The Manuscripts of the Catholic Epistles

Robert B. Waltz

Contents: Introduction * Table of Papyri and Uncials * Table of Minuscules 1-500 * Table of Minuscules 501-1000 * Table of Minuscules 1001-1500 * Table of Minuscules 1501-2000 * Table of Minuscules Over 2000 * Notes *


Textual critics are dependent on their materials -- in this case, manuscripts. But how is a student to know which manuscripts contain which text? No one can possibly examine all the manuscripts now available.

To make matters worse, not all editors agree on the nature of the text found in the manuscripts.

This article attempts to summarize the judgments passed by previous editors. The tables below list all non-fragmentary manuscripts cited regularly in at least one of the major recent critical apparati (Merk, Nestle-Aland26, Nestle-Aland27, UBS3, UBS4). Notes on sources and how to interpret the data follow the table. Fragmentary manuscripts are omitted as they should be dealt with on a more detailed basis.

Table of Papyri & Uncials

Gregory NumberSoden SymbolDateContentsSoden DescMerk DescAland DescRichards DescWachtel DescComment
I Normal/
40+Very close to B. Generally not close to other Alexandrian texts. Rather free in Jude.
P74VIIa#c#IA340+Alexandrian, but fragmentary nature makes it hard to determine subgroup.
Aleph (01)d2IVeapcrHHIA240+Alexandrian, but somewhat removed from the main thrust of the group.
A (02)d4Ve#ap#crHHIA240+Earliest and best member of the mainstream of the Alexandrian text. Close to 33; also to 81, 436, Y, Bohairic Coptic; etc.
B (03)d1IVeap#cHHIA240+Close to P72, but very distinct from the rest of the Alexandrian text. P72/B may form a distinct text-type.
C (04)d3V#eapcrHHIIA240+Same text-type as 1739. Not part of the actual family 1739, but much closer to this text than to the Alexandrian text. May be family 1739 with Alexandrian mixture. (Amphoux: Caesarean/family 1739.)
K (018)Apr1 (I1)IXp#c CommKKV<10Byzantine.
L (020)a5IXa#p#cKKVB6<10Byzantine.
P (025)a3IXa#p#c#rHHIII30+Mixed, but more Byzantine than anything else.
Y (044)d6IX?e#ap#cHHIIA240+Mostly Alexandrian, of the A/33/81/436 group. Possibly some mixture with the B text.
049a2IXap#cKC/HVB6<10Byzantine. May have a slightly earlier form of the text than K or L.
056O7Xapc CommKV10+/1066Byzantine.
0142O6Xapc CommHV10+/1066Byzantine.

Table of Minuscules 1-500

Gregory NumberSoden SymbolDateContentsSoden DescMerk DescAland DescRichards DescWachtel DescComment
6d356XIIIeapcHHIIIA230+Family 1739 (rather weak), with affinities to 424**.
33d48IX#eapcHHI40+Along with A, the head of the main Alexandrian group (81, 436, Y, bo, etc.) A and 33 form a pair -- not sisters, but closely linked.
81a1621044a#pcHHII40+Alexandrian -- a slightly mixed witness of the A/33/436 type.
88a200XIIapcrIa1CaIII20+/915Mostly Byzantine, with some earlier readings. Contains 1 John 5:7-8 (in the margin, in a late hand)
206a365XIII#apcIb1CbIIIA1/B/B40+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Family 2138 (except in 2 & 3 John, which are from another hand). Appears to belong with the 630 subgroup.
307(Apr11) (A217)Xac CommIa1CaIII30+/453
322a550XVapcII40+Later and slightly corrupted sister of 323
323a157XII#apcIb2HIIA340+(Amphoux: Family 1739). Mixed Byzantine and family 1739. Mostly Byzantine in James; Byzantine influence declines in 1 Peter, and is almost gone in 2 Peter-Jude, where 323 is almost a sister of 1739.
424**O12XIapcrHHIII424*: B6/Mw
424**: M2/Mw
424 is a Byzantine manuscript corrected toward family 1739. The corrections are especially close to 6.
429a398 (a1471)XIVapcrIb1CbIII40+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Family 2138, probably of the 630 group.
436a172XapcIa3CaIII40+/1067Alexandrian, of the A/33/81 group. Some Byzantine readings.
460a397XIII#apc Gk/

Table of Minuscules 501-1000

Gregory NumberSoden SymbolDateContentsSoden DescMerk DescAland DescRichards DescWachtel DescComment
eapcrIb1CbIII40+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Family 2138, probably of the 630 group.
614a364XIIIapcIc2CcIIIA140+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Family 2138. Later sister (probably technically a niece) of 2412. The two form one of the major subgroups of family 2138.
623a1731037#apc CommIa2CaIIIA340+
629a460XIVapc Gk/LatKIII40+Mixed text; largely Byzantine, but with a very high number of unique readings. Possibly "Western"? Influenced by the Latin; includes part of 1 John 5:7-8
630a461XIVa#pcIbIII40+/HkgrFamily 2138. Heads a subgroup which also contains 1799 2200 plus probably 206, 429, 522.
876a356XIIapcIc2(Cc)M2/Mw/A120+/876(Amphoux: weak Family 2138).
945d362XIeapc(Iphic)(Cphi)III40+(Amphoux: Family 1739). Family 1739. Very close to 1739 itself, except for a number of Byzantine readings. Quite possibly (since both are at Athos) a descendent of 1739 itself with one or two intermediate copies.

