Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NASA's confirmed 2012 prediction - Deterioration of Earth's Magnetosphere during Sun's Polar shift in 2012 :

have now accepted that the intersection of 2 problems - the
deterioration of Earth's Magnetosphere during the Sun's Polar shift in
2012 (as recently discussed) will be the real concern as we approach
2012 :

Now here's the reason why: 
have found two large leaks in Earth's magnetosphere, the region around
our planet that shields us from severe solar storms. Now in 2012 t
he suns poles will reverse (not the earths as wrongly said on many 2012 sites - see below!) , during this time a massive solar storm will reck havoc
on earth - usually this is no problem - but now due to the 'cracks' in
it, Earth's protective Magnetosphere may fail us,  so the
violent solar and electromagnetic radiation will make it through and
cause many problems to life as we know it (eg: disabling communication satellites, mobile phones, effective sleep patterns,  & radiation poisoning

of humans) Also as earth has to absorb extra radiation & energy
this will cause possible changes within the earth's core - with energy
being re-dissipated from the earth with new volcanoes formed and crust movement.

As mentioned in the Video below -
The leaks are defying many of scientists' previous ideas on how the
interaction between Earth's magnetosphere and solar wind occurs:
The leaks are in an unexpected location, let in solar particles in faster than expected and the whole interaction works in a manner that is completely the opposite of what scientists had thought:

Important Note:  many websites say Earths Poles will shift during 2012 but this is not true. According to NASA, Planet pole reversals (not suns - which like ours can reverse poles quickly in a few years)  take a few thousand years to complete, and during that time--contrary to popular belief--the magnetic field does not vanish - "It just gets more complicated"  -so this is probably why our  Magnetosphere is going weird at the moment. (Another controversial idea is that the Earth's magnetosphere could be
influenced temporarily by our current position in the solar system in
the Milky way as we past by a big black hole, however theories of the
2012 galactic plane alignment are heavy disputed at the moment )  -
Either way

its true that Earths Magnetosphere is very weak at the moment and
yes this is a sign of initial pole shifting but not complete pole
reversal of Earth - this won't happen in 2012 as its a slow process and
is predicted to take another 1200 years to complete. What is of major
concern overall is how strong
Magnetosphere will be during the solar storms of 2012.

NASA Themis Confirms Massive breach of Earth's Magnetosphere detected:

NASA Extends mission - worried about 2012?
On May 19, 2008 the Space Sciences Laboratory at Berkeley announced NASA had extended theTHEMIS mission to the year 2012 (strange co-incidence right?). In addition a new mission that would send twoTHEMIS probes into lunar orbits was provisionally approved by NASA, pending a technical review before February 2009

rated 4.3 by 68 people [?]

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.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Majority Text: (XVII) - Marvin Vincent's confusion (Pt 1)

By the late 1890s, many important and outspoken opponents of the Lachmann/Hort approach had articulated and published their criticisms.  This did not derail the tampering of the NT text, but split textual critics and interested Christians of all denominations into two groups:
(1) Those who went with the new 'scientific' theories, preferring the critical texts, and
(2) those who were unconvinced, and held to the Traditional Text.

At this juncture, apologists like Marvin Vincent attempted to review the history of textual criticism itself, and distill out advances in knowledge and scientific progress.  In his book, A History of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (Macmillan, 1903), Vincent advances what he considers to be the development of TC and current state of affairs.  He sums up the First Period of recent Textual Criticism as follows (p. 93-95):
'The First Period Reviewed
A review of the First Period (1516-1770) exhibits, in the beginning, a scarcity of documentary sources, an arbitrary determination of the text on a false and narrow basis, and a general ignorance of the comparative value of  documents. The small number of manuscripts accessible (1) or used was only one of the obstacles which opposed the purification of the text(2)  Scholars were  unable to make the best choice from among those actually at hand, or were not accurate in comparing them, or estimated the value of readings according to their number. (3)  
"In consequence of the astonishing number of copies which appeared at the very beginning, (4)  in a long series of manual editions, mostly from one and the same recension, the idea grew up spontaneously very early that in the manuscripts also the text was tolerably uniform, and that any thorough revision of it was unnecessary and impertinent. The Oriental Versions were closed to most; the importance of the Church Fathers was scarcely suspected; but the greatest lack of all for the purification of the text (2)  was the indispensable knowledge of the process of its corruption" (5)  (Reuss).  

The Purist Controversy

Moreover, the beginning of the seventeenth century was marked by the rise of the Purist controversy. The Purists maintained that to deny that God gave the NT in anything but pure classical Greek was to imperil the doctrine of inspiration. The Wittemberg Faculty, in 1638, decreed that to speak of barbarisms or solecisms in the NT was blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Hence, a correct conception of the peculiar idiom of the Apostles was impossible, and the estimate of different readings was seriously affected by this cause.  (6)
Readings of existing editions were arbitrarily mingled, the manuscripts employed and the sources of variants adopted were not properly specified, and a full survey of the apparatus was impossible. (7)   

The number of uncial sources [MSS], (1)  however, gradually increased; the existence of various readings was recognized, but they were merely registered, and not applied to the construction of a purer text. (2)  There began to be signs of revolt against the authority of the Textus Receptus, and [also] attempts to restore the text (2) on the evidence of manuscript readings. (8)
Signs of Improvement
There arose a growing distrust of the numerical basis of evidence.  Manuscripts began to be weighed instead of counted. (9)  There was a dawning recognition of the value of ancient documents and a corresponding effort to formulate principles of classification. A large mass of material relating to MSS, Fathers and Versions was collected, which awaited thorough sifting  and arrangement, and the doctrine of families of texts was broached. Through all this the Received Text substantially maintained its supremacy, (10) though its pretensions were boldly challenged by individual critics; its chain (2)  was rudely shaken and more than once broken, and its authority began to be visibly weakened. (11)
The superstitious hesitancy (2) about departing from the Received Text still prevailed, and the critical valuation of the older uncials was suffering seriously from Wetstein's sweeping charge of latinisation (1751).' (12)  (Vincent, p.93-95)
 Those already inclined in the Lachmann-to-Hort direction might find Vincent's banter satisfactory, as he attempts to build a platform to support the W/H critical text.  But others who differ from this view will note some serious flaws and distortions in the presentation, exposing Vincent's bias.

