The Claremont Profile Method

Contents: * Introduction * The Procedure * The Results * Wisse's Groups and the Alands' Categories


The Claremont Profile Method (often "CPM") stands as the first attempt in the history of New Testament Textual Criticism at a complete, comprehensive, and repeatable classification of manuscripts. The CPM was created in the 1960s for the International Greek New Testament Project (IGNTP). The IGNTP was preparing a critical apparatus of Luke, and needed a method to determine which manuscripts should be included. The result was the CPM, which eventually was used to classify some 1500 manuscripts of Luke.

The reasons for the creation of the CPM are given by Eldon Jay Epp in "The Claremont Profile Method for Grouping New Testament Minuscule Manuscripts" (first read to the Pacific Coast Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, and now published in Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee, Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, Studies and Documents 45, Eerdmans, 1993, pp. 211-220). The method itself is fully detailed in Frederick Wisse, The Profile Method for Classifying and Evaluating Manuscript Evidence, Studies and Documents 44, Eerdmans, 1992. As both of these books are readily available, the procedure will only be sketched here.

It will be noted that Wisse often calls the CPM simply the "Profile Method." This should be strenuously avoided. Profile methods abound; Bart D. Ehrman's "Comprehensive Profile Method" is only the best-known of the techniques based on manuscript profiling (the present author has developed three different ones by himself). Thus one should always specify that one means the Claremont Profile Method.

The Procedure

The Claremont procedure is relatively simple. A section of text (typically one chapter of a Biblical book) is selected as a sample base. A group of manuscripts (preferably a large group) is collated over this sample, and their variant readings recorded. The Textus Receptus is used as a collation base. Readings are recorded as agreeing or disagreeing with the Textus Receptus. (It will be noted that this procedure does not assign any value to the Textus Receptus; it is simply a collation base. Any text could reasonably have been used.) Although it is not explicitly stated, it seems to have been the goal of the profilers to break as many variants as possible into binaries (i.e. variants where only two readings exist).

From this collation set a series of "profiles" emerge. Each manuscript casts a profile -- an image of its agreements and disagreements with the Textus Receptus. The result is something like a binary stream of data, for example agree-agree-disagree-agree-disagree etc. This can be represented physically in several ways (this is one of the senses in which the word "profile" applies). One is to represent agreements by spaces and disagreements by crosses; in this case, the above profile becomes


Or we could put agreements in the left column and disagreements in the right:


In any case, we have a "shape" of a manuscript. Where enough manuscripts have similar shapes, we label this a "group profile." Manuscripts which have this approximate profile belong to this group.

Having defined our profiles, we can simply compare any new manuscripts with the extant group profiles and quickly analyse the manuscript.

This was the procedure followed by Wisse and his colleague Paul R. McReynolds for Luke. Starting with several hundred manuscripts already on file, they created group profiles and then set in to classify the manuscripts of Luke (using three chapters for their classifications).

The Results

The first result of the CPM was the analysis by Wisse and McReynolds of the manuscripts of Luke. This was in many ways a triumph. For the first time, solid and useful data on over a thousand manuscripts was available. Another benefit was that the Byzantine text was finally successfully analysed. Von Soden had noted a number of Byzantine subgroups (Kr, Kx, Family P, etc.). Although some of these groups (e.g. Kr) had been verified by outside studies, no one had ever covered the complete Byzantine spectrum. The CPM allowed this complete classification, in the process verifying many of Von Soden's groups while modifying others.

This appears to be the true value of the Claremont Profile Method: It succeeds as no other method does in "splitting hairs" -- in detecting and analysing subtle differences between closely related textual groups. Thus it is very useful in analysing the Byzantine text.

But problems appear as one moves on to larger groups. The classic example is Wisse's grouping Codex Bezae with the Alexandrian text. But the problem is actually more obvious in Wisse's so-called "Mixed" manuscripts. This category includes, among others, such crucial manuscripts as C W Q 157 700 1071 -- manuscripts which ought to be classifiable (at the very least, Wisse should be able to tell us what is mixed with what).

W. L. Richards's CPM-inspired study The Classification of the Greek Manuscripts of the Johannine Epistles (SBL Dissertation Series 35, Scholars Press, 1977) suffers the same problem: It finds three non-Byzantine groups (Family 2138, the mainstream Alexandrian text, and Family 1739, respectively) -- but insists that all three are Alexandrian groups when in fact Family 2138, at least, is non-Alexandrian.

The reason appears to be that the CPM does not have a definition of what constitutes a true group. It is not rigorous. There are no necessary and sufficient conditions to group profiles into families, clusters, text-types. This doesn't matter when dealing with tightly-clustered manuscripts (which all show nearly identical profiles, alleviating the need for precise definitions), but it means that the CPM is ill-equipped to deal with amorphous groups such as the Alexandrian text, where all members of the group are mixed and there often is no true "group reading." (Here one is reminded of Colwell's belief that a text-type is a group of manuscripts and not a collection of readings.)