Table of Minuscules 1001-1500

Gregory NumberSoden SymbolDateContentsSoden DescMerk DescAland DescRichards DescWachtel DescComment
1108a370XIII#apcIc1Cc(Amphoux: Family 2138).
1175a74XIap#cHHIB640+Heavily Byzantine in the Johannine Epistles, although some good readings survive in the earlier letters.
1241d371XIIe#apcHKIA340+(Amphoux: Family 1739). Like C, a member of the 1739 text-type although not of family 1739 itself. Very valuable although probably a rather poor copy of its exemplar.
1243d198XIeapcKIA340+(Amphoux: Family 1739). Probably family 1739, perhaps to be grouped with 1241.
1292d395XIIIeapcII40+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138).

Table of Minuscules 1501-2000

Gregory NumberSoden SymbolDateContentsSoden DescMerk DescAland DescRichards DescWachtel DescComment
1505d165XIIeapc(K)III40+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Family 2138. Forms a group with 2495 (a later, poorer version of the group text).
1518a551XIVapcIc1Cc(Amphoux: Family 2138). Lost, but probably family 1611. May have resurfaced as 1896.
1611a208X#apcrIc1CcIIIA140+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Family 2138. Groups with 2138 itself, although the text is not quite as good.
1739a78Xapc(H)HIA340+Primary witness to a text-type (the other leading witnesses being C and 1241). Within the type it forms a family with 323, 945, 1881, 2298, etc.
1758a396XIII#apcIb1Cb20+(Amphoux: Family 2138).
1765a486XIVapcIc2Cb20+/876(Amphoux: weak Family 2138).
a#pc40+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Family 2138, of the 630 subgroup.
1831a472XIV#apcIb1Cb40+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138).
1836a65X1J2J3J Jude pIa1CaIII10+/181
1852a114XIII#apcr(H+Ic1)CcII40+(Amphoux: weak Family 2138).
1881a651XIV1-2P 1-3Jo Jude pII40+Family 1739, with perhaps some mixture with the 1241 type of text.
1891a62XapcIbCbVB1(Amphoux: weak Family 2138).

Table of Minuscules 2001 and over

Gregory NumberSoden SymbolDateContentsSoden DescMerk DescAland DescRichards DescWachtel DescComment
2138a1161072apcrIc1CcIIIA140+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Leading witness of family 2138. Forms its own subgroup with 1611.
eapcIc2CcIII30+/2652(Amphoux: weak Family 2138).
2298a171XIIapcIb2(H)II40+(Amphoux: Family 1739). Family 1739.
2412XII#apcIIIA140+/HkgrFamily 2138. Forms a subgroup with 614 (the latter being a niece or other near relative of 2412).
2492XIVeapcIII?20+(Amphoux: Family 1739). Largely Byzantine, with elements from other text-types. Despite Amphoux, it is not a true family 1739 text.
2495XV#eapcrII?40+/Hkgr(Amphoux: Family 2138). Family 2138. A later representative of the group headed by 1505.


Gregory Number -- The standard numerical designation for manuscripts, based on the system created by Caspar Rene Gregory.

Soden Symbol -- The designation given to the manuscript by H. von Soden. The user is referred to von Soden's work or the commentaries for a discussion of these symbols, many of which cannot even be reproduced in HTML format.

The Gregory/Soden equivalences given here are taken primarily from Kurt Aland, Kurzgefasste Liste der Grieschischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments (de Gruyer, 1963). They have been checked against Merk where necessary.

Note: If a manuscript has multiple Soden symbols, this usually means that it comes from two different eras and that von Soden assigned two numbers to the various parts. The first symbol will usually be the one used in the current section.

Date -- as given by the most recent catalogs (NA27 or the Kurzgefasste Liste). Arabic numerals indicate a precise date listed in a colophon; roman numerals indicate centuries (as judged by paleographers).

Contents -- briefly describes the contents of a manuscript. e=Gospels; a=Acts; p=Paul; c=Catholics; r=Apocalypse. The symbol # indicates a defect. If it follows the description of a section (e.g. p#) it indicates that the manuscript is defective in that section; if it precedes the list, it means that the nature of the defect is unknown to me. Thus, ap#c indicates a manuscript which contains Acts, Paul, and the Catholics, which is defective for part of Paul; #apc indicates a manuscript of those same books which is defective in a way unknown to me. Comm indicates a commentary manuscript; polyglot manuscripts are also noted.

The information here is taken from the Kurzgefasste Liste, from NA27, from a variety of special studies, and from my own researches.

