Going Deeper into the
Our simple copying tree can illustrate a lot of other interesting questions regarding the probability argument. One observation which has been bypassed so far in vague protests and discussions is exactly what kind of catastrophe could result in a false majority text, and what combination of features it would have to have.
For instance, an obvious objection would be that the Majority model presumes that all manuscripts are actually available to be counted. In fact it does not require this at all. However the question of adequate sampling of the copying stream is a legitimate issue, and poor sampling would naturally be expected to skew results and their confidence factor as well.
|First two and a half generations lost...|
How big a catastrophe is needed to flip a minority reading into a majority?
|Three and a half generations lost...|
What we need is a REAL catastrophe. The good manuscripts need to be specifically targeted, and with ruthless efficiency. With those eliminated, at least some errors end up in a majority of surviving MSS. The Yellow Packet readings are now in 6 out of 9 MSS (66%) with a comfortable majority.
Its clear that even the loss of the best early MSS alone cannot cause the dominance of any but a few of the very earliest errors. This means generally, that no amount of destruction of earlier manuscripts by itself could cause a minority text to become a majority text. That is, the errors in the manuscript will include early , middle, and late errors. All types of errors will be confined to this group, but not all can make it into a majority of surviving manuscripts. Some must remain minority readings, even though they uniquely characterize the text-type and may be exclusive to it.
We need a very special kind of disaster, to pull off the kind of coup which is claimed for the Textus Receptus (TR, = Byzantine text-type). Remember that almost ALL the readings unique to this text-type are rejected by critics, and ALL are claimed to be 'late' (not existing before the text-type). Only a very small number of important readings are admitted to be ancient by critics, and these are said not to be unique or characteristic of the TR (or the Byzantine text).
But this claim flies against the mechanics of transmission. If this small group of readings really were ancient, they would be majority readings and characteristic of the Byzantine (Majority) text-type, not mere peripheral readings. And if the bulk of the Byzantine readings really were late, they would mainly be minority readings within the text-type, and would not saturate every Byzantine manuscript.
(to be continued...)