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The Western Text as a Clue

Shalom Chaverim,

First of all I want to apologize for my absence during much of October. During October, my wife was hospitalized for 14 days, had two surgeries, and has come home under home health care, receiving iv antibiotics at home for an antibiotic resistant infection. (Check out her GoFundMe Page here

But now that we are home, I am getting back in the saddle on the work of the Scripture Restoration Project.

Today I want to write to you about another of the clues we are using to help recover the original text of the Scriptures: The Western Text Type.

Manuscripts and versions of NT books are classed according to their variant readings. These variant readings are copied and at times miscopied from generation to generation and thus they are the DNA of a given text.

Based upon the occurances of these variants scholars have established the existence of three general classes of NT manuscripts and versions known as “Text Types”.

There are three text types: The Western, the Alexandrian and the Byzantine.

Now the false assumption that the NT was originally written in Greek has led to a biased and subjective terminology in Textual Criticism. This biased terminology has resulted in important facts being missed. In textual criticism different versions of the NT within a certain language are classed “versions”.

Many of the oldest Papyri fragments of the New Testament agree with
the Western text Type. Among these are:

P29 – This is a 3rd century fragment in the Oxford Bodl. Library
containing Acts 26:7-8, 20

P38 – This is a 3rd century fragment at the University of Michigan containing Acts 18:27-19:6, 12-16

P45 – This is the well known 3rd century “Chester Beatty I” Papyri containing several fragments from the Four Gospels and Acts.

P48 – This 3rd century fragment contains Acts 23:11-17, 25-29.

P69 – This is a 3rd century fragment containing Luke 22:41, 45-48, 58-61

P52 – This is the famous “John Rylands’ Fragment” containing John 18:31-33, 37-38. This fragment dates to about 130 C.E. and is the oldest known fragment of any portion of the New Testament. This fragment follows the Western Text against the traditional Greek text as shown below:

Jn. 18:33a
P52 follows the word order: “entered then again into the praetorium Pilate” In agreement with the Western type text of Codex D, the Old Latin and the Latin Vulgate. However the Alexandrian and Byzantine types (such as Codex א Codex A, and the Majority Text) read with the word order:
“entered then into the praetorium again Pilate” – א, A, C2, Mj.

Also some of our oldest Codices contain the Western type of text. These include:

Codex Bezae (Codex D) (450 CE) Contains the Four Gospels and Acts in Greek and Latin. It is currently located at the Cambridge Library.

Codex Claromontanus (Codex D(p)) (500’s) Contains the Pauline
Epistles. It is currently located at the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris,

Codex 0171 (around 300 C.E.) containing Mt. 10:17-23, 25-32; Lk. 22:44-56, 61-64

Thus many of the oldest fragments of any New Testament books are of the Western Text type.

Whenever the earliest “Church Fathers” quoted the New Testament books, their quotations agreed with the Western Text type. This is true of Justin, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Hippolytus. Also, when Tatian compiled his Gospel Harmony (known as the Diataseron) he also used a Western type of text. Moreover the Syriac “Church Fathers” such as Aphraates and Ephraim also quoted a Western type of text.

However the Greek “Church Fathers” of Alexandria: Clement of Alexandria and Origen, did often quote from the Alexandrian type of text. Both of these men resided in Alexandria.

The earliest “Church Father” to consistently quote from a Byzantine type of text was John Chrysostom who died in 407 C.E..

The earliest versions of the New Testament also reflect the Western text type. The oldest known versions of the New Testament are of the Western Text type. These include the Old Syriac, Old Latin, Armenian and Georgian versions.

There are two major ancient Latin versions of the New Testament: the Old Latin and the Latin Vulgate. The Latin Vulgate was produced in the fourth century C.E. by the “Church Father” Jerome. It is generally accepted that Jerome’s Latin Vulgate is actually a revision and standardization of the Old Latin version.

The Old Latin version is clearly a Western Type Text with a close relationship to the Greek of Codex D and the Old Syriac. For this reason the Western Type text is also known as the Syro-Latin text type.

There is a close relationship between the original Hebrew and Aramaic NT sources and the Western type texts including the Old Latin and its revision the Latin Vulgate.

One especially long and unique reading found in Mt. 20:8 in Old Syriac (c) reads:

“When you are invited to a dinner party do not sit down in an honorable place, because there may come more honorable than you, and the lord of the dinner might say to you ‘Bring yourself down,’ and you be embarrassed in the eyes of the guests. But if you sit down in a lesser place, and there come one less than you, and the lord of the supper says ‘bring yourself and come up and sit’ then you shall have more honor in the eyes of the guests.”

This lengthy additional text appears also in the Old Latin Codex Vercellensis (codex a) (also codices b, c, e, ff(1,2), h, n) and parts of it occur in many other Old Latin codices. The first portion is also found in Old Latin Codices m and g(1) while the second part is found in Old Latin codex g(2). It is also found in some mss. of the Latin Vulgate.

The immersion account in the Gospel according to the Hebrews as cited by Epiphanius also included the words “in the form of [a dove]” (as in Luke’s account) and the phrase “I have this day begotten you” (as in Luke’s account in the Greek Western type text of Codex D).

Moreover, the account of the immersion in Epiphanius’s quotation from the Gospel according to the Hebrews includes the phrase “And immediately a great light shone round about the place” which agrees closely with certain Old Latin manuscripts of Matthew 3:16 which have “a great light shone round about the water” (Matt. 3:16 Codex Latin Vercellensis) And “a great light shown from the water” (Matt. 3:16 Codex Sangermanensis I).

