Friday, March 28, 2014

Wizanburgensis Revisited

Back in 2008, when a TC discussion list was still functioning much in the way the NTTC Facebook page nowadays does, I answered a question on a “Codex Wizanburgensis”, brought forward as alleged Greek manuscript support for the infamous “Johannine Comma”.

This is what I wrote then, on 10 September 2008:

[begin self-plagiarism]
In any case, this ‘Wizanburgensis’ is not a Greek manuscript, but a Latin Vulgate manuscript. No Gregory-Aland number therefore

The (mis)information floating around on the internet derives (indirectly) from Lachmann’s edition of the Greek and Latin NT, with Buttmann, 2 vols., Berlin 1842 and 1850. In the second volume, on pp. 240-241, the reading of a codex named Wizanburgensis 99 is given as adding after ‘spiritus et aqua et sanguis, et tres unum sunt’ the words ‘sicut et in caelum tres sunt, pater verbum et spiritus, et tres unum sunt’. The reading is followed by the attestation ‘Wizanburgensis 99 saeculi octavi’.

It is indeed typical for TR/KJV-defenders to have access to such information only indirectly, and to turn it on its head by making it into Greek attestation of the comma.

The situation is even worse. See for instance how Düsterdieck uses the exact wording of the reading to underline the secondary nature of the comma (Die drei johanneischen Briefe II-1, 1854, p. 354; for the entire discussion see pp. 347-357!):

Erwägt man nun die eigenthümlichen Variationen des Hauptgedankens in allen diesen Stellen [various Latin sources from the fifth century onwards], in welchen ein angeblich johanneischer Satz wiedergegeben werden soll, bedenkt man ferner, daß in manchen Handschriften bei den ächten Worten V. 7. 8 sich Randglossen finden, wie [...], bedenkt man ferner, daß die himmlischen Zeugen in einigen lateinischen Handschriften hinter den irdischen Zeugen aufgeführt werden, und daß ein Codex der Vulgata (Cod. Wizanburgensis 99, aus dem 8. Jahrhundert, bei Lachmann) den Zusatz mit einem ‘sicut et’ einfügt (‘quia tres sunt, qui testimonium dant, spiritus et aqua et sanguis, et tres unum sunt, sicut et in caelum tres sunt, pater, verbum et spiritus, et tres unum sunt): so wird man nicht zweifeln, daß das Einschiebsel ein bloßes Interpretament sei, dessen Eindringen in den Text man deutlich verfolgen kann. Wie verrätherisch [not so much ‘treacherous’, but rather ‘revealing’] ist in dieser Hinsicht z. B. der von Lachmann angeführte Codex der Vulgata, welcher das ´sicut et in caelum’ bietet, ohne zuvor den Zusatz ‘in terra’ gemacht zu haben!

These Germans really knew how to write long sentences! But the idea is clear. One may wonder, however, which manuscript it really is, and why Lachmann cites it only for this place.

Some further research (hear hear) establishes that the manuscript is nr. 99 of the Weissenburg collection in the Herzog August library in Wolfenbüttel (‘Codex Guelferbytanus 99 Weissenburgensis’). In the seventeenth century, the HAB acquired a large part of the library of the Weissenburg monastery. Cod. Guelf. 99. Weiss. is the so-called ‘Weissenburg Augustine’, containing homilies by Augustine, in which also the Catholic Epistles, the Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, and some other works are found (see Hans Butzmann, Die Weissenburger Handschriften ..., 1964, pp. 283-287).

Butzmann refers for the text to F.A. Ebert, Zur Handschriftenkunde, p. 186. That turns out to be Friedrich Adolph Ebert, Zur Handschriftenkunde. Erstes Bändchen, Leipzig, 1825, where Ebert mentions on p. 185 that people always want to look up 1 John 5:7-8 (and 1 Tim 3:16) in old manuscripts, and then, after mentioning two Latin manuscripts in which the comma is not found, he writes on p. 186:

Dagegen lautet sie in einem Pergamentcodex des 8. Jahrhunderts (Weissenb. 99. Bl. 117b) so: Hic est, qui venit per aquam et sanguinem Jesus Christus, non in aqua solum, sed in aqua et in sanguine. Et spiritus est ventus, quia tres sunt, qui testimonium dant, spiritus et aqua et sanguis, et tres unum sunt, sicut etiam in coelum (sic) tres sunt, pater, verbum et spirits, et tres unum sunt. Si testimonium hominum accipimus u.s.w.

This information may well be have been Lachmann’s source (perhaps indirectly so). Note however the difference between ‘sicut et’ (Lachmann etc.) and ‘sicut etiam’ (Ebert); note also the peculiar reading ‘ventus’ instead of ‘veritas’.

Anyway, the case is solved, with shelve mark and folio number. Let no one from now on cite this codex as early Greek attestation for the comma. It provides no more than an interesting part of the rather wild Latin-only transmission of the gloss.

Finally: a nice image of the manuscript can be found online, though not f. 117v, at the site of the Herzog August Bibliothek.
[end self-plagiarism]

The same misinformation is still floating around, as shown by a quick Google search on “Wizanburgensis” (one might add “-Otfridi -Otfridus” to filter out some noise on Otfrid of Weissenburg). I even came across a site (no, I will not give a link) where someone, referred to my posting, demands to see the page before believing my point. Am I reminded of John 20:25 here? No, I am not. In any case, I can now satisfy the curious and the incredulous alike with the closest approximation of the real thing: an online image.

The link above to an image does not work anymore, due to the short half-life of Internet hyperlinks, but it turns out that the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel has now put many complete manuscripts online, including our very “Cod. Guelf. 99 Weiss.

So here is f. 117v, and here are for the sake of truth and scholarship the few lines (ll. 9-11) with the Comma:

Et spiritus est veritas   quia tres sunt   qui testimonium dant
spiritus et aqua et sanguis. et tres unum sunt. Sicut etiam in
caelum tres sunt   pater. verbum. et spiritus. et tres unum sunt
For “spiritus” the “nomen sacrum” “sps” is used. The image also explains the strange reading given by Ebert: he understandably misread “veritas” as “ventus”. It also explains the difference in reading “et” (Lachmann) or “etiam” (Ebert), for the manuscript every now and then uses the ampersand for “et”, which is therefore the correct reading. BTW, I no longer think that Ebert, in one way or another, was Lachmann’s source.

Will this proof be enough to close the “Wizanburgensis” chapter? I hope so, in all my naïveté. But of course there is no end in the making of conspiracy theories. We will see.

[Update 28 April 2014]
The likely origin of the “Wizanburgensis” error can be found in Robert Lewis Dabney, “The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek,” in The Southern Presbyterian Review 22 (1871), pp. 191-234; on p. 225, Dabney writes:
... it is clearly admitted that, for the genuineness of the seventh verse, there is very little authority from Greek MSS. It has, thus far, been found in only two of the many hundreds which have been collated—the Montfort MS. in the University Library of Dublin, which is supposed by some to be of little authority, because suspected of having been conformed to the Latin; and in the Codex Wizanburgensis, which Lachmann reckons of the eighth century.
The article was reprinted in Robert Lewis Dabney, Discussions. Vol. I. Theological and Evangelical (ed. Clement Read Vaughan; Richmond, Va.: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1890), pp. 350-390; there the quote is found on p. 381.

Dabney was probably the one who misread Lachmann, and any appeal to a Greek “Codex Wizanburgensis” with the Comma goes back to his article.