(1)  Vincent claims the period begins with only a 'small number of MSS', but this is patently untrue.  Even Erasmus (1516), who made use of only a handful for his first edition, had already collated dozens of MSS in England and Europe for his fresh Latin translation.    Early editors quickly gained access to dozens more independent copies, and Vincent seems oblivious to the contradiction here brought in by his own quotation of Reuss [!]:  "the astonishing number of copies which appeared at the very beginning," ...

(2)  Vincent begins liberally using suggestive language ("purification of the text" etc.) that begs the question regarding the relative purity and value of the TR in comparison to subsequently reconstructed 'critical texts' cobbled together from Uncial readings.  It has yet to be established that the TR is "impure" in any significant way, even if one or two readings are legitimately open to challenge, such as 1st John 5:7 etc.  The suggestion of course is that the Traditional Text (TR) is in desperate need of 'restoration', but convincing case has yet been made.

(3)  Of course scholars indeed rightly 'estimated the value of readings according to their number', since this is a legitimate indicator of the spread and antiquity of a reading.   It was never the only criterion, as review of the period literature (Mill, Bengel, Wetstein, Michaelis) shows.  Vincent implies that this was an incorrect methodology, or that it was naively applied and led to bad results, but this has never been shown.  Indeed, the very same criterion is applied enthusiastically without qualification to passages like 1st John 5:7 etc. by the same critics who avoid the criterion in other cases.  This inconsistency is far more glaring in the W/H position (with its rejection of countless majority readings) than in the TR position, which with few exceptions values this criterion.  In no case can estimating readings by MS count be found as the sole or main methodology anywhere in the literature of the period, or subsequently up until the 1880s.  Even Burgon and Miller did not articulate or elevate such a criterion to preference over all other considerations.

(4)  Here 'the astonishing number of copies' (Reuss) refers in the main to later cursive (minuscule) copies, ranging from the 8th century to the 15th.  It appears that Vincent's contradiction can be traced to the fact that he only considers Uncial MSS to be of any value for textual reconstruction.

(5)  It is true that 'knowledge of the process of corruption' is indispensable.  The majority of variants are in fact accidental errors, or minor linguistic updates.  However, understanding this process better in the 20th century has resulted in the reversal of TC canons taken for granted in the 17th to 19th centuries, such as "Prefer the Shorter Reading" (Griesbach, 1805).  But such knowledge remained virtually unknown in Vincent's day, or else was wilfully ignored (e.g., Westcott/Hort).

(6) The Purists did not influence 17th century textual criticism, at least as significantly as claimed here.  Very few important variants turn on questions of classical vs. Koine grammar, or new knowledge from a study of the papyri.  This controversy had more relevance to translational issues and  interpretation.   Few textual critics can be shown to have made errors in judgment because of a lack of knowledge of 1st century Greek.  The concern is unsubstantiated.

(7)  Access to the basic apparatus was hardly 'impossible'.  Between John Mill, Bengel, and Wetstein, one had a very clear picture of what had been collated by the end of the 17th century, and also access to quite thorough discussions of most important variants.   Michaelis considered Mill and Wetstein indispensable, but certainly adequate for purposes of research.  Even after many more MSS were collated, as accomplished later by Griesbach and Scholz, most experts acknowledged that the textual situation had not greatly been altered.  It was more of the same.

(8)  Here Vincent implies that all the texts so far published (Erasmus, Mill, Wetstein, Griesbach) were somehow not constructed on the basis of MSS evidence.  But this is ridiculous.   Every textual critic was concerned with the same question, and used the same approach: MSS readings.

(9)  No distrust of the weight of numerical evidence for this period can really be shown.  What instead appears is rather a lack of a solid grasp of the value of any criterion or aspect which could be used to evaluate readings.  Textual critics of the period were making guesstimates, and trying to construct a methodology.  They confronted a complex situation, but had no solid grounds or technique for weighing conflicting evidences. 

(10)  As Vincent here confesses, most critics understood well the preliminary stage they were in, and exercised due caution as to any alterations in the traditional text at hand.   He calls this reasonable caution a 'superstitious hesitancy', but this is an anachronistic back-projection, due to his impatience with earlier scholarship. 

(11)  The essential text, the 'Received Text' continued to 'prevail', well into the 1870s, almost a hundred years beyond Vincent's suggestion as to when it was 'visibly weakened'.  The subsequent critical texts of Griesbach and Scholz continued well into the 19th century, and are essentially the same as the TR.  What is visibly weakened, is Vincent's credibility as a historian, due to his bias in favor of the W/H type text.

(12)  Wetstein did make some strong statements against using the early Uncials, which he had observed were alarmingly at variance with both the Traditional Text, and each other.  He also was highly suspicious of key Uncial readings which conformed to the Latin Vulgate.  But the prevalent opinion (cf. Michaelis and others), was that here Wetstein was acting in an overly paranoid fashion toward both the Latin text(s) and Uncials sourced from Roman Catholics.  It seems clear that Wetstein's views here actually had in fact very little influence upon other textual critics of the period.  Like the opinions of the "Purists" 100 years earlier, Wetstein was hardly able to affect the progress of TC.   Such claims appear to be  ad hoc  but inadequate explanations for why most textual critics up until 1830 (Lachmann) strongly disagree with the results of modern TC.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Jack Moorman on Early Corruption

Here is a quotation from Moorman's book, "Forever Settled" p. 97-99:

'Beginning shortly after the death of the apostle John, four names stand out in prominence whose teachings contributed both to the victorious heresy and to the final issuing of manuscripts of a corrupt New Testament. These names are

(1) Justin Martyr, 
(2) Tatian, 
(3) Clement of Alexandria, and 
(4) Origen. 

