Ehrman explains Richard Laurence dissembling groups of Griesbach - early example of false methodologies

Steven Avery

Methodological Developments in the Analysis and Classification of New Testament Documentary Evidence (1987)
Bart D. Ehrman

Early Movements Away from the Traditional System of Classification

Not everyone was oblivious to the methodological flaws in the traditional system of classification. .As early as 1814, Archbishop Richard Laurence delineated its inadequacies in a critique of Griesbach’s work.14 For purposes of illustration, Laurence noted Griesbach’s classification of codex A in the Pauline epistles. In his Symbolae criticae Griesbach showed that of the 170 variants of A from the TR in Paul, 110 agree with the text found in Origen. This led him to conclude that A is very close to Origen, that is, strongly Alexandrian. But Griesbach also observed that Origen varies from the TR an additional 96 times when A does not. This means that if Origen were considered the standard text against which both the TR and A were collated, A would be classified as strongly Byzantine, since in its 156 variants from Origen it would agree with the TR in 96! 15 Thus the classification of witnessess depends entirely on the extrinsic standard of comparison.16

14 “Remarks,” 49-61. See also the demur of Frederick Nolan, An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text of the New Testament (London: F. C. & J. Rivington, 1815) 4-43.

15 Laurence, “Remarks,” 52, with reference to Griesbach, Symbolae criticae, I. cxxiv.

16 This aproach (sic) may account for some of Griesbach’s erroneous assignations of documents. Thus, for example, in the Prolegomena to his Novum Testamentum Graece he names the Sahidic version and mss B, 1, 13, and 69 as leading members of the Western text (I. lxxiv)!

The Westcott and Hort section that follows is interesting, with their circularity almost exposed, the normal error about conflations.
Last edited: