|The Georgius Gospels (GA 2266)|
MS 727-Image 270
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Friday, July 22, 2016
|This is one of the old page-views of P75.|
The new ones at the Vatican Library's
website are much, much better.
Hort reasoned that since the Western form of the text is characterized by embellishment, making it longer, the testimony of the Western text has special importance, or weight, when it is shorter. And at these points in Luke 24, it is shorter. Hort thought that this implies that at these particular points, all the manuscripts that have these verses and phrases have been expanded (or, interpolated) and the Western Text alone has not been interpolated.
Most textual critics, though, were persuaded by the evidence, and it was for this reason that after the discovery and publication of Papyrus 75, subsequent English versions such as the New International Version, the New American Standard Version, and the New Revised Standard Version retained all those verses and phrases in Luke 24 which the RSV had relegated to the footnotes.
Advocates of the KJV in 1881 felt considerable consternation that Westcott and Hort had turned a single Greek manuscript (Codex Bezae, with a smattering of Old Latin allies) into the pivot upon which several verses and phrases in Luke 24 would either remain in the text, or be jettisoned. Similarly advocates of the KJV, in the 1970’s, felt considerable vindication when the compilers of the predominantly Alexandrian Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies compilations, on the basis of the discovery of one manuscript, felt obligated to pivot back toward the text that the KJV’s translators had used at these particular points in Luke 24. (For the most part, however, the text of Papyrus 75 has an Alexandrian text, agreeing (against the KJV’s base-text) with the manuscripts upon which the Nestle-Aland compilation heavily depends, especially Codex Vaticanus – which can also be viewed page-by-page at the website of the Vatican Library.)
Thursday, July 21, 2016
|Part of the Beatitudes |
from Matthew 5 in Codex Cyprius.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
|This statue of Rachel|
is in Indianapolis.
|The text of Matthew 2:18|
in Codex Z (035), as replicated
by T. K. Abbott in 1880.
The mechanism that cause the addition of “lamentation and” in the Greek Byzantine text of Matthew 2:18 – a desire to bring the quotation into closer agreement with the Old Testament passage being quoted – may have also caused the removal of the same phrase in the Syriac text. The Sinaitic/Curetonian text was based on a Greek text which already included the expansion. The Syriac Old Testament, however, unlike the Septuagint, did not contain “lamentation and” in its text, and thus Syriac-writing scribes who wished to bring the text of Matthew into closer agreement with the passage in Jeremiah shortened the Matthean reference. This theory may explain why the Peshitta, which is generally regarded as a later form of the Syriac text than the Sinaitic/Curetonian Syriac, supports the earlier reading in this case.
|Minuscule 279 has the shorter reading|
in Mt. 2:18 but also has an erasure
in the same verse.
As a tangential note, it should be noticed that Origen mentioned that in some copies of the Greek text of Jeremiah, the Hebrew term Rama, instead of being transliterated, was translated as “on the heights” (εν τη ϋψηλη). Codex Alexandrinus has this feature in its text of Jeremiah. In Codex Sinaiticus, as one can see by finding Jeremiah 38:15 in the online digital images of the manuscript, εν τη ϋψηλη is in the text in Jeremiah, but a corrector has added “εν Ραμα” in the margin.
With or without θρηνος και, Matthew’s reference to the grief of Rachel continues to remind us that in the midst of tragedies and injustice, we do not always receive explanations and comfort in this life. Yet it also reminds of what follows in Jeremiah’s prophecy: a reason to hope, even in deep sorrow, that God will redeem and restore even what seems completely lost: “‘There is hope in your future,’ says the LORD, ‘And your children shall come back to their own border.’” (Jeremiah 31:17)
Saturday, July 16, 2016
I have already addressed the textual contests of “Asa-versus-Asaph” and “Amon-versus-Amos” in Matthew 1:7-8 and . I set aside, for the time being, the textual variant in the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript in Matthew which says, “Joseph, to whom was betrothed Mary the virgin, begot Jesus who is called the Christ.” We focus today on Matthew 1:18, a famous verse which is often read at Christmastime: “Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ happened. After his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.”
There are two important textual contests in this verse. The first one involves the Greek word that is translated as “birth” in most English versions: did Matthew write γενεσις or γεννησις?
The external evidence in the γενεσις-verses-γεννησις contest is essentially divided between the texts found in
The surrounding context clearly favors γεννησις: Matthew anticipates the birth (εγεννήθη) of Jesus in , narrates the angel’s reference to Jesus’ conception (γεννήθη) in , and refers back to the birth (γεννηθέντος) of Jesus in 2:1. Although a clever defender of the Alexandrian reading could reshape this point to argue that γεννησις is the result of scribal conformation of γενεσις to nearby similar words, such an approach says that context means nothing when Vaticanus and Sinaiticus agree.
|Matthew 1:18 in Lectionary 150.|
According to the apparatus of the Nestle-Aland27/UBS4 compilation, both Irenaeus (writing in southern
This impressive early testimony is reinforced by John Chrysostom (writing in
Inasmuch as the testimony of a very large majority of Greek manuscripts in favor of γεννησις is allied with widespread early patristic testimony, nothing stands in the way of the adoption of γεννησις except a bias toward the Alexandrian Text, and, perhaps, a concern that the Egyptian text might be suspected of having been produced by heretics if its reading here is rejected. However, the innocence of the early transcribers of the Alexandrian text of Matthew 1:18 can be maintained, simply by reckoning that Alexandrian scribes sometimes worked by dictation – that is, one person read the text out loud, while the copyists wrote down he said – and scribes hearing “γεννησις” thought that they heard “γενεσις” and (without any malice or mischief involved) thus originated the Alexandrian reading.
