THE FOUR GOSPELS - A Study of Origins, The Manuscript Tradition, Sources, Authorship, & Dates. By B.H. Streeter, Hon.D.D.Edin. Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford; Canon of Hereford. First published by MacMillan & Co Limited 1924. - Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram 2004.

Chapter V


Home | List of MSS | synopsis | the beginning of criticism | the revision of Lucian | character of the recension | the recension of Hesychius | (pages 109-128)


the beginnings of criticism

Alexandria the birthplace of Textual Criticism in its application to the Greek Classics. The Christian scholarship of Alexandria.

Origen's Hexapla.

An attempt to produce a critical text of the Septuagint or Greek O.T.
The recensions of Lucian in Antioch and of Hesychius in Egypt.

the revision by lucian

Evidence that the Byzantine text is ultimately descended from the recension of Lucian. Although, however, it originated in Antioch, the capital of the Roman province of Syria, it is preferable to call this text "Byzantine" (with Griesbach) rather than (with Hort) "Syrian." It appears to be an eclectic revision based on earlier texts, including, as well as the Alexandrian and Western texts, a text akin to Syr. S.

character of the recension

Probably Lucian attempted to produce a "catholic" text; it is nearer to the Alexandrian than to other local texts. The nature and origin of the " Western " element accepted by Lucian. The problem whether the Byzantine text has preserved readings of earlier texts not otherwise known to us.

The earliest MS. with a text approximately that of Lucian is Vcent. A;
von Soden, however, thinks the purest form of this text is to be found in S V Ω,
and next to them in the group E F G H. He classes A with K Π, which, he thinks, give Lucian's text with an appreciable admixture of readings of fam. Θ.
Safest to take
S V Ω as the typical MSS. of the Byzantine text without begging the question as to whether A, E, or S nearest to Lucian.

the recension of hesychius

Bousset finds this in the B א text;
Hort (but tentatively) in that of
C L Boh., etc.

There were two schools of textual criticism, one preferring the "inclusive" method followed by Lucian and the scribes (or editor) of C L Ψ, etc., the other following the strict Alexandrian tradition, which is comparable to Hort's.
B is the product of the latter school.

To which school did Hesychius belong?
Significance of Jerome's strictures on his recension.
Possibly connection of B א text with Pierius.

In any case the B א text goes back in essentials to the time of Origen or earlier, and represents the oldest text of Alexandria.



the beginnings of criticism

THE science of textual criticism was born in Alexandria when Aristarchus (156 BC.) made his famous effort to produce a critical text of the poems of Homer. Subsequent scholars followed his lead.
Diligent search was made for the oldest and most authentic texts with the support of the royal patrons. Ptolemy Philadelphus, for example, begged of Athens the loan of the official copies of the Greek Tragedians and afterwards refused to restore the originals. And till its ultimate destruction it was the pride of the Library of Alexandria to possess and reproduce the purest texts of the Greek classics. The name Library disguises the fact that the institution in question corresponded much more closely to what we mean by a University, considered especially as a centre of specialist learning and research. About AD 180 the Christian Pantaenus started what is known as the Catechetical School, which, as Dr. Bigg remarked, had very much the same relation to the Royal Library as a denominational Theological College in Oxford or Cambridge has to the University.

It is not, therefore, surprising to find Origen, the third head of this School, very early in his career already at work on a critical edition of the text of the Old Testament. This was known as the Hexapla and was finished about 240, some years after his retreat to Caesarea. The Hexapla presented in six parallel columns the original Hebrew, a transliteration of it into the Greek alphabet, and four rival Greek translations of it then current. Eusebius (H.E. vi. 16) tells us of the diligent search in out-of-the-way places made for the most ancient MSS. of these versions. Fragments of the Hexapla survive, but the work as a whole must have been so cumbrous that it is unlikely it was ever copied except in certain books. But the column containing the LXX version was published separately by Eusebius and Pamphilus, and became the standard text of the Greek Old Testament used in Palestine. This text appears to be preserved in a relatively pure state in two MSS. of the Pentateuch and two of the Prophets. [Cf. H. B. Swete, Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, p. 76 ff.]

