symmetry of transmission - inclusion omission (Pericope Adulterae, Mark ending, heavenly witnesses)

Steven Avery

The March, 2016 discussion was James White and the Pericope Adultera

Facebook - Confessional Bibliology

Steven Avery - March 28, 2016{"tn":"R"}

The whole theory that multiple placements demonstrates inauthenticity is wrong anyway. In this case, all it means is that at some point in the transmission cycle the section was not in some mss. Then in the restoration attempts it was sometimes placed elsewhere.

(In other words, a bifurcated line can arise with inclusion followed by dropping, or omission followed by adding, the result is symmetrical and at the point of the bifurcated line you can not tell ipso facto which was the transmission history.) Thus, this vector of transmission is equally applicable for authentic or inauthentic verses and sections.

Notice that none of the textual critics are upset that the Mark ending is so consistent in text and always in the same place. By this "logic" that would be a demonstration of authenticity, since thousands of mss are involved in multiple languages. Consistency is not their jewel. (In that case they search out the most inconsequential minor variant, again making the same error, since the minor alternate section just arose to fill lacuna.)

Granted, the textual establishment tends to be a smidgen dull on logic, so this failing is not simply that of James White, often he acts as a parrot of ignorance, adding his own little twists and turns.

Here I placed some of this on a textual forum:

[textualcriticism] celebrating 125 years of an a fortiori fallacy
Steven Avery - Feb, 2012
-- and

Next, I plan to gather some of the previous writings, and then a summary.

Granted there will be some repetition.


[TC-Alternate-list] Logic 101 on multi-variant verses (inclusion/omission)
Steven Avery - Feb 27, 2010


CARM thread highlights should be copied in, since after awhile they vanish


Symmetry of transmission, Logic 101, 1 Timothy 3:6, 3 variants, scribal mind-reading
Steven Avery - June, 2014

Facebook - NT Textual Criticism
Steven Avery June 21, 2014
Symmetry of variant transmission refutes common transcriptional probability argument

Facebook - Pure Bible - CARM post (not as pretty) and followup


Facebook - New Testament Scholarship Worldwide

Steven Avery - July, 2014

There is a point to made about accounting for the shorter ending.
Textual critics seem to struggle with a very simple truth ... transmission symmetry. (Suggestion TTS == textual transmission symmetry.)
It is close to a certainty that the traditional ending and the abrupt ending coexisted in the 2nd century. The traditional ending is 100% sure, and the abbreviated ending is likely.
The shorter ending would arise from some mss lacking the longer ending. This is true no matter which one was autographic.

And you can only speculate as to whether the person who created the shorter ending did so in knowledge or ignorance of the longer ending. Either one is possible. And you can only speculate as to their feelings about the abbreviated text and about the the longer ending ... if they knew of it. Throw in apologetics, doctrinal concerns, and more, and you can scribal mind-read in a dozen different ways, for your convenience. The only point we can reasonably conclude is that the shorter ending was more likely to be created in one of the regions with more abrupt endings.

We can reasonably conjecture that this shorter ending creation occurred in the 3rd or 4th century.
The existence of the shorter ending is a nothing evidence in terms of which of the two early primary variants are authentic.

I remain puzzled as to why this simple concept is lacking again and again in our modern scientific textual criticism, while a fallacious concept is often propagated. The fallacy being that such a middle variant provides "evidence" for autographic omission authenticity. It simply provides evidence that there was an early bifurcation in the line, something we already knew.

Facebook - New Testament Textual Criticism

Steven - Avery Jan, 2014{"tn":"R9"}

I would like to point out a major and consistent fallacy in tc thinking:

"construct a history of transmission that not only accounts for the mss evidence and citations from the various church fathers but also accounts for the other endings and the combination thereof found in the textual streams."

The problem is simple. If you have an early omission, or addition, you "get to the same place" either way, and all other transmissional evidences then point to ... either way.
Let us take the question of the additional ending (or two) attempts that are in a few manuscripts and get a Jerome mention. Let us bifurcate.

1) Mark at 45 AD writes traditional ending.
2) Ending drops from numerous mss by 100-150 AD.
3) Other ending attempts are made (since some ms feel empty).

