Much of the reason for various positions in the textual debates centers on the differences between the manuscripts. If all the manuscripts were virtually identical, we’d not be blogging about the problem of textual variation.
King James Only proponents like to stress how much the differences matter. Additionally, they like to highlight the many differences between Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (א), two of the chief witnesses for the Alexandrian text-type. Thee manuscripts differ thousands of times in the Gospels alone, it is pointed out. So they must be faulty witnesses, and bad manuscripts. In short, this proves they aren’t worth much when it comes to their textual quality.
In sharp contrast with those manuscripts, the Byzantine manuscripts largely agree and have little variation. The conclusion is raised that these must be carefully copied and more accurate and worthy manuscripts.
There are a few thousand differences between Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. This is a point that MT advocates think helps their cause. Actually, it hurts them. Here’s why: (a) Westcott and Hort noticed those differences, too, and argued that precisely because of so many differences the common ancestor between B and Aleph must be at least ten generations back. They felt, with good reason, that the common ancestor came from deep within the second century. Consequently, when the two MSS agree, their combined testimony should normally be regarded as quite ancient.
Majority Text advocates like to tout how much Byzantine MSS agree with each other. Yet, they also want to claim that each Byzantine MS is an independent witness to the text. They can’t have it both ways. The high level of agreement shows that there has been extensive editing of the Byzantine MSS. Indeed, we have fairly firm evidence of such activity in the 9th and 11th century, for after both eras the Byzantine MSS grew in their conformity to one another. This is unheard of except when conscious editing takes place. Further, some MT advocates want to claim that Aleph and B were copied in the same scriptorium and that they have a common ancestor that is not much earlier than either one of them. How can they claim this while simultaneously noting the many disagreements between these two MSS?…
Wallace’s remarks helped me immensely when I first read them. They still ring true today. What do you think? Is he right?