Jerome tells us that the Churches of Antioch and Constantinople preferred a text revised by the martyr Lucian, while at Alexandria the text approved of was that of a certain Hesychius.

Alexandria et Aegyptus in Septuaginta suis Hesychium laudat auctorem, Constantinopolis usque Antiochiam Luciani Martyrii exemplaria probat, mediae inter has provinciae Palestinae codices legunt, quos ab Origene elaboratos Eusebius et Pamphilus vulgaverunt: totusque orbis hac inter se trifaria varietate compugnat.

[From Jerome's Preface to the Vulgate version of Chronicles.]

Lucian of Antioch died a martyr AD 312. The identity of the Hesychius here mentioned is uncertain, but he is generally supposed to be the Egyptian bishop of that name who also, in 307, suffered martyrdom. In the passage just cited, Jerome is speaking of the Old Testament. But in the open letter to Damasus (cf. App. IV.), which stands as a preface to the Gospels in the Vulgate, he makes it clear that the recensions of Lucian and Hesychius included the New Testament as well.

the revision by lucian

It is practically certain that what I have spoken of as "the Byzantine text" of the New Testament goes back to this revision by Lucian of Antioch to which Jerome alludes. Or, to speak strictly, the Byzantine text, as it appears in the Textus Receptus, has the same relation to the text of Lucian as the ordinary printed editions of the Vulgate have to the text of Jerome. It is the same text, but somewhat corrupted during the Middle Ages, partly by the fresh errors of generations of copyists and partly by an infiltration of readings from the older text it superseded. The evidence for this conclusion may be briefly summarised. It is stated in the Menologies short accounts of a Saint for reading on his day that Lucian bequeathed his pupils a copy of the Old and New Testaments written in three columns in his own hand. A famous representative of the school of Lucian is John Chrysostom, who wrote at Antioch from 381 onwards. Towards the end of his life he was for a short time, over the turn of the century AD 400, Patriarch of Constantinople. The quotations of the New Testament in his voluminous works are numerous; and they prove that the text he used was substantially the Byzantine, apart from its mediaeval corruptions. But the Byzantine text, we shall see, when closely examined looks as if it was formed as the result of a revision made on the principle of following alternately or, if possible, combining Alexandrian, Western and Eastern texts. Also, a text giving just these particular combinations and alternations of readings is not found in the quotations of any Father earlier than Chrysostom; but after that it becomes more and more common, beginning with writers connected with either Antioch or Constantinople, until it replaces all others. The conclusion, then, seems obvious that the text of Chrysostom represents a revision made at or near Antioch early in the fourth century, and speedily adopted not only there but in Constantinople. And since Jerome, who had himself studied in both these cities before 380, expressly says that these Churches used the revised text of Lucian, it would seem gratuitous scepticism to suppose that the apparently revised text used by Chrysostom was other than that of Lucian. But, if it be asked for, there is further evidence. Ulfilas who converted the Goths, translated the Gospels and parts of the Old Testament into Gothic.   As he died about 380, the Gothic version must be earlier than that date.    The Gothic is the first of the early versions to show a predominantly Byzantine text; and in 341 Ulfilas, we know, was consecrated Bishop at Antioch.    It may be added that the great LXX scholars, Field and Lagarde, starting from certain readings definitely marked as Lucianic in the Syro-Hexapla, produced convincing reasons for supposing that in some books certain MSS. of the Old Testament give the text of Lucian. [H. B. Swete, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, p. 82 ff.]   The text of these MSS. agrees with the Old Testament quotations of Chrysostom, and also with such fragments of the Gothic version of the Old Testament as survive.    It is also remarkable that the Lucianic recension of the Old Testament appears, like the Lucianic text of the New Testament, to be a revision that aims at combining earlier texts. The contention that the Byzantine text is an essentially revised text following sometimes one, sometimes another of the earlier texts made in or near Antioch about 300, was the foundation-stone of Westcott and Hort's theory of the textual criticism of the New Testament.    To appreciate its full force, the student must read the relevant parts of Hort's Introduction.   And nothing that has been discovered since appears to me to have weakened their case, so far as the main issue is concerned.    Hort himself believed that this revision was most probably the work of Lucian; but, to avoid committing himself on this point without further evidence, he gave this text the name "Syrian" to indicate that it originated in the Greek-speaking province of Syria of which Antioch was the capital. The name was unfortunately chosen.    It is very confusing to the uninitiated, who naturally suppose it implies some special connection with the "Syriac" versions which belong, as a matter of fact, not to "Syria," but to the Syriac-speaking Church, whose centre was Edessa in Mesopotamia.    Moreover, the term "Syrian," though applicable to the original recension of Lucian, is not appropriate to the standard text of the Byzantine Empire if, as Hort himself thought, this is the result of a later revision. Whether the Byzantine text of the IXcent. is identical with the text of Lucian or a slightly revised form of it is a question not easy to answer. But, paradoxical as it sounds, it is this IXcent. text that really concerns us most; for it was by the Byzantine standard, not by that of the actual text of Lucian supposing these to be different that MSS. of mixed texts, which are of such importance to the critic, have been corrected. It is, therefore, by deducting actual Byzantine, not hypothetical Lucianic, readings that we get back to the older element in their text. For these reasons I have reverted to Griesbach's nomenclature, and speak of this text, not as "Syrian," but as BYZANTINE.

