Friday, July 29, 2016

Hand-to-Hand Combat: Codex B vs. Minuscule 496

          One of the combatants in today’s hand-to-hand combat is Codex Vaticanus.  There are thousands of codices – handmade books – in the Vatican Library, and in the library’s catalog, this one is Greek Codex #1,209.  It is so important for New Testament textual research that it has become known as the Codex Vaticanus (B, 03).  Its production-date has been assigned to the early 300’s.  Wieland Willker has prepared a webpage which describes Codex Vaticanus and analyzes its contents.
          Codex B was first catalogued at the Vatican Library in 1475.  (It may have been transferred to the Vatican Library as part of the estate of Cardinal Bessarion, who died in 1472.)  Some of its readings were known to Erasmus, the compiler of the first published Greek New Testament in the 1500’s.  It was cited (from John 7:39) in the preface to the 1582 Rheims New Testament.  Hort considered Codex B to be the most important manuscript in existence when he and Westcott produced the Revised Text which challenged the Textus Receptus as the base-text of English versions of the New Testament.  Many textual critics still agree with that assessment.
          Besides containing (despite considerable damage) most of the Greek Old Testament (including most of the apocryphal books), Codex B also contains text from every New Testament book except First Timothy, Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Revelation.  The Gospels are arranged in the familiar order, Matthew-Mark-Luke-John.  Then Acts appears, followed by the General Epistles.  After the Epistle of Jude, the Epistles of Paul begin, but First Timothy, Second Timothy, Titus, and Philemon are not present; Hebrews follows immediately after Second Thessalonians.  The last extant page of Hebrews ends midway through 9:14.  This is followed by supplemental pages (which have their own identification-number, GA 1957), added long after the initial production of the codex, in minuscule script, containing the rest of Hebrews and the book of Revelation.  
          The chapter-divisions in the Gospels in Codex Vaticanus are almost unique (it does not have the Eusebian Canons and Sections).  The chapter-divisions in the Pauline Epistles are also interesting, inasmuch as they are interrupted in such a way as to show that in the exemplar of the manuscript, the book of Hebrews followed the Epistle to the Galatians.
          The production of Codex Vaticanus was undertaken by a team of two copyists, both of whom worked economically, writing three columns per page (except in the Books of Poetry, which are formatted in two columns per page), without adding grandiose ornamentation, and without deliberately placing a blank column between books – except at the end of the Gospel of Mark.  (Incidental factors in the production of the codex led to three blank spaces in the Old Testament portion; for details about those factors see this earlier post clarifying some inaccurate claims by Daniel Wallace on this subject.)
          Pages and pages could be written about the contents of this manuscript – the flagship manuscript of the Alexandrian Text.    But today, we are focusing on a single chapter:  First Peter chapter five – the battleground of today’s manuscript-duel.  This passage can be found in Codex Vaticanus on page-view 1424 at the Vatican Library’s website.

First Peter 5:6ff. in MS 496
          The intimidating task of challenging Codex Vaticanus has been accorded to minuscule 496.  496 was produced in the 1200’s or early 1300’s.  It contains all of the New Testament books except Revelation.  It was among the artifacts brought to Britain in the 1840’s by Major Charles Kerr MacDonald, who had conducted some explorations (including a visit to Saint Catherine’s monastery) in Egypt when he wasn’t busy searching for turquoise-mines.  496 is housed at the British Library as Additional MS 16184.  Digital page-views of the manuscript are online; First Peter chapter five begins on fol. 191r.
          It may go without saying that 496 is the underdog in this contest.  Without further introductions, let’s get this fight underway.  Instead of presenting each manuscript’s contents separately, I will present them side-by-side, one verse at a time, as they engage in a contest lasting fourteen rounds (or, rather, fourteen verses).  Once again the Nestle-Aland compilation will be the standard of comparison.  Nomina sacra contractions, as such ( and other normal abbreviations), will not be considered variants, and bracketed text in the Nestle-Aland compilation will be treated as part of the text.  

1 – B has ουν instead of τους.  496 has ουν τους.   B’s reading was in the text in NA27, but NA28 has
τους, in agreement with Papyrus 72 and Codex A. [B: +3, -4]  [496: +3]  
1 – 496 has ως instead of ο.  [496:  +2, -1]

2 – B does not have επισκοπουντες.  496 has this word, which is bracketed in NA.  [B:  -13]  
2 – 496 has αλλ instead of αλλα.  [496: -1]
2 – 496 has και before κατα θεον.  [496: +3]
2 – B does not have κατα θεον.  Papyrus 72 agrees with 496.  [B: -8]

3 – 496 has τον κληρον instead of των κληρων.  [496:  +2, -2]
3 – 496 has γενομενοι instead of γινομενοι.  [496: +1, -1] 
3 – B does not have μηδ’ ως κατακυριεύοντες των κληρων αλλα τύποι γινόμενοι του ποιμνίου.  [B: -58]

4 – Both B and 496 agree with NA in this verse.  

5 – 496 has δε οι after Ομοιως.  [496: +4]
5 – 496 has υποτασσομενοι.  [496: +13]
5 – B does not have ο before θεος.  This letter is bracketed in NA27.  [B: -1]
5 – 496 has διδωσι instead of διδωσιν.  [496: -1]

6 – 496 has επισκοπης after καιρω.  [496: +9]

7 – 496 has επιρριψαντες instead of επιριψαντες.  B has επιρειψαντες.  [496: +1]  [B: +1]
7 – 496 has μελλει instead of μελει.  [496: +1]

8 – 496 has καταπιει instead of καταπιειν.  B does not have τινα, which is bracketed in NA27.  [496: -1]  [B: -4] 

9 – B has τω before κοσμω.  This word was bracketed in the text of NA27 but is not in the text of NA28.  [B: +2]
9 – B has επιτελεισθε but it is corrected to επιτελεισθαι.  This might be a first-hand correction so I have not included it in this comparison. 

10 – 496 has στειριξει instead of στηριξει.  [496: +2, -1]
10 – B has τω after εν, before Χριστω.  496 has Ιησου after Χριστω.  [B: +2]  [496: +5]  NA27 had Ιησου in the text in brackets, but NA28 removes this word from the text entirely
10 – B does not have θεμελιωσει.  [B: -10]

11 – 496 has η δοξα και before το κρατος.  [496: +8]
11 – 496 has των αιωνων before αμην.  [496: +9]

12 – B has Σιλβανου instead of Σιλουανου.  [B: +1, -2]
12 – 496 has εστηκατε instead of στητε.  [496: +3]

13 – Both B and 496 agree with NA in this verse.   

