Monday, August 22, 2011

Why the UBS Text is a Prejudiced Fail


An excellent analysis of the actual textual-critical method used to construct the Nestle/Aland (NA/UBS) Greek NT text is given by Dennis Kenaga, (.pdf) in 'Skeptical Trends in New Testament Textual Criticism: Inside the Alexandrian Priority School...'
This analysis reveals that the method used is so constructed as to 'fix' the voting in favor of the Alexandrian text-type, meaning in practical terms, the text of Westcott/Hort, reconstructed from Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (B and א).  Basically, the 'method' is a transparent fraud, designed to continue promoting the W/H text.

Here is an excerpt:

"10. The External Criteria, Stage 3

Aland’s seven critical rules are particular to NU editing and are often highly disputed. Metzger calls them criteria or evidence. He also calls them probabilities, since the probability of their being applied in any given variant set is unpredictable except that they need to support an Alexandrian reading. They are divided into four external and three internal rules (or criteria or probabilities). It is immediately evident that the external criteria come before the internal criteria generally and involve the age of the manuscript and text types. The text types that Aland identifies are Alexandrian, Western and Byzantine.
Metzger states:
“In general, earlier manuscripts are more likely to be free from those errors that arise from repeated copying. Of even greater importance, however, than the age of the document itself are the date and character of the type of text that it embodies, as well as the degree of care taken by the copyist while producing the manuscript.”
As we saw before and will see more so later, Metzger’s claim that the earlier texts are more error-free is not true, and is contradicted by Aland’s categories and by the NU selections themselves. Metzger himself is aware that most of the older papyri are not as good as the later Alexandrian uncials. But it is clear that in the Alexandrian priority text types, not age per se, are the determining fact of external evidence. Instead of text types, Aland usually uses the term categories, which is similar to text type but not identical.
Exactly how the text types or categories are applied to select variants, neither Aland nor Metzger reveals explicitly. The reader needs to gather this information inductively by examining the descriptions and the results. We get our first clue from Aland Rule 6: variants are to be “weighed, not counted.” A little reading and observation of the choices shows that this means that the Byzantine text, which Aland also calls the Imperial text, is eliminated from the candidate pool for selection. We get a hint of the Byzantines’ fate when Aland states: “They are all irrelevant for textual criticism, at least for establishing the original....” (10) If the thousands of later Byzantine manuscripts each counted as equal votes, they would swamp the few, older

Alexandrian ones, and the present NU would be just a quaint reconstruction of a long-discontinued regional artifact. So the Byzantine elimination solves a central problem for the Alexandrian priority by axing the teeming Byzantine hoards with one stroke.

The word “weigh” also does not mean to assign a measure or weighting factor to each manuscript, as it would imply. There is no table of weights. It is not individual readings or manuscripts that are weighed.
Rather it is the five NU categories (11) that are weighed. The categories span a continuum of text types from Category I (mainly Alexandrian) to Category V (mainly Byzantine) with Categories II and III in between and Category IV belonging to the “Western” codex Bezae and its allies. The Category V weight is zero. Metzger linked the external evidence to “the degree of care taken by the copyist while producing the manuscript.” Besides the text types, NU classifies the papyri by Aland fidelity categories: strict, normal, free, paraphrastic. Free means fast and loose, relatively speaking. The scribe takes liberties and makes mistakes.

11. The A-list (an Alexandrian subset) and the Mechanical Vote

TCGNT often mentions external and internal evidence and gives witness lists for selected and rejected variants, but does not mention categories or give a hint about the selection mechanics. Aland also does not disclose the selection mechanics. So the reader is left to deduce them from the results. In a particular case we picture several variants presented for election in a vote with qualifications for candidates and voters.
Some variants, such as singular and Byzantine variants, are eliminated—disqualified as voters or candidates. Some variants can vote but not run. Some votes count more than others.  The qualifications are based on the Aland categories. All of this is behind the scenes.
The TCGNT reader, distracted by a sideshow of internal evidence, reads only vague reports of the voting process.  It becomes clear from observation that the effective, though unspoken, weighing rule of NU selection is that the text must come from the small aristocracy of Category I uncials, the A-list, which Aland calls “presumably the original text.” (12) The A-list always includes Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and possibly one or two other Alexandrian uncials. 

