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New Testament manuscripts
Uncial 05
A sample of the Greek text from the Codex Bezae

A sample of the Greek text from the Codex Bezae
Name Bezae
Sign Dea
Text Gospels and Acts of Apostles
Date c. 400
Script Greek-Latin diglot
Now at University of Cambridge
Size 26 x 21,5 cm
Type Western text-type
Category IV

The Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis, designated by Dea or 05 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), δ 5 (von Soden), is an important codex of the New Testament dating from the fifth-century. It is written in an uncial hand on vellum and contains, in both Greek and Latin, most of the four Gospels and Acts, with a small fragment of the Third Epistle of John. Written with one column per page it has 406 parchment leaves (26 by 21,5 cm), out of perhaps an original 534, and the Greek pages on the left face Latin ones on the right.[1]



The first three lines of each book are in red letters, and black and red ink alternate lines towards the end of books. As many as nine people have corrected the manuscript between the sixth and twelfth centuries. The text is written colometrically and is full of hiatus. The Greek text of the codex has some copying errors, e.g., errors of metathesis: in John 1:3, ΕΓΕΝΕΤΟ was changed into ΕΝΕΓΕΤΟ; in Acts 1:9, ΥΠΕΛΑΒΕΝ into ΥΠΕΒΑΛΕΝ.

Codex contents

The manuscript presents the gospels in the Western order Matthew, John, Luke and Mark, of which only Luke is complete; after some missing pages the manuscript picks up with the Third Epistle of John (in Latin) and contains part of Acts. Verse John 21:25 placed before 21:24.

Matthew 1:1-20; 6:20 – 9:2; 27:2-12; John 1:16 – 3:26; Acts 8:29 – 10:14; 21:2-10.16-18; 22:10-20.29 – 28:31;
Matthew 3:7-16; Mark 16:15-20; John 18:14 – 20:13 were supplemented by a later hand.
Omitted verses
Matthew 9:34; 10:37; 21:44; 23:14;
Mark 15:28;
Luke 5:39; 12:21; 24:5; 24:12; 24:40;
John 5:4.
Omitted phrases
Matthew 15:6 η την μητερα (αυτου) (or (his) mother);[2]
Matthew 20:23 και το βαπτισμα ο εγω βαπτιζομαι βαπτισθησεσθε (and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with), as in codices Sinaiticus, B, L, Z, Θ, 085, f1, f13, it, syrs, c, copsa.[3]
Luke 10:41b-42a instead of μεριμνας και θορυβαζη περι πολλα, ολιγων (ενος) δε εστιν χρεια Μαριαμ γαρ (you are worried and troubled about many things, but not much (one thing) is needed) has only θορυβαζη (worried)
John 4:9 ου γαρ συνχρωνται Ιουδαιοι Σαμαρειταις omitted

Text type

The Greek text is unique, with many interpolations found nowhere else, with a few remarkable omissions, and a capricious tendency to rephrase sentences. Aside from this one Greek manuscript it is found in Old Latin (pre-Vulgate) versions — as seen in the Latin here — and in Syriac, and Armenian versions. Bezae is the principle Greek representative[4] of the Western text-type. The manuscript demonstrates the latitude in the manuscript tradition that could still be found in the 5th and 6th centuries, the date of this codex.

There is no consensus on the many problems the Greek text presents. Since the Latin, however, occasionally agrees with Codices Codex Bobiensis and Codex Veronensis, it is a witness to a text current no later than 250 CE and "preserves an ancient form of the Old Latin text."[5] Issues of conformity have dogged the usage of the Codex Bezae in biblical scholarship too. In general the Greek text is treated as an unreliable witness and treated as "an important corroborating witness wherever it agrees with other early manuscripts" as one of the links below freely admits.

Some of the outstanding features: Matthew 16:2b-3 is present and not marked as doubtful or spurious. One of the longer endings of Mark is given. Luke 22:43f and Pericope de adultera are present and not marked as spurious or doubtful. John 5:4 is omitted, and the text of Acts is nearly one-tenth longer than the generally received text.

