Burgon - Miller - Fee - Sturz - Ehrman - Byzantine ECW - British Library color-coded - 2nd century variants

Steven Avery

Check info in the Yahoogroups archives.
See the page about the 2nd century Peshitta.




Early Witnesses to the Received Text
Compiled Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.

Gordon Fee
tries to respond to Burgon-Miller-Pickering

Colin Smith
Robinson points out that the early Fathers would have used local texts that would not have had a consistent text type. They would have also paraphrased, quoted from memory, and even altered the wording of passages to fit their purpose. Later scribes would not have modified readings to make them more familiar (i.e., Byzantine), as is often claimed. He proposes that if such a practice were widespread, there would not be as many passages left untouched as there are.
Text-critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark (1981)
Larry W. Hurtado
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Steven Avery

BVDB about the debate - Ehrman - Sheffield

This goes back to the thread above

The contras actually make a few good points, because a couple of them understand the superiority of the Greek Byzantine text over the Westcott-Hort corruption text.


about "distinctively Bzyantine"

Of course the so-called "distinctive" Byzantine readings would not exist among the fathers, since Hort's own definition of such was a reading *not* supported in the 4th century or earlier by *any* manuscript, ancient version, or father. Ehrman basically stacks the deck by the manner in which he refers to all these data.

Yet Fee made an assertion, but gave not one example. That makes his claim suspect in my opinion.
Pickering's "The Text of the Church" response to the same claims seems to tell a quite opposite tale.

Fee made the original claim in a review article of Pickering in Westminster Theological Journal. Kurt Aland picked up on that in an article in Themelios. Pickering then responded to the charge with actual demonstration of the factual data in his "Text of the Church" essay. That's what I recall without looking up the details.

Euthymius gets it right. The whole term, "distinctively Byzantine" as given by Hort, is rigged. Others have given other definitions. I have written about this problem.


M. M. R. gives some good stuff
The question I've always wanted answered is this: if the Alexandrian cluster contains a text which is far closer to the original autographs than the Byz. text form--then why didn't the Church use it (relatively speaking)? Why does it lack the continuity, number, and overall geographical footprint that the common text can demonstrate? It makes absolutely no sense that God would allow the wrong text-type to be the overwhelmingly more available, read, copied and utilized text throughout almost all of Church history. Nor does it sit well that there's a much higher increase in unorthodoxy, liberalism and unbelief amongst the adherents of this outlier text cluster (both ancient and modern). What a strain this must put on some people's understanding of preservation and providence.


..... The realization that Burgon used "un-critical" editions of the fathers should not lead one to totally disregard his work in this area. Those who do so are simply taking the easy way out; as well as showing an unwarranted bias.

Common sense would require me to believe that Burgon's conclusions on this matter cannot be detrimentally effected by any realistic amount of supposed corruption within the editions of the Church fathers that Burgon utilized. The data set is too large for such presumptions! Plus it never has, nor will it ever, be proven on a wholesale level. This is a pure conspiracy theory. Is there corruption within the fathers? Yes, but no reasoning mind could ever expect it to be so extreme as to completely nullify such an exhaustive data set.

This is how Hort and his band dealt with unfriendly evidences. The Peshitta is a problem; so eliminate it from the conversation. Second and third century Church fathers quote the Byz. text over against a reading found in א/B; disqualify the evidence by calling it Western. Our chosen codices present a shorter and more difficult text;–promote and establish principles that verify the shorter and harder readings as authentic. The whole thing is so childish and circular that it's a wonder how many learned men fall for it.


