P46 Tendencies in 2 Corinthians (Part 3)

This is Part 3 of a 6 Part series on the text critical paper that I presented at the 2013 SBL Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD. Here is Part 1 and Part 2. I focused on the textual tendencies of the Ancient Greek manuscript called P46 which is the oldest extant manuscript that we have of Paul’s letters. For more information upon this manuscript see The University of Michigan’s Library andThe Chester Beatty Library.


            At this point, I will now move forward to compare my summary with Fredrick G. Kenyon’s summary as illustrated in the editio princeps. To begin, here is a chart of his summary of P46 in 2 Corinthians:[1]

  With papyrus Against
a 250 76
A 90 49
B 253 73
C 149 69
D 167 157
F 162 162
G 162 162
TR 165 161
Singular 87
Errors 32

Now while a quick glance at Kenyon’s chart would immediately seem to disregard the above study due to the fact that his suggests that the majority of other MSS agree with P46 50% of the time or more, 3 things must be noted about our differences in approach. First, Kenyon’s chart is almost wholly dependent upon Tischendorf’s critical apparatus, while mine is based upon the most recent scholarly apparati of the NA27 and the UBS4.[2] Secondly, Kenyon does not include variants that are spelling differences, while I do. Thirdly, whereas he examines every variant from Tischendorf’s critical apparatus, I have researched most of the variants and the most significant variants from the NU apparati. Thus, due to our different approaches, one should expect at least some differences in our conclusions.[3] Here is a chart that compares our different summaries:

Kenyon-Christian Comparison

Now the most obvious difference is that not one MS disagrees with P46 more often than not according to Kenyon, that is, none agree less than 50% of the time. In other words, all of the major MSS according to Kenyon agree with P46 50% of the time or higher. My primary contention with this is that Kenyon here does not show his work and did not later publish anything showing evidence for these numbers. One strength of my study is that I avoid this pitfall by providing all of my work in chart form in appendices which I will show at the end of this presentation.

Another very important and different conclusion that we come to is whether or not P46 tends to align with the Alexandrian text type. According to Kenyon, P46 has a strong affinity for the Alexandrian textual family. My study however shows that while P46 is somewhat less Western than Alexandrian, it more so has no affinity for any text type.

In addition, I think there are multiple problems with Kenyon’s approach. First and foremost, his is based upon old scholarship, namely, Tischendorf. My study however is based upon the most recent scholarship, namely, the NU critical apparati. Even though Tischendorf produced 8 magnificent texts and apparati of the Greek NT in his lifetime, he nonetheless did this work by himself. Likewise, Kenyon collated P46 to Tischendorf’s apparatus by himself. However, the NA27 and UBS4 which I am using have been organized by the top scholars in the field via a committee. This in my opinion indicates that I have worked with more superior and more accurate apparati than Kenyon.

Secondly, Kenyon draws from a smaller pool of MSS, that is, he only observes the major codices and the Majority text. I however incorporate those MSS with several miniscule MSS, multiple versions, and the church fathers.

Thirdly, to be fair, Kenyon observes more variants than I do here. While I have examined 219 total variants (139 variants + 80 singular readings), Kenyon looked at approximately 413 (ca. 326 variants + 87 singular readings), almost double the amount of mine. While this may bolster Kenyon’s study, a statistical principle must be noted: those working with statistics always use sample populations. Here, while Kenyon’s sample population is larger than mine, it is nonetheless still a sample population. Thus, the conclusion that Kenyon’s work is better because it observes a larger sample population is unwarranted. The most important criteria then I would suggest are the quality of apparati used and the breadth of MSS observed.

Overall, it seems that Kenyon and I come to different conclusions due to different approaches, different apparati, different breadths of MSS observed, and different number of observed variants, but I hope I have demonstrated how my present study outweighs Kenyon’s in these regards.

[1] Kenyon, Pauline Epistles, xvi.


[2] Kenyon, Pauline Epistles, xv.


[3] Note that Henry A. Sander’s chart cannot be utilized here due the fact that he combines the numbers for 1 and 2 Corinthians into one section. See Sanders 24-25 for more details.


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