New Testament Textual Traditions in Byzantium

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The traditional view of the Byzantine text in western New Testament textual criticism has been of a late, corrupt text. Scholarship has developed out of a struggle to replace the humanists’ Textus Receptus with a text based on fourth-century evidence. The nature of the struggle means that a polarity evolved between scientific philology and traditionalism which provided heat as well as light. The emphasis on contrast between a purer text of the ‘great majuscules’ and the degenerate Byzantine text should be set aside and the textual history of the New Testament re-examined.

This reassessment is possible today since for the first time we are able to analyse the text using full sets of data. In editing the Gospel of John, we have collected two such sets: a series of 153 test passages in the first four chapters in which the readings of all surviving manuscripts are recorded; and a complete collation of all witnesses for the whole of Chapter 18. These sets of evidence are all recorded in databases, allowing us to compare any two manuscripts, to find the witnesses closest to any selected manuscript, and to develop local stemmata showing how readings developed.

The data is used to show the ways in which a wealth of ancient textual materials are preserved in Byzantine manuscripts.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe New Testament in Byzantium
EditorsDerek Krueger, Robert S. Nelson
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

Publication series

NameDumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposia and Colloquia