Strict papyri theoretically also belong to the A-list, but P75 is the only strict papyrus of substantial size (parts of John and Luke). For pro-Alexandrians it is the crown jewel of papyri. It is closest to Vaticanus. The bulk of the papyri are classed as free and do not qualify as candidates, although the older ones can vote. There is usually only one papyrus for a given passage and sometimes none, although in John there are usually two. Older papyri are more like the Alexandrian than Byzantine. Category IV uncial Bezae and its papyri may vote among the candidates but may not run as candidates even if they are older. When the vote is tied, candidates are ranked with Vaticanus first and Sinaiticus second. The Category II uncials may vote on rare occasion. The other 90% of the Category V and III manuscripts and minuscules never vote or serve as candidates, though they may appear in TCGNT witness lists and in apparatuses as if they had some influence.

The vote will overwhelmingly go to Vaticanus if it finds support from some other voters, and next to Sinaiticus. Non-normalized spelling is not admitted to the edition, but does not disqualify a voter. The A-list vote usually settles the matter at the external stage and makes the internal probabilities superfluous. Although internal probabilities occasionally override the A-list vote, their frequency and application are unpredictable. One problem with the external criteria as described is that they are based on an imaginary text history, which makes them invalid even when they are applied objectively.

12. Type Vote Is Determinative, Not Internal Probabilities: Evidence

First Corinthians was chosen as a moderate-sized text to test the methodology described above to see how well it would match the NU edit selections. Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus are the only three Category I uncials (candidates) for 1 Corinthians.  P46 generally is the only old papyrus. So with the Western Codex Beza, there are five qualified voters for 1 Corinthians. Let us pause to examine the voter composition.  Ninety-nine per-cent of the manuscripts are disqualified, including the Byzantine and minuscules. The three A-list manuscripts dominate the vote. At first glance it does not appear entirely rigged because two non A-list voters are included.  In practice, however, they are only there to help choose between Vaticanus or Sinaiticus when those two differ. First, P46 and Bezae are the least aligned of the five, so they cannot gang up. Second, if one voter is singular or missing and the vote becomes two against two, the A-list wins because they outrank the others. Non A-list can only win the A-list vote if all the A-list are singular or missing.
First Corinthians contains over 6800 words. About 1100 words required normalization in at least one of the witnesses, so that was the most frequent editing.   After normalization, about 1030 words (15%) had some variation in the five witnesses but NU only decided on 1009 of these (the rest are in square brackets). About 65% of these 1009 disputed words were settled by eliminating 'singular' readings. The reading was “selected” in the sense that there was no more contest or vote needed. About 85% of these selection votes went to Vaticanus. When Vaticanus was singular, it went to Sinaiticus. This concluded standard editing.

The 353 words not settled in the singular elimination (stage 2) were put to the A-list vote (stage 3 or the external criteria). Three-hundred ten of the votes (88%) matched the NU selections. In other words, all but 43 of the 1009 disputed words were correctly predicted by singular elimination and the mechanical A-list program, without resorting to internal criteria. Apparently, the 43 words (4% of the 1009 words in question), required the NU internal probabilities to settle. Some of these were settled by common sense, not requiring any particular internal criteria like lectio brevior. Others were settled by some internal evidence. The rules for settling others were not recognizable. Even when some internal criterion was invoked to settle the case, the reason for picking the particular criterion over a variety of others was unpredictable. In general, the area of internal evidence is quite small, secondary and subjective.

The one result that was perfectly clear from the examination of the 1009 words was that the Alexandrian uncials won a landslide victory: 1006 words matched Alexandrian (99.7%) and 3 words did not; 891 matched Vaticanus; 110 of the remaining matched Sinaiticus. Five remaining matched Alexandrinus, one remaining matched P46 and the last two were witnessed by Bezae alone. The landslide victory in favor of Alexandrian uncials could only result from the A-list, not from merely following the internal criteria. As we will see later, the internal evidence, if not overridden by the external vote, would often result in Byzantine victories. The Corinthians vote results are almost as lopsided as a Byzantine majority text victory based on a one-manuscript-one- vote rule. To summarize, we have a 96% predictability rate of the selected reading with singular elimination and a straight A-list vote. And we have a 99.7% predictability that the winner will be  Alexandrian. The 99.7% Alexandrian rate is an independent fact while the 96% prediction rate for the particular manuscript depends on a hypothetical A-list method. A method that cranks out such results causes an Alexandrian NT but is not defensible.   ...'
10 Aland, 142.
11 Ibid., 108.
12 Ibid., 335.


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