14 – 496 and B both have πασι instead of πασιν.  [B: -1]  [496: -1]
14 – 496 has Ιησου αμην after Χριστω.  [496: +9]  NA27 had Ιησου in the text in brackets, but it is not in the text of NA28.

          When we consider the corruptions in First Peter chapter 5 in Codex Vaticanus, we see that B contains 9 non-original letters, and is missing 101 original letters.  The net total of the corruptions in First Peter 5 in B amounts to 110 letters’ worth of corruptions.
          When we consider the corruptions in First Peter chapter 5 in 496, we see that it contains 66 non-original letters, and is missing 9 original letters.  The net total of the corruptions in First Peter 5 in 496 amounts to 75 letters’ worth of corruptions.

          Final score:  B’s corruptions:  110 letters.  496’s corruptions:  75 letters.  Winner:  minuscule 496!

          Yes, as unlikely as it may seem, in this particular chapter, a medieval minuscule with a transmission-stream about a thousand years longer than the transmission-stream of Codex B has the more accurate text, when NA28 is used as the basis of comparison.  This victory of 496 is a stunning reminder that despite the fame of Codex Vaticanus, it does not run very far ahead of the Byzantine pack, even when the Nestle-Aland compilation is the standard of comparison.  And in some passages, Codex B’s text falls behind.  Even great champions don’t win them all.

          [Readers are invited to double-check the comparison and the arithmetic.]

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hand-to-Hand Combat: Codex W vs. Minuscule 545

The first page of Mark
in Codex W.
          In two hand-to-hand contests earlier this month, Codex Cyprius defeated Codex Sinaiticus in Matthew 5:1-20, and the Georgius Gospels (2266) crushed Codex Bezae in Luke 2:1-21.  Today, Codex Washingtoniensis (W, 032) – the oldest manuscript of the four Gospels in North America – faces a relatively young manuscript:  minuscule 545, which was produced in 1430.  
          In 1430, Lorenzo Valla was already alive, and it would be less than a century before the production of the first printed Greek text of the New Testament.  Can there really be any doubt, when comparing a manuscript from the fifth century to a manuscript from the fifteenth century, which will be shown to have the more accurate text? 
          Let’s briefly take a closer look at Codex W.  It has been called “The World’s Third Oldest Bible” by National Geographic, although that is rather imprecise inasmuch as many papyri are older than Codex W.  It is more precise to say that Codex W is possibly the world’s third oldest manuscript of the four Gospels that is essentially complete, substantially containing (despite some damage) the text of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark.  According to Rachel Nuwer of the Smithsonian Institution (where Codex W is part of the collection of the Freer-Sackler Gallery), this manuscript was made in “the late fourth or early fifth century,” that is, around the year 400.
          Surely, inasmuch as the New Testament text gradually grew as each generation of copyists added embellishments and harmonizations, one might expect that in a well-known passage of the Gospel of Mark such as the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9), which is paralleled in Matthew and Luke, one may confidently suspect that the text of Mark in a fifteenth-century minuscule contains more corruptions than the text in a fifth-century uncial.  However, as logical as that may seem, it might not be entirely a waste of effort to make a direct comparison of Mark 4:1-9 in 545 and in Codex W. 
          One of the most notable features of Codex W is its block-mixture.  In the Gospel of Matthew, the text of Codex W is essentially Byzantine, but in Mark 1-4, its text aligns more closely with Codex Bezae.  In Mark 5-16, its closest textual relative, so to speak, is Papyrus 45.  In Luke 1:1-8:12, the text is Alexandrian, and in the rest of Luke it is essentially Byzantine again.  John 1:1-5:12 is written on replacement-pages and the text of this portion is essentially Alexandrian (albeit with some Western readings).  The remainder of the text of John is also mainly Alexandrian.
          When Henry Sanders published the text of Codex W in 1912, he proposed that its unique block-mixture may be the effect of a situation in which Roman persecutors, perhaps during the Diocletian persecution of the very early 300’s, destroyed a Christian library but did so lazily, allowing assorted pages and book-chunks to survive, and subsequently someone copied out the contents of the surviving materials, using one survivor, and then a different one, as his exemplar, and thus created the exemplar or ancestor-manuscript of Codex W.
          Another feature of Codex W is that unlike some other major uncials, its provenance is known:  it is from Upper EgyptCharles L. Freer purchased the manuscript in Egypt along with some other manuscripts, and at least three of them seem to have come from the same source:  a monastery in the region of Achmim, or Panopolis.  Codex W thus provides evidence of four different forms of the text of the Gospels – Byzantine, Alexandrian, Western, and a local variation – all circulating in the same area in Egypt around the year 400 (or earlier). 
            Now let us compare the text of Mark 4:1-9 in Codex W (extracted from the “Western” portion) with Mark 4:1-9 in minuscule 545, by comparing each to the text of Nestle-Aland 27.  In the list of readings from 545, variants that agree with the Robinson-Pierpont 2005 Byzantine Textform are accompanied by a black triangle.  Readings that agree with the Hodges-Farstad Majority Text (but disagree with RP2005) are accompanied by a black square.   

Minuscule 545 differs from NA27 in the following ways:

1 – 545 has συνηχθη instead of συνάγεται.  (+4, -6)  ▲
1 – 545 has πολυς instead of πλειστος.  (+4, -6)  ▲
1 – 545 transposes εμβαντα to precede εις.  ▲
1 – 545 adds το before πλοιον. (+2)  ▲
1 – 545 has ην instead of ησαν.  (+2)  ▲
3 – 545 adds του before before σπειρει.  (+3)  ▲
3 – 545 adds τον σπόρον αυτου after σπειρει. [cf. Lk. 8:5]  (+14) 
4 – 545 has επεσε instead of επεσεν. (-1)  ■
4 – 545 has ηλθε instead of ηλθεν. (-1)  ■
5 – 545 does not have και.  (-3)  ▲
5 – 545 has δε. (+2)  ▲
5 – 545 has ειχε instead of ειχεν.  (-1)  ■
5 – 545 has ευθεως instead of ευθυς.  (+2, -1)  ▲
5 – 545 has εξανετειλε instead of εξανετειλεν.  (-1)  ■
5 – 545 does not have και οτε.  (-6)  ▲
6 – 545 has ηλιου δε ανατειλαντος instead of ανετειλεν ο ηλιος.  (+7, -5)  ▲
7 – 545 has ανευησαν instead of ανεβησαν.  [?] (+1, -1) 
7 – 545 has εδωκε instead of εδωκεν.  (-1)  ■
8 – 545 has αλλο instead of αλλα.  (+1, -1)  ▲
8 – 545 has αυξανοντα instead of αυξανομενα.  (+3, -4)  ▲
9 – 545 has ο εχων instead of ος εχει.  (+2, -3)  ▲

          Calculated by single letters, the text of 545 has thus gained 47 non-original letters, and has lost 41 original letters, for a total of 88 letters’ worth of corruption.  If, instead of NA27, we were to use the RP2005 Byzantine Textform as the basis of comparison, the corruption in 545 would amount to a total of 20 letters – five of which are cases of movable-nu, one of which is orthographic (and which is probably merely a side-effect of unclear script), and 14 of which constitute a single reading, the harmonistic inclusion of τον σπορον αυτου in verse 3.

Now let’s examine the text of Codex W.  Compared to the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation, Codex W has the following variants: 

1 – W has a transposition, reading ηρξατο παλιν instead of παλιν ηρξατο.
1 – W has προς instead of παρα.  (+3, -3)
1 – W has συνηχθη instead of συνάγεται.  (+4, -6)
1 – W adds το before πλοιον.  (+2)
1 – W has ενβαντα instead of εμβαντα.  (+1, -1)
1 – W has παρα τον αιγιαλον instead of εν τη θαλασση.  (+15, - 11)
1 – W has εν τω αιγιαλω instead of προς την θαλασσαν.  (+11, -15)
1 – W does not have επι της γης.  (-9)
1 – W has ην instead of ησαν. (-2)
2 – W has λεγων instead of πολλα και ελεγεν αυτοις εν τη διδαχη αυτου.  (+5, -35)
3 – W has Ακουεται instead of Ακουετε.  (+2, -1)
4 – W does not have εγενετο εν τω σπειρειν.  (-19)
4 – W has τ before ο μεν. (+1)      
4 – W has ορνεα instead of πετεινα.  (+4, -6)
5 – W does not have και. (-3)
5 – W has αλλα instead of αλλο.  (+1, -1)
5 – W has δε.  (+2)
5 – W has τα instead of το.  (+1, -1)
5 – W has πετρωδη instead of πετρωδες. (+1, -2)
5 – W has και οτι instead of οπου.  (+6, -4)
5 – W has ειχε instead of ειχεν. (-1)
5 – W does not have και after πολλην. (-3)
5 – W has ευθεως instead of ευθυς. (+2, -1)
5 – W has ανετειλε instead of εξανετειλεν. (+2, -3)
5-6 – W does not have δια το μη εχειν βάθος γης και οτε.  (-26)
6 – W has ηλιου δε ανατιλαντος instead of ανετειλεν ο ηλιος. (+7, -5)
7 – W has αλλα instead of αλλο.  (+1, -1)
7 – W has επι instead of εις. (+2, -2)
7 – W has αυτα instead of αυτο. (+1, -1)
7 – W has εδωκαν instead of εδωκεν. (+1, -1)
8 – W has επεσαν instead of επεσεν. (+1, -1)
8 – W has εδιδει instead of εδιδου. (+2, -2)
8 – W has αυξανομενον instead of αυξανομενα.  (+2, -1)
8 – W has φερει instead of εφερεν. (+1, -2)
8 – W has το εν and το εν and το εν instead of εν and εν and εν. (+2, +2, +2)
9 – W has ο εχων instead of ος εχει. (+2, -3)

          Calculated by single letters, the text of Codex W has gained 88 non-original letters and has lost 170 original letters, for a total of 258 letters’ worth of corruption.  Particularly remarkable are the substitutions in verse 1 and the omissions in verses 2, 4, and 5.  

          Thus, if we estimate that the Gospel of Mark was composed in the 60’s of the first century, then the text of Mark 4:1-9 in 545 took a 1,360-year journey and ended up with 88 letters’ worth of corruption.  Meanwhile, the text of Mark 4:1-9 in Codex W took a 340-year journey and ended up with 258 letters’ worth of corruption – almost three times as much corruption in one-fourth as much time.      

[Readers are invited to double-check the comparisons and arithmetic.]

Monday, July 25, 2016

F. J. A. Hort Was A Racist

F. J. A. Hort
          Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892) was, as you may already know, one of the two British scholars responsible for the 1881 compilation of the Greek text of the New Testament that replaced the King James Version’s base-text, the Textus Receptus.  Although the compilation of Westcott and Hort was used, in general, as the basis for the Revised Version, and for the 1901 American Standard Version, many objections were raised against the Westcott-Hort revision.  
         For a collection of those objections, one can consult the works of John Burgon, such as The Revision Revised , The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospelsand Causes of Corruption (in which, among other things, Burgon described the orthodox corruption of Scripture, preceding Bart Ehrman’s similarly-titled book by over a century).  Mathematician and textual researcher George Salmon also composed a gentle protest against some aspects of the Westcott-Hort compilation and the theories on which it was grounded.          
          Burgon did not oppose the idea of revising the Greek text of the New Testament.  He once wrote, “That some corrections of the Text were necessary, we are well aware.”  But he was firmly convinced that no scholars of his generation were adequately equipped for the task of a thorough and definitive revision of the New Testament text.  Burgon’s opposition to Hort’s compilation was seasoned by a somewhat bombastic literary style – a feature which Burgon acknowledged, and regarding which he insisted, “For everything there is a season.”  Perhaps The 1897 Oxford Debate on New Testament Textual Criticism is the best single resource for obtaining objectively phrased information about the reasons why Hort’s theories about the transmission of the text of the New Testament were either embraced, or rejected, by his contemporaries.  However, one can read through those works without noticing objections against something which nowadays would make it highly unlikely that Hort’s work would receive wide acclaim:  his racism.
          Perhaps you thought that I was going to say “his interest in the occult.”  Some writers – particularly some KJV-Onlyists – have accused Hort of being an occultist.  Westcott and Hort were both members of a society, or club, called The Ghostlie Guild, which (as anyone can see by reading pages 117-120 of the first volume of The Life and Letters of F. J. A. Hort) was formed to collect accounts of paranormal (or “spirit-world”) phenomena – not to endorse the premises of spiritualism.  Hort did indeed attend a séance:  he mentioned it in a letter to his wife, written on October 23, 1864.  “We worked till near dinner,” he wrote, “when we had a very nice little party, the two De Morgans, H. M. Butler, Farrar, Bradby and his mother, and H. W. Watson.  Mrs. Bradby, whom I had never seen, and who was well worth seeing, came in the evening.  We tried to turn tables, but the creatures wouldn’t stir.”    
An illustration from Sophia De Morgan's
book about seances and spiritualism,
picturing a "good spirit" and a "bad spirit."
          The reference to table-turning in the final sentence alludes to something done at séances.  The two De Morgans mentioned by Hort were the mathematician Augustus De Morgan and his wife Sophia, whose 1863 book From Matter to Spirit:  The Result of Ten Years of Experience in Spirit Manifestations, includes, in its opening chapter, instructions about how to conduct a table-tipping session, at which “the table will appear to throb or vibrate under the hands as if charged with a kind of electricity,” following which “The table perhaps will move in a circuitous direction,” followed by “communications” in which the table tips as the medium recites the alphabet.  The second chapter is also about “Rapping and Table-Moving.”      
          Hort, however, seems to have attended only one such session, and that may have been out of a sense of courtesy to a colleague’s idiosyncratic wife.  Hort’s limited and brief interest in séances and similar paranormal phenomena seems to have been motivated by scientific curiosity, rather than by any desire to promote the beliefs or practices of spiritualism.     
            Now about Hort’s racism.  In the preface to The Life and Letters of F. J. A. Hort, published in 1896, Arthur Hort states about his father:  “In all that he wrote his real self is shown, and nowhere more than in his letters.”  So it is with some consternation that one finds the following statements in a letter written by Hort on September 25, 1862, discussing the American Civil War:  [NOTE:  I have redacted an offensive term in this excerpt.]
            “I do not for a moment forget what slavery is, or the frightful effects which Olmsted has shown it to be producing on white society in the South; but I hate it much more for its influence on the whites than on the n****rs themselves.
            “The refusal of education to them is abominable; how far they are capable of being ennobled by it is not so clear.  As yet everywhere (not in slavery only) they have surely shown themselves only as an immeasurably inferior race, just human and no more, their religion frothy and sensuous, their highest virtues those of a good Newfoundland dog.  If enjoyment and comparative freedom from sorrow and care make up happiness, probably no set of men in Europe (unless it be the Irish) are so happy.  Their real and most unquestionable degradation, if altered by slavery, is hardly aggravated; the sin of slavery to them is rather negative in hindering advance, yet what advance has there really been in the West Indies or Northern states?  Nevertheless the thing is accursed most positively from its corrupting power over the dominant race.
            “But, while agreeing with the advocates of the North that slavery is at the bottom of the whole conflict of South and North, as the chief though not sole cause of disunion, and also that the South separated simply because Lincoln’s election was a signal that the North had decided not to allow Southern policy any longer to hold the helm of the whole Union, I hold that the South had a perfect right to separate themselves and go their own way . . . . I hold, therefore, that the war is at once entirely a war of independence, and not at all for and against slavery, though it sometimes suits the North (and still more its English supporters) to represent it as such.  While the war lasts, therefore, I fully sympathize with the South.  So much for the mutual rights and wrongs of the two contending parties.  But that is only one part of the matter.  I care more for England and for Europe than for America, how much more than for all the n****rs in the world!  And I contend that the highest morality requires me to do so.”

            I highly doubt that very many Bible-believing Christians would say, “Let’s find the person who wrote that, and give him the job of compiling the Greek text upon which shall base our new English translations of the New Testament.”  Yet that is what our forefathers did.  F. G. Kenyon, in his book Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, described the work of Westcott and Hort as “the basis of all subsequent study.”  The New Testament base-texts of the NIV, ESV, NLT, and NRSV are descendants of, and very similar to, the 1881 Westcott-Hort compilation.  And at the website of the Nestle-Aland compilation, it is affirmed that the text of the first edition of the UBS Greek New Testament (published in 1966) “was established along the lines of Westcott and Hort.”
          I am not sure what, if anything, should be done in light of this information.  Perhaps textual critics who do not want to be associated with Hort might consider emphasizing, in their reviews of the history of the field, the work of other textual critics of the 1800’s, such as Samuel Tregelles.  Hort’s racism does not alter the quality of his research.  And it is not as if anything that Hort said that was factual was factual because Hort said it.  Yet it is saddening to learn that a researcher who was so instrumental in the compilation and promotion of the critical text (which is the basis for so many English translations) reflected the Holy Spirit’s presence so poorly in this regard.  I regret that our predecessors in the field, and in the church, did not detect, rebuke, and correct Hort’s racism.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hand-to-Hand Combat: Codex Bezae vs. the Georgius Gospels

          Guess which manuscript has more corruptions in Luke 2:1-21:  Codex Bezae (for which researcher D. C. Parker has assigned a production-date around 400), or the Georgius Gospels (a minuscule manuscript from the 1200’s)?  We could use the Byzantine Textform compiled by Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont as the basis for this comparison.  But instead, let’s compare each manuscript’s text of Luke 2:1-21 – Luke’s narrative about the birth of Christ – to the Nestle-Aland compilation.
          The text of Luke 2:1-21 in the Georgius Gospels (GA 2266) – page-views of which can be viewed at the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection’s website – deviates from the NA27 text at the following points. (Agreements between 2266 and the RP2005 Byzantine Text are accompanied by a triangle.  Agreements between 226 and the Hodges-Farstad Majority Text (against RP2005) are accompanied by a square.)

2:1 – 2266 has εξηλθε instead of εξηλθεν.  (-1)  
2:2 – 2266 has η after αυτη. (+1)  ▲
2:3 – 2266 has ιδιαν instead of εαυτου.  (-6 and +5)  ▲
2:4 – 2266 has Ναζαρετ instead of Ναζαρεθ. (-1 and +1)  ▲
2:5 – 2266 has μεμνηστευμενη instead of εμνηστευμενη. (+1)  ▲
2:5 – 2266 has the word γϋναικι before ουση. (+7)  ▲
2:5 – 226 has εγγυω instead of εγκυω. (-1 and +1)  
2:7 – 2266 has τη before φατνη. (+2)  ▲
2:9 – 2266 has ιδου after the first και. (+4)  ▲
2:10 – 2266 has θοβηστε instead of θοβειστε. (+1 and -2)  
2:11 – 2266 has εστι instead of εστιν. (-1)  ■
2:12 – 2266 does not have και before κειμενον. (-3)  ▲
2:15 – 2266 has οι ανοι (the contraction of ανθρωποι) after οι αγγελοι και. (+10)  ▲
2:15 – 2266 has ειπον instead of ελαλουν. (-7 and +5)  ▲
2:16 – 2266 has ηλθον instead of ηλθαν. (-1 and +1)  ▲
2:16 – 2266 has ανευρον instead of ανευραν. (-1 and +1)  ▲
2:17 – 2266 has διεγνωρισαν instead of εγνωρισαν. (+2)  ▲

          In addition, 2266 contracts the following words which appear at the ends of lines:
2:4 – 2266 has Γαλιλ′ instead of Γαλιλαιας.  (-4)
2:11 – 2266 has πολ′ instead of πολει.  (-2)
2:12 – 2266 has κειμεν′ nstead of κειμενον. (-2) 
2:21 – 2266 has επλησθησ′ instead of επλησθησαν.  (-2)

The Georgius Gospels (GA 2266)
MS 727-Image 270
          In a strict letter-by-letter count, without considering contractions of nomina sacra , abbreviations of και, and the contractions at the ends of lines, in 2266, 22 letters of the original text have been lost, and 43 non-original letters have been introduced.   Thus, whether via addition or subtraction, the text of 2266 differs from the text of NA27 by 65 letters.
          Aside from spelling-variants, these 65 letters’ worth of difference between the text of Luke 2:1-21 in the Georgius Gospels and in the Nestle-Aland compilation consist mainly of these seven variants:
            ● the interchange between ιδιαν and εαυτου in verse 3,
            ● the introduction of γϋναικι in verse 5,
            ● the introduction of ιδου in verse 9,
            ● the absence of και in verse 12,
            ● the ς at the end of ευδοκιας.  (This changes the meaning of the phrase.)
            ● the introduction of οι ανθρωποι in verse 15, and
            ● the interchange between ειπον and ελαλουν in verse 15. 

Now let’s look at the text of Luke 2:1-21 in Codex Bezae.

. . . Are you sure you’re ready?  Take a deep breath.

2:1 – D moves εγενετο to follow αυτη instead of πρωτη.
2:3 – D has πατριδα instead of πολιν. (+6, -4)
2:4 – D has γην instead of την. (-1)
2:4 – D has Ιουδα instead of Ιουδαιαν. (-3)
2:4 – D has Δαυειδ instead of Δαυιδ. (+1)
2:4 – D has καλειτε instead of καλειται. (+1, -2)
2:4-5 – D moves απογραφεσθαι συν Μαρια τη εμνηστευμενη αυτω ουση ενκυω to immediately follow Βηθεεμ.  Within the transposed portion, D has απογραφεσθαι instead of απογραφασθαι, and Μαρια instead of Μαριαμ, and ενκυω instead of εγκυω.  (+2, -3)
2:5 – D has Δαυειδ instead of Δαυιδ. (+1)
2:6 – D has ως δε παρεγεινοντο instead of εγενετο δε εν τω ειναι αυτους εκει.  (+14, -26)
2:6 – D has ετλησθησαν instead of επλησθησαν.  (+1, -1)
2:8 – D has Ποιμενες δε instead of Και ποιμενες.  (+2, -3)
2:8 – D has χαρα ταυτη instead of χωρα τη αυτη.  (+1, -2)
2:8 – D has τας before φυλακας.  (+3)
2:9 – D has ιδου after the first και.  (+4)
2:9 – D does not have κυριου after δοξα.  (-6)
2:10 – D has υμειν instead of υμιν. (+1)
2:10 – D has και before παντι.  (+3)
2:11 – D has υμειν instead of υμιν. (+1)
2:11 – D has Δαυειδ instead of Δαυιδ.  (+1)
2:12 – D has υμειν instead of υμιν.  (+1)
2:12 – D has εστω after σημειον.  (+4)
2:12 – D does not have και κειμενον.  (-11)
2:13 – D has στρατειας instead of στρατιας.  (+1)
2:13 – D has ουρανου instead of ουρανιου.  (-1)
2:13 – D has αιτουντων instead of αινουντων.  (+1, -1)
2:15 – D moves οι αγγελοι to follow απηλθον.
2:15 – D has και οι ανθρωποι before οι ποιμενες. (+10)
2:15 – D has ειπον instead of ελαλουν. (+3, -5)
2:15 – D has γεγονως instead of γεγονος. (+1, -1)
2:15 – D has ημειν instead of ημιν.  (+1)
2:16 – D has ελθον instead of ελθαν. (+1, -1)
2:16 – D has σπευδοντες instead of σπευσαντες.  (+2, -2)
2:16 – D has ευρον instead of ανευραν.  (+1, -3)
2:16 – D does not have τε before Μαριαμ. (-2)
2:16 – D has Μαριαν instead of Μαριαμ. (+1, -1)
2:17 – D does not have τουτου at the end of the verse.  (-6)
2:18 – D has ακουοντες instead of ακουσαντες.  (+1, -2)
2:18 – D has εθαυμαζον instead of εθαυμαζαν.  (+1, -1)
2:19 – D has Μαρια instead of Μαριαμ.  (-1)
2:19 – D has a transposition:  συνετηρει παντα instead of παντα συνετηρει.
2:19 – D has συνβαλλουσα instead of συμβαλλουσα.  (+1, -1)
2:20 – D has ιδον instead of ειδον.  (-1)
2:21 – D has συνετελεσθησαν instead of επλησθησαν.  (+6, -1)
2:21 – D has αι before ημεραι.  (+2)
2:21 – D has αι before οκτω.  (+2)
2:21 – D has το παιδιον instead of αυτον.  (+9, -5)
2:21 – D has ωνομασθη instead of και εκληθη.  (+8, -9)
2:21 – D has συνλημφθηναι instead of συλλημφθηναι. (+1, -1)
2:21 – D does not have τη before κοιλια.  (-2)
2:21 – D has μητρος after κοιλια.  (+6)

          That’s 106 additions of non-original letters, and 109 subtractions of original letters.  Whether by addition or subtraction, the text of Luke 2:1-21 in Codex Bezae differs from the text of NA27 by 215 letters (without considering the transpositions).   For comparison:  compared to NA27, the corruptions in 2266 amount to 65 letters (or 75, if we toss in the letters lost in end-of-line contractions), and the corruptions in D amount to 215 letters.
          Setting aside spelling-variations and transpositions, these 215 letters’ worth of difference between the text of D and the Nestle-Aland compilation consist mainly of these 23 variants: 

● 2:3 – D has πατριδα instead of πολιν. (+6, -4)
● 2:4 – D has γην instead of την. (-1)
● 2:4 – D has Ιουδα instead of Ιουδαιαν. (-3)
● 2:6 – D has ως δε παρεγεινοντο instead of εγενετο δε εν τω ειναι αυτους εκει.  (+14, -26)
● 2:8 – D has χαρα ταυτη instead of χωρα τη αυτη.  (+1, -2)
● 2:8 – D has τας before φυλακας.  (+3)
● 2:9 – D has ιδου after the first και.  (+4)
● 2:9 – D does not have κυριου after δοξα.  (-6)
2:10 – D has και before παντι.  (+3)
2:12 – D has εστω after σημειον.  (+4)
2:12 – D does not have και κειμενον.  (-11)
2:15 – D has και οι ανθρωποι before οι ποιμενες. (+13)
2:15 – D has ειπον instead of ελαλουν. (+3, -5)
2:16 – D has ευρον instead of ανευραν.  (+1, -3)
2:16 – D does not have τε before Μαριαμ. (-2)
2:17 – D does not have τουτου at the end of the verse.  (-6)
2:21 – D has συνετελεσθησαν instead of επλησθησαν.  (+6, -1)
2:21 – D has αι before ημεραι.  (+2)
2:21 – D has αι before οκτω.  (+2)
2:21 – D has το παιδιον instead of αυτον.  (+9, -5)
2:21 – D has ωνομασθη instead of και εκληθη.  (+8, -9)
2:21 – D does not have τη before κοιλια.  (-2)
2:21 – D has μητρος after κοιλια.  (+6)

          Now let’s revisit those seven variants in 2266 that constituted its main disagreements with the NA27 compilation.  Do you think they might be late readings that somehow got attached to the text in the Middle Ages, like snowflakes attaching themselves to a snowball as it rolls down a hill?  Let’s take a look at the allies of 2266, and see how old these readings are.

● 2:3 – ιδιαν instead of εαυτου:  supported by Codex A.
● 2:5 – γϋναικι:  supported by Codex A.
● 2:9 – ιδου:   supported by Codex A. 
2:12 - και is absent:  supported by Codex A.
2:14 – ευδοκια:  supported by L, Eusebius, Ambrose, Jerome, and Chrysostom (among others)
2:15 – οι ανθρωποι:  supported by Codex A.
● 2:15:  ειπον:  supported by Codex A.    

          Thus, compared to the text of Codex A, we see practically no “snowball effect” in the transmission of the text of Luke 2:1-21 in 2266.  If these readings are accretions, they are early ones.  Furthermore, compared to the text of Codex D, 2266 has by far the more accurate text.  Using the Byzantine Text as the basis of comparison, 2266 has almost no deviations.  Using the Nestle-Aland compilation as the basis of comparison, 2266’s text has lost 22 original letters and added 43 non-original letters – mostly in agreement with Codex A.  Meanwhile the text of Codex D has lost 109 original letters, and has accrued 106 non-original letters (and also contains several transpositions). 
          Again:  the Georgius Gospels is the clear winner.  In Luke 2:1-21, using NA27 as the basis of comparison, the Georgius Gospels has only one-third as much corruption as Codex Bezae contains.  

          [Readers are invited to double-check the comparisons and arithmetic.]

Friday, July 22, 2016

News: Papyrus 75 Is Online

          Papyrus 75 was donated to the Vatican Library in 2007 by the Hanna family and the Solidarity Foundation.  It was formerly known as Bodmer Papyri XIV and XV; now it is called the Hanna Papyrus.  It contains text from the Gospel of Luke (from 3:18 onward, with damage) and the Gospel of John (from 1:1-15:10, with damage), and its production-date has been assigned to c. 225 (although researcher Brent Nongbri has proposed that the paleographical evidence allows a significantly later date).
          For details about the contents of P75, see the profile at the Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism website and the transcription at the Nazaroo Files.  Its contents can also be found in print in P. W. Comfort’s and David Barrett’s The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts, although when using that book one should keep in mind the detailed review offered by Maurice Robinson in 2001.
      The format of the page-views of Papyrus 75 at the Vatican Library website is easy to navigate.  Although there is no index-page (as far as I can tell), the page-views can be selected from a scrolling menu at the bottom of the page, and when a page-view is selected, the viewer can easily zoom in on the handwritten notes alongside each page which identify the text on that page.  The page of Papyrus 75 upon which the Gospel of Luke ends and the Gospel of John begins is 2A.8r.  All of the new page-views are watermarked, but not in an interfering way.

          How important is this manuscript?  Well, how important are the following phrases in Luke 24? –

Luke 24:3:  “of the Lord Jesus.”
Luke 24:5:  “He is not here, but has risen.”
Luke 24:12 – the entire verse.
Luke 24:36 – “And said to them, ‘Peace be unto you.’”
Luke 24:40 – the entire verse, “And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.”
Luke 24:51 – “and was carried up into heaven.”
Luke 24:52 – “and they worshipped him.”

          When the Revised Standard Version was issued in 1946, and again in 1952, it did not contain those verses.  This is because the scholars responsible for the RSV New Testament’s base-text subscribed to Hort’s theory of “Western Non-Interpolations” – which is a technical way of saying that they did not believe that these verses and phrases were genuine.  The reason they did not think these verses were genuine is that these verses and phrases, despite being supported by a huge majority (over 99%) of Greek manuscripts, are absent from Codex Bezae.  Back in 1881, Hort had proposed that Codex Bezae’s text is typical of an early form of the text developed by copyists who tended to expand the text – adding extra words so as to clarify the meaning of sentences, turning references to “Jesus Christ” into “our Lord Jesus Christ,” and so forth. 
          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. 
          If Papyrus 75 had not been discovered, it is very likely that Hort’s theory about Western Non-Interpolations would have continued to be believed by the scholars responsible for compiling the Greek texts upon which modern New Testaments are based. 
          When Papyrus 75 was discovered and its text was published, it became clear that all of the passages in Luke 24 which were rendered suspect (or which were outright rejected) due to Hort’s theory of Western Non-Interpolations were present in the manuscript.  Some textual critics – most notably, Bart Ehrman – continue to believe Hort’s theory, not letting things like evidence get in the way of a good theory. 
          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

Sinaiticus Versus Cyprius: Which is More Accurate in Matthew 5:1-20?

          The axiom, “Prefer the reading with the oldest manuscript-support” is one of the standard guidelines of New Testament textual criticism.  It is natural to assume that an old manuscript’s text is more reliable than a young manuscript’s text, because the passage of time allowed more copies to be made, and every time a copy was made, copyists had another opportunity to make mistakes.
          However, guidelines are not rules.  The accuracy of a manuscript’s text depends on how accurately copyists reproduced the contents of the exemplar, and the exemplar’s exemplar, and so forth, all the way back to the autograph (that is, the original document).
          To test the validity of the practice of giving a manuscript special value (or “weight”) just because it is older, let’s have a contest between Codex Sinaiticus (À [the Hebrew letter Aleph], 01) – hailed as The World’s Oldest Bible,” made in the mid-300’s – and Codex Cyprius (K, 017), a medieval Gospels-manuscript.  (William H. P. Hatch proposed in 1937 that “It is altogether probable that Codex Cyprius was copied about 1000 A.D.,” but other researchers have assigned it to the 800’s.) 
          In the 1800’s, Codex K was regarded as an important manuscript, but this estimate of its value changed after the publication of Westcott & Hort’s compilation in 1881.  In 1901, F. G. Kenyon stated, referring to Codex K, “It is one of the nine extant complete uncial copies of the Gospels, but as it is as late as the ninth century, and contains the normal α-text [that is, the Byzantine Text], it is not of remarkable value.”  The people who made the fourth edition of the United Bible Societies’ compilation of the Greek New Testament seem to have agreed with Kenyon, inasmuch as they did not even mention Codex Cyprius in the apparatus.  In Bruce Metzger’s handbook The Text of the New Testament, the description of Codex Sinaiticus fills over four pages, while the description of Codex Cyprius consists of one sentence, occupying three lines.

