Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Didymus the Blind and the Text of Matthew

Bart Ehrman (in his 1986 book Didymus the Blind and the Text of the Gospels) identified 163 genetically significant textual variant-units in Didymus’ text of Matthew.  In Table 1 (on page 191), Ehrman ranked the witnesses which agree with Didymus’ text according to the percentage of agreements at those points.  Codex A has the highest percentage of agreement:  80%.  Ehrman tossed out that evidence on the grounds that Codex A, due to damage, only attests to 20 genetically significant variants (in Mt. 25:6-28:20). 


However, if Codex A should be ignored on the grounds that the data from Matthew 25:6-28:20 is too small of a sample, then why are 163 short passages from Didymus a large enough sample to demonstrate affinities with manuscripts that contain 1,071 verses? Picture the genetically significant textual variant-units that Ehrman collected as bits of an extremely fragmentary manuscript of Matthew – a manuscript that can be read only at those 163 places. Obviously this represents only a small portion of the text of Matthew; even if every variant-unit collected by Ehrman was an entire verse, the total would be only 15% of the verses in the Gospel of Matthew.

This problem can be approached in terms of variant-units, as well as in terms of verses.  Ehrman completely rejected Codex A’s testimony because, he said on page 190, “It should seem obvious that since A does not preserve even one-eighth of the total number of readings under consideration (20/163), its testimony must be discounted.”  But does Ehrman’s collection of 163 variant-units preserve even one-eighth of the total number of readings under consideration in collations of manuscripts of Matthew?  I sifted through the apparatus of the 27th edition of Nestle-Aland, and noticed that textual variants are listed for at least 765 verses of the Gospel of Matthew.  I did not count the number of individual variant-units that are in the apparatus for Matthew, but I reckon that there are over 1,100 (since, although many verses have no variant-units in the apparatus, many other verses contain more than one variant-unit).  If Codex A’s testimony must be discounted because it contains only 12.2% of the variant-units under consideration when Didymus is the object of the comparison, then shouldn't Didymus’ testimony be discounted because it contains only about 14.8% (163/1,100) of the variant-units under consideration when the entire text of Matthew is the object of the comparison?

Even though Codex A is extant only for Matthew 25:6-28:20, there is no reason to imagine that Didymus’ text of Matthew was block-mixed, as if it aligned with one text-type in the last four chapters but some other text-type in chapters 1-24.  That is, there is no reason to suspect that the 80% agreement between Didymus and Codex A in 25:6-28:20 would disappear if the rest of Matthew was extant in Codex A.

If we were to treat Matthew 25:6-28:20 as a separate book used by Didymus, what text-type would Didymus’ copy of this book have?  Would it be decidedly Alexandrian, or something else?  An easy way to find out is to sift through the data, and compare how often Didymus agrees with Codex A and the Textus Receptus to how often Didymus agrees with Vaticanus and Sinaiticus (the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text).  Consider the following list:

Places in Matthew 25:6-28:20 Where Didymus Agrees with TR or A or Aleph or B:
(1) 25:6 - Didymus has ECERCESQE - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(2) 25:6 - Didymus has GEGONEN - agrees with TR A Aleph (disagrees with B)
(3) 25:15 - Didymus has IDIAN DUNAMIN - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(4) 25:16 - Didymus has EN - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(5) 25:33 - Didymus has MEN - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(6) 25:33 - Didymus has DEXIWN - agrees with Aleph A (disagrees with TR B)
(7) 25:33 - Didymus has EUWNUMWN - agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph)
(8) 25:41 - Didymus has OI - agrees with TR A (disagrees with Aleph B)
(9) 25:41 - Didymus has POREUESQE - agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph) 
(10) 26:15 - Didymus has PARADWSW - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(11) 26:31 - Didymus has DIASKORPISQHSETAI - agrees with TR (disagrees with A Aleph B) (Ehrman listed this as a Citation “[C]” but not as a Citation taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, and used as a base for collation.)
(12) 26:52 - Didymus has MACAIRH - agrees with A Aleph B (disagrees with TR)  (Ehrman listed this as a Citation “[C]” but not as a Citation taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, and used as a base for collation.)
(13) 26:53 - Didymus has DOKEIS OTI OU DUNAMAI - agrees with TR A Aleph B (There is a blank space in Ehrman’s book where the letter “A” should be.)
(14) 26:53 - Didymus has MOI - agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph)
(15) 26:53 - Didymus has PLEIOUS - agrees with TR A (disagrees with Aleph B)
(16) 26:53 - Didymus has DWDEKA - agrees with Aleph B (disagrees with TR A)