We shall speak first of Justin Martyr.

The year in which the apostle John died, 100 AD, is given as the date in when Justin Martyr was born. Justin, originally a pagan and of pagan parentage, afterward embraced Christianity and although he is said to have died at heathen hands for his religion, nevertheless, his teachings were of a heretical nature. Even as a Christian teacher, he continued to wear the robes of a pagan philosopher.

In the teachings of Justin Martyr, we begin to see how muddy the stream of pure Christian doctrine was running among the heretical sects fifty years after the death of the apostle John. It was in Tatian, Justin Martyr’s pupil, that these regrettable doctrines were carried to alarming lengths, and by his hand committed to writing. After the death of Justin Martyr in Rome, Tatian returned to Palestine and embraced the Gnostic heresy. This same Tatian wrote a Harmony of the Gospels which was called the Diatessaron, meaning four in one. The Gospels were so notoriously Corrupted by his hand that in later years a bishop of Syria, because of the errors, was obliged to throw out of his churches no less than two hundred copies of this Diatessaron, since church members were mistaking it for the true Gospel.

We come now to Tatian's pupil known as Clement of Alexandria, 200 A.D. He went much farther than Tatian in that he founded a School at Alexandria which instituted propaganda along these heretical lines. Clement expressly tells us that he would not hand down Christian teachings, pure and unmixed, but rather clouded with precepts of pagan philosophy. All the writings of the outstanding heretical teachers were possessed by Clement, and he freely quoted from their corrupted manuscripts as if they were the pure words of Scripture. His influence in the depravation of Christianity was tremendous. But his greatest contribution, undoubtedly, was the direction given to the studies and activities of Origen, his famous pupil.

When we come to Origen, we speak the name of him who did the most of all to, create and give direction to the forces of apostasy down through the centuries. It was he who mightily influenced Jerome, the editor of the Latin Bible known as the Vulgate. Eusebius worshipped at the altar of Origen's teachings. He claims to have collector eight hundred of Origen's letters, to have used Origen's six-column Bible, the Hexapla, in his Biblical labors. Assisted by Pamphilus, he restored and preserved Origen's library. Origen's corrupted manuscripts of the Scriptures were well arranged and balanced with subtlety. The last one hundred years have seen much of the so-called scholarship of European and English Christianity dominated by the subtle and powerful influence of Origen.

Origen had so surrendered himself to the furor of turning all Bible events into allegories that he, himself, says, "the Scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as they are written." In order to estimate Origen rightly, we must remember that as a pupil of Clement, he learned the teachings of the Gnostic heresy and like his master, lightly esteemed the historical basis of the Bible. As Schaff says, "His predilection for Plato (the pagan philosopher) led him into many grand and facilitating, errors. He made himself aquatinted with the various heresies and studied under the heathen Ammonius Saccas, founder of Neo-Platonism.

He taught that the soul existed from eternity before it inhabited the body, and that after death, it migrated to a higher or a lower form of life according to the deeds done in the body; and finally all would return to the state of pure intelligence, only to begin again the same cycles as before. He believed that the Devils would be saved, and that the stars and planets had souls, and were, like men, on trial to learn perfection. In fact, he turned the whole Law and Gospel into an allegory.

Such was the man who from his day to this has dominated the endeavors of destructive textual critics. One of the greatest results of his life was that his teachings became the foundation of that system of education called Scholasticism, which guided the colleges of Latin Europe for nearly one thousand years during the Dark Ages.

Origenism flooded the Catholic Church through Jerome, the father of Latin Christianity. "I love .. . the name of Origen," says the most distinguished theologian of the Roman Catholic Church since 1850. "I will not listen to the notion that so great a soul was lost." (Newman).

A final word from the learned Scrivener will indicate how early and how deep were the corruptions of the sacred manuscripts:
"It is no less true to fact than paradoxical in sound, that the worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected, originated within a hundred years after it was composed; that Irenaeus (AD 150) , and the African Fathers, and the whole Western, with a portion of the Syrian Church, used far inferior manuscripts to those employed by Stunica, or Erasmus, or Stephens thirteen centuries later, when moulding the Textus Receptus." 
The basis was laid to oppose a mutilated Bible to the true one.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Engineering 101: Part VI - Error Distribution and Bell Curves

Scientists, especially in biological and statistical work with 'populations' continually find and make use of the 'Bell Curve'.

The Bell Curve is a typical pattern of population distribution, so typical in fact, that equations are used to plot it, and parameters are tweaked to align its contours with given data, fill out and predict unknowns, and predict expectations for future research.

By 'population', we mean any group of independent objects, like people, animals, items, measurements,  or even more abstract things like 'instances', 'examples', 'cases', elements, or anything that can be separated and distinguished as individuals, forming a group.  Bell curves are as frequent with abstractions as they are with physical objects.  The scales, parameters, coordinates can also be just about anything, and Bell-like curves will appear.

Almost any such group will exhibit some kind of  'Bell Curve' shape when plotted on a graph.  This strange coincidence is actually based on well-understood probability factors.  Simply put, there are more opportunities and chances for an individual to be somewhere in the middle of the scale than at the extremes.  Its easy to be average or mediocre.

Above, we will find that there are few really great copyists (near-perfect), and equally few really bad ones (they would be replaced).  We might find very few copyists making 30 or more errors per page, and equally few making 1 or less per page, while most copyists might score in the 5 or 10 errors per page range.

