THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN IN THE BYZANTINE TRADITION

INTRODUCTION TO THE PRINTED EDITION
 

The present scientific edition of the Byzantine text of the Gospel according to John is the result of a request from a group of Orthodox Church representatives to the United Bible Societies in 1999. Aware of work being done on the Gospel according to John in various places, representatives from the United Bible Societies settled on the Centre for the Editing of Texts in Religion (now the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing) at the University of Birmingham as the best place to test the possibilities for an edition of some part of the New Testament based on individual Byzantine witnesses. It is hoped that the present edition will prove useful to scholars, churchmen, translators, and others interested in the history of the Byzantine texttype of the New Testament.

The editor of this work sought to present a representative sample of witnesses to the broad historical richness of the Byzantine textual tradition across a long span of time, from the fourth to the fourteenth century. Some seventy witnesses were eventually selected for inclusion in the edition, and the texts of two widely circulated editions were included for comparison.

In order to give due weight to the realia of the textual tradition and to focus on a key period in the formation of the text, it was decided to use a specific manuscript as the base text rather than risk the methodological pitfalls of creating an eclectic text that never existed in the manuscript tradition or relying upon an existing eclectic text. The best example of the latter would have been the Patriarchal Edition of 1904 as reproduced by the Apostoliki Diakonia, and serious consideration was given to this option.

However, the purpose of the present edition is to illustrate the breadth of the Byzantine textual traditon from individual witnesses. It therefore seemed more appropriate to use a manuscript witness of the period. The base text of the present edition, that printed at the head of the page, is Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Coislin Gr.199, Gregory- Aland 35.

Manuscript 35 contains the entire New Testament, dates to the eleventh century, has a very regular orthography, and differs only slightly from familiar printed editions of the Byzantine text. A sermon attributed to Chrysostom was copied into the previously blank folios 309r-310r a century or two later. The manuscript seems to have been still in Greek hands at a relatively late date. Indeed, the rear flyleaf of the manuscript bears a dedication with a Byzantine world-era date (ζρλε) corresponding to A.D. 1626/27. Between 1643 and 1653 the manuscript was acquired (either in Cyprus, Constantinople, or the territories bordering the northern and western Aegean) for the collection of Pierre Séguier (1588-1672), the great-grandfather of Henri-Charles de Coislin, Bishop of Metz.

    2. For the current cataloguing information, see Bibliothèque Nationale, épartement des manuscrits, Catalogue des manuscrits grecs, II, Le fonds Coislin (ed. Robert Devreesse; Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1945), ii-x & 176-77. For the original entry in the Coislin catalogue, see Bernard de Montfaucon, Bibliotheca Coisliniana (Paris: Ludovicus Guerin & Carolus Robustel, 1715), second page of the preface & p.250. Père Athanase the Rhetor, who collected manuscripts for Séguier, bought manuscripts in Cyprus, Constantinople, Mount Athos, and in the territories bordering the northern and western Aegean as far to the southwest as Thessaly; see Henri Omont, Missions archéologiques francaises en Orient au XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1902), 1-26. The manuscript is not among those Coislin manuscripts definitely known to have come from the monasteries on Mount Athos; see Omont, 853-63. See further Jean Duplacy, "Manuscrits grecs du Nouveau Testament émigrés de la Grande Laure de l'Athos," in Studia Codicologica (ed. Kurt Treu; TU 124; Berlin: Akademie- Verlag, 1977), 172-73. On the other hand, the manuscript does not appear in the list of known Cypriot manuscripts now at Paris; see Jean Darrouzès, "Les manuscrits originaires de Chypre à la Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris," Revue des études byzantines 8 (1950), 162-96, reprinted in Jean Darrouzès, Littérature et histoire des textes byzantins (London: Variorum, 1972), 169- 70.

The other witnesses were chosen to give a representative sample of the Byzantine textual tradition.

    3. Non-Byzantine textual traditions of the Gospels known to have been in circulation within the area influenced by the Byzantine empire at its height and afterward include the texts of Family 1 and Family 13.