1) Mark at 45 AD ends with the woman afraid
2) Traditional ending added to numerous mss by 100-150 AD.
3) Other ending attempts are made (since some ms feel empty).

The traditional TC idea that "some attempts" supports one view or another (usually omission) is simply fallacious. This particular fallacy pops up a lot.

Granted, I have kept it simple, and not discussed all variations on the theme, but I want to make a clear.

Facebook - NT Textual Criticism
Logical and Conceptual Error Classes in Modern Textual Criticism{tn:R}


Every once in a while I read about, think or work on a common logical fallacy in textual criticism. A logic fail. The above (symmetry of transmission) is one. From now on when I hit one, I will plan on returning here to keep them in one place, as they are some of the most interesting failures. As even a good high school student could point them out, yet the textual critics drone on.


These are different somewhat than theories sans substance and/or grossly abused, like lectio brevior and lectio difficilior.. Each one of those should be examined for historical development (e.g how Griesbach worked in lectio brevior and then others mangled Griesbach) and then summarized with good examples of bogus application.


These are also different than shell theories, like the Lucian recension, which, although no longer defended and rarely overtly stated, cast a pall upon analysis and still are de facto implied when discussing the Byzantine text. (Thus, the Maurice Robinson point that a true genealogical theory points a substantive majority back to early Bible antiquity is bypassed.) Those are the Potemkin Village theories. Hort's de facto Vaticanus primacy is similar. Others, like the Neutral Text, only cast their pall indirectly, through obsequious acceptance of the basics of hortian theories.


These are also different than special pleading and selective applications, such as when scribal mind-reading theories can even work both ways. However Hort, Metzger and the parrots choose one way, to support the Vaticanus minority reading.


These are also different than tangle-mangle theories, such as the very popular 9th century Byzantine majority theories, that are based on transparent statistical shenanigans. (How to Lie with Statistics).

This is also different than presuppositional errors, such as those of Bart Ehrman, whose textual theories work from a supplied element of the early church holding and autographs being written from an ebionite or adoptionist perspective. (Leading to "orthdodox corruptions" of higher Christology away from those autographs.


These are also different than the bogus attacks on preservationalism (e.g. Fee and Wallace contra Pickering or contra AV-TR defenders). As if textual criticism analysis is supposed to work on anti-faith humanistic presuppositions. (Notice that faith-based analysis morphed to "sacred criticism" which morphed to "textual criticism".) This is one reason why Evangelical Textual Criticism is an oxymoron. A high view of the Bible text will always clash with one that has an undercurrent of desire to see the text as convoluted, ungrammatical, even errant. This clash will generate differences in textual axioms and applications. Unbeliever Issues like late dating and NT forgery theories (higher and form and redaction criticisms) will always subtilely interact with textual criticism to develop a weaker, insecure text.


These are related to the attacks on fideism, as if it is a bad thing for Christian Bible believers to have faith in the word of God. Thus it becomes an underlying postulate of textual criticism that the text must be uncertain and unknown, simply a probability text made up of 1000s of probability variants. Ready to change gear every month as a new theory become popular, or a new garbage dump text is pulled out of ashes of gnostic Egypt. Under this theory the only thing certain is that the Bible text is uncertain. In fact, unbelievers should have no place at all in determining or translating the word of God used by Christian believers, since they are slaves to their unbelief.


This is still without going much into many other specifics:

Inconsistency about Inclusion-Omission (should have a totally different analysis understanding than alt. variants, a problem with Byz theory too)

Apparatus Shenanigans - many elements here

Forgery and PS-(Writer) Dismissals and bypasses dubiously declared, often without real warrant from ECW experts

Versional Dismissals (considered virtual irrelevant except in the rare cases where the versions support the CT .. e.g 1 Timothy 3:16)

Greek ms Dismissals (lack of true genealogical theory)

Inconsistency about ms. full of omissions - "earliest and most reliable" declared about ms that are known to be abbreviated and corrupt


Who has done this type of lay-out? Maybe Andrew Wilson, to an extent.

Suggestion, keep this page bookmarked!


Facebook - NT Textual Criticism

Martin Litchfield West
June 21, 2015{tn:R}
Last edited: