Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Minuscule 1273 - A Treasure from Middle Earth

The George Grey Collection is a phenomenal
assortment of books on diverse subjects.
          Like Bilbo Baggins, living safe and comfortably in the Shire without being well-known elsewhere, the medieval Gospels-manuscript known as 1273 was kept in the collection of Sir George Grey ever since 1862, without being studied or analyzed very much.  In 1887 it was donated, along with very many other books, to the Auckland Public Free Library where it was examined by Henry Shaw (who gave a brief description of it in a book about the Grey Collection in 1908) and Christopher de Hamel (who included it in a holdings-catalog prepared in the 1970’s).  (Daniel Wallace saw it, too, in 2009, and a team from CSNTM photographed it.)  As far as I know, 1273 is the only continuous-text Greek Gospels manuscript in New Zealand.
Dr. Christopher de Hamel,
the scholar's scholar.
          The George Grey Gospels-book was not consulted during the preparation of the 1881 compilation of the Greek text of the New Testament undertaken by Westcott and Hort.  Nor was it consulted during the preparation of various text-compilations in the 1900’s, even though Shaw had mentioned that scholars who had examined it had concluded that it had “great textual value.”  For most researchers it was simply out of reach, in New Zealand.
          In 2011, however, the Auckland Public Library made many of the George Grey Collection’s most interesting and valuable manuscripts and books available for public viewing online.  A downloadable PDF of the George Grey Gospels was made available, and it can still be downloaded for free today.   The Auckland Libraries are to be thanked for this generous gift – for there is more to this manuscript than meets the eye!  The text of 1273 is no ordinary text; it is closely related to the text of a small cluster of manuscripts which have the Jerusalem Colophon, that is, a note that states that their text was cross-checked using ancient manuscripts from the holy mountain in Jerusalem.  1273 is a long-lost relative of the manuscripts known as Codex Θ, 28, 565, and 700 – each of which ranks as “a witness of the second order” in the apparatus of the Nestle-Aland compilation of the Greek text of the New Testament.  In other words, New Zealand has a New Testament manuscript of world-class importance.
          A few sample-readings, mainly from the Gospel of Mark, may indicate the interesting nature of the text of 1273:
● Matthew 5:44:  the phrase “do good to those who hate you” is absent but the rest of the verse is present.
● Mark 1:2:  instead of “in Isaiah the prophet,” or “in the prophets,” 1273 refers to the “book of the words of Isaiah the prophet.”
● Mark 5:21:  there is no mention of a boat.  (This feature is shared by Θ, 565, 28, and 700.  It is even supported by Codex D, an uncial manuscript from the 400’s or 500’s.)
● Mark 9:12:  1273’s text does not say that Elijah comes first.  Minuscule 700 shares this very unusual reading.
● Mark 9:44 and 9:48 are in the text of 1273, but not 9:46.
● Mark 11:26 is not in 1273.  (The verse ends with the same letters with which the preceding verse ends, making it vulnerable to accidental loss when a copyist’s line of sight drifted from one set of letters to the same (or similar) set of letters further down the page.) 
● Mark 13:32 does not include the exception, “nor the Son.”
● Mark 14:6:  the second half of the verse is absent in 1273 – a harmonization via excision to the parallel-passage in John 12:6.
● Mark 14:41:  1273 agrees with Θ and 565 by including the words το τελος after απεχει.  This may mean, “The end is at hand,” but it has also been interpreted as a very early note for the lector, or reader in the church-service, meaning “The end of the lection,” and that this note, after being inserted in the text, was subsequently misunderstood.  This reading is also supported by the early uncials D and W, with “And” (και) or “Behold” (ιδου) added to transition to the following sentence.
● Mark 14:56:  1273 includes the soldiers’ question, “Who is it who struck you?” – apparently a harmonization to the parallel in Luke 22:64.
● Mark 15:8 and 15:28 are both absent from 1273’s text.
● John 1:28:  1273 reads Bethany rather than Bethabara.
● John 5:4 is in the text, but it is accompanied by a column of four “X” marks in the margin.
A detail from 1273, showing Mark 16:6b-9b.
The rubric at the top of the page identifies Mark 16:9-20
as the third resurrection-related Gospels-lection
in the Heothinon-series, and supplies the introductory
phrase for the reader to use.  Ordinary "End" and "Begin"
symbols appear between 16:8 and 16:9.
● John 7:53-8:11 was not in the text of 1273 when the manuscript was made.  Someone erased an entire page of the manuscript (where the text began in John 7:41) and rewrote the text of John 7:41b-8:13a with 7:53-8:11 included (using not only the page that had been erased, but also the upper margin of the following page), all in smaller lettering and with extra lines.
(In case you're wondering, Mark 16:9-20 and Luke 22:43-44 are both in the text.)
          Further study of 1273 is bound to bring to light the importance of 1273 as a good representative of the “Jerusalem Colophon” group of manuscripts, even though it does not have the colophon.  (I have made a transcription/collation of the text of Mark available on Facebook in the NT Textual Criticism group.  Others, I expect, will continue the analysis of Matthew, Luke, and John.)  One may reasonably hope that 1273 will be recognized as a witness worth citing in the apparatus of the Nestle-Aland text, the United Bible Societies’ text, and other compilations in the future.


2 comments:

Wayne Steury said...

Thanks for supplying this interesting information. Wayne

Wayne Steury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.