Notable readings

It contains addition after Matt. 20:28, occurring in Codex Beratinus:

"But seek to increase from that which is small, and to become less from which is greater. When you enter into a house and are summoned to dine, do not sit down at the prominent places, lest perchance a man more honorable than you come in afterwards, and he who invited you come and say to you, "Go down lower"; and you shall be ashamed. But if you sit down in the inferior place, and one inferior to you come in, then he that invited you will say to you, "Go up higher"; and this will be advantageous for you."[6]

In Matthew 25:41 it has ο ητοιμασεν ο πατηρ μου (which prepared my Father) together with f1 instead of το ητοιμασμενον (prepared) as have majority of the manuscripts.[7]

Verse Mark 10:25 placed before 10:24.[8]

In Mark 5:9 it has απεκριτη. The other manuscripts have:

λεγιων ονομα μοι — א, B, C, L, Δ
απεκριθη λεγων — E, 565, 700
λεγεων — A, W, Θ, f1, f13, Byz[9]

Μαrk 13:2

και μετα τριων ημερων αλλος αναστησεται ανευ χειρων (and after three days another will arise) — D W it

In Mark 15:34 (see Ps 22:2) it has ὠνείδισάς με (insult me), supported by some Old-Latin manuscripts (itc, (i), k) and by syrh. Ordinary reading in this place is ἐγκατέλιπές με (forsaken me) supported by Alexandrian mss or με ἐγκατέλιπες (see Mt 27:46) supported by Byzantine mss.

In Luke 4:17 the codex contains unique textual variant ἁπτύξας (touched), corrected by a later hand into ἀναπτύξας (unrolled). The other manuscripts have in this place:

ἀνοίξας (opened) — Vaticanus A, L, W, Ξ, 33, 892, 1195, 1241, 547, syrs, h, pal, copsa, bo
ἀναπτύξας (unrolled) — א, K, Δ, Θ, Π, Ψ, f1, f13, 28, 565, 700, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1216, 1230, 1242, 1253, 1344, 1546, 1646, 2148, 2174, Byz.

In Luke 6:5

"On the same day seeing some one working on the Sabbath, He said to him: 'man, if you know what you do, blessed are you; but if you do not know, you are cursed and a transgressor of the law'."

In Luke 23:34 omitted words: "And Jesus said: Father forgive them, they know not what they do." This omission is supported by the manuscripts Papyrus 75, Sinaiticusa, B, W, Θ, 0124, 1241, a, Codex Bezae (Latin text), syrs, copsa, copbo.[10]

Luke 9:55-56

στραφεις δε επετιμησεν αυτοις και ειπεν, Ουκ οιδατε ποιου πνευματος εστε (but He turned and rebuked them and He said: "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of) — as in ( 1127m) d geo

In Acts 20:28 it reads του κυριου (of the Lord) together with the manuscripts Papyrus 74 C* E Ψ 33 36 453 945 1739 1891.[11][n 1]

A sample of the Latin text from the Codex Bezae

History of the Codex

The manuscript is believed to have been repaired at Lyon in the Ninth century as revealed by a distinctive ink used for supplementary pages. It was closely guarded for many centuries in the monastic library of St Irenaeus at Lyon. The manuscript was consulted, perhaps in Italy, for disputed readings at the Council of Trent, and was at about the same time collated for Stephanus's edition of the Greek New Testament. During the upheavals of the Wars of Religion in the 16th century, when textual analysis had a new urgency among the Reformation's Protestants, the manuscript was taken from Lyon in 1562 and delivered to the Protestant scholar Theodore Beza, the friend and successor of Calvin, who gave it to the University of Cambridge, in the comparative security of England, in 1581, which accounts for its double name. It remains in the Cambridge University Library (Nn. II 41).[12]

Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener edited the text of codex in 1864 (rewritten text of the codex)[13] and in 1889 (photographic facsimile).

The importance of the Codex Bezae is such that a colloquium held at Lunel, Herault, in 27-30 June 1994 was entirely devoted to it[14]. Papers discussed the many questions it poses to our understanding of the use of the Gospels and Acts in early Christianity, and of the text of the New Testament.

See also


  1. ^ For the another variants of this verse see: Textual variants in the Acts of the Apostles.


  1. ^ Kurt Aland, and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1995), pp. 109-110.
  2. ^ NA26, p. 41.
  3. ^ NA26, 56.
  4. ^ Bruce Metzger The Text of the New Testament 4th ed. p. 73.
  5. ^ Metzger, p. 103.
  6. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, B.D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 71.
  7. ^ NA26, p. 74
  8. ^ NA26, p. 123.
  9. ^ NA26, p. 102.
  10. ^ UBS4, p. 311.
  11. ^ NA26, p. 384.
  12. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, B.D. Ehrman, The Text Of The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 70-73.
  13. ^ F. H. A. Scrivener, Bezae Codex Cantabrigiensis: being an exact Copy, in ordinary Type, of the celebrated Uncial Graeco-Latin Manuscript of the Four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, written early in the Sixth Century, and presented to the University of Cambridge by Theodore Beza A.D. 1581. Edited, with a critical Introduction, Annotations, and Facsimiles, 1864.
  14. ^ The story of the colloquium has been chronicled by one of the participants: J.-M. Auwers, "Le colloque international sur le Codex Bezae", Revue Théologique de Louvain 26 (1995), 405-412. See also: Codex Bezae, Studies from the Lunel Colloquium, ed. D.C. Parker & C.-B. Amphoux