(17) 26:53 – Didymus has LEGIWNWN ANGELWN - agrees with Aleph A (disagrees with TR B)
(18) 27:40 - Didymus has EI TOU QEOU - agrees with TR A Aleph (disagrees with B)  (Ehrman listed this as a Citation “[C]” but not as a Citation taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, and used as a base for collation.)
(19) 27:40 - Didymus has QEOU - agreeing with TR B (disagreeing with Aleph A)  (Ehrman listed this as a Citation “[C]” but not as a Citation taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, and used as a base for collation.)
(20) 28:19 - Didymus has MAQHTEUSATE - agreeing with Aleph A (disagreeing with B TR)

In these 20 units, each pair (TR+A, and Aleph+B) has the potential to score 40 agreements. Which pair scores higher: the Byzantine pair, or the Alexandrian pair?
TR: 15. A: 17. Aleph: 12. B: 12.

Combined total of TR and A = 32/40 = 80%
Combined total of Aleph and B = 24/40 = 60%


We may thus conclude that Didymus’ text of Mt. 25:6-28:20 was significantly more Byzantine than Alexandrian.

If we were to ignore the citations which Ehrman, for whatever reason, did not identify as citations taken to be representative of Didymus’ text, we would be left without #11, #12, #18, and #19, and the list would look like this:


(1) 25:6 - Didymus has ECERCESQE - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(2) 25:6 - Didymus has GEGONEN - agrees with TR A Aleph (disagrees with B)
(3) 25:15 - Didymus has IDIAN DUNAMIN - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(4) 25:16 - Didymus has EN - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(5) 25:33 - Didymus has MEN - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(6) 25:33 - Didymus has DEXIWN - agrees with Aleph A (disagrees with TR B)
(7) 25:33 - Didymus has EUWNUMWN - agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph)
(8) 25:41 - Didymus has OI - agrees with TR A (disagrees with Aleph B)
(9) 25:41 - Didymus has POREUESQE - agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph) 
(10) 26:15 - Didymus has PARADWSW - agrees with TR A Aleph B
(13) 26:53 - Didymus has DOKEIS OTI OU DUNAMAI - agrees with TR A Aleph B (There is a blank space in Ehrman’s book where the letter “A” should be.)
(14) 26:53 - Didymus has MOI - agrees with TR A B (disagrees with Aleph)
(15) 26:53 - Didymus has PLEIOUS - agrees with TR A (disagrees with Aleph B)
(16) 26:53 - Didymus has DWDEKA - agrees with Aleph B (disagrees with TR A)

(17) 26:53 – Didymus has LEGIWNWN ANGELWN - agrees with Aleph A (disagrees with TR B)
(20) 28:19 - Didymus has MAQHTEUSATE - agreeing with Aleph A (disagreeing with B TR)

So with 16 variant-units, each pair (TR+A, and Aleph+B) has the potential to score 32 agreements. Which pair scores higher: the Byzantine pair, or the Alexandrian pair?

TR:  12.  A:  15.  Aleph:  10.  B:  10.

Byzantine:  12+15 = 27/32 = 84%
Alexandrian:  10+10 = 20/32 = 63%

Thus once again, it appears that Didymus’ text of Mt. 25:6-28:20 was significantly more Byzantine than Alexandrian.  Ehrman’s use of the TR, however, introduced an improvable factor into the analysis.  What if the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform (2005 edition) is put in place of the TR?  In the 20-item list, RP2005 agrees with the TR every time, except in Mt. 28:19.  RP2005 does not have OUN, and thus agrees with Didymus.  With this refinement in the analysis, the comparison looks like this:

RP2005:  13.  A:  15.  Aleph:  10.  B:  10.


Byzantine:  13+15 = 28/32 = 88%
Alexandrian:  10+10 = 20/32 = 63%

Decidedly Alexandrian?? 


It looks like either Didymus used a text of Matthew that was uniquely block-mixed, so as to be primarily Byzantine in chapters 25-28, and something else in chapters 1-25, or else something is very wrong with Ehrman’s analysis.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Did Didymus the Blind Write De Trinitate?