If we are simply observing raw error rates, these will be rather constant, with minor variations in certain times and places, depending upon training or copying methods.  This is important, for errors can be plotted over time.   If we imagine the copying stream as an ever-expanding fan, we may notice that the average density of errors will be rather constant, while the number of errors in each time-zone goes up, not only the total error-count:

We can modify this view to make it even more realistic, by allowing that early copyists produced more errors (i.e., a lower skill base), but this will be more than offset by the actual exponential (fibbonaci-like) growth of the manuscript count:

From this we can see that it will remain true that most raw errors will happen later in time, and not be early errors.   Why does this seem to contradict the recent acknowledgement by textual critics that in fact "most errors are early"?

The reason is that most errors are actually ignored, and critics only focus on a small subset of the actual errors found in the manuscripts.  For instance, most 'singular errors' (occuring in only once) are not even noticed or recorded.   Only readings that have an added 'life-line' (by being copied), or have support (they may have spread by coincidence or mixture) are generally discussed.  But this is not proper sampling, and gives a misleading picture of the history and spread of errors.

Now we enter into the most remarkable and subtle part of the analysis.  This will require the reader's careful attention and insight.

Those who advocate for the 'early readings' (Alexandrian) as a group as against the 'later' Majority readings (Byzantine) would say "Aha!  Most errors are late, and so the probability is therefore that most Byzantine readings are late, vindicating the antiquity of the Alexandrian text-type."

That conclusion however is a demonstrably false analysis: 

(1) The majority of errors are not majority readings.  These are two completely different groups of variants.    The majority of errors are in fact minority readings, and must be, by the nature of the case.  Most will have occurred very late in the copying stream, and cannot have had any opportunity whatsoever to become majority readings.  The true distribution of raw errors will indeed resemble the lopsided 'bell curve' below:

click to enlarge
 But the errors represented by this bell-curve will almost all be minority readings.

Perhaps even more importantly, the early errors represented here, may indeed be themselves majority readings, but they will not be the majority of majority readings.  They will be a small subset of the total number of majority readings. Most majority readings will not be errors, but rather will represent the correct text.

Furthermore, the small subset of early majority readings represented above, which may indeed be errors, will be clustered, each associated with some severe anomaly that caused them to become majority readings.  The competing clusters of variants (correct readings), especially those coming earlier in this one singular source (the archtype of the Byzantine transmission stream) will necessarily have been purged from all other copying streams.

The basic Byzantine text-type can be seen to have been in existence since the 5th century.  If that is so, then its unique "Majority" readings (whether errors or not) must have originated much earlier than this, to become dominant from this time onward, both in the Greek and Latin copying streams.
Click to Enlarge

The Majority readings of the Byzantine text, and the majority of errors (which again are found mostly in the Byzantine texts) are two completely different sets of variants (entities).

Contrary to uncritical expectations, the nature of the error-producing process and the spread of errors over time, prevent the bulk of errors from becoming majority readings, whether they are copied or not by future copyists.

- The Engineer

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Majority Text: (XVI): Flawed Logic against Majority Readings - T.S. Green

One cannot probably fully understand how the anti-Majority Text position has come to dominate Textual Criticism, without tracing a little bit of its history.

Although cautions against simply 'counting MSS' began to be vocalized as early as Wetstein (1700s), truly articulate arguments probably begin with Tregelles, Tischendorf and Alford.  These men first advanced the argument in favor of the oldest manuscripts.  Reasoning against the Majority Text was merely a corollary, but a necessary step to clear a path for consideration of the oldest texts.  So early arguments against the the Majority Text were crude and usually minimal in content.

One of the better popular arguments was offered by T.S. Green, in his A Course of Developed Criticism, (London, 1856) Intro.  Here for the first time we get a window into the thinking behind the rather rash and easy rejection of the traditional (majority) text:
"The work to which the critic of the NT is called, must consist to a considerable extent in disentangling the text from intrusive and usurping matter, having its origin in the margin ; in detaching accretions, and replacing whatever may have been dislodged by a spurious rival : and with this view one leading principle must be especially noticed. (1) 
Corruption of this particular kind must be the work of time, because the growth of such matter itself would be gradual,  (2)  and its sliding into the text by the agency of reckless, ill-taught, and foolish hands, and through the general propensity of copyists for amplification, (3)  would be likewise gradual : the evil, too, unchecked in its earlier stages by due watchfulness or control, would go on spreading with the advance of time. (4)
It follows of necessity from this, that the more ancient documents will in general exhibit a greater approach to purity in this particular respect than those of later date, and, as a practical consequence, that the adverse testimony of but a few witnesses of high antiquity, in the case of matter of questioned genuineness, must receive the first and foremost regard, even though it were certain that their text was unsound in certain other respects, as, for instance, in the touches of critical hands. (5)
Fewness must not discourage a reliance on their testimony, because, if an intrusion took place at a particular point at a remote date and there is sufficient proof that such mischief was very early at work such a numerical disparity is precisely the state of things to be encountered in the body of surviving documents, where the really ancient must, from the very nature of things, form but a small minority, and even of these all cannot be expected to have escaped intrusive influence. (6) 
This canon, as it may be called, does not rest on an unreasoning prepossession in favour of antiquity, but is a logical consequence from unquestionable premises.