If I recall correctly, Burgon both addresses and acknowledges most of the previously mentioned difficulties and concerns (if he had better editions he would have used them–to be sure). Either way, we're talking the exception to the rule here. When dealing with allusions from the ancient fathers, a certain degree of opinion is generally present in one's conclusions. So unwind the questionable references, and then disqualify the known instances of Byz. conformity within the Church fathers and move on. There's still plenty of evidence to show that readings opposite of א/B existed within their writing's. Why Ehrman even went this route is questionable; because everyone knows that almost all of the most important differences between the two opposing text forms go back to the 2nd century. Perhaps nobody ever put it in exact those words, but generally speaking–all viable variations of the Greek NT date back to the 2nd century. Sheffield should have been more prepared with actual evidence of early Byz. readings, and then simply let the audience decide if they agree with all of the hoops Ehrman would have the evidence jump through to be admitted. The only two texts that Ehrman ever really brought up were the PA and LE. I would have hammered back with the early support for both. Especially considering that those are the two most significant locations.

MMR: "Perhaps nobody ever put it in exact those words, but generally speaking–all viable variations of the Greek NT date back to the 2nd century."

As I recall, Colwell was the first to make this claim. How long ago, I don't know, but the original article was reprinted in his Studies in Methodology in 1968.


Bill Brown has a bunch of his normal worthless reactive snarky junk.
"Steven Avery Spencer went absolutely bonkers when I pointed out Robinson's concession that Burgon was wrong on some things."
Why and where would that bother me?
Bill Brown makes up history.

Bill Brown compliments Jonathan for getting in the ring with Ehrman.
Unfortunately, he paid the atheist money, and apparently a good amount.


Sawbones has one post about Fee, Pickering, etc. with a bit of substance.

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Steven Avery

M. M. R. on a sister thread.

Variant readings; & the 2nd century threshold
I literally just stumbled across this statement from Dr. Robinson, he states:

"In addition, it is generally recognized among all schools of thought that at least some later MSS in fact do preserve earlier texts. This principle usually is limited by critical text partisans to include only those later MSS that tend to agree with their favored earlier MSS, but the principle should apply equally; and if so, there is no reason why the later Byzantine MSS (or those of even the late 4th and early 5th centuries) should not similarly be considered to have preserved a much earlier form of text with (at least) second-century roots. This becomes a greater issue, given that many non-Byzantine partisans have allowed that virtually all significant readings were in existence during the second century — this in effect reflecting what Sturz and Colwell have claimed."
–M. A. Robinson 2010 [Bold emphasis mine.]

Link: https://kjvodebate.wordpress.com/2010/0 ... nson-pt-2/

I have found one quote from Scrivener but it's not the one I'm looking for, so I'll continue to search,–and hopefully post both soon. If anyone knows of similar statements made by Dr. Robinson, or any other text critic, please feel free to contribute.

"In the very earliest times much variation in the text of the New Testament, and particularly of the Holy Gospels...much diversity in words and expression, I say, arose in the Church." –Burgon "T. T." pg. 2

"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 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 Stephen thirteen centuries later, when moulding the Textus Receptus." –Scrivener "Intro." Ed. iv Vol. II pp. 264-265

"until those who make the words of the New Testament their study are convinced that they move in a region like no other, where unique phenomena await them at every step, and where seventeen hundred and fifty years ago depraving causes unknown in every other department of learning were actively at work, progress cannot really be made...No sooner was the work of the Evangelists and Apostles recognized as the necessary counterpart and complement of God's ancient Scriptures and became the 'New Testament,' than a reception was found to be awaiting it in the world closely resembling that which He experienced Who is the subject of its pages [e.g. Mt. 2:16, Rev. 12:4]. Calumny and misrepresentation, persecution and murderous hate, assailed Him continually. And the Written Word in like manner, in the earliest age of all, was shamefully handled by mankind. Not only was it confused through human infirmity and misapprehension, but it became also the object of restless malice and unsparing assaults. Marcion, Valentinus, Basilides, Heracleon, Meander, Asclepiades, Theodotus, Hermophilus, Apollonides, and other heretics, adapted the Gospels to their own ideas. Tatian, and later on Ammonius, created confusion through attempts to combine the four Gospels...under which as a result the words of one Gospel became assimilated to those of another. Want of familiarity with the sacred words in the first ages, carelessness of scribes, incompetent teaching, and ignorance of Greek in the West, led to further corruption of the Sacred Text". –Burgon "T. T." pp. 9-10

Brackets and bold emphasis are mine.