          If we were to evaluate the accuracy of À and K using the Byzantine Text as the standard of what constitutes an accurate text, there can be no doubt that the comparison would demonstrate that the text in Codex K is far superior.  But what happens when the standard is, instead, the Nestle-Aland compilation?  When we strictly compare the text of Matthew 5:1-20 in Codex À to the text of NA27, we get the following results:

Codex À omits the letter ε eight times (in verses 3, 5, 8, 10, 13a, 13b, 15, and 19).
Codex À omits the letter ς twice (in verse 13).
Codex À omits the letter ι once (in verse 20).
Codex À omits 14 words (in verse 19, consisting of 62 letters).
Codex À has the letter ε six times where the Nestle-Aland text has the letters αι (in verses 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, and 20).
Codex À has the letters ου where the Nestle-Aland text has the letter ω one time (in verse 11).

Part of the Beatitudes
from Matthew 5 in Codex Cyprius.
          Thus, if we treat NA27 as if it represents the original text, we conclude that Sinaiticus deviates from the original text via the loss of 11 individual letters, and via the loss of the fourteen-word phrase ος δ’ αν ποιήση και διδάξη, ουτος μέγας κληθήσεται εν τη βασιλεία των ουρανων (that is, in English, “But whoever shall do and teach them, that one shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”), and via seven vowel-interchanges (itacisms) that yield a net loss of 13 original letters.  In these 20 verses, it thus appears that somewhere along the way from the original text of the Gospel of Matthew to the pages of Codex Sinaiticus, the original text lost 14 words and, in addition, 24 letters.

          In Codex K, the following deviations from NA27 are observed in Matthew 5:1-20:

Codex K omits the letter ν six times (in verses 4, 11a, 11b, 15, and 16).
Codex K has ο instead of α (in verse 1), ο instead of ω (in verse 3), and ε instead of αι (in verse 14), for a total loss of four letters via itacistic interchange.
Codex K omits the word αυτοι (in verse 7), the word οι (in verse 9), and the word τους (after προφητας in verse 12).  (Αυτοι is in the side-margin, and this is probably a first-hand correction; nevertheless I did not include it as part of the text in my calculations.)
Codex K adds the word ρημα (in verse 11), and the word και (after εγω in verse 13).
Codex K reads βληθηναι instead of βληθεν (in verse 13).

          Thus, if we treat NA27 as if it represents the original text, we conclude that Codex K deviates from the original text via the loss of six letters, and via the loss of three words, and via three itacistic changes that result in the loss of four original letters, and via the addition of two words (ρημα and και, for a total of seven letters), and via one substitution (βληθηναι instead of βληθεν in verse 13).
          Side by side:
          À lost 14 words (consisting of 62 letters), and also lost 24 letters, with 1 one-letter accretion.
          Κ lost 3 words (consisting of a total of 11 letters), and also lost 10 letters, with accretions totaling 10 letters.   

          Thus if we assign a penalty to each manuscript for each word or letter that deviates from the original text, whether due to subtraction, addition, or substitution, À receives 39 penalty-points, and K receives 23 penalty-points.
          If we simplify the comparison, and give each manuscript a penalty-point for each letter that deviates from the original text, whether it subtracts an original letter, or adds a non-original letter, Codex Cyprius receives 31 penalty-points, and Codex Sinaiticus receives 87 penalty-points.    

          There seems to be no way to avoid the conclusion that in Matthew 5:1-20, the text of Codex Cyprius – a manuscript with an essentially Byzantine Text of the Gospels – has descended from the autograph with much less corruption than the text of Codex Sinaiticus, even though Codex Cyprius had a much longer transmission-history.  This amply demonstrates that the idea of assigning special value to a particular manuscript because of its age is not well-grounded.

          (Readers are invited to double-check this data.  Contracted nomina sacra were not treated as errors.  Codex Sinaiticus has its own website, and fully indexed page-views of Codex Cyprius are available at the website of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.  Codex K can also be viewed and downloaded at Gallica.)  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Matthew 2:18 - The Lament of Rachel

This statue of Rachel
is in Indianapolis.

        Matthew 2:18 contains a textual variant which, although its impact on translation is minimal, is instructive due to what it may tell us about how copyists sometimes reacted when they noticed that New Testament authors cited Old Testament passages in forms which were unfamiliar to the copyists. 
          In almost all Greek manuscripts (more than 95%), the first part of Matthew’s quotation of Jeremiah 31:15 reads as follows:  “A voice was heard in Ramah:  lamentation and weeping and great mourning.”  This is also the form of the text supported by both the Sinaitic Syriac and Curetonian Syriac manuscripts.    
          A different reading is attested by Codex Sinaiticus (À), Vaticanus (B), Codex Dublinensis Rescriptus (Z, 035, a palimpsest from the 500’s), and minuscules 1, 22, and 1582, and by both the Greek and Syriac texts in 0250 (Codex Climaci Rescriptus):  “A voice was heard in Ramah:  weeping and great mourning.”  (Wieland Willker provides some additional data.)  The difference thus is a simple contest between the presence or absence of the words “lamentation and,” that is, in Greek, θρηνος και.   
          If the support for the shorter reading consisted merely of this smattering of Greek manuscripts, researchers might understandably conclude that the Alexandrian Text was flawed at this point, perhaps as the result of an early copyist’s decision to remove what he regarded as a superfluous synonym.  Or, one could conclude that an Alexandrian copyist who knew the Hebrew Bible decided to make a slight adjustment to Matthew’s quotation from the Septuagint (a Greek translation of Old Testament books undertaken in Alexandria, Egypt in intertestamental times) so as to draw it into closer conformity to the Hebrew form of the verse (which refers only to “lamentation and weeping”).
          However, the versional evidence gives a very different impression:  although the versions known for their Caesarean affinity (the Armenian and Old Georgian) attest to the longer reading (as far as one can tell from the currently available evidence), almost all Old Latin manuscripts of this passage, as well as the Vulgate and the Peshitta, are allied with the Sahidic version in support of the shorter reading.  
The text of Matthew 2:18
in Codex Z (035), as replicated
by T. K. Abbott in 1880.
          The remarks of the unknown author of the Opus Imperfectum on Matthew, probably written in the 400’s, reflect a text with two, rather than three, aspects of the cry of Rachel in the prophecy as cited in Matthew 2:18.  Hilary of Poitiers (d. 367), in his Commentary on Matthew, part 7, cited Matthew 2:18 without “lamentation and.”  Jerome also supports this reading.
           Foremost among the relevant patristic witnesses, however, is Justin Martyr, who utilized Matthew 2:18 in the 78th chapter of the composition Dialogue With Trypho.  In this chapter, Justin points out various prophecies that were fulfilled by Christ.  He mentions (without naming) the passage from Micah that is found in Matthew 2:5, quoting it as it appears in the Gospel of Matthew.  Then after summarizing the events narrated in Matthew 2:11-16, Justin states:  “And Jeremiah prophesied that this would happen, speaking by the Holy Ghost thus:  ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and much wailing, Rachel weeping for her children; and she would not be comforted, because they are not.’”    
          Here, it would seem, we see the echo of the text of Matthew 2:18 that was known to Justin, less than a century after the Gospel of Matthew was completed.  But could Justin be quoting, instead, directly from the Greek text of Jeremiah as found in the Septuagint?  A comparison is in order, to tidy up this loose end.
          The prophecy, as quoted in Matthew 2:18, runs like this – with the Byzantine reading in brackets:
Φωνὴ ἐν Ραμα ἠκούσθη – A voice in Rama was heard:
[θρηνος και] κλαυθμος και ὀδυρμος πολυς[lamentation and] weeping and much mourning;
Ραχηλ κλαιουσα τα τεκνα αυτης – Rachel weeping for her children,
και ουκ ηθελεν παρακληθηναι – and she would not be comforted,
οτι οὐκ εισίν. – for they are not.