Since in citing the MSS  which exhibit a certain reading, a great preponderance of mere numbers is imposing in appearance, and may seem to be a circumstance that cannot lightly be set aside or countervailed by other considerations, it will be well to state fairly and precisely how much may be concluded from the circumstance:

Out of the entire body of existing copies, as has already been remarked, those of high antiquity form a very small portion ; and, accordingly, any great majority of the whole must be almost entirely composed of those of later date. Whenever, therefore, a particular reading is supported by a greatly preponderating part of the mass in contrast with a group of distinctively ancient copies, all that can be at once concluded from this bare fact is, that the reading in question had a settled currency in later times. This narrow conclusion is all that in such a case can be taken into account from MSS. alone in a discussion of the claims of a reading; without any prejudice, however, to arguments for antiquity and genuineness which may be derivable from other quarters notwithstanding. (7)

In one particular way mere numbers would be important evidence of genuineness, namely, in case there were something in the character of the reading itself adverse to its acceptance in the presence of rivals, and, therefore, to that currency which those numbers indicate. (8)
Mere numerical considerations do not therefore possess that prime importance which they might at first sight seem to claim, and which they have too frequently been allowed to exercise.
In a review of authorities special regard will reasonably be paid to antiquity: but this must not be overstrained into a summary neglect of more recent witnesses, as necessarily offering nothing worthy of notice.
The critic should not suffer himself to be encumbered by prepossessions or assumptions, nor bind himself to the routine of a mechanical method of procedure. If he allows himself to be thus warped and trammelled, instead of ever maintaining the free employment of a watchful, calm, and unfettered mind, he abandons his duty and mars his work. "
Unfortunately, this basic argument, as reasonable as it sounds at a glance, has several fatal flaws, which we will analyze shortly.

(1)  It is remarkable that Green's sketch poses that the main problems 'to a considerable extent' consist of insertions, substitutions, and absorbed marginal glosses.  He skips over completely the other glaringly common error, accidental omissions by homoeoteleuton (h.t.).  Its as if these errors, though they comprise a large chunk of significant variants in both individual manuscripts and text-types, were an insignificant aspect of a critic's work.   That Green is fully aware of the existance of h.t. errors, is clear from other statements.
Hort likewise gave lip-service to h.t. errors, while failing to discuss the possibility of same among the hundreds of probable omissions he adopted.  The unspoken assumption is that the antiquity of a reading somehow makes it exempt from being an h.t. error, even though h.t. errors are rampant in even the most ancient of manuscripts.  That assumption is blatantly false however, and this casts all such omissions in the critical text under grave suspicion.

Error Rate vs. Error Accumulation Rate:

(2)  Green says the accumulation of errors would be gradual.  This much is true, in that errors will occur at different places in the text, and in all ages.  Thus errors will be spread through the text and across time fairly randomly and evenly.

But Green and all early critics fail to distinguish between the raw error-rate, and the rate of accumulation of errors.   Because there is no awareness of the difference between these two rates, there is no awareness of the independence of these two rates.

For example, say the error-rate is 1 error per verse in each copy.  Without error-checking, a 3rd generation copy would have about 3 errors per verse.  We could estimate the error accumulation rate at about 1 error per verse per generation.
But now suppose each copy is proof-read, and about half the errors are caught.  The raw error-rate is the same, but the error accumulation rate is now only 1 error per verse for every two generations, or half that of the raw error rate.
A simple checking procedure has drastically altered the accumulation rate, without any change in scribal skill or raw error rate.

Suppose now that about every 10 generations, a copy is checked against a much older copy (10 generations earlier).  Again half the errors are caught.  But this time, ALL the errors accumulated over 10 generations will be open to checking.  The new copy, which would have had 10 errors per verse, now has about 5 per verse (given the same quality of proof-reading as before).  The 10th generation corrected copy is the equivalent of a 5th generation copy.   Again the error accumulation rate has been halved, with a simple, occasional procedure. 

But more importantly, the same reduction in errors was accomplished this time by the same procedure performed only 1/5 as often!   Checking a much older copy is potentially an order of magnitude more effective than using the same technique on every copy in every generation!
While the Tortoise can certainly achieve the same purity with thorough hard work, the Hare can effectively skip doing any error-checking at all for many generations, and yet achieve the very same purity, with only the same mediocre skill and effort case by case as the tortoise.

This shows us a few revealing things:
(a)  The raw error-rate is effectively independent of the error accumulation rate.  
(b)  The error accumulation rate can be drastically attenuated by simple techniques, without needing to increase scribal skills.
(c)  Most importantly, longer-term procedures can effectively bypass accumulated errors and virtually 'reset' the error count to near-zero repeatedly, causing the error accumulation rate to slow to a virtual crawl.
Simple proof-reading methods effectively telescope generational copying effects, reducing real generations to a fraction of their potential handicap for practical purposes.  These methods can even be inconsistent and sporadically applied, with the very same results in quality control.

(3)  Green mentions "the general propensity of copyists for amplification".  That is, he assumes copyists were more likely to add than to omit material, emphasizing Griesbach's canon, 'Prefer the Shorter Reading'.  This was not however a general tendency, and the rule could only be applied in a restricted set of situations with caution.  For a modern critique of this idea, see Royse.
Such opinions in Green's time were based on impressions and guesstimates; but modern studies have made clear that scribes were far more often prone to omissions than additions.   This has major consequences for the credibility of 19th century critical reconstructions of the text.

(4)  Green's claim about the continual spread (accumulation) of errors is also based on a failure to grasp the dramatic impact of error-correction using earlier copies.  We have explored above what even occasional use of early manuscripts can do.  But mixture effectively demolishes skeptical arguments regarding generational corruption.  Significantly, the majority of 'mixture' (cross-correction of a MS with another text) will occur using older manuscripts as a guide.  This has a devastating effect on the accumulation of errors, effectively wiping out whole clusters of error and continually purging the text.

(5)  Green's argument here is that his previous observations inevitably lead to the idea that a few older manuscripts will outweigh a large number of later manuscripts.  But this is a serious non-sequitor.   His model assumes there is no significant error-checking, proof-reading, and so the age of a manuscript also indicates its genealogical relationship in regard to an accumulating error-pool.

