Textual Evidence

Codex W
and the PA

Excerpt from: Codex Washingtonsis & John 8:1-11, with translation and notes

Page Index

Last Updated: Mar 3, 2010

Codex W: - Backgrounder:
    Photo - John 7:46b-8:16a
    Transcription - with Majority Text in parallel
    Notes - Significant features

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Codex W
and the PA

Background: From the Encyclopedia of Textual Criticism Online (Courtesy of Mr.Waltz)

Manuscript W (032)

Location/Catalog Number:

Washington, D.C., Freer Gallery of Art 06.274 (Smithsonian Institution). Called Codex Washingtonensis for its location, or the Freer Gospels for its purchaser.


Originally contained the four gospels complete; now lacks Mark 15:13-38, John 14:27-16:7. In addition, John 1:1-5:11 are a supplement from a later hand, probably to replace a quire that was lost. Gospels are in the "Western" order: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark.


Generally dated to the fifth century, though some have preferred a date in the late fourth century. The supplemental leaves are probably from about the seventh century.

Description and Text-type

W is textually a curiosity, as the nature of the text varies wildly. The usual statement (found, e.g., in Kenyon/Adams, p. 215) is that Matthew is Byzantine, Mark chapters 1-5 (possibly 1:1-5:30) are "Western," Mark chapters 6-16 are "Cæsarean," Luke 1:1-8:12 are Alexandrian, Luke 8:13-end are Byzantine, John 5:13-end are Alexandrian. (The supplement in John 1:1-5:12 is variously assessed; in my experience, it is Alexandrian, though perhaps not quite as pure as the original text. Based simply on the text, it is not impossible that the replacement quire was actually copied, at least in part, from the quire that it replaced.) These boundaries are, of course, impossibly precise; one cannot determine a text-type boundary to the nearest sentence. But that there are shifts at about these points seems true enough.

The nature of the text-types is, however, open to question. So far as I know, no one has questioned the Byzantine designation in Matthew or the Alexandrian designation in John. My own experience, moreover, indicates that both assessments are correct.

Things are a not quite as clear in Luke. Here, Wisse assesses W as Group B (Alexandrian) in Luke 1, as expected. In Luke 10, he lists it as Kx, while in Luke 20 it is mixed. The classification in Luke 10 is, in a sense, what we expect: W is Byzantine. But the finding that it is Kx is extraordinary; this makes W the earliest Kx manuscript by at least three centuries. The "Mixed" assessment is also somewhat surprising. It's worth noting, though, that all these assessments are based on single chapters; assessments of larger sections of text might produce a slightly different view. The assessment that Luke is Alexandrian in the early chapters and Byzantine in the final two-thirds is probably essentially accurate.

The question of Mark is much more complicated. Sanders, who first edited the manuscript, linked 1:1 to 5:30 to the Old Latin (claiming even to see Latin influence in the text). The rest of Mark he recognized as non-Byzantine and non-Alexandrian, but he thought it was not "Western" either; he linked it to manuscripts such as 1 and 28.

At this point Streeter entered the picture. Streeter claimed the last ten chapters of Mark as "Cæsarean," basing this mostly on a comparison against the Textus Receptus. Unfortunately for Streeter's case, this method is now known to be completely faulty (as he should have known himself). Streeter's "proof" in fact proved nothing (though we must remember that his method was merely faulty, not necessarily producing inaccurate results; his contention may be true; he simply didn't prove it.)

There things sat for half a century, while the "Cæsarean" text was sliced, diced, added to, subdivided, and finally slowly dissolved under scrutiny. Finally Larry W. Hurtado published Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark (1981). This study compared W, chapter by chapter, against some of the leading witnesses of the various text-types.

Unfortunately, Hurtado's study has its own defects. The analysis is rather rigidly defined by chapters, and several vital witnesses are ignored. The key defect, however, is the fact that it simply counts readings without weighing them. This is fine for detecting immediate kinship, but less effective for dealing with mixed manuscripts -- and even Streeter admitted that all "Cæsarean" witnesses, except W itself, are mixed.

Hurtado found about what one would expect: W, in Mark 1-4, is indeed "Western" (note that he moved the dividing line toward the beginning of the book somewhat). Starting with chapter 5, it is something else, and that something does not match any of the other witnesses precisely. It is assuredly not Byzantine or Alexandrian. But neither does it agree particularly closely with the so-called "Cæsarean" witnesses.