Steven Avery

Scrivener and 2nd century variants
https://archive.org/stream/MN42079ucmf_2#page/n427/mode/2up (1861)

Charles Edward Hammond
https://books.google.com/books?id=P2EXAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA2 (1872)

http://books.google.com/books?id=hZQHAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA511 (1883

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 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 Stephen thirteen centuries later, when moulding the Textus Receptus.

Steven Avery

From 2009

--- In TC-Alternate-list@yahoogroups.com, Daniel Buck wrote:

"Did anyone ask Edward Miller's opinion of the manuscript? If he didn't think it useful, I'm inclined to believe that a genius has not yet come along who could benefit from Burgon's unfinished opus."

[TC-Alternate-list] Burgon on the Eccl. Fathers
Matthew M. Rose
Hi Daniel, Steven, James and the rest of the crew,

I was always under the impression that E. Miller was under the strain of both old age and numerous daunting tasks and therefore could not present the bulk of Burgon's quotations (remember he edited nearly 2400 pages of the Deans notes and papers to present the sister volumes; "The Traditional Text" Causes of Corruption"). In his Textual Commentary on Matt. 1-14 p.xii he writes "Patristic Quotations exist in such numbers, that Dean Burgon, with the help of several ladies, filled with them sixteen thick volumes, which were acquired after his death by the Trustees of the British Museum [the last I heard they were housed at the British Library]. He marked or designated the passages himself, and then committed them to his assistants to copy, and perhaps to distinguish with colours upon an ingenious system, and afterwards to paste on paper to be bound up in books.." ("going far beyond ordinary indexes" Trad. Txt. intro). Miller goes on to expain that he chose to restrict his utilization of the great work to the Gospels (primariliy because of the number of quotations Burgon compiled). He later states "It is this which chiefly empowers me to add so largely to the Patristic evidence...".

Now Miller seems to sing a much different tune than Robinson who stated " "Burgon's color-coded, cut-and-paste, and reference-only handmade 16 volumes have been declared basically useless by those who have examined them.

It would take far more time to go through these volumes and decipher or correlate the material against the referenced sources (which are not directly quoted) than merely to start anew."

To Mr. Robinson's credit (I suppose) it appears that he is just relaying what he has been informed or taught, whether by volume or professor. Miller on the other hand seems to have had no doubt about the importance of these 16 volumes that Burgon labored upon, explaining "The Dean did not leave this province at all as he found it." Scrivener's Intro. 4th Ed. Vol.II p.167.

Steven said;

"My view is that a lot of benefit could be gained by simply focusing on the 10-25 most critical passages and seeing what was in the work. Does it have information not in the book. Variants like Acts 8:37 and 1 John 5:7 would be fascinating, since the ECW there are never covered in his regular work."
[I agree.]

"And I tend to agree that there may not be anybody who could do the whole thing in a productive and edifying way, but I wonder why we can't get some one to do highlighted selective sections. Plus, anybody who did ten variants, would have a good sense of what is involved in doing more. Even five. Even two."

Very true! This is why it's so important for Dr. Robinson to supply us with instances where Burgon's Patristic Quotations are invalid. If, of course he can prove his prior claim that "overblown patristic claims in Burgon do exist, primarily in relation to what he
often cites as "quotation" where "allusion" at best would be the more
appropriate term. I suspect everyone in the text-critical field knows this, but not Avery."

-Please, good Doctor, enlighten us with some specific examples. For if they are "basically useless" and soiled by "overblown claims" as you have implied, this discussion need go on no further.

For now the world has clear access to very many examples of Burgon's work in this department via his numerous Textual works. The "Last 12 Verses of Mark", "The Revision Revised", The Traditional Text" and "Causes of Corruption" have very many variants to start with. Which would help kick off such a project and at the very least give us all a good idea of how accurate Burgon's ECW quotations are in reality. Then consulting Miller's "Textual Commentary" on Matt 1-14 could further both of these aspects. -And I agree with Steven that the key dozen or so variants are really the most important. Once this data was all combined we would all have a nice summary of Burgon's work in this field.

