Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vaticanus Singulars - Steven Avery's Research

I take the liberty of quoting Steven Avery's recent post on FightingFundamentalForums for review by those interested in h.t. questions, and the quality and nature of Codex Vaticanus 1209 (B).   Steven here in turn quotes an early examination of B by an editor of the British Quarterly Review:

"Perhaps the earliest article that saw the Vaticanus printing and recognized the corruption was also in the British Quarterly Review, back in 1858. Remember, this is before the strange Hortian theories of a pure Vaticanus, simply the observations of men of sense and intelligence and discernment.


British quarterly review - Vol 28 - (October, 1858)
p. 315-332

Art. II.— Vetus et Novum Testamentum, ex antiquissimo Codice Vaticano. Edidit ANGELUS MAIUS, S.R.E. Card. Romae. Joseph
Spithöver. 1857. 5 vols. 4to.

At last, this long-expected work, which has, for the last twenty years, sorely tried the patience of the Biblical scholars of Europe and America, has made its appearance. The Vatican codex—the queen of MSS.—to inspect which Bentley, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and many others, have made journeys to Rome—is no longer a sealed book, an unknown volume. (p. 315)


On p. 320 is discussed Luke 2:14, Mark 3:29 and Luke 8:54, Matthew 6:13 and Luke 11:2, then the ending of Mark and the blank page, the blank page being new information. Then John 1:18 and John 5:3-4, the Pericope Adultera and Acts 8:37, Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 3:15.

... It now remains to mention one or two characteristic features of the MS. which the publication of its text will be the means of making generally known.

One thing which is very observable, in turning over the pages of this magnificent edition, is the vast number of mistakes which the original copyist has committed—that is to say, the very frequent substitution of one word for another, as the result of sheer carelessness. There is a notion very widely diffused amongst students of the Greek Testament that these most ancient MSS. of the sacred volume, so beautifully written in large uncial letters, are as much distinguished by their correctness as they are by their antiquity. The publication of the text of the famous Vatican codex is likely to scatter to the winds all such enthusiastic ideas ... (p.321-322)
The verses he then discusses as "carelessness of the original writer" are Mark 1:24, Mark 13:13, Luke 16:12, Acts 4:25, 1 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 2:13 (2 errors), John 3:3, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Philippians 2:1, Romans 14:18, Jude 1:21, Romans 5:1 and Galatians 6:10.

Then he goes into the "most numerous class of blunders .. interchange of the personal pronouns" .. 2 Corinthians 1:6, 1:21 (twice) 5:12, "and so on throughout the copy"

Notwithstanding thee numerous errors we have already referred to, the omissions of the copyist still remain to be noticed; and this fault, of passing by what should be inserted, is undoubtedly the characteristic feature of this ancient MS. (p. 323 underlining added)
Examples are given at Mark 6:17, Mark 10:29, Mark 15:4, Luke 19:25, John 1:4, John 1:13 , John 3:34, John 4:3 (the last few were corrected by the original scribe in the margin).

Now in all these examples nothing can be plainer than that the transcriber of the Vatican codex accidentally, and by oversight, omitted to insert the words in question; and then, either discovered his error at the time, or else on reading through the MS. observed the deficiencies. In some cases half a verse is thus left out, and afterwards supplied in the margin, as at Acts xxiii. 28, where six words are wanting in the text, and afterwards added; —viz., κατήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς τὸ συνέδριον αὐτῶν. (p. 323-324)

Let us stop for a minute. Are you getting the picture ? We have a blunderama scribe working on the Vaticanus NT. And yes, discussing the omissions ... the scribe would catch some of the blunders and place the real Bible text in the margin. Yet what does that tell you about the hundreds of other places of minority and ultra-minority abbreviated text ? Simple logic says that the scribe's proclivity for missing text, by lack of skill, or homoeoteleuton, or rushing, or any one of a number of possibilities, also was in play for a great many of those dozens to hundreds of other omissions. So if there are weak omissions, and there are hundreds to thousands overall, many very significant .. the exemplar of the scribe can only take some of the blame. The Vaticanus scribe caused much of the problem.

This is important, deep, fundamental to understanding why the modern versions have their corrupt, abbreviated text.

Let's take a break for a bit, and I hope we are all learning from the history and the study.

Psalm 119:140
Thy word is very pure:
therefore thy servant loveth it.

Steven Avery 


Hats off to Steven for digging out this early material.

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