A second, more complex possibility – if an alternative explanation is necessary – is that the Alexandrian reading is the result of two scribal phenomena: one scribe committed itacism, the substitution of similar-sounding vowels (turning γεννησις into γεννεσις), and another scribe committed haplography, failing to repeat the repeated letter (in this case, ν). This explanation seems entirely plausible in light of the incredibly inconsistent spelling-practices of Alexandrian scribes.
We now turn to the second textual contest in Matthew 1:18: did Matthew write “Jesus,” or “Christ,” or “Christ Jesus,” or “Jesus Christ”? The reading of Vaticanus, “Christ Jesus,” is rejected even by Hort, in consideration of Vaticanus’ tendency to transpose the words “Jesus Christ” into “Christ Jesus” in the Pauline Epistles. The NA/UBS compilers and the Byzantine Text agree here; they read Ιησου Χριστου. This reading is supported by a wide variety of patristic and versional witnesses.
|The ornate Lindisfarne Gospels (digitally altered here, |
without the interlinear Old English) supports the usual
Vulgate reading of Matt. 1:18, "Christ."
The Old Latin evidence and the Vulgate, however, support Χριστου. In addition, Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, uses this reading in the following excerpt from Book 3, chapter 16: “Matthew might certainly have said, ‘Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise; but the Holy Ghost, foreseeing the corrupters [of the truth], and guarding by anticipation against their deceit, says by Matthew, ‘But the birth of Christ was on this wise;’ and that He is ‘Emmanuel,’ lest perchance we might consider Him as a mere man.” Irenaeus thus emphasizes the shorter reading Χριστου and uses it as a platform from which to promote the doctrine of Christ’s deity. (In chapter 11 of the same book, Irenaeus quotes Matthew 1:18 with “Jesus Christ” but this may be an expansion made by copyists of Irenaeus’ works.)
However, considering the extent of the evidence in favor of Ιησου Χριστου in multiple transmission-streams, it is much more probable that both of the shorter readings began in the second century when copyists began abbreviating the nomina sacra (especially the Greek words for “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus,” and “Christ”), and accidentally left out one of the two abbreviated words. I suspect (as I explained in an earlier post) that some early copyists inherited a Hebrew custom in which the main copyist left a blank space where the name of God occurred (to be inserted by the proof-reader). When this was done in manuscripts of the New Testament, in which there was not just one, but four (or more!) sacred names, the proof-reader sometimes inserted the wrong sacred name, or inserted one sacred name where there should have been two – and sometimes even failed to notice the blank space (as seems to have happened in James 5:14 in Codex B.) But one does not have to adhere to this theory to acknowledge the immense weight of the support for Ιησου Χριστου.
|Matthew 1:18 in minuscule 2396|
(The Exoteicho Gospels).
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Evangelical theologians may therefore have good reason to wonder whythe
|Codex K (Cyprianus) displays the Byzantine reading.|
In 1:7, note the interesting proximity of Ασα
to the letters σαφ in the next line.
It is for that very reason that Ασαφ and Αμως were preferred by the editors of the
The late Bruce Metzger, in his argument for Ασαφ, mentioned a statement from Lagrange (an earlier scholar) to the effect that inasmuch as anyone making this genealogy-list would have to consult the Old Testament, and anyone reading the Old Testament would see the kings’ correct names, “It is necessary, therefore, to suppose that Ασαφ is a very ancient [scribal] error.” Metzger dismissed that line of reasoning via the supposition that “the evangelist may have derived material for the genealogy, not from the Old Testament directly, but from subsequent genealogical lists, in which the erroneous spelling occurred.”
Metzger attempted to present Ασαφ and Αμως as if the evangelist merely had a strange way of spelling Ασα and Αμων. Footnotes in the
1:2 – ﬡ (Sinaiticus) reads Ισακ instead of Ισαακ.
I am not persuaded by Harris’ theory; the occurrence of two such mistakes so close together seems unlikely. However, I am also not persuaded by proponents of the idea that Matthew would risk confusing his readers by listing Asaph and Amos as kings of
What has happened, I suspect, is that an early Western scribe, unfamiliar with Old Testament chronology, introduced the names of Asaph and Amos as a primitive attempt to pad Jesus’ Messianic résumé, so to speak, by adding prophets among his ancestry. The tampering of this scribe influenced the Western transmission-line represented by some Old Latin copies. When these Western readings intersected with the Alexandrian transmission-line, they blended into a crowd of orthographic variations – that is, in some Western Old Latin copies, and in Egypt, the names of Asaph and Amos were assumed to be variant-spellings referring to Asa and Amon, and for that reason, they were not corrected. Elsewhere, though, these readings were either never encountered, or were almost always rejected as variants which Matthew had not written and which he had been highly motivated not to write.
Among the passages in the
Lectio difficilior potior has its limits. However difficult it may be to picture a scribe introducing the names of Asaph and Amos into the text of Matthew 1:7-10, whether accidentally or deliberately, it is much more difficult to picture Matthew (or any first-century author familiar with the contents of the Old Testament) doing so.
Monday, July 4, 2016
|W. 520, a lectionary|
written in Greek uncial script.
|W. 47 features a large illustration|
of the assassination
of Thomas Becket.
An abundance of versional manuscripts resides in the Walters Art Museum’s collection, including Walters 537, the oldest substantial Armenian Gospels-manuscript in North America. (PDF of Walters 537.) Other interesting non-Greek manuscripts include the following: