, and its temporal transfer of power to Nicaea, led to other various Byzantine texttypes to come to the forefront in scribal MS copying and transmission.

In 1261, the Byzantine Empire was restored at Constantinople under the Paleologue Dynasty. With the Empire’s restoration in Constantinople, other Byzantine textforms were again faithfully copied and preserved in other scriptoriums in Constantinople. The Studion scriptorium had lost its former prestige and support of the pre-4th Crusade days. The ancient Holy Hodegon Monastery was restored and its newly founded scriptorium was now the favored center of manuscript production within the Empire. Though smaller than the Studite Monastery and scriptorium of earlier years, the Hodegon Monastery scriptorium also produced, beginning at this time, generations of faithful scribes which carried on New Testament production of the Byzantine textform. This scriptorium mass produced another type of Byzantine New Testament textform, later in the West to be called Kr or Koine revised. This MS textform was also gifted to the several monasteries on Mt. Athos where this commonly utilized textform became the preferred text for both liturgy and private devotional reading by the monks in monastic cells. By the 1300s, the Kr textform became the most commonly copied Byzantine texttype of the Greek New Testament. Many MSS survive extant today of this textform containing the complete New Testament, including the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation.

After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the scribal production of Kr Byzantine NT MSS declined. With the advent of the printing press and the decline of the scriptorium, MS copying and reproduction shifted largely to the West. Soon, printing houses in places with large Greek populations such as Venice, dominated the printing of liturgical texts of the New Testament. Scholarly study of Byzantine text MSS in Germany began to draw the attention of various Western textual scholars involved in the field of New Testament textual criticism.

The Byzantine/Majority Text in the West

 Hermann von Soden in in his seminal volume [1911], on the text of the Greek New Testament, described in detail this Byzantine textform calling it Koine revised, or Kr. He theorized this textform was a 12th century attempt to unify the text of the Byzantine textform for liturgical reasons. He found that lectionary rubrics found in its MS side margins were reasons of justification for his textual theory of its origins. He also found that this Byzantine MS group contained a particular profile of the pericope adulterae or PA, which he called μ7. This was theorized as the latest form of the PA and was found in nearly all Kr MSS. Several Kr MSS were also utilized at this time in the production of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchal edition of the Greek New Testament and edited by Prof. Basil Antoniades in 1904 which was slightly revised in 1912.

Later in 1938, David O. Voss also wrote on Von Soden’s Byzantine Kr textform in an article for the Journal of Biblical Literature [JBL].1 In this article, Voss compared several Byzantine Kr MSS in his collation of the Gospel of Mark against the Greek New Testament of the textus receptus. Two main conclusions resulted from his study: First, Voss found that the Kr type contained remarkable textual unity among MSS included in his study. Secondly, he found the Kr Byzantine group to be textually similar to the textus receptus. His premise was proven, the Kr textform was a separate, distinct textform of the Byzantine text. Whether or not the so-called revised Kr Byzantine texttype was a later revision of the K or Kappa textform, remains debatable. Though the Kr textform has remarkable internal textual unity among group MSS, it did vary enough from the more numerous K or majority Kx Byzantine textform to justify some suspicion on Von Soden’s textual revision theory for Kr. In addition, no evidence of proven textual emendation or obvious scribal correction of the earliest MSS within the Kr grouping exists within the NT manuscript tradition. This brings further doubt on the reliability of Von Soden’s Kappa or K-text revision theory for the origins of the Kr MS tradition.

After Voss' study of Kr, Byzantine text studies began to decline in the following years. It was not until Ernest C. Colwell in the early 1960’s, began studying the Byzantine New Testament, that Byzantine MSS began to attract attention from the Western NT textual scholars. Colwell and his colleagues at the Claremont University School of Theology utilized the Claremont Profile Methodology [CPM]1 to classify and group various Byzantine MSS. Among Colwell’s students who further wrote on CPM at the Claremont School of Theology, were Dr. Paul McReynolds and Dr. Frederick Wisse. In their studies, they enumerated over two hundred Kr Gospel MSS making it the second largest identifiable group of New Testament MSS after the majority K-text or Kx group. The textual unity of the Byzantine Krgroup was verified through later independent studies by both Wisse and McReynolds.

In the early 1970’s, work commenced in the production of a Majority based text of the Greek New Testament. This edition was the work of various Western textual scholars led by Prof. Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad. In 1982, the 1st edition of this text was published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. It would later undergo minor revision for a second printing in 1985. The text of the edition departed in less than two thousand total variations from the textus receptus, which had lost preeminence in the West by the late 1800s. This was due in part to the popularity of the critical text editions of Westcott-Hort and later by Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society. Most of the variations were minor in significance between the textus receptus and the Hodges-Farstad Majority text in comparison with the modern critical editions versus both the textus receptus and the Majority Text of Hodges-Farstad. In 1991, Dr. Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont edited another Byzantine New Testament text according to the Kx or K-text form of the Byzantine text. It was revised and re-published in 2005. This edition has been generally well received among textual scholars as reflecting the Byzantine NT texttform found in the majority of MSS, especially during the earlier part of the Middle Ages.

