Evidence that The Received Text Ancestor
Is Older than Alexandrian Texts
The Traditional Text, ancestor of the Received Text: It’s said the best available Greek texts are those of extant non-traditional 4th-century Alexandrian manuscripts. Actually, text history in true churches, that value and preserve God’s Word, reveals the oldest and best texts.
1. Text critic F.H.A. Scrivener placed the Italic Old Latin of the true biblical western church in the 2nd century (A Plain Introduction to N. T. Criticism. Vol.2. p42-3). The Italic is a Traditional-Text Bible linked to historic true churches (F. Kenyon. Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts. Harper. p169-71).
2. Another Traditional-Text bible is the mid-4th century Gothic of Teutonic people. Their mid-3rd-century church, founded by Greek-speaking captive Christians from Asia Minor, utilized the Bible of these Christians. The Gothic translator was related to these Christians, so the Traditional-Text New Testament of the eastern biblical church of Asia Minor developed in this Bible before the mid-3rd century, refuting Westcott & Hort theory suggesting a 4th-century origin. Paul the apostle ministered much in Asia Minor, and autograph manuscripts would be kept in churches there (Schaferdiek, K. 1991 Christian Mission and Expansion. Early Christianity. Abingdon. p65-76).
Further, Gothic and Italic bibles are so alike the two served as a bi-lingual for Goths & Romans, so they derived from the same pre-mid-3rd century Greek Traditional Text, (see Hunter, M.J. 1969. The Vernacular Scriptures: The Gothic Bible. The Cambridge History of the Bible. p338-60), so both relate to the Received Text descended from the Traditional Text. While the Goths entertained some unbiblical doctrine, this would not come from their initial text that derived from a Christian source; such doctrine would derive from the same source that it always does, man's sin nature.
3. The Traditional Text of the Syriac Peshitta, first classified as of 2nd-century origin, later was assigned to the 5th century. Efforts to link the text to Rabbula, 5th century bishop of Edessa, are now discredited. Both sects that the Syriac church split into in the 5th century adhered to the Peshitta, and Rabbula led one of them. If the Peshitta were his 5th century invention, the other sect would never have used it. Rabbula’s use didn’t deter use by the other sect, so the Peshitta was the standard long before the 5th century (Hills, E.F. The King James Version Defended. Christian Res. Press. p172).
4. Egyptian 3rd & late 2nd-century papyri show Byzantine (Traditional-Text) readings (Sturz, H.A. 1984. The Byzantine Text Type and N. T. Textual Criticism. Nelson. p55-76), indicating 2nd-century Traditional-Text usage even in Egypt.
5. Papyri show that Byzantine readings trace deep into the 2nd century, refuting W/H who said that the Byzantine derived from the Alexandrian in the early 4th century. In Regard to this matter, Sturz (same reference) notes results of studies by writers who don’t favor the Byzantine:
a. Tarelli speaks of a Byzantine John 11:19 reading in a papyrus ~100 years older than the chief Alexandrian Vaticanus, saying evidence of any tampering that may have occurred is heavier in the Alexandrian.
b. Colwell notes in papyrus 66, Alpha (Traditional or Byzantine) readings frequently changed to the Beta (Alexandrian), refuting W/H theory.
c. Zuntz finds in papyrus 46 that the Byzantine Text often unites with the Western against the Alexandrian, and he finds that the Western developed in the east, which explains the numerous Byzantine readings in the Western. Further, the Italic Old Latin version belongs to the Western group, indicating again an Italic association with the Byzantine & Received Texts. With the united readings originating in the east, and the two text-types being widely separated geographically, such readings indicate that the eastern Byzantine Text tracing to deep in the 2nd century, was carried west and copied there. The Byzantine likely spread from east to west with the spread of the church from east to west, as expected of an original text. W/H theory regarding a Byzantine Text derived from the Alexandrian is again refuted.