This should not be taken to mean that the CPM is worthless. Its value has been demonstrated, both in the IGNTP Luke and in its analysis of the Byzantine text. One must simply be aware of what the method cannot do.

Wisse's Groups and the Alands' Categories

One thing we can do to refine the CPM somewhat is to compare Wisse's groups in Luke with the Aland Categories of manuscripts. Although this is not its express purpose, the Alands' system is, in effect, a ranking of Byzantine influence. The following table shows a complete list of Wisse's groups, with the Aland category assigned to most of the witnesses of the group. Recall that Category I is the least Byzantine and Category V the most; category IV, however, is not a rating of Byzantine influence, and unclassified witnesses are usually more Byzantine than Category III but less Byzantine than Category V. Observe that, in some cases such as Group B, the Alands will assign different categories to stronger and weaker witnesses to the type. Note: Groups are listed in order of the key witness or group name (e.g. Group B, Cluster 1675, with letters preceding numbers. Manuscripts have only been tested if they belong to the same type in all three of Wisse's test chapters in Luke.).

Wisse Group NameAland Category
Group BCategory I (B, Aleph); II (L, 33, 579, 892, etc.), III (157, 1241, etc.); IV (D)
KrCategory V
KxCategory V
Group L Category V (L, 199, 262, 1187, 1205, etc.) or uncategorized (161, 164, 166, 174, 211, 230, 709, 899, etc.)
M groupsCategory V (M, 27, 159, 350, 410, 414, 443, 498, 692, 750, 1024, 1202, 1208, 1220, 1222, etc.) or uncategorized (10, 71, 349, 569, 609, 895, 947, 1047, 1091, 1170, 1194, 1237, 1386, 1413, 1415, 1458, 1466, 1484, etc.).
P Groups A (only) is Category III; the uncials (K, Y P) and some minuscules (68, 220, 280, 365, 1056, 1200, 1313, 1319, 1355, 1375, etc.) are category V; most of the minuscules (e.g. 114, 175, 178, 265, 389, 489, 557, 581, 679, 706, 726, 931, 992, 1079, 1113, 1138, 1159, 1219, 1272, 1346, 1398, 1463, etc.) are uncategorized.
Group 1Category III (though "further study of the unusually numerous distinctive readings may indicate [category] II" for 1582)
Cluster 7267 is Category V; all others uncategorized.
Group 13Category III
Group 16The manuscripts in this group are split between uncategorized (16, 693, 1528, 1588) and Category V (119, 217, 330, 491).
Group 22Most manuscripts of this group (22, 697, 791, 1005, 1192, 1210, 1278, 1365, 2372) are uncategorized; some (134, 149, 660, 924, 2670) are Category V.
Cluster 121Mostly Category V; 64 and 1665 are uncategorized
Cluster 1272530 is uncategorized; all others are Category V.
Cluster 163All manuscripts are uncategorized.
Cluster 190190 is Category V. The others are unclassified but have high Gregory numbers and may not have been examined by the Alands.
Cluster 276The four low-numbered members of the group (276, 506, 1011, 1057) are Category V; the high-numbered members (1666 and up) are unclassified.
Group 291With the exception of the final three members of the group (2346, 2603, 2728, some of which may not have been examined), all members of this group are Category V.
Cluster 343343 and 494 are Category V; 716 is uncategorized.
Cluster 475475 and 2373 are Category V; 2609 is uncategorized
Cluster 490926, 1486, and 2321 are uncategorized; the other five witnesses are Category V.
Cluster 585331 and 585 are Category V; 545 and 2375 are uncategorized.
Cluster 686The two witnesses 686 and 748 are both Category V.
Cluster 827V: 1050 is Category V; the other four are uncategorized.
Cluster 1001782 is Category V; the other two are uncategorized.
Group 1167Most of the witnesses are Category V, though a few (1167, 1473, 2229, 2604) are uncategorized.
Cluster 10122096 is Category V; the other four are uncategorized.
Cluster 1173The two unmixed manuscripts are both Category V.
Group 1216Most members of the group are uncategorized, although 1243 is listed as Category III (!), while 477 and 977 are Category V.
Cluster 1229All manuscripts are uncategorized.
Cluster 12521252 and 2459 are Category V; 1533 is uncategorized.
Cluster 1442987 and 999 are Category V; 1442 and 1450 are uncategorized.
Group 1519Mostly Category V; 871, 1321, and 1519 are uncategorized.
Cluster 1531185 is Category V; all others are uncategorized.
Cluster 16751424 is Category III in Mark; 517, 954, and 1675 are uncategorized.
Cluster 168560 is Category V; 1454 and 1685 are uncategorized.
Cluster 2148All manuscripts are uncategorized.