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Text-Critical Witnesses and Methodology for Isolating a Distinctive D-Text in Acts

In: Novum Testamentum
Author: Eldon Jay Epp1
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  • 1 Case Western Reserve University, Harvard Divinity School, Cleveland, USA
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Within the past decade, a few leading New Testament textual critics have challenged two major, long-standing convictions by urging that we should speak no longer (1) of “text-types” or (2) of two textual streams in the Acts of the Apostles. Certainly the term “type” is too rigid and definitive to describe our textual groups, and “textual clusters” is more appropriate. The present essay concerns whether dual texts can be identified certifiably in Acts, thereby distinguishing a “D-Textual Cluster” from an alternate cluster headed by Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex Sinaiticus ( א). It is clear that all D-Text Primary witnesses are mixed texts that, over time in various ways, have been conformed and assimilated to the increasingly dominant B-Cluster, as well as to the ascending Byzantine text.

A fresh method, however, is proposed and illustrated at length (1) to identify a tightly cohesive group of Primary witnesses to a D-Textual Cluster, which (2) reveals that these D-Text readings virtually always are opposed by the א-B-Cluster. The result is a strong testimony to the early existence of dual textual streams in Acts that stand firmly over against one another.

The fresh aspect of the method involves, for each variation -unit, (1) identifying the Primary witnesses available for a given reading; (2) counting the number supporting a presumptive D-Text reading; (3) counting those that do not; and (4) calculating the percentages of witnesses agreeing and not agreeing to the readings in question. Three or more Primary witnesses must be present in a variation-unit to be included. The global figures show that available Primary D-Text witnesses agree with one another 88% of the time on readings in 425 variation-units, while 97% of the time these readings are opposed by both א and B together.

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