Hurtado's study has been viewed, quite inaccurately, as dissolving the "Cæsarean" text. In fact it does no such thing, in that Hurtado nowhere so much as addresses Streeter's definition (which finds the "Cæsarean" text in the non-Byzantine readings of the "Cæsarean" witnesses. Since Hurtado did not classify readings, he could not study the type as defined by Streeter). Nonetheless, Hurtado did a reasonable job of demolishing Streeter's claim that W is a pure "Cæsarean" witness in the latter portions of Mark. The fact that the "Cæsarean" witnesses do not agree with each other is not relevant (the effect of random mixture is to make the mixed witnesses diverge very rapidly). The fact that they do not agree with W, however, is significant. W can hardly be part of the type from which the surviving "Cæsarean" witnesses descended. This does not, however, prove that it is not "Cæsarean" -- merely that it does not spring from the sources which gave rise to Q, 565, and Family 13. Further conclusions must be left for a study which addresses Streeter's text-type according to Streeter's definitions. (For what it is worth, my statistical analysis does seem to imply that the "Cæsarean" type exists -- but the sample size is not enough to allow certainty about W's relationship to it.) Hurtado found that W had a special relationship with P45, and this is by no means improbable. Hurtado also theorized that W in the final chapters of Mark was still "Western," but with mixture. This too is possible, and given Streeter's sloppy methods, it might explain why Streeter associated W with the "Cæsarean" type. But Hurtado's method cannot prove the matter.

There has been much discussion of why W is so strongly block mixed. Sanders thought that it was compiled from bits and pieces of other manuscripts. Streeter counter-argued that an exemplar was heavily corrected from several different manuscripts, each manuscript being used to correct only part of the exemplar. Neither theory can be proved; they have different strengths and weaknesses (Sanders's theory explains the abrupt textual shifts, but is it really probable that any church would have so many fragments and no complete books? Streeter's theory eliminates this objection, but does very little to explain why the text does not show more mixture. W is block mixed, but the text is generally pure in each part.)

The most noteworthy reading of W is the so-called "Freer Logion" (so-called because it occurs only in W; Jerome quotes a portion of it). This passage, inserted after Mark 16:14, is quoted in most textual criticism manuals and will not be repeated here.

There is little else to say about the text of W. The Alands list it as Category III, but of course this is an overall assessment; they do not assess it part by part (if they did, the assessment would probably range from Category II in the Alexandrian portions to Category V in the Byzantine). Von Soden's classification is more complex (Ia -- i.e. mainstream "Western"/"Cæsarean" -- in Mark, H in Luke and John), but this tells us little that we did not already know.

Other Symbols Used for this Manuscript:

von Soden: e014

- Waltz's Encyclopedia of TC

Codex W: Photo

Jn 7:46b-8:16a

Codex W: PA


Jn 7:46b-8:16a

LineText Robinson/Pierpont (2005)
01ρεται Οὐδέποτε / ἐλάλησεν ΑΝΟΣ46b
-ρέται, Οὐδέποτε οὕτως ἐλάλησεν ἄνθρωπος,
ὡς οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος.
02Ἀπεκρίθησαν οὖν αὐτοῖς οἱ Φαρισαῖοι, 47 Ἀπεκρίθησαν οὖν αὐτοῖς οἱ Φαρισαῖοι,
03Μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς πεπλάνησθε; Μή τις [ἐκ] τῶ~ Μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς πεπλάνησθε; 48 Μή τις [ἐκ] τῶν
04ἀρχόντων ἐπίστευσεν εἰς αὐτόν, ἢ ἐκἀρχόντων ἐπίστευσεν εἰς αὐτόν, ἢ ἐκ
05τῶν Φαρισαίων; Ἀλλ' ὁ ὄχλος οὗτος ὁ μὴτῶν Φαρισαίων; 49 Ἀλλ' ὁ ὄχλος οὗτος ὁ μὴ
06γινώσκων τὸν νόμον ἐπικατάρατοί εἰσιν.γινώσκων τὸν νόμον ἐπικατάρατοί εἰσιν.
07Λέγει Νικόδημος πρὸς αὐτούς - ὁ ἐλθὼν / πρὸςΛέγει Νικόδημος πρὸς αὐτούς - (ὁ ἐλθὼν νυκτὸς πρὸς
08/αὐτοῦ πρότερον/ εἷς ὢν ἐξ αὐτῶναὐτόν, εἷς ὢν ἐξ αὐτῶν)
09Μὴ ὁ νόμος ἡμῶν κρίνει τὸν ΑΝΟΝ, ἐὰν51 Μὴ ὁ νόμος ἡμῶν κρίνει τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἐὰν
10μὴ ἀκούσῃ πρωτον παρ' αὐτοῦ / καὶ γνῷμὴ ἀκούσῃ παρ' αὐτοῦ πρότερον καὶ γνῷ
11τί ποιεῖ;    Ἀπεκρίθησαν καὶ εἶπαντί ποιεῖ;  52  Ἀπεκρίθησαν καὶ εἶπον
12αὐτῷ, Μὴ καὶ σὺ ἐκ τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶ;αὐτῷ, Μὴ καὶ σὺ ἐκ τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶ;
13 Ἐραύνησον τας γραφας, καὶ ἴδε ὅτι προ-Ἐρεύνησον    καὶ ἴδε ὅτι προ-
14-φήτης ἐκ τῆς Γαλιλαίας οὐκ ἐγέιρεται •-φήτης ἐκ τῆς Γαλιλαίας οὐκ ἐγηγέρται.
>λεγων Πάλιν οὖν αὐτοῖς ἐλάλησεν ὁ ΙΣ και ειπεν,Πάλιν οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν λέγων,
16Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου: ὁ ἀκολου-Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου: ὁ ἀκολου-
17-θῶν ἐμοὶ οὐ μὴ περιπατήσῃ ἐν τῇ σκο--θῶν ἐμοὶ οὐ μὴ περιπατήσῃ ἐν τῇ σκο-
18-τίᾳ, ἀλλ' ἕξει τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς.-τίᾳ, ἀλλ' ἕξει τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς.
19Εἶπον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι, Σὺ περὶ σε-Εἶπον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι, Σὺ περὶ σε-
20αυτοῦ  μαρτυρεῖς:  ἡ μαρτυρία σου οὐ-αυτοῦ μαρτυρεῖς: ἡ μαρτυρία σου οὐ-
21κ ἔστιν ἀληθής.κ ἔστιν ἀληθής.
22Ἀπεκρίθη ΙΣ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Κἂν ἐγὼἈπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Κἂν ἐγὼ
23μαρτυρῶ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ, ἡ μαρτυρία μουμαρτυρῶ περὶ ἐμαυτοῦ, ἀληθής ἐστιν
24ἀληθής ἐστιν:  ὅτι οἶδα πόθεν ἦλθον,ἡ μαρτυρία μου: ὅτι οἶδα πόθεν ἦλθον,
25καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγω:  ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ οἴδατε καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγω:  ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ οἴδατε
26 πόθεν ἔρχομαι, καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγω. πόθεν ἔρχομαι, καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγω.
27 Ὑμεῖς κατὰ τὴν σάρκα κρείνεται: ἐγὼ 15 Ὑμεῖς κατὰ τὴν σάρκα κρίνετε: ἐγὼ
28ου κρεινω ουδενα.  εαν κρινω δε εγωοὐ κρίνω οὐδένα. 16 Καὶ ἐὰν κρίνω δὲ ἐγώ,
29ἡ κρισεις ἡ εμη αληθεινη ἐστιν: ὅτιἡ κρίσις ἡ ἐμὴ ἀληθής ἐστιν: ὅτι
30μόνος οὐκ εἰμί, ἀλλ' ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πέμψαςμόνος οὐκ εἰμί, ἀλλ' ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πέμψας