Personally I would welcome the day that such a document was available to the world. -Because the very best Textual Apparatus' ("Text & Swanson) have lent no help in this regard. Plus, the U.B.S. team has muddled the situation (of Patristic evidence) in their 4th edition by not denoting if they omitted a ECW referrence because of validity or because of lack of importance.

So until further documentation I will continue to referrence Burgon's extremely full apparatus work amongst his various volumes, because as Steven pointed out they are usually fuller in many aspects than the modern apparatus' we have to work with.

-Matthew M. Rose
Los Angeles, CA

Steven Avery

Donald Waite

BURGON’S RESEARCH INTO THE TEXT OF SCRIPTURE THROUGH CHURCH HISTORY HAS, IN SOME WAYS, NEVER BEEN EQUALED. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE OF HIS RESEARCH INTO THE QUOTATIONS FROM THE SCRIPTURES OF CHURCH LEADERS OF ANTIQUITY. To discover what Scripture text the ancient church leaders were using, Burgon laboriously dug out 86,489 quotations from ancient Christian writings and compiled these into sixteen thick manuscript volumes, which are located today in the British Museum. More than 4,000 of the quotations are from writers who lived before 400 A.D. By this peerless research, Burgon was convinced that the Received Text underlying the Reformation Bibles is the very text which has been used by God’s people through the centuries and is thus the preserved Word of God. He concluded:

Call this text Erasmian or Complutensian, the text of Stephens, or of Beza, or of the Elzevirs, call it the Received or the Traditional, or by whatever name you please--the fact remains that a text has come down to us which is attested by a general consensus of ancient Copies, ancient Fathers, and ancient Versions” (Burgon, The Revision Revised, 1881).

This testimony of Burgon is not to be taken lightly. He knew as much about the Bible of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries as any man who has lived in the last 200 years. When he says that the Received Text is attested by Greek manuscripts, quotations from ancient church leaders, and ancient Bible versions, he was in a position to know what he was talking about.

Burgon replied directly to the myth that the Westcott-Hort Greek text is based upon more ancient manuscript testimony than the Received Text:

If the objection be made, as it probably will be, ‘Do you then mean to rest upon the five manuscripts used by Erasmus?’ I reply, that the copies employed were selected because they were known to represent with accuracy the Sacred Word; that the descent of the text was evidently guarded with jealous care, just as the human genealogy of our Lord was preserved; that IT RESTS MAINLY UPON MUCH THE WIDEST TESTIMONY; and that where any part of it conflicts with the fullest evidence attainable, there I believe that it calls for correction” (Burgon, The Traditional Text, 1896, Dean Burgon Society Press reprint, 1998, p. 15).

Thus we see that John Burgon, whose research into the history of the Bible was vast, testified that the Received Text rests not merely upon a handful of manuscripts gathered by Erasmus and other 16th century editors, but upon “THE WIDEST TESTIMONY.” (Burgon did allow for some possible correction of the Received Text, and this has been discussed in some articles published by Bible for Today of Collingswood, New Jersey.) We need to listen carefully to Burgon’s testimony in this, because not only did he know his subject, but in spite of his Church of England affiliation, he revered the Bible as the infallibly inspired, providentially preserved Word of God, something the vast majority of modern textual critics (including Thayer, Metzger, Aland, Black, Bruce, Colwell, Goodspeed, Grant, Gregory, Kenyon, Kittel, Lake, Von Soden, Robinson) deny.

Concerning the preservation of the Scriptures, our faith is not in man, but in God. Even if the Reformation editors had fewer resources than those of more recent times, we know that the God who controls the times and the seasons was in control of His Holy Word. The infallible Scriptures were not hidden away in some monastic dungeon at the foot of Mt. Sinai or in a dusty corner of the Pope’s library. The infallible Scriptures were being published, read, and taught by God’s people.

