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The Byzantine text-type (also called Majority, Traditional, Ecclesiastical, Constantinopolitan, or Syrian) is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts. It is the form found in the largest number of surviving manuscripts, though not in the oldest. The New Testament text of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Constantinople Patriarchate edition of 1904, is based on this text-type. While considerably varying, it also underlies the Textus Receptus Greek text used for most Reformation-era translations of the New Testament into vernacular languages. Modern translations mainly use Eclectic editions that conform more often to the Alexandrian text-type.

The Byzantine textform is often marked with the abbreviations \mathfrak{M} or Byz.

Manuscripts of the Byzantine text

Codex Alexandrinus, the oldest Greek witness of the Byzantine text in the Gospels, close to the Family Π (Luke 12:54-13:4)
For some time following the fourth century different types of text were current in the East, but at the end the Byzantine text "almost wholly displaced the rest." The Byzantine text-type has by far the largest number of surviving manuscripts, especially from the invention of the minuscule (lower case) handwriting in the 9th century. For example, of 522 complete or nearly complete manuscripts of the General Epistles collated by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münstermarker, Germanymarker, 372 of them attest the Byzantine reading in at least 90% of 98 test places. Amongst the earliest surviving manuscripts, the position is reversed. There are six manuscripts earlier than the 9th century which conform to the Byzantine text-type; of which the 5th century Codex Alexandrinus, (the oldest), is Byzantine only in the Gospels with the rest of the New Testament being Alexandrian. By comparison, the Alexandrian text-type is witnessed by nine surviving uncials earlier than the ninth century (including the Codex Alexandrinus outside the Gospels); and is also usually considered to be demonstrated in three earlier papyri. Modern critical editions of the New Testament tend to conform most often to Alexandrian witnesses — especially Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. The earliest Church Father to witness to a Byzantine text-type in substantial New Testament quotations is John Chrysostom (c. 349 — 407); although the fragmentary surviving works of Asterius the Sophist († 341) have also been considered to conform to the Byzantine text. The earliest translation to witness to a Greek base conforming generally to the Byzantine text is the Syriac Peshitta; usually dated to the 4th century; although in respect of several much contested readings, such as Mark 1:2 and John 1:18, the Peshitta rather supports the Alexandrian witnesses.

The form of the Byzantine text found in the earliest witnesses varies considerably, and differs again from that which would predominate from the 9th century onwards; for example, no surviving Byzantine witness earlier than the eighth century includes the pericope adulterae (John 7:53 — 8:11). Amongst the bulk of later manuscripts however, it is generally possible to demonstrate a clear Byzantine majority reading for each variant; and a Greek New Testament text based on these majority readings — "The Majority Text" — has been produced by Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad, although this text does not correspond to any one particular manuscript.

Notable Byzantine manuscripts

Codex Boreelianus, Byzantine manuscript, member of the Family E
Sign Name Date Content
A (02) Codex Alexandrinus 5th Gospels
C (04) Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus 5th Gospels
W (032) Codex Washingtonianus 5th Matt 1-28; Luke 8:13–24:53
Q (026) Codex Guelferbytanus B 5th Luke–John
061 Uncial 061 5th 1 Tim 3:15-16; 4:1-3; 6:2-8
Ee (07) Codex Basilensis 8th Gospels
Fe (09) Codex Boreelianus 9th Gospels
Ge (011) Codex Seidelianus I 9th Gospels
He (013) Codex Seidelianus II 9th Gospels
L (020) Codex Angelicus 9th Acts, CE, Pauline Epistles
V (031) Codex Mosquensis II 9th Gospels
Y (034) Codex Macedoniensis 9th Gospels
Θ (038) Codex Koridethi 9th Gospels (except Mark)
S (028) Codex Vaticanus 354 949 Gospels
1241 Minuscule 1241 12th only Acts
1424 Minuscule 1424 9th/10th NT (except Mark)


Other manuscripts

Papyri

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