Codex W, Numbers, and Copyist Fidelity


Larry Hurtado's Blog

In a recent article, Zachary Cole (Edinburgh PhD student) traces the occurrence of numbers written fully or as alphabetic numeral abbreviations in Codex Washingtonianus (Codex W), showing that the “unique employment of numerical abbreviations in W falls into a remarkable pattern that coincides precisely” with the well-known textual shifts in the manuscript:  “Evaluating Scribal Freedom and Fidelity:  Number-Writing Techniques in Codex Washingtonianus (W 032),” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 52 (2015): 225-38.

Codex W is an oft-cited instance of what textual critics refer to as “block mixture.”  This = shifts in the complexion of the text, with different blocks aligned with different textual traditions:  Matthew 1:1-28:20 (“Byzantine”); John 1:1-5:11 (Alexandrian/Western; John 5:12-21:25 (Alexandrian); Luke 1:1-8:12 (Alexandrian); Luke 8:13-24:53 (Byzantine); Mark 1:1-5:30 (Western, although the textual shift may begin a bit earlier in Mark 5); Mark 5:31-16:20 (in earlier work often labelled “Caesarean/proto-Caesarean,” but this label is now shown…

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