Majuscule manuscripts of the Byzantine tradition were chosen largely on the basis of how complete they are in the Gospel according to John.

    4. In addition to appearing in the electronic version of the present work, full transcriptions of these and other majuscule witnesses will also be found in The New Testament in Greek, IV, The Gospel according to St. John, Edited by the American and British Committees of the International Greek New Testament Project, Volume Two, The Majuscules (ed U.B. Schmid with the assistance of W.J. Elliott and D.C. Parker; Leiden: Brill, 2007).

Manuscript 038 (Θ) represents a text on the boundary of what might reasonably be considered a manuscript of the Byzantine tradition in John.

In order to illustrate the most fertile period in the development of the Byzantine text, almost all of the minuscule manuscripts were selected from among manuscripts written before the twelfth century. Our base manuscript comes toward the end of this period and is an early representative of the controlled textual tradition that resulted in the recensional strand of the Koine text (Kr), of which Gregory-Aland 18 from 1364 is a later example.

    5. The Kr strand was first identified in Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestellt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte; T.1, Untersuchungen; Abt.2, Die Textformen; A. Die Evangelien (ed. Hermann von Soden; 2nd edn; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1911), 758-65.

Commentary manuscripts are an important part of the textual tradition and were chosen to represent all but one of the commentary types discerned in John by Joseph Reuss.

    6. Joseph Reuss, Matthäus-, Markus-, und Johannes-Katenen nach den handschriftlichen Quellen untersucht (Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen 18,4-5; Münster: Aschendorf, 1941), 148-220.

His type D manuscript has been omitted because the single example he lists (Cod. Gr. Vallic. E 40 / Gregory- Aland 397) does not appear to be Byzantine. Commentary manuscripts are distinguished in the apparatus by having a K prefixed to their Gregory-Aland number.

The lectionaries for the edition were chosen on the basis of a list furnished by Professor Johannes Karavidopoulos and represent a number of early manuscripts preserved at Mount Athos and elsewhere.

    7. As a check of the electronic transcriptions of lectionary evidence, the present editor used the unpublished work of Johannes Karavidopoulos, St. John's Gospel according to the manuscript ψ of Agia Lavra (Athos) with Lectiones Variae of 32 manuscripts (9th to 11th centuries) (Thessaloniki, 1998).

They are distinguished in the witness list and in the apparatus by having an L prefixed to their Gregory-Aland lectionary number. Passages sometimes appear more than once in a given lectionary, especially when the menologion is taken into account. Where variants occur between the first and subsequent appearances of a passage, either because the introductory words have been adapted or for other reasons, the variant readings have been numbered according to the order in which they occur in the lectionary.

Also selected were five patristic witnesses whose quotations from John seem to attest to the Byzantine tradition. These five writers are in fact the earliest reasonably consistent witnesses to the Byzantine textual strand in John.

    8. It is possible that the slightly earlier writer Asterius "the Sophist" of Cappadocia knew a text of the Byzantine type; see Gordon D. Fee, "The Text of John and Mark in the Writings of Chrysostom," New Testament Studies 26 (1979-80), 547. Idem, "Use of Greek Patristic Citations in New Testament Textual Criticism" in Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism (ed. Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee; Studies and Documents 45; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 358. Yet the corpus of writings attributed to Asterius has recently come under question so that only a few fragments can be attributed to him with certainty; see Markus Vinzent, Asterius von Kappadokien, Die theologischen Fragmente (Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 20; Leiden: Brill, 1993). Study of those fragments that are undoubtedly authentic by the present editor leads to the conclusion that, while Asterius stands closer to the Byzantine strand and to Family 1 and 565 than to any other textual groups, the paucity of evidence precludes absolute certainty on the matter.

The abbreviations of their names in the apparatus follow the form of those found in Nestle-Aland, 27th edition (hereafter NA27).

    9. Novum Testamentum Graece (ed. Barbara Aland et al.; 27th edn, corrected; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2001).