Soden Description -- this indicated the classification in which von Soden placed the manuscripts. There is no room here for a full discussion, but we may note that H is the Alexandrian text. K is the Byzantine text. The various I groups include a wide variety of manuscripts of mixed types. Curiously, von Soden divides family 2138 among three I groups in Ib and Ic.

The information from this section again comes from the Kurzgefasste Liste, supplemented by Merk and other authorities.

Merk Description -- These are the classification used in Augustinus Merk's Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine. It will be observed that, for the most part, they correspond with von Soden's, except that C has been substituted for I. This list is also generally useful for Bover's edition, although Bover does not offer group names. A question mark or parenthesized entry in this column indicates that Merk's list of manuscripts does not correspond to his manuscript groupings; the reader is referred to the group lists.

Aland Description -- Kurt and Barbara Aland undertook to classify "all" minuscules according to quality. In The Text of the New Testament (translated by Erroll F. Rhodes, Eerdmans, 1989) they listed their results. A category I manuscript was considered most important for establishing the text (practical translation: a category I manuscript is supposed to be free of Byzantine influence). A category II manuscript is somewhat poorer and more mixed; category III is important "for the history of the text"; category V is Byzantine. In practice, these categories are an assessment of Byzantine influence.

It will be noted that not all manuscripts have been rated. Some (e.g. 1799) were not collated. In most instances, however, it appears to be because the manuscript is very slightly mixed -- not purely Byzantine, but not clearly anything else, either. In some cases I have been unable to determine why the Alands did not give a rating.

Richards Description -- The classification found in W.L. Richards's The Classification of the Greek Manuscripts of the Johannine Epistles. Richards studied some eighty manuscripts of the Catholics in the Johannine Epistles. His study applied a modified version of the Claremont Profile Method. He found three "text-types" -- "Alexandrian" (with three sub-categories), Byzantine (eight sub-categories), and "Mixed" (yes, Richards calls "mixed" a text-type, and has three sub-groupings. Richards also tries to find text-types in 2 and 3 John -- books which are simply not long enough to classify).

In general, the lists below show the dominant text-type.

Although Richards can be attacked both for his method and the accuracy of his collations, his groups generally stand up (except that the three A groups should not all be considered Alexandrian!). Group A1 is family 2138; group A2 is the standard Alexandrian text (Aleph, A, B, C); group A3 is family 1739.

The following list shows the leading representatives of the various groups:

A1 -- (206), 614, (876), 1611, 1799, 2138, 2412
A2 -- Aleph, A, B, C, Y, 6
A3 -- (P74), 5, 323, 623, (642), 1241, 1243, 1739, (1845)

M1 -- 181, 917, 1874, 1898
M2 -- 424** (!),642, 876, 999, 1827, 2401
Mw -- this is not a true group; it consists of manuscripts which go with no other group. It includes 69, 643, 1522, 1845, and portions of other manuscripts.

Btr -- 356, 462, 547, 1240, 1311, 1854, TR
B1 -- 319, 330, 479, 483, 635, 1829, 1891
B2 -- 201, 226, 959, 1248, 1876, 1889
B3 -- 97, 177, 223, 1597, 1872, 2423
B4 -- 216, 440, 1022, 1245, 1315, 1610, 1738
B5 -- 489, 920, 927, 1873
B6 -- L, (049), 424*, 794, 1175, 1888, 2143
B7 -- 38, 582, 1319, 1424, 1835

Wachtel Description -- The classification as given in Klaus Wachtel, Der Byzantinische Text der Katholischen Briefe. Wachtel has a two-part classification. The basic groupings are based on distance from the Byzantine text. (As measured based on the 98 test readings for the Catholic Epistles found in Aland et al, Text und Textwert der grieschischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments.) Within this classification he sees a number of groups.

Observe that these groups are not text-types; Wachtel does not really examine text-types. The Alexandrian and family 1739 texts, for instance, are grouped together, without classification, in the "40% or more non-Byzantine" category. Wachtel is more interested in small groupings. Note that this does not allow mixed manuscripts to be classified with their text-types (for example, 945 -- which might even be a direct descendent of 1739 with some Byzantine corrections -- is not classified with 1739).

The basic list of Wachtel's types is shown below, with the symbol I use to represent it:

Wachtel also lists the following as belonging to the Kr recension: 18, 201, 386, 394, 432, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1503, 1548, 1619, 1628, 1636, 1725, 1745, 1746, 1768, 1858, 1864, 1865, 1897, 2544, 2587.
Related to Kr, with differences of a single reading, are the following:

(Thanks to Ulrich Schmid for information relating to Wachtel.)

Comment -- this is my attempt to provide the "last word." Where I have examined a manuscript, I give my results (based either on examination of a collation or on a statistical study of 150 readings).

In addition, I have listed the classifications of Amphoux here, as found in Vaganay and Amphoux's An Introduction to New Testament Testual Criticism. Amphoux's is probably the most reliable of the classification schemes listed here, but is also the least complete.