But there are some important respects in which Hort's view of the constituent elements in the Lucianic revision must be modified in the light of subsequent discovery. As Burkitt points out, in the Additional Notes contributed by him to the second edition of Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament (p. 330), "a text like Syr. S. stands in places against א B D united, entering not infrequently as an independent constituent element into the Antiochian (Syrian) text." A notable instance is the famous

On earth peace,
goodwill towards men.

Here the reading of Syr. S. has passed into the Textus Receptus, against the united testimony of א B D Latt., which read

peace among men in whom he is well pleased.

So again the Byzantine text reads ἄριστον, with Syr. S. and C., Arm., against the ἄρτον  of א B D Latt. in Lk.xiv.15.

Conflate readings, in which the Lucianic text puts side by side a variant found in א B with the alternative given in D Lat., formed one of the most striking pieces of evidence adduced by Hort to prove that the Lucianic text was a revision based on texts of the other types. Hence a "conflate reading," in which Syr. S. supplies one member and א B and D Lat. combined provide the other, is striking evidence, not only of the independence of the Syr. S. type of text, but of the importance attached to it by the revisers.

Of the instances quoted by Burkitt, Mk. i. 13 may be cited.
The Byzantine text reads ἐκεῖ ν τῷ ἐρήμῳ.  
One member of this phrase, ἐκεῖ , is found in Syr. S., supported in this instance by some representatives of fam. Θ; the other member, ν τῷ ἐρήμῳ, is in א B D Latt. 
Another very pretty example is noted by Prof. Lake. [J.T.S., Jan. 1900, p. 291.]
The Byzantine μὴ προμεριμνᾶτε μηδὲ μελετᾶτε (or προμελετᾶτε) (Mk.i.11) is a conflation of μὴ προμεριμνᾶτε B D Latt., etc., with μὴ προμελετᾶτε Ψ 047 Syr. S.
Another example is the reading of the T.R. in Lk.ii.5,
τῇ μεμνηστευμένη αὐτοῦ γυναικί "his betrothed wife."
Here ἐ
μνηστευμένη  without γυναικί is read by א B;
but Syr. S., supported by a, b, c, ff 2, reads "wife,"
omitting the word for "betrothed."
Curiously enough, D and e in this case support B against the combined Latin and Syriac.

