23.2 The Western Text Type

23.2 The Western Text Type

The second text type is described as “…an undisciplined ‘wild’ growth of manuscript tradition and translational activity.” (B.M.Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p.213).

Copies of this text type has a wide distribution, not only in North Africa, Italy and France, but also in Egypt and the East. Although most learned scholars deem this text type as very corrupt, it is possible that the original could be contained where it is lost in other text types.

The most important witnesses of this text type are:
1) Codex Bezae (D); (450-550 A.D.) It contains the greater part of all four gospels, acts and a fragment of 3 John. It is a Diglot with Greek on the left and Latin on the right. “No known manuscript has so many and such remarkable variations …free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences and even incidents.” (Metzger p50) In Luke’s description of the Last Supper, all reference to the second cup is removed (Luke 22:20), leaving the order of institution inverted as first the cup and then the bread. In Acts there are so many additions that it is almost one tenth longer than any other witness!
2) Codex Washington (W); (375-425 A.D.) It contains the Gospels in different text types in the Western order (Matthew, John, Luke, Mark), as mentioned.
3) Codex Claromontanus (Dp); (±550 A.D.) It contains the Pauline epistles including Hebrews. It is compiled in the same manner as Codex Bezae with the same features. The works of at least nine correctors have been identified. Codex Sangermanensis, (Ep) is a copy of Claromontanus, made between 850 and 950 A.D. and has no individual significance.
4) MS 383; ±1250 A.D. It contains Acts in the Western text type, the Pauline and Catholic epistles in the Alexandrian text type as mentioned. It is kept in the Bodleian library, Oxford.


It is uncertain where the Western text type originated, but it is very old, probably ±150 A.D. and quite wide spread. It is characterized by its love of paraphrase. According to Hort, “words, clauses and even whole sentences were changed, omitted, and inserted with astonishing freedom, wherever it seemed that the meaning could be brought out with greater force and definiteness…Another equally important characteristic is a disposition to enrich the text at the cost of its purity by alterations and additions taken from traditional and perhaps from apocryphal or other non-biblical sources.” (Metzger, p132)

Bear in mind that this text type came into existence before the canon was established. Like the producers of modern paraphrases of the Bible, these people also thought it good to alter the text to enhance understanding.

Readings of manuscripts of this text type are also included into the text of the United Bible Society for consideration of translators.

I simply love the openness and honesty with which the UBS simply gives all possibilities, allowing me to see the whole picture!

God bless!


About Herman of bibledifferences.net

The reasons for the differences between older Bibles like the King James Version and newer Bibles like the New International Version have fascinated me ever since my studies in Theology at the University of Pretoria in the seventies. I have great respect for scribes through the ages as well as Bible translators, so there must be good reasons for the differences. With more than 5600 Greek manuscripts and more than 19000 manuscripts of ancient translations to our disposal, the original autographs of the New Testament can be established without doubt. I investigate the reasons behind the differences and publish the facts in a post on my blogs www.bibledifferences.net (Afrikaans: www.bybelverskille.wordpress.com) to enable my readers to judge for themselves. Personally I love to make an informed decision based of facts. That is why I endeavor to provide that same privilege to the readers of my blogs. Since 1973 I am married to my dear wife and greatest friend, Leah Page, founder director of Act-Up Support (www.actup.co.za) a prayer ministry for families struggling with drug-, occult- and other dependencies. We are blessed with two daughters and two sons, four grand sons and two grand daughters. God is alive and omnipotent! Glory to His Name! Herman Grobler.
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