CSPMT and the Byzantine Greek New Testament

One of the consulting editors for the Hodges-Farstad text was Dr. Wilbur N. Pickering. During the editing process of the Hodges-Farstad Majority text in 1985, and in subsequent years following its publication, Dr. Pickering examined and reviewed additional PA data compiled earlier by Dr. Maurice Robinson. He recognized the importance of the Byzantine Kr textform and the uniqueness of the μ7 PA profile contained in the Kr group. Dr. Pickering began collating many MSS from this particular Byzantine text group. Over a period of more than 10 years of collation, Dr. Pickering was able to produce a consensus text from many Kr MSS. He noticed that minuscule GA 35 had a very consistent Kr group profile for the entirety of the New Testament, as did several other complete Kr MSS. Dr. Pickering then termed the Byzantine archetypal profile of the Kr group of Von Soden’s terminology as f35 or family 35, named after minuscule 35. This is a complete Kr New Testament preserved at the National Library in Paris, France.

In 2010, the Center for the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text [CSPMT] was founded by Paul D. Anderson in Washington, DC. It was determined by the board of directors to produce a new Byzantine text of the New Testament with a base text utilizing the consensus text of many Kr/f35 MSS. The Kr/f35 Byzantine text was seen as the most viable option for the new Byzantine text due to the MS group's very precise scribal accuracy and internal consistency throughout the New Testament. It also has relative proximity to the traditional textus receptus of the West and other Byzantine or Majority text editions. Despite the MS group’s ranking as only second in number among all NT MS groups, Kr/f35 transcends textual boundaries, being the only Byzantine group having a transmissional historical presence among both continuous text and lectionary text MSS, both in the Gospels and in the Epistles. Although the Kr/f35 group extant MS evidence is of relatively recent age, CSPMT believes that the fidelity and care with which the text was preserved by the Church, warrants consideration for a consensus base text for a new critical Byzantine New Testament edition.

The BGNT Text

The following list of Kr/f35 MSS were collated for the consensus text of the BGNT edition’s base text. CSPMT has determined there are currently a total of nearly 300 Kr/f35MSS. registered at the Institute of New Testament Textual Research (INTF) in Münster, Germany. The following MSS were collated mainly by Dr. Wilbur N. Pickering, a director with CSPMT.

Collated Kr MSS

Note: All MSS are numbered according to the Gregory-Aland classification system.

Matthew: 35, 204, 510, 586, 824, 928, 1072, 1145, 1339, 1435, 1503, 1551, 1667, 2253, 2352, 2382, 2466, 2503, 2554, 2765 Scrivener: 201, 479, 480

Mark: 18, 35, 141, 204, 510, 547, 586, 645, 689, 789, 824, 928, 1023, 1072, 1075, 1133, 1145, 1147, 1199, 1251, 1339, 1435, 1503, 1572, 1628, 1637, 1667, 1705, 2253, 2323, 2382 2466, 2503, 2554, 2765

Luke: 35, 201, 204, 510, 553, 586, 691, 757, 781, 789, 824, 928, 1147, 1339, 1435, 1503, 1667, 1713, 2253, 2352, 2382, 2466, 2503, 2554, 2765. IGNTP: 83, 480, 1247, 2322, 2399

John: 35, 83, 141, 204, 479, 510, 547, 553, 586, 685, 789, 824, 928, 1072, 1145, 1147, 1339 1435, 1572, 1617, 1637, 1686, 1713, 2253, 2322, 2382, 2466, 2503, 2554, 2765 Scrivener: 201, 480

Acts: 18, 35, 141, 201, 204, 386, 824, 928, 1249, 1482, 1503, 1548, 1732, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1897, 2303, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2723

Romans: 18, 35, 141, 201, 204, 386, 824, 928, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1892, 1897, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2723

1 Corinthians: 18, 35, 141, 201, 204, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1761, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1892, 1897, 2080, 2352, 2431, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2723, 2817

2 Corinthians: 18, 35, 141,201, 204, 386, 444, 824, 928, 986, 1072, 1075, 1249, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1740, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1892, 1897, 2352, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2723

Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians: 18, 35, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1248, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1617,1637, 1725, 1732, 1761, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1892, 2080, 2352, 2431, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2723, 2817

1 Thessalonians: 18, 35, 149, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 959, 986 1072, 1075, 1100, 1248, 1249, 1250, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876, 1892, 1897, 2080, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2723

2 Thessalonians: 18, 35, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 959, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1248, 1249, 1250, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876 1892 1897 2080 2466 2554 2587 2723

1 Timothy: 18, 35, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 959, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876, 1892, 1897, For [1:1-3:16]: 2080, 2466, 2587, 2723

2 Timothy: 18, 35, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 959, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876, 1892, 2080, 2466, 2587, 2723