Codex W: PA

Transcriptional Notes

Jn 7:46b-8:16a

The Break at Jn 7:53-8:11

The photo shows the text of Codex W. John chapter 7 ends at line 14, and is marked with a dot at the end of the line, which is rare in this punctuationless manuscript. The text begins on the next line (15) with John 8:12, "Again then Jesus spoke to them...". The margin is marked with a "Lection" beginning marker, apparently by the same hand as the original scribe, indicating that this manuscript was prepared for Church use.

The break itself, (with John 7:53-8:11 omitted) seems to show an awareness of the Pericope Adulterae, since the omission is marked with a large "dot" (as with other early MSS). Beginning a new line here avoids the need for a following space, as is normally found in other early manuscripts that omit the verses at this place.

Transcriptional Errors and Editorial Alterations

On this page, we see three obvious homoeoteleuton-type blunders and one W.O.R. error:

(1) Dropping a phrase ending in ἄνθρωπος at the end of v.7:46 (line 1). The use of Abbreviations, like ΑΝΟΣ did not prevent the homoeoteleuton, but this may be an old error, introduced before the use of such secondary abbreviations, and not the fault of this copyist.

(2) The loss of νυκτὸς in line 7 is a short skip from similar ending with the following word, possibly by our copyist. It does indicate the originator read Greek word by word, and probably understood what he was copying.

(3) In line 8, skipping ahead to copy the phrase αὐτοῦ πρότερον belonging to line 10, before proceeding (see transcription). This second blunder appears partially "corrected": The scribe intended to erase the first two words in line 8 later, and replace them: In line 10, however, the scribe appears to have thought twice and instead just "improved" the text to hide the blunder. At least this mistake then could be the fault of our copyist.

(4) The Word Order Reversal (W.O.R.) in lines 32-24, was also caused by a short eye-skip, which the scribe did not bother to correct, since it does not affect the sense.

(5) The use of [και] ειπεν may have been unconscious or a habitual simplification from λέγων, which was later caught and corrected in the left margin, probably during proof-reading.

(6) The insertion "Search the Scriptures" (line 13), recalls John 5:39, and appears to be a simple editor's expansion, and may not be the invention of the copyist, but that of an earlier corrector of the master-copy.

(7) Varying spelling of verbs (line 11,13,14,27) and nouns (line 28,29) may be minor stylistic improvements or language updates, and/or archaisms, added by either the scribe or possibly his exemplar.

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