23.1 The Alexandrian Text Type.
Let us consider the different text types that are recognized by experts in the field of the New Testament.
The Alexandrian text type originated in the vicinity of Alexandria, North Africa. It is widely accepted that the Alexandrian text type represents a very old form of text in all important points. It was prepared by skilful editors trained in the linguistic traditions of Alexandria. Several important manuscripts like p66 (±200) and p75 (±175-225) prove that that this text type represents an archetype dating from early in the second century. It did not undergo the systematic grammatical or stylistic polishing like other texts. (See Metzger, p.216) Almost all specialists of the Greek New Testament regard this text type as the best ancient revision and best resemblance of the original autographs.
This text type is not slavishly followed by the United Bible Society in the compiling of their combined text. As an example we look at Mat.27:49: Both the codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (main witnesses of this text type from about 350 A.D.) together with Ephraemi (±450), Regius (±750) and Ms1010 (±1150) as well as a Syrian translation from before 500 A.D. and a few others, all have the following words included: “…one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.“ The Bible Societies accept that these words were interpolated here from John 19:34. Rather than stick to the common reading of the Alexandrian text type they leave it out because the text evidence and other considerations bear more weight. In this case there is no difference between the KJV and the NIV even though the Alexandrian text type differs.
The main witnesses of this text type are:
1. Proto Alexandrian:
1) p66, 150-200 A.D. Contains John 1:1-14:26. It exhibits a mixed text form with Alexandrian as well as Western readings. In John 7:52: it has the unique reading: “Search the scriptures and see that the prophet has not been raised out of Galilee.” All other manuscripts read: “a prophet” or “no prophet”
2) p75, 175-225A.D. Contains part of Luke and John. Since 2007 this manuscript together with p74 are kept in the Vatican.
3) p45, 200-250 A.D. Contains Acts, (+ the Gospels in the Caesarian text type.)
4) p46, 200 A.D. Contains parts of Romans, Hebrews, 1+2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians and 1 Thessalonians.
Although the Papyri do not contain huge parts of Scripture, their value as oldest manuscripts against which later more complete documents may be compared, cannot be over stressed.
5) Codex Sinaiticus ±350 A.D. It contains the whole Bible. It is deemed by far the best witness of the New Testament.
Sinaiticus is kept in the British Museum, London. At present it is made available on the internet due to its prime position in the list of New Testament manuscripts.
6) Codex Vaticanus (B) ±350 A.D. It contains both Testaments as well as the apocrypha except for Maccabees. At present three parts are missing. The first forty-six chapters of Genesis, thirty Psalms and from the New Testament Heb.9:14 onwards, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Revelation. This is reckoned as the second important witness of the New Testament, kept in the Vatican.
7) Codex Alexandrinus (A) ±450 A.D. It contains the Old Testament and most of the New Testament. In the Gospels it is the oldest witness of the Byzantine text type. The rest of the New Testament, probably copied from another source, it represents the Alexandrian text type, equal to the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.
1b. Later Alexandrian:
1) Codex Ephraemi (C) Palimpsest. ±450 A.D. Contains 5/8th of every part of the NT. Except for 2 Thessalonians and 2 John. The text is an example of a mixture of all the text types.
2) Codex Regius (L) ±750 A.D. The Gospels are almost complete. It was badly written with numerous unnecessary mistakes, but contains a good text type, often agreeing with Vaticanus. Mistakes and even huge blunders can easily be identified and corrected, but the text itself is of importance to the text critic, helping him in his conquest to establish the original autographs. It is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
3) Codex Washington 375-425 A.D. It contains the Gospels in the Western order (Matthew, John, Luke, Mark). This codex seems to be copied from an ancestor made up from parts of different manuscripts pieced together. Its editor, Henry A. Sanders recons it was probably pieced together after Diocletian (245-313 A.D.) tried to crush the Church by destroying its sacred books. The four gospels are compiled as follows:
John 1:1-5:11: Alexandrian and Western (a quire replaced ±650 A.D.)
John 5:12-end: Alexandrian
Luke 1:1-8:12: Alexandrian
Luke 8:13-end: Byzantine
Mark 1:1-5:30: Western (Akin to Old Latin)
Mark 5:31-end: Caesarian (Akin to p45)
The fact that all four Text types are easily distinguishable in this manuscript of around 400 A.D. proves that all four text types were quite established at that time. The quire that had replaced the original in John, shows the influence of “corrections” made in the source manuscript from which it had been copied.
An interesting insert is found after Mark 16:14. Jesus criticized the disciples for not believing those who had seen Him after the resurrection, and they answered Him:
“And they excused themselves, saying, ‘this age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore reveal thy righteousness now’ – thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, ‘the term of years for Satan’s power as been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. and for those who have sinned I was delivered over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more; that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven.“
4) MS 33; ±875 A.D. This manuscript is frequently called the “Queen of Minuscules” Contains the whole NT except for Revelation. It is an excellent example of the Alexandrian text type, but with Byzantine influence in Acts and the Pauline epistles. It is kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
5) MS 383 ±1250 A.D. Contains the Pauline and Catholic Epistles in the Alexandrian text type, as well as Acts in the Western text type. It consists of 181 parchment pages of 18x 13cm. Only Heb 13:7-25 is lost. It is kept in the Bodleian library in Oxford.
The Alexandrian text type is represented by twelve other uncial codices and at least thirteen minuscule manuscripts.