The vast majority of Greek manuscripts, ancient versions, and the writings of church “fathers” support the Received Text. This was a fact known by the Reformation editors. Whereas the textual critics of our day see this as a mere accident of history, the Bible-believing Reformation editors of old saw the hand of God in it. So do we.
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Steven Avery

Jack Moorman

Hi Steven, That has not likely been done and would be an excellent project. Because of irons in the fire I have not been undertaking new research lately. Several years ago and with a primary interest in the Fathers I slotted Tischendorf's 8th into my 8000+ list.

As both Burgon and Tischendorf used Migne mainly, there should not be, even with their opposite views, too much difference in their citations.


In a message dated 29/11/2011 14:09:54 GMT Standard Time, schmuel@nyc.rr.com writes:

Hi Jack,

Good afternoon, Jack !

Do we know if there have been attempts to look at specific verses on this index ? Especially the heavenly witnesses and Acts 8:37 ? A small verse list could be made. I've never seen a reference to the exact status.

Note: I could ask at the textual lists. It is possible that Maurice Robinson inquired on this when in London a while back. And Roger Pearse might be willing to assist as I think he has an ongoing relationship of sorts with the British Museum and the library in the context of church writer material. There are a number of UK scholars on the Evangelical Textual Criticism list. Some might even help set up the access and project.

I've never seen a mention of just trying to publish the most important 2, or 10, or 25, or 100 variants from that work. (With or without color.) Presumably the index has a verse index, but if not, if it is only by writer, that might have been a stumbling block. Nonetheless, a skilled researcher could go through 50 writers looking for the 5 or 10 verses fairly easily, presumably. All the time I see this discussed as an "all-or-nothing" proposition.

My researches have told me that the current apparatuses have never really been properly updated or corrected. Many examples available. I give corrections to the Laparola apparatus, the only one who seems agile in making such corrections.

The verses where John William Burgon has material in Revision Revised and the later Causes of the Corruption and the Traditional Text and are probably less important, although even there it would be fascinating to look at a few (including possibly e.g. Ending of Mark, 1 Timothy 3:16) to see if the index has differences from or additions to the earlier material.

Here is my index of discussion on this. I didn't see much in the Burgon bio by Goulburn.

Donald Waite
Quotations of the Church Fathers.
As a result of his research, Burgon compiled an index of sixteen folio volumes of more than 86,000 quotations of or allusions to Scripture which were used by the Church Fathers. These indexes were about 12" by 18" by 3" in size. They are presently in London's British Museum. They have been catalogued by Dean Burgon and his associates. Each quotation or allusion is color-coded to show the exact page and version of the Church Fathers from which they were derived. These are very valuable indexes, but as yet are unpublished.

(Another quote has 64,000)

David Cloud - 2002
His research into New Testament quotations from ancient church writings has never been equalled. The unpublished material, which resides in the British Museum, consists of 16 thick manuscript volumes containing 86,489 quotations. Burgon's research established that the Received Text was the prominent text of the early centuries. Burgon was working under the premise of faith, that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and that God has preserved it.

Maurice Robinson - 1999
I thought most people were aware of Burgon's heavy reliance on patristic testimony (albeit from what are now regarded as "uncritical" editions) and his massive 16-volume folio handwritten edition of such quotations in color-coded format (now in the British Museum, but virtually useless for modern research).

Ben - 2006
You are quite right that the early fathers need to be collated and published. Actually Dean John Burgon did a massive amount of that work, but his notes are sitting in the British Museum as we speak, on handwritten cards, and no one wants to type them into a computer or allow access to them.

From Edward F Hills - The Encyclopedia of Christianity
http://www.febc.edu.sg/assets/pdfs/bbush/The Burning Bush Vol 7 No 1.pdf - Jeffrey Khoo
http://books.google.com/books?id=OodLOdXpS-AC&pg=PP28 (1990 - Jay Green)
Later he made several tours of European libraries, examining and actually collating NT manuscripts wherever he went. At the same time he was compiling his massive Index of the NT Quotations in the Church Fathers, which is deposited in the British Museum, but never published.

Yours in Jesus ... from the colonies,