Previously, I sifted through Bart Ehrman's analysis of the Gospels-text of Didymus the Blind, pointing out various shortcomings that render its conclusions extremely out-of-focus.  I also mentioned that Ehrman did not include De Trinitate ("On the Trinity") as part of his analysis, on the grounds that Didymus the Blind was not its author.  Several other scholars consider Didymus the Blind to be the author of De Trinitate.  If they are correct, then Ehrman's analysis must be considered incomplete.     
 
Here are some hurdles that must be surmounted by those who identify Didymus as the author of De Trinitate.  (This list is based on comments in R. P. C. Hanson’s book Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, on pages 653-658; Hanson, in turn, used material from a French-writing scholar named Doutreleau.)  Hanson also observes some weaknesses in Doutreleau’s objections.  Here are the hurdles that Hanson mentioned, accompanied by brief counterpoints, some of which are from Hanson and some of which are from me.
 
(1)  The author of De Trinitate III:16, when commenting on I Tim. 5:6, refers to his previous work on the Holy Spirit, but in Didymus’ On the Holy Spirit, as preserved and translated by Jerome, there is no exposition of I Tim. 5:6.

COUNTERPOINT:  First Timothy 5:6 says, “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.” Does the author of De Trinitate explicitly say that he commented on I Tim. 5:6 in his work on the Holy Spirit, or does he just say something like, “For my earlier comments about this sort of thing, see my comments in my treatise on the Holy Spirit”?  Is there anything in Didymus’ On the Holy Spirit that, while not explicitly quoting I Tim. 5:6, could be considered to be thematically related to it?  And, did Jerome translate the entire work, or is his translation condensed?)

(2) The author of De Trinitate refers to the “Macedonians,” but in On the Holy Spirit, Didymus refers to this group of heretics as the “Pneumatomachians.”

COUNTERPOINT:  Could Jerome have taken slight liberties with the text of On the Holy Spirit so as to refer to this group by a name which he considered more appropriate than “Macedonians”?  -- Also:  the nomenclature by which some heretics were described back then may have drifted similarly to such nomenclature today (“Mormons” vs. LDS; “Jehovah’s Witnesses” vs. Watchtower Society). An author may arbitrarily use either one on different occasions.)

(3) “Jerome in his account of Didymus does not mention a work on the Trinity by him, though De Trinitate must have been written fairly soon after 381 and Jerome visited Didymus in 386.”

COUNTERPOINT:  In chapter 109 of Viris Illustribus, Jerome, after naming several of Didymus’ commentaries and books, finishes the list by saying, “and many other things, to give an account of which would be a work of itself.  He is still living, and has already passed his eighty-third year.”  Since Jerome stated explicitly that he did not mention “many other” works by Didymus, this objection is extremely light.

(4)De Trinitate enumerates Zechariah as the last of the Minor Prophets, whereas in the Commentary on Zechariah, Didymus counts him as the eleventh (before Malachi).” 

COUNTERPOINT:  Okay.  I’d like to see the contexts of the two listings.  Is one a chronological listing, and the other a list in order of appearance in a canon-list?  Is one a shortest-to-longest list?  Or are we looking at two canon-lists, and if so, is that a big deal in 381?

(5) “The explanation of the candelabra in Zech. 3:8-4:10 is utterly different in every detail in De Trinitate and Comm. on Zechariah, and the latter does not refer to the treatment of the passage in the De  Trinitate.”

COUNTERPOINT:  Granted, this is a significant difference.  But an author approaching that passage in search of allegorical insights could probably squeeze two very different allegorical insights out of it, depending on what themes he wished to emphasized, or what points he wished to make, on different occasions.

(6) De Trinitate “deploys a full technical vocabulary in dealing with Trinitarian themes,” while in the undisputed works of Didymus, he “uses almost no technical terms at all.” 

COUNTERPOINT:  Okay; I’ll consider this a significant difference.  On the other hand, topics can greatly affect style.  Even text-critics don’t often employ text-critical jargon unless they are writing something related to textual criticism.  Also, Hanson does mention that Didymus “applies homoousios twice to the Son but never to the Spirit.”  Just because Didymus didn’t typically employ terms like “homoousois” and “theotokos” and “isotimia” in works that were not about the Trinity does not mean that they were not in his verbal 
arsenal.