But this is an absurdity, given that the majority of copies cannot be placed in a sequential copying line.  Rather, they are individual copies of independent lines of transmission reaching back to early times.  The diversity of both texts, geographical origins, and community heritage of these texts indicates they are not direct descendants of the earliest surviving manuscripts, or even close relatives in a common copying stream.

Furthermore, some copies clearly 'jump the que', being direct copies of much earlier texts which are independent of surviving older copies.

Since there is no way to intelligently group late manuscripts all together in contrast to early ones, we must deal with each manuscript or small family independently.  They cannot be crudely separated from early copies, placed together and de-valued en masse.

(6) Now Green imagines that an 'early interpolation' enhances his argument that a few early MSS would have the true reading against a mass of late ones.   For if the interpolation were early enough to be the landslide majority reading in the great remainder of later MSS, this would automatically place the alteration earlier in time than the relatively late 4th century date of the extant Uncials.   But if so, then the question of whether it is an omission in the Uncials or an addition in the later MSS must be settled on other grounds.  The 4th century Uncials are just as secondary to the early corruption of the text as other lines of transmission.
  It would be more convincing if the omission were found in a significant number of independent later MSS as well as a few early Uncials.  Then the addition would clearly be 'late' relative to the Uncials.  Such nonsense has the appearance of reasonableness but is really just another case of naive, simplistic, oversimplification so rampant in the 19th century.

(7)  Green's argument here runs essentially thus:  (a) By the nature of the case, there will always be a large number of later MSS, and few early ones, therefore (b) a majority reading by itself only means it was settled in later times.

The argument here is again a non-sequitur and false.  When the mass of later MSS are closely examined, it becomes clear that they represent such a wide  diversity of transmission-lines, and variety of ages of for their texts,  that any overwhelming agreement must drive the reading back to the 4th century and earlier, contemporary with the surviving most ancient MSS.

The false assumption of relative lateness of text for an overwhelming majority reading found in the mass of later MSS must be dismissed.  But we were never in the predicament that this would be the only available evidence in any case.  Most majority readings can also be found to be supported by early versions, and most importantly early quotations from the large numbers of early Christian writers (ECWs).   The claim that 'later MSS always outnumber early ones, therefore their testimony is worthless' is a ridiculous argument.
The correct conclusion is, the mass of later evidence must be carefully considered alongside earlier evidence, especially since early evidence is fragmentary and unreliable.

(8)  Now Green suggests that (internal) evidence of the difficulty of,  or hostility to a reading comes into play to give added weight to a majority reading.  Thus for Green and friends, a majority reading can be valued if its somehow difficult, adverse, or offensive.

We need hardly comment on the subjectivity of this 'exception' that Green proposes to reinstate a majority reading to respectability.   In comparison to textual evidence, all such personal conjecture and opinion must be secondary, and considered on its own merits, but hardly at all, next to overwhelming textual evidence in the form of landslide majority support.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

2. Clark (1914) contra Griesbach

Here is A. C. Clark's original (1914) preface to The Primitive Text of the Gospels and Acts (1914):

'The chief result of my investigation has been to show the falsity of the principle brevior lectio potior ['prefer the shorter reading']. This was laid down by Griesbach as a canon of criticism in the words :
'Brevior lectio, nisi testium vetustorum et gravium auctoritate penitus destituatur, praeferenda est verbosiori. Librarii enim multo proniores ad addendum fuerunt quam ad omittendum.'  ["A shorter reading, unless the authority of the witnesses completely lacks weight and antiquity, is preferable to a verbose one.  For a copyist is much more prone to further additions than to make omissions."]
Unless my method is based upon a delusion, this statement has no foundation in facts. I may also observe that it is not so easy to invent as it is to omit.
It will be understood that my work has been almost exclusively confined to the text of Cicero. It was only recently, after I had gained confidence in the use of my method, that, in a spirit of curiosity, I happened to apply it to the text of the Gospels. The results were so surprising that I gave up, for the present, my work upon Cicero, which can only interest a small circle, and devoted myself to this more important inquiry.
I must here state that when I began my investigation, I had not made any study of New Testament criticism. I had been brought up to look on the Revised Text [1881] as final, to smile at persons who maintained the authenticity of St. Mark 16:9-20, or St. John 7:53-8:11, and to suppose that the 'vagaries' of the 'Western' text were due to wholesale interpolation. The object which I had in view was merely to study the mutual relations of the oldest Greek Uncials, notably, the Vaticanus (B), the Sinaiticus (א), and the Alexandrinus (A). I was, however, soon dislodged from this arrogant attitude, and irresistibly driven to very different conclusions.  These I can only briefly indicate here, and must refer the reader to my subsequent discussion for the evidence. 
Nowhere is the falsity of the maxim brevior lectio potior more evident than in the New Testament. The process has been one of contraction, not of expansion. The primitive text is the longest, not the shortest. It is to be found not in B/א, or in the majority of Greek MSS., but in the 'Western' family, i. e. in the ancient versions and the Codex Bezae (D). If my analysis is sound, we are brought back to an archetype of the four Gospels in book-form, which cannot be later than the middle of the 2nd century. This archetype appears to have contained the passages which have been most seriously suspected by recent critics, e.g. the End of St. Mark and St. John 7:53-8:11.  
This statement concerning St. Mark 16:9-20 will appear so startling that I must insert a caveat. I do not pretend to go one step further than I am led by the method which I have followed. The ultimate problems of New Testament autographs do not concern me. I only deal with one set of phenomena, and my starting-point is the text current in the second century. I have made no attempt to acquaint myself with the Synoptic problem, and do not venture to encroach upon the domain of the Higher Criticism. Also, I do not regard my method as a panacea. I am sensible that much must be due to accident and to mere coincidence. It is for the reader to determine, whether the cumulative evidence which I adduce is so great as, in certain cases, to transcend the limits of coincidence.
The results at which I have arrived in the case of the Acts are even more striking. It is here that the problem of the 'Western' recension has been felt most strongly. Thus a recent writer says   : 
'It is the correct method to study the Western readings in Acts first of all, and to form some kind of judgement on them, and after this to turn to the Gospels and apply to them the conclusions derived from the study of the Acts.'  (Lake, The Text of the New Testament, p. 91.)
This was not the process which I followed, but the conclusions arrived at in the case of the Acts greatly confirm the results furnished by the study of the Gospels.
It is briefly this, that all our MSS., including D, are descended from an ancestor written not in lines of equal length, as in the case of the Gospels, but in cola and commata, i. e. sense-lines of varying length, such as those found in D. The ordinary text has been developed from this by the frequent omission of lines, followed by modifications in the text. For proof of this statement I must refer the reader to the chapter upon the Acts.
I have not extended my inquiry to other parts of the New Testament, since I found that the Gospels and Acts provided more material than I could deal with in the time at my disposal. It appeared to me from some preliminary observations that the Pauline Epistles must be studied together. It is unnecessary to point out that the Apocalypse is a unique document which must be considered separately.'

