|Acts 1 in Bezae. (Photo)|
This number comes from F. G. Kenyon’s The Western Text in the Gospels and Acts published in 1939. But, interestingly, this number is not taken from comparing two manuscripts but rather two modern editions. Kenyon compared the text of WH in Acts with that of A. C. Clark. The former is taken as representative of the Alexandrian text and the latter of the Western.
One other comparison I found was in Pete Head’s article on the text of Acts. He compared the text of Codex Bezae with the NA26/UBS3 and found the former to have 800 more words than the latter.
Neither of these comparisons completely satisfied me though. In both cases, the comparison is made with a modern edition. I thought it would be better to compare manuscript with manuscript. To do that, I used two of the leading representatives of the Western and Alexandrian text: Bezae and Sinaiticus. I compared the text of their first hands in all places in Acts where Bezae is extant. (Bezae has lacunae in Acts 8.29–10.14; 21.2–10, 16-18; 22:10–20; 22:29–28.31) It turns out that the difference is minimal and Kenyon’s figures are about the same as mine.
I found that Bezae is about 7.9% longer than Sinaiticus in Acts. The raw numbers are Bezae: 71,872 characters; Sinaiticus: 66,594 characters.
One point about my method: I compared letters rather than words for reasons I’ll explain. The comparison is pretty straightforward. I took the transcriptions of both Sinaiticus and Bezae that are available for free in Logos Bible Software. These in turn come from INTF/ITSEE/IGNTP transcriptions which means their format is very similar. There’s clearly a lot of work behind both so a big thank you to those responsible.
I copied the text from Logos into Word and stripped out extra content like verse numbers, punctuation, quire numbers, running titles, parentheses, ellipses, nomina sacra lines (because Word counted those as characters), etc. Basically, I cut everything out but the letters.
The reason I counted characters is because these transcriptions are on the diplomatic end of the spectrum and that means that many individual words in Sinaiticus are split between lines. Putting all these back together did not seem like a good use of time. So instead I counted characters without spaces. I checked the count with charactercounttool.com.
It’s nice to know that Kenyon’s method didn’t put us far off the mark.