character of the recension

If the Lucianic revision originated in Antioch, the revisers (we should expect) would start with a bias in favour of the traditional text of that Church.   Nevertheless, the Byzantine text is fundamentally nearer to the Alexandrian than to the "Western" type.     There was an ancient rivalry between Antioch and Alexandria, and antecedently we should not have expected an Antiochian revision to start off, as it were, from the Alexandrian text.   Burkitt suggests that the fall of Paul of Samosata, 270, may have had something to do with it.   Certainly this meant the triumph of the "catholic" as opposed to the "nationalist" tendency in theology; and it is possible that Lucian definitely set out to produce a "catholic" recension of the Scriptures.    That is, he may have sent for MSS. from Alexandria, Ephesus, and, perhaps, even Rome, and endeavoured, with the aid of these as well as the local text of Antioch, to produce a text representing the combined traditions of the Great Churches. Whether because of the special prestige enjoyed by Alexandrian scholarship in regard to textual criticism in general, or from the accident that of the MSS. he used the Alexandrian happened to be the oldest, he seems to have taken that text as the basis for his revision. Strange, then, as it sounds, it really does look as if Lucian and his fellow-revisers were in very much the same position as the English and American revisers after another fifteen hundred years. All desired to restore the true original text of the Gospels, all desired to retain the traditional text of their own Church, except in so far as the latest researches in textual criticism made this impossible, and all accepted MSS. of the B א type as the best.

It would, however, seem a fair presumption that the majority of readings in which the earliest form of the Lucianic text differs from that of א B L is likely to represent a text traditional at Antioch. This leads us to take a slightly different view of the so-called "Western" element in the Lucianic text. Most of the "Western" readings adopted by Lucian might have been derived from either Syr. S. or D, since there is so much in common between these two. But if, on other grounds, we regard Syr. S. as descended from the old text of Antioch, then we should suppose that Lucian did, as a matter of fact, adopt these readings because they occurred in the current text of Antioch, and did not go abroad, as it were, to derive them from MSS. of the type of D.

What, then, are we to say of the readings in the Lucianic text which occur in D but not in Syr. S.? They may, as suggested above, have been derived from MSS. brought from Ephesus or Rome for the use of the revisers. But this hypothesis is not absolutely necessary; for obviously the pheno­menon cannot be considered apart from the occurrence in Syr. C. of D readings not found in Syr. S. and of the occurrence in the text of Eusebius of D readings not found in fam. Θ. The text of Syr. C., it is generally agreed, is later than that of Syr. S.; Eusebius is later than Origen, who in Eusebius' own city seems to have used the fam. Θ text; and Lucian of Antioch is later than the translator of Syr. S., who may be presumed to have used the old text of Antioch. In each case we have evidence that the D element is later. We have already seen that the later text of Alexandria suffered considerably through infiltration of Western readings. It would look as if the same thing happened everywhere. Indeed, if Italy and Asia both used a text of the D type, it would be inevitable that copies of the Gospels brought by Christians from these provinces should everywhere be a source of mixture. We conclude, then, that the old text of Antioch had suffered a degeneration similar to that we find in the later Alexandrian MSS., and that the Antiochene MSS. used by Lucian had much the same relation to the Greek text underlying Syr. S. as C L 33 579 have to B. That is, he used a form of the old text of Antioch corrupted by stylistic amendment, assimilation of parallels, and an infiltration of readings from texts of both the D and the א B L type.

The importance of this point is largely indirect.
It bears on the question, whence did Lucian get the readings known to us only from their occurrence in the Byzantine text. Most of the readings of the Byzantine text, which do not also occur in one or other of the earlier texts, are of the nature either of minor stylistic improvements or of assimilation of the text of one Gospel to a parallel passage in another. Very few look original; but Lucian must have found them somewhere.

Hort held that the Lucianic revision was based solely on texts of the three types of early text which he distinguished the NEUTRAL, represented by    B א;
ALEXANDRIAN,"                C L;
and the
WESTERN,                   D Old Lat.     [See table – 'The MSS Tradition']
He concluded that any readings of the Lucianic text not to be found in our existing authorities for these earlier texts were either very late or due to the editorial efforts of the revisers. The discovery of Syr. S. has shown that some readings of the Lucianic text were older than Hort supposed. But two incomplete MSS. of the Old Syriac form but slender evidence for the old Greek text of Antioch, and it is probable that some of the readings of the Lucianic text that do not appear in the Syriac were derived from the old text of Antioch. It is even possible that some of the agreements with the Byzantine text found in Origen's Commentary on Matthew may be original. Most of these are no doubt due to scribes and translators who have modified what he actually wrote to conform with their own Biblical text. But some may well be readings common to the texts of Antioch and Caesarea. Unfortunately we cannot detect such readings in Θ and its allies, supposing any occur there, simply because we have no means of distinguishing them from the admixture of Byzantine readings due to later revisers. Thus we have really no means of identifying those readings of the old text of Antioch, which survive in the Byzantine text, but which do not happen to occur in the Old Syriac, except internal probability. That criterion is, as a matter of fact, unfavourable to most characteristically Byzantine readings; but there are some few that I think are deserving of more serious consideration than was accorded them by Hort. For the old Alexandrian text we have MS. evidence not substantially inferior to that possessed by Lucian, and we know how to use it better; but for the various types of Eastern text Lucian must have had MSS. of a greater variety and better quality than any we possess. Hence, though the principles on which he made use of them may have been the reverse of critical, to say offhand that he has never preserved an ancient reading for which we have no other authority seems over-bold.

The fifth-century Codex A is the earliest Greek MS. giving a text which is approximately that of Lucian, though it seems to have a small proportion of readings belonging to earlier texts. The name Alexandrinus which it bears (it was given to Charles I. by a Patriarch of Alexandria) is thus another pitfall for the innocent student, who naturally supposes that the text it represents is Alexandrian; and, curiously enough, outside the Gospels its text is Alexandrian; for the rest of the New Testament A is a most constant ally of B א.
[The evidence for the ordinary view that it was written in Alexandria has been seriously shaken by Burkitt (J.T.S., 1910, pp. 603 fi.), who suggests that it came, via Mt. Athos, from Constantinople. Personally, I should rather assign it to some place like Caesarea or Berytus (Beyrout) halfway be­tween Antioch and Alexandria for three reasons.

  1. It contains, immediately after the New Testament, the two Epistles of Clement. An attempt to assign to these canonical or quasi-canonical authority is made in the Apostolic Constitutions, a late fourth-century work which undoubtedly emanated from that part of the world.
  2. The combination of an Antiochian text of the Gospels with an Alexandrian text of the Acts and Epistles suggests some place where the influence of Antioch and of Alexandria met.
  3. Its text of the Old Testament appears to be a non-Alexandrian text heavily revised by the Hexapla, which we know was the dominant text of Palestine. The quotations of the LXX in New Testament writers and Josephus more often than not agree with A against B, which MS. seems to represent a pre-Origenic Alexan­drian text (H. B. Swete, op. cit. p. 395). But the Gentile mission started from Antioch, not Alexandria; and the New Testament writers and Josephus wrote in Antioch, Asia Minor, or Borne; and would be likely to have used the Antiochian rather than the Alexandrian recension of the Jewish Bible.]

In von Soden's opinion, the purest form of Lucian's text is to be found in the group S V Ω, which he calls the K1 text. In this judgement he may be right; but it is safer to regard this text as that received at Constantinople in the VIcent, and thus as the purest type of the "Byzantine" text. The group E F G H he regards as the K1 text, with a small infusion of "Ferrar" readings. Another group, headed by K Π, preserves, he thinks, the text used by Chrysostom in his Homilies on John and has a small mixture of "I" readings; he regards A as a member of this group with a few intrusive readings.

