Monday, 8 September 2008

Dan Wallace and the Byzantine/Majority Text

Pete Williams interviewed Dan Wallace, text critic and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary ( One question which was asked pertained to the Byzantine/Majority Text Type.

Here's the question and comment from the interview:

PJW: You’ve been known for becoming involved in debates about the Majority Text. How would you explain origins of the Byzantine text?

DBW: That’s an excellent question. We don’t have enough concrete evidence to argue decisively about its roots, but the work of Kurt Aland, Gordon Fee, Bart Ehrman, Michael Holmes, and Tim Ralston has helped immeasurably.

Aland did some nice work showing that the first father to use the Byzantine text qua text was Asterius, one of Lucian’s students. Fee and Ehrman have shown that the Byzantine text just didn’t seem to exist anywhere prior to the fourth century, and that its earliest form is decidedly different from later forms. This also was the point of Tim Ralston’s doctoral dissertation at Dallas Seminary....

My best guess on the origins of the Byzantine text—a view that is constantly being shaped—is that it originated in the early fourth century as a consciously edited text, cannibalizing readings from earlier textforms, even to the point of almost obliterating any traces of one of those textforms (the Caesarean).

But then it took on a life of its own, developing into a growing text that had several sub-branches. Two major recensions were done on it, one in the ninth and one in the eleventh century.

Ironically, the text that Hodges and Farstad produced, and the one that Robinson and Pierpont produced, did not, in every respect, represent the majority until the fifteenth century.

Hort’s threefold argument against the Byzantine text is still a good argument that demonstrates the Byzantine text to be secondary, late, and inferior. Although there are a few leaks in the Hortian boat, it’s not enough to sink the ship.

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