In Part one, Billings examines the longstanding difficulty represented by the textual tradition preserved in "Codex Bezae" (D, 05) at the point of the Last Supper narrative in "St. Luke's Gospel". In Part two, an extensive survey of previous and current explanations of the textual difficulty is undertaken. The disputed words of Luke 22:19b-20 are examined at length in regards to their style, grammar and theology, so as to ascertain their source and allegedly non-Lukan features. The possibility that the textual conundrum presented by Codex Bezae may result from either an intentional or unintentional scribal error is then investigated, with an examination of the literary and historical context in which the narrative has been transmitted. Finally, the thesis of J. Jeremias, that the text of "Codex Bezae" and its ancestors was altered in accord with the disciplina arcani that developed in early Christianity, is examined at length.
When these theories and explanations are found to be inadequate, in Part three of the work a new way forward is proposed by understanding the text of "Codex Bezae" to be a 'window' into the social and cultural world of the community by whom and for whom it was produced. The study concludes with the assertion that the text was altered amidst the historical and cultural background of the localised persecutions experienced by the early Christians, so as to preserve and shield the community from outbreaks of violence such as that experienced in Lyons (ca. 177 CE).
The Reverend Doctor Bradly Billings is an ordained Anglican priest in Melbourne, Australia, where he has lived and worked all of his life.