(1) Clark contra Ropes

A. C. Clark, in his preface to his critical edition of the Greek text of  Acts of the Apostles (1933), comments on the unique problem of the Western (& Byz.) versus the Alexandrian (Aleph/B) text:

'THE Acts of the Apostles furnish the most interesting chapter in the story of what is generally called the ' Western text '. In the Introduction to this volume (para. 1), to which I refer the reader, I show that this term is a misnomer and conveys a false suggestion when employed of a text which was current in the East, as well as in the West, in the second century A.D. : which formed the basis of the oldest versions, Syriac as well as Latin, and was used by the most ancient Fathers. These facts are allowed by the most thoroughgoing opponents of the text in question, even by Dr. Hort, and no one has stated them with greater candour than the latest editor, Prof. Ropes, as may be seen from the passage which I quote from him (p. xviii).
I therefore venture to substitute the noncommittal symbol Z [W] for this question-begging term, and denote the agreement of the oldest Greek Uncials אABC by Γ [B] (= Graeci).
I now proceed to say a few words about the special problem of Acts. This is that in Acts [W] and [B] differ conspicuously in length. [W] has a longer and [B] a shorter text. The passages which appear in [W], but are absent from [B], are very numerous ; some of them are of considerable  length, e.g. xi. 2, xvi. 39, xxv. 24-5. The question therefore in Acts which dwarfs all others is whether this extra matter is genuine or not.
Various solutions of this problem have been suggested. I will not here repeat what I have said in the Introduction (pp. xx f.), but will state quite briefly that I agree with Ropes when he says that only two solutions are possible. Either [W] is derived from [B], or [B] from [W]. He adopts the first alternative, I adopt the second. He considers that [W] was developed from [B] by expansion, I consider that [B] is an abridgement of [W]. I may remark that the solution adopted by Ropes is intrinsically less probable than that which he rejects, since it is easier to abridge than to invent fresh matter. 
A further objection is that patristic evidence for [B] is lacking before the time of Origen, while the existence of [W] in the second century A.D. is proved by the evidence of the versions and the quotations of the early Fathers. It is an act of faith to suppose that [B] was prior to [W]. The probability is that it was a revision, made not very long before the time when it begins to be quoted. These, however, are a priori arguments upon which I do not wish to insist. There is other evidence which is yielded by codex. Bezae (D), the chief Greek authority for the [W] text in the Gospels and Acts.
 This famous MS. has a peculiar feature, viz. that it is written in lines of irregular length (not, as is usual, in lines of equal length). It is usual to speak of them as ' sense-lines ', and this description fits fairly well the lines in Mt., Mk., and Acts, but it is inapplicable to those in Lk. and Jn. A description of these στιχοι as they are generally termed, will be found in the special article upon D (pp. 178-81). It is agreed that this system of division did not begin with D, but was inherited from an ancestor or a series of ancestors. The analysis which I have made, both of the Greek side of the MS. (D) and of the Latin side (Lat. d ), discloses a large number of corruptions, chiefly omissions of στιχοι, transpositions of στιχοι, and corruptions due to adjacent στιχοι(pp. 181-91), which testify to a number of intervening copies between D and a distant archetype. It is therefore quite possible that this peculiar method of line division goes back to remote antiquity.
After this prelude I proceed to state my own view, viz. that in Acts (not in the Gospels) [B] represents the work of an abbreviator who, having before him a MS. written in στιχοι similar to those found in D, frequently (not, of course, always) adopted the rough and ready method of striking out lines in his model, botching from time to time to produce a construction.
This solution did not come to me at once. The relation of [B] to [W] was first suggested to me by the observation that passages present in D, but absent from [B], very frequently occupy a line or lines in [W] , and that in many cases [B] appears to have been botched in order to provide a construction  after an omission. The evidence given by botching is of especial importance. Instances will be found on pp. xxv-vi. The only explanation which I could at first suggest was that [B] was formed from [W] by a series of accidental omissions.  
New light came from a palimpsest leaf which contains Cic. ad Fam. vi. 9. i 10. 6 in an abridged form (pp. xxviii-ix). This palimpsest omits a number of passages found in the minuscule MSS., and is on occasions impudently botched by the abbreviator in order to disguise the omissions. As the method which he followed was not apparent, I happened to apply an arithmetical test, which I have often found very illuminating when dealing with omissions. The method of application and the results of this test will be found on p. xxix. A clue was furnished by the first passages which I examined, and it soon became obvious that the abbreviator had cut out lines of his copy, botching when necessary. In my work The Descent of MSS., pp. 151-3, I have reconstituted the copy, showing the lines which were deleted and those which were retained. The same arithmetical unit is present in both.
The same test throws unexpected light upon a series of mysterious obels affixed in some MSS. to a number of passages in the speech of Demosthenes against Meidias (pp. xxx-xxxi). The results in this case are even more startling, since the evidence is spread over a larger area. I cannot see any other solution except that the obels were first affixed by an ancient critic who wished to abridge the speech and obelized passages which generally coincided with lines in his text.