(7) Didymus never quotes pagan poets, but the author of De Trinitate “frequently quotes Homer and the classic Greek poets.”

COUNTERPOINT:  Okay; this is a significant point.

(8) Didymus is “fond of arithmology, i.e. playing around with the significance of numbers,” but De Trinitate “has only two brief excursions into arithmology.”

COUNTERPOINT:  This is a pretty light objection!  An author can’t be expected to use numerically-based illustrations in every single work.  And then, when we see that the author of De Trinitate does this, well, two such uses is just not enough?!

(9) Didymus relies on Origen for a lot of his theology, but De Trinitate “shows no influence from Origen.”

COUNTERPOINT:  Since Didymus had been appointed to lead the school of Alexandria by Athanasius, it would come as no surprise to see that despite admiring Origen’s erudition, and despite learning from Origen’s works, Didymus did not rely on Origen when writing about the Trinity, but took his stand on ground taken by more recent, and more orthodox, movers-and-shakers in the church.

(10) The author of De Trinitate states, in
III:1 (784), “I go forward to the next task, trusting that even before I speak I shall receive grace along with the children whom (God) has given to me and 
the children of those children, through whom as long as we live we labor, and indeed also all whom (God) knows.”  Didymus was a monk, and the idea that he had children and grandchildren is unlikely.

COUNTERPOINT:  Hanson wrote, “These ‘children’ could refer to the writer’s disciples, but to call disciples of a later generation or disciples of one’s disciples would be odd.”  Why? To a writer such as Didymus, fond of allegories and such, it seems entirely natural.  This evidence may be easily converted into evidence in favor of Didymusian authorship:  the author says that he is speaking -- i.e., dictating, as Didymus (and others) did -- and by the 380’s, Didymus had worked long enough to see the disciples of his disciples mature.  Didymus was old.  The author of De Trinitate, if he here refers to students of his students, was old.

(11) In De Trinitate II:11 (660), the author writes, “But John too is obvious, as they say, even to a blind man.”  It is unlikely that Didymus the Blind would have used this expression.

COUNTERPOINT:  Why? That Didymus could make an occasional self-referential statement like this does not seem unlikely to me. 

(12) In De Trinitate II:27 (768), the author “urges his readers or disciples to ‘live among books,’” and this, according to Hanson, is “not a likely piece of advice for a blind man to give.” 

COUNTERPOINT:  Why not?  Are we to imagine that Didymus did not realize the advantages that the acquisition of books could provide?  As the author of many books -- which Didymus wanted people to read -- Didymus would be entirely capable of encouraging people to live in the company of books.) (Tangent: didn’t Chrysostom also say this somewhere?)

(13) “And at one point [
III:2 (825)], quoting Aquila’s version, the author transliterates the Hebrew word into Greek letters.  We have to ask ourselves whether a blind man is likely to have learnt even the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.”

COUNTERPOINT:  Didymus the Blind’s career is one unlikely accomplishment after another.  Is it likely that a blind man would learn geometry?  Yet the record that he did so is there, along with a report that he learned to read by the use of carved wooden letters. There is nothing in the way of the view that Didymus knew enough Hebrew to be able, with the help of his assistants, to transliterate one Hebrew word into Greek.  A commentator on several Old Testament books (including Psalms) whose erudition was saluted by Jerome would almost inevitably have an awareness of the Hebrew alphabet. 
So:

Out of the 13 objections that Hanson presented, #9-13 seem inconsequential, #2, #3, and #8 seem feathery, #1 and #4 are possibly significant but more info is needed, and only #5, #6, and #7 obviously carry real weight. Focusing on these points, the case that Didymus is not the author of De Trinitate seems, for the moment, to rest on three points:

(1)  The author of De Trinitate and Didymus interpret Zechariah 3:8-4:10 in two very different ways. 
(2)  The author of De Trinitate uses technical jargon about the Trinity, but Didymus hardly ever uses such terms. 
(3)  The author of De Trinitate frequently quotes Homer and other pagan poets, but Didymus never does so.

