the graph-myth of 8th century Alexandrian preponderance

Steven Avery

[TC-Alternate-list] the graph-myth of 8th century Alexandrian preponderance

The Daniel Wallace and James White myth of 8th century Alexandrian preponderance, what Maurice Robinson properly called "historical revisionism" and "nose-counting", is shown in the two graphs. Even using the ultra-dubious methodology of nose-counting extant manuscripts, this can be busted simply by examining the manuscript classifications.

Now, it is more important to understand
why the methodology is flawed. One point for now, many fragments were thrown away, in a garbage dump, or the back of a monastery, and are "manuscripts" today only because in Egypt there is a hot, dry, desert climate. A climate that does not exist in the centers of Christiandom, where a discarded manuscript will be subject to "moth .. doth corrupt". And many of these fragments are even less than 10 verses, discards. Yet, they will be equal in the nose-count to full NT manuscripts like Basilensis (Byzantine) and Regius (Alexandrian).

While similar problems exist with larger manuscripts (will a Greek manuscript be more likely to last 1500 years in Europe or Egypt? What happens to worn out and copied good manuscripts?) the problem really is highlighted with the fragments. Simple nose-counting of numbers of early manuscripts (rather than, eg. the actual textual quantity) will always be heavily skewed to the garbage dump and the desert discard storeroom.

Conclusions that are supported and based on such a nose-counting and deceptive graph should never have passed a real peer-review process.
The Majority-Text Theory: History, Methods and Critique - (1994) p. 185-215
Daniel B. Wallace
King James Only Controversy - 1995 p. 153 and 2009 p. 197
James White

(pic of bar graphs - Wallace p. 206 and White p. 197)

Daniel Wallace - The Majority-Text Theory: History, Methods and Critique - 1994 p. 206
Pictures to be placed here

No methodology is given with these graphs.
James White says he is using Daniel Wallace.



Let us take the 8th century, where Wallace and White claim almost a 2 to 1 Alexandrian preponderance.

8th-century biblical manuscripts

Wikipedia information is largely Ukrainian scholar Leszek Jan'czuk working with Aland info like:

Text of the New Testament: An an introduction to the critical editions and theory and practice of modern textual criticism
Kurt and Barbara Aland

Another helpful source:

A Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels by Wieland Willker
Noteworthy fragmentary parchment manuscripts


Let's Go to the Manusripts

When two cities are included, the first is the likely originating source, the second is current locale.
If a manuscripts stays in Sinai, it likely comes from Sinai, having survived the 1800s pilfering.

Lots of Latin mss are listed, we will stay with Greek, even though that is a limited picture.

Eight manuscripts in bold have lots, or a good chunk, of text.

Greek Manuscripts

Basilensis - Ee, 07 - Byz -99%+ - 318 leaves Constantinople - Basel
"rarely cited in NA27, as a witnesses of the third order."

Regius siglum Le or 019 - Alex - Egyptian-Coptic origins - France

Climaci Rescriptus - mixed, Greek predominate Byz - parts of 4 Gospels - palimpsest - Sinai



7 Lectionaries, 3 are specifically Byz (2 of 7 are Greek-Coptic)

Do lectionaries count?
Wallace includes them when he counts 6,000 ms, he does not say on the graphs.



P41 - Western - Acts (from 6 chapters) Greek-Coptic


Let us go to the 26 additional number uncials.

047 - Byz - 152 leaves - Athos - Princeton
054 - Byz - Barberini - 6 leaves - Vatican
095 - Alex-mix - Acts fragment - Tischendorf Sinai - St. Petersburg
0101 - Alex-mix - John fragment - Austria
0114 - Alex-mix - John fragment -Greek-Coptic - France
0116 - Byz - 14 leaves - Tischendorf chemicals - Italy
0118 - (no class) Matthew fragment - Sinai
0126 - mixed - Mark fragment - 1 leaf - Damascus (unknown)
0127 - mixed - John fragment - 1 leaf - Greek-Coptic Egypt - France
0134 - Byz - Mark - 2 leaves - Bodleian
0146 - mixed - Mark fragment - 1 leaf - Damascus (unknown)
0148 - mixed - Matthew fragment - 1 leaf - Austria
0156 - Alex - 2 Peter fragment - 1 leaf - Damascus (unknown)
0161 - mixed strong Byz element - Matthew fragment palimpsest - 1 leaf - Greece
0168 - (unknown) 4 gospel palimpsest lost, was in Veria/Berea Greece
0205 - Alex - Greek-Coptic - Titus Philemon 2 leaves - Egypt monastery-Cambrid
0229 - mixed - Revelation - 2 leaves - top of palimpsest - Egypt - Italy
0233 - mixed - 33 leaves - palimpsest - Germany
0234 - Alex - Matthew-John fragment - 2 leaf - Damascus (unknown)
0238 - mixed - John fragment - Greek-Coptic - Austria
0256 - mixed - John fragment - Austria
0276 - (unknown) - Matthew fragment - Greek-Coptic - Paris
0279 - (unknown) - Luke fragment - Sinai
0280 - (unknown) - Hebrews fragment - palimpsest - Sinai
0298 - (unknown) - Matthew fragment - palimpsest - Greek-Coptic Spain
0311 - (unknown) - Romas fragment - Cambridge

0233 is in Wiki "Alex, heavily interpolated Byz", Wieland Willker gives more details and "mixed, with a Caesarean touch."

Note that of those that are not fragments, (e.g. Egyptian-Sinai) the 8th century is Byz.
The total manuscript count is about even (leader depending on lectionaries).

The large manuscripts are Byzantine by about 5-1.
Only the Egyptian provenance Regius is a significant, large Alex text.
Total extant text for the century will have a preponderance of Byz.

The Alex count is kept up by the tendency for Egyptian representation, in about 4 of the 7 mss.
Byz is between 6 and 10 total.

Overall, the idea of any Alex preponderance is simply false.


Darrell Huff (1913-2001) was the author of the classic "How to Lie with Statistics" (1954) a book that emphasized how frequently deceptive presentations are made using graphs. And the various tricks used. It looks like the Huff book should be added to the textual curricula today.

Your thoughts welcome!

Psalm 119:140
Thy word is very pure:
therefore thy servant loveth it.


Archived at:

[TC-Alternate-list] Byzantine vs. Alexandrian in mss centuries 6 to 8 - variant analysis needed
Steven Avery - April 25, 2014

[TC-Alternate-list] Byzantine & Alexandrian - the bar graphs of Daniel Wallace and James White
Steven Avery - April 25, 2014

[TC-Alternate-list] the graph-myth of 8th century Alexandrian preponderance
Steven Avery - April 27, 2014

Steven Avery