I pass by some examples of minor importance, and will state briefly that I stake my case in the first place upon the evidence provided by the palimpsest of Cic. ad Fam.  
My work The Descent of MSS. appeared fourteen years ago and has been widely circulated. During this period no critic, so far as I know, has pointed out any flaw in these calculations. I venture therefore to hope that they are sound. If so, they show that some ancient abbreviators - I insert the word ' some ' to prevent misapprehension or misrepresentation - when making an abridgement, sometimes resorted to the simple device of striking out lines in their text.
In view of this evidence I now ascribe the excisions in the [B] text of Acts to an abbreviator who very frequently struck out lines in his copy. The hypothesis of deliberate abbreviation clears up a number of difficulties which were left unexplained by the theory of accidental omission (p. xxxii).  
The methods of the abbreviator are discussed on pp. xlv-lii. His most noticeable trait is his contempt for minute details. He was not interested in the ' seven steps ' which led up to the prison at Jerusalem (xii. ro) ; the hours of the day during which Paul preached at Ephesus (xix. 9) ; the statement that the rioters at Ephesus 'ran out into the street' (xix. 28); the information that Paul when sailing from Samos to Miletus broke his journey at Trogylia (xx. 15), or that on his journey from Caesarea to Jerusalem he spent a night in a village on the way (xxi. 16); that the ship carrying Paul drifted 'for fifteen days' after leaving Cyprus (xxvii. 5), or that, after Paul's arrival in Rome, ' the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard ' (A.V.) and that Paul was allowed to reside 'outside the camp' (xxviii. 16). His interest was in edification, not in topographical or chronological details. Hence his excisions are comparatively rare in the speeches and most common in the accounts of Paul's journeys. This dislike for detail caused him to substitute tame and colourless summaries for passages instinct with life and vigour, e.g. x. 25 (p. xxiii), xvi. 39, xxv. 24-5. A frequent result of his excisions is to produce obscurity. A typical example occurs in xv. 33 sq. (p. xlvii), where T omits v. 34, which explains how it was that Silas was still in Antioch (v. 40) after having previously received permission to go to Jerusalem ( v - 33)' Some writers consider this obscurity to be a laudable characteristic of Luke's style. Thus Ramsay remarks 'Luke expects much of his readers'. I cannot look on obscurity as a merit, but regard it as a fault which betrays the hand of an abbreviator.
Sometimes the cuts change the sense. Thus in xviii. 27, according to [W], Paul is invited by Corinthians residing in Ephesus to go with them to Corinth : according to [B], he went of his own will. In xix. i, according to [W], Paul wishes of his own accord to go to Jerusalem, but is told by the Spirit to return to Ephesus ; [B] merely states that he went to Ephesus, without any mention of his first plan or of the intervention of the Spirit. In xxiv. 8, according to [W], παρ'ου refers to Claudius Lysias ; according to [B], it refers to Paul. (For the absurdity of this reading cf. p. xlvii.) A more complicated case occurs in xv. i sq. (p. xlix).
Apart from these differences due to abridgement, there are irreconcilable variants. The most remarkable of these occurs in xx. 4, taken in conjunction
 with xix. 29. In xix. 29 Gaius and Aristarchus are both Macedonians : in xx. 4 Aristarchus is said to be a native of Thessalonica, but Gaius, according to [B], is Δερβαιος, i.e. a native of Derbe in Asia Minor. The [W] reading is Δοβηριος, i.e. a native of Doberus (in Macedonia). For a full discussion of this striking passage, the importance of which has hitherto escaped the notice of scholars, I refer to pp. xlix-1 and note ad loc.
There are also cases in which the reading of [B] is absurd. A striking example is in ch. xiii, where, according to [B], a sorcerer is called Barjesus in v. 6, and this name is translated by Elymas in v. 8. Barjesus, however, can mean nothing but 'son of Jesus'. For a full discussion of this passage I refer to the notes.
It seems strange that so inferior a production as the abridged text should have been accepted by the Church. It must have suited the taste of the age in which it appeared and may have been made by someone who enjoyed a reputation in his own generation. It is not always the best text that gains immediate recognition. I venture to refer to a person of no particular importance, the African Father, Primasius. Two editiones principes of his works appeared in the same year (1544), one of which was printed at Paris and the other at Bale. The Paris edition was taken from a corrupt and mutilated MS. which disguises long omissions by unskilful botching. The Bale edition was founded on a good and fairly complete MS. It was, however, the Paris edition that was several times reproduced, while the Bale edition found no successor. (Descent of MSS., p. 104.)

If the considerations which have been advanced are sound, it follows that the supremacy of what are frequently called the 'Great Uncials ' (i.e. א and B) can no longer be maintained. The chief duty of an editor  is to collect and combine the scattered evidence given by the various witnesses to the [W] text. This was done in masterly fashion by Blass in his reconstitution of what he considers to be the 'Roman form' of Acts (= [W]) as contrasted with a second edition by the same writer (= [B]). My own text is not indeed founded upon that of Blass, since I have considered all points independently and very frequently differ from him. It is, however, more like his text than that of any other editor, and I gladly acknowledge my great debt to him. On many occasions when my original view of a passage differed from that of Blass I finally became convinced that he was right. I cannot, however, accept his attribution of both [W] and [B]] to the same author (p. xxi).' 
- A.C. Clark, Acts of the Apostles, (1933) p. vii-xi