To me, this is not enough to prove that Didymus is the author.  I am still looking into this question, and at the moment I am leaning toward the position that the evidence that Didymus wrote De Trinitate is stronger than the evidence to the contrary.  Regarding this question, competent scholars have weighed in on opposite sides.  Until it is resolved, and until the utilizations of the Gospels in De Trinitate are analyzed, Ehrman's findings about the textual complexion of Didymus' Gospels-text must be regarded as tentative and incomplete, not only because of the shortcomings in the details of his work that I reviewed earlier, but also because of the possibility that Ehrman's analysis has not taken into account the Gospel-utilizations found in one of Didymus' major works.
  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Didymus the Blind - His Text of the Gospels

Here are some findings about the Gospels-text of Didymus the Blind, based mainly on Bart Ehrman’s volume in the NTGF (New Testament in the Greek Fathers) series, Didymus the Blind and the Text of the Gospels, published in 1986.  Dr. Ehrman went through a lot of effort, in the preparation for his Ph.D. thesis, to collect and analyze the Gospels-quotation in the extant writings of Didymus, who worked in Alexandria in the late 300's.  Even though Ehrman's work has some flaws, it pursues a worthwhile goal.  Let's try to use it to answer a simple question:  was Didymus’ Gospels-text more like Codex Vaticanus (the flagship-manuscript of the Alexandrian Text) or like the Robinson-Pierpont compilation of the Byzantine Text?  Book-by-book, let's sift through the data and find out.  (“B” = CodexVaticanus and “Byz = the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, 2005 edition.)        

In Matthew,  Didymus agrees with either B or Byz (but not both) 49 times.
Didymus agrees with B against Byz 24 times (49%).
Didymus agrees with Byz against B 25 times (51%).

In Mark – well, in Mark, the data is too sparse to justify confidence that it reflects the affinities of Didymus’ text.  Nevertheless:  Didymus agrees with either B or Byz (but not both) five times.  However, in three cases where Ehrman concludes that Didymus supports a reading in B, the grounds seem especially questionable Granting every one of them, though:  
Didymus agrees with B against Byz 4 times (80%).
Didymus agrees with Byz against B 1 time (20%).

In Luke, Didymus agrees with either B or Byz (but not both) 45 times.
Didymus agrees with B against Byz 28 times (62%)
Didymus agrees with Byz against B 17 times (38%).

In John, Didymus agrees with either B or Byz (but not both) 40 times.
Didymus agrees with Byz against B 23 times (57.5%).
Didymus agrees with B against Byz 17 times (42.5%).

So let’s see here:  figuring that nothing comes close to representing the Alexandrian Text of the Gospels as well as Codex B, and that nothing represents the Byzantine Text as well as the RP-2005 compilation - and assuming that the Gospels-utilizations in the extant writings of Didymus the Blind accurately represent the texts he actually used, and assuming that De Trinitate was not written by Didymus the Blind (because that would obviously affect the statistics quite a bit) - did the Gospels-text used by Didymus resemble the Alexandrian Text, or the Byzantine Text?

Didymus agrees with B against Byz 24 times in Mt., 4 times in Mk., 28 times in Luke, and 23 times in John, which equals a total of 79 agreements with B against Byz.

Didymus agrees with Byz against B 25 times in Mt., 1 time in Mk., 17 times in Luke, and 17 times in John, which equals a total of 60 agreements with Byz against B.  

Thus, out of 139 places in the Gospels-text used by Didymus where the text is either Alexandrian or Byzantine (but not both), Didymus’ text was Alexandrian 79 times (57%) and Byzantine 60 times (43%).    

Normally we would call that a Mixed Text.  Didymus’ Gospels-text – particularly in Matthew, where Didymus’ text had a couple more Byzantine readings than Alexandrian readings – was very far from a pure Alexandrian Text.  Didymus’ Gospels-text should be called Mixed Alexandrian-Byzantine.  Instead, Ehrman calls it the Secondary Alexandrian Text, which conveniently avoids acknowledgement of the very influential presence of the Byzantine Text in the ancestry of the text used by Didymus in Egypt in the late 300's.


Student might possibly get the impression that when someone says that Didymus used a “Secondary Alexandrian” text, what is meant is that Didymus used a text which was essentially Alexandrian, with some slight secondary alterations.  To use the term “Secondary Alexandrian” is to risk giving students and readers such a false impression, accenting the slight Alexandrian majority and pushing the strong Byzantine influence out of the spotlight.  A text which favors Byzantine readings in 4 out of 10 variant-units where B and Byz disagree should be called Mixed Alexandrian-Byzantine.