There are a number of very obvious grammatical qualities to the Old Latin which point to its Aramaic rather than Greek Origin. To begin with in the Old Latin pronoun suffixes are often affixed to substantives. In Latin this is very peculiar, could not have come from the Greek text and could only have been derived from the Aramaic text.

Secondly the Old Latin verbal forms are at odds with those of the Greek while in harmony with the Aramaic. For example the Old Latin often has a perfect verb form where the Greek has the present tense. Also the Old Latin often has the present tense where the Greek has the aorist form. These inconsistencies can only be explained if the Greek and Old Latin were independently translated from an unpointed Aramaic original.

There are other internal evidences of the Aramaic origin of the Old
Latin as well. For example:

Luke 7:28
Old Syriac: יוחנן
Greek: Ἰωάννου
Old Latin: Johannen
If the Greek had served as the source text for the Old Latin in this passage we should expect to see Johannes but instead we see the Aramaic form transliterated with Johannen.

Luke 18:14
…one went down to his house justified more than (literally “from”) that one…

Old Syriac: דנחת לביתה הנא מזדק יתיר מן הו

Greek: κατέβη οὗτος δεδικαιωμένος εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ παρ’ ἐκεῖνον

Old Latin (Codex Vercellensis):
descendit hic iustificatus in domum suam ab illo

The Old Latin ab illo is clearly derived from the Aramaic מן הו and not from the Greek παρ’ ἐκεῖνον. The Old Latin is very literally translated from the very idiomatic Aramaic phrase rather from the Greek which uses a comparative phrase “παρ’ ἐκεῖνον”. Since Latin shares the comparative form with the Greek, the Old Latin could only read here with ab illo if it were a translation from the idiomatic Aramaic מן הו and not the Greek παρ’ ἐκεῖνον.

Luke 24:21
“And we were hoping…”

Old Syriac: ואנחנן סברין

Greek: ἡμεῖς δὲ ἠλπίζομεν

Old Latin: Nos autem putabamus

The Old Latin verb putabamus could only have been translated from the ambiguous Aramaic verb סברין for if it had been translated from the Greek verb ἠλπίζομεν then certainly the Latin verb would have been sperare.

John 1:13
“The one… was born”

Old Syriac: אילין אתילד

Greek: ἐγεννήθησαν

Old Latin: Qui… natus est.

The singular relative in the Latin is almost certainly a result of the singular verb in the Old Syriac (c).

The Old Latin Version of the Gospels has its source in an Aramaic source closely related to the Old Syriac (perhaps a representative of the Old Syriac version) though the various surviving witnesses all show signs of revision toward the Greek. The Latin Vulgate is a revision of the Old Latin Version toward better agreement with the Greek text.

The Ancient Armenian version was also clearly translated from an Aramaic Western type source text as well. In Matthew 19:24 the Aramaic word GAMLA is ambiguous and can mean either “large rope” or “camel”. In this case it makes much more sense that GAMLA is intended to mean “large rope” (a large rope cannot go through the eye of a needle) than a “camel” as it is understood in the Greek and Latin versions. However the Armenian version translates this word with an Armenian word which can only mean “rope”. Also in Luke 24:32 the Armenian version has “were not our hearts heavy” in agreement with the Aramaic (Old Syriac and Peshitta versions)
against the Greek.

Another fact which points to the originality of the Western type of text in general is its early, widespread distribution. The Western type of text was used in the earliest centuries in Europe and Africa (the Old Latin), in Egypt, Syria and Assyria (Old Syriac), in Eastern Europe (The Armenian and Georgian Versions). In these early centuries the only other version was the Alexandrian Version which existed only in Greek and which was restricted to the area of Alexandria.

Matthew Black states, that “Semitisms” are “a special feature of the text of [Codex] D”. In fact in an extensive study of the occurrence of Semitisms in the Book of Acts, Max Wilcox found something very amazing, something which he viewed as a “textual problem”. He found that Codex D (and the Greek Western text in general) was far more replete with Semitisms than any of the other Greek texts:

…there is the textual problem of Acts. In this connection we may recall that in no inconsiderable number of places, where the evidence indicated or suggested Semitism, that evidence was not found in all the manuscripts, but was confined to one manuscript or group of manuscripts, frequently D (and its allies).
(Semitisms of the Book of Acts; Max Wilcox; 1965; p. 185)

We have seen above that the Old Latin and Armenian versions show signs of having been translated from an Aramaic source text of the Western text type. I can give many more examples to demonstrate that this is also true of the Greek Western Text.

The various witnesses to the Western Type of text are a major clue for the Scripture Restoration Project and the Restoration of the original text of the Scriptures.

As many of you know, my wife is very ill, and I spend most of my time at home as her caretaker.

I work at a desk less than six feet from her bed. So I am in a position to dedicate many hours to this important work that I have been directed to do.

But I also realize that it is not the activity of James Trimm alone who is responsible to do this work, it is all of us together who are charged with the responsibility of accomplishing this work. I very much look on the efforts of this restoration work as a cooperative one with each one of you. We are all joint heirs with Messiah and should always be about our Father’s business. I am honored to be able to be partnered with truth seekers as this restoration of Scripture moves forward in fulfillment of prophecy.

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Nazarene Judaism
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Hurst, TX 76053

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