What Is the Washington Codex of the Gospels, AKA Codex Washingtonianus?

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The Codex Washingtonianus or Codex Washingtonensis, designated by W or 032 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), ε 014 (Soden), also called the Washington Manuscript of the Gospels, and The Freer Gospel, contains the four biblical gospels and was written in Greek on vellum in the 4th or 5th century.[1] The manuscript is lacunose.

Codex_Washingtonensis_W_032 - Painted cover of the Codex Washingtonianus, depicting the evangelists Luke and Mark (7th century)
Codex_Washingtonensis_W_032 – Painted cover of the Codex Washingtonianus, depicting the evangelists Luke and Mark (7th century)
Name Washingtonianus (Freer Gospel)
Sign W
Text Gospels
Date c. 375-425
Script Greek
Found Egypt (purchased by Charles Lang Freer)
Now at Freer Gallery of Art
Size 187 leaves; 20.75 x 13.75 cm
Type eclectic text-type
Category III
Note unique insertion following Mark 16:14
BIBLE DIFFICULTIES
Charles Lang Freer
Charles Lang Freer (1854–1919)

In Giza, Egypt, in December 1906, a wealthy American industrialist and art collector, Charles L. Freer, purchased some old manuscripts from Ali, an Arab dealer. While Ali claimed that they come from the White Monastery near Sohâg on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt, it seems far more probable that they came from the ruins of the Monastery of the Vinedresser, which is near the third pyramid of Giza in the Nile Delta.

Freer was handed three manuscripts and “a blackened, decayed lump of parchment as hard and brittle on the exterior as glue.”[1] This measured some 6.5 inches [17 cm] long, 4.5 inches [11 cm] wide, and 1.5 inches [4 cm] thick and was sold with the manuscripts just because it was associated with them, not for any supposed value of its own. Employing great care, meticulous, painstaking, delicate work so as to separate the coagulated heap of fragmentary leaves; they eventually managed to reveal 84 leaves, a codex of Paul’s letters that was dated to the fifth or sixth century C.E. Regardless of the bad condition of this manuscript, the text is very accurate and has no interpolations. Henry A. Sanders published a critical edition of the manuscript in 1918.

One of the three manuscripts Freer was handed was of the books Deuteronomy and Joshua. The second was of the Psalms, from the Greek Septuagint translation. The third being extremely important was a manuscript of the four Gospels. The Washington Codex of the Gospels consisted of 187 leaves on parchment, which was written in slanted Greek uncials (capitals). There were few punctuations to speak of but there were often small spaces between phrases. While the edges of the manuscript were badly decayed, almost all of the writing had survived. Later it would be presented to the Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., where it would become known at the Washington Codex, AKA Codex Washingtonianus, or Codex Washingtonensis, and it was designated “W.”

The Washington Codex has been dated to about 375-425 C.E. Therefore, this parchment manuscript has a position of importance not too far behind the highly valued Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, and Codex Alexandrinus manuscripts. Like Codex Bezae, the Gospels (complete except for two lost leaves) are in the so-called Western order of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark.

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Description

The codex is a book of 187 leaves of 20.5–21 cm by 13-14.5 cm with painted wooden covers, consisting of 26 quires (four to eight leaves).[2]

The text is written in one column per page, 30 lines per page. There are numerous corrections made by the original scribe and a few corrections dating to the late 5th or 6th century. John 1:1-5:11 is a replacement of a presumably damaged folio, and dates to around the 7th century. It is missing Mark 15:13-38 and John 14:26-16:7. The ink is dark brown. The words are written continuously without separation. Accents are absent. The rough breathing mark is used very rarely.

Like in Codex Bezae the Gospels follow in Western order: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark.[3]

The following nomina sacra are used in the Codex: ΘΣ, ΚΣ, ΧΡΣ, ΙΣ, ΠΝΑ, ΑΝΟΣ, ΠΗΡ, ΜΗΡ, ΥΣ, ΔΑΔ (ΔΔ once), ΙΗΛ (ΙΣΡΛ once).[4]

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

Matthew 16:2b–3 is present and not marked as doubtful or spurious. Luke 22:43-44, John 5:4, and the Pericope de adultera are omitted by the scribe.

Matthew 16:2b-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
But he answered and said to them, [“When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance[1] of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.][2]

[1] Lit face
[2] This portion of verse 2 and the whole of verse 3 is omitted in early mss (א B Γ 13 157 al syrc, s copsa, bomss arm Origen 047), so they are double square-bracketed in WH and square-bracketed in the NU, suggesting uncertainty. The evidence for the reading is found in (C D L W Δ Θ f1 22 33 372 (579), 700, 892, 2737 Maj syrh,p It Vg DiatessAra Eusebius). It is highly unlikely that this reading is original but rather was added later by scribe, possibly by the middle of the 4th century C.E., borrowing from Luke 12:54-56. (NTTTC 2008, 45-6)

John 5:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4―[1]

[1] The earliest and best witnesses (MSS) 𝔓66 𝔓75 א A* B C* L T D Wsupp 33 itd, I, Q cop[1] Vg Syc do not have John 5:3b-4 in their exemplar; Other later witnesses (MSS) A2 C3 L Θ Ψ 078vid Maj it[1] did have: “waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel of the Lord would come down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred the water. Whoever went in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.” This interpolation was added by later scribes to explain the sick man’s answer in verses 7 where he describes ‘the water being stirred up.’