The Septuagint’s text of Jeremiah 38:15 (the chapters are in a different order, but it’s the same prophecy) runs as follows: 
Ουτως ειπεν Κς φωνὴ ἐν Ραμα ἠκούσθη
θρήνου και κλαυθμου και ὀδυρμου
Ραχηλ ἀποκλαιομένη ουκ ηθελεν παύσασθαι
ἐπι τοις υἱοις αὐτης οτι οὐκ εισίν.

The text used by Justin runs as follows:
Φωνὴ ἐν Ραμα ἠκούσθη
κλαυθμος και ὀδυρμος πολυς
Ραχηλ κλαιουσα τα τεκνα αυτης
και ουκ ηθελεν παρακληθηναι
οτι οὐκ εισίν.

          It seems clear that Justin drew the prophecy from Matthew 2:18, rather than from the Septuagint’s text of Matthew.  This is made particularly clear by Justin’s use of the word πολυς and his reference to children (τεκνα) rather than sons (υἱοις), and his use of κλαιουσα rather than ἀποκλαιομένη.

          This implies that the words θρηνος και (“lamentation and”) in the Byzantine Text were added by copyists who were familiar with the Septuagint and who wanted to adjust Matthew’s quotation (which, in the Alexandrian reading, corresponds to the Hebrew form of the verse – with a reference to “mourning and bitter mourning”) so as to more closely resemble the Septuagint’s Greek rendering of the prophecy.  It also indicates that Matthew did not use the Septuagint mechanically, but was willing to adopt or introduce renderings which yielded a closer representation of the gist of the Hebrew text. 
          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 2:18 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

Matthew 1:18 - Two Doctrinally Significant Variants in One Verse

          It is sometimes claimed by apologists who dabble in New Testament textual criticism that textual variants do not have an impact on Christian doctrine.  They should abandon that claim, and instead state that no basic Christian doctrine depends on any single text-critical contest, with the exception of the doctrine of inerrancy.  In just the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament, there are five variant-units that have a potential impact on Christian doctrine, depending on which variant is selected. 
          I have already addressed the textual contests of “Asa-versus-Asaph” and “Amon-versus-Amos” in Matthew 1:7-8 and 1:10.  I set aside, for the time being, the textual variant in the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript in Matthew 1:16 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 Egypt (and attested by Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Papyrus 1, and other Alexandrian witnesses) and Caesarea, and the text found almost everywhere else.  The first term, γενεσις, allows the meaning “origin,” while the second term, γεννησις, specifically refers to conception and birth.  The theological significance of this is that a reference to the γενεσις of Jesus Christ can be employed in a case that Matthew taught that the Savior’s whole existence began, or originated, in Mary’s womb, while γεννησις refers instead to His physical incarnation and birth.  Such an interpretation is not built into the adoption of the variant γενεσις – the term is fully capable of referring to birth – but that reading opens the door, so to speak, to that interpretation, while γεννησις does not.       
          The surrounding context clearly favors γεννησις:  Matthew anticipates the birth (εγεννήθη) of Jesus in 1:16, narrates the angel’s reference to Jesus’ conception (γεννήθη) in 1:18, 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 France, c. 180) and Origen (writing in Caesarea, from about 230-250) support the reading γεννησις.  Origen even emphasizes the difference between the word that is used in Matthew 1:1 and the word that is used in 1:18, asking, as the introduction to his exegesis, “Why does the evangelist make mention here of ‘birth’ whereas at the start of the Gospel he had said ‘generation’?”.  (The genuineness of the fragment from which this statement is taken has been challenged, but apparently not very convincingly.) 
          This impressive early testimony is reinforced by John Chrysostom (writing in Constantinople, c. 400), by Epiphanius (writing in Cyprus in the late 300’s), and by the author of the composition De Trinitate.  (This was probably Didymus of Alexandria, who wrote in Egypt in the late 300’s, but if not him, them someone in the same locale, and at about the same time.)  In addition, according to Solomon C. Malan, the Peshitta makes a distinction between the terms in 1:1 and 1:18.    
          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.)
          Meanwhile Codex W, along with the composition The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila (from the 500’s), support the reading Ιησου.  One could propose (using the method by which Hort identified conflations in the Byzantine Text) that practically all Greek manuscripts (including Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) display a conflation here in Matthew 1:18, echoing the decision of an early copyist who found Ιησου in one exemplar, and Χριστου in another, and combined them – in which case, the question would arise, between the readings Ιησου and Χριστου, which one is authentic, and how did the other one originate? 
          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)
          In passing, I note that even though the Latin evidence squarely favors Χριστου, and the Greek evidence squarely favors Ιησου Χριστου, the hyper-paraphrase known as The Message begins Matthew 1:18 with the sentence, “The birth of Jesus took place like this.”  Surely Irenaeus would consider such a text to be vandalized.  I wonder why others do not.