But once it is conceded that Lucian's revision was based on the eclectic principle of choosing, now an Alexandrian, now a "Western" reading, it ceases to be of any great importance to know, in the case of any particular reading, whether as a matter of fact it is the one which Lucian happened to prefer. All that really matters is the broad fact that the Byzantine text is ultimately descended from his revision. Whether the oldest form of it is to be found in A or E or S is a comparatively small matter. The difference between the text of A and that of most of the uncials in the long list headed by E and ending with S V (Ω was unknown to Tischendorf, and von Soden does not give its readings [Von Soden assigns Ω to VIIIcent., but Dr. Blake (having photographed the original on Mt. Athos) tells me he feels certain it is late IXcent. or Xcent.. If so, no MS. earlier than IXcent. gives the K1 text; but von Soden holds that it is found in the VIcent. Purple MSS. (apart from their I mixture).)] in an ordinary Apparatus Criticus is really very small. In fact, the group A E S would be found supporting one another far more often than the leading members of the Egyptian group א B L. The one really important reading which was certainly absent from the text of Lucian, although it is found, sometimes with, sometimes without, asterisks or obeli, in a majority of the Byzantine MSS., is the Pericope Adulterae (Jn.vii.53-viii.11).

the recension of hesychius

Is it possible to identify that recension of Hesychius which Jerome tells us was preferred in Alexandria in his day? Hort, very tentatively, suggested that it is to be found in what he called the "Alexandrian" text, i.e. in that later form of the B text whose characteristic readings appear most abundantly in C L and in the Bohairic version. Bousset, in his Textkritische Studien, argued that B represents this recension. In that case, since B was probably written in Alexandria within twenty years or so of the death of Hesychius and was copied by an exceptionally careful scribe, it will represent an almost exact transcript of what Hesychius wrote. On the other hand, the early date of B makes it equally possible that some scholar who dissented from his critical methods produced it, before the Hesychian revision had had time to become the standard text of Alexandria.

It is not sufficiently realised that the difference of tempera­ment and method which divided Hort and Scrivener in the nineteenth century, existed also in the fourth. Eusebius, in whose lifetime B, and possibly א also, were written, virtually formulates two contrary principles, upon either of which an acceptable text of the Gospels could be framed. In various passages where he writes as a textual scholar, he says that the last twelve verses of Mark are absent from "almost all" or from "the more accurate" copies. But in his letter to Marinus, [Quoted by Westcott and Hort, vol. ii. Appendix, p. 31.] after discussing the possibility of rejecting this passage altogether, he proceeds,

While another, not daring to reject anything whatever that is in any way current in the Scripture of the Gospels, will say that the reading is double, as in many other cases, and that each reading must be received; on the ground that this reading finds no more acceptance than that, nor that than this, with faithful and discreet persons.

Now this "inclusive" principle, that no reading can safely be rejected that has behind it a considerable weight of authority, is precisely that upon which the Lucianic revision was based. [But Lucian also had a critic's conscience and the "inclusiveness" of his method may easily be exaggerated. He omits, for example, two notable interpolations in Matthew. The section "Seek ye to rise," etc., Mt.xx.28, found in D Φ Syr. C. Hclmg. Old Lat., is shown by the MS. evidence to have been widely current, both in East and West. He also omits the spear-thrust, Mt.xxvii.49, found in א B C L U Γ, etc.; but a reading so supported and also known to Chrysostom can hardly have been unknown to Lucian.]