LUKE 22:43-44 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
[43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed very fervently; and his sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.][1]

[1] Vss 43 and 44 are contained in א* D Vg Syc,h,hi,p Arm; P69vid א1 A B N T W itf syrs copsa omit. The manuscript evidence for verses 43-4 not being in the original is overwhelming. However, there are several early Church Fathers (Justin, Irenaeus, Hippolutus, Dionysius, Eusebius), who acknowledge that what we know as verses 43-44 were in Luke’s Gospel. Yey, other church Fathers such as Jerome, Hilary, Anastasius, ans Epiphanius state that these verses were absent. So, did Luke pen this section and it was deleted later because some felt Jesus being overwhelmed was not in harmony with his deity, or did some copyists add this section later. It is highly unlikely that Luke penned them, based on the evidence.

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It lacks Matthew 5:21-22 (as Minuscule 33),[5] and Luke 19:25 (as Codex Bezae, 69, 1230, 1253, lectionaries, b, d, e, ff², syrc, syrsin, copbo);[6]

It contains Matthew 23:14, as do manuscripts 0104, 0107, 0133, 0138, and most other Byzantine MSS.[7]

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

Text of Codex

The Codex is cited as a “consistently cited witness of the first order” in the critical apparatus of the Novum Testamentum Graece. The codex was apparently copied from several different manuscripts and is the work of two scribes. The text-type is eclectic:

  • Matthew. 1–28; Luke 8:13–24:53 – Byzantine text-type;
  • Mark 1:1–5:30 – Western text-type similar to old-Latin Versions;
  • Mark 5:31 – 16:20 – Caesarean text-type near to P45;
  • Luke 1:1 – 8:12, and J 5:12 – 21:25 – Alexandrian text-type;
  • John 1:1 – 5:11 – mixed with some Alexandrian and Western readings. This text was added in the 7th century, probably for replacement of damaged text.[8]

It has an addition in Mark 1:3, the citation from Is 40:3 is longer. Mark 10:48 is omitted, as in codex 1241.[9]

In Matthew 1:10 it reads Αμων for Αμως (א, B, C), the reading of the codex agrees with Lf13 and the Byzantine text.[10]

Matthew 10:12: It reads λεγοντες ειρηνη τω οικω τουτω instead of αυτην. The reading is used by manuscripts: Sinaiticus*,2, Bezae, Regius, Koridethi, f 1 1010 (1424), it vgcl.[11]

Matthew 23:3 has the reading τηρειν τηρειται και ποιειται in basic agreement with Majority Text (and practically with D) against the United Bible Society’s ποιήσατε καὶ τηρεῖτε (on the understanding that αι is an allophonic variation for ε).[12]

In Mark 2:3 it has ιδου ανδρες ερχονται προς αυτον βασταζοντες εν κρεβαττω παραλυτικον supported only by Old Latin Codex Palatinus instead of usual variant ερχονται φεροντες προς αυτον παραλυτικον αιρομενον υπο τεσσαρων;[13]

In Mark 10:19 — phrase μη αποστερησης omitted, as in codices B, K, Ψ, f1f13, 28, 700, 1010, 1079, 1242, 1546, 2148,  10 950 1642 1761, syrs, arm, geo.[14]

In Μark 13:2 it contains addition και μετα τριων ημερων αλλος αναστησεται ανευ χειρων (and after three days another will arise) — D W it.[15]

In Mark 9:49 it reads πας γαρ πυρι αλισθησεται – as manuscripts (א εν πυρι) B L Δ f1 f13 28 565 700 260 syrs copsa.

In Luke 4:17 it has textual variant καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ βιβλίον (and opened the book) together with the manuscripts A, B, L, Ξ, 33, 892, 1195, 1241,  547, syrs, h, pal, copsa, bo, against variant καὶ ἀναπτύξας τὸ βιβλίον (and unrolled the book) supported by א, Dc, K, Δ, Θ, Π, Ψ, f1f13, 28, 565, 700, 1009, 1010 and many other manuscripts.[16]

In Luke 11:19, it omits εἰ δὲ ἐγὼ ἐν Βεελζεβοὺλ ἐκβάλλω τὰ δαιμόνια due to homoeoteleuton (ὅτι λέγετε ἐν Βεελζεβοὺλ ἐκβάλλει τ δαιμόνια. εἰ δὲ ἐγὼ ἐν Βεελζεβοὺλ ἐκβάλλω τ δαιμόνια).

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

Luke 22:43-44 omitted, as in codices P75, א*, A, B, T, 1071.[17]

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 P75 Sinaiticus a, B, D*, Θ, 0124, 1241, a, Codex Bezaelat, syrsin, copsa, copbo.[18]

In John 7:1 it reads ου γαρ ειχεν εξουσιαν for ου γαρ ηθελεν, the reading is supported by Old Latin: a, b, ff², l, r1, and by Syriac Curetonian.[19]

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Freer Logion

The ending of Mark in this codex is especially noteworthy because it includes a unique insertion after Mark 16:14, referred to as the “Freer Logion”.

Κακεινοι απελογουντο λεγοντες οτι ο αιων ουτος της ανομιας και της απιστιας υπο τον σαταναν εστιν, ο μη εων τα (τον μη εωντα?) υπο των πνευματων ακαθαρτα (-των?) την αληθειαν του θεου καταλαβεσθαι (+ και?) δυναμιν. δια τουτο αποκαλυψον σου την δικαιοσυνην ηδη, εκεινοι ελεγον τω χριστω. και ο χριστος εκεινοις προσελεγεν οτι πεπληρωται ο ὅρος των ετων της εξουσιας του σατανα, ἀλλὰ εγγιζει ἄλλα δεινα. και υπερ ων εγω αμαρτησαντων παρεδοθην εις θανατον ινα υποστρεψωσιν εις την αληθειαν και μηκετι αμαρτησωσιν ινα την εν τω ουρανω πνευματικην και αφθαρτον της δικαιοσυνης δοξαν κληρονομησωσιν.[20]

Translation:

And they excused themselves, saying, “This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits [or: does not allow what lies under the unclean spirits to understand the truth and power of God]. Therefore reveal thy righteousness now” – thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, “The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was delivered over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more in order to inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven.[21]

This text is not found in any other manuscript, but was partially quoted by Jerome:

et illi satisfaciebant dicentes: Saeculum istud iniquitatis et incredulitatis substantia (sub Satana?) est, quae non sinit per immundos spiritus veram Dei apprehendi virtutem: idcirco iamnunc revela iustitiam tuam.[22]

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

History

The codex was purchased by Charles Lang Freer on a trip to Egypt in November 1906.[23] Metzger states: “It is the only Greek Gospel manuscript of early date of which we know provenance. Though the exact spot in Egypt where it was found is not known, there are indications that it came from a monastery in the neighbourhood of the Pyramids.”[24] The writing is closely related to the Codex Panopolitanus (Papyrus Cairensis 10759), Henoch manuscript, found in Akhmim in 1886.[25]

There is a subscription at the end of the Gospel of Mark, written in semi-cursive from the 5th century: “Holy Christ, be thou with thy servant Timothy and all of his.” The similar note appears in Minuscule 579. Hermann von Soden cited a number of similar subscriptions in other manuscripts.[26]

It is located in the Smithsonian Institution at the Freer Gallery of Art (06. 274) in Washington, D.C., United States of America, and some of it can be viewed on-line. Complete images of the codex are available from the Rights and Reproductions office at the Freer Gallery of Art.

The manuscript is dated by the INTF to the 4th or 5th century [375-425 C.E.].[27]

Attribution: This article incorporates some text from the public domain: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Edward D. Andrews

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[1] Aland, KurtAland, Barbara (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 113.

[2] Léon Vaganay, Christian-Bernard Amphoux, Jenny Heimerdinger, An introduction to New Testament textual criticism (1991), p. 17.

[3] Metzger, Bruce M.Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (4 ed.). New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 80.

[4] Henry A. Sanders, Facsimile of the Washington Manuscript of the Four Gospels in the Freer Collection, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1912, p. VI.

[5] Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 26th edition, p. 8.

[6] Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 26th edition, p. 223; UBS3, p. 290.

[7] NA26, p. 65.

[8] Metzger, Bruce M.Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (4 ed.). New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 80

[9] NA26, p. 125.

[10] NA26, p. 1.

[11] NA26, p. 24

[12] OakTree Software, Inc; The New Testament Manuscripts in the Freer Collection, Part I: The Washington Manuscript of the Four Gospels, by Henry A. Sanders. New York: Macmillan, 1912; digitized by Rex A. Koivisto, Multnomah University.

[13] NA26, p. 92.

[14] UBS3, p. 165.

[15] NA26, p. 133.

[16] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart 2001), p. 114; NA26, p. 164.

[17] UBS3, p. 305.

[18] UBS4, p. 311.

[19] UBS3, p. 350.

[20] NA26, p. 148.

[21] Metzger, Bruce M.Bart D. Ehrman (2005). The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th ed.). Oxford.

[22] NA26, p. 148.

[23]  Freer + Sackler Galleries

[24] Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament, Clarendon Press: Oxford 1977, p. 117.

[25] Henry A. Sanders, The New Testament Manuscripts in the Freer Collection, The Macmillan Company, London 1918, p. 3.

[26] Henry A. Sanders, The New Testament Manuscripts in the Freer Collection, The Macmillan Company, London 1918, p. 2.

[27] Liste Handschriften”. Münster: Institute for New Testament Textual Research. Retrieved 16 March 2013.

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