Where a father quotes a passage more than once, or where the individual witnesses to a father's text differ, and variants arise, the variants have been given a letter, so e.g. Chrysa and Chrysb would distinguish two different states of the text attested by or for Chrysostom at a particular point. Patristic writers often adapt the grammar of their quotations to fit the context, and sometimes merely allude to part of a passage. Adaptations of texts will generally appear as singular readings in the apparatus and will thus be readily apparent to readers. On occasion variants that appear as singular readings in the present work will have connections with manuscripts not included here (for example the agreement between Cyril of Jerusalem and Codex Sinaiticus at John 19.13), so it has been thought best to leave such readings in the apparatus rather than to suppress them. Allusions are of uncertain usefulness in reconstructing the text of a patristic witness, so for the most part their existence is simply noted in the apparatus of deficient witnesses.

    10. The following collections of patristic citations have been used:
    Basil of Caesarea - Harold Hunter Oliver, "The Text of the Four Gospels as Quoted in the Moralia of Basil the Great" (Ph.D. dissertation: Emory University, 1961).
    Chrysostom - Stephen Dale Patton, "A Reconstruction and Evaluation of the Johannine Text of John Chrysostom" (Ph.D. dissertation: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2003). Patton's work was based on the Montfaucon edition of Chrysostom's works. Chrysostom's quotations in his Homilies on the Gospel of John were also collected independently by Roderic L. Mullen from manuscript Sinai Gr. 369-370. Patton's and Mullen's collections were then compared to produce the electronic file. Cyril of Jerusalem - Roderic L. Mullen, The New Testament Text of Cyril of Jerusalem (SBLNTGF 7; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997). Gregory of Nazianzus - Sarah Julia Guthrie, "The Text of the Gospels in the works of Gregory of Nazianzus" (Ph.D. thesis: University of Leeds, 2005). Gregory of Nyssa - James A. Brooks, The New Testament Text of Gregory of Nyssa (SBLNTGF 2; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991).

The texts of the Patriarchal Edition (ΑΔ) and of NA27, both mentioned above, were also cited for the sake of comparison. As with all the witnesses, the user of the electronic edition will be able to see the full text of these editions at any time.

A number of early versions that might have connections to Greek witnesses of the Byzantine strand were considered for inclusion, but it was thought better to focus the present edition on the Greek text. This has two advantages: first, it allows for a broader representation of the Greek textual evidence, and second, it allows scholars working with the various versions to make their own decisions about which versional variants might be derived from a base text and which might be due to translation techniques.

    11. Three versions in particular may have a close relation to the Byzantine text-type. Possible links between the text of the Old Slavonic version and the text of the majuscule manuscripts and the lectionaries have been investigated by Professor Anatolii Alekseev and others; see Anatolii A. Alekseev, Tekstologiia slavianskoi Biblii (St. Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin; Köln: Böhlau, 1999), 98-130. The result has been to refocus attention on the continuous-text manuscripts of the New Testament. For a summary, see also Marcello Garzaniti, Die altslavische Version der Evangelien (Köln: Böhlau, 2001), 278-80.
    The Old Georgian recension associated with George the Athonite appears also to be close to the Byzantine text in John; see J. N. Birdsall, "The Pericope Adulterae in Georgian," in Papers Presented to the 14th International Conference on Patristic Studies, Oxford, 18- 23 August 2003 (Studia Patristica; Leuven: Peeters, forthcoming).
    Similarly the Harclean Syriac version has a close connection with the Byzantine text-type; see Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1977), 73-74. Sebastian P. Brock, "The Resolution of the Philoxenian/Harclean Problem" in New Testament Textual Criticism, Its Significance for Exegesis, Essays in Honour of Bruce M. Metzger (ed. Eldon J. Epp and Gordon D. Fee; Oxford: Clarendon, 1981), 325-43. Andreas Juckel, "Die Bedeutung des Ms Vat. syr. 268 für die Evangelien-Überlieferung der Harklensis," Oriens Christianus 83 (1999): 28-31.

Scholars may thus be able to gain a clearer picture of the origin of the several early versions.

< Previous         Next >