Western text-type

Western text-type

The Western text-type is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts. It is the term given to the predominant form of the New Testament text witnessed in the Old Latin translation from the Greek; and also in quotations from certain 2nd and 3rd Century Christian writers, including Cyprian, Tertullian and Irenaeus. The Western text had a large number characteristic features, which appeared in text of the Gospels, Book of Acts, and in Pauline epistles. The Catholic epistles and the Book of Revelation probably did not have Western form of text.


The Western text has the tendency for paraphrase. Words, clauses, and whole sentences are freely changed, omitted or inserted, sometimes with a tendency for harmonization. Added material comes from oral tradition and the apocryphal literature. Usually presents longer variants of text, but in the end of the Gospel of Luke and other NT books it has shorter variants, named Western "non-interpolations".

Only one Greek Uncial manuscript is considered to transmit a Western text for the four Gospels and the Book of Acts - the fifth century Codex Bezae; while the sixth century Codex Claromontanus is considered to transmit a Western text for the letters of Saint Paul, and is followed in this by two ninth century Uncials: F and G. Many "Western" readings are also found in the Old Syriac translations of the Gospels, the Sinaitic and the Curetonian, though opinions vary as to whether these versions can be considered witnesses to the Western text-type. A number of fragmentary early papyri from Egypt also have Western readings, P29, P38, P48; and in addition, Codex Sinaiticus is considered to be Western in the first eight chapters of John. The term "Western" is a bit of a misnomer because members of the Western text-type have been found in the Christian East, including Syria. [ J. N. Birdsall, Collected Papers in Greek And Georgian Textual Criticism, University of Birmingham Press, 2001, pp. 29-43. ]


Compared to the Byzantine text-type, distinctive Western readings in the Gospels, are more likely to be abrupt in their Greek expression. Compared to the Alexandrian text-type distinctive Western readings in the Gospels are more likely display glosses, additional details, and instances where the original passages appear to be replaced with longer paraphrases. In distinction from both Alexandrian and Byzantine texts, the Western text-type consistently omits a series of eight short phrases from verses in the Gospel of Luke; the so-called Western non-interpolations. In at least two Western texts, the Gospels appear in a variant order: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark. The Western text of the Epistles of Paul - as witnessed in the Codex Claromontanus and uncials F and G - does not share the periphrastic tendencies of the Western text in the Gospels and Acts, and it is not clear whether they should be considered to share a single text-type.

Although the Western text-type survives in relatively few witnesses, some of these are every bit as early as the earliest witnesses to the Alexandrian text type. Nevertheless, the majority of text critics consider the Western text in the Gospels to be characterised by periphrasis and expansion; and accordingly tend to prefer the Alexandrian readings. In the letters of St Paul, the counterpart Western text is more restrained, and a number of text critics regard it as the most reliable witness to the original.

See also

* Categories of New Testament manuscripts
* Alexandrian text-type
* Byzantine text-type
* Caesarean text-type
* Acts of the Apostles#Text

External links

* [http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/TextTypes.html#WestText Western text at the Encyclopedia of Textual Criticism]
* [http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/acts_long_02_text.htm The Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (1923)]
* [http://www.skypoint.com/~waltzmn/WestNonInterp.html The Western Non-Interpolations]
* [http://www.bible-researcher.com/noninterp.html Hort's Theory of 'Western Non-Interpolations]



* A.H. McNeile, An Introduction to the Study of the New Testament, Oxford 1927.
* A.F.J. Klijn, A Survey of the Researches Into the Western Text of the Gospels and Acts (1949-1959), Novum Testamentum, Volume 3, Numbers 1-2, 1959, pp. 1-53.
* Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford 2005, ss. 276-277.
* B. M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The New Testament: A Companion Voume To The United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, 1994, United Bible Societies, London & New York, pp. 5*-6*.

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