Further reading

  • F. H. Chase, The Old Syriac Element in the Text of Codex Bezae. Gorgias Press, 2004.
  • J. Rendel Harris, Codex Bezae: A Study of the so-called Western Text of the New Testament. Cambridge: University Press, 1891.
  • M.-É. Boismard – A. Lamouille, Le texte occidental des Actes des Apôtres. Reconstitution et réhabilitation, 2 vol., Paris 1984.
  • 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.
  • W. A. Strange, The Problem of the Text of Acts, (SNTS MS, 71), Cambridge 1992.
  • D. C. Parker, Codex Bezae: An Early Christian Manuscript and its Text. Cambridge: University Press, 1992.
  • Codex Bezae, Studies from the Lunel Colloquium, June 1994, ed. D.C. Parker & C.-B. Amphoux, Leiden: Brill, 1996.
  • Scrivener F. H. A., Bezae Codex Cantabrigiensis: being an exact Copy, in ordinary Type, of the celebrated Uncial Graeco-Latin Manuscript of the Four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, written early in the Sixth Century, and presented to the University of Cambridge by Theodore Beza A.D. 1581. Edited, with a critical Introduction, Annotations, and Facsimiles, 1864.
  • James D. Yoder, "The Language of the Greek Variants of the Codex Bezae," Novum Testamentum 3 (1959), pp. 241-248.
  • L’Évangile de Luc et les Actes des Apôtres selon le Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, annotated translation by Sylvie Chabert d’Hyères. Paris: L’Harmattan, 422 p., 2009.

External links


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(CODEX CANTABRIGIENSIS), one of the five most important Greek New Testament manuscripts, and the most interesting of all on account of its peculiar readings; scholars designate it by the letter D (see Biblical Criticism). It receives its name from Theodore Beza, the friend and successor of John Calvin, and from the University of Cambridge, which obtained it as a gift from Beza in 1581 and still possesses it. The text is bilingual, Greek and Latin. The manuscript, written in uncial characters, forms a quarto volume, of excellent vellum, 10 x 8 inches, with one column to a page, the Greek being on the left page (considered the place of honour), the parallel Latin facing it on the right page. It has been reproduced in an excellent photographic facsimile, published (1899) by the University of Cambridge.

The codex contains only the Four Gospels, in the order once common in the West, Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, then a few verses (11-15), in Latin only, of the Third Epistle of St. John, and the Acts. There are missing, however, from the manuscript of the original scribe, in the Greek, Mt 1:1-20; [iii, 7-16]; vi, 20-ix, 2; xxvii, 2-12; Jn 1:16-iii, 26; [xviii, 14-xx, 13]; [Mk. xvi, 15-20]; Acts 8:29-x, 14; xxi, 2-10, 16-18; xxii, 10-20; xxii, 29-xxviii, 31; in the Latin, Mt 1:1-11; [ii, 21-iii, 7]; vi,8-viii, 27; xxvi, 65-xxvii, 1; Jn 1:1-iii, 16; [xviii, 2-xx, 1]; [Mk., xvi, 6-20]; Acts 8:20-x, 4; xx, 31-xxi, 2, 7-10; xxii, 2-10; xxiii, 20- xxviii, 31. The passages in brackets have been supplied by a tenth-century hand. It will be noticed that St. Luke's Gospel alone, of the books contained, is preserved complete. The condition of the book shows a gap between the Gospels and Acts; and the fragment of III John indicates that, as in other ancient manuscript, the Catholic Epistles were placed there. The fact that the Epistle of Jude does not immediately precede Acts is regarded as pointing to its omission from the codex; it may, however, have been placed elsewhere. We cannot tell whether the manuscript contained more of the New Testament, and there is no indication that it was, like the other great uncial manucripts, ever joined to the text of the Old Testament. Besides the hand of the original scribe, there are corrections in several different hands, some probably contemporary with the original, later liturgical annotations and the sortes sanctorum, or formulae for telling fortunes; all these are important for tracing the history of the manuscript