But the tradition of Alexandrian scholarship in regard to the text of Homer and the Greek classics was in favour of the opposite principle; that, namely, of basing a text on the oldest MS. The Ptolemies, we have seen, made great efforts to procure the oldest possible copies, and the emphasis laid by Eusebius on the efforts of Origen to do the same for the Greek Old Testament, shows that Christian scholarship inherited this tradition. A typical Alexandrian editor would have diligently sought out the oldest copy attainable and followed that. And, if it omitted passages found in later MSS., he would have regarded these as interpolations. Hort speaks of "the almost universal tendency of transcribers to make their text as full as possible, and to eschew omissions";
[W.H. ii. p. 175.] and infers that copyists would tend to prefer an interpolated to an uninterpolated text. This may be true of some of the local texts of the second century; it is the very opposite of the truth where scribes or editors trained in the tradition of Alexandrian textual criticism are concerned. The Alexandrian editors of Homer were as eagle-eyed to detect and obelise "interpolations" in Homer as a modern critic. That they actually excised such passages without MS. authority is improbable, for most of the passages they suspect are found in existing MSS. On the other hand, many lines occur in papyri and in quotations of Homer by earlier writers, like Plato, which are not in our MSS.; so it would seem as if, wherever there was MS. authority for omission, they inclined to prefer the shorter reading.

That Christian scholars and scribes were capable of the same critical attitude we have irrefragable evidence. The obelus, invented by Aristarchus to mark suspected passages in Homer, is frequent in MSS. of the Gospel to mark just those sections, like the Pericope in John, which modern editors reject. The first corrector of א, probably the contemporary διορθωτής, was at pains to enclose in brackets and mark with dots for deletion two famous passages in Luke written by the original scribe which, being absent from B W 579 and the Egyptian versions, we infer were not accepted in the text at that time dominant in Alexandria, viz. the incident of the "Bloody Sweat" in Gethsemane (Lk.xxi.43 f.) and the saying "Father forgive them" (Lk.xi.34). This is conclusive evidence, either that the passages in question were disliked on dogmatic grounds, or that the Christian scholars of Alexandria were as much alert as Hort to rid the text of interpolations. In either case the notion is completely refuted that the regular tendency of scribes was to choose the longer reading, and that therefore the modern editor is quite safe so long as he steadily rejects. And that there were Christian scholars outside Egypt who adopted the Alexandrian principle we have abundant evidence.
Take two of the critical notes in 565.
The words

Blessed art thou among women

are omitted in the text (cf. Lk.i.);
they are added in the margin with the note

not found in the ancient copies
οὐ κεῖταιν τοῖςρχαίοις.

Similarly in John there is the even more remarkable note ...

ςν τοῖς νῦνντιγράφοις μὴ κείμενον παρέλειψα,
(The section about the Adulteress) ...
I have omitted as not read in the copies now current.

Thus two passages, both in themselves attractive and dogmatically unobjectionable, are rejected, the one because it was omitted by the ancient, and the other by the modern, copies. Surely we have evidence of a resolution to purify the text from all possible interpolation equal to that of Hort, who omitted one set of passages because absent from the pure "Neutral" text, and another set because absent from the "aberrant" "Western" text. In codices 1 and 1582 the note on the Pericope points out that it is not mentioned in the Commentaries of Chrysostom, Cyril, and Theodore of Mopsuestia. 1582, besides having the foregoing note on the Pericope, also, as we have seen, gives Mk.xvi.9-20 as a sort of Appendix; but in the margin it has at v.19 the note,

Irenaeus, who was near to the apostles
τῶν αποστόλων πλησίον),
in the third book against heresies quotes this saying as found in Mark.

This is criticism of a high scientific order.

Now, whoever was responsible for it, the B text has been edited on the Alexandrian principle. Indeed the difference between B and the Lucianic recension would be comparable to that between the text of the Revised Version and the text of Westcott and Hort. The Revisers definitely reject no reading for which there is respectable authority, W.H. follow the oldest MS. and suspect interpolation even in that. Now, Hesychius may have gone on this principle. His recension may, like Jerome's Vulgate, have been made at the invitation of the Patriarch. And if the Patriarch deemed an official revision desirable, diligent search would be made throughout Egypt for the oldest copies. The climate of Egypt is exceptionally favourable for the preservation of papyri, as the discovery in a jar the other day of a copy of the Coptic version of the Gospel of John 1500 years old reminds us. It would be remarkable if Hesychius could not procure copies well over a century old. Certainly, whoever edited the text of B looks as if it had been based on copies old enough to have escaped serious corruption; and there is no conceivable reason why copies may not have been used as old as the middle of the second century.