Indeed scholars commonly agree that the Western Text is as old as the Alexandrian, and its potential derivation from the Byzantine would make the Byzantine older than the Alexandrian, and thus closest in time to the autograph originals. It's small wonder that Westcott & Hort strenuously resisted efforts of other scholars on their committee to attach importance to Western and Byzantine agreements that were contrary to the Alexandrian readings, knowing this could destroy their position and establish the Byzantine as the extant text best representing the autographs. A likely result would be a new respect for the Greek Received Text underlying the KJV, the one Hort called vile & villainous.
6. 2nd-3rd century Egyptian papyri exhibit evidence of a highly variant unstable text in early Egypt at a time close to the period of autograph generation, numerous variant readings there being indicative of variant text types & intense manuscript changes underway. There is much evidence of deliberate changes from the Byzantine toward the Alexandrian and vice-versa, and the Western is involved in such changes. Thus Egypt is extremely unlikely to offer texts that preserve, or reasonably approximate, autograph originals, yet even in the 2nd-century Egyptian papyri, Traditional-Text readings are found. Sturz lists 150 distinct Byzantine-type (Traditional) readings that contrast with the Alexandrian type, showing that, even in Egypt, the Traditional Text was utilized quite early.
Critics say the papyri are basically Alexandrian-type texts, with Byzantine & Western readings mixed in, and the scattered nature of individual Byzantine portions, with no evidence of whole blocks of them, suggests to scholars that later editors added them piecemeal to an Alexandrian basis. However, tampering toward the Byzantine would never conclude with very minimal change. On the other hand, the pattern observed would be expected by tampering from an original Byzantine Traditional Text toward the Alexandrian, that would leave only a minor degree of Byzantine readings. Altering of Egyptian papyri toward the Egyptian Alexandrian texts would be far more likely in Egypt, and the likely result would be papyri readings predominantly Alexandrian in nature; loss of blocks of Byzantine-type readings, plus minor incomplete conversion of scattered Byzantine readings would be due to the great difficulty involved in locating & changing all readings in such a laborious work.
Actually, the assumption by critics of a basic Alexandrian nature of papyri is distorted since they unjustifiably classify as Alexandrian all papyri readings agreeing with the Byzantine
Text as well as the Alexandrian, and they classify as Western all readings agreeing
with the Byzantine as well as the Western. Traditional Byzantine readings
may be far more common in the papyri than critics will admit,
and may often appear in whole text blocks.
7. The oldest single papyrus, dated close to the autographs at 125 A.D and classified by critics as Alexandrian, contains just 33 words, and all of them are in full agreement with the Byzantine, as well as the Alexandrian, which can indicate a predominant Traditional Byzantine-Text origin in the autographs, and preserved as such even in Egypt. Indeed, the Byzantine Text is well recognized as predominant in the entire eastern church, and evidence indicates it spread early to the west, but the Alexandrian seems to be strictly a local text, for circulation beyond Egypt has never been proven, and a local text would likely be a variance on a more original widespread one. Thus 4th-century Vaticanus & Sinaiticus manuscripts could represent movement away from the autographs aimed at making the Alexandrian text predominant, and the numerous differences between these two manuscripts, and those among all of the Alexandrian class, would indicate no finalized text was ever achieved, as expected of tampering. Indeed, the 5th-century Alexandrian manuscript, Alexandrinus, reflects the Byzantine text in the gospels, which could mean that some 5th-century Egyptian copyists still recognized the Byzantine as original at that time (the 4th century marked the end of the influence of Gnostics that are likely to have altered early manuscripts - see essay 3 for further comment). Conflict among Alexandrian scribes on originality of text types could cause all types of change in early Egypt, and the evidence of some change from the Alexandrian toward the Byzantine in papyri, along with the partial Byzantine character of Alexandrinus, may be indicative of some copyists respecting an original Traditional Text.
Western readings likely originate in the east where the Traditional Text predominated from the beginning, as per Gunther Zuntz, so that Traditional Byzantine readings are likely older than the Western & the Alexandrian types, and thus are the most likely to be the original type.