Beza wrote in the letter accompanying his gift that the manuscript was obtained from the monastery of St. Irenaeus in Lyons, during the war in 1562. Lyons was sacked by the Huguenots in that year and this manuscript was probably part of the loot. The reformer said it had lain in the monastery for long ages, neglected and covered with dust; but his statement is rejected by most modern scholars. It is claimed, in fact, that this codex is the one which was used at the Council of Trent in 1546 by William Dupré (English writers persist in calling this Frenchman a Prato), Bishop of Clermont in Auvergne, to confirm a Latin reading of John, xxi, si eum volo manere, which is found only in the Greek of this codex. Moreover, it is usually identified with Codex beta, whose peculiar readings were collated in 1546 for Stephens' edition of the Greek Testament by friends of his in Italy. Beza himself, after having first denominated his codex Lugdunensis, later called it Claromontanus, as if it came not from Lyons, but from Clermont (near Beauvais, not Clermont of Auvergne). All this, throwing Beza's original statement into doubt, indicates that the manuscript was in Italy in the middle of the sixteenth century, and has some bearing upon the locality of the production.

It has commonly been held that the manuscript originated in Southern France around the beginning of the sixth century. No one places it at a later dare, chiefly on the evidence of the handwriting. France was chosen, partly because the manuscript was found there, partly because churches in Lyons and the South were of Greek foundation and for a long time continued the use of Greek in the Liturgy, while Latin was the vernacular- for some such community, at any rate, this bilingual codex was produced- and partly because the text of D bears a remarkable resemblance to the text quoted by St. Irenaeus, even, says Nestle, in the matter of clerical mistakes, so that it is possibly derived from his very copy. During the past five years, however, the opinion of the best English textual critics has been veering to Southern Italy as the original home of D. It is pointed out that the manuscript was used by a church practising the Greek Rite, as the liturgical annotations concern the Greek text alone; that these annotations date from the ninth to the eleventh century, exactly the period of the Greek Rite in Southern Italy, while it had died out elsewhere in Latin Christendom, and show that the Byzantine Mass-lections were in use, which cannot have been the case in Southern France. The corrections, too, which concern the Greek text but rarely the Latin, the spelling, and the calendar all point to Southern Italy. These arguments, however, touch only the home of the manuscript, not its birthplace, and manuscripts have travelled from one end of Europe to the other. Ravenna and Sardinia, where Greek and Latin influences also met, have likewise been suggested. It can only be said that the certainty with which till recently it was ascribed to Southern France has been shaken, and the probabilities now favour Southern Italy.

Following Scrivener, scholars universally dated it from the beginning of the sixth century, but there is a tendency now to place it a hundred years earlier.. Scrivener himself admitted that the handwriting was not inconsistent with this early date, and only assigned it a later date by reason of the Latinity of the annotations. But the corrupt Latin is not itself incompatible with an earlier date, while the freedom with which the Latin N.T. text is handled indicates a time when the Old Latin version was still current. It probably belongs to the fifth century. Nothing necessitates a later date.

The type of text found in D is very ancient, yet it has survived in this one Greek manuscript alone, though it is found also in the Old Latin, the Old Syriac, and the Old Armenian versions. It is the so-called Western Text, or one type of the Western Text. All the Fathers before the end of the third century used a similar text and it can be traced back to sub-Apostolic times. Its value is discussed elsewhere. D departs more widely than any other Greek codex from the ordinary text, compared with which as a standard, it is characterized by numerous additions, paraphrastic renderings, inversions, and some omissions. (For collation of text, see Scrivener, Bezae Codex, pp. xlix-lxiii; Nestle, Novi Test. Graeci Supplementum, Gebhardt and Tischendorf ed., Leipzig, 1896.) One interpolation is worth noting here. After Lk 6:5, we read "On the same day seeing some one working on the Sabbath, He said to him 'man, if you know what you do, blessed are you; but if you do not know, you are cursed and a transgressor of the law'." The most important omission, probably, is the second mention of the cup in Luke's account of the Last Supper.

The Latin text is not the Vulgate, nor yet the Old Latin, which it resembles more closely. It seems to be an independent translation of the Greek that faces it, though the fact that it contains two thousand variations from its accompanying Greek text have led some to doubt this. Of this number, however, only seven hundred and sixteen are said to be real variant readings, and some of these are derived from the Vulgate. If the translation be independent, both the Vulgate and Old Latin have influenced it greatly; as time went on, the influence of the Vulgate grew and probably extended even to modifications of the Greek text. Chase, however, traces many of the variants to an original Syriac influence. The text, which was in so great honour in the Early Church, possesses a fascination for certain scholars, who occasionally prefer its readings; but none professes to have really solved the mystery of its origin.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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