If B represents the recension of Hesychius as, on the whole, I am inclined to believe then the later Alexandrian text C L Δ Ψ 33, 579 must bear the same relation to it as the later Byzantine text does to Lucian's revision, or the mediaeval Vulgate to Jerome's authentic text that is, it must represent the inevitable degeneration which frequent copying entails, along with a certain amount of re-infiltration into the revised text of readings from older unrevised texts.

But there is another possibility.
Hesychius may have had more concern for the practical needs of the plain man than for the demands of strict scholarship. Like Lucian he may have preferred a text which included such "Western" readings as were well known and long established, in which harsh grammar and inelegancies of style had been emended, and in which Mark's Gospel did not break off short in the middle of a sentence but had a reasonable ending. Now this is precisely the kind of text that we find in C L Ψ 33, 579 and the Bohairic version, which Hort describes as a "partially degenerate form of the B text." Three of these, L Ψ 579, besides some fragments that belong to the same family, have the Shorter Conclusion of Mark. Some of the "Alexandrian" grammatical improve­ments can be traced back as far as Clement and Origen; the Shorter Conclusion of Mark occurs in the third century Sahidic. [As the Shorter Conclusion occurs in the African Latin k, it may be part of the "Western" mixture in the Sahidic.] Thus there is no convincing reason for dating the "Alexandrian" text later than Hesychius.

The main objection to identifying B with the Hesychian recension is Jerome's emphatic denunciation of the text of Hesychius, along with that of Lucian, as an interpolated and corrupt revision. His attack on the Lucianic text is not difficult to explain; after all, what Jerome says about the Lucianic text is practically what Hort, judging by the B א standard, said of it fifteen hundred years later. But if B represents the Hesychian text, it is hard to see how Jerome can speak of it as "interpolated." For the reasons given in Appendix IV.—where his words are quoted in the original—I am personally not disposed to attach much weight to his statement.

On the other hand, if L Ψ 579 represent the text of Hesychius, another explanation is possible. Jerome had studied in Antioch and Constantinople and must have been familiar with the Lucianic text, but at the date when he wrote the Preface to the Vulgate Gospels he had not yet been to Alexandria. Hence his knowledge of the Hesychian text may have been at second-hand, and may have been derived from some Alexandrian scholar of the school of Origen who, like Hort, regarded the "Alexandrian" corrections of L Ψ 579 as corruptions and the Shorter Conclusion of Mark as an interpolation, and had expressed his views with vigour. Now there was a certain Pierius, known as "the younger Origen," a disciple of Origen and head of the Catechetical School c. 265; from Jerome's notice of him (De vir. illustr. 76) he would seem to have survived by some years the persecution in which Hesychius was martyred, and to have lived the last part of his life at Rome. We know that Jerome had read and admired some of his writings, and he once appeals to the authority of "the MSS. of Origen and Pierius." [Jerome's Commentary on Matthew, ad ch. xxiv.] Is it possible that Jerome derived from some statement of Pierius the unfavourable verdict that he expresses on the text of Hesychius? In that case the B א text represents the text of the Catechetical School that prided itself on keeping alive the traditions of Origen. [Burkitt, J.T.S., Jan. 1916, p. 149, suggests that Origen himself may have discovered some old MS. which escaped corruptions which were already wide­spread, and so was responsible for the revival of a purer text.]

The question, however, whether we owe the B א text to the action of Hesychius, Pierius, or some unknown scholar, is quite of minor importance. The essential point is that these MSS. appear to represent, more nearly than any others, the text used by Origen before AD 230; and Origen, especially when engaged on such an important work as his Commentary on John, would certainly have used the oldest text he could procure.
We may, then, affirm with confidence that any reading of
B which is supported by א L, or any other MS. of the Egyptian family almost certainly belongs to that text in its earliest form.