Key Questions of External and Internal Evidence


Evaluation of the External Evidence:

1.   Are the witnesses that support this variant ancient?  Are they among the oldest?

2.   Are the witness that support this variant of high quality?

3.   Do the witness that support this variant reflect a good geographical distribution?

4.   Is this variant supported by witnesses from multiple text-types?


Summary:  Is the External Evidence in favor of this variant strong or weak?  Why?


Evaluation of the Internal Evidence:


1.  Is this (1) a difficult reading, or (2) possibly an improvement of a more difficult reading (a reading that might, superficially seem to be erroneous), or (3) is it so difficult that it must be considered a flagrant error in transcription?

2.   Is this the shortest or most simple reading?

3.              Could it be a reflection of a an error due to faulty eyesight (parablepsis, dittography, haplography, metathesis), hearing, memory, or judgment on the part of the copyist?

4.              Does it relate to material that a scribe might have “deemed to be (I) superfluous, (ii) harsh, or (iii) contrary to pious belief, liturgical usage, or ascetical practice” (Metzger, Commentary, 13*)?  Could the variation reflect the influence of liturgical elements (e.g., the influence of the lectionaries)?

5.              Does this reading represent a harmonization with other passages (OT, Gospel parallel or near context), or does it manifest verbal independence?  (Generally the variant reflects verbal dissonance is to be preferred.)

6.              Does this reading represent the substitution of an unfamiliar word (or usage) with a more familiar one, or alter a less refined grammatical form or a less elegant lexical expression, in accord with contemporary Atticizing preferences (Metzger, 13*)?  Does it have to do with the addition of pronouns, conjunctions, or other explicatives to make a smoother text?

7.              Does this reading reflect the style and vocabulary of the author in the immediate context, in the entire book or in his complete corpus?

8.              Is this the variant that best explains the origin of the others?


Summary:  Is the internal evidence in favor of this variant weak or strong?  Why?