Which one is older (book of Revelation)? Codices א and A.

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K. M. | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Oct 27 2019 9:12 AM

I know Codex Aleph is older than Codex Alexandrinus. However, textual critics think that A has a better text in the book of Revelation than א. I don't wanna start a discussion whether it's true or not, all I am interested in is which one is older? Since textual critics think that Codex A is a better witness to the book of revelation, does it mean that it's older than the text of Revelation in Codex Aleph?


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Doc B | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 27 2019 1:44 PM

K. M.:
all I am interested in is which one is older?

First, you have to have clear in your mind that the witness and the document where it is found are often not the same age. Thus, a given codex may be older than another, but the witness (the text in the document) may be younger than the other.  In other words, you may have a document that was created in the 9th century that is a copy of a second-century text, and beside it you may have a document created in the 4th century that is based on a third- or fourth-century witness such that even though the former document is 400 years younger, the witness (text) is 150 years older.

The general rule in TC is the older witnesses are usually (not universally) better. So your description fits the general rule. But in reality, most textual critics have their own opinions about which witnesses are 'better,' based on varying definitions of quality.

So in sum, I don't think there is an objective answer to your question. You may have to make a decision based on the best information you have and live with it. This is especially true if you are finding legitimate textual critics who differ in their opinions on the ages of the documents (or on which witness is 'better.')

FWIW, and I expect you know this, the book of Revelation is one of the most poorly attested in pre-4th century artifacts. So this could be a tough one to work through.

**As a disclaimer, I am not a textual critic, I don't play one on TV, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Rather, I'm a fairly well-read layperson who knows just enough about TC to get into trouble. :-)

My thanks to the various MVPs. Without them Logos would have died early. They were the only real help available.

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K. M. | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 27 2019 2:14 PM

So we don't really know, but what we do know is that Codex Sinaitcus is from the beginning of the 4th century and Codex Alexandrinus is about 100 years older. So the first full text of the Revelation is Codex Sinaiticus? I'm asking because the NA28 that I have reads "first" (prwtos) in revelation 1,17 and 2,8; just like Codex Aleph. Codex A reads "firstborn" (prwtotokos). So if Aleph is older, that would be a good argument for "first" even though many critics think Codex A is the better text, but not as old. So since NA28 has πρῶτος instead of πρωτότοκος I think they regard Sinaiticus as the older reading.

And yes, because it's so poorly attested I'd really like to know which one of the complete old texts is older. Unfortunately Codex Vaticanus doesn't have it (it does have it but it was added later).

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 27 2019 2:41 PM

Note the field of TC is in a state of flux and concensus may change.


A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method by Wasserman and Gurry

Would like to have this in Logos. It introduces a modified (and the most current) approach to NT textual criticism.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Oct 27 2019 5:10 PM

Doc B:
The general rule in TC is the older witnesses are usually (not universally) better.

Good summary. The Biblical DSS are a good example of older, not better. Additionally, within a codex, individual books can have separate aged sources, and within books, again more sources. It's a scholars dream come true (or nightmare).

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