Titus: 18, 35, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 959, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876, 1892, 2080, 2466, 2587, 2723

Philemon: 18, 35, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 959, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876, 1892, 2080, 2466, 2587, 2723

Hebrews: 18, 35, 141, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 444, 604, 757, 824, 928, 959, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1248, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1892, 2080, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2723

James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter: 18, 35, 141, 149, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 432, 604, 664, 757, 824, 928, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1248, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1754, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876, 1892, 1897, 2221, 2303, 2352, 2431, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2626, 2723

1 John: 18, 35, 141, 149, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 432, 604, 664, 757, 824, 928, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1248, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1754, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876, 1892, 1897, 2221, 2352, 2431, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2626, 2723

2 John, 3 John, Jude: 18, 35, 141, 149, 201, 204, 328, 386, 394, 432, 444, 604, 664, 757, 824, 928, 986, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1247, 1248, 1249, 1503, 1548, 1628, 1637, 1725, 1732, 1754, 1761, 1768, 1855, 1864, 1865, 1876, 1892, 1897, 2221, 2352, 2431, 2466, 2554, 2587, 2626, 2723

*Revelation: 35, 432, 824, 986, 1064, 1072, 1075, 1248, 1328, 1384, 1503, 1551, 1617, 1637, 1652, 1732, 1733, 1740, 1745, 1746, 1771, 1774, 1864, 1865, 1894,[3:12-22:21], 1903[5:12-22:21], 1957, 2023, 2035, 2041, 2061, 2196, 2201, 2323, 2352, 2431, 2434, 2554, 2656, 2669, 2723, 2821

*All Revelation MSS collated originally by H.C. Hoskier and verified by Wilbur N. Pickering with the addition of: 1064 1903 2201 2323 2431 2434 2554 2656 2669 2723.

Additional Kr/f35 lectionary MSS consulted by CSPMT

Gospels:
l 14, l 86, l 118, l 221, l 436, l 823, l 1034, l 1107, l 1823
Epistles:
l 1159, l 1230

References

Antonides, Basilios et al., Η ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΑΙΘΗΚΗ, (Athens: Ecumenical Patriarchate, 1904, rev. 1912).

Apostolos, (Athens: Apostoliki Diakonia Press, 2007).

Euaggelion, (Athens: Apostoliki Diakonia Press, 2005).

Hodges, Zane C. and Farstad, Arthur L., eds., The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982, rev. 1985).

Robinson, Maurice A. and Pierpont, William G., eds., The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine/Majority Textform, (Atlanta: Original Word Publishers, 1991), (Southborough: Chilton Book Publishing, rev. 2005).

Saliberos, M., Ieron Euaggelion, (Athens: M. I. Saliberos Pubs., 1899).

Saliberos, M., Apostolos, (Athens: M.I. Saliberos Pubs., 1905).

Soden, Herman von Freiherr, Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt, 2 vols. in 4 parts, (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, [1911], Strutwolf, Holger et al., Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. 28th rev., Stuttgart: Deutsche Biblgesellschaft, 2012).

Η ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ, Novum Testamentum, Lloyd - Stephanus 3rd edit. 1550. (Oxford: 1873).

Other Resources

The American-British Committee of the International Greek New Testament Project, The New Testament in Greek: The Gospel of according to Luke, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984, 1987).

Aland, Kurt et al., Kurzgefasste Liste Der Griechischen Handschriften Des Neuen Testaments, (Berlin: De Gruyter, rev. 1994).

Aland, Kurt et al., eds., Text und Textwert der greischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments; I, Die Katholischen Briefe; II Die Paulinischen Briefe; III, Die Apostelgeschichte; IV Die Synoptischen Evangelien: 1, Das Markusevangelium; 2 Das Matthäusevangelium; 3, Das Lukasevangelium (Berlin: Walter DeGruyter, 1987-1999). 5, Das Johannesevangelium (Berlin: Walter DeGruyter, 2005).

Aland, Barbara et al., eds., Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Major, IV, Die Katholischen Briefe: 1 Der Jakobusbrief; 2, Die Petrusbriefe; 3, Der Erste Johannesbrief (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997-2003).

Hoskier, Herman C., Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse, 2 vols. (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1929).

Legg, S.C.E. ed., Novum Testamentum Graece secundum Textus Westcotto-Hortianum: Euangelium secundum Marcum (Oxford: Clarendon, 1935).

McReynolds, Paul R., The Claremont Profile Method and the Grouping of Byzantine New Testament Manuscripts in the Gospel of Luke, (Claremont: School of Theology, Thesis., 1969).

Omanson, Roger L., The Claremont Profile Methodology and the Grouping of Byzantine New Testament Manuscripts in the Gospel of Mark, (Louisville: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Thesis., 1975).

Wisse, Frederik, The Profile Method for Classifying and Evaluating Manuscript Evidence as Applied to the continuous Greek text of The Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982).


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